As the snow recedes (again), a hillside in Hancock is covered in purple crocus. I didn’t know what to expect when our false spring arrived hot enough to force blooms and buds only to dip back below freezing with back-to-back blizzards. Would the buried blooms rise again?

The color of hope is purple. Or is it?

Todd has shoveled the last of the ice and snow from our deck. He sits outside, arms crossed, smoking his pipe. It’s 31 degrees Fahrenheit outside, which is below zero Celsius. His beanie is pulled low over his ears. He calls for me to, “Come, see.”

In the Poet Tree two tiny birds dance upside down and around and around the trunk. The male’s feathers are bluer than the female’s gray ones. A pair of nuthatches. Todd tells me they are the tiniest woodpeckers in Michigan.

Hmmm. I don’t argue. Hope never has to be right. Nuthatch or tiny woodpecker, I’m still smiling over the light in his eyes earlier. He was animated over YouTube getting the algorithms dialed in to preview videos they predicted he’d like.

We share my YouTube so he doesn’t have to watch commercials. He likes to watch interviews with operators, past Vikings football games, Casual Geographic, Dave Stamey, and SNL skits. I research weird things, as fiction writers often do, watch courses on Jungian psychology, and listen to Yanni. YouTube is likely confused over predicting what our account might watch. But this morning, they delivered Todd previews of The Red Green Show.

It might seem a little thing, and hope usually is, but I enjoyed every minute of him standing in the doorway to my Unicorn Room, laughing, eyes lit up, pleased to have YouTube understand his sense of humor for once. He acted out this entire scene for “Delicate” and had me rolling on my yoga mat, laughing. At that moment, hope was all Red (Green).

The night before, we went out on a dinner date with three Vietnam veteran couples. I marveled at how we could laugh, swap stories, tease “the guys,” and share a meal despite the numerous medical trips to the VA we are all facing. One couple is headed to Milwaukee, another to Wausau, and the rest of us making “day” trips to Marquette or Iron Mountain. We gather because we don’t give up hope.

Maybe we circle back to hope to be the color purple. I wonder why injured soldiers are awarded Purple Hearts. Because purple is hopeful? Injured but alive? None of our group has a Purple Heart. Such injuries sustained have to be in combat by enemy fire. There’s no medal for breaking down beneath the weight of having served. We are fine with that. We only want healthcare. What we face plays out in Season Two of Seal Teams in an episode called “Medicate and Isolate.”

The fact that Todd can watch a series reflect what it’s like to seek help for TBIs after service helps him feel heard. That’s a superpower writers have — to portray “what ifs” and “what it’s like” to people who feel invisible. It’s the reason I chose women’s fiction as my genre because I wanted to write the stories I knew about women but never saw portrayed in books or films. Hope could be a different color; a specific color; the rainbow.

I need hope this week. It’s been increasingly difficult for me to go to class at Finlandia. Only one or two students show up. Half my class has left though some are turning in assignments online. My idea to buoy hope with journal writing led to depressing responses. This is my last week. I will hold a pizza party for my final exam next Monday. I’ll grade papers, issue grades, clean out my office, and close a chapter I thought would be longer.

Yet, on a hillside in Hancock, purple crocus bloom. No matter the color of hope, we only need a smidge.

April 24, 2023, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about the color of hope. Who is in need of hope and why? How can you use color to shape the story? Pick a color, any color. Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by April 30, 2023. Please use the form below if you want to be published in the weekly collection. The Collection publishes on the Wednesday following the next Challenge. Stories must be 99 words. Rules & Guidelines.
  2. Writers retain all copyrights to any stories published at Carrot Ranch.
  3. A website or social media presence is not required to submit. A blog or social media link will be included in the title of any story submitted with one.
  4. Please include your byline with your title on one line. Example: Little Calves by Charli Mills. Your byline can be different from your name.
  5. Please include the hashtag #99WordStories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts on social media.


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