Carla squirmed in her seat all morning, her attention continually drawn to the red, pink and white valentine box sitting prominently on the teacher’s desk. After lunch, there would be a Valentine party. The teacher would have already opened the large box and have sorted the Valentine cards into the student’s personal Valentine box. After everyone retrieved their box from the front table, they would open their boxes to see who wants to be their Valentine. Then they would get a pink cupcake with red sprinkles and the pink drink the teacher made just for the party. Carla could hardly wait.
Anticipation kept her squirming in her seat!
As she squirmed at her desk, her mind wandered back to the first day she had seen Scotty. When school started in September, old friends reunited in the fourth grade, not having seen each other all summer. Such were the ways in the life of a country kid. Happily, Carla acknowledged several classmates not seen since school let out in June. As she gazed around the room, her eyes landed on a new boy. It seemed the moment she saw him, he lifted his own eyes to join with hers. It was one of those moments a girl never forgets…the magic of a shared moment of intimacy as eyes meet and each sees into the window of the other’s soul. In a heartbeat, Carla was smitten.
Carla looked over to where Scotty sat. The sunshine from the window seemed to turn his hair to gold. She could see his wonderful blue eyes in her mind’s eye, even though his eyes remained staring straight ahead. Scotty had never said a word to Carla, but today, Carla just knew that Scotty was waiting for Valentine’s Day to declare his love for her.
Last week, everyone in the class made special, handmade Valentines to give to one special person. The rest of the Valentines would be store bought. Carla watched Scotty carefully cut the red heart out of construction paper and then paste it precisely to the center of the white paper doily. As he worked on his special Valentine, Carla leaned as far forward as she could to see the name that Scotty was taking such pains to make lovely. She watched as he made the C, then the a-r-l… It was at that point that Mrs. Carmichael rang her bell to signal clean up time. Rather hurriedly, Scotty finished his card while Carla was cleaning up her area….her beautiful card to Scotty carefully put away until that special day.
Now…today, Carla would give Scotty her special card and he would give her his heart. Carla sighed audibly in blissful anticipation.
Finally, it was time for the Valentine’s Day party. During the lunch break, the teacher had emptied the big Valentine box and sorted the cards. Now, the cards were in the Valentine boxes made by each student. When Mrs. Carmichael bid the students to come to the front of the class to pick up their box, Carla almost tripped on her feet while hurrying to pick up her box. The anticipation had built over the past couple of weeks and now it was time!!! Her short little legs almost ran back to her seat. Not waiting an instant longer, she ripped the pink paper off her carefully wrapped and decorated shoe box. Lifting the lid, she saw a sloppily made Valentine. The red heart was lopsided and the paper doily was soiled from too much handling. Carla’s heart sunk to the pit of her stomach as she realized that this was not the beautiful card she had seen Scotty make. Looking around the room, Carla watched her classmates with their special Valentine’s. Who had the teacher accidentally given her card to??? Then she saw it…Carl was holding it tenderly as he slid a look at Scotty from under his too-pretty-for-a-boy eyelashes. Carla was stunned to see Scotty looking back at Carl like the room was empty save those two, looking straight into the windows of each other’s souls.
Carla looked back down at her own special Valentine, vision blurred by her sudden tears. As she blinked the tears away, she looked closely at her card to see who had signed it. Gino Donato!!! Why? He lived on the farm next door to her farm and they had been best friends their whole life. Their mothers often laughed about them playing with each other when in diapers. Ewww… Friends aren’t supposed to give friends a special Valentine…are they? Carla peeked over at Gino from under her long black eyelashes. Gino was staring at her with a funny look on his face that she had never seen before. Also, she never noticed before just how handsome Gino was. It was like she was looking at him with new eyes and as their eyes met, there was a spark as they saw deep into each other’s souls…
Carla carefully wrapped her special Valentine in tissue paper and put it away in her Valentine Box as she had for the past 52 Valentine’s Days. The Valentine is brittle with age now. Carla does not notice that the red heart is now faded and that the white paper doily has age spots. She only sees how beautiful it is and how beautiful was the love given to her that day so long ago when she and Gino were in 4th grade. Carla Donato smiled as she put her box back on the shelf in her closet. There are no tears today as she thanks God, once again, for the best husband in the world.
Written by Darlene Cirinna