Paper Hearts

She shook the snow from her foot. Stepping into a rather large slush pile on the curb wasn’t a good omen for this meeting. Why was she even going? One, she didn’t even know the guy. Two, a random drawing at the local coffee shop probably wasn’t the best way to meet someone. Three, where was her best friend who had talked her into it in the first place? Half-way across the state by now, she guessed – making a trip home to surprise her family on Valentine’s Day. Who surprises her family on a day meant for love?! Well, okay. Maybe that wasn’t quite what she meant. But any sane person would know what she meant without her having to clearly articulate it.

She pulled the paper heart out of her coat pocket and squinted at the address. It was just the next block. When the barista had given them each a pink paper heart with their lattes and told them to write their name on it, it had seemed harmless. She had noticed he told his male customers to write their name and also the name of a local diner or restaurant, hearttime, and date. Later, another barista had passed around a glass canister for each to drop in the pink paper. As they left, they were given a heart with a name, restaurant address, date, and time. Her friend’s poor guy would be stood up. If she was any kind of smart, hers would be, too. Still, underneath it all she believed everyone should agree with her assessment: Valentine’s is a day when corny is cool.

She stuffed the heart back into her coat pocket, pulled off a glove to run her fingers through her hair, and stole a glance at herself in the window of a shop she passed. One more building and she would be there. She stopped. What was she thinking? She would just go home. No harm, no foul. As she turned around, she bumped into a man. Mid-twenties, she guessed. Dark hair. Athletic build. Tennis shoes with a small rip on the right side.

An ‘excuse me, maybe you should look where you’re going’ nearly escaped her lips. It didn’t. He looked up from what he’d been reading. In his hand was a pink paper heart.

Valentine’s is a day when corny is cool.


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