Author's Note: Welcome back, readers! Surprised to see me? Me too! But after much debate, I've decided to bring this baby back. It has not been edited since it last appeared here many years ago, nor will it be going forward. This story is complete and shelved, never to be worked on again, but for everyone who has PMed or emailed me over the years, this is for you. xo
VALENTINE'S DAY WOES
Brian Deacon has been trying to win my heart since kindergarten, when he handed me a homemade valentine covered in mud. You can imagine my disgust when I opened it and a round, fat, slimy worm plopped into my hand. I was a five-year-old girl who liked to play princess and watch Cinderella over and over again; having a worm anywhere near me was like the kiss of death to whomever had put it there. I'd tossed the card back at Brian, screamed bloody murder, and ran off to tell the teacher. Needless to say, it had been the start of a string of very memorable Valentine's Days, though that one still makes me cringe every time I think about it. To this day, he still claims that he accidentally dropped it in the mud while running to catch the bus, and that he hadn't had time to make me a new one before the day was over.
I wasn't buying it.
In first grade, I arrived on February 14th, already expecting the day to end in disaster. I was wearing my favorite lacey pink dress with matching Mary Janes, and my mom had spent an extra hour curling my hair that morning, securing one side with an extravagant satin ribbon. All of my girl friends had complimented me on my ensemble, and even a few boys had been brave enough to tell me that I looked "like a girl," which was quite a compliment, coming from a group of guys who often had their fingers shoved up their noses, and had secret peeing contests on the side of the building during recess.
There had been a snowstorm that day, so we'd been forced to stay inside. I can still remember sitting at my desk, eating my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, when a sickeningly sweet voice said from behind me, "You look really pretty today, Maggie."
A bouquet of daisies was shoved into my hands, along with another homemade card, this time trimmed in lace. The writing on the front had clearly been done by Brian's mom, because I knew for a fact that his penmanship was worse than chicken scratch.
With a sigh, I flipped open the card, expecting a worm to fall out into my lap; I was pleasantly surprised when I found the inside void of any disgusting creepy-crawly things. There was a lollipop taped to one side, and the other read, in curling, feminine penmanship, 'Roses are red, Violets are blue, You should be my girlfriend, Because I'm in love with you.'
I stared at the card for a long time. Brian was still standing beside me, probably trying to gauge my reaction. He was fidgeting with his oversized belt buckle, and finally I couldn't take it anymore and turned to glare at him.
"Would you please stop tapping that stupid thing?"
He stopped immediately and just stood there, staring at me, eyes wide and innocent. I wasn't a mean kid, but I was sick of Brian's stalking. I was six, and I certainly didn't want a boyfriend. I knew all about boyfriends; my mom had gone through four of them in the past two months. Brian needed to get a grip.
"So," he said after a while, shuffling his feet, "will you be my girlfriend?"
I sighed, and shoved the card into my backpack as the bell rang. "No."
Every year since, Brian had asked me to go out with him. His schemes got more and more elaborate, and by freshman year of high school, I'd stopped coming to school at all on February 14th. Brian, however, had caught onto my little plan, so he had started doing tiny things a week in advance, knowing that I couldn't possibly miss an entire week of school just because I wanted to avoid his ridiculous proposals.
Which is why I was now sitting in the back of Mr. Glenn's American lit class, doodling aimlessly in the margins of my notebook, wondering how on earth I was going to avoid this year's plague of valentine gifts. The big day was on Friday, and it was only Monday. Still, Brian had already managed to wedge a large box of chocolates in my locker, tape a balloon to my desk in history, and leave a note inside my calculus binder. I had a feeling some of my friends had been helping him over the past three years, because as a senior, I had spent my entire high school career discovering random notes from Brian here and there; inside my desk, scratched into the desk, inside my locker, on my windshield. Once, I'd even found a note stashed inside my sandwich. I could only assume the worst after that – that my friends were in on his crazy scheme.
I was relieved when our discussion of Moby Dick finally came to an end. Everyone clambered out of their seats and made a mad dash for the door, eager to be the first ones in line at lunch; nobody wanted the cold french fries you were sure to get if you were last.
Me, I took my time. I refused to eat in the cafeteria during the week of Valentine's Day, mainly because Brian insisted on sitting next to me, hoping to ask me out for the billionth time. You'd think after the first hundred or so no's he would've gotten the hint and given up. Sometimes I think the guy has selective hearing, which might explain why he never seems to hear me when I tell him to back off. I'll give him credit, though – he certainly is persistent. Still, I just couldn't put up with it anymore, and had resigned myself to lunch in the library until the Week from Hell was over.
The hallway was packed by the time I made it out of the classroom, and easily slipped in behind a group of football players. They'd just come from gym (I could tell because they smelled like dirty socks and perspiration), and I immediately wished that I'd waited for the cheerleaders that were inevitably behind them; I'd rather be overpowered by perfume any day. If anything, I guess they were tall enough to block me from anyone else's view, especially Brian's.
After three minutes of being stuck behind them, however, I was coming to regret my decision. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the frosted glass doors of the library, quickly ducking inside lest Brian was lurking nearby.
I found my way to the newspaper corner and plopped down across from my best friend, Gretchen Howard. Her nose was buried in the latest issue of Cosmopolitan, and I peered across the table to catch the title of the article.
"'Fifty Ways for Feisty Foreplay.' Cute," I said, reaching into my paper bag for last night's leftover pizza. "I thought you said you were waiting until marriage to have sex."
"I am," she agreed, finally looking up. "Doesn't mean I can't be knowledgeable. This way, I'll have all these great moves memorized, and I can use them when I go crazy on my honeymoon!" She passed me the article with a sly smile. "Maybe some of this would come in handy with Brian."
I cringed. "No thanks."
Gretchen grinned and took a sip of her lemonade. "He's not that bad, Maggie. I'm not sure why you hate him so much."
And that was why I thought Gretchen was in on his evil plan. If you liked Brian Deacon, there was clearly something wrong with you.
"If he'd been stalking you for thirteen years, I don't think you'd like him either," I pointed out.
"True enough. But I still think he's dreamy."
I raised an eyebrow. "Did you seriously just say that?"
Gretchen just smiled.
I stared down at my sandwich and ate in silence while I read.
I guess, if you weren't me, Brian Deacon really wasn't that bad of a guy. He was polite, cheerful, humorous, and the star of our school's swim team. He was trim and muscular, and had blue eyes that nearly every girl I knew had fallen in love with. Gretchen liked to call him PC when he wasn't around, because she had always dreamed that her prince charming would look that. She wasn't in love with Brian, but she iwas/i in love with his looks, which meant we spent a lot of time staring at him from a distance; Gretchen with that dreamy look on her face, and me glaring. It was pathetic how much of my day revolved around Brian, even when he wasn't anywhere near me.
I was so engrossed in the intricacies of shower sex that I missed a familiar face peering in at me through the library windows. I ignored Gretchen when she coughed loudly in warning, and it wasn't until Brian Deacon was standing directly behind me that I looked up.
"'Sexy Shower Secrets,'" he read. "Cute."
I spun around in horror. There stood Brian in all of his blondeness, grinning at me like a fool, a bouquet of roses in his hand.
"You weren't in the cafeteria, so I figured you might be in here. Hi, Gretchen," he added, suddenly remembering his manners. "How're you?"
"Just fine," she beamed. "How're you?"
"Never better. Here," he said, handing me the flowers, pulling one out and handing it to my friend. "Happy Valentine's Day."
"Valentine's Day isn't until Friday," I reminded him, setting the flowers down on the table. "Maybe someone should get you a calendar."
He laughed, and rumbled my hair. "Easy, Killer. I just came to give you the flowers. I'll see you in physics."
And before I could say anything else, he'd disappeared. I glanced over at Gretchen, whose mouth seemed incapable of staying shut today. All I could see of her were her teeth, and she just sat there, grinning at me.
"Seriously? You need to give the guy a chance," she scolded lightly. "Do you have any idea how much those flowers cost?"
Probably a fortune, but I just shrugged. "Whatever. I just wish he'd leave me alone."
Absently, I stared down at the magazine. At least he hadn't tried to eat lunch with us; then I might have had to take action. And the flowers were pretty, if I had to be honest. Still, I didn't want to think what the rest of the week had in store for me. If it was anything like today, I was going to have to find some way to become invisible, and that seemed pretty unlikely.
I sighed. Stupid, stupid Valentine's Day.