Pieces of Hope

Pieces of Hope by Carolyn Carter Read Free Book Online

Book: Pieces of Hope by Carolyn Carter Read Free Book Online
Authors: Carolyn Carter
front of the building. I pressed my face against the
glass and peeked inside. The room was massive on the inside, ten times larger
than it had seemed from the outside, and it was crowded with people. Polished
wooden benches like those from an old train depot filled up most of the large,
square room. In the left corner, a long line of customers stood in front of a
sparkling ticket booth. To its right, behind an almost invisible wall of glass,
a shiny, flat-nosed bus awaited passengers.
    My
stomach growled as I inhaled the delicious scents of cinnamon and sugar and
chocolate—and I remembered the café. I stepped inside the revolving
door—pausing to admire its perfectly polished brass and glass—but before I
could push it forward, it revolved on its own, granting me easy entrance.
    I took
one step inside the station and stumbled sideways. Emotions hung in the air
like candied clouds, leaving my head dizzy and my skin tingly. After steadying
myself, I ambled toward a wide, arched doorway, where a bright neon sign marked
the entrance to the café. The sugary scent was a lot stronger in here. My mouth
watered, and I licked my lips.
      A notice at the door told me to seat myself,
but I hesitated. I couldn’t believe how enormous it was, nor had I ever seen a
restaurant so glowingly spotless. The décor was straight out of another
decade—red upholstered booths, yellow walls, black and white checkered floors.
Music glided around the room from an old jukebox in the corner. It was a love
song from the forties, a tune by Billie Holiday. I hadn’t the faintest idea how
I knew this, but in my mind it sounded so familiar.    
    I was
still standing awkwardly in the doorway when I glanced to a booth near the
windows and spotted a girl about my age with a huge grin spread over her face.
Although she didn’t utter a sound, I swore I heard her yell excitedly, “Over
here! Come sit by me!”
    I slid
into the booth across from her. She had a round, cheerful face. Her beautiful
skin was darker than Brody’s, almost a velvety black. She wore an old-fashioned
wrap-style dress, and her onyx hair waved neatly down to her chin. Beneath a
smooth swirl of bangs, she stared at me with large brown eyes, the most
compelling eyes I’d ever seen.
    “Hey,” I
muttered nervously. “Thanks for the seat.”
    “I have
to admit. Of the myriad of things I thought you’d say, ‘thanks for the seat’
wasn’t one of them.” Her voice was softly pleasant. “It’s official. I’m not
half as smart as I think I am . . .” A smile tugged at the corners of her
mouth. “Hope Valenti.”  
    My mouth
fell open. “Do I know you?”
    “I’m Creesie Brown.” She extended a warm hand across the table,
the smile never leaving her face. “But there’ll be eons of time for catching up
later.” The word eons stuck in my
head. Had she meant that literally? “The important thing is you made it. From
here, it took only a second or two, less than the blink of an eye, but I
suspect it feels like a very long day to you.”
    She
glanced at a clock on the wall, and my eyes followed along. It had numbers, but
no hands. Across its stark white face was written: It’s later than you think .
    “Ever
heard that old expression . . . time flies? Clever, isn’t it? You were probably
taught that someone in the living realm came up with it, but that simply isn’t
the case. Nearly every one of life’s seemingly useless sayings were first
uttered here.” She tapped a short finger on the tablecloth. “They started off
as reminders, things to pay attention to, but then they spread, well, elsewhere
and—Oh, my goodness!—I’m babbling, aren’t I? Please forgive me, I’m a little
new at this.” She cast a swift glance upward, so brief I almost missed it, then
flashed another megawatt smile. “ Anyhoo , now that
you’re safely here, maybe your mother will finally stop pestering me.”
    Astonished,
I gushed, “You—You know my mother? How is she? Tell

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