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Monthly Short Story Contest > February-What is Love as you see it to be...

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message 1: by Christene (new)

Christene Britton-Jones | 201 comments A big Hello out to you great writers chomping at the bit to get started on this month’s story!

Our story writing challenge for this month of February 2017 is not to focus so much the heavy commercialization of today’s Valentine celebrations, but to write a story showing real depth of love, compassion, understanding and kindness…

To ‘wet your appetite’ I am reminding you of this famous well known story…"The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry?

Summary: Mr. James Dillingham Young ("Jim") and his wife, Della, are a couple living in a modest apartment. They have only two possessions between them in which they take pride: Della's beautiful long, flowing hair, almost touching to her knees, and Jim's shiny gold watch, which had belonged to his father and grandfather.

On Christmas Eve, with only $1.87 in hand, and desperate to find a gift for Jim, Della sells her hair for $20 to a nearby hairdresser named Madame Sofronie, and eventually finds a platinum pocket watch fob chain for Jim's watch for $21. Satisfied with the perfect gift for Jim, Della runs home and begins to prepare pork chops for dinner.

At 7 o'clock, Della sits at a table near the door, waiting for Jim to come home. Unusually late, Jim walks in and immediately stops short at the sight of Della, who had previously prayed that she was still pretty to Jim.

Della then admits to Jim that she sold her hair to buy him his present. Jim gives Della her present – an assortment of combs, useless now that her hair is short. Della then shows Jim the chain she bought for him, to which Jim says he sold his watch to get the money to buy her combs. Although Jim and Della are now left with gifts that neither one can use, they realize how far they are willing to go to show their love for each other, and how priceless their love really is.

They both sacrificed something very important to themselves to purchase something special for the other…..

Story Ideas:
-A Secret Valentine
-The Childs Valentine gift
-A Great Sacrifice for a Valentine

Sorry no quick poems this time, it’s a story….and I have my tissues already on hand and keen to read all of your postings.

Setting: Author's choice.
Plot: Author's choice.
Story Length: English, 500 words to 1000 words.
Deadline: From 0100 UTC February 1st, 2017
To 2300 UTC February 21st, 2017.
Note: Entries beyond that time will not be accepted.

Voting: From 0100 UTC February 21st, 2017,
To 2300 UTC February 27th, 2017.
-Winners announced in this thread on March 01, 2017.
Send votes to:
Christene Britton-Jones
cbrittonjones@hotmail.com - Thank you.

Genre: Any; no Erotica or extreme use of profanity.

Setting – any

Plot – your choice

Purpose -
Some fiction writers are looking to win a short story contest, keeping in touch with making deadlines, and/or simply sharpening the skill of writing fiction. The main purpose of this contest is to sharpen plot and character skills, collect your own short stories, receive good feedback, make a good connection with other writers, and take a short break from your current novel to get a fresh view when you return to it.

Rules and Directions -
* Type in English - a minimum of 500 words; a maximum of 1,000 words; no erotica, no profanity.

* Post your title, by line, and word count total in the first line of your story posting.


* ONE entry per person, must be writer's original work, a final revision, and a new piece of writing. Please do not delete and re-post since this becomes confusing to the readers. Try to post your final revision.

Judging: The story will be judged on creativity, proper grammar, good punctuation, and overall good quality for story.

Voting: Please vote for first, second, and third place. Votes are tallied as follows:
First place: 3 votes
Second Place: 2 votes
Third Place: 1 vote

You are not allowed to vote for yourself. If posting this month, you MUST vote, in order for your story to remain eligible.


message 2: by David (new)

David (drussell52) | 0 comments Hi Christene,
I like this story theme, thanks.
Also, "The Gift Of The Magi" and other classic stories can be read at
One can register for free to access stories and create a "library" of favorites. These are good examples to observe how others went about crafting a story.
David Russell

message 3: by Christene (new)

Christene Britton-Jones | 201 comments Memo to my excellent writing friends out there...this is a short month and there is only 18 more writing days left to get creative...maybe a box of Valentine chocolates would help get the mind on track? Have fun....

message 4: by David (new)

David (drussell52) | 0 comments The Umteenth Valentines Day
David Russell
Barry put his coffee cup in the sink, put on his winter jacket, stepped out into the big winter chill and began to scrape the overnight ice off the front of his Ford Torus. He thought,
"I'm tired of these damned cold February mornings. The car barely starts. I always have to scrape the windows. On and on and on. Sheesh, when will it end?"

These thoughts were not new to Barry. They rumbled like a train through his head on schedule every winter. They started after the first of the year, and traveled like a train with 175 cars going at a cautious rate of speed until the last one passed on the track. Every year he felt like the driver sitting motionless while eyes view the passing train cars and noting the endless trail of them. The only consolation is to day-dream about someone you wish were there.

Then, the numbing radio ads:

"Buy your honey a Pajama-gram."

"Buy your sweetie a Vermont Teddy Bear."

"Buy your lover a weekend at the Motel-6. We'll leave the light on for you."
"Buy your honey a divorce," he said one morning in retaliation.

February 12 rolled around, and Barry was clueless as to what he would do for the Umteenth Valentines Day. He and Belinda had been lovers for 16 years. They had two adolescent children that added to the momentum of daily life. One was in volleyball and the other was in gymnastics.

He went to work, and filed the accounts that were on his desk leftover from the previous day. Late in the afternoon, he received a phone call from Rene who managed the Badinage, a cozy, modest-priced restaurant that had a sing-along piano-bar in its confines.

"Barry, we're in a pickle. Bernard cannot play tomorrow night. Would you fill in? Will buy you and Belinda dinner and drinks?"

Barry felt like he had been rescued from a sinking ship and whisked on to a lifeboat. He could feel the air of salvation.

"Sure, what time?"

"How about from 6:00 until 9:30?"

"Got it, will be there."

"Thanks Barry. I knew I could count on you!"

Barry and Rene knew each other from university chorus when they attended Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant. They now lived in Lansing, the state capitol. Rene managed the Badinage restaurant, which attracted young professionals and divorcees looking for new beginnings. Often, patrons would sing solos that portrayed what might be going on in their private life. Over time regulars became friends and a sort of social therapy group loosely formed. Barry would occasionally fill in for Bernard, their regular piano man. He envied his position but more the patrons.

"Belinda, this Valentines Day you get to be my groupie. We're going to the Badinage for dinner, drinks and piano-bar entertainment."

"Oh joy. I would rather stay home and watch Jeopardy."

"You don't want to be with your husband, the star of Lansing?"

"I"ll wait up for you."

So, the Umteenth Valentines Day included Barry and Belinda eating breakfast together, separating for work, and then watching the 11:00 news together when he arrived home after playing at the Badinage and having a club sandwich with Rene and the staff.

"You know Belinda, love might just sometimes be letting each other live life the way each is meant to live it. Happy Valentines Day."
"Happy Valentines Day to you, Barry." They embraced and she tweaked the hair on his chest for a while, which he liked before they married. He gave her a body massage while some music by J. S. Bach played in the background on the CD player. Then, in silence they laid side-by-side like spoons and found contentment in just being together.

message 5: by Christene (new)

Christene Britton-Jones | 201 comments Awe that is so sweet David...and you are first off the mark with your story...cheering here!

message 6: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Lovett | 341 comments A Valentines Day Story: The Dress In the Window
Author: Patricia Fuqua Lovett Word Count: 867

The woman’s sharp pink finger tapped her on the shoulder. Nedra jumped. Turning around and facing the stranger whose perky pink face talked all the while the woman gently guided Nedra inside the white brick building. The tinny sound of the silver bell resting against the doorframe didn’t comfort her as she placed cold, tired, timid feet onto the Valentine motif rug resting on blush colored terrazzo flooring.

Welcoming heat, the wafting smell of freshly baked pastries and fragrant tea interrupted her thoughts as she walked towards the display window where the long, beige crochet dress and red grosgrain ribbon that she’d admired for a month hanged. “Aha! So pretty,” she said as she touched the V Neckline Dress. “I know I shouldn’t think of buying a dress when our money is so tight. These past two winters have been penny-pinching tight for the family, but we’ve managed.”

“I understand.” The store owner said all the while smiling as she slid the dress in Nedra’s direction. By the way, I’m Louise Frampton. Hence the name of the store.”

Without taking her eyes off the dress, Nedra responded, “I’m Nedra Cauley.”

Placing the dress against her not so slim body. She smiled as she caught a glimpse of herself in the oval-shaped mirror. The dress glistened against her olive skin tone.

Don’t you want to try it on?

“I know I shouldn’t buy it so I’m gonna say no.”

“No matter. It looks to be your size, dearie. You work hard, I’m sure so go ahead and treat yourself. Besides, I’m sure your husband wouldn’t want you to deny yourself a Valentines’ gift.”

Nedra thought about the pace of Roger’s saw mill orders and how they’d slowed to nearly a crawl during the winter months. Orders trickled in, and payments were sometimes a challenge to collect. Excuses were all she and Roger heard from November through January. Although the pay was low, she’d taken a job outside of the family business to help make ends meet. The dress factory wasn’t far from home, so she walked to and from work. The trek was hard and near freezing feet and numb fingers was nothing she would ever get used to no matter how right it all seemed.

She knew they needed a truck and she didn’t need to spend money on a luxury item like a crocheted dress. So why was she looking at a dress that she may or may not have anywhere to wear on Valentines night? Before taking over the factory, Roger took her to the Symphony where they enjoyed everything from Beethoven to Rocking Bach. That kind of event halted almost immediately after Roger quit his Corporate job and took over his ailing father’s furniture making business. They were very successful in the beginning but as more and more furniture was made in India and China and at a lower cost, they saw their orders go from plentiful to troubling. Over time, the orders diminished to just a few new orders a week. Regrettably, they had laid off more than half their workforce with the promise that they would be rehired as soon as business got better.

“I don’t like asking but with so much going on nowadays, what’s in the bag?” The store owner asked.

Touching the pillow case size bag that extended down her back, Nedra responded with a smile. “Oh! Leftovers from lunch and my quilt pieces.”

“You sew?”

Nedra’s eyes lit up as she proudly responded “Yes. Would you like to see my latest project?”

“I suppose but you be careful taking that bag off your shoulder. I’ve got cameras all around this room.”

“Not to worry. I’m not one of those folks.”

As she unfolded the quilt pieces, the merchant’s eyes sparkled like diamonds. “So pretty. So delicate. I haven’t seen tatting in many, many years. And I love how you’ve added such soft cotton and satin squares.”

“I mostly work on soft and pretty fabrics,” Nedra said.

The Merchant began talking but her words were confusing.

“What did you say?” Nedra asked as she placed the squares back in her bag.

“Well what I was trying to say is that I could trade you the quilt for the crocheted dress and red ribbon that you love so much.”

“No. You see these squares are lessons from my grandmother. She taught me how to tat and how to take clothes from my childhood and make a memory quilt. I’ve also added a few squares from other family members. My mother’s wedding dress, my father’s favorite shirt, my first child’s birthday dress and my husband’s prom shirt.”

“How about if you come work for me and turn some of my store’s dresses into saleable fashion pieces?”

“I would love to work here and I would love it if you would allow me to take the dress and ribbon home with me so that I can add a few touches to it in time for Valentine’s Day. I just hope Roger has something nice planned for us so that I show it off.”

“Once he sees the dress, I bet he’ll plan something wonderful for you Nedra. You just wait and see.”

message 7: by Gene (new)

Gene Hilgreen | 35 comments Two great stories to open the month...I'm not feeling a story just as yet, but you never know.

message 8: by David (new)

David (drussell52) | 0 comments Hi, Christene and Gene, thank you for your respective comments and encouragement.

Patricia, great story and great use of the senses: vision, smell, touch. I also like the way you had Nedra negotiate with the store owner who you did not name, that would be my only nit.
David Russell

message 9: by Christene (new)

Christene Britton-Jones | 201 comments Patricia thanks for your story about Nedra buying a lovely gift for herself for Valentines Day (brilliant idea...why didn't I think of that before...thinking to buy one for me this year now...grins).

message 10: by Christene (new)

Christene Britton-Jones | 201 comments Gene wrote: "Two great stories to open the month...I'm not feeling a story just as yet, but you never know."

I have faith in your creativity Gene...

message 11: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Lovett | 341 comments Hi David. The storekeeper's name is Louise Frampton. Her name is in the story. Thanks for the feedback.

message 12: by Gene (new)

Gene Hilgreen | 35 comments A Gift of Love:

Valentine’s Day was two days away, and four days had passed since Liz had last seen or spoken to Hank—the love of her life. He had left for work and never returned—none of his friends had heard from him either. But, like clockwork, each morning at seven-fifteen, her door bell would ring, and each morning she would find a package with an attached envelope sitting on the welcome mat.

Tears ran down her face as the letter she had just finished reading, joined the other three on the floor of her bedroom. She stared out the window and cried. Hank had left her for good and she was sure he was not coming back.

Each day the attached letter would be nastier than the last, and each letter was signed Dude—her pet name for Hank. The packages had contained personal items she had made for Hank. But the last package that arrived on that morning—broke her heart—it held the ring she had bought him last year for Valentine’s Day. The inscription around the inner circle read ‘Love Prevails, Liz and Hank forever’.

Liz continued to stare out the window as her bedroom door swung open. When it banged into the nightstand—the beloved ring fell to the floor and clanged as it bounced up and down. The final clatter before it stopped spinning finally broke her trance.

“Mom—” said her daughter, Arizona—a pet name given her by Hank. “I’ve been banging on your door for a couple of minutes. What’s—” Arizona stopped when she saw her mother pointing at the floor.

Arizona picked up the letters. Read them, and then read them again. “This is not like him,” she said, as she picked up the ring and placed it back on the nightstand. “Do you want me to stay home with you?”

Liz shook her head. “No . . . I’ll be fine. Go . . . someone has to open the shop.”

“Ok . . . I’ll open the shop, but I’m coming home at lunchtime. Get some rest”.

Arizona left her mother to be, and walked the six blocks to the novelty shop her mother had established when she started dating Hank. Appropriately named ‘Love Prevails’, the shop made and sold trinkets of love. Made from the heart for the heart, that was their motto. Sheer happenstance caused Arizona to look back toward the house as she turned the corner, and sure, as God made little green apples—AJ the Stalker was standing on the sidewalk, staring into her mother’s bedroom window.

Arizona thought back to her first sighting of AJ a couple of months prior, she had noticed the creep following her mother around. Riled and out of anger—she called him an Ass Jack. Her mom had laughed and said, “Don’t you mean Jackass?” She had laughed at her mother’s retort.

“Fine,” she remembered saying. “I’ll call him AJ.”

They both had a good laugh and her mother insisted that AJ was harmless.

Arizona thought different, and feeling he may have had a hand in Hanks disappearance —she made a few phone calls. She knew how much Hank loved her mom and in her heart—something was wrong. Her posse began to arrive, and everyone given a few block radius to patrol. They would follow AJ the Stalker and find where he called home.

Arizona closed the shop at noon and headed home to check on her mom. She spotted AJ hiding in the bushes across the street from her house and flushed him out. A quick call on the party line she had had established—put everyone on the move.


The first young woman tailing AJ was made, and quickly let the group know. The second and third tails were also made. But Arizona had called a few of Hanks friends, too, and they were stationed at all the local bars. AJ was totally caught off guard when he entered an abandoned building only to be accosted by Hanks best friend Redd—the owner of his and Liz’ favorite German restaurant.

It wasn’t long before Redd had AJ singing like a canary. With his plans of having Liz all to himself thwarted, and convinced that Redd meant business—AJ coughed up the location where Hank was confined. When Redd received word that Hank was secured and off to the hospital, he called his pal at the local precinct to come and retrieve AJ.


When Liz and Hank walked into the Village Lanterne on Valentine’s Day eve—they were met with a chorus of cheers. Arizona went all out to make sure it would be her mother’s best day ever.

“Happy Valentine’s Day, Mom. I hope you enjoy your present.”
“Oh Honey, your wrong for once,” Liz said, and hugged her daughter. “You gave me my present when you brought home my beloved Hank.”

message 13: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Lovett | 341 comments Hank & Liz forever. Great story!

message 14: by David (new)

David (drussell52) | 0 comments Gene, Very good story because of the twist being AJ the stocker. I am presently reading a crime thriller, so your story fits right into my current reading pattern.
At first, I thought this was going to be love gone sour, daughter helps mom get back on her feet and into life as a single woman.

message 15: by Christene (new)

Christene Britton-Jones | 201 comments Very interesting story Gene...held me fascinated right till the end. Good creative work.

message 16: by Shelly (new)

Shelly Heskett | 181 comments I have been following along and enjoying the stories, I especially like the Jewish stories on another thread. Allows me insight into a diff. belief.

Anyway, I wrote part of a story last month bout diff. minds. I hated to see it go to waste and it was about offbeat love so I changed it around and finished it. Now to get it over here: that's always the problem.

message 17: by Shelly (new)

Shelly Heskett | 181 comments Grear story Gene Having the story go two ways makes it more interesting. that's romance and mystery.

message 18: by Christene (new)

Christene Britton-Jones | 201 comments Shelly all you have to do is copy your story, cut and paste it to this comment box so that we can all enjoy reading it. Then all the contributors vote on first second and third place in an email to me as the host of this months story cut off date for contributions is the 21st of this month by the way).
My email address is at the bottom of the story criteria above.
I am looking forward to seeing it and also welcoming you to our group

message 19: by David (new)

David (drussell52) | 0 comments Hi Writers,
Shelly, I hope you get that story over here this month! I was thinking of my first sub to this group in July 2012. You, Lynn J and Mary A were the first three to welcome me aboard. Thanks too for following the Messiah Anthology. It is always good to hear from you when you can check in. The light is always on!

message 20: by Shelly (new)

Shelly Heskett | 181 comments Dear Sonny,

I don’t like you.
I love you, I think, I love the way you play dominoes, your strong fingers caressing the tiles You smile and wink at me to say you’ve figured out your opponent's hand and have him beat. I love watching you work in the garden, your offbeat tools, a machete to break down hard ground or dig up plant systems. You have an exceptional feel for soil and seed, and create really tasty vegetables. I love that you get so excited watching sports, yelling out instructions to the officials and coaches

You always bring me a gift and I’m usually not grateful, I’m sorry. The painting you bought was not only unfinished, but obviously by an amature. The few art pieces I have on my walls are authentic. My apartment is small and I have no room for back issues of National Geographic. Our taste in art could not be further apart.

You are a gardner. I have a career. We are so different. We don’t see things or people the same.. Look up opposites in the dictionary and you’ll see a photo of us. That’s another thing; how we look together. You have a sturdy, well-proportioned physique, but you’re 5’6; I’m 5’8 and that’s barefooted, high heels and I’m close to six-feet.

“We aren’t Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise”: I told you. “You’re closer, but I wasn’t her size in grade school.’

I am drawn to the quiet man. I like to watch his expressive eyes and learn him slowly. He is an artichoke; every leaf is more succulent than the last. He is the one that stands back and listens then when everyone has tossed the subject around, someone asks him and he casually answers the question.

You are a talker. You’re stories are interesting and well told, the first time or even the second. Some of your political ideas are subversive. you bombard the City Council with accusation of wrongdoing and throw legal terms around like a lawyer. You think you are the good samaritan, and yet, you are always at war with someone

The man I admire is laid-back. He’s not interested in what other people do. You are the sheriff of the world. A shopper takes up two parking places and from a row over you catch her, bawl her out and probably insist that she repark her car I hate that in you. I wish you could mind your own business. I can’t understand what in you takes pleasure in pointing out other people’s faults. To be fair, you aren’t the only one, there are probably more fault finders in this world than not, I just wish you weren’t one of them.

How did we get this far in our relationship? The internet is the friend and foe of all the lonely people.Your uncanny memory, intimate knowledge of both the old and new Biblical Testaments surprised and intrigued me. It follows that your natural feel for plants and cooking attracted me to you. You said you liked my quick mind and passion for life.

Remember the first time we met in person? I picked the Sr. Center in Crystal City. We took one look at each other and the next look was at the door. Then we decided that what we’d found online deserved a chance. We had fun that afternoon. I was playing the piano with one finger, and you were singing “You Are My Sunshine” We decided it was, “our song.”

Music is the one common pleasure that holds us together. Remember the first time I invited you to dinnerA? I had a DVD of Andrea Bocelli singing some Italian opera and had the volume turned up so his beautiful voice filled my small apartment. Most of my friends would have covered their ears. However, you came in and instead of going to the table you sat down on the divan, laid your head back and listened I poured two glasses of wine, put the dinner on warm and joined you.

I’m weighing the pros and cons of our relationship. I sense that we are about to move to another level and you are as apprehensive as I am. After bringing out your faults I haven’t even touched on mine, the ones that drive you nuts. You’re too much of a gentleman to mention them, but they are there. I haven’t said anything about the. . . loving part because we would agree there isn’t a problem in that area, but otherwise we are oil and water.

To go ahead from here will only mean heartache later. We have both been hurt by divorces that we never will completely recover from. I can’t allow that to happen again: it is only common sense to break up now while we can.

And yet there you are, outside my window, with your machete, digging a hole. Other men buy their ladies a rose bud on a long stem or a dozen red roses for Valentine Day. You are planting a whole rose bush where the blooms will catch the morning sunlight and remind me year after year that I was loved. Ahhh!

Yours Always, Pat

message 21: by Shelly (new)

Shelly Heskett | 181 comments Imeant to put my name story tital anbword count then was concentrating so hard on the paste up I forgot.

Do I go or do I stay?
by Shelly Heskett Harris
word count 865

If some of you can spice that in I'd be grateful.

message 22: by Christene (new)

Christene Britton-Jones | 201 comments Wow.... Shelly I loved the way you did a Benjamin Franklin list heavily filled on the negative side then back to the positives in the relationship just when I thought you were going to declare this a 'dear John' letter) You had me really deep into thinking about this relationship right to the end...still thinking about this.

message 23: by David (new)

David (drussell52) | 0 comments Shelly,
Another great story, first-person POV. A sequel from his side would be of interest. Your character, Pat, is both receptive and hesitant with understandable reasons. I gather both are an older couple or quite mature from life. Consider tweaking this and submitting it to a flash fiction site.

message 24: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Lovett | 341 comments Ahhh! Such a great love letter. What an easy read with lots of great adjectives. Your story is well connected and flows with charm and ease. Well done.

Shelly wrote: "Dear Sonny,

I don’t like you.
I love you, I think, I love the way you play dominoes, your strong fingers caressing the tiles You smile and wink at me to say you’ve figured out your opponent's hand..."

message 25: by Lynette (last edited Feb 16, 2017 04:10PM) (new)

Lynette White (lynettewhite) | 309 comments Hello everyone,

Sorry, I am late to the game. The last couple of weeks have been crazy. I am not sure if I can pull something together for this month but I will give it a shot.

message 26: by Christene (new)

Christene Britton-Jones | 201 comments Welcome back Lynette I have faith in you being able to pull a great story out of your heart in time and looking forward to reading it.

message 27: by Gene (new)

Gene Hilgreen | 35 comments Lynette, remember kala...I banged a story. Then I made her a character in my novel. Bang one...you got it.

message 28: by S. (new)

S. Willett (swillett) | 93 comments Young Love
Sharon Willett
964 Words

A group of five boys stood at the corner near the New Town High School cafeteria. They watched the girls coming toward them. Luke got pushed to the forefront. The boys quieted and Luke gazed at Madison as she passed.

Madison glanced back and smiled at him then took a few quick steps to catch up with her friends. She felt a hand on her shoulder, turned, and came face to face with Luke.

“What to go rabbit hunting with me tomorrow?”

“Hunting?” The word just popped out of her mouth. The girls stopped and giggled at the surprise request and the look on Madison’s face.

Hannah said, “Come on, give them some privacy.” She walked away and the others followed her like baby chicks would run after the hen.

Madison gazed into Luke’s soft green eyes. “Yes,” she whispered, but it was evident that he heard and was not only shocked, but happy.

She and Luke had exchanged looks and talked at lunch on occasion. She had hoped he would ask her to the upcoming Valentines Dance. Even though this was a far cry from a dance, it was a start.

“Okay, I’ll pick you up at 6 a.m. tomorrow morning. Dress warm and wear boots.”


She normally slept in on Saturdays, but today she was ready to go at 5:30. She wore long underwear beneath her jeans, three shirts and extra socks to help fill out her brother’s Muck boots.

Luke smiled and ran a hand through his hair when she opened the door. “Looks like you’ll stay warm. Are you ready?”

She nodded and followed him to his truck. They got in and sped out of town into the hills beyond. There were piles of snow, but many open areas too. Luke pulled into a two track and they walked into the forest talking about school, their friends and even about their families.

“You don’t have to be quiet to hunt for rabbits?” She asked as he held her hand while she stepped gingerly through the swampy glade.

“See that mound of brush and tree branches over there? Rabbits hide in places like that and wait until we pass before coming out again. Only we’re going to fool them.” He let go of her hand, gazed into her eyes and asked, “Would you go jump on that pile? When they run out I’ll shoot.”


“Sure. You won’t get hurt.”

“Okay, so I just climb up there?”

“And when you get to the top you could jump.”

Madison made her way to the brush while Luke readied to gun down a rabbit or two. She stumbled a few times, but made it to the top. “Ready?”

He nodded and she jumped.

Her intention was to impress by scaring a bunch of rabbits out of the lair, so she gave it her all. It worked. Three rabbits jumped out and Luke started shooting. At the same time, Madison took her second leap. One foot broke through and she tumbled falling very unladylike head over heal all the way to the bottom.

Luke ran to her. He offered a hand and she took it. He started to chuckle until he saw her face. She touched her cheek and stared at the blood on her mitten.

“Is this why you asked me to come? I’m a joke to you. Are your friends out there getting a good laugh too?” Madison succumbed to tears.

He left two dead rabbits and without a word led her back to the truck. He walked her to the door of her house and said, “I’m sorry you were hurt.”

She shut the door, shed her outerwear and ran to her room. After many tears, she fell asleep only waking when her phone rang.

“Madison?” It’s Hannah. Are you okay?”

“How do you know already? Never mind, I forgot that your brother is friends with Luke. I’m sure you all are getting a good laugh out of this.”

“You’ve got it all wrong. I heard Luke telling my brother about your fall and how bad he feels. I even saw a tear in his eye. He’s liked you for a long time and was planning on asking you to the dance.”

“Hannah, I was so embarrassed. I lost my footing and tumbled like a rag doll. Wait until you see how ugly my face looks. I couldn’t go to the dance like this anyway.”

Madison went to the kitchen after the girls ended their call. Mrs. Wilson was fixing dinner.

She almost dropped a bowl when she saw her daughter’s face. “What happened?”

The story unfolded while her mom cleaned the scratches and put medicated cream on each and every one.

“I think you’re just embarrassed. It doesn’t sound like he wanted you to get hurt. Most people would laugh at the sight of someone taking a tumble. You would.” She took her daughter’s hand. “If he gets up the nerve to ask you to the dance, you should entertain the idea.”

Madison knew that Luke or any boy would never ask after the way she had acted. So she got busy.

At school Monday morning, she walked right up to Luke and his friends. She announced, “Luke, I’m no poet, but please read my sign.”

She held out a poster that read, “I stomped on piles of wood for you. Won’t you move your feet for me? Gunning for a Valentine dance. Won’t you prance?” The words were surrounded by hand drawn pictures of hearts and rabbits.

The guys all roared with laughter.

Madison cringed.

Luke stood silent staring into Madison’s eyes.

When his friends quieted, he stepped forward and smiled as he did a little jig. “Madison, will you go to the Valentine’s Dance with me?”

message 29: by Christene (new)

Christene Britton-Jones | 201 comments Sharon 'Young Love" is the sweetest story....thanks for your contribution

message 30: by S. (new)

S. Willett (swillett) | 93 comments Christene wrote: "Sharon 'Young Love" is the sweetest story....thanks for your contribution"

My granddaughter actually did a similar poster to invite a boy to their Valentine Celebration dance. I thought it was so cute and it fit right into this month's agenda.

message 31: by David (new)

David (drussell52) | 0 comments Hi Writers,
I note this is the last day for stories, and glad I checked into read your story, Sharon. You leave it to the reader to decide if Madison says yes or no to the invite. Cool!


message 32: by S. (new)

S. Willett (swillett) | 93 comments David wrote: "Hi Writers,
I note this is the last day for stories, and glad I checked into read your story, Sharon. You leave it to the reader to decide if Madison says yes or no to the invite. Cool!


I like the stories set in reality. Like in your story - putting up with the cold Michigan weather and taking comfort in being with someone you love.

message 33: by David (new)

David (drussell52) | 0 comments S. wrote: "David wrote: "Hi Writers,
I note this is the last day for stories, and glad I checked into read your story, Sharon. You leave it to the reader to decide if Madison says yes or no to the invite. Coo..."

Sharon, I find it easier to write if there is a base of reality from which to start. The setting can be real, or a name can be real at least to me, and then other points can be fictitious, but somewhere - at least for me, there has to be a sense of the known in order for the story to take off. Even in nonfiction, that's the case. Otherwise, to put it figuratively, am all thumbs.
ps. Welcome aboard, I don't recall seeing something from you here previous!

message 34: by Christene (new)

Christene Britton-Jones | 201 comments Reminder to all authors who submitted stories...
That for your story to be eligible for voting you must also vote for 1st, 2nd and third place

Submission Deadline: 2300 UTC February 21st, 2017.
Note: Entries beyond that time will not be accepted.

Voting Deadline: From 0100 UTC February 21st, 2017,
To 2300 UTC February 27th, 2017.

Send votes to:
Christene Britton-Jones
cbrittonjones@hotmail.com -

Again thank you for all of your fabulous stories......

message 35: by David (new)

David (drussell52) | 0 comments Hello Writers,
For those who may not be that familiar with UTC, universal time, this means we have until 10:00 p.m. eastern time, 9:00 p.m. central time, 8:00 p.m. Mountain time, 7:00 p.m. pacific time and so forth, to submit our votes for the February Challenge, on February 27, 2017.

I would like to suggest - since we are an international group, it seems UTC might work better as a standard time measure for us to use in terms of deadlines for story submissions and voting.
Of course, this is up to the monthly host.
David Russell

message 36: by Christene (new)

Christene Britton-Jones | 201 comments Five great stories to vote for this month as follows in order of submissions.....

“The Umteenth Valentines Day”- David Russell
“The Dress In the Window” - Patricia Fuqua Lovett
“A Gift of Love” – Gene
“Dear Sonny Letter” – Shelly Heskett Harris
“Young Love” - Sharon Willett

Many thanks for those votes already in...

message 37: by Shelly (new)

Shelly Heskett | 181 comments Christene wrote: "Reminder to all authors who submitted stories...
That for your story to be eligible for voting you must also vote for 1st, 2nd and third place

Submission Deadline: 2300 UTC February 21st, 2017.

Christene wrote: "Five great stories to vote for this month as follows in order of submissions.....

“The Umteenth Valentines Day”- David Russell
“The Dress In the Window” - Patricia Fuqua Lovett
“A Gift of Love” –..."

Help!Idon't know your time and I'm going crazy tryig to get my vote I put it in the wrongevery one could see it

message 38: by Glenda (new)

Glenda Reynolds (glendareynolds) | 933 comments Mod
Shelly wrote: "Help! I don't know your time and I'm going crazy tryig to get my vote I put it in the wrong every one could see it ..."

Shelly, I hope you had success sending Christene your votes. I noticed that you posted 2 comments about voting in a different thread for Jerry Jenkins writing tips. I deleted those.

message 39: by Shelly (new)

Shelly Heskett | 181 comments Glenda wrote: "Shelly wrote: "Help! I don't know your time and I'm going crazy tryig to get my vote I put it in the wrong every one could see it ..."

Shelly, I hope you had success sending Christene your votes. ..."

message 40: by Shelly (new)

Shelly Heskett | 181 comments First I'd like to thank the members who wrote such great comments abut my story. Christine, David and Patricia. I enjoy writing.I always feel better when I 'm writing.

I differ from Jerry Jenkins. The fun part for me is the first. .. creation, the research, the "eureka!" stage when it comes together. Then you hit the hard work. Jerry has it right. Your rear in the chair, and self discipline to stay there. Deadlines are all. 35 years of newspaper taught me that I still panicked when I thought I'd missed getting the vote in last week. shelly

message 41: by Christene (new)

Christene Britton-Jones | 201 comments Shelly we are all here to support our fellow writers in any way we can...we give and also accept professional critique to improve our craft. I love the research and can spend a lot of time there (and no its not procrastination as you might call it, I wait for the inspiration to come upon me), maybe doing too much research before I do a skeleton of the story...then comes the easy part for me...writing, for it joyfully pours out and that is such fun. I then put it away for a couple of days and then read it and start to worry about it and the deadline... grins!
Posting results of the votes tomorrow morning

message 42: by Christene (new)

Christene Britton-Jones | 201 comments Thank you all for those fabulous stories writers...

“The Umteenth Valentine’s Day”- David Russell
“love might just sometimes be letting each other live life the way each is meant to live it"…understanding that unconditional love is just that, acceptance without preconceived ideas or commercialism and definitely is one man’s truth as I see it…truth is stranger than fiction…a very unique and insightful story David.

“The Dress In the Window” - Patricia Fuqua Lovett
Patricia It is amazing how you worked things out so well for Nedra for Valentine’s Day with that lovely crocheted dress, I could see, and then feel the plot unfolding as the women talked and I loved the happy positive ending…well thought out and well put together.

“A Gift of Love” – Gene Hilgreen
What a wonderful combination of mystery, intrigue and family, couples and friends love that was delightfully positive in the end…you held my attention from the start for your story flowed quickly, then smoothly…great reading there Gene.

“Dear Sonny Letter” – Shelly Heskett Harris
I really loved this letter, it was as if you were setting up a Benjamin Franklin List as you were talking to yourself, arguing for and against what you saw as your love, your Valentine…putting it down on paper seemed to crystallize those random thoughts into a cohesive reality…a fabulous story Shelly.

“Young Love” - Sharon Willett
How sweet is first love as it starts to grow, when there is uncertainly and fragile emotions and self esteem issues to be reckoned with as well as adolescence, you brought all of this into your story and made it very emotional…right on target Sharon, you write well.

Voting was as follows:
1st “A Gift of Love” – Gene Hilgreen
2nd “Young Love” - Sharon Willett
3rd “Dear Sonny Letter” – Shelly Heskett Harris

message 43: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Lovett | 341 comments Christine, thank you so much for your insightful recap of this month's stories. To all who submitted - thanks for taking the time to write and post. I learn so much about short story writing with each new month. Keep them coming.

Winners... Congratulations. They were all nicely done. Now take a well-deserved bow.

message 44: by Shelly (new)

Shelly Heskett | 181 comments Thank you for voting for my story I really appreciate it.
A special l thank you to you Christine for all your hard work
Another big "well done" to the winners.
On to the next one

message 45: by Gene (new)

Gene Hilgreen | 35 comments Christine, thank you for your critique and to all my fellow authors...thank you for your contributions. Well done all.

message 46: by S. (new)

S. Willett (swillett) | 93 comments I appreciate the energy of this group. Thank you for making my efforts to be a better writer such fun.

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