The Picture Prompt of the Week contest never fully developed unfortunately but I happened to write a short story for its first round. I didn't want it to go to waste so I've decided to post it as a oneshot.
If you like, you can check out the picture that this story was inspired by To view the link you have to Register or you can just go ahead and read. I hope you like it!
Valentine’s Day Card
I see very few true loves. One would expect otherwise being what I am. People think I play an intricate part in the most epic love stories in history but this is not true. The love stories are created first, on their own, without any assistance from me. And then I come in and I am just a small detail in the eternal tale. I do get to see those truly beautiful and everlasting loves once in a while but the story of my life typically ends in tragedy.
In the beginning I am picked up, looked over quickly and then discarded with resentment, anger or jealousy. The hands that hold me are rough and careless; their owner is never concerned by the fact that they are bending me out of shape. In the event that I am handled humanely, I still sense that I am supported by nothing but a hand; there is no love or meaning in their caress. Eventually the time comes when I am chosen to come home with someone. I fearfully await the moment when I am opened up and have hideous scars engraved upon my soul. The script is quick, meaningless and, quite often, false. I am then filled with sadness knowing that I am the bearer of deceitful words. Moments later, for I know I was brought home at the last minute, I am passed off to another who takes a quick, fleeting glance at me. I may be put on display for a week or so before I am tossed away into the trash, the bottom of a trunk or the back of a closet. I only have to wait a few months (or even the next day) before I am viciously burned or buried by the one who had received me, tears of heartbreak and anger piling on top of me as I disappear from that person’s life forever. What sort of pitiful creature am I, you may wonder? I am a Valentine’s Day card. My life may seem like a tragic story, and I will admit that it isn’t always a walk in the park, but there are moments when things are different and I can forget about the suffering I go through. This tale I am about to tell you is one of the moments that make my existence truly gratifying.
I was dosing off in one of the many pink and frilly card racks on an unseasonable February afternoon, desperately trying to forget about all I had been through that day. I was tired of being picked up, read much too quickly for the words to be absorbed and then tossed back in my shelf, usually in the wrong spot, without a second glance. Once again I heard the familiar tinkling bell that was hung on the door of the shop signaling the entrance of another customer. I had started to hate the sound of that bell because it was February 11th and I was the most popular and mauled item in stock. This time, however, as I heard the bell, I was overcome with a feeling. Being a card dedicated to this feeling I am always in tune with it and can sense when it is in my midst and how strong it is. This feeling, particularly the one I had sensed that moment, which was so incredibly strong, only comes around once in a blue moon. It was the feeling of true, everlasting love. A love that smolders within you, pleasantly haunting your every thought. I became more alert in my rack as I watched the new customer, a petite young woman in sweatpants and a sweatshirt, walk down the card aisle, her eyes searching the section dividers that displayed titles such as “Birthdays for Him”, “Anniversaries” and “Get Well Soon”. Her eyes came across the pink, frilly divider next to me which read “Valentines” and stopped; my section had become the largest, and pinkest, section in the store as of February 1st. The young woman with straight brown and black hair, fair skin and gorgeous blue eyes spent a few moments perusing the different cards, taking her time on each, carefully reading the words inside; I knew that she valued the message that the cards enclosed. She gently placed a card back in its rightful slot after reading it and moved her hand closer to me. The nearer her hand became, the more I could feel the love she held within her. I was positively sure, the moment her fingers had curled around me, that she was headed out the door with me that day; I was the perfect card for her. She held me softly in her hands as her sparkling blue eyes read through my contents, the soul of my being, with care and tenderness. I had waited so long for the moment I was going to be appreciated and that moment had finally come.
A few minutes later I had been placed in a small plastic bag, nestled in the accompanying envelope, and handed to this young woman who was headed out the door of the shop with that infernal, tinkling bell. We reached her car and when she had opened the door, I subconsciously prepared myself for the moment when I was going to be thrown carelessly into the backseat. I was pleasantly surprised (though I do not see why I had expected anything but kind behavior from this woman) when I was placed gently on the passenger seat next to her. The softness of the gesture made me realize that she didn’t want anything to happen to me. She wanted me to stay crisp, clean and perfect for the person to whom she was going to give me. I sat in the passenger seat of the car, cozily wrapped in my envelope and smooth plastic bag, feeling loved, a feeling that is so alien to me considering my profession.
When we had arrived back at her home I was safely placed away, out of sight from her loved one. It was the next day when she took me out again, lightly laying me down on a wooden desk. She opened me up, exposing my soul, and for once I felt safe when she did so. She was not going to scribble lies on my clean white slate or simply sign her name as if accepting a delivery package. Whatever she was going to write in me was going to reflect her love and I took great comfort in that; for once I was going to be treated the way I always should be. I watched as she twirled a pen in her hand, thinking hard about how to express the most important emotion known to man (and cards). After a few pensive moments, she began to write. At the top of the card she gracefully wrote out the name “Deryck” in a youthful script. The way that she wrote his name astonished me. Each letter was drawn as if she was praising this man; like he was both an angel and the most glorious human alive. Once his name was upon my surface, she caressed it tenderly with her index finger. A slight smile crossed her lips as she did so; it was no secret that she was thinking about this person; the person who could make her smile by simply having his name written down in front of her. She then moved her eyes away from his name, through the poem written underneath, and then eyed the blank space at the bottom. She thought again for a moment before writing out her own personal message:
There’s nothing I could say to you, nothing I could ever do, to make you see what you mean to me.
I will be all that you want and get myself together because you keep me from falling apart.
All my life I’ll be with you forever, to get you through the day and make everything okay.
I love you so much, Deryck. You are everything to me.
Avril’s message would have rendered me breathless had I possessed the ability to breathe. The sincerity of her words and the way they were so beautifully articulated could not have been more perfect. The only thing I didn’t understand was why she had chosen me, with a pre-written poem inside, when Avril herself had a wonderful way with words.
After signing her name, very simply but lovingly, without any extravagant flourish, she re-read what she had written and then placed me in my envelope. I specifically admired the way that she did not decorate me with hearts and X’s and O’s; her words alone spoke with more love than those stereotypical images could ever express. I was then safely put away, hidden out of sight, awaiting February 14th.
A feeling of unease came over me as Valentine’s Day came and went without Avril acknowledging me, hidden in her bedroom closet. I remained locked away for days, completely unaware as to why I was not exchanged with her loved one. I began to pity Avril, for if she had lost the one she loved, she certainly did not make the decision. It was one week later when I discovered two things: firstly, why I had been left for so long, and secondly, why Avril’s love was particularly strong. That day, a week later, I had been put on the kitchen table next to a dinner that I assumed was delicious. I waited there for a while as Avril continued to prepare the meal. I heard a knock on the door and Avril ran, quickly and enthusiastically, to answer it. Being out of sight, I could not see what was happening, but I could both sense and hear. The person at the door was also carrying an aura of intense true love; one that entwined with Avril’s as if they were two connecting puzzle pieces. I could also hear the sounds and words of a reunion. From what I could gather, Avril and Deryck had not been away from each other for a great amount of time, but their longing for each other made the short time seem like years. This was when I discovered why I had been ignored on the fourteenth; Deryck was out of town and the two of them had decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day a week later. And also, I realized that the reason their love was so strong was because they had to endure spending time away from one another. Most other couples would have given up on each other if they could not be together all the time. But Avril and Deryck persevered. They refused to let their true love slip away simply because they had to cope with the obstacle of distance.
The rest of the evening went flawlessly. Both Avril and Deryck ate and when it came time to exchange gifts and cards, everything was well received. Deryck handled me just as gently as Avril had as he read over my words and hers with such care and precision that he probably could have recited the entire thing afterwards. I was placed down softly next to the gift he had received before the evening progressed into its next stage, one which I will leave out of this tale for Avril and Deryck’s privacy.
I see very few true loves. But the ones that I do witness are fantastic. I cherish the moment that I am put away for safe keeping and value each time that I am brought out again to be read once more. Being the Valentine’s Day card in an unsuccessful relationship is painful, and I dreadfully anticipate the moment when I am torn to shreds so that the heartbroken person can rid me from their life. But when I am the Valentine’s Day card in a loving, everlasting relationship, I feel safe. This was the case with Avril and Deryck. I can now rest peacefully knowing that I will survive forever, just as their relationship will, for their love will never die.