When disaster slams into neighborhoods and crisis encroaches in the middle of the night, when the waters sweep away all the photo albums and fire burns the family home to ashes when nothing seems to fit including us — not all is lost.
Writers turned to what remains when all seems lost. Differeing perspectives will surprise you.
The following is based on the June 21, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about “not all is lost.”
PART I (10-minute read)
Not All Is Lost… by JulesPaige
Less light after the solstice here
Only marginally though as
Summer starts with the passing of the
Solstice – here in the northern hemisphere
Loosened land added by torrential rains
Over churned mud and debris land-
Sliding, slipping and seeping while
Some were sleeping…
Love is given selflessly
Over and over – helping those
Survivors of the unexpected – to them
Salutations – living saints or angels?
Lend a hand if you can –
Over and over, anywhere, then
Somewhere far or nearer to your heart
Stop a moment – and say a prayer…
tears flood, as eyes see;
and all strangers too
Look for the Helpers by Kerry E.B. Black
Rain drenched everything, as it will during a hurricane. It flooded the storm drains and backed sewage into basements. It bubbled through foundations and drowned landscapes. People two towns over clambered onto roofs and prayed for rescue. I lent my entreaties.
In our home, sewage swept through plumbing until the basement stank of rising refuse. First the bottom stair, then the next, the landing, and still, it climbed. I didn’t know what to do. Busy emergency lines. Sirens. Panic.
Yet after the waters receded, it wasn’t FEMA that helped. It was family and friends who hauled, cleaned and sanitized.
Starting Over by Sascha Darlington
At 11, her daddy died, taking away the sunshine.
At 15, she destroyed her knee and her chances for a sports scholarship.
At 37, she watched her husband, who didn’t want children, leave for his pregnant, much younger assistant.
Eight years later, as muddy waters careen around the sides of her house and her bedraggled pup is tethered to her, she yells at the sky: “What the fuck do you want from me?”
“To save you to start with,” the Coastie says.
The sun peeks out. Harbinger of hope. Maybe all’s not lost.
She’s very good at starting over.
Lost And Found: An Argument For Caring by Geoff Le Pard
‘You’ve lost me, Morgan.’
‘I’m just saying it’s easy to be liberal if you don’t have to deal with all the crap.’
‘So helping people, caring for others you don’t know, that only counts if, what, you suffer equally?’
‘I’m saying you can’t really understand if you don’t experience something. Otherwise it’s make believe.’
‘When you broke your leg, my sympathy didn’t count?’
‘Helping your sister after her husband left didn’t count because I’ve never been abandoned…’
‘The schmuck… no, that’s different. I think. Give me a minute… I might have got this wrong…’
‘Not all is lost.’
Lost and Found by Chelsea Owens
Becky always heard housefires described poetically. Tendrils of curling smoke, for example; or, flakes of softly drifting ash. Looking around; she could only think: burned, smoky, ruined.
Clearly, most poets didn’t stand in the charred remains of their own homes.
“That’s about it, ma’am,” the fire marshal said. Becky turned to him. His eyes were red beneath a sweaty, sooty hairline. Becky managed to nod, to dismiss him and his crew. Sighing, she shuffled behind them through the detritus.
A box. Squatting amongst flakes of softly drifting ash, she uncovered her fire safe. She smiled, through her tears.
Down Under by Carol Keefer
The earth quaked for several minutes of hard shaking. Immediately, the floor fell from under my feet, and then something hard hit my head followed by instant unconsciousness. When I awoke, I was pinned under a file cabinet under concrete. I was hurt and gasping for air. I prayed and expected to die, but how long would death take? Then, I heard an animal sniffing nearby. The rescue dog barked, and I cried out, “Help me. Please help me.” I heard voices outside. They began to move away debris. Someone said, “Hold on. We’re going to get you out.”
Not All is Lost by kate @ aroused
The company hadn’t ensured that safety was paramount. So sixteen men were trapped underground. Poisonous gas was leaking so nobody could go in or out as the fresh air might trigger an explosion.
Distraught families and first response teams were anxiously waiting above ground. Children were confused not really comprehending the threat. CWA ladies were handing out cups of tea. People were trying to stay positive but the underlying tension caused tears to fall and fears to surface.
They heard a resounding crack followed by a loud heartfelt cheer … the engineers had found a way through, miners saved!
Not All is Lost by Charli Mills
Annabel retreated from the mourners. Thirty miners, four boys, and her beloved mine captain dead. Fire erupted at level 27 and none evacuated. Men continued to drill, eager to chase the new copper load, believing the updraft would smoother the flames. Greed overcomes common sense, Annabel thought. Ripley was ambitious, a hard-worker and a smart man. He cared about the land and community, but even good men succumb to copper fever. They dug their own deaths. She left the mass funeral and wandered to the falls. Ripley was gone, but his babe grew in the swell of her belly.
Rock Bottom by Sherri Matthews
He hit rock bottom and I thought it was the end.
“If you keep drinking, you’ll be dead in six months,” warned the doctor.
I was wrong; he stopped, for a few months at least. Then he started again and I feared his next fall could be his last.
I wondered if spending nights hunched up in a doorway might change things, or late night rants down the telephone cursing his dear, beloved father, who he hoped would rot in hell.
It was the years in prison writing letters to his daughter that told me all was not lost.
Not All is Lost by Anita Dawes
A burning rose lay on the hot desert sand, if not found, I would be next.
I lay there beneath the hot sun, waiting to burst into flame, the voices of the Bedouin tribe close by.
Hope still beat in my chest that someone would come looking for their daily water. Would they walk this way?
Buzzards circle overhead, waiting for a feast.
As I reach for the rose, my eyes beheld a child’s feet. All was not yet lost, she would go back to her people for help.
Much later, I would discover the child’s name was Rose…
A Fresh Start by Anurag Bhakhshi
As his beautiful wife opens the door, I stare longingly at the ornate interiors of his palatial mansion.
All this could have been mine, if the boy whom I’d raised as my own son had not betrayed me.
Unable to bear the loss of everything I’d held dear, I was on the verge of ending my life, when I recalled his words “Not all is lost, till you lose hope.”
And so, here I am, looking for a fresh start.
Hoping against hope that Aladdin’s wife will exchange that ‘useless old piece of junk’ for a brand new lamp.
A Tribute to Military Pilots (BOTS) by Susan Sleggs
An Air Force pilot friend shared: My crew and I were walking to our plane for a training run and stopped in our tracks when the base fire siren went off. We looked around and then up. Our hearts jumped into our throats when we saw a plane rushing the runway on fire. It hit with a huge explosion. We didn’t believe anyone could survive, but not all was lost, within minutes six airmen walked from the smoke. We learned the meaning of “any landing you walk away from is a good landing; some are just better than others.”
I’ve Got You Now by Jan Malique
I’ve got you now, hold on tight. The fall hurt, you’re bleeding. I’m so sorry you decided to take this course of action. I didn’t realise you heard, damn me for being so selfish! I didn’t need help, just acting out like a spoilt child.
I can’t hear what you’re saying. Does your throat hurt? What you must think of me. Your eyes are so sad, I can’t bear to look at them. Hold still, I’ll wipe the blood off you. Sorry, so sorry! Your beautiful wings, torn and charred. Can you ever forgive me, my dear guardian angel?
The Remedy by Wallie and Friend
He hadn’t wanted her to see. It was inevitable that she should. In his mind he had pictured her reaction, imagining a thousand teasing quips—“I always said you were the handsome one”—but when she came in his humor failed. He saw her shock and it brought the walls down around him.
She went straight to the bed. His heart monitor was racing, but she wrapped him in her arms, her hand soothing his broken face. He felt her kiss as he cried. Her touch was gentle, as steady as her voice.
“My angel,” she said. “My angel.”
The Crows Secret by Colleen Chesebro ~ The Fairy Whisperer
She was losing control of her powers. Zaria woke up, hovering above the bed staring down at the rumpled sheets twisted below. She fell, landing hard on the floor. Without her magic, she was nothing. She would be banned from the witch’s council.
Zaria arose from the floor. From his perch on the windowsill, crow flapped his wings and landed on her shoulder. He whispered in her ear, “Not all is lost. I’m here to give you the gift of clairvoyance.”
The young witch grinned. She felt the veil lift. Thank you crow, I see what you are saying.”
That Kind Of Day by Heather Gonzalez
Today has been the worst. It started off like an ordinary Monday, but it definitely didn’t end that way.
My car wouldn’t start right away. I got to work late, but just in time for my boss to notice. If that wasn’t bad enough, they announced that we would be working this weekend.
I made it home later than usual due to the rain. I poured myself a glass of wine, put my feet up, and turned on Netflix. A large cracking sound came from outside. Everything went dark. Not all was lost. At least I still had wine.
Let It Go by Susan Sleggs
The cocky author had gone to the writing conference feeling he would come away with an agent; the pamphlet said he could pitch them. He listened, open minded, to the various panel discussions and realized he would have to rewrite his whole manuscript so it started and ended with a bang. He decided it wasn’t worth his time, and appreciated the writing he had done had gotten him through a rough patch in his life. All was not lost: the next time he read a book, he read for pleasure instead of learning the craft. He felt oddly free.
PART II (10-minute read)
Creative Cul-de-sac? by Anne Goodwin
Some days I led the way and, obediently, they followed. On better days, they raced ahead and I trailed after. On bad days, I bribed and begged for their company.
Sometimes, the path unwound for miles ahead. Sometimes, each step seemed virgin territory. Sometimes, we backtracked to try from a different angle. But always moving, discovering, until they abandoned me in darkness, sour and dank, patting the walls but no sign of an exit. Stuck. Despairing. All that effort wasted.
A chink of light that, as I watch, grows. Bigger. Brighter. Braver than before, we leave the cave together.
Not All is Lost by Robbie Cheadle
She gazed at the results of the board examinations in shock. This was her final academic hurdle to qualify as a lawyer and she had failed one of the three papers. She didn’t know how she would face her family, especially her Mother who had such high hopes for her. Her Mother would say that she would never pass. She knew her Mother’s negative cast of mind.
The conversation didn’t go as she expected at all. “You can re-write the examination next year,” her Mother said with surprising positiveness. “You will definitely pass next time, all is not lost.”
A Different Way of Being Faithful by Paula Moyer
Jean and Bill had been divorced for 12 years when she got the call. “Your father died this morning.” Her mother’s voice, baffled.
Later that morning, she and her husband Steve flew to Oklahoma. Later that night, Bill arrived, along with the girls, Lydia and Nola. The next day, as Jean and her mother put together the funeral, they needed one more pallbearer. A quick call to Bill’s hotel room settled it: “I would be honored.”
At the cemetery, Jean watched the coffin trundling past, Steve and Bill shouldering opposite sides. After everything, she could still count on Bill.
Losses and Gains by D. Avery
Ilene was first to the lawn chairs, Marge huffing behind.
“I gotta sit down. Phew. Do your feet hurt?”
“Not even one of them. Marge, stop walking in your work boots. I happen to have extra left footed sneakers if you want to start there.”
“Ilene, you’re something, always joking about your leg.”
“I lost a leg, Marge, not my humor. I’m lucky I didn’t lose my life.”
“Well, let’s have a beer to celebrate. I think I lost another five pounds on that walk.”
Ilene watched her friend bend to open the cooler. “All is not lost, Marge.”
Believing by Allison Maruska
Infernal wailing resonates. I gulp my drink, wishing it would drown the torture.
A regular beat permeates the mood. One by one, my compatriots take their place. Some surprise me with their poise. Others…well, I need another drink.
But not all is lost. When I think my nerves and head can’t take any more, my name is called. I trudge to the center. Now, others are swigging their drinks, wondering what I’ll bring.
The beat starts, followed by a that famous piano riff. My onlookers groan as I grab the mic.
Screw those guys. I haven’t stopped believing.
A Tumble in Time by Bill Engleson
“Yes, sockless. Shoeless too.”
“On a damp grassy incline?”
“So, quite slippery, I assume?”
“As slick as a grifter’s tongue.”
“Thanks for that. So?”
“So, why did I do it?”
“Yeah, good guess. Don’t you keep sandals by the back door?”
“For stepping outside?”
“Too much trouble?”
“To slip them on? No. But they’ve seen better days.”
“So have you, it appears.”
“Never fallen like that before. Scared the bejesus out of me.”
“Nothing broke, though.”
“Dumb luck. Still, it took me two hours to crawl up.”
“Yup. Never ever go outside.”
You Can’t Get There From Here by Robert Kirkendall
A city person pulled into a rural service station. “Excuse me, sir, do you know the way to Davenport?”
“Davenport?” the rustic attendant answered. “Don’t reckon I do.”
“How about Greenfield?”
The attendant pondered. “Nope, don’t know the way there either.”
“Well can you tell me the way to the nearest Interstate?”
“I suppose if you keep driving down this highway you’ll run into one, but I don’t rightly know exactly where.”
The driver became frustrated. “I must say, you don’t seem to know your way around here.”
The attendant chuckled. “Yeah, but I’m not the one who’s lost.”
And All Shall Be Equal Before the Law by PaperShots
So we walked on, our hands on our friends’ shoulders. We could barely see ahead. From the crowd, some shouted at us, “Where are you going?” – the kids cried. The echo below the vaults was terrifying. It rippled the filthy water! (raises his voice) “Where are you going?” The stench in the sewers was unbelievable. (a thought strikes him) And at the same time on the other side of town the defense lines had been broken through. Those neighborhoods were free. We didn’t know. Communication was so bad. We ended up in a field miles to the north. (laughter)
It’s a Matter of Getting Up by Miriam Hurdle
It was early December 2017, the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, California devoured 307,900 acres and 1,300 structures. 230,000 residents described the wildfires in the neighborhood as a war zone. Smoke stretched 1,000 miles across the Pacific.
By Christmas, residents came back to their burned home, found pieces of displaced family photos. They pinned them on a bulletin to find owners. Some put up Christmas trees, decorations to bring cheer to the neighborhood. Strangers hugged each other and shed some tears. Homes and belongings were gone. Yet not all is lost. They wanted to rebuild and be neighbors again.
Not All is Lost by Jack Schuyler
Heat wafts over the night breeze and the somber smell of wood smoke settles in the neighborhood. Two stories are no more and the once sturdy foundation is now a bed of coals. Amid the destruction, I am struck by an overwhelming wave of gratitude. Not all is lost.
With our arms around each other, we watch firemen scurry like ants over the burning wreckage. The fire dwindles and the light goes out. Sirens cease and the stars return. At the edge of the smoldering ruins, we embrace in the bittersweet spirit of, “at least I didn’t lose you.”
A Flower Called Hope by Di @ penitivity101
The land lies barren and dry,
Drought is a killer.
Crop fields harvest dust,
Bairns cry in hunger.
The heat shows no mercy,
Hands blistered and sore
Until the blood flows.
Animals have deserted
This once bountiful place,
The bones of the unfortunate
Bleach in the relentless sun.
Bowls and vats lie hollow,
Their meagre contents
Rationed rather than shared.
Their days are numbered,
Maybe only single figures.
A tear falls from the sky,
One becomes many
And a lone flower dares
To raise its head.
All is not lost:
Clouds are gathering,
And with them,
Hope by Kay Kingsley
“Not all is lost” he says in a protective, loving voice.
She shakes her head, trapped in an internal conversation between good and bad, like refereeing a match between reality and remaining positive. She chuckles at the absurdity.
What he means to say is ‘All hope is not lost’. You can lose everything but it’s only hope that rescues the lost, only hope brings you back, only hope paves the way through the darkness ahead.
The irony of her name is not lost on her. You have to lose it to find it but she’s been Hope all along.
Not the End of the World by Norah Colvin
Ever have one of those days? You know—it seems the world is against you, and everything you do goes wrong. Maybe you oversleep and in your rush, you fumble, make mistakes and get even later. You hurry to the stop as your bus pulls away. You flop down reviewing life’s punishments, and some jackass walks by telling you to “Smile, it’s not the end of the world.” What would he know? You open your phone and scroll: trivial drivel. Then this one story blows your insignificancies away. You phone your appointment, apologise and reschedule. All is not lost.
Stand and Deliver! by Juliet Nubel
‘Gimme your bag!’
She almost laughed at her friend’s attempt at the local thick accent until she felt the hard pull on her shoulder.
He wore a strange trilby hat pulled low onto his forehead and had tied a bandana scarf around his face. All she could see was the shining whites of his eyes and the gun pointing in her direction. Real or a toy? She didn’t want to know.
She handed over the bag. Keys, credit cards, telephone would now belong to this stranger.
But she held onto the gold locket around her neck. And her life.
Not All is Lost by Sarah Whiley
The strangers with her on the rooftop paused in unison.
Too scared to move, she realised she was holding her breath.
A single shot echoed off the bricks, shattering clay at her feet.
The shooter had found them.
She couldn’t believe this was happening. This was her high school, not the six o’clock news!
She felt something wet and realised she had peed her pants. She watched the yellow trickle out until two black boots stopped it short.
She squeezed her eyes shut and waited.
The click of an empty chamber told her, not all was lost after all.
Comic Relief by FloridaBorne
My mind in fog, the car wandered through a mall parking lot the day after New Year’s. A few empty spaces waited near an expensive store and I walked past a perfume counter with one goal.
I needed a black dress.
Passing the cosmetics counter, I hear wailing. No one scrambling to call 911, no sirens, just 2 high school girls consoling their friend over a broken nail.
I laughed at the irony. Should I tell the 3 Stooges, “Not all is lost?”
No. It was the first time I’d felt like smiling since my husband had passed away.
Signposts by Saifun Hassam
In the garden, Lisa grieved for Aunt Veronica, an artist and illustrator of all things botanical. Lisa’s own interest in archaeology was sparked on a family vacation with Veronica, to see prehistoric rock and cave paintings in Brazil. Not all is lost.
Veronica swiftly sketched the cave artwork, and the prehistoric villages. Lisa caught her aunt’s excitement. She learned how to glean the stories of people, to look for ancient and prehistoric signposts, when there are no written records.
Lisa inherited Veronica’s Library. Not all is lost. Veronica’s generous gift filled her with a deep abiding sense of gratitude.
Disaster Strikes by Teresa Grabs
Even when times looked their darkest, everyone could count of the sun to rise, and drive away the night and its memories. No one would ever believe that the sun would not rise, but that is exactly what happened on June 28, 3258. Reports indicated a massive black hole developed behind the sun and devoured it, just like one had to Jupiter three years earlier. We had less than twenty-four hours to get off this planet before we all perished. Thankfully though, our global distress signal was intercepted by the Third Intergalactic Fleet. I wonder if they eat humans.
Grant Gain by JulesPaige
Gather together, permit others
As they offer their aide
In your heart of hearts, fear not – forbid
Nightmares their tight grasp upon reality
Golden opportunities await
Angels in plain clothes to host
Individuals, families – some will
Need less others more…
Grant those who come as a visitor
An opportunity to become family
Include them as repairs begin –
Not all is lost…
healing can take years –
fears ebb and flow like water
mud can cloud good hope
let those in who filter out
dark diteris and debris
focus on mending
both that which is solid as
well as what’s unseen
Reality Check by D. Avery
“Pal, buy me a beer.”
“Cain’t Kid, spent ma beer money on the Go Fund Me fer Cynthia Riley.”
“Same here, Pal.”
“That’s good, Kid, ‘cause them folks up there really need ta dry out.”
“Whyn’t they jist come shelter here at the Ranch?”
“Ah, Kid, the Ranch is a wonnerful shelterin’ place, but yer always fergittin’ ‘bout the virtual elements of it.”
“Here ya go agin, Pal, havin’ ta remind me we’s fictional characters. But I really wanna help.”
“I’m sure the Rileys ‘preciate you givin’ up yer beer money, Kid.”
“Could be worse.”
Ripley House of Healing (For Cynthia) by Charli MIlls
After the river subsided and rubble settled, Cynthia found a photo of her daughter at age nine lying face-down in red mud. Memories flood like the main floor of her 112-year-old home. She came to Copper Country to help the elderly. As a young intern, she worked out of a house below now buried in a debris field. She stayed, married, raised a family, and raised her voice to protect the vulnerable. She looks up at the house still standing, gutted of walls and floors. She stands up for her Ripley House of Healing. Her story is not lost.
You can help Cynthia Drake who had a Copper Country mountain slide into her house and force a river to reroute through her Ripley Home of Healing where Carrot Ranch was to host writing retreats. GoFundMe: Help the Drakes.