The Feast of Saint Valentine

Author's note: While going through some old diaries, I found this story which I probably wrote on a sleep-deprived fugue state on the evening of Valentine's Day 2017. I've tidied it up and expanded it for publication in 2022.
Content notice: THE FEAST OF SAINT VALENTINE features themes of sex and (destructive) sexual desire, and is set around a relationship breakdown. Please exercise caution if this is likely to be a problem for you.

(In the north and east of the City, Saint Valentine smells blood pumping.)

I’ve prepared a letter for you. Short, two sides, in generous, voluptuous handwriting. Date, 14 February. There’s a full bottle of wine, and a fuller bottle of vodka.

I hand you the envelope over supper. The wine doesn’t last long. Nothing thrown by either of us this time—but there is a fresh gush of tears.

(Saint Valentine waits. His time is soon.)

I say goodbye. You are so busy pleading, sobbing, begging, to reciprocate as I fetch my pre-packed bags, and walk out into the night.

(You are alone in the flat. For now.)

Outside, waiting near my bike, my new boyfriend. That’s who he is, now. My boyfriend. What he is to me, and I to him. He is mine, and I am his, and we—you and I—are no longer a thing. Just like that. The thing I have with him now—it is dark and wicked as much as it is pure and numinous, an electric, ecstatic maelstrom that has sundered our thing. He cracks an apologetic smile, envelopes me in a hug, and we leave, to begin sharing our lives.

Just like that.

(He is nearly there, now. He moves fast—a maelstrom, dark and wicked as much as he is pure and numinous.)

The flat remains empty. You lie, shirt unbuttoned, on our bed, drunk, sobbing.

(His time is now.)

You stretch your arm outwards, imagine our fingers twined together, and, to spare your fingers the pain of contact with your fist, grasp yourself.

You feel an inky blackness in a cosmic shell. An endless void of nothing masquerading as everything.

You feel another hand on yours.

(On 14th February, Saint Valentine feasts again.)

THE FEAST OF SAINT VALENTINE is a short story written by Jonathan Rothwell. Text © Jonathan Rothwell 2017-2022. This story is NOT licenced under CC-BY-NC: see its special copyright licence.

Thank you for reading.