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VALENTINE LOVE STORY WRITING CONTEST WINNERS



Published: Sun, February 14, 2016 @ 12:00 a.m.

A PARTY OF TWO

Of the 76 entries submitted for our Eighth Annual Valentine Love Story Writing Contest, here are the judges’ favorite three endings to our fictitious love story, “A Party of Two.”

Each was written in 750 words or less and was received by the Feb. 5 deadline.

These are the winners along with several other entries the judges liked.

The stories are unedited.

First, here is the beginning of the love story:

Eva Harker braced her body against the chilling wind and biting snow. Her hands shook as she removed them from her puffy winter coat and fumbled with her key ring to find her key for the event hall. The wind and snow whooshed into the hall before she could get her body behind the door to push it closed.

“What a lousy day for a class reunion,” Eva mumbled to herself. Her lonely voice echoed through the small local VFW hall she and her classmates had rented for their festivities.

A blizzard of epic proportions was raging outside, with inches of fluffy snowflakes piling up quickly. Eva only lived about a block away from the hall; the walk over wasn’t pleasant in the snowstorm, but it was mercifully short.

As she warmed up her hands and feet, Eva mused about the adventures of her classmates, many who had moved far away after high school. The unique character of the people of her hometown and her close-knit family had always tethered Eva to the small Ohio town where she grew up. Eva enjoyed plenty of her own adventures though, traveling extensively, but she was always grateful that home was always solid and familiar.

Never one to stay still for long, Eva started to prepare the hall for the party. She set up a soundtrack of music from her high school days on her phone and got to work. She rolled out tablecloths, blew up balloons of silver and blue, and set up trays of food, arranging carrots and cupcakes and cutlery and other party goods. She set up the yearbook from their graduating year and placed a few class photos around the hall.

As she worked, the ring of text messages arriving momentarily lowered the volume of her music, but she was too engrossed in prepping the hall to check them right away.

After setting up the chairs, she finally took a moment to rest. She picked up her phone and found an extensive list of frantic messages from her classmates. One was stuck at the airport, and another slid off the road on the highway. Another was stuck in traffic in an hourlong line of careful drivers on a local road; yet another couldn’t find a hotel room to find respite from the storm for a few hours.

She replied to her long list of messages, telling each friend to be safe and not to rush. Apologies were abundant. With the variety of maladies inflicted upon her classmates, she guessed that she’d be alone for hours.

“I don’t think anyone is coming,” she said aloud, her voice again echoing through the hall. She nabbed a celery stick from a vegetable tray and took a large bite as a sadness began to wash over her.

The reunion had taken a great amount of work and finagling, and Eva had stressed for months about picking the best day to please the greatest number of classmates. But just like that, Mother Nature swooped through and ruined her plans. When would she be able to see her globe-hopping classmates again, if ever?

Suddenly, a knock rang through the hall. Eva had locked the doors earlier, worried they might blow open with the force of the wind. Running to the doors, she unlocked them, and they opened with a woosh. Under dark skies and heavy snow, she could only see a bright smile in the darkness.

“All alone in there, Eva?” the stranger said, and stepped into the light …

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FIRST PLACE

• Name: Bobbi Fowler

• From: Youngstown

• Prize: $100 gift card to Bruno’s Restaurant and Catering in Boardman

... only it wasn’t a stranger…it was Rudy Tralfaz.

He’d been walking past the VFW Hall when saw the lights on and remembered the class reunion was tonight.

He was going to keep walking but something pulled him toward the front door only to find it locked. He thought about turning around and continuing his walk; he enjoyed walks in the snow no matter how hard it was blowing.

He knocked on the door.

Rudy! You shouldn’t be out on a night like this! Eva said as she shooed him in and shut the door. Eva brushed snow from his coat as Rudy explained his love of walks in the snow. Eva laughed and said this was no ordinary snow storm.

Before he could respond there was another knock at the door.

Eva had gotten so many texts and emails from classmates saying they were stranded or still hours away that another knock at the door was surprising.

Eva opened the door to find Lily Hempstead standing there holding several bags. Lily’s house was right beside the Hall and she always knew what festivities were being held there.

Eva pulled her in and Rudy took the bags from her and asked ‘ What’cha got in here, Lily, some of your famous cookies?’

Yes, and before you ask…there are some frosted sugar cookies in there, Rudy. If I remember correctly, those are your favorite, she said with a smile.

Rudy looked at her standing there smiling with snow glistening on her hair and coat and thought to himself that he had never seen her look more beautiful.

Eva could see the electricity between Lily and Rudy. When had this happened, Eva wondered.

Rudy had been the janitor at the high school and Lily had been the lunch lady. They were always at school functions helping to set up or cleaning up. Neither had ever married and each of them thought of the kids at the school as ‘their kids’. When they retired, they were missed by everyone.

They both missed their days at the school. They still attended school games….wearing the school colors proudly. When they ran into each other at these functions they would have a friendly chat reminiscing about their days at the school.

Eva could see what these two felt for each other even if they couldn’t.

Well, it looks like there might not be a class reunion tonight, Eva said, but it can be a reunion for the best janitor and lunch lady the school ever had. We’ll celebrate that. You two take a seat at that table over there and I’ll be right back.

Rudy helped Lily out of her coat, held the chair out for her and she sat down with a sigh. The walk over had been cold and it felt good to sit down and warm up.

Meanwhile, Eva was busy raiding the kitchen. She set out platters of sandwiches and vegetables, bowls of salads and a plate of cookies - plenty of frosted sugar cookies….Rudy’s favorite.

Lily and Rudy were laughing and talking and didn’t notice Eva peeking out the kitchen door. This is going splendidly, Eva thought.

Eva brought the food to their table and they asked Eva to join them but she begged off saying she needed to check on her classmates.

As Eva walked away she heard Rudy tell Lily how lovely she looked. Lily thanked him and told him that he didn’t need to butter her up; he was going to get his cookies

After a while Eva went to tell them nobody was coming….the roads were impassable. Rudy and Lily expressed their sympathy and offered to help clean up. Lily was disappointed, but the evening wasn’t a total loss. Something beautiful had happened here tonight.

Rudy offered to walk Eva home but she declined saying she could make it safely home on her own. Lily took him up on his offer saying maybe he could come in or a cup of coffee. Rudy offered his arm and they were looking at each other and smiling as they walked out the door.

Cupid was disappointed, his sights were set on Eva tonight, but all was not lost – he took out two arrows and let them fly.

It was a beautiful day in May and Eva was once again busy setting out platters of food. The class reunion might not have gone as planned but getting together with her classmates at the wedding of Lily and Rudy was even better.

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SECOND PLACE

• Name: Kay Wilson

• From: Austintown

• Prize: $50 gift card to Rachel’s Restaurant and Catering in Austintown

... For a moment she thought (hoped) it was Craig Mitchell stepping into the light and back into her life. They had dated all through high school, talking for hours about the future but parted ways after graduation. She needed to choose a college close to home and he had headed for military service. His parents moved out west somewhere and Craig had never returned. He was killed overseas. Eva hadn’t been serious about anyone since. She tried not to think about him and just kept busy with her job, with her service organizations, with her reunion plannings. All those important things that make a person feel fulfilled. Lots of messaging and texts and emails that helped avoid face-to-face interaction.

The stranger spoke again, jarring Eva out of her reverie. “You are Eva, aren’t you?

“Uh, yes! Yes I am!” she replied, her mind racing to place the voice, to process the visual. He seemed to be about her age, average height and build. “I am sorry, but, um...have we met?”

“Actually, yes we have,” he smiled slightly as he began taking off his heavy coat and scarf. “Ten years ago, to be exact. I came to the last reunion with Susan Jeffers.”

Eva stopped short. Of course! Susan Jeffers. Susan Blackstone Jeffers. Susan, who died two years ago after a battle with breast cancer.. Eva had put together a memorial table for those classmates who had died. From where she was standing, she could see Susan’s photo, along with Bob Bennett’s, who had been killed in a car accident. And of course, Craig’s.

“Oh my,” Eva stammered. “I am so sorry about Susan.”

“Eva,” he stopped her. “My name is Keith. Susan and I weren’t married at the last reunion, so I don’t expect you to remember me. I was just her date in a bad plaid sports coat who couldn’t do the Electric Slide. But we did a quick trip to Vegas chapel shortly afterward. We didn’t have a lot of years together but I am grateful for the time we did have. I wanted to come today to represent her. Her high school days were important to her, as well as all of you. Through her, I came to feel as though I had gone to school with all of you. You especially. Susan and I really appreciated all the letters of encouragement you sent when she was ill. And, after she died, somehow your words helped me with the loss. I needed to tell you in person.”

Eva guided him to one of the tables and pulled out a chair. Keith did the same, and they both sat down. Neither spoke, and for several moments the only sound was the wind outside and the dancing silver and blue balloons next to the heating vents and faint music from a radio in the kitchen.

Slowly he reached over and patted her hand. “It looks like it might just be the two of us here for awhile.”

Eva smiled weakly, “Well, it is Ohio. I know we are nuts to have a reunion this time of year but it’s so close to the holiday, it always worked out before. People come back to town to see their families...” Her voice trailed off.

She had kept herself so busy, planning this thing. Actually, the weather was the only thing she had no control over, but she knew how many mints were in the little styrofoam bowls on each table. Mints! She had forgotten to set them out! She started to rise up but he stopped her.

“Eva, it’s OK. You don’t have to fret over anything. When the others come, IF they come, they will be so happy to be here it won’t matter if you missed a pistachio nut or something.” He smiled. “And I might add, you are really nice to talk with. I wasn’t sure how this evening was going to turn out.”

For the first time, she looked at him and had to smile back. He had a nice smile. His eyes were brown and there was a touch of concern in them.

Suddenly, the opening notes of the Electric Slide drifted out of the kitchen. Their smiles gently broadened.

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THIRD PLACE

• Name: Alaina D’Altorio

• From: Canfield

• Prize: A 2-pound box of chocolates from Daffin’s Candies of Sharon, Pa., provided by The Vindicator

... Eva would never forget that accent: not too thick, but light and smooth, like a dash of Irish cream in her morning coffee. She stared wide eyed as the visitor stepped further into the hall, brushing snowflakes from his thick, winter coat. “Oh my gosh, Liam!” She hugged him tight, feeling wet droplets of melting snow on her flushed cheeks.

Liam chuckled. “Long time no see, huh?” His Irish accent brought back memories of their high school exchange program, friendship, and the passionate crush she’d held for him all those years ago. It had been far too long.

After graduation, he’d gone back to Dublin, and Eva regretted never truly revealing her feelings. She thought her invite had gone unnoticed, and resolved that seeing Liam again just wasn’t meant to be. And yet, here he was, back in Ohio, hugging her on a snowy, winter evening.

Eva smiled cheerfully. “Here, let me get that for you.” She took his coat, hanging it up next to hers in the coat room, before returning to the hall. She noticed Liam examining the decorations and hurried over to the snacks table, filling up a plate before making her way over to him. “Can I offer you a treat?” she asked, her smile widening as she saw how excited he became.

“Still my favorite,” he said, taking a couple pizzelles. Her grandmother used to supply them with dozens during their long study sessions, and they would devour every single one with glee.

Eva and Liam made their way to a nearby table. Eva reset her phone to play music, lowering the volume so it created a pleasant background noise. They chatted about the years that had separated them. Liam talked about the cities he’d visited, like Madrid and Hong Kong, awing her with exciting details about his adventures. Adventures, she remembered, he’d always wanted to have.

As he talked, Eva watched his eyes glow with happiness. She’d never told Liam how ardently she felt for him. Before graduation, she had tried and tired to gather the courage to express her true feelings, but in the end, she never came clean. His dreams of travel prevented her confession. She’d wanted him to see the world freely, without any reservations. She never wanted to hold him back.

Liam’s voice brought her back to reality. “I really missed it here,” he said, true fondness evident in his voice.

Eva laughed softly. “You missed this small town with these crazy winters?”

“Yes,” Liam responded. “Traveling was amazing, but no place ever allowed me to experience what I felt while I was here.” She watched as he played with the crumbs on his plate. “I missed it.” He looked up, his piercing gaze causing her to gasp. “I missed you.”

Eva wondered if the rhythm of her loud heartbeat was outplaying the music. She debated if now was the time to confess how she felt. The opportunity was perfect, but all of the negative thoughts she had in high school resurfaced. Should she risk it? She bit her lip hard, her hands shaking slightly from the tension.

“I had the biggest crush on you senior year.”

Eva thought for a moment she had accidently blurted out her biggest secret. But it wasn’t her. Liam made the confession. He cleared his throat, continuing. “I wanted to tell you before graduation but I chickened out. I didn’t think I stood a chance back then.” He reached over the table, clasping her jittery hands in his. “What about now?”

Eva couldn’t believe it. A slow ballad began on her phone, creating a soft atmosphere around them. If he was being honest, so could she. Nodding her head, she replied. “I felt the same. I wanted to say something, but you wanted to see the world. You had so much living to do. I didn’t want to tie you down.”

The scraping of Liam’s chair as he scooted closer to Eva reverberated around the hall. His knees brushed hers, his voice a gentle hum as he spoke. “You’d never tie me down. I got to experience amazing things, but something was always missing.” His fingers brushed her cheek. “Being here, with you, feels like I’ve finally come home.”

Years had escaped them, and Eva wouldn’t waste any more time. Leaning forward, she kissed him, feeling her heart staccato in joy. She’d thank Mother Nature later. This moment was for just the two of them.

••••••••••

OTHER ENTRIES THE JUDGES LIKED (unedited):

JESSICA WARD

Eva’s blood chilled in her veins.

“How did you know my name?” she stuttered, backing away.

He revealed that bright smile again, but this time his cheeks bloomed red. Then he motioned to Eva’s chest where she had placed a stick-on name tag to remind forgetful classmates.

A laugh rocketed out of Eva. She placed a hand over the name tag, recalling how she’d smoothed it on minutes ago.

“Well, nobody wants to be forgotten.” She said it as a joke, but her words felt heavy hanging in the air.

“Funny you should say that,” he replied as he brushed past her with a nervous laugh, “because you don’t seem to remember me.”

It took Eva a few seconds to realize the man was claiming to be a part of her graduating class. How absolutely mortifying that she hadn’t recognized him at all! Her cheeks burned, and she rushed after him, fumbling for an apology.

“I’m very sorry about that…” she paused, watching him secure his own tag. Then she read the name aloud.

“Tom?”

Eva studied his face, racking her brain for a memory.

“I wore glasses,” Tom offered. “And I had a late growth spurt.”

Eva felt a flutter in her stomach as he flashed that alluring smile once more.

And then she saw it. He had moved to their school during senior year. Tom Callihan.

Her cell phone buzzed in the distance, bringing her back to the dismal situation that she had forgotten.

She hurried over to the speaker where her phone was plugged in and opened her latest text. Yet another classmate was stuck on the outskirts of town in a snowbank.

“Looks like we might be the only ones who make it,” Eva announced, turning her phone around to show Tom the latest victim of the storm.

“I worked so hard to plan the perfect party for our classmates, and now half of them are stuck out in this stupid blizzard.” She plopped down on a chair in defeat. Looking up at Tom, a curious question popped into her head. “How did you get here, anyway?”

“My truck is four-wheel drive and has good snow tires on it,” Tom replied. “I don’t mess around with this kind of weather. I guess when you own a snow plow company, you get used to being over-prepared it.”

“Snow plow company?” Eva repeated, a warm idea sparking her back to life. “Do you have guys out right now plowing the roads?”

“Yeah, of course. My guys are all over.”

Eva jumped up and grabbed up a napkin and pen. “What if we make a map of where everyone is stuck, and then, maybe, your guys can help pick up a person or two on the way?”

Tom looked over her napkin map, smoothing out the creases she’d made in her haste. “I definitely have guys here and here,” Tom noted. “And I could probably get a guy to swing this way. We would probably have to go out and grab Jim and Lisa, though.”

Reinvigorated, Eva jumped out of her chair. “What are we waiting for?” she said. “Let’s go get our party.”

Armed with hot drinks, treats, and the thickest coat she owned, Eva headed out with Tom to save their classmates from the storm. The roads were slick and it was hard to see, but Tom kept her at ease with funny stories from their single year of high school together. He also spoke of how much he loved this town and the people who lived here. Eva studied his face as he talked, realizing how grateful she was he’d made it to the party first, not only for his help, but for the reminder he brought about why she was still here, even if most of their other classmates had left.

It took over an hour for Tom and Eva to grab Jim and Lisa and return. From there on, Tom’s employees dropped classmates off at the door, almost like a personal winter storm valet service.

With everyone warm and safe inside the cozy VFW, Eva finally was able to enjoy the party she’d been fretting over for months. She watched as classmates chatted, laughing and reminiscing about the good old days. But in the midst of old friends and memories, Eva caught a bright smile from across the room, and suddenly, she was looking forward to the memories yet to be made in a place she’d always call home.

••••••••••

CARLO DENIRO

As the police officer walked through the opening, he removed his hat and hung his head. “I have some bad news Eva, the policeman said sullenly. I was patrolling the town this afternoon when I received a call about an accident on route sixteen. When I got there I found an overturned car.” The officer paused to clear his throat, and Eva just stared at him dumbfounded. She couldn’t hear a word he was saying, the shock of the situation was too much. “Your parents are dead Eva. I’m sorry.” the officer said. “I need you to come down to the morgue with me to identify the bodies.” Eva was speechless. This morning she was beside herself, excited to see all her old friends. But now, now the two people closest to her were laid out on a metal table before her. Even though her vision was blurred from crying on the way over she was positive that it was them. it was barely audible when she managed to say, “That’s them officer.” The officer walked over to Eva to ask more questions, but he was stopped short when she reached out and hugged him. Caught off guard the officer just let her hold him and deal with her emotions. He said, “I know this is one of the worst things to happen Eva. How about I go grab you some coffee while you spend some time with them? Eva nodded and the officer left the room. As soon as she collected herself, Eva walked over and kissed her mom on the cheek. “Goodbye mom”, she whispered. When she walked over to her dad, she saw a letter sticking out of his coat pocket. The letter was burnt around the edges but she could still make out its message.

“Happy Birthday kiddo! I thought that your mom and I could come and surprise you at your reunion today. You’ll get a kick out of this one sweetie. As usual, I’m the forgetful old man I always am and I left your gift at home. Just know that your mom and I love you and were so proud of you.”

Eva was shaking from trying to hold back the tears. This whole situation was just so surreal that she didn’t even notice the officer had returned already. She turned to him and said, “I need to go.” He didn’t question her; he just let her go and watched as she tucked the note in her pocket. Eva printed through the streets for five blocks until she reached her parents’ house. When she got in she saw a wrapped resent on the table. She slowly approached the package with a nauseated feeling in her stomach. Eva began to slowly un-wrap the box, to reveal a locket necklace. It was in the shape of the heart, and inside was a picture of her father holding her as a baby. Through tears she smiled and picked up the note her father left with the gift. The letter read,

“I couldn’t ask for a better daughter. Ever since I first held you I Loved you, and I’ll continue to love you even when I’m no longer around to hold you. I’m an old now, so hear me out and take some advice from me. I know you’re busy with your adult life, but you need to remember to slow down and enjoy things. Nothing is more important than happiness. And I’ll let you in on a little secret. The best way to be happy is to love yourself. So many people love you, and you should to buttercup. Happy Birthday.

She closed the card and smiled, but there was no accompaniment of tears this time. Only happiness over the soft words of her father. Sure Eva was still greatly upset at the loss of her parents, but her father gave her something that would stick with her long after he was gone. Happiness. From that day forth Eva woke up every morning with a different outlook on life. Every time she looked at the locket around her neck she smiled. She was proud of the girl that her beloved father adored. She truly loved herself, and her father was right. Eva loved herself, and she was happy.

••••••••••

ROBERT NOBLE

Eva stepped back, dropped her celery stick, and stared at the man entering the hall. He turned to secure the doors, slipping off his parka and shaking snowflakes onto the floor.

“I’m sorry. I can’t seem to place you,” Eva stuttered. Their class size was only fifty-four, and it had been forty years since their graduation in 1976. Appearances changed in time. Girls seemed harder to recognize as the years passed, but boys presented their own challenges with hair loss and weight gain.

The man standing before her was slim, almost six feet in height, with grey-brown hair and eyes so blue that Eva thought that he must have tinted contacts except that he wore bifocals. He extended his hand. “Jack Lawson,” he said. “We were in Mrs. Wilson’s senior English class. I came to your school just for the senior year. Remember at the end of the year when Mrs. Wilson had each of us dress in the costume of a famous poet and give our final presentation. I’ll never forget you as Edna St. Vincent Millay when you recited her sonnet-

What lips my lips have kissed, and where and why,

I have forgotten, and what arms have lain

Under my head till morning . . . “

“I actually looked it up and memorized it.” He blushed. “I was going to ask you out, but you were going steady with Harold Watson, and it was the end of the school year, and my father went to work for IBM and was transferred to Amsterdam where they were making the IMB Selectric typewriter. My family dropped out of America for quite a while.”

Eva racked her memory. He did look familiar. She had dated Harold Watson. There was a new boy in her senior English class: she now recollected his face, but . . .

“I’m confused. I remember you as being a lot shorter . . .” Now she was blushing. The words just popped out of her mouth. What must he think?

Jack nodded and laughed. “I had a late growth spurt. Believe me, it was a confidence builder. OK, here’s a quiz. Do you remember which poet I was in Mrs. Wilson’s class?”

“Well, I do now,” Eva said, “Lord Byron in a black tuxedo. Somebody said that Mrs. Wilson lent you her husband’s tuxedo. And I remember one of the poems you recited.”

“She walks in beauty, like the night

Of cloudless climes and starry skies:

And all that’s best of dark and bright

Meet in her aspect and in her eyes . . . “

Eva laughed. “Just like you, I looked it up and memorized it.” Forty years ago when Jack had recited the poem, he had been looking directly at her. She remembered blushing. She had dark brown hair and eyes. Today, her eyes were behind trifocals and her hair was shot through with grey.

She took Jack’s coat, and they sat at the snack table and munched on carrots and celery sticks and filled in the intervening forty years. She recounted her experiences as a Ranger in the National Park Service and her retirement to her current position as senior librarian in town. No, she had never married. She omitted that she had never forgotten the short boy who spoke Lord Byron’s words while looking directly at her. He described his success as an early computer programmer and his current consulting business which he ran from his home. He omitted his disastrous marriage to an English academic and their divorce when she didn’t return from a sabbatical – no children. He had seen Eva’s announcement of the 40th class reunion on the web, but hadn’t responded because he wasn’t certain if his current project would be completed in time.

He looked at his watch. Almost two hours had passed, and he was flooded with memories. “I don’t think anyone else is coming. The storm seems to be getting worse. I came yesterday just to walk around the town.”

“I should stay until ten-thirty just in case someone can make it, although everyone who called said they couldn’t come. Want to wait it out with me?” she asked.

Jack nodded. “You can count on me. In your announcement, you mentioned popular music. Do you have the Four Seasons’ Oh What a Night?”

“Want to dance to it?”

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world.” He rose, took her hand, and while they strolled to the dance floor, she spoke into her iPhone.

••••••••••

JIMMY JONES

Eva gasped intensely as she blurted “Who are you, and how do you know my name?” She nabbed another piece of celery as nervousness reared its ugly head. “You don’t remember me?” inquired the stranger, hurt by the lack of recognition. “Marty McClain from chemistry, we were lab partners? Ring any bells?” Eva still had not one ounce of recognition for this man, while his tall handsome stature and brown eyes. She stood awkwardly thinking of what to say. “I, uh, am sorry, I just can’t seem to remember you. It’s been years you know.” She lead him to a nearby table where they had a seat, and Eva nabbed more celery. As the two commenced with casual small talk, Eva subtly texted under the table. She typed to her stranded friends “ Do you guys know a Marty McClain? He took chemistry, and has brown eyes?” The small talk continued amiably, but Eva’s terror grew, and grew. Especially so after the late guests replied, “Marty? Who is this Marty?” and “We never had a Marty! Eva, who are you with?” Marty seemed to know so many details of high school, his memory was amazing. He recalled Eva’s locker number which was near his, the popular girls bathroom across from guidance where girls put on makeup, and other places as well. Eva did her best to keep a poker face, discussing years at college, careers, and personal achievements over the years that this stranger supposedly experienced. Unfortunately, Eva’s  horror go the best of her, as she ferociously nabbed the celery. Marty seemed friendly enough, but he was recognized by no one and he was not on the guest roster either. Eva became sweaty and thought of the worse scenarios. “Have I been stalked? Is he a killer?” she thought to herself, “Will this be the day of my demise?” Seeming to sense Eva’s discomfort, Marty gently asked, “Are you okay? You’re as white as a sheet!” Eva lied, “Oh, I’m just fine, thank you” nabbing some more celery. Marty leaned in uncomfortably close to Eva, asking “Are you sure?” Suddenly, Marty grabbed Eva’s wrist as he pulled an object from his pocket. Eva let out a blood-curdling scream, and slapped the stranger to escape his death-grip. She sprinted to the door in panic, But it was no use. The doors of the Hall burst open with the icy air and all the reunion guests yelled “SURPRISE!” Eva was dumb-struck, as the guests previously trapped in the storm came walking in. “What? You guys are here?” gasped Eva with disbelief. A familiar male voice answered, “Of course we are! Do you really think we would miss the reunion you spent so much time planning?” Eva, turned to the voice and saw an old flame: Burt Motiere. she could barely muster words “But how? I thought you guys were trapped in the storm! Her old friend Katherine explained, “No silly! It was all just a show. The roads cleared hours ago, and we called Marty over here to mess with you. I never laughed so dang hard I tell you!” Eva, flushed with rage nabbed the last celery stick and walked over to her high school sweetheart. “Burt were you In on this?” she demanded. He answered with that huge sly grin that she loved so. Eva walked over and kissed him “you dirty fox!” she said with absolute conviction, “I love you.” It went swimmingly with the reunited lovebirds the rest of the night, and Eva had a wonderful story to tell her grandchildren how she fell in love with grandpa.

••••••••••

MADELINE KRASNASKY

As his familiar, defined cheek bones and shadowed facial hair were introduced from the cold

blowing wind, Eva realized her worst nightmare. She would be alone with her best friends

boyfriend, Adam.

The history between Eva and Adam could be described as very rough and rocky. Eva sank and

walked closer to him with a friendly smile, thinking to herself that he could be the only one to

show up tonight.

“Hi Adam,” she moaned. He answered surprisingly, “Eva, where is everyone?” She began to

explain that the snow storm had caused many delays and cancellations for the invited guests. “I

guess it’s just you and me for now…” Adam said with a crooked smile.

“And what’s that look supposed to mean?” Eva said with a sour tone in her voice.

Adam began with a sigh,”I don’t know. I guess we should make the most of our time together

and actually get to know each other, instead of arguing and complaining all night. Ever since

Meg and I broke up, I haven’t had….” Shockingly she yelled, “YOU BROKE UP? Wait, why

didn’t she tell me this. I don’t get it. This isn’t like Meg not to tell me EVERYTHING about you

guys. Like I know way too many details that are unnecessary. Believe me.”

“She basically told me that she didn’t want you to worry about her being sad or depressed.

Besides, we made an agreement to still be friends, not to be backstabbers like the other couples

who have broken up. But now that you know, I think it’s time for me and you to be friends. I

know that the only reason you and I were never tight was because you thought I could have

always treated your best friend better, and yeah I could have, but that’s in the past now. So what

do you say? Friends?” At this moment, Adam reach out his hands, as if to give Eva a

handshake

that would turn into some kind of weirdish hug.

“Friends, I guess.” Eva ignored Adam’s hands and socked him right in the bicep. “You can help

me finish setting up before everyone else gets here! Let’s see… we still need food and drink

tables set up, which i can do. What can a REAL man do though? Ah! Can you carry some of the

chairs from my car into the room so people have a place to sit? When you’re all done with that,

the entrance outside needs snow shoveled and salted! Please and thank you!” Eva watched

Adam do the “chores” she assigned him to do just incase he didn’t do them properly. She

couldn’t believe Meg was okay with their decision to breakup because she was obsessed over

the boy’s dark brown hair and hazel eyes. From Eva’s perspective, Adam was never good

enough to Meg or never treated her right at any given time. Everyone swooned over Adam in

highschool, except for Eva, and when everyone went their separate ways, he was forgotten.

Eva, now in a daydream, heard the door open and a gush of freezing cold air swept through the

hall. Adam had gone to shovel the snow and salt the pavement so the guests didn’t fall, but

stubbornly left the door wide open.

Thinking to herself, Eva said, “He never deserved her. He never even got a punishment for

breaking up with her.” Eva grew furious at this boy.Her face changed all shades of red, until

finally she stomped to the door, locked it, and slammed it shut. Adam was forced to wait in the

cold but truthfully never noticed he was locked outside until he went to go check the time and

realized that he had left his phone inside. “This is revenge for Meg,” Eva mumbled as she stared

at the closed door from inside.

••••••••••

SEBASTIAN HEINONEN

Eva at first did not recognize the stranger, but he surely recognized her. The stranger hugged her before she could even respond. It was a warm, familiar hug, one she remembered instantly.

“Stephen!” She exclaimed as she hugged the man once again. Stephen, a mildly autistic old classmate of Eva, used to hug her everyday in the hallways before school (he wasn’t shy about his crushes) and Eva would let him, at first because she felt bad but then because she realized he cared about her more than even her best friends. Eva hadn’t talked to him since their final day of high school, though she couldn’t pinpoint a reason.

Stephen was much different now. He wore slim-fitting jeans and a nicely ironed shirt, his hair was sharp, and he had the comforting scent of aftershave and cologne. It took Eva some time to find her words because she was so shocked but she eventually asked him to sit and talk. And talk they did, for hours. Eva could barely remember the old Stephen who used to stumble over his words and not know what to say. He now was confident and assertive, and Eva began to think of Stephen in a way she had never thought of him before. No one else showed up to the reunion that day but Eva was content. She met him the next day at a coffee shop near their old school and she learned he stayed in town after high school too. As she traveled home that day, she once again came to the realization that he is one of the most caring people she knows, and this time she plans to keep him in her life.


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