Breaking Up on Valentine’s Day

You’ve finally decided it’s time to break up with your significant other. You just haven’t felt that connection for awhile and know it’s time to move on. So you go over to his/her house and, after explaining how you feel, you feel relieved–that is, until your now ex-significant reminds you that it is Valentine’s Day and shows you the gift he/she was about to give you. (And it’s the one thing in the world you wanted most.) Write this scene.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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134 thoughts on “Breaking Up on Valentine’s Day

  1. UnknownAlias

    It wasn’t until I saw the tears in her eyes that I realized I need to stop talking. Today was valentine’s day, one of the worst days to break up with your significant other, and that is exactly what I just did. She was a great woman, but not what I was looking for. Maybe as a friend, but I didn’t see it working out as a romantic relationship. I apologized and looked pretty much anywhere but at her. I knew she would be crying and I could hear when she started to speak. I didn’t want to hear or see it. I knew the humane part of me would come out and I’d start feeling bad about what I did, I’d start apologizing repeatedly and then I’d ahve to comfort her. No, that wasn’t me. I couldn’t do something like that.
    “UA…I’m glad you told me.” I looked at her, and raised an eyebrow. She sounded…almost happy. Those weren’t tears of sadness in her eyes, no she was so happy that she was crying. Why would she be happy about this? “You see…A few days ago, my ex…He called me. I was so mad at you over some stupid thing and then he just–” I held up my hand. She didn’t need to continue, I knew exactly what happened. I told her that it was alright and I hope things work out for her and him. She wiped her tears and opened her mouth to speak but I felt I had overstayed my welcome. So, I stepped off her porch and walked away.
    “UA? Will you call me later? I’m so sorry you had to find out like this.” Her eyes were still slightly watery but her cheeks weren’t wet anymore, and she had a worried expression on her face. There’s no need to worry, not about me. I’m used to this sort of thing by now. I smiled and waved, walking on down the street with only one thought in mind.
    On to the next adventure.
    ———————————————————————————————————————————————————-

    What’d you think?
    🙂

  2. Maus652

    I know it’s no longer VD but I’ve just signed up and was looking for something to help me get going today and an idea came to me with this prompt. My first time doing this, so bear with me!

    Oblivious.

    Staring at my phone screen, I felt around for a response that didn’t prompt further replies. I just couldn’t deal with him right now. Work is boring, but not that boring. I settled for a, “I’ll see you later x”, hesitating over the number of kisses. When did kisses become so meaningful? Before social media, I’d only ever used kisses in cards to members of my family, not as a piece of punctuation at the end of a written conversation. Now, if I don’t put at least one, it apparently indicates that I am in a mood or being brusque. If I put more than one but less than 4, that means I’m incredibly fond of someone. If I put less than 3, that means I don’t like you as much as I did? It’s all so confusing. All I wanted to do was to focus on something other than his feelings for a short while.

    Sighing, I pushed my chair back, grabbed my mug and head over to the kettle. I was watching the laminated bubbles through the clear plastic reach the peak of their frenzy when Sally came over to grab her next sugar hit. As she popped open the biscuit selection tin and carefully selected her next treat, she caught my eye and gave me a smile.

    “Hey, how’ve you been? How’s Chris?” Her banshee-pitched voice scraped its way through my ear drum.

    I struggled to smile back and put on my best schmooze, “Oh, he’s fine. Busy with a project at the moment. How are you?”

    Swallowing the last of her biscuit and grabbed her fourth mug today, she launched into yet another drippy couple story. “William and I are so looking forward to this evening. He got me a giant teddy bear! Can you imagine? At our age!” A beat passed as I smiled at her, quietly sipping my tea. A thought crossed her mind, making her cackle. “I’m surprised it wasn’t another sort of teddy that he got me, if you know what I mean!” She gave me a filthy wink. Then realising she’d been going on about herself again, probed me for more details. “What about you and Chris? Doing anything this evening?”

    The idea of telling her the truth, to see how she’d respond, fleetingly dashed across my brain. I came out with the same banal response as usual, “We’re having a quiet night in this evening.”

    “Oh that sounds lovely. I’d much rather a cosy night in than going to a noisy restaurant!” droned on Sally, as I made my way back to my desk.

    Throughout the day, people seemed intent on sharing their plans for the evening with me or each other, with giggles and frequent bursts of laughter emanating from the kitchen whenever people congregated on a “quick” break.

    As I drove to Chris’s after work, I tried to think of the best way to tell him.
    “’It’s not that you aren’t great, you are, it’s just that I don’t like you that way’”, I practised, looking at the car in front. “Nope, that’s lame.”
    “’Yo, Chris! You’re dumped!’” I honked the car, reminding him that the green light means ‘Go’. “Well nobody can say it’s not direct enough.”
    “ ‘Chris, I’m really sorry but I think we should see other people. You’re a great guy but I don’t think we’ve got that spark.’ Yeah, that’s a start.” I pulled up in front of his building, checking myself in the rear-view mirror. With a deep breath, I opened the car door, barely remembering to bring my bag with me.

    The door opened before I even knocked; his sweet face beaming, arms open, cooking smells inviting me in. I cringed as I hugged him back and turned my head so he kissed my cheek, distracting myself by pulling off my scarf and coat. We walked through to the kitchen where an expensive-looking set of ingredients were in the process of being cooked and a glass of wine sat waiting for me.

    “How was your day, sweetie?” He asked, stirring the sauce on the hob while I stood the other side of the table.

    “Oh, you know. The same.” I could feel the stirrings of guilt pulling at my stomach. Why was he making dinner tonight? It’s just making everything more difficult.

    “I hope you like this, it’s a new recipe from Delia. It’s a variation on Beef Bourguinon, using -”

    “Chris, we need to talk,” I interrupted, deciding to bite the proverbial bullet and to keep my nerve.
    He stopped stirring. Was it me, or did he straighten his shoulders before turning to face me? His face had his winning smile plastered on.

    “That sounds ominous! Did you scrape my car again?” his words teasing but his voice belying something… was it anger?

    “Sit down. Please.” I could feel my hands tremble, so I put them behind my back. “Look, I just want you to know that you’re a great guy.” I took a breath.

    “Harrie, please, not today,” Chris put his hand out on the table, his hurt eyes threatening to undo me.
    “No, Chris, I’m sorry, it’s just that I-”

    “I know. It’s not me, it’s you, right? Always sounds lame but actually, in most break ups it’s true, isn’t it?” He tried to laugh it off. This caught me off guard more than if he’d cried.

    “Chris, I’m sorry. I think we should just end it now.” I ended quietly, looking anywhere but at him.

    Chris sat there quietly, playing with a crumb on the table. A minute or two ticked by and the quiet was agonising. I tried to make a move to go, but he looked up at me, the raw emotion I’d expected earlier piercing me through his eyes.

    “You could have waited, just one more day. We could have had one last evening together.” His voice caught, proving to me again that he was more emotionally invested than I ever was in us.

    “I needed to do it today Chris. If I’d waited till tomorrow, then why not the next day or the next? I’m sorry.”

    I left him like that, sitting in his neat little kitchen, surrounded by the wonderful smells of his cooking.
    I tried not to cry, tried not to feel guilty about doing us both a favour and ending it sooner rather than later. I got home and dumped my coat on the floor, making straight for the fridge where a refreshing beer was waiting for me. I popped off the top and took a long swig. So much better than wine.
    I sunk onto my sofa and moodily flicked through the channels. Perversely, there seemed to be a Rom Com on every station. I settled for the news. Someone somewhere had to have it worse than me, right?

    “Good evening Minnesota and a happy Valentines Day to you!” The cheerful greeting of the weather anchor made my heart stop.

    …Valentine’s Day?

  3. cl91

    The morning is cool and crisp. I’m so glad I left my bedroom window half open last night. The air feels good. Yawning, I get up, ready to start the day. Brad usually leaves me a good morning note on Facebook so I turn my tablet on to read it.

    “Dani, we need to talk. Things have come up in our relationship I can’t handle and you and I have to have a serious conversation. Be at my house at 7 tonight…..Brad”

    What? What does this mean, a serious conversation….be at my house, like a summons? My mind is reeling. What could I have possibly done. Everything seemed okay when I left him last night….and now this? A million things race through my mind as I pace the floor in my bedroom.

    I look at myself in the mirror…..my dark hair is unruly…bed head! Now I’m going to have to make it through the whole day wondering what the crap. I can’t call Brad because he has gone to the city today for a big meeting. Maybe it’s just a joke and he has a surprise for me.

    Somehow I make it through the day. I have decided I’m going to break up with him BEFORE he breaks up with me. I check my Facebook page and see a note from him in my private messages, “Just trying to get you prepared. Sometimes, it’s just time to move on.”

    My heart is beating nearly out of my chest. Yes, I’m going to break up with that no-good, piece of crap, PERSON, before he does it to me. It’s going to be the breakup he will never forget. Stupid Rat.
    I take extra special care in getting ready. The new red dress I bought will be the perfect thing to wear. It’s tight and shows all my curves plus it’s low cut and short. I’m SO ticked off I can’t stand it….that CREEP. How dare he just nonchalantly put on Facebook a summons like this is the end of the line…for everyone to see?

    Tears burn my dark eyes, but I blink them back. No time for that, now. It’s showtime.

    Brad opens the door. Dang, he looks hot. He’s so good-looking, I almost decide not to break up with him first. He looks extra hot in his frame-fitting jeans and his nice navy sweater.

    “Wow, you look amazing,” he says smoothly. His eyes take in my form-fitting red dress. It fits tight over my breasts, showing just enough cleavage to make you want to see more….His eyes devour me.
    My long hair is loose and curly. “I love the black hose with that knock-out dress.”
    He’s lusting. I push pass him like I’m not paying attention, but I really am. He smells as good as he looks.

    “So, there’s something I need to talk to YOU about, Brad.”
    “Oh?” His blue eyes have a flame in them and I melt on the inside.
    I clear my throat, “Yes. I have been thinking a lot about us….”

    I’m having a hard time thinking about anything right now because his eyes are glowing as he looks me up and down.
    “The only thing I’m thinking of right now is how hot you look in that dress.”

    “Oh really?”

    “Really”

    He pulls me close to him and I can feel every muscle and every bulge in his body as he mashes himself against me. I look deep into his blue eyes, so much like the Caribbean ocean I could fall in…
    His lips brush against mine as his hands lightly caress me.

    Snapping back to reality, I push him back, “Brad, I think it’s time we…”

    RINNGGGGGG, his phone!

    “Hold that thought…” He grabs his phone. My body is so alive. I want him SO bad! Every part of my womanhood is screaming for his touch!

    “Well, I’ve been hacked.”

    “What? Hacked?”

    “That was Kenny and he said I better take a look at my Facebook page. He said he thinks it’s Marinna based on the message he received. She never liked him. She has been calling my office trying to talk to me and I won’t answer her calls. When we were together she was very undermining and controlling. ”

    I sit down on the couch, ‘hacked.’
    “Brad, I got messages, too.”

    “You did? Why didn’t you tell me?”

    I feel guilty, “because it sounded like you were fixing to break up with me and so I came here to break up with you, first.”

    “Baby, number one, I don’t want to break up with you and number two, I would never do anything publicly like that on social media. You should know me better than that.”

    “Yes, I should. I’m sorry.”

    “Well, let’s not let her ruin Valentine’s Day! I have a surprise for you.”

    Valentine’s Day…I had forgotten in all the negative thoughts!

    When I turn around, Brad is on one knee…..”Dani, we’ve been together for a while now, and I don’t want anyone else but you. I love you with all my heart. Will you marry me?”

    “YES!!!”

  4. Jennifer Perron

    I was spent.

    Having been perched on the back frame of his living room sofa, I was exhausted and let my torso fall backwards, so that I was comfortably spinning, upside down. I closed my eyes.

    I didn’t know where he had disappeared to, and the emotionally crippling effect had spread through my muscular-skeletal system, so I just hung there, my back against the cool, soft nubuck.

    I heard a small jingle and had a flash that he was picking up his car keys to leave me there, alone, in his house. I was about to force myself to get up when I felt a bounce of pressure onto my cushion, and I was about to open my eyes when a little ball of a lot of fur was in my face. A tiny moist tongue kissed me all over my face, my eyes, my lips, uncontrollably. It was the most love I had felt in over three years, all rushing at me in one instant.

    I rolled my whole body onto the first cushion in a somewhat gymnastic move and took this little ball of anxious passion into my arms, hugging it close. He sat in the third cushion, matching my criss-crossed position and said “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

    Seriously.

    Time just gets so warped in my mind. I don’t know if it’s my semester schedule or my non-traditional work/life style, but holidays and birthdays somehow keep slipping through my fingers.

    What a cold-hearted bitch am I.

    I held the little one face up to determine she was a she, scratching her belly to keep her pacified. A little baby Sheltie with splotches of black, dark brown and light ginger, she was the happiest baby I had ever met.

    “What are you going to name her?”

    I looked at him, still all nonchalant in his corner of the couch, creating that same ideological mile between us when he was only about 29 inches away from me.

    “Oh, it shouldn’t be up to me, Will.”

    “Why not? She’s your dog.”

    “Wha–?!”

    “I said. She’s yours. I got her for YOU. She’s your Valentine’s present.”

    “But–don’t you get it? I am BREAKING UP with you. I am dumping your ASS. I cannot get the emotional attachment I need from your COLD ACH–”

    “Aurelie, I can’t keep her. Look at this furniture. And this carpet. This cost me over $75,000 dollars PLUS installation! I cannot have a dog in this house.” He leaned in intently and looked me square in the face. “Aurelie, she is yours.”

    I felt like crying. Crying for all the tears that he never could. For all those I never let myself shed in his presence. For all the moments I knew this should have been done three years ago. For all the vain attempts made to mold him into the living breathing human being I truly believed he was when I met him. He was an artist, after all! What artist doesn’t feel?!

    Only a small “thanks” escaped my mouth. It was a murmur of disbelief.

    I made my way up off the couch and gathered my purse and keys. Will left the room again and came back with a plush stone-colored carrying cage, filled with a small pillow, jeweled leash, mini stainless steel bowls and a small crystalline bottle etched with “Chanine #5.”

    He leaned over and kissed my left cheek as he passed this package into my free hand. “I’m sorry, Aurelie. I’m sorry I couldn’t be the guy you wanted me to be. I hope your little one gives you everything you need.”

    He gently closed his heavy cherry wood door behind me as I paused between his landing and my car, the ball of fur patiently cradled in one arm and her gaggle of accoutrements in the other. The shock in my system warmed into something familiar, and I could feel my feet on the ground.

    “I think she will.”

  5. kittycat4ever

    “I hate you.” Each word fell from Rose’s mouth like heavy stones upon smooth glass, leaving spiraling cracks in its wake. Her dreams lay shattered at her feet, her very soul torn asunder. Her chest tightened and she struggled to breathe through the pain of her broken heart.

    “Rose, don’t say things like that. They wound me and you know they aren’t true. Your heart beats for me.” He smiled and reached for her.

    She recoiled from his touch throwing her back against the wall out of his reach. Rose looked up at him with contempt and hissed at him, “Don’t you touch me. You lied to me! About everything. How could you? You’re married!”

    “Rosie,” He spoke softly as if she were a child to be taught. “I’ve been married the entire time I’ve known you. Every smile, every kiss, every single touch. I was married. Nothing has changed.” He stepped forward and placed his hands on either side of her, pinning her there between him and the wall. Nuzzling her neck softly, he murmured against her ear,” Stop being difficult and let me love you, my darling. Its Valentine’s day after all.”

    Her eyes widen in shock, tears began to flow down her cheeks against her will. His hands cupped her face and wiped away her tears. “Rosie, Rosie, Rosie. What am I suppose to do with you?” He kissed the tip of her nose and smiled down at her. “I know, let me show you the presents I got you. You’ll love them. Promise.” Without a word he picked her up as if she weight not more than a feather and carried her to the bedroom, their bedroom, where three presents rested on the satin sheets. Rose petals scattered gracefully on the floor circling their bed.

    Each present was beautifully and carefully wrapped in its own unique wrapping paper. Sweet little things like this were the reasons why she loved him. She’d have been over the moon about the set up if she hadn’t gotten a phone call half way through dinner from Tessa, who proclaimed her a whr** for sleeping with her husband and told her to send him on home.

    Rose smiled bitterly at the memory and then said,“These gifts won’t change a thing, Draven, but if it makes you happy I’ll open them. After which, you will get the h*ll out of my house and never come back.”

    “Technically its ours, as my name is on the lease same as yours. You can’t afford the place on your own, we both know that. However, I don’t stay were I’m not wanted. Open them, and I’ll leave if you still desire.”

    Rose nodded. Reaching for the box closest to her, she made quick work of the beautiful paper. Inside, she found black and red lingerie, cliché. Yet she knew it would fit like it was made for her, as it probably was. Pain twisted in her chest and she grabbed the second box, shredding the paper like he’d done to her heart. It held a crimson necklace and matching ruby tear earrings, beautiful and yet another gift she would not be keeping. Lastly she picked up the final box and the smallest of the three. Inside this box lay a single silver key and pacifier still in its package. She winced and mentally cursed him. Kids. She’d always wanted kids.

    Hurt and angry gripped her and as she turned to unleash it all, it came to a crashing halt. Draven was kneeling at the foot of the bed beside her, a black box opened wide in his hands. A ring adorned with diamonds and a single red ruby nestled in the center. He smiled,”Rosie, the key is to the Percy Manor, you told me you wanted it since you were a child. I bought it. Its yours and yours along. The pacifier, its obvious, I want to have a family of our own with you. I want you to be mine to take care of, to give you all the things you deserve but can not have on your own. I’d marry you, but I can’t. So instead, I’m asking you to be my Mistress, my friend, the mother of my children and keeper of my heart.”

    Rose opened her mouth to answer…

    1. Jay

      Nice, Kitty. I couldn’t help but smile when he asked her to be his mistress. Super cheese, but seems fitting for this story. I actually really liked it, and wished you had continued through beyond her answer so we could know what happened.

      Thanks for sharing, and look forward to reading more of your stories in the future!

  6. ReathaThomasOakley

    Valentine’s Day

    “Annie? That you slamming the screen door?”

    “Yes, mam.” I’d forgot Mama was only working a half day this Monday.

    “Come on out to the kitchen, I’m browning down sausage for Minorcan pilau, and I need you to cut the peppers.”

    Of course she was fixing Daddy’s favorite food today.

    “Yes, mam, it just gotta put stuff in my room.” I trudged down the hall.

    “Oh, that’s alright. Bring your box to the kitchen so I can see what all you got. Can’t burn this meat.”

    Smelling the onions and the sausage cooking in bacon grease shoulda made me hungry, but it didn’t. I probably wasn’t never gonna to eat again, ever.

    “Didn’t get much, Mama, didn’t get nothing much at all,” I said as I threw my sweater and arithmetic book on the bed. I wanted to throw the pink and red construction paper covered shoe box in the trash, but Mama’d ask about it later.

    In the kitchen Mama was standing over the stove holding the big fork that’d been her mama’s, her black hair pinned up on top of her head, wearing her good Sunday apron, and even with all the food smells I could tell she was wearing Evening in Paris.

    “Green peppers all washed there on the table, get that little knife, your daddy’s got it real sharp, little bitty pieces.” She stirred the cast iron skillet, then looked at me, real close. “Annie? You’re quiet, something wrong?”

    I put the box on Brother’s chair kinda under the table and went to the sink to wash my hands without her telling me.

    “Ain’t nothing wrong, just don’t have nothing to say, I guess.”

    “Annie,” Mama pulled the pan off the fire, “something’s wrong. Now let’s sit down, I been standing here a long time, and you’re gonna–”

    “Oh, Mama,” I couldn’t help it, I started to cry, “why do we have to have stupid Valentine’s anyway? Why do you have to make pilau and wear perfume?”

    Mama turned off the faucet, handed me the towel, wiped my face with the wrong side of her apron, sorta pushed me to my chair, and sat down in hers.

    “Now,” she started, “what went wrong today? Did you eat too many cookies at the party?” I shook my head, No.

    “Did everyone like the cards you gave them?”

    I nodded, Yes.

    “Did Wilfred–”

    “Oh, Mama!” I knew I was acting like a baby, but I couldn’t help it, I put my head in her lap.

    “But, I thought you saw him in the dime store buying lace doilies and heart stickers and heart candy.”

    “I did,” I wailed, “but he didn’t give me a special made card, just one that had a puppy on it that said, ‘Doggone, I want you for my Valentine.”

    “Well, that sounds cute. Maybe he made a special one for his mama or a granny.”

    “Noooo, he didn’t. Ever body got one like mine, ever body but Acina. She got the big special one. Oh, Mama, I just hate boys!”

    “Ah, Annie?” I could feel Mama kinda shaking. I hoped she wasn’t crying, too. “Annie, seems I recall just last week Wilfred made you mad and you kicked him.”

    “Not that hard a kick.”

    “And, in Sunday School you told him to wash his dirty old neck.”

    “It needed washing.”

    “I also seem to recall you’ve told me how nice Acina is. Am I right?”

    “Yes, mam, but I thought…”

    “Oh, my dear daughter. I’ve got to get back to your daddy’s supper and I need you to cut those peppers, but one day real soon we’re gonna have us a good talk. Now, blow your nose and let’s both get to work. Valentine’s Day’s only once a year.”

    Thank goodness, I thought.

    1. snuzcook

      A lovely story, Reatha. Warm and intimate with all the aromas of the very best memories. I adore Annie. You’ve made her very real with the little details like her sliding that betraying red and pink covered box on brother’s chair where no one will see it. And Mama shaking from suppressed humor that Annie would never in that moment fathom as anything else but sympathetic tears.

    2. Beebles

      Done it again, Reatha. Loved the little details that place us so well, the anticipation raised by the box and like Snuz, I just loved Mama’s shaking. I chuckled out loud for a good while, still am! Priceless writing.

    3. writer_sk

      I love the warmth of this! The characters voices are so strong. This flows nicely and hits all the right notes . Your portrayal of Annie is wonderful. Esp liked the last line, concludes in the exact right tone.

    4. Jay

      A nice story, Reatha. The girl needs a small lesson in lifing. 🙂

      My favorite line: “…wiped my face with the wrong side of her apron…”

      Thanks for sharing, Reatha, I really enjoyed it.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I swear I could smell the sausage and onions cooking in the iron skillet. One never washes an iron skillets, one just wipes it out with a paper towel. You write with the heart of a champion. The world needs to know about Annie. You owe it to all the children to have the book published. How would you feel if Marjorie Rawlings had never written ‘The Yearling?’

  7. dustymayjane

    Without hesitation, Sara turned the key and opened her door, hoping Jack would take his leave before she broke down. She’d meant it his time. Valentine’s Day or not, they were over. She had given him plenty of time to commit and was tired of his ‘someday’ responses.

    Jack leaned against the railing and hung his head. He pushed his hands into his pockets. The small velvet box pressed deep within.

    “Well, you sure know how to ruin a proposal.” He kept his eyes lowered to look at the toes of his boots and withdrew the ring box from his pocket. Holding it for her, his thumb flipped it open to reveal a sigh worthy diamond engagement ring. It had set him back a real chunk of change he’d been saving on for a while. Sara was worth it, he thought now as he waited for her reaction.

    Sara turned to look and slapped her hands over her mouth to prevent the gasp from escaping. The ring, in it’s perfect satin cloud, glistened in the glow of the porch lamp. It’s allure was more than any woman could resist.

    Jack saw the reaction he’d expected and hoped Sara’s history would repeat itself. She’d broken it off several times before and each time found her way back to him. He wouldn’t be losing his Sara, not then, not now.

    He knew she wouldn’t be able to resist the sparkly so he held it, waiting…waiting. Snap! Jack snapped the velvet box shut just as Sara reached for it. Pretty Woman like.

    Sara was not as amused as Julia Roberts had been. “Proposal?” Her eyes glimmered and her actions animated. Sara reached again for the small box but Jack refused to give in. He was going to have to a little fun with her. After all, she had broken it off on Valentine’s day.

    “Tsk, tsk, tsk. It’s too bad you ended it Sara. You were right though. We have been growing apart. We’ve lost the spark, that zing. And it is you…not me. We can be friends though.” Jack rattled off the cliché’s and watched Sara’s face turn from surprise to disappointment to anger.

    “That’s cruel Jack.” She stood stubbornly, fists on her shapely hips. Her chin jutted out, her dark blue eyes narrowed to angry slits.

    Jack flashed his line of white teeth through a crooked smile that was her undoing. “I’m cruel? Me? I’m not the one who broke it off, on Valentine’s Day of all days!”

    “I never said we lost that zing or the spark. I was just…I don’t know, getting impatient again, I guess.” She looked contrite and childish in her pose.

    Sara’s pretty lips formed her trademark pout and Jack pushed himself off of the railing he’d been gripping. He took the two steps to where she stood in the doorway. “Impatient?”

    Sara met Jack’s eyes and continued to temp him with her mouth. “You know how impatient I am Jack. If you want me, I mean, to marry you.. I’ll…”

    “You’ll what?” His smile soon closed over Sara’s soft pouting lips.

    Sara returned the kiss but in true fashion couldn’t wait another moment. “So are you going to place that ring on my finger or not?”

    “Lordy Woman! You are going to have to learn some patience.” Jack was going to get his answer first. “You’ll what?”

    Sara stomped her feet petulantly and shouted. “I’ll marry you!”

    Finally, Jack grinned to himself and said, “Happy Valentine’s Day Darling.

    1. snuzcook

      A sweet story, DustyMayJane. I like the quick, easy pace. I felt like I was watching it on screen. Not sure if Sara and Jack will have a happy ever after, but it should be interesting.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        It does read exactly like a movie script, I agree. The scene flashed forward in my mind. One thing surprised me, I Imagined it in black and white. I wanted to tell Sara….. “Don’t do it, there’s nothing but trouble ahead for you.” When you manage to stir up this old geezer, you’re writing well. Keep it up.

  8. snuzcook

    MY TONIA

    It was a cold, bleak morning. The wind was herding loose litter along the gutters to hide it under parked cars. Even with my collar up around my ears and my hat pulled low, a piece of grit found its way into my eye. Half blinded, I lurched into the little Italian restaurant where I had asked Tonia to meet me, and I made a beeline to the ladies’ room.

    After spelunking around my tear duct for a while, I could finally see again, but now my eyes were red and it looked like I had been crying. Great, this was not the image of benevolent objectivity that I wanted to communicate. How could I convince Tonia that I didn’t have any deep emotional commitment to the relationship any more if it looked like I’d been blubbering in the can?

    Truth was, I did still have feelings for her. Just catching a glimpse of her long wavy black hair as I wound my way between red-checked tables toward her, I felt that jolt of electricity. She exuded at once beauty and danger. There was something in the way she held herself, in the way she flipped her hair, that told you she was accustomed to getting her way. You were either swept along with Tonia in her wake, or you were set adrift and pushed aside. Being Tonia’s consort was an exhilarating ride when it was new. It was demoralizing once I realized that she would always be steering the boat and I would always be crew.

    But leaving her was not easy. Underneath her confidence and beauty and aire of power, there was an insecure little girl who was afraid of being abandoned. I guess that came from her dad going to jail when she was just a kid. She had lots of family around her growing up, but no one could ever take Daddy’s place. Girlfriends and lovers never came close to filling that deep loss; I never came close. Even so, she hated to be left, but I was past wanting to stay.

    I sat down opposite her, my back to the front door. Light from the windows behind me lit her face and reflected in her deep brown eyes. The waiter brought bread and a bottle of wine that she had already ordered. When he was gone, she held out her glass and I poured just for her.

    “Aren’t you drinking?”

    “Tonia, we have to talk.”

    “Of course, Lover. Have some wine. Have some bread. I went ahead and ordered something special for lunch. Hope you don’t mind.” She took a sip, her eyes holding mine, then she glanced around the room. “I love that you chose this place. It has the perfect ambiance, so Old Country. Did I ever tell you my Aunt Terese used to own it? Now her brother-in-law, Guido, runs the place. Still in the family, though.”

    I started turning the stem of my glass round and round in my hands. “Tonia…”

    She tore off some bread, dipped it in olive oil, and dropped it delicately onto her tongue. “It’s so important to have family.”

    Something in the studied casualness of her actions caused the gooseflesh to rise on my arms. I was being played with for no particular reason other than she could.

    “Tonia, I’m sorry. This isn’t working. You’re wonderful. You’re more than wonderful—you’re incredible. But I’m just not…the right one for you.”

    “No.”

    “I’m sorry, but it’s true. I’ve had a great time. You’ve been more than generous. It’s been great, really. But I just don’t think we have a future…”

    “I mean, NO, you’re not dumping me.”

    “I don’t mean to hurt your feelings…”

    “YOU ARE! You’re dumping me!” She threw her napkin down and it floated helplessly to the floor. She stood up and literally stamped her foot. “YOU are dumping ME on VALENTINE’S DAY?” I became aware of the other people in the restaurant looking our way, then getting up and leaving their tables. There was movement toward the back of the restaurant, and all of the wait staff, the middle-aged lady maitre d’, and one of the cooks with a wicked looking cleaver in his hand were moving toward the table, like villagers bent on ousting Frankenstein’s monster.

    The owner put out his arm to stop the rest of the mob. “What’s the trouble, Cara Mia?”

    “Cousin Guido, she’s dumping me!” The beautiful, powerful, dangerous woman who was once my Tonia crumbled into tears like a hurt little girl. “She has disgraced me! Make her pay!”

    “Look lady, you better leave now. I don’t believe in hitting women, but no one makes my Little Antonia cry. If you don’t leave now you’re gonna see another Saint Valentine’s Day massacre and you’re gonna be the guest of honor.”

    The wind was still blowing when the glass door hit me in the butt as my size eights found the sidewalk. My eyes were watering again, but this time it was from relief, or maybe a touch of regret. I wanted out of that relationship, and I got out with my skin intact if not all my pride. But, man, there’ll never be another one like Tonia.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Whoa Snuz, this was quite a ride. Your MC was lucky to escape in one piece. Your descriptive detail of Tonia put a nerve through me. There used to be an Italian girl that worked in our office many years ago. She could have been Tonia. The description fit perfectly. Thank Lord, I didn’t become her victim. I almost started running for the front door of the restaurant myself, trying to escape. Talk about detail in a 500 story. I absolutely do not know how you manage it and get the story in also. Almost makes me want to give up Italian restaurants, in case I might run into her.

      1. snuzcook

        Thanks, Beebles. She was fun to imagine. Longer, I could have introduced our heroine a bit more.
        (The mention of autocorrect still makes me chuckle, Beebles)

    2. Jay

      Nice story, Snuz. Sounds like the MC got lucky, although unlucky as it were since she’s still lamenting about how there will never be another Tonia in her life.

      I especially loved this line: “a piece of grit found its way into my eye.”

      It’s the little details that aren’t forced that really bring a story to life. Wonderful job. 🙂

  9. Ella Lachlan

    This is the first time I’ve written something meant to be read by the public, so bear with me (it’s not really that great, but practice makes perfect!)

    “I know this seems sudden, Connor, but I’ve been feeling this way for a while, and it’s not fair to you to keep you in a relationship that isn’t going anywhere. I’m sorry.” I rehearse my speech in the mirror again, the mirror I share with my boyfriend. Once more for good measure. “I love you, Connor, but my love isn’t growing. It’s stagnant. Like this is how much I can love you, but there’s no more left. You deserve more, Connor. You deserve someone who can love you with all she is, for all eternity. I can’t give you that. I know this seems sudden, Connor, but I’ve been feeling this way for a while, and it’s not fair to you to keep you in a relationship that isn’t going anywhere. I’m sorry.” I sigh and look down at my phone to make sure I covered everything. This isn’t going to be easy.
    I look up into the mirror and see two faces. Connor’s reflection stares at mine with shock and grief. “Seriously? On Valentine’s day?” The shock and grief on the reflection turns into anger. “I don’t know what to say.” Connor places something on the vanity and walks out of the bathroom. I look down again, this time more confused than resigned.
    There, on the vanity, is a small black velvet box.

    1. Jay

      Ella, this is actually a pretty good story for your first public appearance. There are some formatting issues, but the story itself, not bad. I love that she’s talking to the mirror, shies away, continues talking, and then looks up to see that he’s standing right there. It’s been done before, the old “he’s behind me isn’t he” gag, but it works really well here.

      Thanks for sharing, and hopefully we’ll see you around here more often, because, as you say, practice makes perfect, and honestly, there’s no better place to do it.

  10. Hemming_Moore

    “Listen Daniel, I just said I’m breaking up with you,” Caitlin sighed, annoyed by his refusal to take the situation seriously.

    Daniel’s smile barely wavered. “Just wait Sweetie, I have something that will change your mind,” he responded as he rummaged through his briefcase. “I know you’re just doing this because you want to travel the world, and you think I would never leave my comfort zone. Well, prepare to be amazed!” He triumphantly thrust a printed page toward her, bearing the logo of expedia.com.

    Caitlin struggled to prevent her lip from curling in disgust as she read the details of the two-week, all inclusive luxury cruise that he had booked.

    “Daniel, this shows our incompatibility, which I’ve been talking about for weeks. I appreciate that you tried to compromise, but I don’t want chaperones curating my experience, trying to protect me from seeing anything that might make me uncomfortable. I want to experience the world with a pack on my back, no itinerary, and no tour guides.”

    His expression began to change as he realized that his poor attempt at compromise would not satisfy her.

    “Please,” he implored, “I can’t stand the thought of a Brazilian surfing instructor putting his hands on you, or a broke Dutchman with dreadlocks seducing you in a dirty hostel somewhere.” He gestured around his expensively furnished apartment. “Look at what I can offer you. I know you want to travel. I can take two weeks off per year, and show you the most lavish lifestyle you want. We can make this work. I love you.”

    “No, Daniel, you don’t,” she replied. Before he could protest, she continued, “you are in love with the idea of having the classic American life. You put me in that picture because you’re used to having me around. But you’re not worried about my safety or happiness. You’re not worried about my success or fulfillment in life. You’re worried that I might hook up with someone else, and your ego can’t get used to that because I’ve been ‘yours’ for so long. That changes now. Look in your office and at your stuffy networking events. You’ll find someone who shares your priorities and values. I never can, and we can never work for that reason.”

    He cast his eyes to the floor. “Well, these tickets are non refundable. You don’t have to get on the boat. You might as well at least take the flight and start your big journey.”

    His resignation took her aback. “Are you sure,” she asked. “What will you do?”

    “Yes; we both know you’re right. I actually didn’t want to take the time off work anyway; I was just trying to impress you.” He laughed without humor. “That sure backfired.”

    “Well, thank you.” With that remark, she picked up the ticket, kissed him on the cheek, and closed the door to the average life she narrowly escaped. For the first time in several years, uncertainty lay ahead, and Caitlin felt free.

  11. Beebles

    Better late than never.
    —————–
    ‘I’m a witch,’ she laughed as we stumbled up the steps from the basement soho club and skidded to her Victorian semi in Wicken Lane through the early morning slush, her home full of tie dyes and her prized collection of antique boxes. I was soon to learn the truth in what she said.

    Her passion and her fingernails were first birdsong, heralds to a twisted dawn of jealousy, violent mood swings and harridan incantations. An angel, a demon. It wore me out. By Valentine’s day I had made up my mind to end it.

    She smiled like a sixth former to her teacher when she opened the door.

    ‘Another appropriated pagan festival,’ she said in that fake voice, trying to amuse me, her senses tingling that something was up.

    She reached up to kiss me. ‘Come on in, I’ll make us some coffee.’

    ‘No,’ I said and then I told her, there in the hall. It was as if her face were made of clay, drying and cracking before my eyes, before her tears smoothed and moistened the fissures I had torn in her. For all her poison, my heart broke in that moment.

    ‘Wait,’ she said, ‘I have a gift for you.’

    ‘You mustn’t,’ I called after her, but she was gone, returning with one of her old wooden boxes. I hadn’t seen this one before; it had rosewood inlaid diamonds on the lid. She pressed it to my heart.

    ‘Open it.’

    Scared to crush the angel’s hopeful smile and reopen her wounds, I clicked the tiny key and lifted the lid. The interior was rough wood, no lining, only two train tickets from London to some East European city I’d never heard of.

    ‘I visited family out there once. The city’s beautiful and so cheap.’ She was bouncing on her toes, hands on my arms. ‘We could holiday like royalty.’ Her face glowed with the eagerness of a new dawn. ‘Just one more weekend. Things’ll be different. You’ll see.’

    Things were different. We floated in a daze around foreign squares, the architecture growing in grandeur with every turn, my heart filling with longing with every kiss, every renewed touch. Long mornings on high balconies to church bells, late nights over candles to B minor melodies. It was as if this city made her whole, healed her, banishing the harpy and leaving just the girl with the sensuality and the fingertips.

    The final morning, dragging our cases like prisoner’s chains, we headed for the station. Only it seemed to have disappeared. A city that had seemed so small had grown overnight, as if the streets had shifted. Was it the city that didn’t want us to leave or were we weaving our own confusion? Exhausted, I recognised the little cafe we had come to call our own. As the waiter left to sort our order she leaned across and took my hand.

    ‘Let’s stay,’ she breathed, as if speaking would break some spell, ‘Just another couple of days. Just long enough.’

    There was desperation in her eyes, as if this were the last chance, that if we returned, the London breeze would dispel this happiness like waking dreams. I didn’t want to lose her now and I guessed she felt the same. If we left, Valentine’s Day might come round again.

    ‘I interrupting …?’ The waiter stood, familiar yet awkward with our tray.

    I shook my head. ‘We just decided to stay a bit longer.’

    She smiled. He smiled and dispensed our drinks. ‘Good,’ he said. ‘You most pleasant customers. Now, if you not mind, you tell me how lovely couple meet?’
    —————————
    ‘I should warn you,’ she said giggling, easing the door open on her Victorian semi. She kissed the young man hard on the lips. ‘I’m a witch.’

    They stumbled into the hall almost knocking the rosewood box from the occasional table.

    ‘Whoops, careful,’ she slurred, straightening the antique. ‘That’s my most recent acquisition.’ She kissed him again. ‘I collect boxes, you know.’

    1. Kerry Charlton

      You know to weave magic all you need is a pencil. This is s magnificant story and I already made my mind up before I finished it. To live an afterlife in a small box for a holiday as you wrote about..
      …, might just be worth it
      Good golly Miss Molly. This is one of your very best.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Wonderful. All those boxes, each with a story. I’m certain she was never believed when she tried to warn them. Thank your wife for the lovely idea.

  12. Smileyface256

    I wiped my sweaty palms on my jeans as footsteps approached the door from the other side. Jeremy and I had been dating for a few months, I just wasn’t feeling it any more, and as much as I hated confrontation, I really needed to end this. I still wasn’t ready when he opened the door.

    “Hey girl, happy Valentine’s Day!”

    …Crap. Between school and work I had totally forgotten what day it was. “H-hey, Jeremy, uh…listen, we need to talk.”

    Jeremy knit his brow in concern and stepped out, shutting the door behind him. “Sure babe, you can tell me anything.”

    The nickname made me feel a little guilty, but then I reminded myself that it would be better to not lead him on. I took a deep breath; here goes nothing. “We need to break up.”

    Jeremy just gave me a blank stare. He laughed. “I get it, it’s another one of your jokes, right? I mean come on, who breaks up on Valentine’s Day?”

    As if I needed to feel any worse. “No, I’m being serious.”

    The smile disappeared from his face as he gauged my expression. “But–but babe–”

    “Look, you’re a great guy, but…it’s just not going to work out. I don’t feel right about continuing a romantic relationship with you.”

    “But I love you.”

    “But I don’t love you in the same way, and it’s not fair to you if I keep pretending. I’m sorry.”

    Jeremy just stood there, heartbroken.

    I turned to leave. “I need to get going–”

    “Can I at least show you my present for you?”

    I paused. No, bad idea, bad idea– “Sure, I guess.”

    He reached just inside the door and pulled out a plane ticket and travel itinerary. Uh, oh. “My family is going on a tour of New Zealand this summer, and I got a ticket for you to come with us. We’re visiting a bunch of places where they filmed the Lord of the Rings, and I knew you would like that…”

    Sweet sally. “Oh, Jeremy I…” I almost wanted to take back everything I just said. Instead I forced a smile. “That was really sweet of you, but…we really need to end this. Someone else can enjoy the trip with you, I’m sure.” And my dream to go to New Zealand can wait for however long it takes for me to save up the money for a plane ticket…

    He forlornly stuck the ticket in his back pocket. “Yeah, okay. Well, goodbye Katie.”

    “Goodbye, Jeremy.” I turned my back, walked to my car and slammed the door shut. Jeremy had already gone inside. I threw my hands up. “Are you freaking kidding me?”

  13. flyaway

    The bus smelled a mixture of dusty seats, cigarette smoke, and old curry. The green hue of the lights inside seemed to give each passenger a surreal look to their overall tired appearance. Everyone was no doubt returning from work as a maid, a janitor, a clerk in a small shop. Upon seeing my reflection in the window I took note that I was no exception to the light’s effect. My skin looked waxy and stiff, its ashen color a contrast to the faint purple bags under my eyes. My hair, slicked back in a low ponytail, glistened, as if dirty and unwashed. Old woolen gloves lay in my lap as my free hands picked at the scabs around my fingernails. Just like every other passenger on the bus, my eyes glazed slightly over, exhausted from the day and no longer willing to respond to social cues. I rode this bus of gray people till the stop next to the old birch tree. From there I walked straight down the asphalt road till I reached a three-story brick apartment building, with indian cresses and nettles growing in the front. As I tread across the small patch of grass in front of the building, my stomach started to twist in on itself. I felt a bit queasy and considered turning back around. He didn’t know I was here, I could still get a bus ride home. I stood in front of the building door for a few more seconds, shifting my weight from foot to foot.
    First column, third row on the buzzer panel: Waratah, Dainan. I called him and asked to be let in.
    The door buzzed. I went in and walked up to the second floor. He was already waiting for me at his door and smiled when he saw me.
    “Trista! I thought you were working all day!”
    I pecked him on the cheek, lingering briefly by his side, then went into his apartment.
    “I know… that was the plan, but they let me end early today,” I replied, walking slowly into the kitchen. I took a glass from the faded yellow cupboard and filled it with water from the faucet.
    Dainan came over to me and hugged me from behind. He reached to kiss my neck, but I turned around.
    “Dainan, no, let me drink some water first. I don’t want it to splash.”
    “Alright,” he said, letting go of my waist, “Then give me your coat and I’ll hang it in the hall.”
    “No, that’s alright. I can’t stay long anyways. I need to… be somewhere…”
    “You have plans? I thought you didn’t know you were going to get off from work early.”
    “Yeah, right, this was sort of last minute. You know, with Emma, the one with curly hair…?”
    Dainan looked at me for a few seconds, searching my face for any signs of resignation, then sighed. He took my glass and filled it up with water, as well. I watched him drink it, wondering how to say what I came here to tell him.
    “How was your day?” I asked, silently beating myself up for avoiding it.
    “Ah, it could have been better. Mr. Connors gave me a new project, but the deadline is next Thursday, even though it’s clearly at least a two week thing. Can you believe it? Hey, Trista? Are you listening?” He put his glass in the sink.
    “Huh? Yeah, yeah, Mr. Connors… two week project…” He looked reassured, even though he was right. I hadn’t been listening at all. Nervously tapping my fingers against my thighs, I kept thinking about what I was going to tell him.
    “Right, so this project is ridiculous. I’ll be working almost-”
    “Dainan…Dainan, I’m sorry. It’s just that… I don’t know. Let’s go to the couch. Sit for a bit.” I grabbed his hand, leading him to the living room.
    The couch gave a little as we sat down, with a similar sound to that of opening a soda bottle.
    “So, what’s up? You seem a little off today.”
    “Um… yeah, well, it’s because I need to tell you something.” I saw Dainan’s face scrunch up with worry. “I don’t think I can be with you, anymore. It’s just not working out for me. You’re very sweet, I think, but it doesn’t feel like we have much in common. And we live so far away from each other. You know that I’m saving up money to travel, but it feels like the only traveling I’m spending it on is to get to your place. And last week, you know, you said that one thing about working towards your goals, and it just hit me. I wasn’t doing that and I think I can’t do it till I’m alone. I mean, on my own. Not alone. I’m not alone. And I won’t be after this. But I will be on my own, making my own plans and not spending all of my money on bus fares to get here. Plus, you have this thing against dogs and… Jesus, I’m sorry, this is all coming out so sh*tty…”
    Dainan was quiet. His eyes were looking down at his shoes, as he sat bent over, with his hands on the nape of his neck.
    “Jesus, Trista… ” was all he whispered, before letting out a deep sigh. Placing his hands on his knees, he turned to me.
    “Do you even know what f*cking day it is? F*cking Valentine’s Day. And I’m not a romantic guy, but the irony of it all…” His voice was shaking.
    “Sh*t… I didn’t even remember. God… I’m sorry. I really am. I’m f*cking this all up.” I reached out to scratch Dainan’s back, hoping that somehow comforting him would lessen the blow. Instead, Dainan pulled away and stood up.
    “Do you know what’s the worst part?” he asked, as he headed towards his small, wooden bookcase in the corner of the room. He took a stack of papers off the first shelf and started looking through them.
    “The worst part,” he almost growled, throwing papers to the floor, “Is that I got you this!” He found an open envelope in the middle of the pile and presented it to me. I took it gingerly from him, a feeling of dread rising in my gut.
    The envelope was addressed to him, sent from a travel agency. From inside the envelope I took out two tickets to Ireland. I wondered briefly how often does it happen that the person breaking up with someone pukes on their living room carpet. Do they stay after to clean up? I suppose it’d seem rude not to…
    “Oh, Dainan…” I said quietly.
    “You always talked about going to Ireland. Seeing your roots. I know how much you’d like to travel, and… you’re always so stressed out after work! So I got us a round-trip flight to Dublin, with some pre-arranged tours of the country side. Thought you’d like that…”
    I met his gaze. His eyes were hard and cold, but there was a slight hurt underneath.
    “I had no idea…” I put the envelope on the sofa, then got up. “I… I’ve got to go. That thing with Emma and all… Don’t want to be late….” My voice trailed off as I made my way quickly out of the living room and towards the door.
    “Again, sorry about the whole thing. But let’s be friends or something…” I reached for the knob, pulling open the door to leave his apartment. Dainan was standing in the hall, his face a mixture of shock and anger.
    As I was rushing down the stairs, I heard Dainan yell after me, “Trista, you’re a real b*tch, you know that?”
    Closing his building door behind me, I looked down at the tickets in my hand.
    “Yeah, I know…”

  14. cafei264

    “No, no, no, no, no. You can’t do this to me. I can change this, I can change your mind on us Jessica.” He frantically says, as he jumps off the bed to protest even more. “I know it’s been rough for us these past few weeks but couples go through these phases. Hold on, I got you something for you that I know you’ll love.”
    “Luke stop. Please, for your own good. We’re going separate ways in our lives right now and I just feel like it be best…” As Jessica said pacing across the room, trying to get the words she wants to say out of her mouth. It was no use as Luke chimed in before she could say anything else.
    “Trust me on this Jessica. You’ll change your mind on this if I just get the gift for you.” Rushing out of his room to bring the gift to her. Jessica just stands there, hands to her face as she realizes its Valentine’s day. She goes over to sit on the bed to process the event that just occurred. Talking to herself on what to say next and making sure not to give in to him. She looks up from the floor as Luke walks into the room with a pint-sized box. This can’t be happening right now. The last thing I want is him to propose to me, talking to herself once again.
    “Alright, here it is. I got it a while back and was waiting for your birthday to give it to you, but as you’re having second thoughts about us, I figured this would be better.” He hands over the box to her as he continues talking, “So it was a bit expensive, but I remember you saying that you wanted it awhile back. It’ll be just like the when we first started dating. Remember all those adventures we had? Remember how it seemed like on those trips we felt like the only two on earth?” She slowly opens the box and freezes not knowing what to say. The thing she wanted most in this world and here it is, within her reach.
    “I can’t believe you remembered Luke.” Still awestruck at the sight of it. “But as much as I love the gesture, I can’t go through with this. I’m sorry you went through all this trouble just for me, but it wouldn’t be fair to you. Again, I’m truly sorry, but I have to go now.” She gets up and hurriedly walks to the door and out of the room, knocking the gift on the ground. Silence fills the room as he hears the front door close in the distance. Looking at the gift, realizing the foolishness of his actions, he walks out of the room, not looking back at the tickets to Paris.

  15. kluliss

    “Ugh” I thought to myself. “You can do this, Eddie, you’re strong and you don’t need him in your life.” I’m pretty sure at this point that I’m lying through my teeth, but I know what needs to be done.

    I raise my hand and knock on Jason’s door. It opens quietly and there he is, the smiling man I gave my heart to, who stopped pretending to love me back months ago.

    “Can I come in?” I sighed “I really need to talk to you.”

    He dropped the smile and nodded, opening the door further and stepping to one side.

    “Sure sweety, let me get you a beer?”

    “No thanks, I don’t need one right now.” My stomach was churning, the idea of drinking beer like nothing was wrong filled me with an exhausted resignation. I took myself through to the living room, dropping my coat over a dining chair, the same chair I had put my coat on at least four times a week for the last year, before dumping (hah, poor choice of words there) my ass into the armchair, where I never sit.

    “D’you want to tell me what’s wrong? You’re looking hangdog as hell?” Jason stood near me, his concerned expression looking contrived, like he’d practised it in the mirror.

    I can’t help the frustrated sigh which escapes me “Yes, I’m going to tell you what’s wrong.” I paused, shaking my head “Why do you think I’m here?”

    Jason tilted his head “I thought you’d come over because it’s Valentine’s Day and you wanted to spend the evening with me?”

    “Jason…” I couldn’t stop another sigh escaping “No, that’s not why I’m here. I need to-”

    “Before you finish that thought, I have something for you.” He said proudly as he reached into his pocket and brought out a small box, the size and shape of…well, a ring box. There was nothing else it could be. Jason dropped to one knee and offered me the box “I’ve wanted to ask you this for some time now. You complete my life, Eddie, and I want to be with you forever. Will you marry me?”

    I plucked the box from his hand and opened it solemnly, noting that the ring contained my favourite gems without being ostentatious. I looked up at him and slowly snapped the lid of the box shut.

    I regarded him with contempt “You manipulative bastard. No. My answer is no. No more mind games, no more presents to placate me when you’ve been angry, no more apologies for the horrible things you’ve said. I will not let you do that to me any more.” I felt dazed, having played my hand. I watched anger play across his face with a sense of relieved satisfaction. He wasn’t hiding now.

    His hand curled into a fist, and I closed my eyes.

  16. Critique

    New Beginnings

    “I’m sorry Chris. I should have told you before.” Natali’s heart squeezed painfully as she peered up at the tall handsome man standing in front of her.

    “Nat, none of that matters.” His fingers reached to brush unruly golden curls off of her forehead. “Wait here.” He strode to the back of his jeep and pulled out a large box.

    Setting the box on the ground in front of her he said, “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

    “Chris. I don’t’….” Her voice trailed off in astonishment when the box moved.

    “Go on.” Chris grinned. Tears shimmered in his eyes. “Open it.”

    Amazed that her news hadn’t shocked him in the least and intrigued at what was in the box, Natali bent down and pulled the cardboard box open.

    Shining dark eyes and excited yipping greeted her.

    “What? Oh my goodness.” Natali reached in and pulled out a Shih Tzu ball of black and white fur. “Oh. You’re simply adorable.” She snuggled the squirming puppy to her chest.

    Her face was treated to a thorough licking and she laughed then started to cry.

    “How did you know?” She sobbed.

    Chris crouched down beside her and grinned. “Don’t you remember? That was one of our first conversations. What would you want most in the world? You said, a puppy.”

    Tears rolled faster down Natali’s cheeks and the puppy licked away happily.

    “The past was not your fault and besides it makes no difference in how I feel about you. I love you Nat.” Chris said.

    “Chris.” Natali’s slim fingers clutched the puppy tighter. “You deserve better.”

    “You’re the one I want. I want to make you happy.” Chris pulled Natali to her feet and looked into her beautiful green eyes. “Natali Petrovski will you marry me and make me the happiest man on the planet?”

    “You were my Valentine from the first moment I met you. You make me feel safe.” Natali freed one hand holding the puppy, placed it on Chris’s cheek, and said, “Yes. I would be honoured to marry you.”

    “The honour is mine.” Chris said and kissed her.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      It’s a wonderful, heart-warmimg story, Critique. It belongs on it’s own Valentine Card. I’m sure Hallmark woulld be interested. The dialogue is close to perfect. This is a real keeper.

    2. Jay

      What did she do? What was in her past? AGH!

      I enjoyed this story. Just like my own story, going from breakup to back together can be tough… even tougher still is going from we’re breaking up to accepting a marriage proposal.

      Wonder what the future holds for this couple? Will it last? Will is turn sour over time because of what transpired during this story and ultimately lead to failure?

      Who knows. Who knows. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  17. rnash444

    It’s been a long time coming. I can almost begin to feel my skin getting agitated from all the dryness between us. I haven’t seen any signs of life or growth for months. Its time for this to be over. Sure, I could take a little more time to seek counsel but I’ve done that enough times. We have been hanging by a thread and its time to finally cut the cord. Today, I need to break up with Susan.
    It was a chilly day, with gusts of wind, but this was nothing unusual for a mid-February afternoon. The air against my face reminds me of why I hate winter. The smoke lifting from the cigarette reminds me of why I hate myself.
    I park outside her apartment. Like the climax in a tribal sacrificial offering, my heart beat against my chest and I walked towards the alter. I assure myself that today is as good a day as any.
    She opens the door moments after I knock. Her cheeks were blushed and her eyelashes long. I had known her long enough to recognize when she was wearing make up, it wasn’t always that easy to tell. She was wearing a red blouse with a silver necklace shaped as a heart. Her hands were folded behind her.
    “Hey, look, we need to talk” I said, frankly.
    “Okay, what is it? Want to come in?”
    “Ah, I’d better not.” My teeth were clenching, “Look, I’ve really enjoyed these past six months.”
    “Oh, God” she breathed.
    “Yeak, I just think that maybe, you know” I paused, hoping that the silence would fill in the blanks.
    She looked blustered. “No, I don’t know, Eric.”
    “Ah crap, umm, I want to break up.”
    Her postured crumbled like a house of cards hit by a gush of wind. “Why today? Of all the days you could’ve picked?”
    “We’ve been deteriorating for months, Susan.”
    “You’re terrible” she revealed an item in her hands. It was the game I had ranted on about to her a few times.
    “You got me something?”
    “Of course I did because I actually give a care about you!” Tears emerged from her eyes, falling like raindrops from a sad cloud. “Do you even know what day it is?”
    “Uh, Tuesday?” I was clueless. They say men pay little attention to detail, well they were right.
    “Just leave, get away” she slammed the door on my face.
    I knew it would be bad but that seemed a little more hostile than expected. As I take a seat in my car, I pull out my phone, theres a notification from my calendar app. And right there, coated in little hearts, reads: Happy Valentines Day!

  18. writer_sk

    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: Kohm, Sarah
    Date: Thursday, February 16, 2017
    Subject:
    To: “sarahkohm@gmail.com”

    The final touch was the envelope containing tickets to the getaway in Vermont. The nervous energy crept up to my neck and I twitched my head in a little unnatural dance move while I felt for the tickets in my breast pocket. The urge to fill one of the two champagne flutes from our wedding kept tugging me to the kitchen counter – the mauve satin granite that Cate had chosen, but I resisted, instead choosing to perch awkwardly on the window seat she’d asked for. The take-out had been delivered from Maggio’s and was waiting to be eaten at our beautiful breakfast bar Cate had requested. Well, you get the idea, I’d been working a lot helping the builders create a dream house for our family. Don’t get me wrong, I included a large billiards area and a pool that were my idea but the house had been a labor of love for Cate.

    I checked my phone, she was running horribly late. My mother had fetched the kids at school hours ago and I had come home with Cate’s gifts and long since straightened up and set my surprise up. Her big present was a puppy. She had wanted a dog for years now and I felt our daughters were old enough to really enjoy him. Right now, the little guy was out enjoying his new dog house.

    Cate’s heels clicked up to the front door.

    “Evan?”

    “Yes,” I hesitated.

    Her eyes looked all red and teary.

    “What’s wrong?”

    “I cannot do it anymore, Evan.”

    “I want to break up. I want a separation,” Cate said, taking off her coat and revealing her tailored suit for her job as the Assistant District Attorney.

    “Is this a joke?” I asked, thinking that had to be the answer. It was the only one that made sense.

    Her blank stare told me in no uncertain terms that it wasn’t part of an elaborate Valentine’s hoax.

    “We’ve said it all before, there’s no sense in my repeating myself. You know what my complaints are.” she spoke robotically and I recoiled at her cold demeanor.

    “I thought it was just a stressful time what with me building the house for so long.” my voice was feeble and tinny and came from somewhere in my stomach.

    Backing away, I grabbed for and touched anything around me, I needed to feel real things. The puppy barked, a yippy and sweet sound that jolted my wife from her cold, ice queen persona. She looked out the window and saw the creature emerge from his dog house which had valentine hearts carved around the custom roof. One of the benefits of owning a roofing company is making a tiny custom roof.

    I ran my fingers through my dark hair and fell hard onto the sofa (Ethan Allen – olive green fall collection – her choice) and my heart sunk.

    “I’m sorry,” I said, which always worked in the past, “I didn’t believe what you said when you said you wanted me to be around more and help less with the house. But I got us these tickets for a little trip. Will you still be my Valentine? Don’t leave, I don’t want to be away from you and the kids.”

    We walked out the stone path that I could see us walking on as retirees, to pet the puppy and as we reached the yard, she finally melted into my shoulder, familiar and warm, curving her head to my chest. I kissed her cheek and felt the sting of tears in my own eyes threatening to spill over, a culmination of confusion and utter despair. I held them in.

    “Thank you. I didn’t even know it was Valentine’s Day. I’ve been so tired from working and doing the day-to-day stuff with the kids I guess I took all you’ve done for us for granted. I love you. I am really sorry I said I wanted to break up.” She reached out to pet the soft fur of her little dog while I cast my gaze over the lilacs I’d planted her and dreamt of how sweet they’d one day smell.

      1. writer_sk

        Thank you, Beebles! I wanted the characters to be a little basic. She unfairly wanted her house and items but also for him to be present. He was a Prince Charming and a little too willing on Valentine’s Day to forgive her abruptness. Not my best work, I didn’t like it.

  19. Penney

    The playground was filled with kids freshly fed from lunch. Penelope watched each group of friends at their standard locations. All the four-square ball game areas were filled with lines of kids waiting turns. The tetherballs were hogged by the bullies swinging the ball too high for others to reach. The swings were occupied by the daredevils and suicidal maniacs. Where was Casey? There were only two possible places. He would either be in the field or on the monkey bars. The play area was all dust, dirt, and hard gray metal. Drought had long dried the area turning the playground into cracked clay and rocks with tumble weeds rolling around between occasional twisters.

    She scanned the field down the path of tall trees till she found the fort. Ten trees down out past the big toys to the right, along the fence, was a makeshift fort made of tumbleweeds. A few kids had made a couple of walls supported by the fence and trees so the duty teacher couldn’t see what went on behind it. Penelope spotted the fort and watched a little girl walk out from behind it, pause and run toward some friends. Two other girls walked hand and hand toward the fort and Joey stood guard. Penelope knew she had to share Casey if she was going to have any kind of time or friendship with him but she didn’t like it. That was the politics of the things. Everyone liked Casey; the girls anyway.

    He was Elvis Presley personified. He acted like Elvis, he sounded like him, and he just was him. All the girls swooned over Casey because they wanted Elvis. So, they followed him around the playground to hear him talk and he eventually learned to capitalize on the attention. What did he want? Well, girls. All the girls snuck off to the fort so they could get a kiss from Elvis. They lifted their shirts to show what was underneath and for trade if he got to touch, well, that was two kisses. For a second grader, he was a serious entrepreneur. But, Penelope was getting tired of sharing. She was getting tired of his tricks and lies. So she marched out to the fort. She walked past Lana dodging the big red rubber ball aimed for her head and down the middle of two dust twisters, straight for Joey.

    “Stop, he’s with Cindy,” said Joey like a Centurion.

    “I don’t care; you’re not the boss of me.” At that moment Cindy ran off and Casey came out.

    “Well hello pretty mama.” Casey gyrated his hips and winked an eye pointing his pistol finger at me.

    “Casey, you said I was your girl. Just me. You’re supposed to only kiss me. I don’t want you to be Elvis anymore.” Penelope had said it. Elvis had worn out his welcome. “If you don’t stop it I won’t be your girlfriend anymore.”

    “Gosh Penelope, go away, you’re no fun,” Casey replied.

    Joey kicked at the dirt sending little pebbles and dust toward her. She turned shielding herself and ran off toward the tunnels. For a long while after that Penelope didn’t hang out with Casey or the other girls. She didn’t have many other friends so she found herself alone at recess or going to the library. As time passed she got used to being without Casey.

    One day the school was hosting the scholastic book fair. In the cafeteria books and posters covered the lunch tables for kids to pick out things to buy. Penelope was at the posters when she came across a large poster of Elvis Presley. He was larger then life holding a microphone frozen in time singing a song in his white rhinestone pantsuit. At the bottom were the dates: Jan 08, 1935 – Aug 16, 1977. Elvis was dead. He had died over the summer and Penelope didn’t know it. She bought the poster but all she could think about was Casey, her Elvis.

    At recess, she ran out to the playground and searched for Casey. She looked all over and couldn’t spot him. Was he gone, did he move? She kept looking until she spotted some kids up on the monkey bars. Joey, Cindy and Casey were sitting on top of the bars, their legs swinging. You had to be strong to get up there. She kept looking at Casey with uncertainty. He looked and acted different. He was playing air guitar and his tongue stuck out. It stuck out so far, it looks like he was straining to make the point of how far he could do it. She walked over and stopped just underneath him.

    “Hi Casey.”

    “What do you want,” he asked.

    “Whatcha doing?”

    He leaned back as far as he could and played his air guitar more. He sat back up and stuck his tongue out yelling, “I’m Gene Simmons of KISS! Move or I’ll spit blood all over you.”

    “I thought you were Elvis,” she asked a little scared.

    “Elvis is died, he’s not cool anymore. Now I’m Gene Simmons.” And he screeched out an attempt to sound like an electric guitar.
    Penelope didn’t like what she saw and before running away from the monkey bars and Casey forever she yelled, “I hate your guts!”

    Sometimes presents or change doesn’t matter; sometimes it’s just too late. For Penelope it was Elvis or nothing.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Good job with this story Penny. You kept the reader’s interest through out and had a good finish. Last sentence is a good recap ending. Seven year olds aren’t like what I remember but then, who glimpses back in the past?

    2. Jay

      I agree with Kerry, you kept my attention throughout. I understand that she wanted Casey, and only Casey. She wanted Casey to stop being Elvis and to be himself. To stop being with other girls, and to be with her and only her.

      So… she didn’t like how he acted as Gene, and didn’t like how he acted as Elvis. Why then is it Elvis or nothing? Shouldn’t it be Casey or nothing? As far as I understand it, she wants the true him, right?

      Anyway, good story. A lot of potential, Penney. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  20. Kerry Charlton

    THE DANCE

    In a land far away and long ago, a man walked the earth, a man of passion, goodness, and righteousness. The world was cruel then, perhaps worse than present times. The new wife of the king had a burning hatred for this man of God. It consumed her heart, and caused her to go to the king and request a present that would delight her. It pleased him not, therefore he ignored her request.

    As time drifted, this man of God let his feelings be known of the king’s marriage to his new wife, Herodias whom had been discarded by the king’s half brother. Before the land, the man of God continued his disdain to the new wife of the king. After a second pleading from the king’s wife, the ears of the king closed until the wife offered an unusual present to her husband.

    In this same land, there dwelled a young woman of great beauty, poise and comeliness, who happened to be the daughter of the king’s new wife. Her name was Salome and she was introduced to the king. She was offered as a present rather than a new daughter. Salome was young, frivolous and enjoyed her passion for the dance. She cared not for the kings lascivious nature toward her and avoided his presence whenever possible.

    The king grew restless waiting for the charms of his present from his wife and delivered an ultimatum to her. His wife, Herodias, asked for a present in return for her daughter‘s charms. The king refused her wishes. At that time, Herodias persuaded her daughter Salome to dance for the king. She loved the dance and the tease thereof and agreed to the bargain.

    Meanwhile, the king imprisoned the man of faith as he had continued to speak out against the king‘s marriage. One evening while the king and Herodias dined, musicians gathered to play. Across the palace floor, appeared Salome clocked in seven veils. The music started, she began to dance slowly, and swung her veils in time to the musicians

    As the tempo of the music heightened, Salome discarded the first veil, the second and then the third. The king’s eyes riveted upon his wife’s present to him. Herodias whispered in his ear and Salome dropped the fourth and fifth veil, wildly slinging them through the air to the king. The king nodded to his wife and three armed guards left the room.

    The music rose to a crescendo as Salome continued lost in her gyrating and flung the sixth veil. She dropped the last veil with her back to the king, looked over her shoulder to him and started to walk away, only to be interrupted by the guards returning with a silver platter upon which, rested the head of the Godly man. Salome screamed an unearthly sound and ran from the palace

    Times haven’t changed much in 2000 years. It’s still easy to lose your head because of a woman.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Cosi. While I eas writing, Rita Hayworth started pushing into my mind. So I stopped and Googled her dance of the seven veils. Good golly Miss Molly!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Joseph for the read and comments. A truism that most men have a tendency to forget, to their surprise when the head-rolling happens. Oh well, that’s life, nobody’S perfect.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Critoque, when you think of it, most history is extemely dark. Nobody seems to remember the good people, I guess they’re boring or something.

    1. snuzcook

      Wonderful visit to the classics, Kerry! I have you in my roladex under: Romance, Expert. Now, why do I think you’ve been holding on to that final line, just waiting for the right story?

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Snuz. I’m in a roladex? I always wanted to be in one. The one liner came beacause I couldn’t hold it back. And then beforehand, I was so trying to be so serious for a change, but no, the one liner forced it’s way out. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Beebles, glad you enjoyed the trip
        Wish I could have attached the video of Rita Hayworth dancing the dance of the seven veils. Of course if your wife caught you watching more than once. I imagine she’d knock you around a bit

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Reatha, hope you are doing better. You are right of course about Sunday school
        With a grandfather as a Luthern minister and a grandmother having me memorize the 23rd Psalm, for example, plenty of Bible stories are stored between my ears,so I have a lot of material ready.

  21. SaveTheLoser

    I knew how this was going to go when he brought out the present.
    He was going to give me this emotionally charged gift, tell me how much he loved me and couldn’t let me go, how he wanted all these things that only I could give him (as if I wanted them too), how I was the only one for him and he couldn’t be happy without me. And I’d relent, because I still cared, even if I didn’t love him anymore.
    That was my problem. I care. I care about people until it hurts me so much that I can’t function. That’s why I allowed him to convince me to come back.
    I know this song and dance. It has repeated so often it is powerwashed into my skull, and all attempts I’ve made to break the cycle I can never go through with in the end. He wins, I stay, and I resent him for it.
    But not today. I may be at fault for choosing the worst day to do it, but I won’t give in today.
    I give him back the present. It is something I want, but it is tainted. It’s a bribe, I recognize. Bribery to stay, to not go, to fall back into the cycle. I might as well be trading my soul for it.
    “I can’t,” I tell him.
    He gets mad. He shouts at me, asking me why. Saying that I’m happy and he’s happy, so why don’t we just stay like this. Be happy together, instead of being sad alone.
    But I’m not happy anymore. I have to move on. I can’t keep this promise ring that ties me to him like a chain. I can’t listen to his goals of marriage and children when the idea of going through with such fills me with dread and disgust, not happiness. I can’t pretend that the idea of marrying him is probably going to be the worst thing in my life.
    I tell him so. He gets louder. I need to get out.
    Remove the ring. Set it on the table, next to the bribe. Walk away as he shouts at me, ignore his emotionally charged words. Pretend that I don’t care, because it is the only way to get through this without going back.
    It is a weight off my chest as I leave his house behind.
    I’m free.

    1. Jay

      With a little work, this can be a really good exploratory story. I wish you’d have dived deeper into these characters, especially the main character. I wanted him or her to really tell us what’s going on in their head. When you’re in an abusive relationship, things aren’t as easy as walking away. There’s this inner turmoil where the louder they get the more scared you get and the less likely you are to walk away. He’s showing the classic signs of an abuser, which means their relationship probably was tough and tough could be, but I can’t imagine the MC would be able to break away without some exposition to the reader about how strong he or she has come and why they can step out so easily this time.

      Anyway, I like the story, and there’s a lot of potential here. In the future, it helps us read if you put spaces between the paragraphs. Much easier on the eyes.

      Thanks for sharing!! 🙂

  22. Pete

    This trailer ain’t but so big, and with four girls, it’s all I can do to keep them from fighting every day. It’s summertime, hot, and they mope around, a hurricane of blonde heads, whining, complaining about how they’re bored, painting my toenails and hogging the TV, otherwise just being little pests.

    If only I’d had a son. Junior would understand, appreciate the inner workings of a big block engine, play pitch and catch in gravel. But none of these girls—Johnni Charli, Bobbi, and um, uh, the other one—want to do anything besides fuss. I’m done.

    It’s been building for a while now, so as Brittany waltzes in the door, I just leave.

    “Where you going?” she asks with a smirk, like something’s funny. I shake my head and bust out the door, lighting a Winston against the breeze. My fingernails painted pinker than a hippo’s belly. Damn it, Johnni.

    I just start walking. Figure I’ll go to Crazy 8’s and have a beer and come up with a life plan. I shoulda hit up Brit for a few bucks before I left but screw it, no going back now. I’m free. I pick up the pace, swinging my arm to loosen up the stiffness.

    I sit down and order a draft, stewing about how life isn’t fair. I play with the bracelet Bobbi made for me. I got hopes and dreams and a trailer full of reasons why none of it’s coming true. Mainly Brittany, always on me about a job, badgering me to call Uncle Carl about that shift at Georgia-Pacific. Can’t she see I’m better suited for something else? Something bigger?

    The bar is empty, save for a couple old timers in the corner, poking around at that picture hunt game. Good, I’m not in the mood for talking. I think back to high school, when I had a million-dollar arm and Brittany had a figure. Then prom. The backseat of my Mustang. Then Jonni. Then Charli. Then Bobbi, then Whatchamacallit.

    I’m about four beers deep when I decide my new life will start tomorrow. Russ and Wes walk in, laughing about me being there.

    Crazy. That old Gnarls Barkley song hits the speakers. Takes me back to senior year when they wore this song out when I was on the mound. Brit in the stands, shaking her perfect tail and screaming for her All-Star boy. After the game we’d all go get hammered back on Old Cow pasture Road. We had it made.

    I knock back my suds and Brittany plops down on the stool. Purse on the bar, spilling out snacks and a pacifier. There was a time she danced on this bar. She fixes her bag. “You didn’t make if very far.”

    I shrug, waiting for her to come down hard on me, right in front of the fellas. Then it dawns on me that Russ and Wes never have women coming to drag them home by the ear. I pick of a mile-long blonde hair from my shirt. “Where are the girls?”

    Brittany licks her lips, rolls on her chap stick the same way she used to put on lipstick. No wonder we got four kids. She puckers. “Next door, at Enda’s. Nice nails.”

    I display my hands on the bar. Brittany tosses the chap stick into the abyss of her purse. When the kids came, Brittany had no problems swallowing down her dreams. But mine still sit on my plate, like vegetables, getting cold.

    “You want a beer?”

    She shakes her head, staring straight ahead at our reflection behind the bottles. Her profile cuts through the dark, hazy bar. Maybe she does still have a dream or two left. “Come on, have a beer with me.”

    She shrugs. “Can’t.”

    A shiver runs down my back. Crazy. I shake my head, chuckling. “No way.”

    She looks at me. Fire in those eyes. I see the girl who used to dance on the bar. “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

    Steve the bartender awaits my command. I nod and he pulls the tap.

    Brittany sighs. “I’m going to keep you around, Russ. But I need you to let it go. Them days are gone. We’re right here. I need you to catch up with us, help us out a little.”

    My head is shaking. “Why?”

    “Because I love you, you dumb sack of mud.”

    “Oh.”

    The song ends. I drain my beer. Brit goes in her purse and finds a fist full of ones and fives. Tips from her shift. “You know, Uncle Carl said that they got a softball team.”

    “Yeah?”

    Steve waves off the money. He looks at me. “Go.”

    I get to my feet. “Hey, want to dance first?”

    Britany. “Yeah, but in the kitchen. I don’t dance in bars anymore.”

    1. writer_sk

      I liked your story a lot. The characters come off the page. You captured the lifestyle you’re describing perfectly. Everything flowed nicely. Could be the start to a small indie film. I liked how the husband was flawed

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Good writing Pete, from the heart and the mind. The scene at the bar is real life portrayed as good as it gets. You’re sharp with your words and make them all count and it shows in your writing. Keep it up, you’re doing great.

    2. JosephFazzone

      Awesome story! I really felt that there was some hope them at the end of this, and it’s all very easy to relate to the letting go of dreams in order to find another dream. There’s always hope as long as you are out there swinging. Great story!

    3. ReathaThomasOakley

      Pete, wow, this is so wonderful, just about perfect, not a wasted line or word. So very many great phrases and sentences that I’ve read it three times and still want to read it again. You’ve made everyone in the story absolutely real and authentic. Did I say I liked it!

    1. Dark Vathis

      Some words that you don’t think would be bad words are bad words. I didn’t think s*xy was a bad word, but apparently, I couldn’t post my story until I changed it to have an asterisk. f they’re blocking a work like s*xy, God only knows what other unoffensive words they’ve blocked that someone deemed as offensive.

      1. Brian A. Klems Post author

        It’s our SPAM filter. Unfortunately it has to be set to block a lot of words, otherwise our comments sections would be overrun with SPAM. I try to catch all the legit posts that are held up because of word-usage to approve them, but sometimes they get missed.

        If only the world could rid itself of SPAM, we’d all be a lot happier. 🙂

        Thanks for the comment,
        Brian

        1. cagedfreebird

          I wish! But I’m really quite perplexed as to what could be labeled as spam in my story, I promise it’s nice! I’ll try again and see if I change a few things in it, if it wont hurt the flow, if it’ll post and maybe I’ll figure out which word it is.

        2. writer_sk

          Hi Brian – I was hoping you could please remove a portion of or all of my post. I just don’t want my name or email there – which accidentally appear at the top of my story. Thank you!

      2. cagedfreebird

        Ah, I see. I suppose people lately seem to get more and more offended, so they’re only trying to keep up. I’m gonna see what I can change in my story, though I’m really sure there’s nothing too offensive there. I’m gonna put a asterisk where I think it’ll go and let you know which word turned out to be offensive this time.

  23. JosephFazzone

    I sucked in a rather large breathe of air. If this was to be my last, then so be it. I was going to savor it. As I hesitated I thought of her large doe-like brown eyes, and that smile that looked tilted when she was confused. I thought of the wonderful heart she had, and how I was about to break it.

    It had been “Meh”, at best, and flat out boring at the worst. It’s not that we fought. Far from it, we didn’t really talk at all, and at best it was superficial. It was over, we were burning fumes as the engine of our love coughed and dragged its way inch after dreary inch.

    It’s over.

    I knocked with the confidence I knew I had to have. I was going to be blunt in the nicest way possible. Of course every action I was going to take was at the realization that the consequence could be severe regardless of my actions, or intentions.

    “Hi,” she answered brightly. Her smile was adorable, and it wasn’t making that any easier.

    “Listen,” I began ominously. “We need to talk.”

    “Wait here,” she said giddily, and off she ran into her apartment.

    I stood there with my mouth agape. I just told her we need to talk, and I’m pretty sure I conveyed the ominous tone in the ominous way. I repeated the phrase out loud. Sure sounded gloomy to me.

    She came running back. She had a big package wrapped in white paper with a red bow. Her grin was infectious.

    “Happy Valentine’s Day,” she announced lovingly.

    I stood there. My heart beat in my chest as if it was going to explode out of my chest, and smear the bright white wrapping paper with my life’s blood.

    I took the present, and set in on the small table near the door where she kept her keys. “Angie, we need to talk.”

    I told her. I told her how I felt, and how this wasn’t what I was looking for. I told her it wasn’t her, but it was. I was honest, at least as honest as I had ever been with her.

    She stood there, and nodded slowly. There was a tear in her eye. “I’ve felt it too,” she said with a deep understanding that I didn’t realize she possessed. “I have been so afraid of opening up that I’ve been playing it safe.”

    It dawned on me that I had done the same. “Me too,” I confessed.

    We stood there in morbid silence when quite unexpectedly a light had shone inside my head, like a star inside the blackest cave, and everything was visible to the minutest detail.

    “I need you to do me a favor,” I told her quickly.

    Of course she was cautious. “What?”

    “Take whatever this is,” I said holding up the gift. “Take it back, and sell it. Let’s use the money, instead on gas.”

    “Where are we going?” The uncertainty in her eyes didn’t waver.

    “Vegas!”

    It’s amazing when a lightbulb goes off in your head. It’s even more amazing when you see the same light bulb go off into someone else’s. She smiled broadly, and nodded briskly as she said, “Go home and pack,” she said shooing me out the door. “We’ll leave in an hour.”

    I did that. I don’t remember going back to my apartment and packing and then heading back. All I remember was spending the entire time awakened by the idea of what I was wasting. The chance I never really took, and all the places I had gone wrong.

    This was the desperate plan of a desperate couple, and I conceded that point as I knocked on her door. She was there in a flash, with the cash in her hand, and a backpack slung over her shoulder. She kissed me on the cheek.

    “Let’s hit the road, Handsome!”

    Her enthusiasm was infectious and rekindled the understanding of what we had to do. It was a six hour drive to Vegas. We left around eight, and spent the entire ride going over how foolish we were to forget who we were. We were both afraid, and had been hurt in prior relationships. We avoided the confrontation, preferring instead to sweep everything under the rug rather than face the truth. We bored ourselves to death, almost death.

    The truth is, no one is perfect, and that understanding allowed us to drop our guards. No guards, no walls, and then the connection was made. We laughed heartily at our floundering and flopping. We joke and ribbed each other for several missed opportunities to share in a laugh, or talk about things that were important. We scolded each other for not leaning on each other when we needed the support, or even sharing in concerns or worries. We played it safe, and it almost killed our relationship.

    Six hours on the most intense, heartfelt, emotional ride of our lives, and by the time we got to Vegas, we were exhausted.

    I remember looking at her, and seeing that star in her eye, that twinkle. She had a lazy happy smile, and I swooned. I knew then and there that this was the girl of my dreams, and I almost ignored her.

    “What do you want to do first, Handsome?” She asked me.

    “Marry you and live the rest of my days learning you, laughing with you, and loving you.” My heart was beating fast, but my conviction never faltered.

    “Sounds like a plan,” she said.

    That was sixty years ago today. She’s been gone ten years, and I still talk to her every day.

    “You almost blew it, Grandpa,” Emily said with wide and tear filled eyes.

    “I almost did,” I admitted with a chuckle.

    “Can I ask you something?”

    “Sure, Darling,” I said.

    “What was Grandma going to give you that Valentine’s Day?”

    “I never asked. I never cared to. Whatever it was, it paid for the wedding at a nearby chapel, the gas money to get there and back, and a bite to eat.”

    “Must have been something,” Emily’s bright eyes shone with possibility. “You never asked?”

    I shook my head and said frankly, “Honestly, I can’t imagine anything better than what I got in return.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        When you read something at my age that makes you tingle, it’s impressive. And your story certainly was. I loved every bit of it and to echo Beebles, it’s brilliant.

    1. Jay

      Excellent, JF. At first I was thinking about how unreal it was. No one just up and leaves and gets married, happily ever after. Had you ended it there, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed this story. HOWEVER! You ended the story with realism. You lassoed that crazy probably-couldn’t-happen story, and brought it down to reality by making the grandfather tell a true story to his grand kids.

      For anyone reading this story, when they tell you that you can write about anything you want but you MUST ground the story in reality, this is a prime example. You can have aliens or hippos in tutus, and as long as you solidify it, you can make it work.

      Well done, JF. 🙂

  24. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

    My Perfect Valentine

    “It’s not me. It’s you,” I said, and watched the afternoon sun glistened in her glossy eyes. “I could say that it’s my fault that my feelings aren’t there anymore because I’ve lost interest, but that’s not the case at all. I still adore you, but I’ve lost that connection because you haven’t been able to give me that thing I need to keep this relationship alive. We had it once, but now it’s gone, and I’m afraid we won’t ever be able to get that back. Sorry, babe.”

    Monika sniffled, ran the back of her hand under her pink nose, and shifted her weight to her other foot. After folding her thin arms over her ample chest, she said, “Why would you do this on Valentine’s Day?”

    “I, uh…”

    Sh*t. I had no idea it was Valentine’s Day. I totally forgot. I spent so long in my own turmoil that I had even called out of a work a couple of days because I couldn’t focus.

    I dug my hands into my pockets and pawed at the floor with my foot. I couldn’t look her in the eyes any longer. I was sure she didn’t want to look at me, either, so it worked out for both of us.

    “Sorry,” was all I could say, and I turned to head back to my car.

    “Wait,” she said.

    I paused, considering the ramifications of turning back around. If I returned to her, then I might be offering her a glimmer of hope that this could still work, but I believed there was nothing she could do that could make this better. However, was it my place to take that away from her? I didn’t want to deny her the opportunity to say what she probably needed to say. After all, I wasn’t a monster.

    A cold gust caused me to shiver as I returned to her door. Her gaze seemed as icy as the wind, if not more frigid. I thought that perhaps she might lunge at me just then, slash my throat, and leave me for dead. Knowing her, it wasn’t exactly an irrational thought, but unlikely at best.

    “What’s up?” I said, hoping to break the tension. It didn’t work.

    “Don’t you at least want to see the Valentine’s gift I got you?”

    Red alert. Stop. Turn and run. For the love of God, just get the heck out of here, I thought, but then said, “Sure.”

    Okay, so maybe I was a man, and maybe I didn’t always think too clearly. Standing there on her porch with the sun warming my back and the wind nipping at my nose, I figured she wanted to show me only one thing: s*xy lingerie followed by an hour of hard, rough pillow tossing. Just the way she liked it. Just the way I liked it. What kind of man would I be if I turned down some sheet time? Obviously, I couldn’t know for sure she wanted to sweat a little, but I knew I’d regret it if I missed the opportunity to have her one last time.

    I stepped beyond her into that old familiar foyer. As she closed the door, I breathed deep the apple and cinnamon scented oils she warmed over a nearby candle. Her blue canary twittered a subtle song from the niche near the kitchen, and I so wanted to say hello to him as I always did, but I didn’t feel welcome in that house anymore. I felt like a stranger in a home that I had only just visited for the first time.

    “Come,” she said, and walked toward the living room. I followed her a few steps, stopping briefly to admire some of the paintings on the walls. I knew I’d never see them again, and wanted to see if I could pull anything else from them before I left. Unfortunately, I learned nothing new. Probably I would have if I had more time to gaze at them, to study the things she had painted on that taut skin. I didn’t, though, and so I continued after her unsatisfied.

    Monika stopped at the basement door, put her hand on the silver handle, and smiled. When she opened the door and turned to lead the way, I wasn’t the least bit curious what she had to show me. Actually, I was entirely preoccupied watching her walk in those tight yoga pants. She may not have been able to offer that special something that I needed, but she sure as heck could turn me on like nothing else.

    I never liked going down these old wooden stairs. They would bend when you stepped on them, and often they’d let out this moan with a few unnerving hard snaps. I always expected one of them to give out and I’d fall through the floor. The idea of falling didn’t bother me, though. I just didn’t want to become a pincushion for tetanus shots. Boy, did I hate needles, and that was almost enough to get me to turn back and go home. Almost.

    At the bottom, she switched on the light and revealed to me a giant box covered by a red, satin sheet. Little aluminum hearts dangled from thin string above it, and there was a little folded sign that read: FOR MY LOVE, HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

    Double sh*t. I had no idea she had bought me something so big, and here I was, giftless and guilty. If she had wanted me to feel that way, she succeeded. I only hoped she could return it and be able to get her money back.

    I said, “Sorry, babe. I can’t accept that.”

    “Sure you can.”

    “I don’t have anything for you.”

    “It’s for us.”

    “Us?”

    She smiled that smile that had won me the night I met her. I wouldn’t say it was love at first sight, because there’s no such thing. It was, however, lust at first sight, that carnal need to be with someone that gets your blood pumping and your heart pounding. Right then, I felt the cool room get seriously hot, and I heard my heart thumping in my ears.

    She yanked the black tie from her wrist and pulled her golden hair into a bun. She watched me for a moment with those emerald, tear drop eyes, and smiled. She ran her hands up her thighs, snagged the edge of her shirt, and pulled her top off. She hadn’t been wearing a bra, so she stood there bare-chested. Despite how warm I felt, it was obviously cold in here. Either that or she was as heated as I was. Or both.

    She said, “Join me?”

    I knew it was a bad idea. It always is. I mean, men can sometimes seduce women, but women can seduce men so much easier, and so you can’t often trust them. Your best bet is to say no and walk away.

    I don’t really know why men get stupid when women come at them like this, but it’s always been the case. I guess maybe it exists to balance the s*xes out because I have never met a woman who didn’t use her s*xuality to gain some advantage in life, feminism be darned.

    Pulling off my jacket, I finally felt how cool it was, and although I was shivering, it wasn’t because of the temperature. I was tremendously turn on, but also there was also a measure of excitement I hadn’t felt in a long time. I kicked my boots off and my shirt quickly followed.

    She came to me, pressed her chest into me, and barely touched her lips to mine. I felt her tongue dancing in her mouth as she spoke to me, “Are you ready?”

    “Yes,” I said, and ran my nails over the soft skin of her perfectly arched back.

    Monika grabbed my belt buckle, and pulled me to the box. As we stood there, my pants throbbed as I waited impatiently for her to open the zipper. She kissed my neck, moved down to my chest, and trailed even further until she kissed my pelvis. I looked down, and watched her gently grasp the edge of the satin sheet with her fingers. She playfully bit my crotch through my jeans as she tore the sheet away, and I stared down with unequivocal love for our gift.

    I said, “You didn’t.”

    “I did.”

    “But how?”

    “It took months of planning. I wanted today to be perfect.”

    “Oh, baby,” I said, my fire had reignited for her. I wasn’t sure how long that fire would last, but I knew this was what we needed to rekindle our dying relationship, a jumpstart for a new beginning. “Can I?”

    “Of course.”

    I kneeled next to her, and gave her a quick playful nibble on her neck. She moaned and giggled the way I always liked. She handed me a rolled up, black cloth, and the metal contents within it clinked together. She smiled, and without even looking, I knew she had found us the perfect set with which we could work.

    I looked at the gagged and frightened woman in the cage next to us, smiled, and I told the woman, “Thank you.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Hello Doc, normally I am a fast reader but……when I come to you, I slow down as if to say, I want tp be whipped with your words and story. I think I might have held my breath for the ending, trying to prepare myself. howevr, it never works. The ending is so strong, it jolted me. ‘Why do I read?’ i ask. I already know the answer, I have to read. What power and minute detail you write with, I wish I could express that kind of detail, it’s almost like a pr**k tease. You ever fail doing this? I don’t thiink so. I need to go outside and walk around a bit. Whoa!!!

    1. JosephFazzone

      Amazing! I really got drawn into the story, and had no idea how it was going to end. They are a crazy couple, insane even, but do they have a chance at love? Who knows? They sure have a strong chance of never seeing the light of day if they are ever caught. Twisted! Great story!

    2. kittycat4ever

      This is one of those where you’ve made the trip a thousand times, you know how its all going to turn out and then all of sudden you realize that you didn’t just miss your turn: You weren’t even on the right road. This is awesome. So unexpected and yet it fit perfectly.

    3. ReathaThomasOakley

      Well, this is one I had to read twice to see if there were clues I’d missed, and there weren’t, except for that bit at the beginning where she can’t give him what he needs. Very, very well done.

      1. Jay

        Thanks for your comment, Reatha! There was actually one very subtle clue (if you could call it a clue at all), which was when she’s leading him to the basement. The paintings, if you’ll notice, aren’t on canvas, but rather “skin”. A very deliberate play on words. 🙂

        Thanks for reading!

  25. cosi van tutte

    Okay. So, yeah. This is fan fiction, but it was the very first thing that popped into my head and I just couldn’t pass it up.

    ****

    “I’m sorry, Jessie. I really am. After everything we’ve gone through, after all of the times we’ve been shocked, fallen from great heights, nearly drowned, and so many other trevails, the spark’s just no longer there.” He tapped his black gloved fist against his chest. “Hear that? Just all empty and sparkless inside.”

    “Sparkless, you say?” She giggled her signature sinister giggle. “That’s a funny choice of words.”

    “I know! After all of the times we’ve been electrocuted…I don’t know how we’re still alive….but there should be some residual electricity in here, but no. Nothing. Nada. And I am so sorry.”

    “Hmm.” Another sinister giggle. “It really is a shame you’re breaking up with me. After all, I made the best present a girl could give her guy. Do you want to see it?”

    “It won’t change anything, Jessie, but oh, very well. Let me see it.”

    “Come in the kitchen.” Another sinister giggle.

    He followed her. “What is—-” Then, he saw it on the kitchen table with an apple stuffed inside its chubby rodent mouth.

    He gaped in shock.

    She giggled and clapped her black gloved hands. “Are you surprised, James?”

    “Is that…”

    “Yes!”

    “The twerps…?”

    “Yes!”

    Tears streamed down his face as he clasped her hands. “Do you know what this means, Jessie?”

    “Yes!”

    “We can steal any Pokemon we want and not be blasted off again!”

    She sobbed happy tears. “Yes!”

    “Never mind what I said earlier. I’m staying with you, Jessie. How could I leave the woman who killed and roasted our nemesis?”

    “Shall I carve or will you do the honors?”

    “I’ll let you do it.”

    “I love you, James.”

    “And I love you, Jessie.”

      1. Bushkill

        Its’s a Pokemon thing. Jesse and James were the bad guys. Slap stick failures, most of the time Wile E Coyote style.
        There was also Butch and Cassidy.

        clever play on American western types.

        And I have clearly spent too much time watching cartoons with my kids.

    1. Mizuwolf

      That’s great, a little morbid, but great nonetheless. I always had a soft spot for Team Rocket. It’s nice to see a happy ending for them, even if it would never happen in the show.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I’m totally, like you know, in the dark but I enjoyed the story and all you youngsters explaining it. I know I’m missing stuff along the way but good grief, I can’t stuff much more in the old noggin. Thing now are leaking out more than I came put in there. In another ten years, if I last, I’ll be a vacuum head. Oh no!!!

    2. Jay

      I didn’t get it either, but then I wasn’t one for Pokemon growing up. What was the rodent they roasted? I feel like their nemesis was Ashe wasn’t it? Was he on the table??

      Thanks for sharing, Cosi. Fun story. 🙂

  26. ericaisall

    I always have to drive to his house. He never wants to come to the city to see me. It takes me about 50 minutes to get there. The entire drive gives me time to think about how to start the conversation. How do you break up with someone? I’ve always been the person being dumped. Mostly because I never see it coming.
    I am nervous. I don’t think about it anymore. It should not be this difficult.
    I drive myself towards his house. I turn up the volume in the music I chose to play. It is classic punk music. I don’t need to listen to something that makes me sentimental. Dead Kennedys are a good choice right now.
    I park, call his apartment so he can buzz me in, then take the elevator to the third floor. I get in his apartment. It smells familiar.
    Its Valentine’s Day. He hugs me. I want to get to the point. I make him sit with me on his couch. The same couch we used to sit in to watch movies and eat popcorn. Where we had our first kiss.
    I have a hard time starting.
    He is now looking at me exasperated. He hates it when I take too long to say whats on my mind.
    After 3 whole minutes, I start. “I don’t think I can see you anymore.” I continue to explain how I feel.
    When I finish, he looks at me and smiles, then looks down to my feet. “Wait here,” he says. He gets up and goes to his bedroom closet. He comes back with a wrapped package. It’s a gift. He actually got me a Valentine’s Day gift. I was not expecting this. It’s small. It is wrapped in red foil with a metallic pink bow. I try to tell him that I cannot accept it. He insists. I take the gift in my hands and remind him that this cannot change how I feel. He smiles, but his eyes don’t look happy. I open it. It’s a new journal and pen set. I look up at him, he reveals a rose.
    I was wrong.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      After the way you described the relationship at the beginning I don’t think a journal and pen are enough to keep them together, but I could be wrong. Nicely done.

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