Arthur Dimmesdale had always prided himself on his unnerving ability to keep calm when in great distress, an ability that many fellow townspeople had remarked in passing one another; but, with the events that had transpired earlier in the afternoon, he wondered where the ability had gone, for now he, a man so often placid in the face of disquietude and anguish, is changed.

Once, when he was but a boy, he had thought to explore his ability, to learn why he was unmoved when encountering matters that put others of the same likeness on their knees in despair; ever since, the ability had grown into a natural aloofness for emotion, and for the better part of twenty years, he had been unsuccessful in his endeavors to ascertain the truth behind it.

Candidly, his motivations for becoming a minister had originally been brought on by the underlying desire to be in accordance with the quotidian burghers of the Massachusetts Bay colony; such a zeal it was, to have captivated the minister so, that it consumed his every waking thought for over half a score of years; how great of a feeling he received when he discovered true passion, an impetuous event that came to pass nearly eight years ago, for the first time in his youthful, solitary existence.

Taking great care to attempt to move with reticence, a plan nearly thwarted by the low creak of the entrance door, the minister slipped into the quiet streets. The cobblestones, numerous and rounded by wear, glinted in the mellow glow of the waxing moon above, though a tenebrous canopy of clouds threatened to swallow its pearly blush as if Satan himself had come to quell its conventionally pleasant company; a miniscule three-tipped spear with points like the keenest of knives crept upon the edge of Luna's celestial halo.

What was left of the visible light gave way to the young minister's destination: a dark green canopy of foliage hiding a well-placed clearing rimmed by a thin brook. This particular brook chose to run its course peculiarly; it served as a sort of partition between enlightened civilization and a primitive labyrinth of wilderness that mystified all who bore witness to its unsurpassed exotic elegance. Pertaining to this brook was a sagely melancholic narrative that the minister's grandmother used to impart unto him, though in the scarceness of her recounts he could not recall it. Deceiving in its nature was the brook, for its smallness concealed its vital role within the miniature community in which the minister stood; its seemingly insufficient mass of water supported the entire community and plenty more, as by the flaxen dandelions underneath the minister's feet and the budding rose bush hidden by a great cedar tree.

Whilst the minister gazed at this captivating sight with tired brown eyes, a cold, hand-like presence closed around his misleading heart, compressing it until he could no longer breathe with ease; with his hand upon the cedar trunk, the minister steadied and rightened himself to extract as much crisp, spring air as physically possible from a man of his petite size.

The minister whispered to himself, "Why did I trust him so? Is this God's retribution upon me for my sin? I have kept my breast bare for nearly ten long years; am I meant to suffer in this way, keeping my confidence locked and hidden tight as if in a dungeon, where the wicked criminals reside?" The minister paused in his tirade to draw a low, shuddering breath. "Too long I have kept my secret, hiding, enduring this glacial, numbing shame alone. If I were truly a man of God, revealed would my error have been in time since past; would her reception be mine as well, or would I have been left to my lonesome, the weight of guilt raised from my breast? Should I profess, might I clear the clouded air? Or, a more pressing question, will Chillingworth divulge what he hath seen only hours previous? And should he not, should I not finally face my penance, a penance I might have faced years ago?"

The young minister smiled grimly at the fresh grass beneath his feet, and at the tiny, quivering rosebush, nigh invisible behind the cedar; the grave clouds had nearly smothered the compassionate light of the moon, and a chilled breath of wind began to stir, bringing to the minister the unmistakable scent of inevitable rainfall. Sure enough, not a minute later, a resounding crash of thunder reverberated throughout the previously calm clearing; spluttering were the waters of the tiny brook, so much so that the minister became indecisive of the best course of action; should he remain in close proximity of the tree, sheltered from the torrent of rain, or should he migrate to the centre of the clearing, the region exposed to the sky's wrath, and protected will his slippers be?

To reach his decision, the minister was not required significant effort; it was a simple matter to discern the lesser of two evils, which the minister forthwith put into effect by nestling closer to the sturdy cedar tree, where a small, lonesome branch of the rosebush reached and, with the smallest, most delicate touch, gently stroked his smooth cheek; almost immediately it retreated, as if startled, and hid behind the cedar tree with a shyness not unfamiliar to the minister, though he could not fathom where it was formerly perceived.

The rose's touch, though fleeting in length, left an impression, and try as he may have, his large, oafish hands, not petite like some would expect, could not replicate its gentle caress; a slight prickle in the cheek below his right eye was all that remained. Trickling down his cheek was the rainwater, like a sort of tender teardrop, and the minister succumbed to his weighty anxiety and fell into a light slumber; come morning, when he woke to the fresh dew and a light cough, the minister had no recollection of the previous night's events, only of the joyless, selectively observed pitchfork that he had identified amongst the myriad of shadows in the twilight heavens.

So, I wrote this originally as a school project, so I figured, 'why not post it?' Let me know what you think!