To 2015 - 2016
St. Lucien's White Flowers

By Allison Rothrock

  1. Untitled
    By Katherine Shin, 11

It was Sunday. The pious day of St. Lucien, and the biggest business day of Father Morin.
St. Lucien was a place where churchgoing was popular. It was a small town of nowhere and no place, of an indeterminate time period that somehow had 2014 Chevies coexisting with twelve-cylinder tractors.
It clung to the flank of a scruffy mountain like some odd tick, so long sucking and buried so deep that it was as much tree as building.
Morin was proud to think (being far too proud to say) that he held the only bit of the town that was truly unusual. For every plain poplar and sagging sycamore, he had in his church courtyard a dandruff-y grove of white cherries, specially imported from a major town on the coast. It made his church a popular place on Sundays, for the Godly and the ungodly, and added an ethereal aura of romance with the wedding-white winds.
The landscaper had sold him the trees promising their beauty--ephemeral--like young women in love. The prune-faced old thing had asked him, winking, if he needed a little luck with the ladies. Morin rebuked him--he had God, not luck. But he was half-right: Morin did need girls. And so the cherries manned the front door and gateway. Eventually, he had been persuaded to line the entire walkway, given that they were so popular with the Sunday churchgoers. From his office halfway up the belltower, they closed over the path like a fat pair of lips.
They were trees like Myrrha; clumsy, knobbly limbs fashioned into stunning plumes of verdure. People simply loved them. Morin in particular was fond of them--they were full of promise and reward, as all cherries should be.
In the spring, they had come for the white and pure. Boys as young as the coming dawn had wandered in with wide eyes, in search of the new and mad.
The summer brought a different crowd.
The petals were older, loose and flirtatious with the wind. Every now and again, a particularly lecherous gust would send them spiraling to the ground in white spangles, glowing prints like wedding gowns.
Here, in the hazy mid-August, they had grown ripe and fruitful, soft reds spattering their tips. Morin watched a brilliant cardinal take its perch in the foliage, brisk crimson as the cherries. It puffed its chest, calling out sharply. At its cry, a score of pale robins burst from the tree, scattering like ashes in the breeze. The cardinal strutted, bobbing its head with a striking confidence.
Father Morin returned to his paperwork. He cursed under his breath, hating to be distracted. He had half a sermon to compose for that evening and another search request by the state police to wriggle out of, neither of which seemed to writing itself.
The cardinal called again, clearly in search for a mate.
The door to his office swung open. His nephew walked in, a wad of cherry gum swinging back and forth between his flapping lips.
“Hey, we got a new girl here lookin’ for ya, Louie,” Benjamin said, plopping himself down in a chair backwards, cowboy style. He continued: “Wants an interview with Daddy Morin.”
Morin delicately plucked the cherry off the top of his cocktail and popped it in his mouth. He let it wander for a moment, on the tip of his tongue like a particularly savory retort. Then he burst it. The cherry was strong, rich. It tolled on the tongue like a lost love, a delicate sweetness underpinned with notes of the more flamboyant tart.
“You sure know how to pick a cherry, Louie.” Benjamin eyed him enviously.
Morin pulled the stem and seed from his sandy lips, laying them to rest on his napkin. “Go on, bring ‘em in.” He flicked Ben away with a minor gesticulation and returned to his cocktail.
“Gotcha.” Ben slumped out with a very deliberate swagger, dragging the tip of his finger along the stacks of paper on his desk, disorienting them.
For the third time that week, his nephew struck him as a troubled boy.
He started on his cocktail, not quite tasting the liquid as it ran down his throat. Even with a degree in theology and Christ knows how many hours spent reading the Bible forwards, backwards, and sideways, he couldn’t for the life of him figure out why God had made such a messy place as the world.