Valentines Day…

Ah… Valentines day… the smell of perfume, chocolate, roses and desperate people in the air… such a wonderful day.

This is one of those days I really, really wish that there was a universal sarcasm font.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Valentines Day. It’s a day when TOH and I remind each other that we are people apart from the children, that there were things that happened between us before those three bundles of miracle arrived.
We celebrate it quietly; with appropriate presents (usually something to do with our interests), chocolate, cards and a glass of bubbly / tub of ice cream.

It’s the commercialization of the holiday that annoys me. Companies take advantage of people at this time of year – chocolate, teddy bears, flowers, sparkling wine, cards… all of them hoiked in price and shoved in our faces.

So quite often, I rebel against the whole thing with my writing. One of my favourite short stories that I wrote for this day is essentially a horror story…

* * *

“Oh…my…GOD!” she squealed. “You hired the whole of Le Jardin just for us?”

“Anything for you.” He smiled as she spun in a circle on the dance floor, her red silk dress flaring up to show matching silk stockings encasing her legs. “Besides, I own the place and it’s nice to have it to myself for special occasions.”

“Why today though? It’s Valentines tomorrow.” Cheri asked, rushing over to him.

Her perfume intoxicated him. “The restaurant is completely booked up on Valentines Day. So I always close it the day before to make sure the place is clean.”

“That makes good business sense.” She kissed his cheek approvingly.

Maybe she will be the one. He thought. One last thing to check though.

 

On the dais, a string quartet played a selection of romantic songs and next to the best table in the house, stood the Maitre De, his moustache curling up into spirals beside his cheeks.

Taking Cheri’s hand, Leonard led her over to the table and pulled out her chair. “Allow me to help you to your seat, my lady in red.”

As the Quartet began to play the song, the Maitre De presented the Valentines Day menu. Cheri immediately chose the most expensive meal on the thick cream card. Leonard chose his usual.

“This is a special occasion, Lenny! Why are you having such a boring meal?” Cheri frowned.

“I don’t want to ruin my appetite for desert.” He said, leaning forward and taking her left hand in his, then pressing his lips to the palm of her hand.

Cheri blushed and looked away demurely.

 

Their food arrived and she quietly drank her beef Bouillon. Leonard allowed himself to hope.

The main courses arrived and cutting his steak into tiny pieces helped Leonard to control his disgust as she tore her breaded shrimp apart with her fingers and dunked them into the tartare sauce, scooping up great blobs of it.

Maybe not then. He sighed, hoping that she would take it for happiness.

“This is…really…good…food.” She said through her mouthful of shrimp. Breadcrumbs splattered across the immaculate table top. Cheri slurped up a slug of red wine to help her swallow, draining it with a noise like a blocked sink.

Leonard looked away, embarrassed and caught the Maitre De’s eyes. The man looked as if he was about to blow his top, the tips of his moustache quivered and his cheeks blazed red. “Bring out the vintage I bought especially for tonight, please.”

The Maitre De bowed and glided away, returning with a dusty bottle. “The 1976 Californian Merlot, M’sieur.”

Cheri gasped in appreciation. The Maitre De opened the bottle and poured it into her glass.

She tasted it and smiled. “It’s wonderful. Thank you”

“It’s all yours. I can’t drink wine.”

The meal went smoothly, despite Cheri’s slurping and gulping. Leonard cringed inwardly and kept her wine flowing.

 

As they finished their desert, Leonard passed over a small red flock covered box. “I have a present for you.”

Cheri wiped her hands on a napkin and took it reverently. Snapping it open, the expectancy on her face faded to confusion. “A Golden Key?”

“It opens the three boxes on the table over there.” Leonard pointed at a table by the dais. “Inside are the three things that you want most in all the world.”

Her eyes grew round. “Oh, Lenny… that’s amazing.”

Once the meal was over they danced together, then Leonard led her to the table with the boxes on. “Open them.”

Cheri let out another squeal and dashed back to their table for the key. She opened the first box and stared into it. Then she put out one finger and poked at what lay inside. “Are these what I think they are?”

Leonard smiled and pressed play on the digital recorder on the table.

“I hate her and those plastic boobs. I’d cut them off if I could.” Cheri’s voice rang through the empty restaurant. He stopped the playback.

“Are they really Marcie’s breasts?” Cheri murmured.

Leonard shrugged. “Would I get you anything other than the real thing?”

Cheri opened the second box hesitantly. At the same time, Leonard pressed play.

“His face is the only nice thing about him.” the recording said.

Cheri giggled as she looked into the box. “Neil looks so much better like this.”

Leonard left the playback running. This time there was no hesitation as Cheri opened the third and smallest box. She reached into it and brought out the contents.

“I don’t want anything from her. Her Heart is the only thing I ever wanted and I’ll never be good enough to get it.” The click of the button was the only noise in the room as he turned the recorder off.

“Oh, Leonard.” Cheri breathed. “It’s still warm. This is the best Valentines’ Day ever!”

He looked into Cheri’s beautiful, botoxed face, ran his eyes down her liposuctioned, hourglass figure, before looking into the cold, blue eyes under her false eyelashes. “I have killed for you.”

“And you’ve made me the happiest woman alive.” Cheri placed her mother’s heart back into the box. ”Only one thing could make me happier still.”

 

Leonard pressed play one more time.

“He’s such a wuss. He never listens to me.” Cheri’s voice said.

“Rich though.” Said another woman.

“It’s his best feature. Still, I think he’s going to propose to me on Valentines Day, so I can put up with him for a while longer.”

The other woman laughed. “They don’t call you the Black Widow for nothing, do they. How many of your husbands have died after the wedding?”

“Not that many!” the recorded Cheri giggled.

Leonard turned the recorder off. “I killed for love. You would have killed me for money.”

She shrugged. “It’s only a way of making a living.”

“Do you enjoy it?” Leonard moved closer to her, taking her bloody hands in his.

“Not really. I do the deed as fast and as cleanly as possible.” She looked up into his grey eyes, pressing her body against his.

“I don’t. I enjoy what I do and I only kill personally.” Leonard dropped his face to hers and kissed her lingeringly.

Cheri responded, her tongue winding around his.

He let the kiss go on for a few moments, then caught her as she stumbled backward, laying her out on the floor and kneeling down beside her.

 

She looked shocked as her body stopped responding to her.

“One of the perks of owning this place is that I can kill cleanly. The chef who prepared your food is a master at poisoning without detection. There was a catalyst in the wine and I activated it with a chemical on my lips.” Leonard peeled away a fine silicon coating on the lower half of his face.

Cheri coughed, blood spattering her lips and bubbling up between her teeth. “I thought you loved me.”

“I do.” Leonard took the cloth his Maitre De gave him and gently blotted the blood away. “That’s why poison and not something more violent.”

Real love bloomed in her eyes and she coughed a little more blood up. “Why?”

“Why? Because I can’t bear the noise you make when you eat. Everything else I could have lived with, we could have worked together for our crimes; you would have brought them in and I would have killed them.” His eyes filled with tears.

Resignation dawned on Cheri’s face. “See you in hell, my Love.” She gurgled.

The light of life faded in Cheri’s eyes and Leonard allowed one tear to drop onto her cheek, before wiping away the blood from her mouth.

 

Standing, he handed the cloth to the Maitre De. “Make sure this place is clean for tomorrow’s Lunch Service and the remains are dealt with respectfully.”

“As you wish, M’sieur.”

Leonard turned away.

“M’sieur?”

He stopped moving. “Yes, Beauclerc?”

“We are sorry for your loss.”

Leonard sniffed and sighed. “So am I.” He walked out of the door without looking back.

* * *

I know how to be romantic though, and I have written romantic stories. I just can’t write a whole book like that; makes me feel… icky… and I’m not sure why.

Anyway, I thought I’d show off my latest publication –

The Great Terrene Empire consists of a thousand worlds in the known Universe. In the search for a place to call home, Humans colonised freely and many worlds even forgot they were part of the Terrene Empire.

The Ryuu Empire spans a third of Pleione, a beautiful Almost Earth world, but to a small girl on the Island Province of Tenshi, none of that means anything. Sakura is content to learn and play amongst the flowers and butterflies of her Father’s Castle, worrying only about the twins sharing her mother’s body.

However, when the awakening of the Ika-Zuchi-No-Kami threatens her safety, the God Inari sends his chief Kitsune, Maiya, to rescue the child and her pregnant Mother. As the Earth Demons ravage Atamasanshi, Sakura comes up with a plan to lull the demons back to sleep and save her father.

It’s a mini-ebook, under ten thousand words long and a very soft and gentle tale of a little girl and her magical adventure.

It’s not expensive – 99p / $1.51 from both Amazon and Smashwords, so why not pick it up for a light read?

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Smashwords

Enjoy!

Valentines Day…

One thing is certain – every valentines day I get a teddy bear… even when I’ve said “Don’t get me another teddy!” to TOH, he still goes out and gets one.

This year I got this fella:

Don’t get me wrong – I adore teddy bears and Tatty Teddy is one of my particular favourites. It’s just that my collection is starting to take over almost every room in the house!

Valentines is an interesting holiday to look at.  There are so many stories surrounding the origin of the holiday before the modern, consumer driven love fest. My favourite one comes from roman history:

Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome.

When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men.

Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Information taken from http://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day

Another concerns the origin of the phrase “be my Valentine”:

According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement.

Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today.

Information taken from http://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day

but the origins of the holiday go back further than that and aren’t quite as sickly sweet as you might think.

Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus. 

To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. T

hey would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year.

Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.

Information taken from http://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day

Slightly more blood soaked than you might think but at least it isn’t too far removed from the holiday we celebrate. Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt.

Valentines cards as we know them didn’t really appear until 1900 when they were encouraged as a way of showing ones feelings in an era when direct expression of your feelings was frowned upon.  Cheaper postal rates and reliable delivery added to the increase in popularity of ready made cards and an estimated 150 billion Valentine Cards are now sent, making it the second biggest card sending holiday behind Xmas.

There are other countries that celebrate valentines in different ways…

In Japan, Valentine’s Day is typically observed by girls and women presenting chocolate gifts (either store-bought or handmade), usually to boys or men, as an expression of love, courtesy, or social obligation. Handmade chocolate is usually preferred by the recipient because of the perception of sincerity, effort, and emotion put into a home-made confection.

A month later on March 14th, they celebrate White Day  – when men are expected to return the favour and give gifts to the women who gave them chocolate – traditionally, popular White Day gifts are cookies, jewellery, white chocolate, white lingerie, and marshmallows. There is an unwritten rule that the return White Day gift should be worth two to three times the cost of the original Valentines gift… sounds good to me!

The welsh celebrate Dydd Santes Dwynwen (Welsh for St Dwynwen’s Day) in what most consider the equivalent of Valentines day, on 25th January.

Dwynwen fell in love with a prince called Maelon Dafodrill, but unfortunately her father had already arranged that she should marry someone else.

Dwynwen was so upset that she could not marry Maelon that she begged God to make her forget him.

After falling asleep, Dwynwen was visited by an angel, who appeared carrying a sweet potion designed to erase all memory of Maelon and turn him into a block of ice. God then gave three wishes to Dwynwen.

Her first wish was that Maelon be thawed; her second that God meet the hopes and dreams of true lovers; and third, that she should never marry

Dwynwen became a nun, fulfilling her wish to never marry, and left for the island of Anglesey to build a Church. This is referred to as Llanddwynwen, literally meaning “Church of Dwynwen”.

However you celebrate it, however much you spend (in time or money) on your card and gift to your loved one, there is only one thing to remember:

When you pick a partner for life, love gifts can be given at any time.

Valentine’s day is just one day – you should show your love for your partner every day and through everything.

Whether it’s making them a cup of tea to warm them up after they’ve been out in the cold or snuggling up to them on the couch and watching a film with them. There are so many different ways to do it… find one every day.

What did I give TOH?

Well being the crafty person I am, I made the card and the present… He likes my Flapjacks, so I made him a heart shaped one!

I hope you have a wonderful Valentines day and that you feel loved all year round!