It had been five years since Hope AmeliaLansdowne had been back at her quaint suburban home Hope County.
She and her brother had taken it upon themselves to honor their family militant history. Both of their grandfathers had fought in the World Wars. Their Great Grandfather served in World War I, while their Grandfather had fought in World War II and now their father served as a soldier.
And because of this line of service, they felt this family honor now fell upon them to carry out. To make their ancestors proud.
Hope was never just an ‘ordinary girl’. She never played with dolls or other ‘girl’ toys. She and her brother were often dragged out to the aircraft - that was owned by their grandfather - where she and her brother were taught how to shoot guns. She preferred this, it suited her much better – she felt – rather than following the societal norms of how a proper lady should behave or act. She didn’t care, her mother on the other hand was indifferent to this idea. As she continuously expressed her thoughts and feelings on the matter with a statement along the lines of, “Guns were not for girls”, or “Hope, that is not very lady like”.
Hope slowly learned to begrudgingly ignore her mother's statements and continued on. And to her mother's dismay she was taught how to properly use a gun.
She, of course, didn’t jump directly into shooting off rifles. No, she started off slowly – slingshots and a bow – then finally was taught how to shoot a proper gun.
Hope, of course loved it!
All of her fondest childhood memories revolved around heading up to the Whitetail Mountains and setting up shop with her older brother and father to shoot targets and then eventually hunting.
Years went on continuing this father, daughter and son tradition, under her mother's watchful eye. The amount of times she and her brother stayed up late at night, looking down, hiding in the shadows of the stairs bannister at the sight of their mother and father fighting over letting the two of them – mostly Hope – shoot off guns was, inappropriate for their age – and for Hope – her gender. The fights typically ended with a hug and kiss and the triumphant smirk of their father looking down upon the annoyed face of their mother. He always won the arguments, whether or not she was right.
As she reached the age of fifteen, her father had begun to teach her how to fly the old plane that was passed down from her father's father and so on. From what she remembers, those were some of the best and most memorable days of her childhood. Of course, it took some time for her to truly get the hang of it, but eventually she became very good and finally felt she was a true pilot like her father and ancestors before.
As time went on, she got to prime age of eighteen, where she could finally enlist into the army like she had planned. Her brother had just gotten home from his line of duty, with some visible and invisible scars, but that didn’t scare young Hope. It lit the fire in her heart. It only made her want to go more. She craved adventure.
And so, she went on three tours of duty in the span of five years.
Hope of course - in that five-year span - had visited her best friend Mary May a handful of times, who resided in Falls End. However, when Hope finished her five-year service in the army, she felt she had seen enough.
It was truly time to go home.
And so, she set off on her long journey back to her home of Hope County.
On the car ride in she couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of happiness to be home again and seeing the county sign that brought back so many memories, she definitely felt it.
As happy as she was, she was unaware of the fact that while she was coming home from a war, she was entering another war, right here in her home of Hope County.
Henbane River was completely different from what she had remembered. As she drove and passed many familiar buildings, she couldn’t help but notice the many spray-painted words which read ‘SINNER’, scribbled on almost every home and car she passed. Right then, she knew something was wrong. Something was different. The environment from which she grew, was changed, in the matter of half a decade. The home of whence she grew, had disappeared. Not entirely, but enough to give her a sick feeling in her stomach as she looked around at the atmosphere around her.
As she passed some of the rivers close to the road, she couldn’t help but notice the air was full of something she did not recognize. It immediately made her fill with an overwhelming feeling of content. She swooned over this new feeling. However, when passing by and leaving the area it quickly vanished. She shook it from her thoughts and figured she must just have been tired.
After a few more minutes of driving – which felt like an eternity to her - she finally approached the familiar ranch of her childhood, family home. She quickly shut off the engine and immediately jumped from her car in overwhelming excitement to grab her duffle bag of belongings.
As she reached the front door, she couldn’t help but turn to the breathtaking view of the beautiful Whitetail mountains of which she had grown close with as a child. She sighed with content.
‘I’m finally home’.
A small smile escaped from her lips and as she did so the door from behind her opened quickly. She turned to see the familiar face of her brother. A big smile shone brightly on his face as he looked upon his little sister.
In their time apart, they had been writing to each other continuously, but obviously this was nothing compared to words on paper.
He quickly enveloped his sister into his arms and held her for what seemed like an eternity. For that’s how long they seemed to be away from each other. She heard him speak from above her and felt the rumble of his words vibrate through his chest as he held her.
“Welcome home, little sister.”
She sighed in content just happy to be home again. As they pulled away from each other, she couldn’t help but take notice of the odd attire he had on. A plain red t-shirt, brown leather jacket and shorts. Nothing too out of the ordinary for him, however it’s what he had hanging from his neck that caught her immediate interest – a religious cross with a floral background. She shook it from her thoughts quickly and decided not to ask questions.
“Come on in! What are you waiting for? Your bedroom hasn’t been touched since you left.” He told her in excitement, turning into the house, expecting her to follow.
“Yep, I’m coming!” She giggled to herself, following her older brother inside. “I still can’t believe I’m home. . .”
As Hope took a shower upstairs, her brother, Marcus prepared them something to eat. Knowing Hope would be very hungry from such a long journey back home.
During supper, it was like nothing had ever changed between them. They laughed and spoke about old times. She was in such bliss to be home again and with her brother after so long.
After supper had finished, Hope took it upon herself to put the plates in the sink and with a quick goodnight to Marcus, she headed off to bed for a much-needed rest.
As morning came and the familiar shine of the sun – which she had craved longingly - shone through Hope’s blinds. This was the first time in nearly five years that she had woken up naturally. Looking at the clock next to her bed, she realized that it was nearly mid-day. She chuckled slightly to herself, falling back into her pillow and swiftly moving a fallen lock of her hair from her face. She must have been especially tired.
After lying in bed for a little while longer, enjoying the warmth of her bed and of course the fact that she had no reason to get up, she had no one screaming at her to wake up at the unbearable hours of the early morning, she reluctantly got up and headed downstairs. Expecting to find her brother somewhere in the house. However, that was not the case. Instead of finding him, she found a handwritten note,
“I’ve been called to St. Francis Veteran Centre for some work. I should be home later. I’ll see you soon. -M”.
Hope shrugged it off and decided she would give her best friend Mary May a much-needed visit. She headed back up the steps to her bedroom and put on some tight, dark, blue-jeans, a black t-shirt and her favorite black combat boots. Putting her familiar military jacket on - which she couldn’t seem to be apart from – She Grabbed her keys and headed out.
However, before she started for Falls End, she decided to take a visit to the airstrip that held her esteemed twin-engine aircraft.
When she opened the sliding hangar door, she couldn’t believe what appeared before her eyes.
Her old, but still beautiful plane sat right where she had left it. However, she noticed something different about it. As she circled around her plane, she noticed the bombs attached on the wings, the machine gun attached under the nose, but most importantly - the same symbol her brother had around his neck – was on both sides of her beloved plane's wings.
“Who the fuck. . .” She whispered under her breath as she brushed her fingers over the mark. She was steaming with rage. So much so, that the newly painted symbols on her plane's wings began to get blurry from the sudden tears that brimmed her eyes.
When Marcus comes home, he will have some serious explaining to do.
She reluctantly left the hangar and slammed the metal door before and stomping her way back to her vehicle and with tears streaming down her face, she headed off to Falls End.