The face of guilt is not a good look on anyone, not even a lad of 12, clutching a handful of tulips with petals bursting in irrepressible red.
“We caught this scoundrel fleeing the patio,” our bistro maître’ d Bernard told me, “I saw everything, the rascal surveyed the place, grabbed the best bunch from a planter, and ran. We caught him out front, and even then, he refused to let them go.”
“They’re way too beautiful to be dropped on the sidewalk, dummy.” the lad said to Bernard, looking him square in the eyes.
“You can see the sort of cur we’re dealing with,” Bernard replied, “I’ll leave him with you.”
“I’m so sorry Miss,” the kid said as Bernard left, “I know it’s wrong, but I was walking home when a cat darted across the road. I turned around to follow it and saw the tulips, and right then I knew I had to get them for Jasmine.”
“Stealing is never right, and trying to justify it only makes it worse,” I told him, “But tell me more about your excuse, who is Jasmine?”
“She is the most amazing girl in grade seven, my school, and the whole world!” he beamed, “She is so kind, smart and pretty! We started “hanging out” this week and as soon as I saw the tulips I just had to get them for her.”
“Do you really think she would want stolen flowers?” I asked him.
While that thought hung in his mind, mine turned to my next move. Excusing theft, petty or otherwise, rarely helps anyone, but I remembered silly things I’d done to impress someone when I was his age and infatuations came over me with the intensity of a tulip’s bloom. And even though those passions seldom outlived a tulip, I also knew, first hand, that some loves and flowers never really went away completely, like the old, faded ones that I had pressed in my middle-school diary, between the words and dreams of my young heart, and the hopes and fears of what might happen next.