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    It happened at midnight. A pall of clouds stretched over the expanse of sky. The night was dark and a sinister feeling lurked in the air. I had been awake completing personal business in the bathroom. I had just finished opening a window, when I heard a shout. A shriek that seemed inhuman, bandying to and fro in the marketplace. Jerking my head around, I ran to a window overlooking the square.

    Squinting my eyes, I peered into the murky darkness, straining to see the source of that inhuman cry. As my eyes adjusted to the pitch darkness, I could make out a form, an outline standing on the platform in the middle of town – the very same platform on which Hester Prynne had stood for her crime.

    Looking even closer, I discerned that the figure was wearing a clergyman’s outfit. It was then that I recognized the solemn Minister Dimmesdale. What cause had he to stand on the platform of shame in the dead of night? As I stood pondering this baffling question, Dimmesdale emitted forth a peal of laughter. Pain and desperation could be the only words to describe it. And then, from the darkness below the platform came an answering ring of laughter, airy and childish.

    Who could it be? What is this minister doing by standing on the scaffold? Did he have some hidden sin, sin that he hadn’t the nerve to proclaim in public? As this thought came to me Arthur Dimmesdale cried out, “Pearl! Little Pearl!” And after pausing, “Hester! Hester Prynne! Are you there?” There came in answer Hester Prynne’s voice, “It is I, and my little Pearl.” Dimmesdale bade them come stand beside him, to which they complied.

    Then, before my eyes, the threesome linked hands and stood still and solemn, before an unseen crowd of people. Hester and Dimmesdale stood on the platform as punishment for an unknown sin. But there is little Pearl, standing between them, a link, and maybe the effect, of their sin.

    Thankful People: Anemone Flynn