a b o u t t h e b o o k
Favourite Valentine's Day Memory!
My mom had made Slim some pizza rolls. I couldn’t stand the nasty things, but they were Slim’s favorite. I figured I was going to have to grease the wheels if I wanted to get him to talk. After two rounds of pepperoni poppers, I figured I could go ahead with the questioning.
“So I have this assignment,” I started. “Valentine’s Day interview.”
He cut his eyes at me. His chewing slowed.
“I know. I know,” I said. “I meant to get Toto, but—“
“But you didn’t.”
“I didn’t. I’m sorry.” I scribbled on the paper. “I could just make the answers up I guess.”
He smirked and wiped his mouth. “So I do this or contribute to the delinquency of a minor.”
“I’ll just make the answers up. I know this is hard for you.”
He shook his head and sighed. “No. I’m good. What’s the interview about?”
I looked at him through my bangs. “Favorite Valentine’s Day memory…?”
“Oh geez! You’re like cupid with a crossbow. Want me to just rip my chest open to give you a cleaner shot?”
“I know. I’m sorry. Really, you don’t have to. I just—“
“2006. That was my favorite memory of Val—“
“Wait. 2006? That was third grade. That’s the year your mother left you and—. I mean, that’s the year your mother took off. You were a mess. You hated—“
He shoved another pizza roll in his mouth. “Are you interviewing me, or do you want to just wing this with what you already know?”
I didn’t say anything. I remember popping a pizza roll in my mouth.
“So it was 2006,” he said. “My favorite memory of Valentine’s Day.” He got a far away look in his eye. I concentrated on the nasty fake pepperoni taste if only to keep me from interrupting. “That year was so hard. You know, with the move and all, and then when Mom left that January.”
“So, I’m confused. Why was that your favorite?”
He smirked and handed me another pizza popper. I sighed and put it in my mouth.
“Mom always made a big deal of Valentine’s Day. Bought me a red furry bear. Dad always thought it was a silly made-up holiday to help the stores strong from the lull after Christmas. Anyway, that was hard. Knowing there would be no bear from Mom. Because there was no Mom…”
He paused. I let him mull through whatever he was thinking.
“It was a Tuesday. I remember because Monday was you-know-what, and I almost didn’t go to school the next day. The only reason I did is because I didn’t want to be at home that day by myself. So I went, and man was I miserable. And then…and then I saw you in the cafeteria, and you gave me this.” He pulled out a small stuffed animal. It was a small white bear with a red heart around its neck. The heart read: I would be BEARY happy if you were my valentine. “I always carry it with me around this time of year. It reminds me, like it did from the moment you gave it to me that—that it’s going to be okay. Ya know?”
His eyes fell away. I’m glad they did because mine watered up and spilled over. Slim never knew I’d bought that bear for Seth. Seth was being a jerk that day, so when I saw Slim in the cafeteria, I gave it to him. He never knew, and until that moment I’d never known either. He was still chewing the pizza roll when I grabbed him and hugged him until I was sure I wasn’t crying anymore.
I keep that paper with me now in a very special place. After all that’s happened, it makes Valentine’s Day mean all that much more.
a b o u t t h e a u t h o r
Married to my bride for twenty-four years, I have an amazing son and a wonderful daughter.
Born and raised in central Oklahoma, I work in education, first as a teacher now in technology curriculum. I write. I read. And in the summer I make snow cones.
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