Nik Perring on Valentine’s Day
Cupid and Me
The day Cupid lost his arrows Dan never walked over to Paula on reception and asked her to the cinema, so they never kissed on the back row and that, in turn, meant that he never asked her to marry him that night at the fair, in front of the candy floss stand and all those people clapping for them in gloves.
When Cupid lost his arrows it meant that that night, instead of saying Hi, and accepting that drink, Jenny never found out how much she and Mike had in common. It meant that, two weeks later, she never said, ‘I didn’t realise I’d spent my whole life looking for you until you mentioned Elvis and bird watching in the same sentence.’ Instead, Jenny walked by, eyes straight ahead and chest out, and she ended up meeting Tony who bought her shots and who, in eighteen months, won’t deal as well with her cancer as Mike would have. Because Cupid lost his arrows, Jenny will die alone and with bruises.
The day Cupid lost his arrows I didn’t have the nerve to ask you to the party. I know you’d have enjoyed it.
And I wish I’d been more forgiving. If I had then maybe I’d have helped him when I found him on his hands and knees in the alley. He was drunk, and I was too, and when he asked me to help him look for something behind the bins I told him no. He started shouting his mouth off then, said stuff about you, and I lost it. I grabbed him by his collar and sent him to the wall and I hit him hard in his fat face.
The police came when you called and they threw us in a cell together and when we sobered up, we talked. And that’s when he told me about it all, about everything that had been lost. He said he was sorry. When he mentioned you, that time, I cried.
I’ve asked him about second chances and he’s said no. Said what’s done is done, that those moments have all gone.
I’ll help him look for those arrows when we get out. I’ve promised him that. It’s the least I can do. I think we’re friends now, Cupid and me. One day, we’ll go for a beer. And I guess that’s something. It’s just that something doesn’t seem enough.
Nik Perring is the author of five books including the short story collection, Not So Perfect (Roastbooks 2010); he’s the co-author of Freaks! (The Friday Project/HarperCollins, 2012) and his latest, Beautiful Trees is out now. His online home is www.nikperring.com and he’s on Twitter too @nikperring
Note: This short has been previously published in Downtown and Driftwood