A Modest Paragon

Chapter I



Sophia Diaz, Staff Writer

Diligently finishing an assignment for her Masters’ German class, the pragmatic young woman paused at the sound of a knock on the door. A tall Mormon man entered, dressed in slacks and a long dark brown Mackinaw jacket atop a plain white button-down shirt. The woman often referred to him as no more than a “companion.” He, on the other hand, had made a practice of calling her his “best girl.” She strode to the door to receive her visitor.

“Ruth,” he breathlessly uttered, his cheeks flushing.

“Oh, hello Albert,” she replied unfeelingly. Turning her back on him and heading towards her work, she added, “how are you?”

“Darling?” She flinched in discomfort at what would be a term of endearment. “You haven’t even noticed what I’m holding.”

Resentfully, she looked up from her assignment to find a bouquet of red roses in his hands.

“Oh, my.”

“Do you like them?” he inquired. He was already searching the cupboards for a vase.

“Oh, of course, Albert,” she responded, just convincingly enough. She stopped him in his mad quest throughout the kitchen and grabbed the nearest vase.

“Here you are,” she stated as she handed it to him.

“Why, thank you, dear.” Itching to get back to her work, Ruth asked over the sound of him pouring the water,

“Weren’t we going to eat supper together tomorrow?”

“Yes,” he said, with uncertainty in his voice, worrying this perpetually busy dame would once again cancel their plans. He tentatively placed the roses on the clean, white fireplace mantel.

She immediately answered with, “Wonderful. I’ll see you then, Albert.” Walking him to the door with a misleadingly warm touch on the arm, she added, “That will be lovely. Well, I ‘spose-”

“Well, I suppose I had better be going, then,” he noted, with a hint of disappointment in his voice. “I’ll be seeing you.” He pecked her on the cheek, and flash of melancholy guilt spread through her willowy body.

“Goodbye, Albert.”

“Goodbye, Ruth.”

She shut the door slowly and was immersed in deep thought. Memories of Albert swam in muddled pictures through her mind, intermingled with those of another man. Ruth felt ashamed and embarrassed. How had she, a simple school teacher, acquired two men of interest? Ruth had always believed herself to be rather plain, and the boys in school had never taken a particular interest in her. These were uncharted waters for such a down-to-earth woman.

Ruth wrestled with perplexing feelings as she watched one rose petal waver and fall from the cluster of beauty onto the surface of the fireplace, alone and slightly wilted.