Senior 2nd Prize Winning Story
“The King Of Valentine” by Harschitha Sundar, Roach Middle School, USA, is the Second Prize winning story in the senior category of the first biannual Short Story Contest 2020.
Harschitha is a very creative, imaginative, and curious teenager. Other than writing, she loves baking, reading, performing magic, making YouTube videos, and playing her violin. She's extremely grateful for everything in her life, especially all her amazing family and friends who support her. She also volunteers in her community and is in NJHS (National Junior Honor Society). Harschitha is very passionate about writing poetry, scripts, short stories, and any other works of fiction. She dreams of publishing her novel someday, and making a change in the world.
The King Of Valentine
Drew’s Cafe was crowded with people coming in and out. After all, it was Valentine’s Day! In the city of Pipe Cove, the people buy our famous heart cake, with a side of Frappuccino. You followed the tradition whether you had a Valentine or not.
Today I was wearing my usual cap, apron, shirt, heart-shaped pendant, a dash of pink lipstick, and brown pants. I and the three other exhausted cashiers barely had time to rest our legs. My hands were red and sore from all the writing. We were expecting a busy day, but not this busy.
After an hour, a middle-aged man came up to the counter to order.
“Hello, sir. What would you like to order today?” I asked, looking up at him, as I wiped the sweat off my forehead. If I’m being honest, I usually don’t pay attention to customers. But this man was different. While everyone was wearing red and pink, he was wearing a dull green jacket. He had a dark brown mustache, and his piercing eyes were grey. Clearly, the odd one out.
“Just a Pumpkin Spice Latte, please,” he ordered.
I almost dropped my pen.
“Oh, uh, sure,” I said, scribbling his order down.
When I asked for his name, he said, “Fyre.”
Interesting name, I thought. Even though I didn’t ask, he told me his phone number. I was about to tell him his total cost when he looked me right in the eye.
“Amanda, we need to talk,” he said.
I looked up, frozen.
“How do you know my name?” I asked, trembling. I relaxed when I realized that I had my name tag on. Phew.
“Never mind, sir. Also, about what?”
“About something important. Please, I just need a few minutes,” he pleaded. I sighed, and told Mindy, “Hey, can you cover for me?”
Mindy was hesitant at first, but she agreed.
“Only fifteen minutes. After that, I have to continue making customized Frappuccinos.”
Fyre found a table outside, in the corner for us to sit at.
“I know you’re confused, Amanda,” he began, not even flinching as a gush of cool air swept past his face. I shrugged, keeping it cool. But in reality, I was freaked out. I mean, he was a stranger.
“I was the owner of this cafe,” he continued. “But I sold it fourteen years ago and no one seems to remember me.”
I almost fainted. No offense, but how am I supposed to believe that Fyre used to be the owner of this cafe?
“Also, I don’t want to expose my wife’s name, so let’s call her Jenifer. I opened this shop to impress my Valentine, Jenifer. I loved her that much. Our family was quite wealthy, so I decided to build this cafe. On Valentine’s Day, I started this trend, where you come to my cafe. That day, I remember, my first order was a mini heart-shaped cake, and a Frappuccino. The city followed my order. I was even known as, The King of Valentine.
“A few years later, Jenifer and I got married and had two daughters, whom I spoiled a lot, even though they were only five and three. I bought them a lot of Valentine’s Day items, and loved them dearly.”
He smiled, recalling the memories. That seems like the perfect life, compared to mine. I have to work at a coffee shop at sixteen when Fyre bought a coffee shop at sixteen. Not to mention his spoiled kids.
Then his smile vanished, and his eyes glistened with tears.
“The last gift I gave them was an orange heart-shaped sapphire necklace. Then, Jenifer and I got divorced. We didn’t click together like we used to. She took the younger kid, and I took the older one. Now, even though I started this trend, I stopped following it, because of my loveless life.”
“I’m sorry sir,” I conveyed, feeling genuinely bad for Fyre.
He checked his old-fashioned gold watch.
“It’s just life. Anyways, this is my last day in this town. How ironic, huh? The day my fame began, it ends. I decided to go to Switzerland with my older daughter, who is starting college. It’ll be a new life filled with love and adventure for us. I should’ve done this a long time ago,” he continued.
From what I’ve observed, Fyre is broken on the inside and tough on the outside. “I’m telling you because I just wanted to let it all out to someone. And that person happens to be you. Now, Amanda, don’t let anyone crush you,” he advised.
I nodded, puzzled.
“Got it. What about your order?” I asked.
He waved me off.
“Amanda, I have to go. See there? That’s my daughter waiting by her car. We have to get going to the airport,” he said, pointing out the window at a familiar tall girl with light brown hair in a braid, waiting by a Lamborghini. We waved at each other. Dang, a Lamborghini? At the age of, I don’t know, twenty?
“I really hope you call me because you’re my only contact with this town. My phone number is on my order. I’ll be coming back in a few months for a short stay. Just checking on my properties, you know? Then I can explain in detail about some things.”
I nodded. “Of course, best of luck! Your story was eye-opening. See you around, King of Valentine.”
We both shared a grin and parted with a warm hug. Surprisingly, Fyre made me see life from a new perspective.
After that, I went back to my busy work and found Mindy.
“OMG, Mindy, you won’t bel---”.
Mindy cut me off and flipped her perfect ponytail.
“Get to work. No chit-chatting! Also, where’s your name tag?” she demanded. Wait, what? I wasn’t wearing my name tag, after all?
Before she went back to making Frappuccinos, she commented, “Nice sapphire necklace by the way.”
I froze and examined my orange heart-shaped sapphire necklace. Oh boy.