THIRD PLACE WINNER OF WRITING CONTEST ENDING 12 JANUARY 2008
JANDIE is the top winner of this week's writing contest.
Here is the story she submitted:
A Different Valentine.
I sat in the dismal little town house
looking at the ugly brown carpet. A deep cold
loneliness that seemed more than I could bear
ravaged my whole being, stretching endlessly
like the carpet. The room was bare except for
the horrible brown carpet a table and two
chairs. The old blinds were dirty because I
hadn't had time to clean them and the landlord
refused to change them. A smell of mould from
something that had leaked for weeks seeped
slowly into my nostrils. When I first moved
there a few weeks ago I gave the only bed to
Irma, who had helped me move into the little
town house, so I had slept on some blankets on
the floor. Now Irma had gone back to Australia;
but being upgraded to a bed only meant that I
had no companion. The brown carpet seemed to
reflect the quality of my despair. How could
anyone with any aesthetic sense choose such an
Under the circumstances it was the only
house I could get. I had had to leave. There was
no choice. The marriage was over. I had thought
it would work. He was so charming - and sexy
too. But that was the surface. The real person
became a nightmare to be with. And yet I loved
him. It's funny isn't it how you can love
someone even though he is a complete bastard?
Somehow you reach the soul - which is always
beautiful. That makes it more painful - seeing
the beauty trapped and unable to manifest. How
long do you wait for it to manifest when the
person himself sabotages it at every turn? I
couldn't wait any longer.
However, he did send me flowers. Yes, last
Valentine's Day he sent me beautiful roses. But
I would not get any flowers this time. No roses.
Suddenly I desperately wanted roses. It was
Valentine's Eve as I sat gazing at the ghastly
brown carpet. That fact seemed to make the brown
carpet even worse. I ached for the aesthetics of
flowers, of real love, and perhaps a white
carpet or a soft pink one. But I knew no one was
going to send me a valentine this year and the
carpet was definitely brown.
Yet that didn't mean I couldn't send a
valentine myself. Yes, I decided, I would write
him a valentine and take it to his house early
in the morning on my bike. Then I would bike
back and take the bus to work. I had bought a
card earlier that week just in case.
So at 1.30am on Valentine's Day I found
myself writing to my estranged husband all that
was in my soul about how I felt about him, the
marriage, the separation, the loneliness and the
inevitability of divorce. My pen rattled away as
I told him many intimate things that I had never
said. "Why am I telling him all this?" I
thought, "Just as we are getting divorced?" I
didn't know. I felt a desperate need for real
communication, truth between two beings. I
missed it so much and my loneliness traveled
infinitely across that friendless brown carpet.
I hated the carpet.
The unmatched chairs and battered table with
glaring stainless steel legs jarred my artistic
senses. But the tablecloth was pretty - a happy
Hungarian flower design that my mother had given
me gave the only brightness to the room along
with two pots of impatiens which demanded that I
notice them! They really wanted to live under
the window rather than on the table. They told
me so, so I let them stay there.
I mused over the impossible situation I had
created with my husband as I told him that I
loved him. "However," I added, "I still think we
should get a divorce." I sealed the letter and
looked out into the silence. The sadness was
like a physical pain, but I knew I was saying
the right thing.
I propped the red valentine on the table and
walked slowly upstairs to the bedroom. "Remember
the roses?" I had said. I thought about the
roses and wished once more that he would send me
a rose, although I knew he wouldn't.
Would anyone remember me for Valentine's
Day? Probably not.
I slept uneasily and got up early to take
the valentine to his house. When I got there he
was out. I was glad. I didn't want to see him.
I propped the card against the back door so that
he would see it when he came home. I was glad I
had written the letter.
I rode my bike to the bus station, locked it
up and walked over to my bus stand. The day was
cool and wet with a light drizzle of rain
falling. The bus station was as drab as bus
stations usually are. The dirty concrete was
littered with bits of garbage. A couple of
ragged homeless men sat on a bench. A short
tubby cleaning lady was sweeping.
Suddenly my eyes locked together with the
grey eyes of the cleaning lady. She smiled. For
one intense moment two beings were in silent
"Do you need a hug?" She asked quizzically
cocking her head to one side with a little smile.
"Yes." I said. Though a little surprised; I
really did need a hug!
She very tenderly put her arms around me and
the love that flowed from her dissolved my
Who needs roses when someone flows you love
"God tells me who needs hugs," She
said, "and I go and give them!"
"Thank you," I said, "That was the best
My bus came and I hopped on with a lighter
step waving to the smiling cleaning lady.
The rest of the day was enchanted by the
living Valentine I had received from her.
Even the carpet looked better when I got home
that night. Rustic brown perhaps?