Seeing Carl was not unusual. Hearing from Carl was quite unusual.
“I dreamed of you in spectacular color.”
Carl clutched his backpack to his chest with both hands. He took a step forward. Maybe he was aware of the others. Maybe not.
“I dreamed of you in this very moment.”
She raised her eyebrow. Seeing Carl was not unusual. Hearing from Carl was quite unusual.
“You were making me a biscuit. One of those hot buttered rounds where the strawberry jelly is so thick it leaks and stains the sides. Heavens.”
Jasmine put a slice of cheese and a wedge of ham between the folds of biscuit and wrapped it in yellow wax paper. She stepped to her left, in front of the pail of potatoes, and Carl followed.
“You want hash browns,” she asked.
Carl leaned forward to whisper. “Can you not see?”
Jasmine sighed. “I don’t have time, Carl. You want hash browns or not?”
Carl turned and looked at those who stood waiting. The couples with their eyes glued to their cell phones, their hands in a constant scroll. The girl who pulled the string of pink bubblegum from her mouth, wrapped it around her finger in a loop of three and stared at him.
“You are in my dreams. And, yet, you are here before me, now in this presence, serving me a feast upon which I shall savor and accept with the greatest of gratitude.”
Jasmine walked to the register and her fingers punched the numbers. Her feet hurt. She’d been making biscuits since 5 a.m. and her baby needed more formula.
“Three twenty five, Carl.”
He stood before as he does nearly every morning. He wears the same long coat with the holes in the sleeve. His pants are still dirty and his shoes covered in dirt. His hair is thin on top, greasy and unwashed. He smiles and she sees his teeth stained yellow, one missing, completing the homeless ensemble.
“I see you every night,” Carl says, reaching his hand inside his pocket, where he digs and digs and digs.
“Hey buddy,” says the man with the cell phone. “Can you pick it up?”
Jasmine smells him and she wonders if he joins the others under the overpass by the interstate. She sees them when she drives to pick up her daughter from her mother. Carl is here every morning and he’ll shyly slide a quarter across the counter and ask for a cup of coffee. Never before has he asked for a biscuit.
He pulls his hand from his trousers and his palm is empty. He raises his eyes and she notices they are brown, as brown as her baby girl’s.
Jasmine pushes the biscuit across the counter to his waiting hands. And he smiles.
“You do see. My dream angel.”
NOTE: The above work of fiction came from a writing prompt presented during a recent Pen to Paper Live session hosted by the Charlotte Lit organization. You can register here. In the session, presenter Kathie Collins challenged us to think of synchronicity. As writers, we are always excavating something or using our writing to explore something inside us.
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