Next Valentine's Day
With Valentine's Day approaching, Larry Hanson sat in his room, staring at a Valentine Day card lying on a table. Gripping a pen in one hand, the love-smitten Larry intended to write a romantic poem inside the card for his sweetheart, Veronica. As he pressed the point of the pen against the card, he heard a soft voice emanating from the card. "Larry, I have something important to tell you," The card called to him."
"What the heck," Larry blurted, gazing in awe at the card. "That thing just spoke to me."
Filled with wonder, he reached across the table, picking it up to examine it closely. First, he ran his dumb across the puffy red satin heart on its cover before squeezing it to search for the talking mechanism which would account for its speaking. But, instead of finding a hidden device planted in the heart, he listened the voice address him once again.
"Hey, Larry," it yelled, "Get your thumb off my throat; you're hurting me."
"Whaaa," Larry screamed, flinging the card onto the table as if if were ablaze. "It's really talked."
Shaken, he kept his eyes fixed on the red satin heart, not knowing what to make of it. While he rubbed his chin in disbelief, he never removed his eyes from it until he heard it speak yet again: "Stop acting like a 'fraidy-cat, Larry. I'm here to warn you about Veronica."
Hearing his girlfriend's name, he shifted nervously in his seat, "What do you know about Veronica?" He shouted at the card.
"She's two-timing you."
"How would you know?" Larry angrily challenged it.
"Carry me to the mirror hanging on the wall," the card responded.
Larry snatched the card from the table and rose from his chair, hurrying across the room to get to the mirror. "Okay," he said, stopping in front of it, "we're here."
"Stare into it." The card instructed him.
He didn't see the reflection of a blond-haired, blue-eyed, twenty-one-year- old; instead, Larry saw the images of two people holding hands on a sofa in Veronica's living room. One of them was Veronica and the other one was his friend, Tommy. His jaw hanging, Larry watched the images in the mirror until the voice intervened: "Have you seen enough, buddy?" It said to him.
Almost in tears, Larry nodded. "Those back-stabbers," he then cried out. "I can't believe that those ...."
"Hey, it happens to the best," the card philosophically interrupted. "Some of the world's greatest lovers, including Cassanova and Don Juan, have been dumped. Cheer up, you're in good company."
Frustrated and depressed by the scene he had just witnessed in the mirror, Larry trudged across the room, flopping into the chair like a sack of flour. "Now what," he mourned to the card.
"From your wallet," the card replied, "remove the photograph of you and Verconia hugging."
"Huh," Larry asked. "How do you know about the photo?"
"Just follow my instructions," the card begged him. "Put the photo inside of me and burn the two of us."
"Are you nuts?" Larry objected. "You cost me a small fortune at Hallmark's."
"No time for joking, Larry. Do as I say because, if you do, when next Valentine Day rolls along, you'll have a lovely girlfriend, a faithful one too." The card promised.
Larry removed the photo from his wallet and slid it inside the card. His footsteps led him from his bedroom into the kitchen where he stood by the sink. After placing the Valentine card with the photo inside into the sink, Larry took his cigarette lighter from his pocket. "Are you sure you want me to go through with this?" He asked the red satin heart, as if he were about to execute a friend.
"Larry, stop being a fool. Light me already." The card demanded.
The fire spread quickly, from the edge of the card to its center, engulfing the satin heart in a bright orange-and-yellow flame. Larry stepped backwards to avoid inhaling the rising smoke. Staring at the smoke while choked with remorse, he heard a barely audible voice emerge from the sink: "Larry, cheer up. I promise, next Valentine's Day, you'll have a lovely sweetheart to cuddle."
After listening to the card's advice, he waited for the fire to distinguish completely before he returned to the sink to turn on the faucet and wash the ashes down the drain. When he cleaned the sink, he turned around, and with a swagger in his walk, headed toward his room. Though regretting he burned the card, Larry entered his room focused on only its promise. With a fire raging in his heart, he could hardly wait for next Valentine's Day.