In keeping with the date, here’s a short story I penned a while back.
Valentine’s Surprise – a short story by Jacki Huntley
Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
Who in their right mind,
would look twice at you?
Imogen sniggered as she re-read the words she had written. It was incredible, she thought for the umpteenth time, just how many people wanted to send out nasty messages. And the run up to Valentine’s Day was one of her busiest times of the year.
She’d fallen into this lucrative little sideline completely by chance. Whilst chatting on an internet forum, she’d shown off her rhyming skills by posting a few poems about some of the other users. Then, before she knew it, everyone was begging her to write more.
Never one to do something for nothing, Imogen had started charging for her work. Nothing extortionate: just a pound for a basic ‘Roses are red’ or similar, two pounds for a limerick, and up to a fiver for a longer, three verse poem.The nastier and more vicious the rhyme, the more people clamoured for her services. And of course, Imogen was happy to oblige, never giving a thought to the distress her words might cause.
It had all started a couple of years back, and the word had spread, as it does in cyber space, and she now got orders from all over the world. She’d had to set up a paypal account to receive payments, and business was so brisk she was starting to worry that the taxman might take an interest. As far as she was concerned, it was money for doing nothing. She didn’t even need to allocate any time to it, as she just accessed her emails at work and kept the window hidden beneath her legitimate tasks if anyone came close.
Of course, Imogen took extreme care not to let anyone know about her little business. Especially not to her boyfriend, Rob, who she knew would thoroughly disapprove. He was such a goody goody, and always concerned about other people’s feelings. But he did have a very well paid job and wasn’t adverse to spending plenty of his earnings on her. And he wasn’t too bad looking, either. Much better than some of the ugly mugs she had been out with in the past. She had a sneaky suspicion that he was trying to pluck up the courage to ask her to marry him, and she’d already made up her mind to accept when he did. After all, a rich, all right looking guy who adored her, but who was, in her opinion, a bit on the thick side, wasn’t too bad a catch.
She checked her paypal account, smiling at the four hundred odd pounds she had already notched up that month. Smiling, she planned a shopping trip for the weekend to spend some of the cash.
Bing! Her email signalled a new message. She clicked it open and grinned at the new payment notification. She really needed to get on with composing rhymes as she was getting a bit of a backlog. Imogen’s eyes narrowed to slits as she began to think of the vicious words she could conjour to cause maximum distress.
But as she started to type, one of the supervisors entered the office. With irritation, she had to turn her attention to the job she was paid to do. She’d be sacked if Mrs Smithson caught her answering personal emails again. Against company policy and all that rubbish the woman had bleated numerous times, silly cow.
Later that evening, Imogen went to Rob’s, as usual, where he cooked her dinner, as usual. Afterwards, she sat on the floor so he could massage her shoulders whilst she watched EastEnders.
“What are we going to do this weekend?” she asked him. “I want to go shopping. Why don’t we go to London?”
If she worked it right, she might not have to spend her own money.
“All right,” he agreed, good natured as always.
Imogen smiled. He was such a pushover.
“But I’m playing football with the pub lads on Sunday.”
Her face darkened, but she was careful to force a smile as she turned to face him. “That’s fine. Is it a match?”
If it was, she knew he’d expect her to come along as he loved her cheering on the sidelines. She crossed her fingers, she hated football.
“No, no. Just practice. But you can come if you want.”
“Don’t be daft. You don’t want me there. We’ll spend Saturday together, and you spend Sunday with your mates.”
And I can get on with my orders, she thought. There’s quite a few piling up.
They took the train to London, then the Tube to Oxford Street. Imogen allowed Rob to give his credit card a good outing, and soon he was clutching a plethora of carrier bags. She deliberately slowed down every time they passed a jewellers shop, pointing to anything which happened to be next to the ring display. With a smug feeling of satisfaction, she noticed his eyes flicker over the rings each time.
As planned, Rob spent Sunday with his mates, and Imogen spent most of it lying in bed watching TV, then a few hours trying on her whole new wardrobe of clothes, followed by making up more nasty rhymes. But the weekend passed at a stupendous rate, and the next thing she knew Monday morning had arrived and she was back at work. It was Valentine’s Day, and Imogen was warmed by an internal glow as she thought about all the sad recipients of her vicious messages and the money they had earned her.
There was a commotion at the door, and a lady barged her way through, struggling to keep hold of two bunches of flowers. One was small, the other enormous.
“Trina Lewis and Imogen Brown,” she called out.
A small, mousey haired girl scuttled forward, a look of complete shock on her face. “I’m Trina,” she squeaked.
The woman handed her the small bunch and a card. Trina tore it open, scanned the words and burst into tears.
“He’s asked me to marry him,” she managed between her sobs of joy.
The whole office erupted in cheers.
“Go on, Imogen. Open yours,” someone shouted.
Head held high, Imogen accepted the huge bunch of flowers, which must have cost a fortune, and took the bright red envelope. She ripped it open, unaware of everyone crowding to read over her shoulder. Recognising Rob’s writing, she read the words she herself had penned, not twenty four hours previously.
‘I didn’t have the courage, to tell you to your face.
But you really are a despicable member of the human race.
I’ve known for quite a while now, just what I need to do,
So enjoy this special Valentine’s gift,
Your boyfriend dumping you.