February 14th is marked by effusions of gauzy froth in shop windows, rose-tinted Prosecco, truffles with just a blush of strawberry, raspberry, in fact, anything pinkish that can be blobbed onto chocolate, with the possible exception of salmon. And then there are the cards: slushy, cutesy, jokey and the predictable ‘pornucopia’ range. We buy for lovers, mates and children so that a big red envelope plops onto the doormats of those we care about or want to tease. For years I sent all my friends’ children jolly Valentine cards (a habit picked up in the US where cards for this most Hallmark of holidays came in in boxed sets of 24 with one for teacher too).
But, of course, Valentine’s Day has dark origins in the 3rd Century AD martyrdom of the eponymous saint and, over the centuries, other chilling events have taken place on February 14th including:
- the murder of Richard the Second in Pontrefact Castle (1399)
- the killing of Captain James Cook in Hawaii (1799)
- the St Valentine’s Day Massacre (1929) instigated by Al Capone
So, using February 14th as the starting point for a story, what springs to mind? Love, death, saints, sinners, cards, chocolates, blood, wine, thrills, chills, past disappointments, current crises – or something else? These are just suggestions and we welcome stories (up to 2, 200 words) on any theme or genre by Monday, April 11th, 2022.
Jane Riekemann, February 14th, 2022