Who’s Your…Valentine?

bemine

I don’t have any formal or particular thing I intended to post, but being that it’s the (so-called) day for lovers and all, I felt compelled to say…something.

So, I’m alive and haven’t drifted into the abyss…yay!

I’ve been receiving steady submissions for my Can’t Get Enough call, and acknowledging, filing and printing those for reading have been consuming a lot of my time. So, I’m busy, but happily busy. I tell you, even though I’ve gotten lucky enough to be at the other end of this thing, I still find myself sitting here with stars in my eyes as I read words that make me smile, laugh, cry and swoon, and they’re all for me. Okay, maybe not me personally and specifically, but… humor me.

This anthology in progress is coming along better than I ever could have imagined. The thought of narrowing all of these awesome submissions down to twenty or so is daunting and I don’t quite know how I’ll handle the rejection letter side of it (thinking back on all the mommy-type “this hurts me more than it hurts you” phrases) because all I want, all I’ve ever wanted is to be encouraging and lift fellow writers up. But…we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

For now, my little gift to you to say I’m sorry I’ve been so inconsistent and to wish you well on this smooch-y day, here’s a little snippet of…okay…I’ll say it, my favorite story of mine of all time. It’s called Strings and it’s an unorthodox little love story that appeared in Alison Tyler’s A is for Amour published through Cleis Press some five or so years ago:

Her eyes fluttered open at just after three a.m. Her body was limp, her head heavy with sleep.

His voice was laced with grogginess. “Won’t you stay? Tomorrow’s Sunday and we don’t have to do anything but relax. It’ll be nice.”

His grip on her wrist was firm. She looked back at him, his eyes half-closed, his lips curved into a smile. He rubbed the back of her hand with his thumb, waiting for her answer.

She stood up and went about the business of dressing and gathering her things. She looked back at him when she was done, at the innocent hopefulness in his eyes.

And for a moment, just for a moment she considered it, allowed herself to imagine what it might be like to walk around his apartment barefoot, to fix him breakfast and clean his dishes, to lean against his shoulder on the couch as he watched ESPN.

She thought of telling him yes, that the idea sounded quite nice, But she knew that if she stayed, if she spent the rest of the night laying in his arms, if she woke up with him the next morning, it would change things, there would be no turning back. So, instead she leaned down, held her face close to his, and kissed him.
He closed his eyes and his lips relaxed against hers. Her tongue tickled the roof of his mouth, brushed quickly across his teeth.

It was enough to silence him, to push the idea far, far away, if only for the moment.
The moment passed quickly, so quickly in fact that she couldn’t be sure he was ever awake, or even if she was.
Maybe she had dreamed it all, because just like that he was asleep again and snoring softly, laying there like always, unaware that she was even in the room.

She picked up the pen and pulled out a fresh piece of paper. She thought of what she should say now. It was always something cute and witty, something he could wake up to and smile at and toss aside without much thought.
Yet, somehow what she wanted to say now didn’t sound cute or witty.

What she wanted to say weighed heavy on her chest. The words rose up like floodwaters, spilling into her throat, pouring into her mouth. She wrote them slowly, carefully, imagining the look on his face as he read them, wondering if he would smile, if his mouth would fall open in shock.

The words were strings pushing her forward and pulling her back. But as the minutes passed and her sanity found its way back, she pushed them down again, forced them to settle in her chest.

She scratched through the letters and ripped the paper to shreds. She balled it up threw it in the trash. It would have been foolish to say the words, to even write them. Besides, it was safer for them both if she didn’t.

It was quiet outside now, hard to tell there had even been a storm except for the droplets of rain that ran down the window.

She gathered the rest of her belongings in a hurry, rushing, because if she rushed, she could be out the door. If she hurried she could be inside her car and halfway home before the sun peeked over the horizon, and awakened the city.

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