The Rose Not Picked
“Rich,” said a voice with a powerful whisper from behind.
Rich turned. “Kiara.”
She wore a flowed dress and a white rose in her hair.
“Do you want some company,” Kiara said running to Rich.
“Sure, let’s walk,” Rich said, “but you should be home.”
“I told mama I was going to a friend’s house to listen to music,” Kiara said.
“So your mother would not approve of you being with me,” Rich said.
“I don’t know,” Kiara said. “I never asked.”
“But you must know,” Rich said. “Otherwise you would not have told her you were going to a friend’s.”
“I felt I must speak with you privately,” Kiara said.
“What is on your mind?” Rich said.
“The British take a long time to to arrange words before speaking,” Kiara said. “I want to kiss you.”
She stood in front of Rich and kissed him. Rich had no time to react. She licked her lips as if trying to taste something.
“Well?” Rich said.
“Nutmeg,” Kiara said.
“Nutmeg?” Rich said.
“I taste and smell nutmeg,” Kiara said and they continued to walk.
“What did you expect,” Rich said, “it was in everything we ate.”
“They say a white man’s lips taste like vinegar,” Kiara said. “I never really thought so. Actually beyond the nutmeg I smelled nothing.”
“Haven’t you ever kissed someone before?” Rich said.
“Yes,” Kiara said. “Rudy and Marcel, two boys on the island, but their breath smells like fish.”
“That’s because they eat fish,” Rich said
Rich stood in front of Kiara. He leaned down and kissed her. He licked his lips as if to taste something.
“I expected chocolate,” Rich feigned confusion.
Kiara giggled. “That is silly.”
“Let’ walk a ways,” Rich said.
Kiara held his hand and looked up at him. “What do you like?”
“I like plenty of things,” Rich said. “I like the ocean.”
“So do I,” Kiara said. “I like it’s sound and how each wave is different than all others before and after.”
“For loving the ocean you live in the right place,” Rich said.
“Where do you want to live?”Kiara said.
“That is a good question, Kiara,” Rich said. “I’ve never given it a lot of thought. I don’t want to live in a boat on an ocean all my life. I guess more than where, it is how I want to live; I want to live in peace.”
“You put that so well,” Kiara said. “I don’t think many people think that way. They think where they live, how much money they make, and what they have will bring them peace.”
“I think peace starts with the person,” Rich said. “Once you have it you can live about anywhere.”
“Is that what you are looking for?” Kiara said.
“It sounds as if you and Thomas compare notes,” Rich said. “Your interest in my emotional well being seems identical.”
“Thomas knows nothing about me being with you,” Kiara said.
They walked and continued talking with brief mentions regarding the ambiance of the night.
“So what are you looking for?” Kiara said.
“It is strange,” Rich said, “if a man ask that question I could answer; it would be something, but a woman wants a real answer; something beyond.”
Rich stopped at a clearing to the sea. “Look there,” Rich said. “That is beyond.”
“Wasn’t Barbuda beyond not so long ago?” Kiara said.
“Yes,” Rich said, “and perhaps what I’m looking for really doesn’t exist or it could be beyond beyond.”
“Or it could be right here,” Kiara said.
“And it could be, but the time may not be right,” Rich said.
“I have a flower, do you wish to pick it?” Kiara said.
Rich paused looking deep into Kiara’s dark beguiling eyes. He stepped around Kiara and walked slowly away. He stopped. He breathed deep and walked back. She stood looking away at the sea. He gently placed his hands on her shoulders and softly squeezed. He turned her around easily to face him. He embraced her and she embraced him. He kissed her deeply and held her away.
“If I did not kiss you I would have regretted it for the rest of my life,” Rich said. “If my life’s direction were one degree different I’d stay here or take you with me, but as it is someone else must pick your flower.”
Kiara stood motionless and held her tears.
“Goodnight, Kiara,” Rich said and walked away. After a few steps he stopped and turned to see Kiara walking back to Cordington.
The next day at work Rich and Thomas said little to each other. At lunch Rich sat next to Thomas on a bench far from the others.
“How is Kiara?” Rich said.
“She cried herself to sleep,” Thomas said.
“I’m sorry,” Rich said.
Thomas pressed his lips and thought. “They were the best tears for her. Thank you, Rich.”