A Mushy Gushy Valentine

Dear reader, content warning!

Like seriously, there’s content ahead you’ll wish you were warned about.
But now you have been.

A Mushy Gushy Valentine.

“Do have any idea just how absurd that would be? I suppose by asking me out, you mean to treat me to a dinner worse than I’m used to but more than you can afford, then drive me in a car I’d throw away but for which you owe years worth of pay, take me to a crumby apartment I wouldn’t be caught dead in yet you can barely maintain, and then attempt to perform intercourse which I’m sure would end moments later with you collapsing on top of me, smothering me with that amorphous thing you call a body. I mean really, is there anything more absurd?”



Someone, somewhere was wondering what happened on Valentine’s Day. They’d no one in mind, no country or city of choice, nor even a particular year. Therein lay their mistake, because instead of choosing to wonder about a potentially interesting tale, they ended up wondering about this. They soon found themselves overcome with regret.

This tale began at the dawn of time. The very first moment when a form of existence occurred which could perceive an event or potential event that lay beyond the very moment from which it was perceived. It was at that moment that the groundwork was laid down in preparation for the unfolding of events which were to come. Then bunch of stuff happened, but that stuff wasn’t too important.

Moving on.


Some time passed…

The story picked up in 1953, a well-dressed gentleman walked casually along a sidewalk in the heart of a bustling city. The sun tried to shine warmly from overhead, but a blanket of clouds covered the city below. These clouds absorbed the brilliant rays, and in turn released a cool luminance from all across their reach. Horizon to horizon, no longer from a direct source, the light upon the city cast no shadows, as each was erased before it could be laid. The mood in the city was one of separation and abandonment, as if the universe had entirely forgotten its existence. The nameless city shivered under its pale blanket. Muddy snow lay heavy upon its streets and gripped it tight, like ice in its veins trying to seize its pulse and choke away the warmth of life.

The well-dressed gentleman stopped at a street corner and pulled a handkerchief from his coat pocket. He blew his nose into the white cloth, leaving a worrying streak of red among the speckling of mucus. The time was 10:30 in the A.M.


2018 or thereabouts. At least, that’s what the calendar said, if it could really be attributed as saying anything. Kennedy didn’t bother reading the calendar as he left the house. His heart was racing, as if trying to fill its last hours with as much excitement as arterially possible. His blood was pumping, but his mind seemed to enjoy none of its nutrients. Starved for sensation, his brain craved something, anything. The nothingness he felt rang as a cacophony of white noise tintinnabulation. His eardrums hurt from the sound; he feared they might bleed, but there was barely a whisper to be heard.

Nurses and doctors in their eerily sterile scrubs skipped throughout the lobby with such a noted disregard for his swelling unease that he began to suspect it was their intent. Those hateful practitioners, how dare they act so nonchalant? Had they not read the little clipboard? Surely at least one of them now knew why he was sitting there quaking in his boots. He had gone so far as to pick boots over shoes, just to make the age-old saying accurate and therefore applicable. For his efforts his footwear was beset with rhythmic tremors which in turn sent a dull rattle echoing through the room. Rubber tapping on vinyl and skin rubbing against rubber rubbed him the wrong way. Even if it was for a good cause, he still didn’t like it.

“Knight, Kennedy.” A stern voice spoke from above him. He hadn’t seen the nurse approach, and her sudden presence startled him. “This way.”

He watched for a second as she quickly strode away, then realizing she had summoned him, he quickly rose and followed. It was hard to keep pace with her, as her long legs carried her quickly along corridor and twisting corridor. He followed, noting that at each door he passed a doctor or nurse stood solemnly, watching him as he passed as if guarding their assigned room from a suspected invasion. Scowls and sneers trailed after him like hungry rats after a fat guy with Parkinson’s carrying an open box of donuts.

Once in the operating theater, he was laid butt-ass-naked on the cold slab of stainless steel. The intricate swarm of masked doctors around him did little to calm his nerves. Kennedy quickly found his best option was to listen to the rhythmic beep of the heartbeat monitor. Mere seconds after he was secure upon the table, the knives came out. Slits and stabs, pokes and slashes; the surgeons began to open him up. At the same time, a firm and seemingly owner-less hand clutched beneath his chin, forcing his head upward; not allowing him to look toward the surgeon’s work.

For them, this was only routine.

Pain shot through his body like lightning, but it was not enough to drown the horror in the details. His chest was peeled back, he could feel it like the loose shreds of sunburned skin. Two assistants—one on each side—held his ribcage open, all the while exchanging a casual volley of coarse jokes. Whatever words they said were again drowned by a new sensation. Cold air frosted across his exposed organs. Nerves he’d never known felt temperatures not meant for the human experience. The beeping increased in pace as he felt less and less certain about this whole ordeal.

“Scissors.” A stoic man whom appeared to be the head surgeon called to his assistants. But the assistants were still carrying on with their crude humor. One was scratching his beard vigorously, raining down a sprinkling of dead skin across Kennedy’s middle.

Kennedy began to grow worried until a third, previously unseen assistant produced the requested tool.

The head surgeon began aggressively applying the scissors to the gaping chasm in Kennedy’s chest. Kennedy himself could see little, but he could feel everything. A warm moisture sprinkled his face, likely arterial spray. He felt a choking, inexorable pinching inside him, as if everything important was being clamped shut. Stabbing pain pricked him again and again; his breaths began to rasp with fluid and he coughed a red mist into the air. Each burst of pain stung more than the last, but in its wake left a calm numbness. Soon, the pain in his chest subsided, replaced with nothing. He was left with a void, unexplainable, and impossible to fill. A steady solid note rang from the nearby monitor.

His chest was closed and secured with stitches of thick twine. The doctors helped him from the table and set him on his feet. He was given a shot of bottom-shelf whiskey to help with the recovery, and once he was fully dressed, he was handed a sealed box. The box contained the organ they removed, the one he no longer wished to hear; the one he planned to offer.

Tonight he would give his heart away.


Kennedy had made a resolution at New Year’s to not spend another year alone—even if it killed him. While the gruesome foreshadowing in that determination made him nervous, he didn’t sway. Unlike a number of his associates, he desired more than to simply complete his goal—as if it were merely a shopping list. Finding a partner was more significant than simply locating a woman. Women were everywhere, and he knew that at any given time there were literally millions who would sleep with him, live with him, like him, love him, and stay with him—in decreasing order of number and importance. As much as his desired relationship was about sex, it was also totally not.

For years he had held his tongue and never spoken to women. They didn’t make him nervous in casual association, no; he wasn’t a hopeless klutz whose composure devolved to adolescent love-strickeness in the presence of a woman. Instead, he never mentally approached the topic of verbally approaching them to seek out a closer association.

He wanted to be the right one for her as much as she would be the right one for him. The distinction there being a rather hard one to nail down. Nonetheless he steeled himself, casting aside much of the low self-esteem which had handicapped him for so long. In short, he often felt unworthy and that was what held him back. Now though, he forced himself to realize that millions of people end up in horrible relationships. He wasn’t looking for any port in a storm, nor did he want someone who was. There was someone out there who had more desire for a partner who was conscious of their desirability instead of selfishly focusing on their own desire. He fit the bill, now to find that someone.

Behold, Valentine’s Day! A day upon which people throw caution to the wind. A day when people give and take chances they otherwise might not. He might end up with regrets over being turned down, who he went with, how he handled himself, how the date ended, or how it didn’t. There were a million mistakes he could make, and a million regrets to follow. All those regrets could be worrying, but paled in comparison to the regret for not trying.


Enter Cecilia.

Cecilia worked in the same building as Kennedy. They had met before; they had even shared a few words. But as Kennedy walked into the lobby with his new and dangerous mindset, he noticed things about her that he’d never before seen. She was about the same height as him and had similarly dark brown hair, but that’s where the usual descriptors met their limit.

Nothing about her looks was exaggerated; nothing stood out, and yet, that made everything appear that much more profound. Where other women proudly displayed a curvaceous physique—ample breasts, slim waists, tightly defined thighs—she did not. Taking nothing away from those other women, nor making her out to be flat and featureless, she dressed and carried herself in a strikingly plain manner. Looking closely, he saw that her face was fair, but not buried in makeup, and her body was indeed well sculpted; it just wasn’t overly sharpened and highlighted by her clothes. It was a beauty he had to look for in order to perceive, not one flaunted openly. He quickly came to the conclusion that she was smokin’ hot!

Here we go…

Flames crept up her back, enveloping her like a cloak. The edges of her suit were singed by a creeping orange glow. Smoke billowed out and upward, quickly filling the small lobby and clouding his vision; no one else seemed to notice, not even her. She stood to one side of the lobby idly sipping her coffee, oblivious to what was going on. She exchanged greetings with a few of the people who came and went, none of them slowed their pace, not even when the fire alarm went off and the sprinklers kicked on. Water poured down, nearly blinding Kennedy. Already finding it hard to see through the smoke, he drew closer to her as the torrent of water tried to obscure her from view. But as he neared, through the rain and soot, he could see her burning but not consumed. Like an angel of flame she crackled and sizzled as the water turn to steam when it made contact with the surface of her skin. She looked up as he approached, giving him a clear view of her face; she was drop dead gorgeous.

“Hey, are you alright…?” She looked at him with concern.


Voices swirled around him, muffled as though heard through a great depth of water. He felt pressure against his chest, then a massive jolt. His body convulsed involuntarily and he was dragged back to consciousness. He opened his eyes. Above him knelt three people, all staring down at him with worried expressions.

“He’s coming to!” One of the people spoke. He appeared to be an EMT.

“Oh thank goodness!” The second EMT leaned back with a sigh of relief.

The third person was Cecilia herself, she knelt closest to his head. Worry on her face started to vanish, replaced by a warm smile. Kennedy didn’t see a defibrillator anywhere. He couldn’t explain where the pressure came from or the jolt he had felt. She was still leaning very close to him, one hand laying on his chest; a tear in her eye. “Are you alright? They said they weren’t getting a pulse.”

With her assistance, Kennedy slowly raised to a seated position. “Thanks,” he said, completely unable to find a more suitable form of expressing his gratitude. Again, she helped him, this time as he climbed to his feet. The EMTs were cleaning up their gear. All around the lobby people continued to go about their day. A few custodians had appeared and were now mopping up water all across the lobby.

Cecilia dusted some ash from his shoulder. “You’re Kennedy, right?”

“Yeah, and thanks again. Cecilia, right?” He extended his hand.

“That’s me.” She took his hand and shook it. “And don’t mention it. I was actually starting to worry that taking that CPR class would be for nothing. I’m just glad I could help.”

Kennedy was silent for a moment, again unable to find an appropriate response. At least he now knew where the jolt came from.

“You sure you’re alright?” She waved a hand in front of his face, quickly drawing his attention away from inner pondering. “You seem a little out of it.”

“I’m— I’m fine.”

“If you say so, I guess I’ll be seeing you around then.” She started to walk away. She, with her energetic smile and caring voice; she who had just resuscitated him; and she who had slain him were all walking away.

“Hey,” he called after her. This was it. He knew this could ruin everything, but he knew he had to try. It felt wrong to ask for something when it was he that owed her. But that was the thinking that had kept him alone all these years—perhaps even safely alone. Not today.

She had turned around and was waiting expectantly, he couldn’t delay any longer.

“If you’re not busy this evening, I’d like to take you out for dinner.” Well, points for posing it as a statement and not a question. But what a truly insipid delivery; as if he was offering something. He couldn’t even convince himself that a dinner wouldn’t all be to his benefit, how could she take it any other way?

For a second, she made no reply; for a second, she had no visible reaction. But then her expression lightened and her eyes lit up. It didn’t seem possible, but there was excitement over her face, as if she really appreciated the offer. “Really? You would?” A tone of disbelief tinted her words, but not one of shock or disgust. It almost sounded like she thought it was too good to be true. Surely that was impossible. She couldn’t really want to have dinner with him, right?

“Yes.” Sincerity in this statement was not hard to produce, it was the default. “If that’s okay with you—”

“I’d love to!” She looked like she was about to start dancing. “I thought I was gonna have to spend Valentine’s alone again. Yes, I’d love to have dinner with you.”

Impossible, implausible. There’s no way she could be that happy about a date with him. And even if she was, there was no way she would show it like she was. Was she truly that open? How had a better man not already asked her out, hell; how come there weren’t dozens of them? Kennedy worried that his perception was mistaken, but she was perfectly genuine. She snuffed his doubts with sincerity, every crease of her skin told him to stop doubting himself. She was either oblivious, or knew exactly how to minister to him. They parted ways with him wondering if someone had spiked his drink that morning.


Kennedy could feel his heart pounding all day, even if it was safely at home in his refrigerator. Something about Cecilia gave him confidence and reassurance. It didn’t seem to stem from her manner or her looks, it wasn’t her tender voice or the way she did her hair; it was as if she emanated such a power from her very soul. Laughable in theory and impossible to prove scientifically, he gave up trying, and instead devoted himself to breathing in the invigoration of these magical properties. She was somewhere in the building. He knew it because he could feel her.

By the time the day was drawing to a close, he could hardly process the simplest concept. He couldn’t recall the last time he felt such excitement—or even any at all. He wanted to spread wings and fly, or scream into a microphone until his lungs burst; use a sword to carve a mountain into a statue, or lift that very mountain by hand and throw it into the ocean. He felt hope.

That hope carried him through the day, and eventually to their agreed upon place of dining. He was early and already seated when she arrived, fashionably late so that everyone—but mostly he—would notice her entrance. Other than the greeter, only Kennedy sat in amazement as she approached the table; no one else bothered to look—fuckin’ idiots, the lot of them.

What Ken saw, none could describe.
Glory poured out like a magic potion
Into his hands for him to imbibe,
Nothing short of poetry in motion.

Oh, the aching wait
Makes the skin horripilate!

Hang the cliche, damn it to hell.
Each step spun the world, she stayed in place.
High as the sky, deep as a well,
Radiance shone from a goddess’s face.

Cynics bane; sincerity,
Nigh to him drew merrily.

Wings of splendor and love and hate,
Toward him in light, all else was sable.
He never imagined she’d be his date.
With offer of chair, she sat at the table.

Valentine’s Day. February fourteenth. Wednesday. Wednesday, or in its original meaning: day of Woden. It is a day named after the old Norse god, Odin. Following it is Thursday, also named for an old Norse god: Thor. Inconsequential in modern days, the origins of the days’ naming held as much significance now as the menu-reading and ordering that followed Cecilia’s arrival.

“So…” Cecilia’s clear, fun, and frank, voice broke the magical silence. Shock and worry followed momentarily. Kennedy could have stayed in that moment forever. Together, even if only so close as across a table, there was something about the simple proximity he presently had to her. But his meal was forgotten like an unwritten blade of grass dying a thousand years ago the moment she spoke. “Who are you?”

“What!? I’m the guy who asked you to dinner.”

“No, I mean who are you?”

“Ken; Kennedy K. Knight.”

“That’s your name, dummy; I know that.” She smiled with such an infectious visage that he was almost compelled to once more forget all else. “Who are you?”

“I’m afraid I don’t understand.” He set down his utensils, they were no longer relevant to his interest.

“A story can recite an event, but that event is not the point of the story. The story of a man luring another to his death with the promise of tasting rare wine is neither about the two men nor the wine. The story forms a parallel between its fiction and a reality from which it’s formed. It’s not about anything in the story. You aren’t your name, you aren’t what you’ve done.” She looked at him. Impactive like daggers and hammers, she looked at him, knowing that her words would strike a chord. “So who are you?”

And indeed they did. Of all the stories in the world, they both had read the same one and taken from it the same meaning, he knew the one she referenced. Maybe they shared the same teacher at some point. Or maybe they were penned by the same author. Still, he didn’t quite know the true nature of her question. “What do you want to know? Should I give you my entire history, or is there something specific you’re looking for?”

“I like you.”

Kennedy coughed, surprised at the statement. Muscles pulled and strained in his fingers, but he didn’t know why.

“Is it too early to say that?” She noted his failure to respond, wondering if she’d misread him. He had seemed like the kind of guy who understood her. Although upon reflection, she realized that she too would likely respond similarly to such an inquiry. She remained hopeful. “Why’d you ask me out; where do you think this is going?”

Kennedy thought for a moment, trying to read her intent. “You’re wondering if I’m only here for a shallow night of sex?”

Her smile answered. It was one which encouraged and admonished all at once.

“I hope you’re aware that I’m not, but I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t crossed my mind.”

Her smile continued to urge him on.

He opted toward blunt honesty. “I’d like this to be more than just a date, but I don’t know you yet. I’m not sure. I think you’re giving me hints that you may want more than a simple date as well, but I don’t want to push it; I’m worried that I’ll misread you or offend you.” He paused for a few moments, then continued. “Is that too much or too little information?”

“So, you’re standing at the edge of a pool; do you test the water, or just jump in?” She traced her finger around the edge of her glass.

“I’m not standing alone though, am I? I’d grab the hand of my partner and ask if she’s ready to jump with me.”

“A clever riposte.” She tilted her glass toward him and then took a sip.

“Thank you.”

“There are so few of us that it’s hard to be sure when you’ve met one. Even now, I’m worried that you aren’t who I think you are. At some level, I’m even worried that I’m not what I think I am.” A look of concern spread over her face, clouding it like a haze of smog before a shining sunrise.

He leaned closer, as if with proximity he could also attain clarity. “If you’ll forgive me for asking so much about you while saying so little of myself, who are you and what do you think I am?”

“Different.” A single word to answer both questions, but she knew he’d know what she meant.

He did. It was as if their script was written by one person. The words she spoke held meaning to him, yet he knew they would confuse most others. He felt like he knew her reply even before she said it, and yet her replies were tuned such that it seemed she felt the same. Could it be that they were so perfectly matched that the both of them found it difficult to accept? Surely they couldn’t simply be fated to meet.

“You want to appear to be what you think I want you to be. That’s sweet of you to be so considerate. But I’d rather you just be yourself. If you’re like me, you’re thinking that you’re dining with someone who’s not like you; someone who’s like everyone else. Perhaps you think that you’re with a girl who just wants a handsome guy to take her out and take her home and take her to bed. On some level, that’s okay. But deep down, you want more than that. That’s why you waited until I ordered wine before you ordered your own; you were concerned that I might not like someone who drinks. That’s why you didn’t want to be the first one to bring up sex, because it would make you appear shallow, and might scare me away. It’s also why you haven’t said one foul word, but if I say fucking cunt shit dammit, you’ll feel more at ease, knowing I tolerate profanity.” She took a long drink from her glass. “Don’t worry, I’m as worried about turning you away as you are about me.”

He sat speechless. It was true, all of it. He wanted her to say more; her words ministered to him like nothing else. But he also wanted to absorb the moment like ink into a quill; writing it down indelibly upon his heart. These were dangerous waters to sail, but he could no longer abide the sanctuary of his lonely harbor. In that moment, possibility spread before him like a shining sea. Wondrous adventure awaited him, both terrible and beautiful all at once. He was hesitant to break the spell of the moment.

“Alright captain, what’s our heading?”

He vaguely comprehended her words, totally lost in his daze. “Huh?”

“Please, I need you to do something for me. I need you to do it because I know I can’t.” There were earnest tears in her eyes, but he didn’t yet know why. “I just— I don’t know if I’m scared or what, but I just can’t do this. I want to, but I can’t. Will you do this for me?”

“Do what?”

“Will you decide—” She took a moment to regain some of her lost composure. “Will you decide how long we stay together? I know you’ll chose carefully, so I’m willing to accept whatever you decide.”

Her eyes burned into him like lasers, leaving scorched holes in his suit and blisters on his chest. As if by looking hard enough she could see through his clothes and skin, seeing the answer deep within him. He could see how she found it too hard to decide. It was the choice of a lifetime, the one which lay before him now, and he felt its weight crushing him. It was an impossible choice, and yet it was the one he knew he had to make. He wasn’t qualified for this. They had no experience or history; they had done little more than exchange obscurities. She couldn’t possibly expect him to actually make such a decision; what if he was wrong?

But she waited silently.

A new thought came to him, a hopeful one. What if there was no wrong choice? What if every option was the right one, just so long as they stuck with it. She said she would accept, so as long as he did the same, everything could turn out fine. If he decided to stay with her for a month, they could get to know each other for a while, and part ways as more experienced individuals. Or they could only stay together for one night, one wild and memorable night, or one somber an meaningful. There were so many options, but the one which intrigued him the most was also the one which seemed the most impossible. He knew they couldn’t literally stay together “forever.” He had spoken that aloud. The word left his mouth, surprising him more by seeming so natural than by feeling in any way accidental. He wouldn’t take it back if he could.

Her expression didn’t change, she remained blank. Calm acceptance. “Thank you,” she said flatly. Then she leaned back and closed her eyes as if in some form of meditation. “Before you ask, I’m just imagining how this will all play out.”

“How what will play out?”

“Forever. Literally.”

“Take your time, you’re pretty when you’re thinking.” He rested his chin on his palms, aware of how foolish he looked as he admired her. If his chair were any higher, he might’ve kicked his feet like a schoolboy idly watching his first crush. “I don’t think we’ll live as long as forever though…”

“Who said anything about that?” She suddenly came back to reality, drawing him to a more attentive posture. “But that doesn’t mean we’ll be apart. I mean, if I had to guess, I’d say we’re probably gonna drop the pretense of actually ordering dessert here. From there, we’ll giggle our way to the car, I’ll smooch all over you while you take me to your place or mine, then we’ll spend the rest of the night making love like there’s literally no tomorrow. Except there will be, which is the great part.

“From there, things will be exciting, but eventually calm down; life will go on as it does for everyone else, we’ll slowly grow more accustomed to each other, and slowly turn our mysteries into common knowledge and inside jokes. Years will pass us by, and we’ll grow old. Hopefully you’ll start to lose your eyesight before I look like a shriveled old prune, but I’m sure you’ll still snatch a kiss occasionally… and vice-versa.

“One of us will probably die first, which will suck. If you don’t mind, I’d prefer to bite the dust before you. I’m really not that good about dealing with losing people who are close to me. Anyway, eventually we’ll both be dead. Our bodies will decay and rot and whatever else usually happens to corpses. After that, we’ll just be two skeletons laying peacefully in the dirt. But that’s all what, seventy years from now at the most? There’s so much more after that, forever goes on for a while.

“Maybe someone will dig us up and put us in a museum. Maybe there’ll be some crazy technology to extract our story from our bones, then people will be able to read all about the nonsense I’m talking about right now. They could make movies and shows about our lives, and we’ll live through it again in spirit. But that’s only like a few thousand years from now. After a few million more—or something— the sun will die and turn everything to ash. Then our ashes will be spread across the galaxy. Our dust will eventually collect and form into two new stars. We’ll burn brilliantly as a binary system, astonishing to anyone who never saw one, but commonplace to the billions of people who live on the planets that orbit us. But eventually, we’ll die as stars too, but I think this time the explosion from one of us will take out the other one, and this whole thing will repeat itself on some new plane of existence.

“After that, I don’t know. I’d like to think we’ll coalesce into a sheer concept, an idea that’s never before been conceived. We’ll transcend all the usual restrictions to become something truly eternal. We’ll retreat from existence so we won’t bother the other profound concepts and strange forms of existence that’ll probably be wandering about at that time. We’ll find a nice quiet place at the farthest edge of an infinite perception, and there we’ll shrink down into a memory, a moment pulled from a time when time actually existed. That moment will be now, when you and I have forever ahead of us. Together, we’ll be each of us and both of us at the same time. We’ll be eternally wrapped in the bliss of the joy and excitement that we have right now.

“So what do you think?” Her breathing was heavy from the passion of her speech, but there was a gleam in her eye as if she could speak a hundred more like it.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way.” He rose, produced his wallet and dropped far too many bills on the table, indicating that he clearly wasn’t interested in waiting for the check.

She looked up and took his outstretched hand. “I take it we’re gonna start with that night of passionate love-making?”


Only the faint leftovers of self-control kept them from making a rather inappropriate scene right in the middle of the restaurant. It was only moments later that they were in his car. She was wrapped around him like a snake as he sped through the city like a madman.

The elegant sign in front of the restaurant was no match for the front of his car. Splintering in all directions, a few pieces landed on the hood, but with his foot burying the gas pedal in the floorboards, those bits of sign were soon caught by the wind, flung over the roof and into the night. A red light and stopped cars were little more than obstacles soon passed, disregarded and left in the dust.

“You aren’t taking this too fast, don’t worry.” She was awkwardly perched on the center console, half leaning against him, half gripping him tightly for stability. Her words were like feathers against his ears, soft and gentle, yet they also tickled him in such a nice way.

“I wasn’t planning on slowing down.” He had to double-check himself before replying. For a second it seemed like she wasn’t talking about his driving. Outwardly, he knew his reply would be interpreted as a reference to how he was driving, but he also knew that it held an amusing parallel to how their relationship was progressing, which was the exact thing he was pondering.

“I meant ‘you and me,’ not your driving.”

He looked away from the road, away from the cars he was about to sideswipe—and did, away from the bushes and fences he was destroying; away from all of that, and toward her. She had meant exactly what he was thinking, and he was so amazed that he even tried to deny it. He still wasn’t even sure how to respond.

“Although…” She put one finger to her chin in mock contemplation. “I suppose you could’ve meant that as well.”

“I…” His words fell flat before they left his mouth. He didn’t know how to articulate the awkward nonsense in his head. Even his thoughts felt wordy and clumsy, so much so that he knew their meaning would be lost upon speaking.

“Hey.” She pulled his attention again. Streets and buildings and whole friggin’ neighborhoods vanished behind them as they sped. “Just say it, whatever it is. You look like you’re trying to read my mind to see if I’ll understand. Just say what you feel…” She poked his chest. “…and trust that I’ll feel the same way.”

“It’s exciting: what we’re feeling, you know? But— but it’s not love. I was worried that when I found someone, I would lose my mind; I’m worried that I’m losing it right now.” Staring at her like she was the only person in the world, he neither cared nor saw where they were headed. It didn’t matter anyway, as long as they were together. “This excitement will fade in time, so it’s good that it isn’t love we’re feeling right now. When I told you we’d stay together forever, I made a commitment and so did you. That’s love; that’s our love.”

She looked like she was about to faint into dreamy unconsciousness.

“Hey, no swooning. This ain’t that kind of story.” He turned forward again. “But I’ll take it that means you wholeheartedly agree?”

She glared first, then nodded with a smile. Her eyes still shone with a dreamy relaxation. She was, in a word, comfortable.

“So, if we’re both of the same mindset, then I guess I’m to conclude you’re having some very unladylike thoughts over there.” He teased with a jab.

She returned his jab with a slap. “That’s only because we’re not doing those things. And for that…” She poked his chest, harder than before, but also with more playful accusation. “…you have some explaining to do.”

“If you must know, I just wanted to see how long you could hold out.” And what an immense shit-eating grin he wore when he said that.

Her next slap resounded with force, leaving a nice mark. “Oh, that is bullshit.”

All he could do was laugh.

“You know what, fine. Let’s see how long you can hold out. You wanna do that? ‘Cause two can play at that game.” If the intent of his restraint was to prove his sincerity—that he sought more than a shallow relationship— he had more than reached his goal. He was right in guessing that she would never give herself to someone who didn’t cherish her. But again, she was past that. He was still clinging to his gentleman complex, which while honorable, was now more of a hindrance. She began to open his shirt, button by button. “If you call me sweetie, I’ll be like sugar to your tongue.” She stopped at the lowest button, knowing he wanted her to keep working in that direction. “If you call me honey, I’ll be sticky and golden.” She worked his tie loose, opening his shirt and sliding a hand inside. Her finger traced his recent stitches. “If you call me baby, I’ll— hey, why are you slowing down?”

“Maybe I just wanna hear to talk like that all night.” He grabbed her hand and removed it from his shirt. “But when you touched me there, you reminded me of something.” He turned to her, his eyes were serious, his tone somber. They had stopped at a red light. Reaching back, he retrieved a chocolate box with a heart.

She opened the chocolate lid, which crumbled along with the rest of the box, leaving her holding the item inside. It was a heart; his heart, still beating and still warm.

“I want to give you this. It’s a memento of this night. Keep it always, use it to remind me of this promise if ever I should forget: I promise to love you always, not as a temperamental feeling, but by choice.”

She sniffled a bit, reigning in her emotions. “It’s funny you should say that…” From her purse, she also retrieved a box. Like his, it was made of chocolate; and like his, also contained a heart. He was hers and she was his, nothing could ever tear them apart.

They had been mentally and spiritually naked with each other, there was now only one more form of nudity to assume. She began to unbutton her blouse, revealing a stitched scar that matched his. But just then, a big truck hit their car from the side. Glass shattered, and metal bent and scraped. There was an explosion, and a roaring of fire, but neither the two in the car nor the driver of the truck were conscious for the events that followed. Actually, the truck driver died, which was kinda sad; but that’s what he got for trying to drive a truck while eating sushi with two sets of chopsticks.


Ken had given his heart, not away but to. In return he had been given the heart of another; not just any other, but the other, his only other. But, as if the force that put them together didn’t actually know how to keep them together, they were torn apart. Like the tumbling blocks of a castle built by a child, they fell in a heap, leaving the oblivious child wondering what had gone wrong.

And so it was in similar fashion that their pieces were hauled away from the wreckage of the car. Scooped up from the ground and piled into buckets, they were carried off to be reassembled. Despite their best attempts, the doctors who stitched them up were no more talented than the child who built the castle. Some colors didn’t match, some pieces were missing and were replaced by whatever could be found in the spare parts bin; and some were reattached to the wrong person. (Not like that you dirty perv.)

Their insurance coverage wasn’t very good, so in no more than three short paragraphs, the surgeon gave them the all clear and sent them on their way. In the blackness of their unconscious state, the two lovers could still feel the beating of their hearts. Now no longer in boxes of chocolate, their hearts were closer, but in a way they didn’t yet understand.


When he finally came to, Kennedy found himself back at his apartment. It wasn’t the pain he felt which woke him up, instead it was fear. In the blackness, he felt a fear in his heart; a fear of being alone, of losing the one to whom had so quickly become attached. Even as he woke, the fear still gripped him.

Looking around, he found that he was seated in a wheelchair, wearing a hospital gown. The gown had stains of blood, and below those stains were wounds which ached. Beyond the gown were his legs, or what was left of them. Torn, scarred, broken, and braced, they looked more like a crude placeholder than the limbs he used to own. His insides felt though they were tied in knots, and he coughed up a surge of bile, sending it dribbling helplessly down his chest. It collected in the gouges and cavities. Kennedy could almost feel an infection growing as it soaked and settled in open wounds. The image he saw of himself was almost enough to make him retch again. But across the room he saw Cecilia. She was watching him but her face was somehow placid; he couldn’t understand. Was she not revolted by the mere sight of his ruined body?

She bore plenty of wounds and grafts herself, but even knotted stitches and blistering rashes did little to hide that it was really her. Only a few strands of hair remained, severe burns covered most of her head, but her eyes remained bright. She still wore what semblance of a smile could be pulled from the charred ruin of her face. Blackened skin split instead of stretching, the lines of her smile were outlined not by dainty wrinkles, but with crimson flesh exposed beneath the cracks. Ken’s coughing and gagging caught her attention, and she turned her face toward him. The fear in his heart began to diminish. “Ken,” she winced at even voicing a single syllable. “Am I ugly?”

“What!?” Ken coughed hard as he spoke, triggering another onslaught of vomit. “No!”

“The sight of me makes you sick, doesn’t it?” Her voice rasped, devolving to an unsteady wheeze as she settled back after the strain of speech. Her smiled was gone.

As her face shadowed, so did the feeling in Ken’s heart. The fear he had felt was replaced by another, a fear of being too hideous to love. They weren’t his thoughts, but he felt them in his heart; were they hers? Ken collected himself, doing his best to wipe the spew from his face and make himself as presentable as he could manage. “No,” he found himself at a loss for how to sound convincing. “I’m sick from pain and lord knows what else is wrong with me. Why would you ever think it’s you?”

“I don’t… know what I look like anymore.”

“Do you want a mirror?” He hoped she wouldn’t say yes. He knew she wouldn’t like what she saw. True, she was charred and scarred, but as long as she was Cecilia, she was beautiful; nothing could cover that. He feared that she wouldn’t be able to see what he could see.

“No.” She said nothing for several seconds. Ken couldn’t tell if she was just contemplating, or whether she needed to stop and rest between words. “Tell me… tell me what I look like.”

Kennedy felt a heart beating within him, but this heart wasn’t wracked with the same fear. This heart listened to his mind; wavering with his uncertainty for what to say, but calming when he decided. There was only one thing to say. “You’re beautiful.”

“No, seriously. Describe me. Please”

All he could do was repeat himself. The only way to describe her was to say how he saw her; not by the sum of her features. “You’re beautiful.”

She sat silent, blankly staring at the floor, as if trying to judge the sincerity of his words. Finally, her decision was made and she looked up. “Okay,” was all she said, but the faint smile across her lips said more to Kennedy than any spoken word. “Thank you.”

The fear in his heart was gone from the one he felt, but not the heart in his chest, the one which felt him. That’s when he realized that his heart wasn’t in his chest, but in hers. The fear he felt within it was the fear in her mind. If that were so, then just as much as he could feel her thoughts, she could know his thoughts too. “So,” Ken said after a painful chuckle, “do I look like I’ve been fed through a wood-chipper? ‘Cause I sure feel like it.”

“I wouldn’t know.” As she spoke, he felt her worry again.

“Huh? Why?”

“I guess I’m living up to my name,” she said at length. “I’m blind; I can’t see a thing.”

Pain wracked his body anew and he noted that it was getting worse. “Lucky you, I think I’m living up to my name as well.” He attempted a laugh. A poor choice which sent him into another coughing spell. His mouth tasted of blood. “I’m not the hunk with chiseled jaw that I used to be… if you can believe such a thing.”



“Touch me, please. I need to know you’re here with me.”

Every bone ached as he lifted himself and hobbled toward her. His right ear shot full of pain, it felt like some fluid was trickling out and down the side of his head. Whatever they’d sewn in place of his arms felt rubbery and useless, but all he could see of them were two creamy colored lengths dangling at his sides. The sight of her filled him with warmth. Somehow, the fact that she couldn’t see him eased the worry of his own image. He was right in front of her, but couldn’t really move his new appendages.

She sensed his proximity, sending a surge of comfort into his heart as she reached out and pulled him close. “Kennedy, it feels like I’m dying.” She coughed several times after the sudden exclamation. “I think… I’m dying.” She let her arms fall. Her eyes shot this way and that, as if she was still trying to see through them.

“So do I.” Somehow, despite being unable to do any more than wish, his simple words carried that wish, lending the comfort he felt incapable but so desired to give. There was a quiet acceptance in his voice that resonated with her. His heart, her heart, their hearts were put at ease.

“I don’t wanna die in this wheelchair.” She put her hands up like a child expecting a parent to carry them. ”Just let me die in your arms.”

“Even if I don’t actually have arms?”

“As long as you’re holding me, I don’t care.”

But his arms were long since lost. Whatever had taken their place felt like loose rubber. He wanted to hold her, but he doubted he could do much of anything. Then, just when sorrow was about to grip him, he realized that he could actually feel his “limbs.” Whatever they were, they had sensation in them. If he could feel them, perhaps he could control them. With all of his strength he willed his limbs to move… and they responded! Relative feeling came to him, orienting his senses to understand these new appendages. It simply felt like circulation returning after being cut off, but instead of joints and fingers, he felt something entirely new.

For a moment, the new feelings were foreign to him, but that quickly passed. He was left with what seemed like the most flexible arm ever made. It had no fingers, but was instead adorned along one side with something that felt like it could grip. He tried to move it and it moved accordingly. Waving it in front of his own face, he saw what looked like an enormous clubbed tentacle, complete with thousands of suckers. Amazing even himself with newfound dexterity, he sent the new limbs snaking around Cecilia. Twice they encircled her before pulling her to him almost effortlessly.

“What is this?” She gasped at the strange sensation, but the shock vanished almost before the words left her mouth. Replacing with trust, she hugged Ken around the neck. “Never mind. It doesn’t matter…”

Kennedy said nothing as he carried Cecilia over to the bed. He wanted to reply, but his mind was preoccupied with yet another sensation which was assaulting him. Though little effort for his new arm, carrying Cecilia had strained the rest of his tired body. In response, it gave up control of his bladder. He could swear it felt like he was wetting himself, but instead of feeling the liquid pour down his legs, he only felt it collect directly between them. A horrible sensation of something wet and swollen rubbed against his skin. Any cuts he had were highlighted with stinging pinpoints when the warm liquid touched them.

As he laid Cecilia on the bed, he discovered the reason for the confusing sensation. Like him, she was wearing nothing more than a light hospital gown. But as she lay back, her gown flipped up and he saw she was wearing an adult diaper. Like her gown, the diaper was stained red in places, but in other places—specifically between her legs and under her bottom—it was stained an unhealthy shade of yellow. Seeing this, he realized that he must also be wearing a diaper, that would explain what he felt between his legs but was afraid to check.

“You feel it, don’t you? You have my heart, and I have yours.” She felt her chest with her hand, confirming the rhythmic but unsteady pulse beneath.

“Yes, but we’re not gonna last long.”

She pulled herself up to him, planting a kiss on his lips. “So we only have one chance at this. Let’s go out with a bang, yeah?”

The passion in her heart burned within him. In response, he pressed into her kiss, pushing her back onto the bed. No time for future regrets, there was only the present.

“These—” She slid a hand along his right appendage, speaking between heavy breaths. “—Aren’t going to be a problem.”

Their hearts beat faster and faster, stitches tore and wounds opened as they tumbled across the bed. As the excitement grew, so did Ken’s control over his new limbs. With his left, he was able to embrace Cecilia and hold himself over her, while the other he snaked inside her gown and tore it down the middle. Soon both gowns were in a shredded heap against the far wall.

The flimsy tape of the hospital diapers was no match for her energetic fury and those soon joined the gowns in a heap on the floor. A slight tickle traced its way across around her back, encircling her once more. The slippery tickle became like an electric charge as if crossed her chest and began to tighten. A gasp forced from her mouth as many tiny points began to grip and suck across her chest. Still hugging Ken around the neck, she pulled him in, wrapping her legs around him.

Heavy breathing filled the room as they rocked across the sheets. Her fingers dug into his back, tearing open existing wounds and carving new ones alongside, but that only encouraged him. Sweat poured as they used their bodies to say all that their mouths could not. She had to hold him, she had to touch him. Her fingers traced and explored every inch of him that she could reach. Welt and gouge, blistered and torn, it didn’t matter what her fingers felt, she just wanted to feel him. She knew that the end was near, that she would never again have the chance to learn and memorize every little feature. With ever increasing force, she strained against her failing heart to grasp and keep the moment for as long as she could.

With the back of one clubbed limb he stroked the top of her head, tenderly caressing the few and tiny strands of hair she had left. He was on top, cradling her and supporting himself with the same limb. Gradually working the other one behind her back, snaking it downward, he was listening for approval from her movement. If she resisted, he’d stop. Was it too much, was it entirely wrong? He paused at the small of her back, waiting for a signal. With her heart, she screamed “yes” and he slid it down farther, plunging into places only the most clever of wording would allow. She gasped in response, bucking against him and tightening her grip.

Like two stars their hearts and passion burned vehement before the end. Building stronger and stronger, their intensity culminated with straining and gasping and moaning. But their bodies could take no more abuse, and with the last of their strength gone, they collapsed in a ruined heap. Their swapped hearts beat one last time and then they were gone. Heartbroken together.


“Okay then,” she looks at me with a decided face, as if she’s made some internal resolution. “I guess that is more absurd than me accepting your offer.”

She walks toward me, I’m still amazed that she stood here and listen to my ridiculous fabrication. Now she wears a smile, as if she actually enjoyed hearing my tale. Before, she wore a scowl of dismissal, of disapproval, of superiority; a well-earn scowl, but a hurtful one nonetheless. They say that sometimes you must throw caution to the wind, and that’s what I’ve done. I suppose perhaps they did not mean for me to throw rational thought along with it, but it’s far too late for that. It’s far too late for—

“—us to go to dinner, so should we just find a room somewhere?”

I stammer something unintelligible, even I don’t know what I say. I wasn’t paying attention. Damn!

“I said, it’s too late for dinner.” She stares up at me as though I’m beneath her. Somehow despite the fact that I’m a few inches taller, she’s still looking down at me. “Your story ate up the whole evening. But if you’re still hungry I’ve got something you might like to taste.”

“Really?” Her wink hits me like an artillery shell. Her smirk—if I can even call it such, it’s barely more than a twitch of her lips—melts me like butter in a pan. There’s no way in the world, I mean, it’s not possible that she changed her mind just because of my story… is there?

“Come on, let’s go.”

She takes my hand, but as much as I expected her to be firm and powerful, she’s not. I’d’ve thought a woman of her social stature would be just as strong physically, but she’s not. Her hand is delicate—fragile almost—in mine; I dare not grip too firmly. She’s not holding my hand, I’m holding hers. It’s as if everything in the universe has just now shifted from one side to the other.

“Well?” She looks up at me. She wears a look I can’t explain, expectant maybe, perhaps she wants me to take the lead. “Unlike your story, I know what I want. So if you’re done being weird, I’d suggest you get us a bottle of wine and we’ll see where the night takes us… you know, like a normal Valentines Day thing. Can you handle that?”

“I certainly can.” I take a step forward, but she hesitates.

“I just have one question. What happened to the guy in 1953?”

I can’t believe I forgot about him.


Re: A Mushy Gushy Valentine

Well, this certainly was an interesting read. After reading the end, I take the story as a guy making up a tall tale to impress a girl/ get her to say yes to going out with him. I liked the abstract feel of the tale, like when the figurative is taken literally (her being smoking hot then catching on fire, etc)