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Sad Romance Fiction

   Even when I was a kid, Valentine’s day was my favorite holiday. Now I’m all grown up, and today has to be perfect. I have great plans for the day, and it all starts with shopping.

   First, I have to get roses. Almost everywhere is sold out, the grocery stores are all empty and the lines at the florists tell me I won’t be able to get any there. If they aren’t sold out already, they will be by the time I even get inside. Where else can I go? I remember a small garden about half an hour outside of the city that’s known for it’s fruit. I don’t know if they sell roses, or even grow them, but it’s worth a shot.

   After scouring every store I can think of, I get in my small grey car and head out for the garden. Traffic is miserable, and the half hour drive quickly becomes forty-five minutes. Upon my arrival, I see a line of flowers for sale, with one bouquet left in the corner set aside for roses. I run to it, graying it as cautiously as I can while still trying to maintain my speed, and rush to the counter where I am meant to pay.

   “Big plans for tonight?” The kind woman running the counter smiles.

   “Something like that.” I return her smile, and nod before paying.

   I bring the roses home, and put them in a vase with water. I can deal with setting them up properly after I finish getting supplies. Next on my list are stuffed animals and chocolates. 

   I once again embark on a search for what I need, easily finding a giant teddy bear holding a heart and some boxes of chocolate at the pharmacy nearby. Stores always stock up on these more than they do roses, and less people buy the stuffed animals anyways so they’re easier to get ahold of.

  While I’m still out I go to my husband’s favorite restaurant, known for it’s delicious stakes. I’m notoriously a bad cook, and he always ends up making the food on special occasions, but today it’s my turn to make sure everything is just right, which means buying already cooked food that I can heat up for a couple minutes to avoid burning the house down. 

   Hopefully the candles I’m looking for won’t do that either. I enter the store and there are all the rest of the supplies I need, from bags of fake rose petals to fake candles, to balloons with cheesy sayings printed on them. I’m grateful for the fake candles, one less fire hazard to deal with. I check out after spending far too long in the store and finally head home to begin setting everything up.

   I cover the dining room table with our nicest table cloth and sprinkle fake rose petals all over it, allowing a few of them to fall to the floor. I trim the real roses and transfer them to far daintier vases, placing them all around the house, each only containing one or two roses due to the lack of flowers. Next come the fake candles, placed in rings around the vases on the table due to how small they are. If I had taller ones I would’ve placed them in the middle, or perhaps in a candelabra if I were feeling dramatic, but they’re just a bit too short, so any other set up looks awkward. I put the chocolate and teddy bear on a pedestal, which is really just an overdecorated phone table I found in the attic, and set it near the front door so it’s the first thing someone sees when they walk in. 

   As the sun begins to set I realize that the food needs to be warm, and so I remove it from the packages the restaurant gave me and place the steaks in a tray, and place it in the oven. I remember my husband doing this once and telling me what temperature to set it too, and how long to leave it in, but having a poor memory I end up looking it up on my phone. 

   It heats up for about half an hour while I stare out the window as the sun sets beautifully, perfectly. Right as I hear my timer going off I remember one last thing. I turn off the oven, but leave the steaks inside, before quickly rushing up the stairs. I get changed into the outfit I wore on our first date, an outdated black dress that he insists isn’t as bad as I think it is, some white heels that go horribly with the dress, and a small red cross-body purse I used to take everywhere with me. It’s not the most attractive of outfits, but he and I are suckers for anything nostalgic. 

   I go back downstairs and take the steaks out of the oven, setting them on the nicest plates in the house and placing them gently in front of our respective seats at the dining table.

   Taking a breath, I step back to look at the table, set up for the perfect Valentine’s day. I go back to my seat, sit down, and wait. The sun sets completely, leaving the fake candles the only light as evening turns to night. I consider turning on a light, but ultimately decide against it. The chair across from me remains empty, as I know it will for the rest of the night, and for the rest of my life. He is not coming, he was never coming and I knew this when I woke up this morning. He died a few months ago and somehow I convinced myself that this would make it better. The perfect Valentine’s day, everything just right, except my perfect person isn’t here. 

   I reach into my purse and pull out the small photo that sits inside, held by an ornate miniature frame. It’s a photo of us on our wedding day. Tears fall onto the photo and I wipe them off, and use my napkin to clean up my face.

   “I love you.” I whisper. “And I know you’re never coming back, but tonight I will wait. I will wait for you like you always did for me.”

February 19, 2021 17:36

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