Valentine: A short story

Valentine.

Anita Davies woke up on a grey February morning and shuffled about in her house coat. Being 80, she could remember the many valentines cards she’d received over the years but, it was the ones from her dearly departed husband Harold. Ever since they began courting in 1938 he’d always written her the most beautiful poems and she always received a small bunch of pink roses hastily picked from his grandad’s allotment before he’d notice and give him a box round the year. She was sixteen when they began courting and when she showed her mother the poems she’d called them ‘stuff and nonsense.’ Her mother was a sharp women since her father passed in the previous war and she’d remembered when one of her cousins said that her mum looked like she’d sucked a sour lemon. So she was always careful never to show her mother the poetry that Harold was eventually called up and thrust into a bloody battle in Burma. She never wanted to upset her mother and bring back painful memories.

Anita now knew how she’d felt because her heart sank when she saw the absence of a crisp cream envelope and his neat cursive in the post cage and the sight of the sideboard vase empty. Still she mustn’t dawdle, as it was half term she’d volunteered to help over the library to help the little ones make their own cards. Harold always said that a new day was like a gift not to be wasted.

Anita took out her curlers and wore a light blue twinset with a turquoise broach Harold had given her. She had an hour before she had to leave so she picked up her tablet and surfed the twitbook her family insisted on her using and scrolled through the messages tutting. Why write happy Valentine’s Day to each other on the internet? She sighed as the use of cards and writing letters were fading fast.

*

At the library it was simply chaos with children arguing over glue sticks and glitter everywhere. Their were other elderly people there helping the rambunctious four year olds including a gentleman in a lovely cream suit who kept looking at her.

Each child had been given a red heart shaped card and a pre printed happy Valentine’s Day was inside. The adults cooed and ahhed at the artistic talents whilst monitoring the use of scissors.

Anita was helping a rather sweet little girl in a wheelchair who’s card was for her dad who was currently in the navy. A tear crept into Anita’s eye as the girl carefully wrote her name at the bottom of the card, concentrating on her wobbly cursive. Anita thought how much effort Harold had put into his poems each year especially after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

After the session Anita saw Rosie wheeling away her card on her lap, beaming with pride as her mum took her home. As Anita was tidying up and funnelling red glitter back into its pot when she felt a tug on her cardigan. She looked down and saw a small boy with big brown eyes holding out his card. “This is for you Miss,” he said sweetly. “It’s from my grandad, he’s over there.” He sniffed as he pointed to the man in the cream suit. Anita was rather taken back. “Oh well thank you sweetie you must tell him thank you.” She pasted a hasty smile on her face as she struggled to open the card, fumbling with her arthritic fingers. It said

“Roses are red violets are blue, my grandad likes you, write a reply for fish and chips for two. On the back in spidery ink was his address.

*

Back home over a cup of tea she mulled over her dilemma but, her granddaughter set her right over the phone later that evening. “Go on Gran take a chance! Even if only leads to friendship.”

Anita twisted her pearls, she did have a point.

“Grandad wouldn’t want you to be lonely” Katie encouraged. She was right. Harold wouldn’t want her to be shut up in the house. “Katie you’re right my love. Thank you darling. Happy Valentine’s Day to you!”

Now where did she put that lovely card? Getting her scented paper she wrote a grateful reply. My, Cupid strikes in the oddest time and place but, she knew it was her Harold. “Happy Valentine’s Day my love.” and she blew a kiss to his picture on the mantle place.

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