Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Valentine (05/16/05)
TITLE: Bitter-Sweet Valentine
By Joyce Simoneaux
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All eyes turned on them as they made their entrance. Steve turned to Annie and gave her a single, red rose and promised to give her one every Valentine’s Day for the rest of their lives. It was the most enchanting evening either of them had ever experienced.
Steve’s brother, Danny, was standing across the auditorium at one of the refreshment tables as Annie and Steve walked in. He couldn’t take his eyes off of Annie. He had been in love with her since the first time he laid eyes on her, but she was Steve’s girl. When the first song started to play, Steve swept Annie onto the dance floor. Danny's heart was breaking, and he couldn’t stay. No one noticed as he left the dance.
Danny ran the two miles past the lake to their home and sat alone in the dark of their back yard. Looking up at the sky, he prayed, “Lord, why did she have to fall in love with Steve instead of me?”
Tears spilled down his cheeks and onto his neck. His heart felt like it would explode. He knew this was a love he could never reveal. Steve was his brother and best friend. Annie would never look at him the way she looked at Steve.
That night after Steve brought Annie home for curfew, he never made it home. He lost control of the car and was found the next morning almost completely submerged in the lake. Danny never forgave himself for his prayer. “I did this! My prayer couldn’t be answered as long as Steve was alive!”
At the funeral, Annie placed a single, red rose on Steve’s casket.
(Feb. 14, 1968 10:45 p.m.) Annie sat alone in the living room of her home. She had never married. She never dated after Steve died. As she did every Valentine’s Day for the past 12 years, she closed her eyes and danced with Steve one more time. She remembered the goodnight kiss as he left her that night. It has been such a long time, but she knew she must say good-bye to Steve tonight.
The clock struck eleven, and she rose to go to the door. Outside on the top step of her porch was the single, red rose she had received every Valentine’s Day since Steve died. Annie looked out into the night as she always did, but tonight she didn’t long to see Steve. Tonight she was looking for someone else.
(Earlier) Danny walked into the flower shop and picked out the most beautiful rose in the shop. He paid for the rose, and walked out silently as he did every year for the past 12 years. …
(11:05 p.m.) Annie peered into the night and said, “Danny, I know you’re there. I know it’s you who brought me the roses. Steve’s death wasn’t your fault. God wouldn’t hurt Steve.”
Danny’s heart raced as he stood in the shadows watching Annie on the front porch. How could she know? He tried to keep Steve alive for her all these years. Danny stepped out into the light of the street lamp, and his tear-filled eyes met hers.
“Your mother told me she heard you praying in the back yard that night, and I checked with the flower shops to find out who was buying the roses all these years.” She smiled sweetly and held out her hand to him, as tears trickled down her cheeks.
As Danny finally held Annie in his arms, he wished the answer to his prayer wasn’t so bitter-sweet.
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