Harriet’s and John’s fathers were both involved in the Rotary Club. On the surface, it would seem like the two men were very good friends, but actually they had quite opposing political views. Harriet and John grew up seeing one another many times through various Rotary Club functions and dinners. Harriet liked John. She felt comfortable around him, although he was a year and a half younger. She didn’t realize how much she liked him, and how well suited their interests and dispositions were for one another, until she was home the summer after her senior year in college. Harriet ran into John one morning at the beach. She was out for an early walk, and John had his easel and canvas set up, trying to paint the early morning light. It seemed natural when they began meeting every day to talk about painting or mutual friends or life in Merryweather. Harriet had been dating Charles Goodrich throughout college, and sensed that maybe they would get married. Charles was in northern Ireland with his family for most of that summer, a rare change to their normal summers in Merryweather. Harriet’s thoughts about the future had involved Charles, but she felt her heart stirred by long conversations with John. It was so easy to be with him, and she felt her best self in those times. This boy that she saw a few times a year at Rotary functions, was constantly in her thoughts, and she was eager to find him on the beach every morning.
John had always been in love with Harriet. When they were grade school age, she was his favorite pal-around at the annual Rotary auction and picnic. In junior high, it was important not to pay too much attention to her, but just enough so that she would keep talking to him at the Christmas bizarre. At the Rotary’s Box Dinner and Dance event, he always wondered how many dances he could have with Harriet before she would suspect that he really liked her. And in the summer of her senior year of college, John hadn’t planned to propose to her. He was younger than Harriet, and she was only back in Merryweather a short time. He wanted to communicate how he felt, so he proposed unexpectedly. He didn’t blame Harriet for saying “no.” His proposal was so spur-of-the-moment, that it was an honest question without expectation of the answer. When she said, “no” he understood that she was acting upon her own best interest, and thought the matter was closed. He couldn’t get her out of his mind, but also felt that there was no further chance. With Harriet, there was always a sense deep inside that he may not be able to measure up. Her refusal of his proposal was like a self-fulfilling prophesy. That fall, Margaret began working at his father’s newspaper.
(Character sketches created by the composer. All people and places are fictional.)