By Emly Forrest
When I was a little girl (back in the Stone Age), Valentine’s Day was a big deal. With Christmas firmly behind us, and summer vacation still a dim glow on the horizon, a day of candy and cards expressing affection seemed the perfect remedy for the mid-winter Midwestern blahs.
Each year at school, we made elaborate containers to hold all the valentines we were sure to get from all the members of our class. I remember days of gluing red tissue paper on an ordinary shoe box, cutting a hole in its top for a mail slot and blinging it up with glitter, paper hearts and stars. Once all the boxes were done, the teacher lined them up on a table under the classroom windows, ready for the big day. Day after day, the girls all daydreamed about who would get the biggest, fanciest card. And hoped that a special card would come from that one particular boy—the object of many a crush.
As it would happen, I came down with a cold the day before the much anticipated card exchange. My mother fretted, putting her hand to my forehead repeatedly, rubbing Vick’s on my chest and filling me with ginger ale and chicken soup. She made it clear I was not going to school the following day—Valentine’s Day or not—if I had not improved.
The next morning, my fever was still in place. Mother shook her head and ordered me to bed for the day. I was heartbroken. While everyone in my class would know the joy and excitement of the day of love, I’d be tucked in with a book and a teddy, Valentine-less. All my hopes and dreams were shattered.
I moped the whole day, missing all the fun. Later in the afternoon, I heard the school bus rumbling up our road, but took scant notice when it stopped to deposit the neighbor boy. A moment later, I heard a knock on our door, then Mom talking to someone. Soon she came to my bedroom with my Valentine’s box in her hand.
“Eddie from next door thought you might like this, so he picked it up before he got on the bus,” she explained. Good old Eddie! My pal and best friend. It was at that moment that I realized I was crazy about him.
Those days are long gone and Eddie and I have lost contact over the years. But his thoughtfulness has remained a gauge of what love really should be throughout my life.
Emly Forrest is the author of The Last Resort (2010) and Irish Ice (Coming in March 2011), both available at www.lyricalpress.com. Please visit her website at www.emlyforrest.com or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.