Why don’t you join us?” They asked her for the hundredth time. She was exhausted from having to reject their pleas. Her friends were never tired though. “It’s just one night. It couldn’t hurt, right? Besides, just think, you might meet someone really cute, someone like you,” her best friend winked at her.

What would you do shut in the house all day?” She didn’t see the need to answer that. They didn’t know her Valentine’s Day ritual.

She woke up with the alarm clock ticking on the bed-stand. 4 years ago, she wouldn’t have been the one to wake up alone; he was the one to wake up before her. She would stir in her sleep with him next to her. His playful self would bring him even closer to her, so she could feel his breath on her skin. Smiling, she would hug him as he’d nuzzle her cheek.

But today, on the morning of 14th February, 4 years later, she woke up with a struggle. Lifting aside the cold blanket, she stepped in her slippers. What would you do, shut in the house? Her friend’s words echoed in her mind.

None of her friends were let in on her secret – her Valentine’s Day ritual. She feared they would judge her, think that loneliness had turned her mind somehow. She will never be ready to tell them. They will never understand.

She got dressed in her black dress; the one that even today carried his smell. It was perfectly fit for the day. To some, it would seem she was out on a date. Closing the door behind her, she turned to step out on the porch. A mid-Feb chilly wind grazed her face.

On the way, she bought the flowers he so loved – daisies. And a bar of Mars, the only crunchy treat that got him out of a fit of rage or sadness. Just over a mile, she turned around the corner and walked past the gate. This was where they first met 9 years ago. This was where they now met for the past 4 years.

1st row, 2nd and 3rd… There!

“My heart is your home & there you’ll live forever!”

In loving memory of,

‘Dollar’

The Dog who still lives…

The headstone read.

Two great drops of tears washed away the dust settled on the weathered stone where she laid the daisies and the bar of Mars. She felt the paw prints engraved on the stone. He was her friend, her companion, her love, her life. How could any man replace him? With memories of him tormenting her mind, she got up, turned and left the graveyard.

For her, this was customary. For her, this was Valentine’s Day.

~~~~~

I lost my pet German Shepherd ‘Dollar’ many years ago.
But there’s not one day I don’t miss him.
I believe,

Valentine’s day is about appreciating them
who make your life better, happier, worthwhile.
And that isn’t limited to humans.

This post is my tribute to all our furred friends, who’ve left us but live in our hearts forever. This post is for Dollar.

Valentine’s day may much be about daisies and pawprints and not roses and kisses. So what’s your Valentine’s day ritual?

~~~~~

This short story was originally featured last year on Candles Online. You can visit the post here.

~~~~~

Asha Seth