February 2018: Unexpected & Unconventional Love Stories

Inside This Edition

What comes to mind when you think of the month of February? For us, it’s candy hearts. Excessive Cupid imagery. Gooey romantic-comedies. Rose bouquets. All the lovey-dovey romance you can handle, and then some. In this spirit, we’re pleased to offer up a selection of stories that interpret love in their own special way: sometimes bleakly, sometimes comically, and sometimes weirdly (or all of the above). So regardless of whether or not you’re in a relationship, and regardless of your feelings on the Valentine’s holiday, you’re sure to be delighted by this V-Day gift: the story equivalent of a big box of chocolates, each piece different than the last. Prepare yourself for some fresh takes on a fatiguing season.

Kicking off our Valentine’s edition, we have Chesapeake by Larry Roszkowiak, a sumptuously-written portrait of the Chesapeake Bay which will transport you to summertime at the shoreline. It’s a love letter to the Bay, unexpected and surprisingly moving, but it’s the quality of the writing that will truly steal your heart. Next up, there’s the wonderfully-crafted Galathea by Walter Inman, which weaves a number of twists and turns throughout its ill-fated dinner party tale. Not only that, but it also manages to make a few statements: everything from college friends growing apart, to how no relationship is truly perfect . . . or even what it seems.

Following that, there’s Amanda McDowell’s Tightest Bond, a story about an altogether different kind of love: between a person and their pet. This sweet, lovable tale will be relatable to animal lovers in general and cat lovers in particular, a delightful ode to four-legged companions everywhere.

The next story, Zofia’s Meet Me at Midnight, is a sharp satire of YA vampire novels and paranormal romances. It takes great joy in parodying Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga in particular, pulling no punches at it pokes fun at the absurdities of the genre and Meyer’s specific approach to the vampire. Nevertheless, its stinging commentary and humor should be enjoyable to both fans of Twilight and anti-Twihards alike.

Then there’s Sean Sanford’s Behind the Curtains, an electrifying mystery that shrouds its core conflict in an impossible-to-penetrate mystique. It’ll leave you guessing until the last minute, but still manages to wrap up in a satisfying, and perfectly cheeky, conclusion. The subsequent piece, Cameron Mitchell’s Awake, is a look at a relationship that turns sour, and the self-destructive consequences of a broken heart. It’s haunting and raw, sure to have you hanging on every word.

Similarly, Thirty-Seven by Matthew Heimgartner tells a dark tale about how an obsession with the “one that got away” can lead to self-implosion, as a man’s pit of despair grows deeper and deeper before finally reaching its apex on his thirty-seventh birthday. Like Awake, it’s haunting—a cautionary tale of sorts that explores a specific downside to romance.

Try by Erin Carini, on the other hand, is more hopeful: As the title suggests, it’s about attempting to be more open and vulnerable in the pursuit of love, and how this can be a worthwhile venture even if it seems unsuccessful. Clocking in at 736 words, this powerful piece is a fast read, yet manages to say more than some full-length novels do.

The Unpredictability of Love by Sapphire Huie is a beautifully-written flash fiction piece that deals with fate, examining what happens when would-be soulmates cross paths. The piece takes a grounded approach to its subject matter, which makes it stand out—it’s both striking and heartstring-tugging, a meditation on missed connections and the opportunities we let slip through our fingers, which feels universally relatable (regardless of whether or not you believe in soulmates). A Valentine for Valentin by Zofia, meanwhile, is a comedic story of a blind date gone wrong . . . very, very wrong. It’s a lighter piece, and this tone carries onto a few of the successive stories, such as Greg Roensch’s Romance, Shromance, an almost criminally charming story about the hope of a better romance, a better tomorrow, and the simple pleasures of connecting with another person. In an age dominated by cell phones, social media, and various methods of online communique, Romance, Shromance feels like a throwback in the best of ways, reminding us that taking a moment to chat with a stranger can be fulfilling in its own right, and the nostalgia of this simplicity makes the piece all the more enjoyable.

Also nostalgic: Kiss Me by Stewart Lindh, a succinct story that takes place at a junior high sock hop. It may bring back memories of your own school dances, fondly recalled through rose-colored glasses, and the piece’s length (a mere 234 words) makes it an easy read for when you’re on the go.

After that: The Graveyard by Pseudo Nym, a dark and brooding story about one woman’s quest to make peace with her dead loved one—which goes from tragic romance to thriller in an instant as it draws to a close. And, rounding out our February issue, we have Hello Again by Fey Wright, an upbeat story about two former high school friends who reconnect a few times before eventually finding love.

We hope you enjoy this decadent selection of offbeat love stories, and make the most of your holiday this February 14th. Happy Valentine’s Day!