Deborah loves all books, her favorites being mystery and romance. She writes fiction on her spare time.
Mina Looked out the window and saw nothing. She had been expecting to catch a glimpse of who the person was, yet had saw no one the many times she had peered out her window. She continued to get ready for the morning, and stared at her rosy pink blouse a little longer than she should have. Still working out if it qualified to be a part of today’s festivities. Valentine’s Day was the day! Not the one of hearts or the day thought of as love. The day she would find a card with a single red rose tied to it.
Every year on this day she now found one. Such lovely messages, a poem, compliments, and kind words. She had found two before in her mailbox, another placed on her car, and one tied to her door, always on Valentine’s Day. Always signed Yours Truly. Mina had saved the cards, except for that one year she had thrown it away from her car frustratedly. Mina had been given four anonymous Valentine’s, she now waited if this year would mark the fifth year of these mysterious valentines. She remembered the first card she had ever gotten. The first one had been found in her mailbox without envelope. Her fingers had carefully disattached the rose. It had read…
You have stolen my heart. My thoughts are only of you. Your beautiful heart matches those beautiful eyes. I hope you enjoy this beautiful day of love.
Mina had smiled widely in spite of herself, and looked around the mailbox intensely curious and wondering who would confess to the love of the secret note. She had also expected then to discover who the writer of the anonymous valentine belonged to. She had now given up on the identity of the mysterious author.
She now pulled out the previous notes. Mina had saved them all in the scrapbook and jewelry box. The second one she had found remained in the brown envelope within the pages of her scrapbook. The rose had long since been taken by time. She had wondered that first year who had given it to her, expecting him whoever he was to reveal himself. She had dwelled on the valentine throughout the day, and found nothing! The day had gone without any explanation to the mystery of the card or the identity of the writer. Disappointment gave way to anger. She had come to forget it, pushing the thought to the back of her mind. Until the next year, when the next one arrived on Valentine’s day. The anonymous note had reminded her of the previous year, on the same day of love. She carefully took the valentine from the brown envelope and read it.
To the kindest woman I have ever known, someone with such a big heart deserves a message of love on this day. Those moments when I think of you, wondering what you are doing, that you are somewhere else spending your day, as this earth turns.
There was something less poetic about this Valentine. Something real about it. She took the third one out of her jewelry box. The rose which had been attached to this message preserved in one of her novels. It was not truly the third valentine. That one had been a poem that she had not kept.
You have taken my heart. It stays with you though you may not know it. I only wish you the very happiness you deserve, from afar. With my love.
Unrequited love she thought.
She had taken guesses to who it might have been, Elijah, Nathan, Liam. She had even considered the neighbor. Mina had thought it was Liam, since she had dated him twice. He currently lived in another state, and it had continued to happen once he had gone. She was glad it wasn’t him. He was a creep anyways.
She hadn’t thought the word! Mina didn’t consider him a stalker because it only happened once a year on Valentine’s Day. The mystery writer left anonymous notes that were truly valentines. One had been a love poem. A rose from a secret admirer, only secret because she had chosen to tell no one. She peeked out her window once more, certain to discover the culprit. As far as she knew she had never actually seen who it had been.
She walked outside still wondering if there would be one there this time. After all they were not always in her mailbox. Mina walked all the way out to her old -fashioned box and stood in front of it. She took a deep breath and opened it. Mina peeked into her mailbox. There inside was a brown piece of paper folded in squares, and a rose tied to it with ribbon.
She took the paper out of her mailbox. A single red rose. She came inside, and unfolded it. The same black ink, and unusual handwriting. It was the same person. She read it, her eyes covering the card word for word until the end. This one much more sentimental then the last one. It had been the most intense note he had ever written. She was now convinced the writer knew her personally.
She smelled the rose. Then she leaned back, resting her head against the pillow. It was also the longest valentine he, whoever he was, had written. She had saved them all. Except for the poem by her car crinkled up, she wished she had it now. Her mind went blank, the familiar anger gone, though it was still there somewhere. Mina laid there for a while, staring at the ceiling into nothing. Then she sat up determined. She was going to find out the identity of the mysterious author of these notes once and for all.
She walked outside. Whoever it was had seen her face. She remembered from the note. That was a clue. She looked around her neighborhood, and peeked at her friends. The guy crossing the street was as much a suspect as her neighbor, in that she had no idea who it could be or how to begin to find the person behind her mysterious valentines. She suspected her neighbor yet again, but quickly discarded the idea. He wasn’t even here. It couldn’t have been him.
She wanted to ask her best friend for help. She had never told anyone about the anonymous valentines. Her friend hated the holiday. Repulsed with the hearts and anything with love. Claiming the holiday was celebrating a fake emotion that didn’t exist. He was the most unromantic person she knew. But he was her best friend. She dialed him on her phone. It was the first time she would tell anyone about the love cards.
“Happy Valentine’s Day,” he said.
At least he was being polite wishing her the happy day, probably just for her consideration. She shook her head.
“I need to see you, talk to you.”
“It’s important really important!”
They decided to meet at the café to talk. They were best friends. She had known him for a long time, they had become close for a few years now.
“Hey Dave,” She greeted. “You don’t celebrate Valentine’s day?”
“No, I celebrate single awareness day, that is an important holiday.”
“Your, such a guy! Not into the romance.”
“Some guys are into romance, just not me.”
“Your name is almost like it.”
Dave looked up at her hoping she would not vocalize it.
“David Valentine,” she whispered under her breath.
He shook his head.
“My name is Dave today.”
They talked about the holiday, and he asked her how she would be celebrating it.
“I’m not with anyone,” she said.
He always believed a holiday should be dedicated to the hearts of the unmatched. He proceeded to explain the importance of such a new holiday. Mina mentioned his bad luck.
“She cheated on you.”
“No grudges. I shouldn’t have asked her out.”
“You always say that,” Mina said.
“It’s always true. It would have never worked out, no point on dwelling on it.”
“It would have worked out if she would have been fair to you.”
“It’s alright! I should never have started it in the first place,” he said. “I considered for a moment why not date someone? Then that happened. It was something I shouldn’t have done.”
He had dated someone. Which turned out, she had been dating two people at once. He always said it was better to forget about it.
“That was pretty terrible.” She always said.
He had no resentment and always told Mina it was for the best when referring to the disastrous relationship. He didn’t hold a grudge and considered it a mistake on his part to have dated her in the first place. He was an attractive man. With green eyes and dark brown hair, Mina had always considered him handsome, she wondered why her friend had not found someone in spite of his looks. He was also a kind and giving friend, in her eyes. He proceeded to talk about their relationship status, according to him they had a link of kindship since they were both single on this day.
“You broke up with him,” he said.
“Thank God I did. It didn’t really come to a relationship anyways. Two dates, luckily it didn’t become anymore than that.”
“Now he’s gone,’’ he said.
“So, it can’t be him,” she said referring to the dilemma of the unsigned cards.
“What do you mean?”
“I have to tell you something,” Mina said.
“What is it? You said it was important.”
“It’s about Valentine’s day.”
“It can’t be that serious then.”
“Oh, it is.”
“The reddest day of the year.”
“I keep getting a valentine’s card.”
That piqued his interest.
“Every year on valentine’s day, on my car, my door, my mailbox from someone I don’t know.”
Mina explained to him the things it said, the words of love, and the profession of someone that didn’t want to tell her this in person. She used the word she had promised to stay away from Secret Admirer.
“I don’t know who it’s from,” she finished.
“If he wanted you to know who he was, wouldn’t he have signed them?” He said much more serious now, than he had been to begin with. He didn’t seem happy to hear the news that his best friend was receiving anonymous love notes.
“I want to find whoever it is? I want to know who is writing them. I need your help to figure out who it is.”
Mina handed him the most recent valentine she had taken from her mailbox this very morning and reluctantly pushed it towards him. Although she lamented sharing the private note, she waited expectantly for his opinion. He read with an emotionless expression. He did not read the entire card, just scanned it briefly then looked away.
“Sickening!” He said.
“Sickening? You think the card is.”
“Not the card, the tradition of sending and reading cards on Valentine’s day. That’s what’s sickening.”
She sighed remembering his opinion on love.
“I know your not into Valentines. I just thought if we put our two heads together, I might actually solve this mystery. Will you give me a hand?”
He looked at her a moment as if considering the request.
“Of course!” He answered.
They didn’t browse books or television. They browsed people. They talked about every acquaintance and friend she knew of, and considered who it could possibly be. She even suggested visiting the flower shop, to ask who had purchased a single rose.
“On Valentine’s Day, that would be a million-year, long list.”
She considered that most people bought a bouquet not a single rose.
“Thanks for doing this… it’s valentine’s day and all.”
“What a better way to spend valentine’s day, penning through valentine’s day cards.”
He was curious of what she thought of them. She mentioned that they sounded passionate.
“Why do you want to find who gave them to you?”
She thought about the answer.
“It’s a mystery, that last in the back of my mind these last few years. Some days I find myself just thinking about them randomly.” He didn’t say much after that.
They made a List of people and friends. It was a hopeless endeavor they came to realize. There speculation consisted of hypotheticals of the people Mina knew. The time was spent coming up with the outlandish scenario of each said person, how they had probably snuck around and accomplished leaving her the valentine, or how they had noticed Mina romantically in the first place. They had considered members of her class, as well as the professor. Fellow employees, as well as the other members of her church. All ending as a mute- point since each suggestion and suspect sounded as impossible as the next.
“I wish whoever it was would just come forward and tell me why they are sending them to me, even just sign his name at the bottom.”
“It’s obvious why,” he replied.
“Why?” Mina asked surprised he seemed to know the answer.
“It says right there on the note,” he insisted pointing at it. “He loves you.” His voice caught, as if he realized the sentiment he gave, “Whoever he is.”
“Why the mystery?”
“Maybe we should take fingerprints?”
“Your fingerprints are all over them now,” she said pointing at the Valentine between them.
He looked down, briefly eyeing the mystery note.
“What would you do if he did?”
“Tell him to stop being a mystery about these notes.”
“So, you would want him to stop sending these notes to you.”
“No, I would want him to stop sending them anonymously.”
“So, your problem, isn’t with the valentines. Would you want them to stop once you knew who wrote them to you?”
“I don’t know, I just really want to know who it is.”
She penned through the list.
“This is who it could be.” She proclaimed for the fourth time.
“How are you going to decide who it might be? Come right out and ask them?”
She sighed. That wouldn’t be a conversation starter.
The time in the café would have been alright for Mina and Dave, if a small event had not taken a bizarre turn. Her friends Elaine and Nelson had come into the cafe as well, followed by Brian. After a round of hellos. Mina had concluded that they were possible candidates for the mystery notes. Brian and Nelson were brother’s, Elaine and Nelson were in a post break up stage. Dave insisted at her quiet suggestion that the theory did not make any sense. All the same Mina had flat out asked the group of three, if they knew anyone who had given her a rose with a poem.
“Well that was a disaster!” Dave said.
The group of three had assumed she was hinting that she wanted Brian to give her a valentine or be her date, which she had had to deny. After that they had left the café, Dave inviting Mina into a small bakery. He offered to buy her a heart shaped cake.
“I thought you didn’t celebrate today,” Mina asked.
“You have rocked my day upside down.”
Instead of apologizing, a big smile appeared on her face.
“Are you reconsidering your belief of this romantic day?”
“Not even a little?” She asked with a twinkle.
“Maybe… just for today.”
They split the little heart shaped cake at his suggestion.
She spent the rest of the afternoon making phone calls. She dialed those on her list, either chatting to discard the idea of asking, or actually asking friends if they had recently sent her any letters. She eventually crossed each name out convinced it was not any of them. As the sun was setting, she began to believe the day would end with the unsigned valentine.
She held one of the letters for a moment, then put it underneath the scrapbook. A Knock on the door startled her. She opened it to find Dave standing outside. She smiled pleased to see him and invited him in.
“I have to tell you something,” Dave said. “It’s me!”
“What is you?” Mina asked.
“I am giving you those valentines.”
Mina started to grin at his sarcastic non- romantic humor. Then noticed his straightened, serious expression.
“For a joke it is in bad taste,” she said.
“I am not kidding! I am the one who has been leaving them for you to find.”
She stared at him until she realized he was telling the truth. Before he could say anything else, her shock gave way to anger. Mina accused him of lying. In that moment she realized she did not believe him in spite of what had seemed like a confession.
He spoke, repeating part of the letter for her to hear. His voice sounded as if she were listening to a different person, not her friend who had seemed cynical of romance. He had repeated it perfectly, as if the card had been right there in front of him, for him to read.
“Not true.” She accused. “I showed it to you in the café, you could have read it then.”
He pulled a pen out, and approached her desk writing on a piece of paper. He handed the small sheet to her. The familiar handwriting was there to recognize. It was not similar to what she had come to know as her friend’s handwriting. As she looked closely now there was a mild resemblance. She had never associated the two. There was a distinct difference.
“I used a different handwritten font to write the notes” he explained.
“I didn’t want you to realize it was me?”
“I mean why did you write them…and leave them for me?”
“It says so in the letters.”
Mina reproached him for not saying anything when she asked him for help to find the anonymous writer.
“It was you the whole time,” she shouted.
“I should have told you then who I was,” he said.
She still could not understand why he had been so elusive about the cards.
“Why didn’t you give them to me as who you are?”
“It’s hard to admit how you feel if the person you care about doesn’t feel the same way.”
That took the steam out of her anger. The realization that her best friend loved her finally settled. She had never thought of him as the writer of the letters or as someone for a relationship.
“I meant what I said in the letter. It’s alright,” he said. “I just thought I should tell you.”
He was about to leave. She was speechless with his words and the surprising new. He turned with a polite smile before walking out.
“Happy Valentine’s Day!”
She looked out her window to watch him leave. She took the letters out and placed them on her bed. She laid there for a long while thinking about what he had said and the author of her valentine. Not so secret anymore. After a while she took the note out in her hands. The very one she had taken from her mailbox in the morning.
My heart will always have you in it, even if you never feel the same. This might be One of the last letters I write you. I dream of you; it is a waking dream. It is better to have known you, even if there is a sadness as well as happiness in loving someone. I realize it is something that just is, love. You deserve the very best in life. Every day of today I think of you. I hope you have the best of days. I need not have your feelings kept for me. My feelings are yours and that’s enough. Anyone would want to spend time with someone as beautiful as you. I just needed to tell you that. You are my only one. Love is only the feeling of sadness and happiness all in one.
The simple truth is I love you, when I see your face and every time, I talk to you?
The world is a better place because you are in it. You probably will never return my feelings, and that’s perfectly alright. I wanted to write to you how I feel. Your beautiful and wonderful. I realize they will always be there, these feelings exist in here, inside me as my heart will always be yours. I wish that I could have you close to me, but that doesn’t matter.
It sounded as if it was a letter of goodbye. She took the other letters. It made her cry what Dave had said. The secret notes were not nameless now. She knew the person who had written them to her. Mina now read them from the perspective of her friend, the man who loved her Dave. She reread them all. She had secretly always liked them, though she had not entirely admitted it to herself. He had written them because of how he felt about her. It made her sad now to piece together his cards. She had never known what he felt, or known what he had written in this letter as a valentine. He had felt love, unrequited love. After she finished reading them, she leaned her head back. Her mind had gone blank with the emotions of the day. She went over the last five years, the memories of their time spent together and their friendship. They had been simple acquaintances for two years before becoming best friends. She still had received the first valentine after simply knowing him. He had always sounded like a bitter skeptic of romance. Now she thought she had never known anyone more romantic in all her life.
There was a tap on her front door. She jumped to the door. Dave had come back, to talk to her about one thing. She said the only thing she could think of saying when she saw him.
“I love you too.”
He looked at her surprised. After a moment he hugged her bringing Mina close to him.
“I came back to tell you that I still wanted us to be friends, I didn’t want you to feel uncomfortable.”
“Me too,” Mina said. “I didn’t realize how I felt about you until I read your valentine.”
She closed her eyes amazed that so much had changed in one day.
“I don’t get one thing.”
“What’s that?” He asked.
“Why were you always so cynical against true love?”
“It’s easier to be a cynic then deal with unrequited feelings? I poured my heart into the secret letters, and lived the cynic the rest of the time.”
She had not realized.
“You were the only one I told about them,” she said. She told him that she kept them, except for the one she found on her car.
“What was wrong with that one?”
“I was just mad it was a love poem.”
She asked him about the poem. He told her he wrote it to her when they became close. She confessed that she wished she would have kept it.
“Your face swells with the beauty of your heart.” He quoted. It sounded familiar, right from the poem, from what she remembered.
She loved the person she trusted most in the world, who she was closest to. Both met each other's lips.They kissed feeling what had been missed, her with the love she had not known she felt, he with what he had dreamed yet thought he would never have. Mina grinned into his mouth. He laughed and she giggled as they came together again. There was no reason for anymore mystery or confusion.They kissed once more before Mina spoke.
“Next time will you sign it Dave."
Dave replied with a smile.
“I will always sign it Yours Truly.”
© 2021 Deborah Minter