A Vinegar Valentine


Ah, Valentine’s Day – a celebration of love and ancient tradition. Given, I am not much of a celebrator of the day, but even I can appreciate the history of it, as well as how it has evolved over the years. It is highly interesting, the significance of a single action from a time long passed… what can become of it and the impact that it can have for the future.

Then again, I’m not really talking about Valentine’s Day at this point. No, the extent of what I have planned for the big day tomorrow will be to go to my dance aerobics class, work on Perception, maybe eat some candy (because why not?) and burn some vanilla incense I recently purchased in Champaign. I’m spending the rest of this month attempting to wind down with this publishing endeavor. Otherwise, I’ll drive myself mad over little details.

It helps greatly that things are going smoothly in other aspects of life at the moment. My grandmother is happy and doing well. She was and still is a huge motivator for my writing. Without her, The Contract simply would never have happened. It was her suggestion that I try writing a story about a nurse, back when I was still trying to grasp the idea of going to nursing school. I was having a lot of trouble paying attention in class. None of the information was sticking, and to make things worse, my grandmother began to have increasing medical issues that caused me to have to stay home more. She was disappointed with me, of course. Why couldn’t I grasp medical terminology when I am such a lover of language? Why couldn’t I understand biology and mathematical concepts? And if it did not involve the brain, anatomy and physiology was simply a mass of confusion. Eventually she and I both learned and came to understand that I’m just not wired that way. I write incredibly detailed stories, long or short and any genre. I can recite an entire script from memory on a stage in front of an audience. I can sing complicated songs in any language that interests me. I can draw and paint things that even I’m impressed with (after a great deal of time is consumed convincing myself it isn’t trash, that is.) In the end, we realized that though I might not be nurse material, that does not mean that I am less intelligent. It means that strength and intelligence come in many forms.


A recent drawing I did for my brother’s birthday, who is a fan of Dragon Ball Super, which is where I got inspiration for this piece.


So, I wrote a story about a nursing student. I thought that it couldn’t hurt. In order to build believability, I would pay great attention to terminology, I would research odd diseases, and I once spent several months learning the history of lethal injections. Over the span of the first draft’s creation, I realized that the nurse was completely unsatisfied with her life. She had no desire to pursue a career in this field, though it was expected by her family that she did. She made a lot of dumb choices that resulted in deep consequences, yet even still, she made the best of what she had. The story became something that I never expected – sort of an ode to the relentless.


I found this lovely Vinegar Valentine online, and as a retail worker, I thought it was a gem!


Speaking of Valentine’s, let’s just say that it wasn’t a very fun day in school for me every year. After all, I didn’t really fit in with other kids. I was the creepy one that would feign headaches to stay inside during recess to write or discuss stories with the teacher. It was always expected when Valentine’s Day would roll around to not get many of those store-bought cards from classmates because I was overlooked. Not that I complained because there was always plenty of candy during the class parties. I used to enjoy making up my own cards with personalized poems and pretend I was going to hand them out to people when I knew that if I did, it would probably mean getting a time out or suspension: Roses are red, violets are blue, Mandy isn’t short for Amanda, so fuck you too. Did I mention that I had a terrible mouth even back in the day? Yeah… that’s often conveniently overlooked with time, too.

Time. Some days it seems too short and others much too long. This has been the longest month that I have experienced in a long time and it is only the thirteenth. When anticipating something great, it must be necessary for time to drag. Like a child during Christmas or an adult during income tax season – one seldom relishes the joys patience delivers. I’d say I’m more patient than most, yet who am I to assess?

I hope you have a pleasant day tomorrow, no matter what plans you might have or what awaits. No Valentine? Be like me – write a sexy one-shot and create your own Valentine! Or just have some candy… create your own traditions and live your own story.

M.I.H. McCool




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