A Cynic's Valentine by Sacha Franjola

“Valentine’s day is something of a joke to me. Up until maybe sixth grade, there weren’t any stupid connotations and the only condition was that you had to write cards to the whole class, but now there’s a whole underlying theme of loneliness and self loathing. Which sucks for a holiday whose whole purpose is celebrating love. My friends tend to say stuff like “Mel, you just haven’t met the right person yet” or “Just wait until you fall in love with someone,” which, in my opinion, is just some more toxic crap being spooned down my throat with all the train ads for lingerie companies. I don’t hate love. Just all the stupid stuff that comes with it.

I like people. I like love poems and heart shaped boxes and gifts that show that you actually know the person you’re giving the gift to. What I don’t like is the love that’s trying to sell you things, which, ironically, is the kind that most people are talking about when-”

Vera sets her stuff down across from me and shifts my attention. “Blogging again?” I nod. “God, you must be some kind of sage to sad teenaged girls by now! How long have you been doing this?”

I sigh at her. “Since the end of tenth grade. And it’s not as bitter as you think! I write about interesting stuff!” She takes a bite out of her croissant and replies;

“What could possibly be interesting in your life? You work, you study, you meet me for coffee, you sleep. And then you repeat it all. Mel, you’re bo-ring!” She says boring in that singsong voice I hate, and I stick my tongue out at her before going back to my post.

In the perfect world I’d tell Vera that I’m not actually boring, just hopelessly in love with her. If things weren’t complicated and if I hadn’t known her since sixth grade and if, if, if I could actually force the words out of my mouth (which I can’t), she’d know that I can barely form sentences around her unless she talks first, and when she asks me how my day is my mind melts into a series of “fine’s” and “uneventful’s.”

Vera is beautiful. She’s got this pretty hair that she keeps up in a bun and eyes that peer directly into your soul, which is appropriate I guess, because she’s an actress. She’ll watch people from across a room and say things like “look at how she carries herself!” and goes on to describe people’s entire life’s stories right on the spot. It’s infuriating in busy places (she talks a lot), but it always makes parties fun. She loves parties. I can’t imagine why.

We’ve been meeting here for coffee for years, ever since we chose schools that are on opposite sides of the city. This place is right in the middle, so every day we meet up for what she jokingly calls our coffee dates. I don’t think she knows how ironic that is.

By the time I’m home, I’m too flustered to keep writing, so I turn on my TV and flip through a few of the channels before my doorbell rings. I drag myself to the door and standing behind it is Vera, with a dopey smile on her face, holding my jacket.

“Did I forget it?” She laughs

“Third time this month. You should set a reminder for yourself Mel, you lose track of things every time you put them down!” We laugh and I take my jacket from her.

“One day I’ll bring it with me and never forget it again!”

“Yeah, when hell freezes over!” We laugh again, and Vera turns to go. She stops suddenly and turns around.

“And hey, Mel? I kinda love you. Just, ah, thought you should know.”

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