The surgery was in darkness except for one dim lamp in the office. Cole had left the surgery last, looking into the room and shaking his head at the familiar sight. Keeton was unaware that he had been observed in his misery. He sat slumped in the chair, gazing out the window at the darkness. The almost empty bottle of drink sat precariously on his lap. There was no glass.
He wasn't crying but in the light from the lamp his eyes appeared to glisten.
Clumsily he lifted the bottle to his lips and drained it, wincing as he swallowed the harsh liquor down. He whipped his lips on his sleeve and carelessly tossed the bottle towards the bin in the corner. He missed completely and the bottle made a loud clink as it hit the wall and rolled away under the desk.
Keeton gave a short burst of laughter which quickly died into a fierce scowl. Mumbling to himself he hauled himself from the chair and staggered over to the other side of the desk. He bent down to pick up the bottle, steadying himself with a hand on the wall.
Dragging his hand along the wall for support he stumbled towards the window. Heavily he lent on the sill and gratefully inhaled the cool evening air, closing his eyes as he welcomed the familiar scent of the garden.
When he opened his eyes again he saw movement in the darkness. A small figure was weaving their way passed the surgery, towards the cabins. He didn't know where she was coming from or why she was out so late. He wondered if it was for the same reason as him.
Feeling dizzy he lent more heavily on the windowsill, his knees giving way beneath him till he was nearly resting his head on his arms. He continued to watch her as she walked passed, holding out her hands to brush against the leaves on either side. As she did so a scarlet flower fell from her hold and lay on the ground, its bold petals shining brightly against the bleached colours of night.
After she had disappeared down the path Keeton slowly pulled himself through the surgery and outside. With difficulty he bent down and picked up the delicate little flower, careful not to crush its fragile petals with his grip. The delicacy, vibrancy and beauty of the tiny little bud made painful memories and emotions break through the haze of alcohol in his brain. He stood in the deserted garden and stared sadly at the flower in his hand.