Be Brave, My Heart! – The 6th Annual Valentiny Contest Is Here!!!

[For those trying to post, you must click on the Blog Post Title to get on the blog post page and access the comments]

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Valentinies rock

And so do YOU!

Like galloping hooves, our brave hearts are pounding with excitement and anticipation (or maybe trepidation!) because it’s time for. . .

The 6th Annual Valentiny Writing Contest

~ for children’s writers ~

The Contest:  since writing for children is all about “big emotion for little people” (I forget who said that, but someone did so I put it in quotes!) and Valentines Day is all about emotion, write a Valentines story appropriate for children (children here defined as ages 12 and under) maximum 214 words in which someone feels brave!

  • They can be brave about asking someone to be their Valentine, of course, but they can also do something brave to get a Valentine (the person or the gift), or do something brave to help a friend. They could be brave about giving something up, or brave about asking someone they’re not sure they like to be their Valentine just to be nice. . . sky’s the limit!  Think beyond the obvious!
  • Your story can be poetry or prose, sweet, funny, surprising or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes someone brave (can be the main character but doesn’t have to be) and is 214 words (get it? 2/14 for Valentines Day 😊
  • You can go under the word count but not over!
  • Title is not included in the word count.
  • You are welcome to enter more than one entry – just remember you’ll be competing against yourself 😊
  • No illustration notes please!

Post your story in the comment section below (preferred) or on your own blog between right now this very second and Sunday February 14th by 11:59 PM EDT. If you only post on your own blog, add your post-specific link to the form list at the bottom of the post.  This post with all the entries in the comment section and the list of links for those who prefer to post on their own blogs will stay up all week for everyone to enjoy. If you have difficulty posting your entry to the comments, which unfortunately sometimes happens, you may email your entry to me and I’ll post it for you! [susanna[at]susannahill[dot]com

We discussed changing the entry posting. The majority voted to have all the entries in one place here in the comment section, so we’re going to give that a try. But there were some who wanted to continue blog-hopping, so I’m going to include a link list for them at the bottom of the post. For those who are willing to post in the comment section but also plan to post on their own blogs, you are most welcome to post the link to your blog in your posted entry here (see example below.) That way people can come visit you if they want to but can also read most of the entries in one place on my blog if they prefer. It is certainly easier for the judges to have as many entries as possible in one place. We’ll try it this way one time and see how it works. We can always go back to the old system 😊

(So a sample entry might look like this:
ENTRY TITLE – word count
Author Name
(link to your own contest entry blog post if you have one and would like to share it)

Amazing wonderful Valentiny Contest story.😊

Dudley’s Brave Valentine – 212 words
by Violet Hill
http://bit.ly/3aOxhZm

It was almost Valentines Day and Dudley’s heart had sunk to somewhere near his big toenail.
(etc etc amazing story continues)

I know how hard you all work on your entries and how anxious you are to be sure your entry is posted, but please try to be a little bit patient if you’re waiting for your entry to show up in the comments or on the list of entries. I try never to get up from my desk during contests but sometimes it’s unavoidable. 😊

The Judging: over the next several days, my lovely assistants and I will narrow down the entrants to 12 top choices which will be posted here and voted on for a winner on Thursday February 18th (or possibly a day or two later if the judges need extra time.)   The winner will be announced Monday February 22nd depending on judging and voting time needed.  The dates of the judging/voting/winner announcements are subject to finagling depending on how much time the judges actually end up needing!

Judging criteria will include:

  1. Kid-appeal/Kid-friendliness – remember, this is a story for kids!
  2. Creativity in using bravery and success in making us feel the bravery!
  3. Valentine’s Day appropriateness – this is a VALENTINE story!
  4. Quality of story – we will look for basic story elements and a true story arc
  5. Quality of writing – use and flow of language, correctness of mechanics, excellence of rhyme and meter if you use it, PROOFREADING!
  6. Originality – surprise us with something new and different! 😊
  7. How well you followed the Submission Guidelines – agents and editors expect professionalism. This is a chance to practice making sure you read and follow specified guidelines. If you don’t follow agent and editor submission guidelines they won’t even read your submission.

The Prizes:  Talk about a pounding heart! Just look at these fabulous prizes!

Hannah VanVels – Agent, Belcastro Agency – PB MS Critique

Hannah will offer one lucky winner a PB MS critique. The winner may submit fiction or nonfiction, rhyme or prose – Hannah is open to anything!

(from Belcastro Agency’s website)

Winner’s choice of Renee LaTulippe‘s Lyrical Language Lab Intensive Rhyme & Meter Self Study Course OR a one-hour ZOOM consultation with Renee to get feedback on a manuscript of your choice, ask questions about writing in rhyme/lyrical prose, or spend however you like!

Renee LaTulippe

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (Rhyme or Prose, Fiction) from Dawn Young, author of THE NIGHT BAAFORE CHRISTMAS (WorthyKids 2019), COUNTING ELEPHANTS (Running Press Kids, March 2020), and THE NIGHT BAAFORE EASTER (WorthyKids January 26, 2021)

Dawn Young

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (fiction) from Kirsti Call author of The Raindrop Who Couldn’t Fall (Mazo Publishing, January 2019),  Mootilda’s Bad Mood (Little Bee, September 2020), as well as COW SAYS MEOW (HMH) and COLD TURKEY (Little Brown) which will release in 2021.

Kirsti Call

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Melissa Stoller, author of SCARLET’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH (Spork 2018), READY, SET, GORILLA! (Spork 2018), THE ENCHANTED SNOW GLOBE COLLECTION (chapter books) (Spork 2017), and SADIE’S SHABBAT STORIES (Spork, October 2020)

Melissa Stoller

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non-rhyming, fiction) from Becky Scharnhorst, author of the forthcoming MY SCHOOL STINKS! (Philomel Books, July 6, 2021)

Becky Scharnhorst

Picture Book Manuscript Critique from Ellen Leventhal, author of A Flood Of Kindness (WorthyKids April 2021), DON’T EAT THE BLUEBONNETS (Spork 2017), LOLA CAN’T LEAP (Spork 2018), and HAYFEST A HOLIDAY QUEST (ABCs Press 2010)

Ellen Leventhal

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (non-rhyming, fiction, fewer than 800 words) from Rebecca Kraft Rector, author of SQUISH SQUASH SQUISHED (Nancy Paulsen Books, February 16, 2021) (which means it’s coming out in the middle of our contest!😊) and the forthcoming LITTLE RED (Aladdin, Simon & Schuster, Spring 2022) and TRIA AND THE GREAT STAR RESCUE (Delacorte/Random House)

Rebecca Kraft Rector

Picture Book Manuscript Critique (nonfiction PB or rhyming PB) from Julie Abery, author of LITTLE TIGER and LITTLE PANDA (Amicus Ink 2019), YUSRA SWIMS (Creative Editions February 2020), LITTLE MONKEY and LITTLE HIPPO (Amicus Ink February 2020), THE OLD MAN AND THE PENGUIN (Kids Can Press, December 2020), and the forthcoming LITTLE PENGUIN and LITTLE ZEBRA (Amicus Ink, March 2, 2021) and SAKIMOTO’S SWIM CLUB (Kids Can Press, May 4, 2021)

Julie Abery


A Picture Book Manuscript Critique by gifted author and former Holiday Contest prize winner, Jenna Waldman, author of the forthcoming Larry’s Latkes (October 2021) (originally written for the Holiday Contest!) and Shark-bot Shalom (August 2021) She is on twitter at @SarafinaDesign

Author Jenna Waldman

– Either a signed copy of WHEN A TREE GROWS OR a Picture Book Manuscript Critique – winner’s choice! – from Cathy Ballou Mealey, author of WHEN A TREE GROWS (Sterling April 2019) and the forthcoming SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE (Kids Can Press, May 4, 2021)

– a personalized signed copy of SUNDAY RAIN from author Rosie Pova PLUS a personalized signed copy of DEAR GRANDMA from Yours Truly.

– a personalized signed copy of DON’T HUG DOUG: (He Doesn’t Like It) from author Carrie Finison PLUS a personalized signed copy of CURIOSITY’S DISCOVERY from author/illustrator Nancy Derey Riley!

– a personalized signed copy of The Night Baafore Easter from author Dawn Young PLUS a personalized signed copy of Hop To It: Poems To Get You Moving from poet Sarah Meade!

Please join me in thanking these very generous authors and other writing professionals for contributing their books and writing expertise as prizes by visiting their websites and blogs, considering their books and services for birthday, holiday or other gift purchases, rating and/or reviewing their books on GoodReads, Amazon, B&N, or anywhere else if you like them, recommending them for school and library visits, and supporting them in any other way you can dream up! 😊

Now! Put your heart into it and bravely post your entries!

I can’t wait to read your stories!!!

Eager Readers: Check out the comment section for all the fabulous entries, and the link list at the end to visit the blogs of the authors who wanted to post on their own home turf 😊

ENTRIES IN THE COMMENT SECTION: (all entries are linked)

  1. Not “IT” – Danielle Sharkan
  2. A Goosely Valentine – Danielle Sharkan
  3. Charlie and Sienna – A Friendship Story – Laura Roettiger
  4. Most Valuable Valentine – Anne Lipton
  5. A Valentine’s Day Quest in the Land of Moore – Gregory Bray
  6. Red-Green Valentine’s Day – Stephanie Amargi
  7. A One-of-a-Kind, Just-in-Case, Not-at-All-Pink Valentine’s Day – Amy Leskowski
  8. Love Is Stronger – Teresa Traver
  9. Valentine’s Gotcha Day – Jessica Hinrichs
  10. Carmela’s Valentines – Lu Pierro
  11. Bee Brave – Gennie Gorback
  12. Crushed – Corine Timmer
  13. Too Chicken – Sue Lancaster
  14. Shelly and the Path of Peril – Sue Lancaster
  15. Brave Hearts – Jamie Donahoe
  16. Step-Brother Battle – Brenda Whitehead
  17. I Woof You – Debra Daugherty
  18. My Valenchicken – Glenda Roberson
  19. A Neighborly Valentine – Meg King-Sloan
  20. U R Brave – Lindsey Hobson
  21. If I Were Brave – Rose Cappelli
  22. Elonso’s Best Valentine’s Day Ever – Susan Drew
  23. Dibble and Wiscowski: “A Cookie Valentine” – Bru Benson
  24. One Brave Balloon – Susan Schade
  25. The Wibbler – Tracy Curran
  26. Brave Bonnie – Shannon VanStraten-Sundlass
  27. Cupid, Junior – Linda Staszak
  28. A Valentine Visit – Julie Maria
  29. Cupid: The Love Fairy – Rachel Shupin
  30. Be Brave On Valentine’s Day – Sara Kruger
  31. Operation Moonbeam – Simon Yeend
  32. A Valentine Rose – Daryl Gottier
  33. The Ballad of Bad Bart – Carrie Boone
  34. The Brave Little Seed – Michelle S. Kennedy
  35. Something I Want To Say – Jeny Morales
  36. Stella & Sparky And The Last Valentine – Patricia Nozell
  37. Stella & Hank – Nicole Loos Miller
  38. Untangled Valentines – Janie Reinart
  39. The Wildflower – Ashlee Hashman
  40. The Color of Love – Allison Strick
  41. Puppy Love – Deb Buschman
  42. Super Brothers – Shannon Howarth Nelsen
  43. Brave For Gigi – Kelly Swemba
  44. Wannabe my Valentine – Cynthia Stacey
  45. Cupix – Bridget Magee
  46. U To The Rescue – Amy Heath
  47. Blob’s Valentine’s Wish – Deb Sullivan
  48. Violet & The Valentine’s Vampire – Sarah Meade
  49. Jana’s Valentine’s Visit – Sarah Meade
  50. Mole & Miss Vole on Valentine’s Day – Sarah Meade
  51. A Valentine’s Mouse In Our House – Elizabeth Meyer Zu Heringdorf (2 entries in one comment)
  52. Will you be my ninja – Elizabeth Meyer Zu Heringdorf (2 entries in one comment)
  53. Grouchy Grover – Rebekah Hoeft
  54. Brave In A Cave – Cedar Pruitt
  55. Cardy’s Valentine Story In All Its Glory – Sally Yorke-Viney
  56. My Kind of Valentine! – Megan France
  57. Lavender Buzz – Vicky Langdon
  58. Love Sick – Abi Island
  59. Be Brave! – Lisa M. Clewner-Newman
  60. I’m Not Afraid – Patricia J. Franz
  61. The Girl With The Candyfloss Hair – Simon Yeend
  62. Valentine’s Day on Halloween Hill – Abby Wooldridge
  63. W-R-I-T-E For Each Other – Elizabeth Muster
  64. Olive You Forever – Ann Ferrello
  65. The Pink Pro – Kelsey Gross
  66. Brave Brave Brave – David McMullin
  67. The Witch of Valentine Lane – Marietta Apollonio
  68. Gordon’s One-Footed Hop – Kelsey Gross
  69. Charmadillo – Lauri C. Meyers
  70. “Soon” – M.R. Haqq
  71. More Than Cookies – Halley M. Cormack, LCSW
  72. Leroy The Lion (Hearted) – Lisa Varchol Perron
  73. Fishing For Love: A DIARY – Amy Olsen
  74. The Lost Valentine – Jeannette Suhr
  75. Brave New Friends – Dawn Young
  76. Scaredy-Cat – Danielle S. Hammelef
  77. Hard To Love – Robin Currie
  78. Brave Hearts – Susan Klaren
  79. Across The Road – Rachel Dutton
  80. Knight of Hearts – Ellen Crosby
  81. Tootsee Tulip Bulb’s Love-Treat – Judy Caldwell Hughes
  82. Brave in the Basement – Jessica Whipple
  83. Caleb’s Heart – Anne Bromley
  84. Corn Dogs on the Corner – Colleen Dougherty
  85. Brave Heart – Rebecca Gardyn Levington
  86. Knock, Knock, Knock – Marty Findley
  87. Villain-tine’s Day – Laura Bower
  88. Take A Deep Breath – Elyse Trevers
  89. Only Three Words – B. A. Schlosser Hill
  90. A Stolen Valentine – Martha Holguin
  91. Class List – Elizabeth Volkmann
  92. Cards and Cookies – Jennifer Reichow
  93. Chalk Tears – Judy Brewer
  94. Nurse A Broken Heart – E. Elle Bea
  95. Bravely Soldier On – E. Elle Bea
  96. New Kid Blues – Darcee A. Freier
  97. Valentine’s Recitation – Keely Leim
  98. Mama Love. Dada Love. – Nancy M. Tichenor
  99. A Valentine’s Treasure – Ingrid Boydston
  100. An Itsy Bitsy Valentine – Maria Antonia
  101. Dino & Gigi – Carolina Bottino (Nina K. Brown)
  102. Hearts Trail – Carolina Bottino (Nina K. Brown)
  103. The Giant’s Valentine – Sheila M. Hausbeck
  104. The Loneliness Street – Nina K. Brown
  105. Brave Little Valentine – Charlotte Dixon
  106. Playdate – Margaret Aitken
  107. Octopus Hugs – Chambrae Griffith
  108. Conversation Heart Courage – Becky Kimbrough
  109. My Friend Nate – Karima Davis
  110. Jojo’s Valentine – Sarah Hawklyn
  111. “I Like You A Lot” – Julie Schnieders
  112. Unconventional Friendship – Sarah Hawklyn
  113. The Flavors of the Heart – Armineh Manookian
  114. The Candybot – Ellen Seal
  115. An Otter Love Story – Kristy Roser Nuttall
  116. Floret And The Fondue – Ashley Sierra
  117. Be Brave, Be Kind, My Valentine – Susan E. Schipper
  118. Cupid’s Booty Camp For BabyBoo – Ally Enz
  119. Playing To Win – Norah Colvin
  120. Super Special Valentine – Aundra Tomlins
  121. A Brave Change of Heart – Amy Nicolai
  122. Sarla Asks A Question – Sandhya Acharya
  123. A Trail of Ketchup and Mustard – MeiLin Chan
  124. Juliet and Romeo: Verona’s Valentine’s Celebration – Cristina Raymer
  125. A Little Atom – Isabel Cruz Rodriguez
  126. Oscar Octopus Plants A Garden – Isabel Cruz Rodriquez
  127. My Bestest Friend – Roberta Abussi
  128. My Every-Day-Valentine – Roberta Abussi
  129. Sarah’s Valentines – Rachel Zimmerman Brachman
  130. Lemur In Love – Sarah McDermott
  131. A Cocoon of Love – Jyoti Rajan Gopal
  132. Eggbert – Charlie Bown
  133. A Valentine For Mom – Patricia Martin
  134. Becca’s Brave Hearts – Marty Bellis
  135. Little Truck’s Daring Delivery – Kristin Kolp
  136. The Valentine On My Shoe – Catherine J. Lee
  137. No More Pink – Robin Currie
  138. Shiny Sharp Scissors – Katie Fischer
  139. Valentine Love Languages – Jaymie Dean
  140. Val & Jack – Karen Keesling
  141. Brave Heart – Tonnye Fletcher
  142. Valentine Delivery – Katie Brandyberry
  143. Apple Pie: Valentine’s Day Treat – Sarah Skolfield
  144. Brave Little Friends – Judy Sobanski
  145. Lone’s Very First Day – Jennifer Reinharz
  146. The Monster’s Valentine Buffet – Kelly Conroy
  147. Freddie Frog’s Valentine – Lindsey Hobson
  148. A Simple Valentine – P. J. Purtee
  149. The Wonky Heart – Stacy Burch
  150. Roses From Valentina – Carmen Castillo Gilbert
  151. A Natural Valentine’s Day – Sharon McCarthy
  152. Miss Hedgehog’s Valentine Mission – Amy LaMae Brewer
  153. Blown Away – Diana Webb
  154. Zooming Valentine’s Day – Susan VandeWeghe
  155. Snack Attack – Melisa Wrex
  156. Heart Hands – Sarah Heaton
  157. Bigfoot’s Valentine – Kirsten Leestma
  158. Geronimo! – Lydia Loeber
  159. The Most Terrible, Awful, Icky Valentine Ever – Melissa Trempe
  160. Babies Share Bedrooms – Kristi Newsome
  161. 214 St. Valentine Way – Tracy Anderson Martin
  162. Six Secret Valentines – Una Belle Townsend
  163. The Bees and the Birdss – Paul Kurtz
  164. Someone Special! – Paul Kurtz
  165. Zombie My Valentine – Donna Kurtz
  166. The Owl and the Kitty-Kat – Donna Kurtz
  167. No Pictures! – Diane S. Scotti
  168. Blue Flower – Mary Warth
  169. New Line Valentine – Marcia Parks
  170. Leo Lionhearted – Jill Lambert
  171. Bravery Is From The Heart – Sophia Zafra
  172. A Heavenly Visit – Deborah Dolan Hunt
  173. The Bird And The Cat – Beth Winslow
  174. THE Valentine Question – Kate Rehill
  175. How To Be Valentines (With A Boa Constrictor) – Mary Noon
  176. Desi’s Daring Delivery – Darci Nielson
  177. New Best Friend – Sherri T. Mercer
  178. The Gift Tree – Ciara N M Greenwalt
  179. One Shot – Dazzle Ng
  180. Fuzzy Bum – Stacey Miller
  181. Arrrrr Is For Valentine – Sara Ackerman
  182. Valentine’s Day Rocks – Samantha Haas
  183. Cyrus The Bold – Patricia Corcoran
  184. Saying What I Really Mean – Nina Nolan
  185. Mr. Grumpy’s Valentine – Anne Sawan
  186. Heart Shaped Everything – Rathi Munukur
  187. You Can Do This Jonathan! – Martina Palkovicova
  188. Caveman Valentine – Jennifer Lowe
  189. Percy’s Valentine – Nancy Derey Riley
  190. Brave Hearts – Mary Rudzinski
  191. Legendary Valentine – Audrey Day-Williams
  192. In Front Behind – Diana Webb
  193. A Punny Valentine – Linda Staszak
  194. Love is an Ocean Away – Kimiko Wadriski Lumsden
  195. Valentine’s Day Rescue – Brigid Finucane
  196. Mission: Cancel Cupid Call – Kalee Gwarjanski
  197. The Valentine’s Quest – Karyn Curtis
  198. Seeking Courage – Bonnie Kelso
  199. Valentina and Valentino – Claire Lewis
  200. Will You Bee My Valentine – Ranessa Doucet
  201. A Valentine Ski – Clara MacClarald
  202. Dance Like An Eagle – Jyothi Nookula
  203. A Gift For Abuelo – JC Kelly
  204. My Tummy Valentine – Janice Kay Alexander
  205. Elijah and the Valentine – Susan Twiggs
  206. Assortment Phobia – JC Kelly
  207. A Beastly Valentine – Steve Jankousky
  208. A Valentiny for ME! – Karima Davis
  209. Friendship Cake – Dea Lenihan
  210. Be My Valentine – Liz Kehrli
  211. Love Story – Liz Kehrli
  212. Love Birds – Lisa Lee Furness
  213. Mr. Grumpy – Mary A. Zychowicz
  214. Feep and Meep – Echo Roben
  215. The Cave of Utter Darkness – Bill Canterbury
  216. Yellow Like A Mango – Imelda Taylor
  217. Melanie’s Back! – Shari Della Penna
  218. All About Heart – Anna Lunt
  219. Tilly’s Great Big Heart – Amy Flynn
  220. Insiya’s Valentine – Aditya Simha
  221. Corazon Does Not Cliff Jump – Kate Rehill
  222. We’re Still Brave! – Kelly Coutsoubos
  223. The Cupcake Who Dared To Be Different – Susanne Whitehouse
  224. Lucy’s Brave Lifelines – Karen A. Kelly

This form ONLY for people who prefer to post on their own blogs and are ONLY posting their entries on their own blogs!

2,381 thoughts on “Be Brave, My Heart! – The 6th Annual Valentiny Contest Is Here!!!

  1. Sarah Meade says:

    VIOLET & THE VALENTINE’S VAMPIRE
    214 words
    By Sarah Meade

    https://sarahmeadewrites.wordpress.com/2021/02/12/valentines-day-books-we-love-and-valentiny-contest/

    Violet Monster invited everyone to her Valentine’s party.
    Except . . . her new neighbor.
    He gave Violet the skeevy-creepies.
    Nobody knew his name, but his initials were on his mailbox: V.V.
    He was mysterious.
    And scary, even for a monster.
    Violet’s Valentine’s party really ROCKED.
    But Violet felt the skeevy-creepies.
    The lights flickered.
    “My decorations!”
    Gone.
    “My desserts!”
    Vanished.
    “WHAT’S HAPPENING?” Violet screeched.
    The music stopped.
    The other monsters stared.
    Violet shook with shock. “Who did this?”
    Someone stepped into the light.
    Violet gasped. “Vampire!”
    “It’s Vincent,” he said. “I don’t DO Valentine’s Day.”
    He wink-blinked and —
    POOF!
    Flew away.
    “V.V. must stand for VALENTINE’S VAMPIRE,” said Violet, “because he’s trying to suck the FUN out of February fourteenth!”
    She stomp-tromped next door.
    When she passed V.V.’s mailbox, she gave it a good kick.
    Something fluttered out.
    A valentine?
    She picked it up.
    Nope, a birthday card.
    Today was Vincent’s birthday?
    Violet took a deep breath . . .
    And knocked.
    The door opened.
    “It’s your birthday?” Violet asked.
    “Yep.” Vincent groaned. “I never get a birthday party.”
    “I’m sorry,” Violet said.
    “Me too.”
    Violet smiled. “How about I throw you one?”
    “Really?”
    “Really.”
    For the first time since Vincent moved in,
    Violet didn’t get the skeevy-creepies.
    She felt the fluffy-fuzzies.
    “Happy birthday, Vincent Valentine!”

  2. Sarah Meade says:

    JANA’S VALENTINE’S VISIT
    207 words
    By Sarah Meade

    https://sarahmeadewrites.wordpress.com/2021/02/12/valentines-day-books-we-love-and-valentiny-contest/

    Almost there.
    Mom sings along to love songs on the radio as she drives.
    Jana stares down at her sparkly red fingernails.
    They match her Valentine’s Day dress.
    She thinks about last time,
    even though she doesn’t want to.
    How scared she’d been.
    The strange smells,
    scary sounds,
    sad faces.
    Jana shivers.
    She doesn’t want to go back there today.
    When the car stops,
    Jana feels her breath catch.
    “I’m scared,” she whispers.
    “I’ll be with you,” Mom says.
    Jana carries her valentine in shaking hands.
    They step
    up the sidewalk,
    through the sliding doors.
    Inside.
    The strange smells,
    scary sounds,
    sad faces.
    Again.
    Jana swallows.
    She slides behind Mom,
    tries not to breathe,
    or hear,
    or see.
    Outside Gram’s room, they pause.
    “See? You’re OK,” Mom says.
    Jana nods, her face hot.
    She goes to Gram’s bed.
    “Happy Valentine’s Day,” she whispers.
    Gram’s same small smile.
    Jana places the valentine in Gram’s hands.
    “Thank . . . you,” Gram murmurs.
    She grabs Jana’s hand and squeezes.
    Jana gasps.
    “Pretty. . . nails,” Gram whispers.
    Jana smiles. “Sparkly red like valentines. It’s your favorite holiday.”
    Gram nods.
    “Gram?” Jana says. “Want me to paint your nails, too?”
    Gram’s face lights up.
    Jana’s hands don’t shake at all as she begins to paint.

  3. Sarah Meade says:

    Mole & Miss Vole on Valentine’s Day
    214 words
    By Sarah Meade

    https://sarahmeadewrites.wordpress.com/2021/02/12/valentines-day-books-we-love-and-valentiny-contest/

    Mole liked slow strolls, quiet gardens, casseroles (nothing too spicy), and . . .
    his new neighbor, Miss Vole.
    Every day Mole waved as he strolled past her home.
    One morning Miss Vole squealed, “Tomorrow’s Valentine’s Day!”
    Mole paused. “Oh?”
    “Let’s meet and share things we LOVE!”
    Mole nodded and headed home.
    That night he worried.
    What did Miss Vole love?
    Strolls?
    Gardens?
    Casseroles?
    Would she like HIM?
    The next day Miss Vole arrived with —
    “Roller skates?” Mole murmured.
    “I LOVE skating!”
    Mole gulped.
    “Race you down Holiday Hill!” Miss Vole cried.
    ZOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!
    Mole’s heart hammered.
    “Too fast,” he called.
    “I LOVE bowling too!” Miss Vole said.
    Mole gulped.
    At Bowl-a-Rama . . .
    Whooom!
    Cricketty-crash!
    “STRIKE!”
    Mole’s ears rang.
    “Too loud,” he said.
    “Let’s have lunch!” said Miss Vole.
    At Miss Vole’s house, she asked, “Do you love . . .
    Casseroles?”
    “Yes!” Mole cried. “Do YOU?”
    “The spicier, the better! Have some.”
    Mole gulped.
    His paws shook.
    He opened wide . . .
    and chewed.
    “Sorry,” he said. “Too spicy for me.”
    Miss Vole smiled. “What else do YOU love, Mole?”
    He swallowed.
    “Follow me.”
    They strolled.
    In the garden, Mole picked a bouquet.
    “For you.”
    “I LOVE it!”
    Mole’s heart hammered in a different way.
    “Want to try skating again tomorrow?” he asked. “No hills?”
    “I’d LOVE to!”
    “Happy Valentine’s Day, Miss Vole!”

  4. Elizabeth Meyer Zu Heringdorf says:

    Dear Susanna: I hope you are feeling better. I was unusually prolific this week, so here are two entries. Looking forward to reading everyone’s stories!

    Entry 1: A Valentine’s Mouse in Our House

    Just as they were finishing the Valentine’s chocolates,
    Leroy the cat came slowly inside with his head down.
    “Look!” shouted Lara. “Leroy has a mouse!”
    Leroy dropped it on the floor,
    and it ran straight under the cabinet!
    Papa and Lara shone a flashlight underneath, but no mouse.
    “She’s hiding!” said Lara.
    “How do you know it’s a girl?” asked Papa.
    “I just know,” said Lara. “And her name is Trixie.”
    Just as they finished taking the cabinet apart…
    Surprise! Trixie ran out from under the cables.
    Papa clapped the empty chocolate box over her.
    “Now, when I pick the box up, grab her by the tail.”
    “Oh, Papa, I can’t! I’m scared.”
    “She won’t bite. Try it.”
    He counted to three and lifted the box,
    and there was little brown Trixie, very still.
    Lara quickly reached down and then pulled back her hand.
    She tried again but jumped when Trixie quivered.
    The third time, she got closer and got Trixie by the tail!
    Lara ran outside and put the mouse on the grass.
    “Go, Trixie! You’re free now!”
    Trixie skittered into the woodpile, taking a little bit of Lara’s heart with her.
    So Lara sent a farewell Valentine – a reminder to be polite.
    “You’re welcome, Trixie!”
    And from the woodpile came a squeak.

    Entry 2: Will you be my ninja?

    Everyone in Paul’s class was drawing a valentine for someone else. Paul wanted to give his to Kelly, the boy who sat near him. As he thought about doing it, he felt strange. But it felt right to him too. So he decided to do it, but keep it a secret.
    A pink valentine seemed wrong for Kelly, so Paul grabbed the nearest blue crayon. With a shaking hand, he traced a ninja and a heart on the cover.
    He didn’t sign it. He flicked it onto Kelly’s empty chair. Then he ran into the bathroom.
    As he crept back into his seat, he heard, “Who gave this to me?”
    He peeked up and saw Kelly, who smiled and waved the card at him. “Look!”
    The smile drew Paul out of his chair. He pointed to himself.
    Kelly stared at Paul.
    “I didn’t think I’d get one from…a boy.”
    Paul turned the color of a sundried tomato.
    “But I didn’t think I’d get one at all. So I guess it’s OK.”
    They grinned at each other, and the warmth from Paul’s face poured over him.
    Just then a boy peered over Kelly’s shoulder.
    “Nice ninja. Who’s it from?”
    Paul straightened up and squared his shoulders, as brave as a ninja himself.
    “Me!” he said.

  5. Rebekah Hoeft says:

    Grouchy Grover – 214 words

    Grover eyed the cat nervously. Mission nearly complete, Grover darted to the hibiscus plant by the house. This was the last trip to finish his special valentine and apology.

    That morning, Grover had been rude to Rose.

    “Go away. This is my spot.” The branch Grover claimed was perfect for catching bugs and held perfectly ripe coffee berries.

    “Sure, Grover. I’ll go,” she’d chirped kindly. Off she’d flitted to friends perched in the warm Jamaican sun. He wished he’d been kinder. Valentine’s Day wasn’t the same without Rose.

    Most rose-breasted grosbeaks loved winter vacation, but as usual, he’d woken up on the wrong side of the branch. He missed their Michigan garden with its pine trees and sunflower seeds supplied by thoughtful humans. His winter feathers were faded and splotchy. Grover didn’t feel like himself.

    Now he was trying to make it up to Rose.

    The cat turned. Scared but determined, he plucked up his courage, plucked the flower, and soared away just as the cat pounced.

    Returning to his masterpiece, he placed the last flower.

    Nervously, he chirped, “Rose? Can you come here?”

    She hopped to where he stood next to a tasty heart made of flowers and coffee berries.

    “Rose, I’m sorry I was unkind. Will you be my valentine?”

    “Always, Grover.”

    Thanks, Susanna, for another fun prompt! 🙂
    https://rebekahhoeft.blogspot.com/2021/02/susanna-leonard-hills-valentiny-2021.html

  6. Cedar Pruitt says:

    Word count: 208

    BRAVE IN A CAVE
    By Cedar Pruitt

    [Violet is a tarantula]

    Scaredy Bat shuddered when Violet glowered.
    He tried to glower back, because she was SO PRETTY.
    But he quaked.

    And unfolded his wings for a starry night flight
    hunting echoes to catch insects.
    Dove fast. Swooped slow. Snatched buzzing dinner.

    Back home, eyes wide, he worried:
    Why didn’t he glower back?
    To sleep, Scaredy Bat counted scary things:
    Creepy corners
    Spooky shapes
    Violet’s adorable glower

    In the morning, cave news buzzed with
    Violet’s Valentine Victory
    A baseball game for all!

    Scaredy Bat was scared of sports
    Pitching, catching, balls.
    But if he played well, he might catch one of Violet’s eyes,
    And finally return that glower.

    Practicing with bones and beaks,
    Catches zipped by.
    Swings were missed.
    He tried again, but…
    the ball rolled away.

    Scaredy Bat took a sad starry night flight.
    He hunted echoes.
    Dove fast, swooped slow, caught buzzing dinner.
    Then he caught…
    a new idea.

    At the game,
    Scaredy Bat quivered with his new idea.
    He quivered when he struck out.
    He quivered when he ran too slow.
    Then he played shortstop. He just
    had
    to catch
    the ball.

    He hunted echoes instead.
    Scaredy Bat caught
    …the ball!

    From the pitcher’s mound, Violet threw him looks.
    And this time

    Scaredy Bat glowered
    right back.

  7. syorkeviney says:

    Sally Yorke-Viney
    Word Count- 196

    CARDY’S VALENTINE STORY IN ALL OF ITS GLORY

    Cardy looked down,
    His chest was still brown,
    His feathers were mottled, a mess!
    Summer was done,
    And Fall had begun,
    And he still didn’t look like the rest.

    Cardy was shy.
    As he started to fly,
    He was smaller than others around.
    They went to the feeders,
    And were over eaters!
    While he pecked at seeds on the ground.

    “I want to be strong,
    And singing my song.
    My mom and my dad told me so!
    I want a close friend,
    Who will stay to the end,
    There is so much that I want to know.”

    Now Winter had come and Cardy was glum,
    When he saw a brown bird on the ground.
    She was searching through seeds,
    Looking to feed, surrounded by hulls all around.

    I’ll be brave and I’ll help,
    And he chirped, “Come on up!”
    And he gave her the seed from his beak.
    “I know what it’s like to be brown and so small,
    I know what it’s like to be meek!”

    So, these birds became friends,
    She was brown to the end,
    And Cardy became vivid red!
    A Valentine story in all of its glory,
    Two cardinals very well fed!

  8. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR MEGAN

    My Kind of Valentine!- Word Count 214
    by Megan France

    On the morning of Valentine’s Day, the students were busy crafting cards for their Valentine’s exchange later that afternoon.

    Pushing aside piles of paper, Max scowled. “I hate pink! And I hate glitter!” he grumbled.

    “But valentines are always pink and red,” said Mary.

    “Yeah, and glitter makes them sparkle,” added Charlie.

    Pam just sat quietly. Pam was always quiet.

    “Well, I’m going to make my own kind of valentines!” Max exclaimed.

    Max colored orange paper using green markers to make his cards.

    As he put his cards into his classmates’ Valentine’s Day bags, he noticed that his bag was empty.

    Mary saw Max and explained, “All my cards are pink and you don’t like pink.”

    “I didn’t want to get glitter into your bag,” said Charlie.

    Pam looked at Max but said nothing.

    Max realized that maybe he would be the only one that didn’t get a Valentine.

    All through math and science, Max’s bag remained empty. When the card exchange started, Max put his head down and pretended to be invisible.

    Then Max felt a tug on his sleeve.

    “Max,” whispered Pam. “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

    Her hands shook as she laid down a green and yellow heart-shaped valentine on his desk.

    Max smiled.

    Pam looked up and smiled back.

  9. Vicky Langdon 💙 (@VickyJLangdon) says:

    LAVENDER BUZZ – 214 words
    By Vicky Langdon

    My garden flows onto a beautiful meadow
    Of lavender purple – so sweet and so mellow.
    My Mum loves to gaze at the fine fragrant flowers.
    She sits breathing deeply for hours and hours.

    Mum misses my Dad and it makes her brow furrow.
    But lavender vanishes all of her sorrow.
    The flowers have other admirers – they’re scary!
    They bimble and bumble, they sting so I’m wary.

    I’m going to pick Mum a vaseful of flora
    For Valentine’s Day to show how I adore her.
    A swarm of big bees is set poised just to sting, though.
    It makes my skin tingle. I can’t let my fear grow.

    My stomach is swirling at all of the sky buzz.
    I feel like they’re on me! Small bobbles of fly fuzz.
    I reach out my hand and think please do not hurt me!
    One hovers so near that it brushes me lightly!

    Pluck one stalk then two stalks then fistfuls of more stalks.
    I’ve got enough now, arms so full that I can’t talk.
    I did it! I did! Now the buzzing’s inside me!
    I dance round the garden and swing from the oak tree.

    On Valentine’s morning I rush to my Mum’s room.
    I give her the flowers. Her whole face is in bloom.

  10. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR ABI

    Love Sick – 197 words
    By Abi Island

    I do not want to go to school,
    Because my tummy turns;
    Whenever Molly talks to me,
    I’m breathless – my heart burns!

    I do not want to go to school –
    My head feels fizzy fuzz,
    Like butterflies inside of me,
    I’m all ’a twinkly buzz.

    My cheeks are sore from smiling lots
    Each time I think of Molly.
    My new friend who sits next to me,
    Is clever, kind and jolly!

    Brave Molly is adventurous,
    Amazing, and helps me.
    My Molly shows me how to score
    And how to climb a tree.

    I do not want to miss the fun,
    Like going out to play.
    Or when we get to choose a book,
    Or sing at end of day!

    Perhaps I’ll try and go to school –
    And not miss all the fun,
    Of seeing friends and getting stars,
    When all my work is done.

    If I do not go to school,
    Someone may take my place –
    And Molly won’t sit next to me,
    But sit with Chase or Grace.

    I will be brave and go to school!
    And share my valentine heart.
    I will be brave and go to school!
    We should not sit apart.

  11. Lisa Clewner-Newman (@LisaClewner) says:

    Be Brave! – 212 Words
    By Lisa M. Clewner-Newman

    Maddie stands outside her first-grade class door. She peeks through the window. The mosaic turkeys flew away. Watercolor hearts cover the walls. She spots Jenny. Jenny knows. It will be okay.

    One last look at mom’s writing on her hand – Be Brave! – then Maddie opens the door. Twenty startled faces look at her. Then at Miss Zimm. Maddie blinks back tears. She slides into her desk as Miss Zimm quickly erases art instructions.

    Jenny doesn’t say anything. Instead, Jenny runs to whisper in Miss Zimm’s ear.

    Everyone is fidgety.

    Has Maddie lost her friends along with her hair?

    Maddie thinks just make it through math. Then use the permission slip to rest in Nurse Clare’s office.

    Maddie and Jenny walk. Maddie compliments Jenny’s dress. Jenny mumbles about paper and tape. Jenny delivers Maddie to Clare, then rushes away. Tears wash away Be Brave. Even rest time runs away. Clare re-writes Be Brave! and encloses it with a heart.

    Maddie again stands at Miss Zimm’s door. You’ve got this! Breathe. Open the door.

    This time, twenty pink capped children, and Miss Zimm, grin and cheer for her. Maddie is soon engulfed in a group hug.

    Jenny explains, “We expected you tomorrow for Valentine’s Day. We wanted to surprise you, but you surprised us!”

  12. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR PATRICIA

    I’m Not Afraid
    Word Count: 214
    by Patricia J. Franz

    Late at night, curled up in bed,
    When shadows loom above my head,
    When the half-moon wanes and streetlamps glow,
    When stars are dim and the fire’s low,

    It’s not the whirring wind outside
    Or a screech that leaves me petrified.
    It’s not cans that fall with a bang and a crash
    when critters find dinner in the neighbor’s trash.

    I’m not afraid of toys or bears
    Or alligators that come in pairs.
    I’m not afraid of glowing stars,
    Moving mobiles, horns or cars
    Or backpacks, squirrels, or a striped stuffed cat.
    I’m not afraid of any of that.

    What scares me most, deep down inside
    Is when I can’t sleep by your side.

    If bad dreams come, I won’t be there
    To nestle close or retrieve your bear
    or fetch a blanket when you’re cold
    or give you a furry paw to hold.

    But I’ll be brave. I’ll wait all night
    Outside your door, till morning light.
    I’ll guard your room so you can dream
    Of hearts and parks and pink ice cream.

    And when the first sun ray appears,
    When your giggles fill my ears,
    I’ll nudge the door, sniff my way in,
    nuzzle your nose, tickle your chin.

    It’s how I ask: “Will you be mine?
    Can I be your Valentine?”

  13. Simon Yeend (@SimonYeend) says:

    The Girl with the Candyfloss Hair – 214 words
    By Simon Yeend

    He watched her every day across the classroom.
    The Girl with the Candyfloss Hair
    He watched, but he’d never dare speak to her.
    The Girl with the Candyfloss Hair.
    When she spoke, her voice poured like syrup, sweet and nourishing.
    Once, she’d touched his head. In a game of Duck, Duck, Goose. He was too stunned to chase her, and she’d glided away like a gazelle. The spot she’d touched, tingled for ages.
    Twice, he’d passed close by in the corridor. She smelt of peppermints and lollipops.
    Three times, he’d counted the freckles on her nose. Three times, he’d got a different number.
    Then came Valentine’s Day…
    Mary-Belle had a thick pile of envelopes on her desk. Other girls had cards. The Girl with the Candyfloss Hair? None. He saw her look, quickly, under her desk, to see if one had fallen off. Her cheeks went ever so slightly pink.
    He reached inside his school sweater. The pointy corners of the card dug into his tummy. He stood up. Walked towards her desk. The classroom went quiet. He’d left it too late.
    He turned away from her. Nobody gave Valentine’s cards with others watching. She called him back. In a voice of syrup, the Girl with the Candyfloss Hair, said: “This is for you.”

  14. Abby Schenck Wooldridge says:

    Valentine’s Day on Halloween Hill — 212 words
    by Abby Wooldridge
    http://abbywooldridge.com/2021/02/12/valentiny-contest/

    ‘Twas Valentine’s Day
    on Halloween Hill.
    Snow flurries ushered
    the frostiest chill.
    Sweet little Mable
    set out for the top–
    determined her fear
    would not let her stop.
    But “Boo!” groaned the ghost,
    and “Hiss!” shrieked the cat.
    Skeletons rattled,
    And “Woosh!” flew the bat.
    Suddenly Mable
    was not feeling brave,
    but still she approached
    the mouth of the cave.
    “Happy Day to you,
    my dear Valentine!
    I brought you chocolate!
    Oh, won’t you be mine?”
    From out of the cave
    called Pumpkin King Jack,
    “You’ve made a mistake.
    You’d better turn back.
    Today’s not a day
    for spooks or for scares.
    Today is a day
    to show that you care.”
    “But I am not wrong,”
    said Mable to Jack.
    “I’ve brought you all treats.
    I won’t take them back.
    You bring us such fun
    on Halloween night,
    and so for today,
    I bring you delight.”
    Then Pumpkin King Jack
    crawled out of his cave.
    “Thank you, dear Mable.
    You’re terribly brave.
    You’ve climbed the great hill
    That no one else dared.
    You’ve shown us monsters
    there’s love to be shared.
    Thanks for your kindness,
    for being so brave.
    I hardly ever
    come out of this cave.
    But now that I have,
    I surely will share
    this Valentine cheer
    to all everywhere.”

  15. Elizabeth LaGrange Muster says:

    W-R-I-T-E for Each Other — 213 words
    By Elizabeth Muster

    Zane the Zombie cut a heart from red construction paper. He smiled as he wrote the word “Happy.” He wrote V-A-L. Then he frowned. Did E come next or did I? Zane crumpled the heart and threw it away.

    “Why celebrate Valentine’s Day when your heart doesn’t beat?” a classmate asked. “Halloween is the only holiday for me.”

    But it was February 14, and Zane wanted Zelda to know how he felt. Zelda had pale skin and yellow eyes and smelled wonderfully of rotten meat. She was the best at scaring humans from the playground during recess.

    With a shaky hand, Zane made another heart. This time he wrote, “You look like death wormed over.”

    He was pleased until the classmate looked over Zane’s shoulder. “You didn’t even spell it right.”

    The words seemed to wriggle, and Zane couldn’t decide which one was misspelled. Bravely, he gave Zelda the valentine anyway.

    “Thank you,” said Zelda. “I have a valentine for you too.” The card read: You can’t scar me.

    “It’s perfect,” said Zane. He and Zelda showed their valentines to the teacher.

    “I think you two are just W-R-I-T-E for each other,” she said with a smile.

    “What’s that spell?” asked Zane.

    “Write,” said the teacher.

    “Right.” Zane smiled.

    “I agree,” said Zelda.

  16. aferrello says:

    Olive You Forever- 214 words
    By Ann Ferrello

    Gregory thought Ava was the most beautiful girl in the world for 162 days –– ever since the first day of school. He loved playing superheroes with her and Ava always shared her desert with him.

    With Valentine’s Day coming up, Gregory wanted to give her something really special. He scoured the pantry for ideas. “Chocolates? No, too predictable,” he thought. “I want to sweep her off her feet!” Finally, he found the perfect gift and tucked it in his backpack.

    He spotted Ava when he got to school and hid behind the bike racks. “What if she doesn’t like my gift? Or what if she laughs at me?” Gregory wondered. His heart deflated faster than an old birthday balloon.

    “Or what if,” Gregory gasped, “she’s loved me for 162 days too!”

    He strode toward the playground where Ava was swinging. A man on a mission, Gregory dug into his backpack, stuck out his arm, and presented her with a gurgling jar of olives.

    “Ava, Olive you forever!” he declared. “Get it? I’ll love…?”

    “Ew!!!” she shrieked, and ran away.

    Gregory’s shoulders slumped as he stared at the olives. His heart broke into 162 little pieces. Suddenly, another girl ran past him at superhero speed. Gregory grinned.

    “Hey Caroline,” he called. “Do YOU like olives?”

  17. Kelsey Ebben Gross says:

    THE PINK PRO
    By Kelsey Gross
    214 words

    Pink headband? Check.

    Heart sweatshirt? Check.

    Rose skirt and leggings? Check.

    Jonah exhaled. “Ok.”

    He flew down the steps and grabbed his backpack.

    “Valentine’s Day breakfast?” asked Mom, holding out a heart-shaped pancake.

    Jonah shook his head.

    Mom hugged him. “I’m proud of you for being brave! I’ll be here after school.”

    Jonah hopped on his bike and sped down the street.

    “Jonah? I didn’t recognize you!” said his neighbor.

    Jonah gritted his teeth and pedaled harder.

    The crossing guard raised his eyebrows. “Huh. In my day, boys never wore

    pink…or skirts.”

    Jonah’s stomach tightened.

    He dropped his bike and dashed toward the door. He’d hide in the library until the bell.

    But Celia spotted him. “HEY! Sweet moves Friday night!”

    “Yeah!” Andrew hollered. “Valentine Dance CHAMPION!”

    “You’re a dancing PRO!” shouted Jack.

    Jonah straightened his sweatshirt. “Umm, thanks.”

    Jack frowned. ”Soooo…that outfit was funny for the dance, but…why are you still wearing it?”

    Sweat trickled into Jonah’s headband.

    Everyone stared.

    Jonah pointed at Jack’s jersey, his hand shaking. “Well…pros wear uniforms,

    right?”

    This is mine. For dancing. And…

    I, uhh…

    like it.”

    Jonah held his breath.

    Silent seconds passed.

    Jack shrugged. “Ok.”

    “So…can you show us how to do that robot move?”

    Jonah exhaled,

    and smiled.

    “You got it!”

  18. David McMullin says:

    BRAVE BRAVE BRAVE – 213 words
    by David McMullin

    Magnifalous the superhero was brave, brave, brave – no doubt about it.
    Conquering Gorgons? He was a rock.
    Celestiniod Aliens? His moves were out of this world.
    Giant Crocobears? A snap.
    BUT when it came to asking Peggily Mae Terrificon to the Valentine’s Day dance….
    It was the super easiest of all super easy things. After all, he was brave, brave, brave.
    The dance was a de-light! Magnifalous and Peggily whirled around the floor –
    lightning fast –
    on roller skates –
    blindfolded.
    See… brave, brave, brave!
    Then came snack time.
    Magnifalous and Peggily rocketed towards the buffet, but Magnifalous slammed on the breaks. Sqeeeeeeeeeeel!
    He was horrified. His one fear glared directly at him.
    Between the iced heart cookies and the fizzy-fruity punch sat a vat of… VANILLA PUDDING!!!
    It just quivered there – all bloppy,
    with its horrible not-quite-white white color,
    and a texture like thickened swamp monster slime.
    He wanted to bolt, skedaddle, hotfoot, vamoose!
    But Peggily squealed, “My favorite!” and swiftly served them each a gargantuan bowl of the putrefying, festering concoction.
    Magnifalous couldn’t ruin Peggily’s fun. He mustered every bit of courage.
    His breakfast attempted daring escapes, but he held it together-
    opened wide and-
    GULP!
    Yes, Magnifalous was brave, brave, brave.
    The proof was in the pudding.

  19. mapollonio5 says:

    The Witch of Valentine Lane
    Word Count: 209
    By Marietta Apollonio
    website link (if you’d like to see an illustration of the witch ❤️) : https://www.mariettaapollonio.com/writing-adventures/valentinywritingcontest2021

    During winter, I watched the Witch of Valentine Lane.

    Snow suited kids whispered, waddling quickly past her tattered house. Neighbors veered with fearful glances, as colored smoke churned from her crumbling chimney.

    Mail stuffed into a splintered box floated to her house.
    Newspapers left on the sidewalk poofed to her front porch.
    From the shadows…she helped. Saving a bird, fixing a bike.
    “If she sees you watching,” neighbors barked. “She’ll turn you into a newt.”

    On Valentine’s Day she peered with a slight smile, as the neighborhood decorated for gathering.
    I watched from my open window. Chocolate scented smoke turned red from the crumbling chimney. Roses breached snow, blooming in her yard.

    My feet walked me out the door, onto the street. My feet walked me past the splintered
    box. Up the path. Step. Step. Step. Onto the porch. “Turn back,” my mind whispered.

    “Come back,” neighbors called quietly.

    My heart stood its ground.

    My hand reached the door, my lungs breathed deep, my fist knocked.

    Planks creaked. From the other side, a somber sigh. Then, a deep breath.
    The witches hand shook. The door groaned, scrapping as it opened.

    Feeling the frog in my throat, I croaked, “Would you be my valentine?” And
    reached out my hand.

  20. Kelsey Ebben Gross says:

    GORDON’S ONE-FOOTED HOP
    By Kelsey Gross
    214 words

    Tap, tap, tap.

    The knocking echoed through Gordon’s dark house.

    “Come out!” Nina shouted. “It’s Valentine’s Day!”

    “I can’t,” he muttered.

    Gordon dreaded the Valentine’s Dance.

    I can only do a goofy one-footed hop!

    What if everyone laughs?

    He clenched down hard.

    If I clam up and hide, she’ll think I’m not home.

    The knocking stopped.

    But at lunchtime…

    Tap, tap, tap.

    “Gordon? I brought candy!”

    Gordon’s stomach flip-flopped.

    I can’t, he thought. I can’t let Nina see my stumbly-bumbly dancing!

    The knocking stopped.

    But that afternoon…

    Tap, tap, tap.

    “Gordon?” Nina sniffled. “I guess I’ll go to the dance alone, but…

    …can you at least come get your valentine?”

    I can! thought Gordon. I must be with my sweetheart. It’s Valentine’s Day!

    CREAK!

    Gordon swallowed,

    slid his foot out,

    and inched into the sand.

    “Sorry it took me so long to come out of my shell.”

    Nina brightened. “It’s OK. I love you, even when you’re feeling shy! Here’s your

    valentine.”

    She drifted away.

    “Wait!” Gordon felt clammy.

    “I made you a gift.”

    Nina gasped. “A pearl! You’re the cutest clam in the ocean.”

    “Time for the dance!” Gordon said. “I can’t wait to see you skim across the sea floor.”

    He winked. “Who knows, maybe I’ll show you my spe-shell one-footed hop!”

    ——–
    Formatted version at: https://kidlitkelsey.blogspot.com/2021/02/gordons-one-footed-hop.html

  21. Lauri Meyers says:

    Charmadillo – 204 words
    By Lauri C. Meyers
    https://www.laurimeyers.com/2021/02/charmadillo-valentiny-story.html

    Charmadillo sniffed the air
    And smelled the lovely Shelly there.
    She snorted dirt while pigging out.
    He loved her soft pink digging snout.

    He should say “hi” or “whatcha eating,”
    But his heart was loudly beating.
    Too shy to speak, he hatched a scheme
    To tell sweet Shelly she’s his dream.

    He would write some words of love
    And pass the note from up above.
    “Your snout is pink, your bands are fine,
    Won’t you be my Valentine?”

    He watched the letter fall below…
    But then his fear began to grow.
    He tried to snatch it back again,
    But it was deep inside her den!

    The situation turned him pale.
    He rolled himself and hugged his tail.
    His armor wasn’t tough enough –
    Inside he felt all squirmy stuff.

    He tried to dig a hole and hide,
    But something stirred from deep inside.
    What if his dreadful doubts were wrong,
    And sharing feelings made him strong?

    He paced nearby for her reply,
    Jumping when he heard her cry:
    “Charmadillo, I can’t read.
    You want a candied centipede?”

    The lunch of termites he prepared
    Showed his love how much he cared.
    She didn’t know the words he wrote,
    But showed her love and… ate the note.

  22. Mandi Ruscher Haqq says:

    “Soon” – 214 words
    by M.R. Haqq

    Hamza’s heart thrums so forcefully, he hunches backwards so his classmates don’t see it pounding through his t-shirt. He’d practiced everyday this month, he can’t chicken out now. Beads of sweat collect on his brow. He’d been practically silent ever since they’d arrived in America. If he doesn’t start talking soon, he fears he never will.

    The secondhand on the clock bolts towards 3 p.m.. Hamza’s hands shake. He peeks into his backpack, and eyes the heart shaped box. He silently prays he doesn’t mix the ‘p’s for the ‘b’s. He’d practiced holding paper in front of his mouth to make sure his ‘p’s made it ‘puff.’
    After the bell, he waits while his ESL teacher wishes everyone a good weekend. When they’re the only pair left in the classroom, she asks “Are you ok, Hamza?”

    “I’m well, thank you.”

    She smiles. “Have a good weekend.”

    He considers running for the door. He’d spoken English, out loud, more words than he’d ever strung together. But they weren’t the eleven he’d promised himself he’d say to show his gratitude. He hands her the red chocolate box.

    “Happy Valentine’s day, Mrs. Lopez-Garcia. Thank you for helping me.” he says.

    She smiles wider. He smiles, too. This is the beginning.

    Soon, he will tell his story.

  23. Halley M. Carmack, LCSW (@HalleyLcsw) says:

    More Than Cookies – 214 Words
    By: Halley M. Carmack, LCSW

    My eyes popped open–it’s Valentine’s Day! Daddy and I always bake cookies on Valentine’s Day. I couldn’t wait to get started. I skipped to the kitchen, found the special sugar, and got to work on the icing.

    When Daddy found me, he had his mad face on. His eyebrows made a “V”, his mouth was tight and his voice was loud. “What are you doing?!”

    I sputtered out, “It was an accident! I didn’t mean to!” and I ran.

    Daddy called my name in the voice he uses when he says he loves me. I peeked out from under the covers. Daddy’s eyebrows were back to normal.

    Sitting next to me, Daddy asked why I’d run away. I felt a little scared, but said, quietly, “You looked at me with a scary face and you used a really mad voice.”

    He whispered, “Thank you for telling me. You’re so brave for telling me how my face looked and how I made you feel. I wasn’t the boss of my feelings and I didn’t mean to scare you.” Daddy hugged me and kissed the top of my head.

    I apologized for making a mess and said, “I was so excited for Valentine’s Day cookies.”

    Daddy said “I’m still excited! But how about some breakfast first?”

  24. Lisa Varchol Perron (@LisaVPerron) says:

    LEROY THE LION(HEARTED)

    207 words
    by Lisa Varchol Perron

    Leroy the Lion careened through the castle.
    “It’s late, and I need to start baking!”
    He whistled and sang as he whipped up the batter
    then finished his valentine making.

    Today he would finally rise to the throne
    with a glorious, grand celebration.
    “A Valentine’s Ball held in Lionheart Hall—
    in honor of MY coronation!”

    A long line of powerful lions approached
    and roared up a storm for their king.
    But Leroy was leery of flashing his fangs.
    He’d rather bake cupcakes and sing.

    “I need to be BRAVE.” Leroy lifted his chest,
    his liony legs growing steady.
    “I can DO this!” said Leroy. “I’ve planned and prepared.”
    He knew in his heart he was ready.

    While others might prove they were fearsome and fierce,
    Leroy the Lion did this:
    He sang a sweet song and shared cupcakes along
    with valentines, sealed with a kiss.

    The kingdom fell silent, and Leroy said surely,
    “Some lions are tougher and cooler.
    I am who I am, and I promise this land
    a kind and compassionate ruler.”

    His subjects applauded, and Leroy was lauded
    for all of the love that he gave.
    And since he had courage to show his true self,
    they crowned him King Leroy the Brave.

  25. amyolsen7 says:

    Fishing for Love
    A DIARY

    by Amy Olsen
    WC 214

    2/1
    Up early. Donuts in the car!
    Our mission: Stock The New Lake.
    Grabbed our spot, just Dad & me.
    Baiting hooks = GAG!
    0 Catches
    Dad says it’s fishing, not catching…
    -Piper

    2/1
    Nervous.
    I’m the new fish in the pond.
    Gotta introduce myself.
    Say hi? Bonjour? Howdy?
    I’ll wave a fin.
    Wish this fish luck!
    -Sam

    2/7
    DONUTS AGAIN!!
    Dad taught me tricks & a new knot.
    Our neighbor caught 3 FISH!
    Striped, spotted, & rainbow fin.
    Almost baited the hook.
    (Less gagging.)
    Skunked again! (Fishin’-talk for NOTHING!)
    -Piper

    2/7
    Confused.
    Waved: EVERYONE disappeared.
    Stripes, spots & rainbow fin.
    POOF! GONE!
    Was it me?
    Where’d they go???
    Should’ve said howdy….
    -Sam

    2/9
    Almost Valentine’s Day.
    IDEA FOR DAD!
    Need: Paper & Crayon.
    -Piper

    2/9
    Hopeful!
    Found a love note:

    Dear Fish,
    True love’s only a worm away!
    Pucker up!

    AH-HA!
    Love whisked them away!
    How romantic.
    I’m going for it!
    -Sam

    2/12
    Gone-fishing.
    No donuts, no Dad.
    Used new knot, my love-note trick, & FINALLY BAITED THE HOOK!
    (NO gagging!)
    CAUGHT A FISH!!
    -Piper

    2/14
    Love is grand!
    New lake’s dreamy & stocked with friends!
    Swam into spots & stripes.
    Date with Veronica (Rainbow Fin) tomorrow!
    -Sam

    2/14
    Dad loves Sam.
    Perfect Valentine’s Day!
    Just Dad & me in our new spot.
    -Piper

  26. Jeannette Suhr says:

    The Lost Valentine – word count 214
    By Jan Suhr
    Amazing wonderful Valentiny Contest story

    This was to be my special day.
    I’m Jimmy’s handmade Valentine.
    But I tumbled from his backpack when he jumped aboard the school bus.

    I vowed to get to school for the party.
    Suddenly, Jimmy’s dog, Bacon, bolted by.
    I grabbed his collar and hung on tight.

    When we passed the park, Bacon spotted a squirrel.
    He veered right, I lost my grip, and
    I flopped on to a prickly pine bush.
    I shouted, “That was a heartless thing to do, Bacon!”

    I started running and happened upon a kite festival.
    I grasped the tail of Dragon kite who lifted me high over the park.
    But the wind was blowing us off course.

    As I let loose, I floated down and landed on a skateboard.
    I balanced as I swerved side to side downhill.

    I flagged a mail truck and leapt on board.
    The clock TICKED TICKED away the minutes.
    My heart THUMPED THUMPED out of my chest.

    I found Jimmy’s classroom and
    my heart melted as he hugged me tight.
    And even being dirty and torn,
    this was still going to be our special day.

    He wrote a poem on my back:

    “For my favorite teacher.
    Here’s my heart and a kiss.
    When this year is over.
    You’re the one I will miss.”

  27. Dawn Young says:

    BRAVE NEW FRIENDS 197 words
    Dawn Young
    Mary has a Valentine,
    BRAVE NEW FRIENDS 197 words
    by Dawn Renee Young

    Mary has a Valentine
    she wants to give away.
    But every time that Mary tries,
    no words can she convey.

    She swallows hard, and tries her luck,
    to try out something new.
    While all the children laugh and play,
    She gets a tiny clue.

    In her hand she holds a heart,
    as tightly as can be.
    She doesn’t want her secret friend,
    to see her by the tree.

    And all at once, there he stands,
    a smile upon his face.
    In his hand is something pink,
    all trimmed in pretty lace.

    “Just for you, my special friend.”
    Mary turns bright red.
    He handed her a Valentine.
    He turned around and fled.

    One more time she tries her luck.
    She tries to be quite brave!
    There he sat up on the slide
    She gives a silent wave.

    As Mary turns to say hello.
    Her friend begins to wiggle.
    “Here’s a card, just for you.”
    They both begin to giggle.

    “Will you be my Valentine?”
    He whispers in her ear.
    “Yes! Will you?” she bravely asks.
    “I’m glad that you are here!”

    Nate is new in Mary’s class.
    He came just yesterday.
    “I am glad that we are friends.
    Hip-hip-hip-hooray!”

  28. Danielle Hammelef says:

    Scaredy-Cat (212 words)

    By Danielle S. Hammelef

    My sister says I’m a scaredy-cat and can prove it.

    I call her skunk breath and continue coloring rainbow hearts on my class’ Valentine’s Day cards.

    A spider scuttles across my paper. I shriek and push away.

    My sister laughs and sing-songs, “Who’s afraid of spiders?”

    Sisters think they know everything.

    In my head, I make a “scared of” list:

    1) Spiders (obviously)
    2) Shots
    3) Making my teacher angry
    4) Throwing up
    5) Guns
    6) Dark
    7) Getting lost
    8) Being laughed at
    9) Telling people my fears

    How many fears make a scaredy-cat?

    Mom appears, eyes leaking, red.

    My sister stills. Something’s way wrong.

    Mom tells us my sister’s diagnosis.

    I hate it’s my turn to be right.

    I add fear ten to my list: CANCER

    My sister misses her class Valentine’s party. After school, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood plays on TV. He says, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

    Cancer’s scary. I want to be brave, be a helper. How?

    I pull out my Valentines box. I know how!

    When my sister opens her Valentines box, she smiles for the first time all day.

  29. robincurrie1 says:

    Hard to love (88 words)

    Are you so daring you can grasp a Lobster’s snapping claws?
    Are you so spunky you can kiss the Shark’s devouring jaws?

    Are you so brave that you can pet an Alligator’s spine?
    Are you so fearless you can hug a prickly Porcupine?

    Do you have guts to snuggle with a Skunk and all his stinks?
    Are you the hero who outstares a Snake who never blinks?

    All animals need love, of course, but just remember this:
    Sometimes it’s best to smile and to blow a valentin-y kiss!

  30. Susan J Klaren says:

    BRAVE HEARTS (213 words)

    by Susan Klaren

    The candy hearts were stale. I knew because I’d eaten “L” and “O.” They’d been hidden away in an envelope, tucked in my secret drawer. All my happiest memories of the time before Mommy got sick were buried there.

    Eight little hearts spelled “I*L*O*V*E*Y*O*U.” I found them in my lunch, packed by Mommy last Valentine’s Day.

    The same day THE call came from Mommy’s doctor.

    I ate “V” and “E” and closed my eyes, pretending “L*O*V*E” would find its way to the empty hole in my heart and fill it.

    Nope.

    “Y” teased me. So, I ate it.

    “Y” filled my head, but not my heart. Why nights without Mommy to tuck me in bed? Why days without hugs and kisses from her? Why was Daddy too sad to know what I needed?
    I looked at the three hearts left on my bed, “I*O*U.” I owe you! Was Mommy telling me something?

    With the bravest smile I could find, I put the little candies on the table next to Daddy. “This is an IOU from Mommy. It’s time for me to collect hugs and kisses and bedtime tucks, from you”

    Daddy smiled, “That’s so Mommy.”

    He opened his arms and I melted into them.
    My heart finally full, I whispered, “Thank you, Mommy.”

  31. Corine Timmer says:

    I am posting this again as something went wrong the first time. I look forward to reading the other entries. Good luck everyone!

    Crushed – 214 words
    Corine Timmer

    Crushed

    “Who’s your secret crush?” Fletcher said.
    “Rosie,” Rover said.
    “I like the way she moves.
    Those lean black legs,
    coated in fine hairs, and
    that red stripe on her butt. Oh, and
    her eyes! Have you seen her eyes!?”
    “She’s dangerous,” Fletcher said. “Haven’t you heard?”
    “Heard what?” Rover said.
    “She doesn’t like boys,” Fletcher said.
    “Tickle her the wrong way and she’ll eat you.”
    “I don’t believe it!” Rover said. “Rosie?”
    “Why don’t you tell her how you feel then?” Fletcher said. “I dare you!”
    Rover’s legs shook as he crawled closer to Rosie’s web.
    She was twice his size. But that didn’t stop him.
    “What long legs you have,” said Rover.
    “The better to catch you with,” replied Rosie.
    “What lovely eyes you have,” said Rover.
    “The better to watch you with,” replied Rosie.
    “What big fangs you have,” said Rover.
    “The better to pierce you with,” roared Rosie, as she leapt from the center of her web and chased him.
    Rover ran, but tripped over an anchor thread.
    At once he turned around, put his weight on his back legs and
    raised his front legs in the air.
    Rosie froze.
    Then, Rover started to sing.
    “Let me love you,
    Let me love you,
    Oh, baby, baby!”
    “Ok then,” Rosie said, smirking.

  32. Rachel Dutton (@rachelduttonart) says:

    Across the Road (210 words)

    Doodle was a rooster in love.

    It was a doomed romance, for his love was on the other side of the road. The wrong side. Nobody crossed the road, for the road was lava, the road was doom, death, destruction. It just wasn’t done. And though Doodle was a handsome fellow (everyone said so) he was not a brave chicken, and he did not do things that were not done.

    He pined away, watching from his window as his love dust-bathed in the warm sun, as she picked nits from her downy feathers, as she hunted bouncing crickets with breathtaking grace.

    He had an epiphany.

    FLIGHT.

    He would fly across the road, into the welcoming wings of his darling. Now, flight was a scary thing. Flight meant you could fall. You could even fall into the road! Putting his terror aside, Doodle began the construction of his hang glider.

    This was difficult without opposable thumbs, and his feathers became sticky with glue. Doodle soldiered on but alas, the stars were aligned against him, and his contraption never launched.

    He lay mournfully on the roof of his apartment, moping, when…could it be? His love! Flying! With her own two wings, she soared bravely across the road, and straight into Doodle’s heart.

  33. Ellen Crosby says:

    Knight of Hearts
    by Ellen Crosby (214 words)

    What do knights do?
    The Black Knight slays dragons…
    The Gallant Knight defends castles…
    The Golden Knight fights glorious battles…
    The Loyal Knight protects the common folk…
    The Jovial Knight jousts on horseback…

    But…
    Valentine, the Knight of Hearts, is different.
    He can do all the things that the other knights do except on this one special day when he does much, much more.
    On this particular day, he must climb a mountain. A mountain so high that the other knights are too afraid to try.
    The Knight of Hearts knows that to fail will mean great consequences, to not reach the top would mean deep disgrace.

    He arises that extraordinary day and begins his journey. Steep is the climb.

    STUMBLING,
    SLIPPING,
    TUMBLING,
    TRIPPING…

    Using his mighty sword to help pull himself forward inch by inch.
    Avoiding avalanches of rocks. Holding steadfast against great storms.
    And, what of the ferocious bears and big cats lying in wait?
    What can be so precious that he braves such a climb? Can he go on?

    Yes! He sees his heart’s desire. More precious than diamonds, the beautiful Queen of Hearts whose solitude atop the dark mountain made her feel trapped and alone, turns with open arms and sweetly says, “My hero! My one true love! My Valentine!”

  34. Judy Hughes says:

    TOOTSEE TULIP BULB’S LOVE-TREAT
    By Judy Caldwell Hughes
    211 Words
    Tootsee Tulip Bulb and her friends rocked and rolled until autumn arrived.
    Wind whistled, “Time to tumble into bed.”
    Tootsee went first. Her friends followed.
    Okay! Stem-lips up. Heart-cheeks down. “Whee-ee.”
    Soil tucked-in around her.
    Where’s my nightlight?
    Do I have to nap al-l-l winter?
    Wind whipped.
    Soil froze.
    Who turned down the heat?
    Icicles dazzled.
    Wish I had a wool coat.
    Okay. Sleep time.
    Scri-i-tch. Scri-i-tch.
    “Peanuts to you, Squirrel. I’m a love bulb, not dinner!”
    Tootsee snooz-zed. She dreamed.
    Clouds churned.
    Snow swirled.
    Moon shone and hid.
    Hm-m-z-z-z-z.
    “Buzz-off beetle! I’m sleeping.”
    Hm-z. Hm-z.
    “Oh-h-h, Love Bug, thanks for the jiggle! Time’s ticking.”
    Tootsee stuck out her roots. She stretched her stem. She snuck a peek.
    No green grass.
    No waving leaves.
    No flower friends.
    Br-r-r. Am I early?
    Sun’s love-hugs wrapped Tootsee with courage. She stayed. Her friends stayed.
    That night snow dusted the ground, bare trees and Tootsee.
    Y-y-yes, I’ll grow.
    Y-yes, I’ll leaf out.
    Yes! I’ll share love!
    Sleet drummed, Tootsee danced.
    Wind tickled, Tootsee laughed.
    Sun shone, Tootsee grew. Her friends grew, too.
    Love-Treat Day’s countdown ticked.
    Tootsee sprouted a lips-up, cheeks-down-heart.
    It bulged.
    It twirled.
    It ballooned.
    Tootsee’s lips parted. Her friends’ lips did, too.
    Together they sang, “Happy Valentine’s Day!”
    “Sweet nectar-treats, anybug?”

  35. jrwhip48 says:

    BRAVE IN THE BASEMENT
    214 words
    By Jessica Whipple

    It was the second grade Valentine’s party and Mirabel needed her heart dress.

    “Mom, can you get it? It’s in the dryer.” She hated reaching into that dark, round abyss. It rumbled, got really hot, and shrunk things. Thinking about the dryer made her tummy whirl like a carousel.

    But Mom was busy.

    “Sorry, Honey…” she started to say, zigging upstairs.
    “But Mom…”
    “I can’t, gotta find…” zagging down.

    And Benny was on the potty.

    So Mirabel would have to be brave. She tried to psych herself up thinking how great it would be to eat heart cookies in a heart dress. Valentine perfection.

    That got her down the basement steps. Still, her tummy was a carousel.

    Just then, Benny toddled down with his pants on backwards. She couldn’t help laughing! When she did, she noticed the carousel slowing down. “I’ll just think about his pants the rest of the way,” she thought.

    They crossed the cement floor to the dryer, giggling all the way. Laughing made it easier to be brave.

    Mirabel opened the door and reached in. Though her tummy was whirling, she rummaged for her sweater, found it, and yanked it out. Valentine success! And her arm hadn’t shrunken, either!

    Then her hand touched something else…

    “Mom, we found your keys!”

  36. Anne C. Bromley says:

    CALEB’S HEART by Anne Bromley (208 words)

    “Tick, tick, tick” went Mrs. Ling’s timer. Drawing time was almost over.
    Caleb still didn’t have the perfect Valentine for Mama. It had to be special. Mama worked so hard to pay the rent and buy food.
    All the other kids were busy cutting paper, curling ribbons, sprinkling glitter.
    “I hate Valentine’s Day!” Caleb muttered, clutching his pencil.
    He tried to draw a heart, but it turned into an apple.
    Jason just completed his umpteenth card. He leaned over. “You better hurry.”
    “I know!” Caleb scowled. He stabbed the red paper with a black marker and drew circles.
    Mrs. Ling stopped by. “How’s it going?”
    Jason smirked.
    Caleb put his head on the desk, feeling an anger stew bubbling inside. “I can’t draw hearts.”
    Jason laughed. “I’ll draw one for you.”
    Caleb stood up. “No! It’s gotta be mine.”
    Mrs. Ling winked. “Yes, it does.”
    Her globe gave him an idea!
    He grabbed four sheets and taped them together to make one big square.
    He drew a huge circle in the middle.
    Jason howled, “That’s no Valentine!”
    Caleb declared, “Yes, it is!”
    He wrote carefully around the circle:
    MY LOVE FOR YOU IS BIGGER THAN THE WORLD.
    Mrs. Ling whispered, “Your Mama will love this!”
    And she did.

  37. colleendougherty says:

    Good luck everyone! I can’t wait to read your stories!

    Corn Dogs on the Corner – 214 words
    By: Colleen Dougherty

    “Who’s that?”

    “Mr. Wilson.”

    “That’s Wacky Wilson? My friend Steve said he had a tail and hair made of sticks!!”

    “That’s not nice, Jeffrey.”

    “Mom, seriously! He sits in his run down house and steals kids’ hopes and dreams and molds them into corn dogs! I also heard his dog once bit a mailman in half! He had to work that day with no legs!”

    “He doesn’t have a dog. Mr. Wilson is a veteran and a kind man.”

    “Then why is his house so run down?”

    “Because he’s alone and can’t take care of things. Instead of spreading mean lies you should be looking for ways to help him, especially right before the holiday celebrating love.”

    As Jeffrey wrote his Valentines, the words of love mixed with thoughts of his mean lies. He grabbed his phone and made his way to the corner.

    He paced at the door.

    “Let’s go,” Steve said.

    “Okay, yeah…wait, no, we gotta stay.”

    “Yes.”

    “Hi. I’m..I’m Jeffrey and this is Steve. Can we help with anything around the house?”

    “That would be wonderful. Thanks!”

    “Mr. Wilson, do you eat corn dogs?”

    “No, they make me gassy.”

    “Great! I mean, not about being gassy…we’ll be back later!”

    Kids these days are so weird. Mr. Wilson thought, shutting the door.

  38. Rebecca Gardyn Levington (@WriterRebeccaGL) says:

    BRAVE HEART
    By Rebecca Gardyn Levington
    149 Words

    Every year, on Valentine’s,
    the shapes all got together,
    to leap into The Lake of Love,
    despite the chilly weather.


    Triangle and Rectangle,
    Hexagon and Square,
    Diamond, Star, and Oval,
    even Trapezoid was there.

    But Heart was all aflutter,
    too afraid to fall in Love.
    “I might get hurt or broken!”
    she yelled down from up above.

    Although Heart ached to take the plunge,
    (She tried and tried each year),
    she couldn’t stop her pulsing,
    pounding, palpitating fear.

    Then someone tapped her shoulder.
    It was Circle. “It’s okay.
    I’ve got you,” he said kindly.
    “I will help you on your way.”

    Heart murmured, “thank you Circle,”
    and her thump began to slow.
    “You’ll see, it’s fun to be in Love!”
    said Circle. “Come, let’s go.”

    “Alright,” said Heart. “I’ve got this.
    I can do it. Yes, I’m pumped!”
    Then Heart took hold of Circle’s hand.
    Together….
    WHEEEEEEEE!!!
    They jumped.

    Please also visit my website!
    https://www.rebeccagardynlevington.com/post/my-valen-tiny-contest-entry-brave-heart

  39. martyfindley says:

    Knock, Knock, Knock
    By Marty Findley
    213 Words

    I watched the new family unload the van and carry boxes into the house. There was a boy about my age. He glanced up and I waved.
    In class the next day the boy was introduced to us. His name was Jack. He was looking down at his shoes but on his way to his seat he looked up at me and smiled. My heart went knock…, knock…, knock….
    At home I made a special valentine for Jack. I wanted to deliver it in person but the thought of giving it to him face to face made butterflies in my stomach do gymnastics.
    “Be brave! Be bold! Be daring!” I told myself. Before I could change my mind I went out the door, across the street and up the steps onto Jack’s porch.
    I told myself, “You only need 3 seconds of bravery…, 3 seconds of boldness…, 3 seconds of daring.”
    My heart went knock…, knock…, knock…. My knees went knock…, knock…, knock…, and I found my hand going knock…, knock…, knock… on his door.
    The door opened. I handed him the valentine, turned around and bolted for home.
    “Wait!” he said. I heard footspteps behind me. I turned around. He held out a valentine to me. Knock…, knock…, knock,, went my heart!

  40. Laura Jensen Bower says:

    Villain-tine’s Day
    By Laura Bower
    198 words

    Evol hated Valentines.
    It filled him with despair.
    All that lovey-dovey stuff –
    not welcome in his lair!

    Evol liked to X out O’s.
    and shred up paper hearts.
    Any pink balloons in sight?
    He popped them with his darts.

    His assistant Sweetie Pie?
    She felt a different way.
    Love flowed freely through her veins.
    at any time of day.

    Crafting up a simple card –
    (she left out all the pink).
    “Evol, will you be my friend?”
    She wrote in blood-red ink.

    Sweetie’s heart went BOOM, boom, BOOM!
    Would Evol tear it up?
    Sweetie sealed the note with wax
    and hid it in his cup.

    Evol went to take a sip.
    She feared this was the end.
    Evol gasped. His face scrunched up.
    “I’ve never had a friend!”

    Evol made a solemn pact.
    to celebrate each year.
    Mixing styles with his pal –
    a“Villain-tines” premiere.

    Sweetie blew up pink balloons.
    and Evol made them POP!
    Sweetie mixed the potions up.
    and Evol let them DROP!

    Glancing in his looking glass.
    A smile crept on his face.
    Instead of E-V-O-L on his shirt
    Now L-O-V-E was in its place.

    Happy Villain-tine’s Day!

  41. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR ELYSE

    Take A Deep Breath-211 Words
    By Elyse Trevers

    Baia was feeling sick. She was sweating and her throat was dry.

    Her teacher picked her to read her poem in front of the whole school and all the parents.

    Dad told her #1 on the List of Fears was fear of public speaking which meant most people were afraid to talk in front of groups.

    That didn’t make Baia feel better. After all, she was the one who would be onstage.

    Everyone had given her advice on how to be brave. “Look over their heads.” “Memorize it and close your eyes.” “Pretend everyone’s in their underwear.” (That made her giggle.)

    Nothing was calming the butterflies in her belly.

    And now the time was here. Baia was nervous and her hands were shaking.

    “Next up, Baia,” called the teacher.

    As she stood on the stage, her heart was pounding so loudly, she wondered if everyone could hear it. I’m going to faint, she thought. She looked out at the audience.

    Mom had suggested, “Find one person and read just to him.”

    There was Poppa grinning up at her. He had been brave, so could she. She took a deep breath, swallowed her fear and began.

    “This is my Valentine’s poem to all the veterans, like my Poppa, who served this country.”

  42. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR BARB

    B.A. Schlosser Hill: word count 214

    Only Three Words

    His friends finished spraying his hair red when the teacher escorted him to the stage. The hot lights blinded him as he looked out. Parents, teachers, and students. Everyone was at this assembly. He felt the warm sticky red drips of sweat fall on his once white shirt. He swallowed hard. “Just breathe, you will be fine!” his teacher said.

    He waited for his turn. He didn’t want to be part of this. He didn’t like to speak in front of people. His nose burned with the scent of hairspray and hot hair. His head was itchy. He wanted to throw up. He had three words to say.

    He watched as Sally finished her dance. He trembled as Milton sang a song. After Trudy’s poem, it would be his turn. He was not good at speaking in front of people.

    He sensed a warm trickle running down his legs. His socks felt the dampness. Backing up, he bumped into his teacher who smiled at him. “You’re up next” she said.

    Looking around, he saw a cut-out heart. He picked up the decoration. He held it in front of him tightly. It hid his wet pants. He walked up to center stage. He stood at the microphone. He sighed, smiled, and shouted, “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

  43. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR MARTHA

    A Stolen Valentine
    By Martha Holguin (214 words)
    “Felicity mom is calling you,” Alicia shouted.

    “Tuning out everyone in my hemisphere,” Felicity replied.

    “Calling hemisphere to Felicity” “come down or face the consequences,” Alicia hollered.

    “Mother my heart aches I don’t feel good,” Felicity cried out.

    “Oh dear, shopping for Valentine’s Day goodies might help” Mother implored.

    “What for we have no one to give candy hearts or goofy cards too,” Felicity stubbornly replied.

    “Well, I do both of you get dressed and put on your facemask,” Mother insisted.

    “My heart is broken” Alicia snickered, “besides Valentine’s Day is for grownups.”

    “Don’t you love your friends?” Felicity curiously asked.

    “Yes, but I don’t need to give silly cards or chocolate candy to prove it,” Alicia declared.

    Suddenly Mother blurted, “What, NO Valentine’s Day items available!”

    “Delivery trucks are stranded in the snow,” the store clerk apologized.

    “The aisles are empty just like my heart, it’s COVID!” “No school, no classmates, now COVID stole Valentine’s Day,” Felicity murmured.

    “Stop!” “Mother Felicity is clouding my day,” Alicia snapped.

    It is true I must be brave to help friends and family feeling sad and broken, Felicity internalized.

    “Mother let’s go home bake chocolate cupcakes and spread the love on Zoom.” Alicia humored.

    “And fill hearts with Valentine smiles, virtual hugs and hallmark happiness!” Felicity chuckled.

  44. lizluvselephants says:

    Elizabeth Volkmann
    (212 words)

    Class List

    The pencil slips
    through my sweaty fingers –
    suddenly twenty-five Valentine’s cards
    is twenty-five too many.

    This year
    I’m signing my name
    with two letters,
    not six.
    One second per letter,
    two seconds per card.

    Why is this so hard?!

    I thought asking Ms. Turner
    to change my name
    on the class list
    would be the hard part.

    Turns out that was the easy part!

    I guess it’s easier
    to find your brave
    in a quiet classroom
    with a teacher who smiles –
    eyes and all.

    When I said I wanted
    my name
    on the list
    to be Al,
    not Alison,
    she nodded.
    “Of course,” she said.
    Just like that.

    And here it is.
    On the list.
    My name.
    Me.

    Al.

    ‘Alison’ – not scribbled away.
    Not crossed out with a thick, black line.
    No quotation marks squeezing in a “new” name.

    Al.

    Typed in – like it’s always been that way.

    Thing is – it has always been this way.

    Only now
    there’s no question mark
    taking up space
    at the end.

    I dry my hands,
    pick up the pencil
    and sign my name
    on cards of hearts,
    sealed with hope –
    saving the best one
    for Ms. Turner.

    Tomorrow, the classroom
    will swirl with questions
    but I will have the answer –
    in two letters.

  45. Jen (@jenreichow) says:

    Cards and Cookies – 214 Words
    by Jennifer Reichow

    Tomorrow is my class party for Valentine’s Day.
    Tonight everyone will write names on superhero valentines and make candy heart treat bags.
    I watch for Mom to come home with my cards and treat bags and chocolate kisses.
    Candy hearts are yucky; I give out chocolate.
    Where is Mom?
    Nan is babysitting me today.
    “Your mom is working late. Don’t worry, she won’t forget.”
    We have a tea party and eat heart shaped cookies with pink icing. They’re yummy.
    Nan says they made valentine cards and cookies when my mom was a girl.
    They didn’t have store bought superhero valentines.
    And Mom didn’t like candy hearts either.
    It might be nice to make my own cards, just like mom. Not be like everyone else.
    Would Mom help me make valentines and cookies?
    We love doing things together but maybe it’ll be too late.
    Maybe no one will like homemade stuff.
    It’s past dinner when mom comes home. Her eyes are tired, but she smiles as she hands me a bag.
    It’s my superhero cards and chocolates.
    I take a deep breath. I’m brave.
    “Mom, would you help me make valentines cards and heart shaped cookies with pink icing?”
    Now her eyes are happy, and she smiles a giant smile.
    “I’d love to,” she says.

  46. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    ENTRY POSTED FOR JUDY

    Chalk Tears

    Asina sprawled under the Pampas flowers common in her African homeland, but located behind her American housing project. She fingered a piece of red stone. Asina had never seen anything like it before. It left a powder on her hands when she rubbed it.

    Tears fell down her face as she thought of her friend Daliah in Africa. She and Daliah would swim in Ivory Lake and giggle about shared secrets.

    “Hi!” said Jasmine, her new friend, humming a tune as she hopped down the steps with two Mexican tea cakes in hand.

    Asina wiped her face with red powdered hands and held tight to the stone like a found treasure.

    Jasmine had traces of powdered sugar on her fingers as she handed a cake to Asina saying, “You want one?”

    “You want to draw hearts?” Jasmine said with a smile.

    Jasmine knelt down and pointed to the stone in Asina’s hand and said, “Chalk! Chalk!”

    “Ch..ch..aak,” Asina stuttered and gave the chalk to Jasmine.

    Jasmine drew a big heart with two stick people holding hands. Asina grinned at Jasmine as they each put a palm on the hearts and giggled!

  47. E. Elle Bea (@EElleBea) says:

    Nurse A Broken Heart – 196 words
    E. Elle Bea

    I hate Valentine’s Day.

    I hate stuffed bears and bouquets of flowers and boxes of chocolate.

    I hate red streamers and pink streamers and white streamers.

    I hate cartoony hearts and cardboard Cupids.

    I hate balloons and cards.

    I hate love.

    “Hey, Timmy. How are you feeling?” Abby enters my room, her smile wide until she sees me. “Not good?”

    I shake my head, then see she’s hiding something behind her back. “What’s that?”

    “You were very brave today,” she says, ignoring my question.

    I’ve heard it a million times, but it means more coming from her. She was there. She helped.

    “And I hope I’m not too late, but …”

    She finally reveals what she was hiding.

    I love it.

    I love the small balloon and card.

    I love the glittery stickers and handwritten X’s and O’s.

    I love the red, pink, and white heart-shaped construction paper.

    I love the stuffed bear holding it all and I love the candy bar Abby pulls out of her lab coat.

    I love Valentine’s Day.

    “… Timmy, will you be my valentine?”

    And just like that, Nurse Abby helps fix my broken heart — for the second time today.