Commonwealth, XVII: Bread and Roses

Commonwealth, XVII: Bread and Roses January 10, 2020

Commonwealth: A Novel of Utopia, part 1, chapter 5

Author’s Note: This is an excerpt from my novel Commonwealth. The rest of today’s installment is free, but only on my Patreon site. If you want to read the next part today, it’s already up on Patreon as well. You can sign up for as little as $1/month. There’s also a table of contents for all published chapters.

The door opened noiselessly on oiled hinges.

The office beyond was absurdly spacious. There was an expanse of deep-blue carpet with a repeating pattern of golden crosses; rows of bookshelves filled with antique tomes; a bronze orb crowned with a cross on a polished wooden stand; a stained-glass window that looked out on the avenue.

Rev. Marybeth Whitmun sat behind a battleship-sized desk working on a computer, but as Rae came in, she stood up and held out a hand.

She was built on the same scale as her office, heavyset but big, almost as wide as she was tall. She had a jolly, round face, a wide smile that displayed shiny white teeth, blue eyes, thickly braided blond hair. She wore robes of white samite with intricate arabesques of gold thread.

Her handshake was bone-crushing. Rae tried not to wince.

“Greetings, my daughter. How can I help you?”

“Good morning – uh – Reverend. I’m sorry for taking up your time. I have a small favor to ask.”

“I have no higher calling than to assist a fellow child of God. What is it you need?”

“I’m trying to find an old friend,” Rae said, with a trace of the self-deprecating laughter that had worked before. “Her name is Sophia Russell. She moved, you see, and I lost her forwarding address…”

She hesitated. A cloud passed over the reverend’s huge face, seeming to dim the light in the room.

“Many people have been asking after Sister Russell lately,” she said, crossing her arms in the sleeves of her robe.

Oops, Rae thought.

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