A Meeting with Kindness (Part 2 of 2)
‘You all do it, every one of you. None of us are perfect, but that doesn’t stop Mister Sandhu making his paper-boys and girls hot chocolate on cold mornings. Or Mrs Patterson taking in stray cats and feeding them up until the RSPCA collect them to be re-homed. Kindness exists…I exist because of good people like you. I know the world can seem like a harsh and bitter place at times. The tragic events that have occurred today can push us towards losing our faith in humanity, but I implore you to never lose that spark, that good and decent place in all of us that is there no matter what. You will have bad days, and it will feel sometimes as if the world is trying to stamp out that good place, but it won’t. It can’t. Why, even now, good men and women are giving of their own time to help those affected by the events of today. For those of you who observed, I was there with you all when you partook of the two minute silence earlier on to remember those fallen.’ People in the crowd looked at one another not knowing whether to feel proud or ashamed. Some sat and looked at their feet, letting Kindness’ words sink in. Upon the stage, he was moving more animatedly again.
‘Yes! Feel pride for the good you do! I can sense it in you. Don’t be ashamed if you feel you don’t do enough. Good people, it’s not a competition, but when you let kindness into your hearts we all win. I am not here to preach to you, I fear you get enough of that in your daily lives from all sorts of places. No, I am here to congratulate you, to encourage you. Whatever you do, however little, matters. Trust me, it does. Even you, Mister Wiggin.’ An elderly man in the crowd started at the mention of his name. ‘You might not think it, but the pennies you drop into the charity box on the bar at the local Legion keep the wheels of kindness moving. Keep it up.’ Kindness gave Mister Wiggin a thumbs up and a smile, eliciting a small, if not slightly perplexed, smile in return.
The mood in the hall was changing. People were still unsure about this stranger, and many cast repeated glances at the flowers that had appeared out of thin air, but their pleasing fragrance and Kindness’ positive words and inoffensive demeanour were winning them over. Those who he had mentioned personally for their small acts of kindness sat straighter in their chairs, smiles on their faces. Amongst it all, another hand was raised.
‘Yes, Miss Burke? And may I say that the work you do with the kids at the school is nothing short of exemplary.’ Miss Burke blushed a little before speaking.
‘Um, thank you. But may I ask?’
‘Of course. What is it, my dear?’
‘Why did you come here?’
‘Because I felt the town hall was the best place for a meeting of this kind.’ Kindness smiled at his own little joke.’
‘No, I meant why us? Why today?’ This question from the Primary school teacher got a few nods of agreement, and again questioning eyes were on Kindness. He was prepared though. He always was.
‘Why not?’ was his reply. Miss Burke opened her mouth to speak, but closed it again, as she really had no counter for that question.
Why not indeed?
Kindness looked around the hall from his vantage point on the stage.
‘Right about now I imagine you’re all either thinking of the good things that you do, or the good things that you could do, or both.’ Sporadic nodding rippled through the crowd, and Kindness smiled wider.
‘Feels good, doesn’t it?’ And it did, it did feel good. The atmosphere in the hall was lightening by the minute, and people were looking at Kindness with less suspicion and uncertainty and with more appreciation. Mental notes were being made to donate to this charity or that, or to check in on a neighbour perhaps a little more often. Kindness beamed as he saw one woman put her flower in the lapel of her coat.
‘There! Mrs Bailey, thank you.’ The woman addressed as Mrs Bailey looked up from fixing her flower with a slightly startled expression.
‘Me?’ she said, quietly.
‘Yes. I can think of no better end to this meeting than if you all place your flowers in a buttonhole, a pocket, a hat band.’ People held their flowers a little uncertainly. Some embarrassedly picked theirs up off of the floor where they had fallen when they were dropped. Kindness nodded encouragingly as some looked up to him, as if for guidance.
‘Go on. It’s alright.’ One by one, the people of the town affixed their flowers to themselves. Kindness’ eyes sparkled as they did so, his chest swelling. Eventually everyone assembled had their flower visible on their person. There was an unmistakable air of pride in the way people wore these mysterious flowers, as if they were an embodiment of the kindness within each person.
‘I think my work here is done,’ said Kindness, quietly. The crowd looked up at him. It was strange, he had barely been in the collective lives of the people in the audience and yet the news that he was leaving came almost as a shock. A young woman in the audience spoke up.
‘You’re leaving?’ Her voice sounded incredulous and a little sad. Kindness merely smiled.
‘In a way, but I will always be with you, each of you. I always have been.’ Kindness switched off the microphone and walked over to the stand. Placing it back in its cradle, he then walked over to the chair where he had hung his suit jacket. People in the audience were starting to murmur amongst themselves while Kindness walked towards the other end of the stage and the little door that led to the back office. As he reached for the door handle, Mavis Smith called out.
Kindness turned, but still with his hand on the door handle.
‘Yes, Mavis, dear?’
‘Will we ever see you again?’
Kindness smiled one last time.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll see me every day.’ And with that he opened the door and walked through, closing it behind him. Conversation erupted in the hall. The meeting had ended as bizarrely as it had begun, and now the townspeople had been left to wonder just what had happened. Some people reached up and gently touched their flowers to make sure they were still there, which they were. Several minutes passed, and then one of the town hall employees stood up, a confused look on her face.
‘Hang on,’ she said, making her way into the aisle. ‘That’s the only door in and out of the office.’ She walked to the front of the hall and towards the door. Reaching for the handle, she half expected it to be locked, but it wasn’t. Frowning, she turned the handle and opened the door.
The office was empty.
Kindness was definitely not in there. The office was small and most of the available space was taken up with furniture, leaving no real place for a person to hide. The window was always locked after hours, and the key was locked up with the rest behind the Reception desk out front. What caught the woman’s attention more than the lack of a person being in the office was what was on the desk.
It was a bouquet of flowers.
They were the same kind of flowers that everyone in the hall, including the town hall staff member, was now wearing. The office was already filling with their pleasant aroma. Attached to the bouquet was a small card. The woman plucked it cautiously from the bouquet and opened it. Written in flowing script were these words:
Thank you for showing Kindness
* * *