Hope was so relieved when she and her mother reached the last room of their new house. The house was old, dirty; uncared for and in need of more TLC than she thought she was capable of.
Their lives had been spent moving from house to house as her mother dodged rent, bills and work. They seemed forever on the run and Hope was tired of the constant scams her mother ran to profit from the gullibility of others.
This house was the worst house they had ever lived in. It came with some meagre furnishings and so when they arrived with little more than the clothes on their backs the prospects looked pretty much the same as the last place they had lived in, temporary.
But her mother was a perennial optimist and treated the new house as a chance for a new start. Hope had heard it all before and had no reason to believe this would be any different.
On the first morning, Hope awoke to the sun shining through her bedroom window and thought she’d rig up some sort of shade to darken the room. As she contemplated this, there was a rap on the front door.
At the door stood a small, aging lady who smiled at Hope and asked if her mother was in.
“The rent lady,” thought Hope, “mum’s reputation was way ahead of them in this place.”
Hope’s mother was not a morning person often staying in bed until later in the day. She explained her mother was not up as yet, but she would let her know she had had a caller.
The old lady smiled once again and handed Hope an envelope and explained to her that her mother was to report to the address on the envelope as a job was to be found there.
Hope was taken aback and almost laughed at the suggestion her mother might actually work. It wasn’t something she did.
The old lady went away, and Hope placed the envelope on the kitchen table for when her mother might eventually get up.
To Hope’s surprise, her mother appeared a few minutes later. Hope pointed out the envelope, and told her mother about the old lady.
“Oh,” said her mother as she picked up the envelope. On the front was written: Darlene’s Cake and Pie Shop, 11 Beneficiary Street.
Her mother looked at the envelope and then back at her daughter. “I’d best get going then,” she said as gulped down some tea Hope had made for her.
This was the start of strange behaviour from her mother. Each morning she’d be up before dawn and hurry off to work. In the evenings she’d bring home some cake or pie leftover from the shop to share with her daughter.
Her mother was happy, she came home full of stories about her day, of the customers who came into the shop and the stories Darlene regaled her with.
At the end of the first week, the old lady appeared at their front door once again. Hope was alarmed that she might be after rent as her mother had said she wouldn’t be paid until the next week.
It was Saturday morning her mother didn’t have to work and so was having a sleep in. She’d noticed each day her mother was in bed early, no going out, no drinking, no entertaining male guests.
The old lady asked if she could come in and as she walked down the corridor to the kitchen, she looked right and left as she walked past each room nodding as she did so.
“You’ve got the place looking good,” said the old lady, “it’s a credit to you both.”
Hope smiled back and wondered what she wanted as she knew her mother was not one for receiving visitors when she expected to be in bed asleep.
Just then she heard her mother and turned to see her standing at the kitchen door.
“Thought I’d pop by dear, you are making a great start, love what you and Hope are doing with this place and I hear excellent reports from Darlene about you.”
Hope rarely saw her mother blush though her behaviour this past week had been so surprising nothing seemed unusual anymore.
“Thank you, Miss Marble,” said her mother, “I’m trying, and I’m determined to make something of this opportunity.”
“Of course you are dear,” said a beaming Miss Marble, “ it’s my pleasure to see you doing well. Keep it up, your daughter deserves a lot better.”
After Miss Marble had left Hope looked at her mother, there was something different about her, and she watched as she sat at the kitchen table and wrapped her hands around the cup of coffee Hope had made for her.
“This is a good place Hope,” she said, “I want to stay here, and I want you to stay with me. You are my Hope.”