Eliza was sprawled on her bedroom floor wallowing in self pity, or maybe it was a sugar coma. So hard to say on Valentines day when someone is without a Valentines. Eliza knew it was a hallmark holiday, she knew that the day was only created to sell flowers and chocolates and make everyone pretend they had the perfect relationship. Or at least this is what single woman across the glob told themselves. But, alas, in the end it didn’t matter what one told themselves, they were still alone on the most fake romantic holiday of the year.
"Jules, I'm dying." Eliza lifted her head off the floor to look at her friend before promptly dropping it the floor again with a thud.
"Good knock some sense into that head of yours. Anyway, based on the little red boxes everywhere I'd say you're going to be hurting from a candy heart overdose. Get up, we have to detox you."
"Ouch, my stomach," Eliza groaned in pain. "I couldn't help it I had to eat them all, I want my wish or fortune or whatever it is to come true.”
Julianne shook her head for a second then started to laugh. "I think you have fortune cookies and candy hearts mixed up?" Julianne replied. "You have to eat the whole cookie for your fortune to come true. I am not sure there is anything about candy hearts. Besides half of them don’t make any sense. I think one of them that I got said something about texting?"
"Oh right, fortune cookies. Well it couldn't hurt right? I mean anything’s worth trying. I’d take a text from a secret admirer. Text, tweet, post on my wall, good old fashioned note or card, whatever."
Eliza felt Julianne’s gaze boring down into her. "Okay, seriously? You could have a Valentine if you or Ray stopped being such dorks at life."
Eliza pushed herself into a sitting position making Frito readjust his position in order to continue licking excess sugar from Eliza. Eliza felt the sic box value pack of gross chalk hearts slosh around in her stomach and groaned. She very well could have groaned over the thought of Ray and it’s complexity too, maybe it was a double groan.
"No, nope. Ray and I are friends, study partners. Either way I don't want to ruin things if a romantic, or not so romantic, relationship doesn't work."
Julianne put her hands out for Eliza to grab. Eliza grabbed on and felt like she was a huge load being hoisted up by construction equipment.
"Elle, you should think out going to the gym to work off those little hearts. We're past the freshmen fifteen; I don't think we can blame college and the adjustment anymore."
Eliza looked down and her jaw dropped. She had a baby, a candy heart, too much pie at Christmas food baby that is.
"Oh." Eliza patted her not so perfect tummy. "Happy Valentines Day to me, let's head to the gym." Ahh the romance of it all. Actually it probably was the best time to go to the gym, the only people who would be working out anything would be single woman and maybe a few men. Men had a tendency to write off the stupid holiday and most women tried to do anything to not look pathetic on the stupid holiday.
Several minutes later Eliza was doing the too small pant shimmy. "Is it a bad sign when your stretchy yoga pants aren't fitting as well as they did a few weeks ago?"
"Let me see," came the exasperated voice of Julianne. "Elle. You're a little nutty; they look fine. Way to make it dramatic; toss a t-shirt on so we get home in time for the Valentines Day marathons on TV."
Eliza grabbed a shirt from the basket of clean clothes that were begging to be folded a week ago and were now too far gone with wrinkles to care. "Right. Ready."
Eliza walked into the tiny living room where Julianne had begun stretching, ever the over achiever. Eliza stopped and stared.
"Jules are you trying to make me look bad? Ugh, let me get my keys."
With those words Julianne removed herself from and awkward stretch where she was balancing on one leg to intercept Eliza's path. She spread her arms and blocked the doorway to the kitchen.
"No! Counter productive, we walk." With that Julianne grabbed onto Eliza's shoulders and steered her to the door. As Eliza opened the door she saw a hand that was poised to knock.
"Ray?" Eliza stopped dead in her tracks. Ray never just stopped by, he always sent a text or called or sometimes even sent a e-mail. He never just stopped by, and what normal, not insane man stopped by on Valentines day?
“Uh, oh. Hi. Are you, uh, on your way out?” He dropped his hand quickly in a surprised almost nervous manner. Ray was fidgeting with something behind his back as he looked at Eliza, or well looked above her head, at the door and then at her feet.
“Well, I was heading to the gym. Its been a rough day already.” Eliza stared at Ray a little confused a little breathless. Her heart had jumped at the sight of him. Everyone wants their prince to come rescue them and on Valentines Day of all days is a good time for said prince to come galloping in. Okay, so Eliza realized there was no horse involved but he was a man all the same, and he was at her door on what she was so lovenly calling ‘Singles Awareness Day.’
“Oh, well, I uh. Right. I was just going to ask if you wanted to, you know.” He paused for a few seconds and then with warp like speed he thrust a pink rose at Eliza.
Well that was graceful wasn’t it, Eliza thought. Her heart was racing a little faster but she was having a hard time controlling a small smile that was widening on her face by the minute. A rose, he’d brought her a rose, was all she could think of; that and how nervous and awkward he looked.
“Here. For you. I wanted to know if you wanted to go to dinner with me and the guys.” Ray almost said this in rapid fire, as if he said it any slower he wouldn’t be able to get it out.
“Oh, the guys?” Eliza’s smile was gone, it fled her face faster then a five second quarter mile.
“Oh for craps sake. Really? Ray? Really? A group dinner? You brought Elle a rose to invite her out to a group dinner? How dense are you?” Julianne was chastising Ray as Eliza regained her composure.
“Okay, Jules, thanks. Uh, well I guess it would be okay.”
Julianne gave Eliza a death glare. “Well apparently it’s the best offer you are going to get from him so, yeah, its okay. Between the two of you I swear. Well Ray, what time do I have to have Cinderella here to the ball?”
Ray looked a little stunned; he took a step back almost trying to slink away from the wrath of Julianne. Eliza felt a little bad for Ray, but she still wasn’t over the fact that she had thought he was asking her on a date just to hear the word, guys. She still hadn’t really abandon that she thought the whole dating Ray idea might be a disaster for their friendship but it might have been nice to try and if it weren’t her idea then she couldn’t be at fault if things ended.
“Uh, seven at the Irish pub?” Ray said with little confidence.
“Okay, seven. A pub really? How unromantic. Well whatever, I will get her there. We are still going to go work out so please step aside. Gee’s Ray really? A group date?” Julianne was shaking her head as she was pushing Eliza out the door forcing Ray to back away and off the front stoop.
“I well. I just thought.” Ray was cut off by Julianne again.
“No there was no thought, or well maybe the Rose was a thought but other then that I’m not sure there was thought. Of course Miss. Articulate here isn’t much better. You two are made for each other.”
“Thanks Ray. See you at seven,” wall all Eliza could manage to get out with Julianne pushing her down the sidewalk and her brain still not quite caught up to what her heart wanted and what had really just happened.
“Jules what am I going to do with the rose? I should go put it inside.”
“Nah, maybe some burly man will see if and think its some sort of challenge or something. Maybe it will inspire some kind of competition at the gym.”
Eliza and Julianne walked away from the house, away from Ray and towards the improvement of Eliza’s candy heart baby. Eliza’s thoughts were stuck on Ray and what the heck she was going to do with him or for that matter what it is she should do with him. Even with the odd date it was still the closest gesture to romance Ray had made in the semesters they had been studying together; on top of that she had plans for Valentines day. Sure it was with more then one man and none of them were most likely going to propose to her but it was still better then Julianne’s marathons of chick flicks, red velvet cake and Julianne’s boyfriend painting her toe nails. Okay, so the red velvet cake was actually probably better then even a dinner with a man.