Valentine's Day VignettesDiscuss
These two stories take place on Valentine's Day of the Fourth Year of the Addergoole School.
Well I learned my job I learned it well
Fit myself with religion and a story to tell...
He wanted everything to be perfect. He enjoyed days like this, when it was socially acceptable to go a little overboard with the romance, and he enjoyed dating Holly on days like this, because she was appreciative of the little things he so loved doing. “You’re going to have to marry me, Yngvi;” she’d told him at Christmastime; “you’ve spoiled me for any normal guy.”
They both knew it was never going to come to marriage – at least, he knew it, and he hoped that she did – and, deep inside, he felt a little guilty that she might be right. The kind of fairy-tale excess he so loved presenting her with didn’t seem to be typical guy fare. Then again, no typical guy would date Holly – he wouldn’t put up with it – so maybe she’d be all right.
That, however, was all in the future. Tonight, they had a date. He fussed with his tie, gathered the flowers, and walked the three doors down the street to Holly’s house.
It was almost like a play. Holly’s dad knew his role well, playing the humorously protective father so well that Yngvi was unsure he’d ever seen the real Mr. Agaran. Her mom, too, did doting mother very well. And Holly, gliding down the stairs in a lovely dress he’d never seen before, was the perfect princess.
He bowed, adding a flourish to the end of the bow, and presented her with the flowers. “As always,” he smiled warmly at her, “you’ve outdone yourself.”
She was a beautiful girl, and she’d taken her time – and probably Doting Mother’s time as well – to highlight that while still looking demure and chaste. She deserved the compliments, and he loved laying them on.
She smiled, hiding her blush behind the flowers. “Oh, Yngvi,” she gushed, “they’re beautiful.”
“Not half as lovely as you, m’dear.” He offered her his arm, and the flowers were hastily handed to Doting Mother. “Shall we?”
She giggled. “Let me get my coat on first.” Overprotective Father held her coat for her, scowling threateningly at Yngvi over her shoulder.
“Have her back by ten, son.”
He could have told him that his lovely daughter’s virtue was in no danger from him, but that would have complicated matters far too much, so he simply played his role.
“Ten-thirty, sir? The movie might start late”
“Yessir.” By then, Holly was sufficiently bundled up for the Nebraska February – frost bite and hypothermia were not romantic – so he once again offered her his arm, and out into the cold they went.
“What do you have planned for me for tonight?” She smiled coyly at him
“That would be telling,” he teased. The truth was, the town was small, and there was only so much to do.
“But you told my dad,” she pouted playfully.
“Without a full itinerary, your father doesn’t let you out the door, my dear.”
“It’s silly,” she complained. “I’ve told him you’re a perfect gentleman.”
He smiled at her indulgently. She was a sweet, good girl, and there was no point in disillusioning her. He really enjoyed her company, and he enjoyed spoiling her with nights out like this one. She made it easy for him to play the role he had to.
It was a good thing, for both of them, that he was leaving in September.
Jessie paint your pictures 'bout how it's gonna be.
By now I should know better, your dreams are never free.
Smitty was no good at the romance stuff normally, but some things were easy, especially with Isra. He met her at her dorm room door around noon on the fourteenth, his first and third gifts in hand.
She eyed both of them hesitantly. “Fur? Smitty…”
He just grinned. “Vegan fur, my lovely love.” He presented it to her – a long, thick leather coat lined with soft rabbit fur. “No animals were harmed in the Making of this coat.”
She giggled, running her hands over the creation. “It’s lovely, Smitty. You’re a miracle worker.”
“I’ve been known to Work a few tricks now and then,” he answered modestly. “I’m glad you like it. It’s cold out there.”
“It’s the Midwest in February. Is there another choice but cold?” She slipped the coat on, giving his other gift – a picnic basket – an equally doubting glance. “A fur coat and a picnic basket. I’m not sure this is a good idea”
“Trust me, Isra my dear.”
“You say that a lot, Seamus my love.”
“You doubt me a lot,” he countered. “Ready to go?”
“Off into the wild blue yonder.”
The wide rolling meadow between the school and the village wasn’t exactly the wild blue yonder, but in the deep frozen snow, it looked foreign and mystical. The sunlight glittered invitingly off of the new path, created just for this event.
There were only so many places to take a date in and around Addergoole, and every guy with a girlfriend – which was to say, nine tenths of the guys there – wanted to do something special today. The café would be crowded, the kitchen in the suite would be full, and every corner in the grotto would have a picnicking couple. Smitty, thus, had decided to think outside the box.
“Oh, Seamus.” The wind was biting cold, but Isra smiled at the silver path anyway. “Where will this road take us?”
“Straight to heaven, my dear.” He set his mittened hand in hers, and walked with her down the winding silver path.
“Always the poet.” She was nearly skipping with excitement. The path was laid out with high snowbank sides, and many twists, so that you couldn’t see beyond the next bend. As he’d hoped, it grabbed her interest, kept her hurrying forward until they reached their destination.
He’d called in a lot of favors for this and promised more, but it was all worth it for the look on her face as they rounded the final bend.
“Seamus!” she gasped. “Oh… gods!” She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him enthusiastically.
It was worth kissing over, if he did say so himself. With the help of some friends and some clever Workings, a small ice castle had been erected in the meadow. Small, but ornate, towers twisting in unlikely configurations up towards the sky, the whole thing glimmering in the sun.
“It gets better,” he grinned. “Want to see the inside?”
“Of course!” She hurried to the door, pulling it open with both hands, and gasped again as she stepped inside. “It’s warm!”
“Of course,” he laughed. He caught her coat as she threw it off, and settled into a chair to watch her explore.
Her enthusiastic thanks, when she returned, was everything he’d hoped it would be. Nestled in a bed of fur and picnic-blanket, some time later, she covered his bare flesh with kisses.
“This is wonderful, Seamus. Thank you.” Somehow he heard the “but” in her tone; when he looked at her face, she was crying. He wanted to ask what was wrong, but the words stuck in his throat.
“I don’t deserve this,” she murmured. “You’re so good to me, but, Seamus, when the snow melts, I’ll be gone.”
He gulped. “I know you graduate in Spring, Isra.” He’d been hoping she’d hang around. That was what the Village was for, wasn’t it?
She shook her head slowly, and he felt something inside him catch and stutter. “Before then. I’ve finished Regine’s requirements. I’ll be gone when the weather warms.” She brushed her hand across the fur coat he’d made her. “I’d like to take this with me, if I may?”
Forget the coat. She could take him with her to keep her warm. “You can take anything you want, my love.” The word stuck in his throat, but he forced it out.
She stroked her hand over his cheek. “I’ll see you again, you know,” she told him softly. “I’ll be back around.”
Oh, please, gods, no. “I’d like that a lot.”
“Good.” In the warmth of their fairy-tale castle, her kiss was ice-cold, but he held her anyway.
This story takes place sometime in the 1980’s
And our scars remind us that the past is real
I tear my heart open just to feel
The wonderful thing about Wil was, she would always be there when Luke needed her. All he had to do was pick up the phone and call her, and, wherever they were, she would find him. She’d hold him for weeks, if he needed it – and he wasn’t too proud, alone in his head, to admit that he’d needed it, a time or two. And Wil was, in only the best ways, her father’s daughter. She could always make him feel better, when he needed her.
The kicker with Wil was, she wouldn’t come if he didn’t need her. He’d tried a few times, I want to see you again, and the answer was always a so very gentle, no, love. So he’d tried lying, I need you, and her answer had been a painfully patient, no, you don’t, Luca. Not right now.
The last time he’d tried, his pride had been battered enough – never mind that no-one but she and he knew about these calls – that he’d put her out of his mind for years, nearly a decade.
He’d asked her to come to Addergoole West with him. She had a healing touch with people’s souls, and so many of the people Regine and Mike found were damaged goods. She could have done wonders for their battered souls. She’d said no, of course, using the proximity to her father as her excuse. On a sober night, he understood. She was too wild to be bound to any one place, to any one person.
Tonight wasn’t a sober night. He sat in his cold cottage, staring at the empty bottle of whisky. The empty bottles; he’d been working hard at getting drunk for quite a while. He still felt, though, and he didn’t want to feel. He wasn’t sure he wanted to feel ever again.
He stumbled to the phone, too far gone to care about his pride. She’d say yes or she’d say no, and maybe if she said no, he could find some peace in anger.
She picked up on the second ring. He didn’t process her words, but it was her voice, smoky and rich.
“Wil,” he croaked. He was a little surprised his voice still worked. “Wil, I need you.”
“Yes you do, love. I’ll be there in a couple hours. Hold tight, my dear.”
“Thank you, Wil…” The line was dead. He hung up the phone, and stared listlessly at the wall. His little Wilhemina. No, not his, not in lifetimes, nor little, but after all these years, she’d still come to take care of him.
Maybe he slept. The time passed, at any rate, and when he was next aware, the sun was up, and she was there beside him, her hair, smelling like vanilla, cloaking him as he sobbed on her shoulder like a child.
She was gone when he woke again, as if she’d never been there, but the pain was bearable again, an injured limb, but one he could use, and her scent lingered, his sheets smelling of vanilla. She never stayed, but that, too, was an old scar, a dull throb; he’s been walking with that limp for a lifetime or seven already.
He’d seen the wreckage love could leave in even a short human life; even as he tested the weight on his new wounds and his old scars, he was, as always, glad Wil had left him a leg to stand on.
Copyright © 2009-2011 Lyn Thorne-Alder & Elasmo. All rights reserved.
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