It’s Valentine’s Day, and everyone rushes to find a date by presenting him or her with flowers or chocolate. Some come up with original love songs or covers of classics. Others are less unique with how to confess his or her love. Everyone’s favorite colors today are red, pink, purple, and white to represent the romantic theme of the commercial holiday. Everyone seems to be seeing in those colors except for one young woman, Alyssa Duncan, a simple junior who’s only focused on her schoolwork.
She passes the gym, fixing her long, brown hair away from her dark eyes, when two single senior boys come up to her with nothing in their hands to give to her on Valentine’s Day. This is odd, she says in her head as they smile at her. No, here’s something to make you love me more today, Alyssa? A gift on this holiday of romance is always an eye-catcher, but what’s more eye-catching is the fact that these two boys are talking to her without anything to give on the day. Their smiles seem too bright for her taste, but she doesn’t walk away. Alyssa is a listener.
“Happy Valentine’s Day, Alyssa!” they cheer enthusiastically and simultaneously.
Oh god, are these two related? Well, at any rate, this is not going to be any different.
The first gentleman steps forward. “Alyssa Duncan, I know you haven’t met us, but we want to show you our gratitude.” He places his hand on his chest and introduces himself. “Jonathan Berkin at your service, captain of the baseball team, and how is that possible? Well, my coach happens to tell me that I’m the strongest player on the team. Ever in trouble, babe, and I’ll be there. I’m not scared of anything that exists. However, my last trait is short and simple, and that is sweet. I’ll always make the time for you, Alyssa, and I will make you feel like a princess. Strong, sweet, and fearless are what I am.”
The second guy scoffs along with the girl. “What a show off. Who needs a jock when you could have an heir instead?” He tips his fedora and says, “Andrew Sampson is my name, my dear. My father is the founder of the Sampson Law Firm and a fantastic lawyer at that. If we last, the business will be yours and mine. My gifts will be diamonds and pearls to last forever. I promise you treasures of a lifetime if you pick me, Alyssa Duncan.”
Alyssa gives each senior a look and begins to laugh. “Is this a joke?” she exclaims in question. “Do you obviously think that you are going to win me with popularity points and jewelry?”
Each boy’s eyes widen. “Excuse me?” they ask at the same time.
“You heard me. Jonathan, congrats on making captain, but I find you jocks to be oblivious to what a girl really wants. To be a princess is definitely not one of them. Andrew, you are the cockiest of every senior in this school. Money will not buy my happiness. Good day!” Alyssa turns away from the both of them and marches to her next class, leaving both Jonathan and Andrew with blank faces. They both turn to each other, and there’s a long pause before one of them could say anything.
“What is up with her?” hisses Andrew.
Jonathan pats his friend’s back and replies, “Relax, bro. Don’t use all of your energy on a girl with no Valentine spirit.”
The day ends with a trip to Starbucks for Alyssa Duncan. All she wants is a cup of coffee, but she comes into couples laughing and/or making out at tables for two. The line is crowded with pairs, and the wait line has been widened due to the holiday craze. Alyssa’s not claustrophobic, but she cannot stand the stereotypical couples at all. She orders a decaf at the counter, pays, and heads to the back of the café, so Alyssa wouldn’t disturb the kissing party.
It’s not that long after she sits down when her best friend since kindergarten, Cody Felix, enters the café as well. He flips his dirty blonde bangs out of his face as he gives his order to the barista. Cody is not the most popular boy in high school, but he’s not ugly either. He doesn’t have the arm strength like Jonathan, nor does he have as much money as Andrew, but Cody’s blue eyes are the key to get anyone to look at him. After he fetches his coffee from the counter, he spots Alyssa in the back and walks out of the holiday celebration area. “Duncan!” he calls.
Alyssa looks up from her coffee and grins slightly. “Hey, Felix,” she softly responds.
Without questioning, Cody takes the seat across from her. “I haven’t seen you in school all day.”
“I was trying to escape the holiday, but it seems to have found me all over the place.”
“Oh, right. That. I got asked three times today. Megan, Daisy, and Jenny.”
Alyssa uses her brown eyes as pretend lasers. “Can you shut up?”
“Excuse me for bringing my problems along with yours to the table,” he replies, holding his hands to his head.
“I mean it. I just don’t want to hear it.”
Cody leans onto the table, crossing his arms horizontally. “I have a feeling there’s something you’re not telling me about Valentine’s, Liss.”
“What’s to mention? You get all lovey dovey one day, but in the next few years of your life, you’ll be getting a divorce, and all is lost!”
He purses his lips. “Your parents fell in love on this day?”
“Shut up!” There’s a pregnant pause between the both of them. The more Cody stares, the more Alyssa shivers. “They met on this day about two decades ago. Mom and Dad were high school sweethearts. They attended community college together. It seemed so perfect until I came along.”
“What makes you say something like that?”
Alyssa sighs before she says, “Reality set back in. Dad didn’t want to be a part of it.”
“And now, you think that every man is a romantic jerk,” Cody finishes.
“No, but…” Alyssa pauses again.“Well, in a way, yes, because they only play the act just to reel one in.”
“What about me?” he asks.
“You? Well, Cody, you’re not like them. You’re…real. Not an actor.”
“Alyssa, you can’t hide behind the walls forever. You need to fall and finally experience what love is. If you get your heart broken in the process, oh well. That’s a lesson learned.”
There’s another pause, which makes it the third. In that time, Alyssa starts shivering more than from the beginning of the argument. Her eyes burn with resisting tears, for she has become aware of Cody’s observation of her. Her denial melts away, and acceptance slides into her body like a spider laying eggs on its web. Alyssa hides her face after the burn vanishes.
Cody lifts her chin to see her wet-cheeked face and says, “It’s okay.”
“It’s not,” Alyssa replies, “For once, I want someone to dance on my heart, not dance away with it. I’m scared, you know.”
“Would you rather give it to someone familiar or strange?”
Alyssa ***** an eyebrow. “What does that even mean?”
That’s the moment when he becomes quiet.
“Alyssa, I guess I have been dishonest with myself.” He removes himself from the chair and gets down to the floor on both knees. Cody takes her pale hand as he announces his speech to the whole café. “I have been thinking about it for years now. We’ve been friends for far longer than that. Alyssa, all I wish for is to be more than a companion but still keep the touch of it alive. I want your heart, so I can replace it with my own. Whatever you want to do, I’ll go through with it. Alyssa Duncan, will you be my Valentine?”
The girl could hardly breathe at first. “Aw!”s surround the room, but she couldn’t hear them at all. Out of all people, it’s Cody Felix who make himself the lowest in self-confidence. She looks down and snickers at his pink cheeks. “Yes,” she says faintly. “Yes, I will.”
The pink vanishes, and Cody’s face is left pale. “But I’m not a jock or rich. I expected you to decline that offer.”
“I give chances to those who deserve it. Cody, you have given me hope for the longest time. I can’t believe I didn’t see it sooner. I’m sorry for the wait.”
“All in good time, Alyssa. All in good time.”