Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. This week has seen me busy doing the last line edits and checks for my flash fiction entries in the Breathless Press My Bloody Valentine anthology. I have two stories in it, ‘Tempting Sin’ and ‘Siren’s Call’. I’ve also managed to get a sneak peek at the cover art, and it’s just gorgeous – hopefully it should be cleared to share with you soon 🙂 The anthology is a collection of short stories (under 2k) with the theme of ‘dark romance’ – there’s some great other authors in it and I can’t wait to read their contributions as well!
So, with that in mind I thought I would try something a wee bit different. This is the first part of a short story with a bit of a Valentine’s Day theme. I’m hoping you enjoy it. If so I will put the next part up soon – so if you want to know what happens next then let me know 🙂
Jess aimlessly scanned the movies on the shelf, deliberately skimming over anything that had a couple on the front, or anything pink in the cover, or anything love related in the title. Hideous red hearts dotted the shelves, Valentine’s Day promotions everywhere. She frowned, apparently nowhere was safe from forced romance! She spotted the horror section and felt a small twinge of satisfaction. That was more like it! She would find the goriest slasher flick, grab a bottle of booze on the way home and, between them, drive out any thoughts of her complete sleazebag of an ex-boyfriend.
Taking the movie to the counter, and studiously ignoring the sympathetic look on the face of the pretty young salesgirl, she paid and headed down the street to the liquor store. She pulled up short outside, a sinking feeling going through her. Well, it used to be the liquor store! Now there was a rather hastily scrawled ‘closed down’ sign in the window, and not a drop of alcohol in sight. Sighing, she glanced up and down the street. The only other store that seemed to be open was a few doors further down and it didn’t look promising.
The window was dirty, the sign above the door was faded to be unreadable and all she could make out was a flickering neon sign in the window that flashingly proclaimed ‘we sell everything’. Hmm, well that was quite a bold claim, but she really didn’t want to have to head back into town and quite frankly Valentine’s Day without a decent drink was pretty unthinkable at this point, so it was worth a try.
Jess pushed open the wooden door with its flaking red paint and a bell above it tinkled loudly. Inside it was like a maze, a warren of cluttered shelves piled high with everything from canned goods to what looked like valuable antiques in what appeared to be absolutely no discernable order. She stepped cautiously inside, and nearly jumped out her skin when a creaky voice drifted over from the back of the store.
“Over here, young lady.”
Jess tried to stifle the small snort. At pushing thirty she didn’t feel particularly young any more, especially when she’d just been ditched for a younger model! She supposed after a certain age though, old people seemed to think everyone was young. She cautiously picked her way in the direction of the voice, stepping over several piles of items, a nest of tables and what looked suspiciously like a genuine Tiffany lamp on the floor as she went. This corner seemed even dimmer than the rest of the poorly-lit store, but she eventually made out a cluttered counter and an elderly woman behind it.
To be honest, Jess was fairly convinced by this point that this had been a complete waste of time, but after the woman had called her over it seemed rude not to at least acknowledge her. The woman was tiny, almost seeming lost behind the huge antique wooden desk that seemed to make up the counter. Her face was lined and wrinkled, a deep nut brown with thick grey hair pulled back from it into a loose bun at her nape. As Jess approached she rose awkwardly to her feet, and gazed at her with surprisingly sharp brown eyes.
“Ah yes, I have exactly what you’re looking for.”
Jess frowned at her in confusion. “I haven’t told you what that is yet.”
The woman smiled. “You didn’t need to.”
She hobbled out from behind the counter and disappeared into the maze of shelves. Jess could hear rustling and odd thumps as she seemed to be moving things around. What on earth? It seemed like the old woman was perhaps going a bit odd – senile maybe? Surely it happened to everyone eventually. After a few minutes the woman reappeared, clutching a small parcel to her chest. Jess let out a slightly resigned breath – it definitely didn’t look like alcohol! The woman smiled and handed the package out to her. The younger woman shook her head.
“I’m sorry. I don’t know what you have there, but I was only looking for a bottle of something for tonight. I really don’t need to buy anything else.”
“It is a bottle, and it contains exactly what you need.”