If you recall, last Halloween, I posted a 100-word story I wrote as an entry to Susanna Hill’s Halloween story contest. Telling a story in so few words challenged me and taught me to tighten my word count – a lot! I laugh when I remember the word counts I was hitting on my picture book manuscripts years ago. Dare I admit to 12oo-word stories?
For Valentine’s Day, Susanna has another contest, and yeah, we get more than 100 words to write this one in. Because Valentine’s Day is on February 14th or 2-14, entries can be up to 214 words. What will I do with all those extra words I’m allotted?
The one condition is that the stories entered must have a grumpy character.
So, without further delay, I present you with my Valentine story.
THE NOT SO SECRET VALENTINE
Leslie Leibhardt Goodman
When Mrs. Pinkly’s class drew Secret Valentine names, Bart pretended to pull a
name.“Valentine’s are for girls!” He tossed the bag to Ruby.
“And boys.” Ruby said, batting her eyes. “Look who I picked!”
“Nobody EVER gives good presents,” Bart grumbled.
Mrs. Pinkly waved a slip. “Who doesn’t have their secret Valentine for tomorrow?”
At home, Bart unfolded his slip. “RUBY!” He groaned. He raced to his mom to complain.
“Want to help frost Valentine cookies?” Mom said.
“No!” Bart stomped away. “Valentines are for girls.”
Bart’s sister, Molly, handed him a heart. “Help me cut doily valentines,” she said.
“Yuck!” Bart crumpled the heart. “Valentine’s are for girls.”
Dad will understand, thought Bart.
“Want to come buy flowers and candy for Mom?” Dad said.
“No!” Bart said. “Valentine’s are for girls.”
The next morning, Ruby was absent for the gift exchange.
At lunch, Bart ate his sandwich, even though his mom cut it heart-shaped. But he refused to eat the Valentine cookie.
After lunch, Ruby dashed in the classroom, clutching a box. “Happy Valentine’s day, Bart!” she sang.
Bart lifted the lid. “A turtle?”
“I had two,” Ruby said. “Now we each have one.”
“Maybe Valentine’s are for boys, too,” Bart said, giving Ruby his Valentine’s Day cookie.