A Flower at Midnight

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The clock struck twelve, and midnight came upon the small town of Mahone Bay. Most of its residents had long since fallen asleep, but two people remained outside. A man and a woman.
They walked together, side by side, each glancing at the other every now and then. The two were close - very close, as any resident of Mahone Bay will tell you.They were friends, but nothing more - yet.
The man glanced again at the woman - Kathleen Churchill was her name. In the soft illumination of the moonlight, her face shone with an ethereal beauty, like an angel’s. Her long legs walked gracefully amid the chatter of crickets, and her eyes glowed with a quiet brilliance like the moon. Her dress, a beautiful white thing with fanciful ruffles in all the right places, was one of many gifts from the man walking beside her. Gifts of friendship, as he called them. And Kathleen had never thought of them as anything else. After all, she didn’t even realize that the man (John Stuart he was called) was grown up enough to look at her - or any female - as a woman. Neither would anyone who ever saw him. Though he was twenty-one, an “adult”, he had a certain childish look about him. Perhaps it was that youthful glint of mischief in his eyes, or his small hands, or his hair, which was fluffy like a child’s.
Truth be told, John really wasn’t mature, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t love a woman. In fact he did love one - Kathleen Churchill. John Stuart had loved her ever since he first met her, back in ninth grade. Back then, there had been too many boys around her - handsome boys who had all confessed their love to her, and been rejected. What chance would he have? So instead, John decided to become Kathleen’s friend. But even so, in the back of his mind, he was always looking for a chance to make Kathleen rightfully his. And what better chance than now? Everything was perfect - the romance in the air was almost tangible.
They walked past old Ms. Ellorn’s house, and oh, what a glorious flower bed she had. John stooped to pick up a flower (he did not know its name, only that it was quite pretty), and Kathleen walked a few more paces forward before realizing the absence of her partner. Puzzled, she turned around, to find herself facing John holding out a flower to her. But it wasn’t the flower that John held out to her that caught her attention first. It was his gaze, which had suddenly lost the boyish charm it had always possessed. Though John did not say a single word, his gaze said I love you a thousand times.
“Th-Thanks,” Kathleen said, unsure of what to do. Perhaps it was a trick of the moonlight. It was impossible - John had never shown anything more than friendly affection towards her. But she decided to see for herself. “Is this,” she asked tentatively, “perhaps another gift of friendship?”
John slowly shook his head, his eyes never leaving Kathleen’s. They looked at each other for a good five minutes, none of them daring to speak.
John was the one to break the silence. “The flower,” he said slowly, putting a meaningful weight into every syllable, “ is a gift of my love.”
He looked down, a thousand thoughts racing through his mind. Would she accept his feelings? She had to think something of him. He imagined himself embracing her, and thought about how badly he wanted her. Perhaps she would accept him. But if not -
“I’m so sorry.”
Kathleen’s voice was barely audible, just loud enough for John to hear. She turned on her heels, and slowly walked away, feeling very bad about what she was doing. Could she reject John like this, John who had been her companion for years? But what choice did she have, if she felt no love of that kind for him. So she continued walking, daring not to look back at John.
John watched Kathleen walk away. She didn’t care for him. Though why would she? He crunched the flower in his hand, and threw it to the ground. Cursed flower. And, he thought angrily, looking at Kathleen’s retreating back, cursed woman.






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