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This is a fiction Friday post. It will NOT be completed in this post.

Dena stared and the Valentine’s Day decorations that Cupid must have vomited onto the walls of her office. The resident Perky Patty in the office had, as she does every holiday, decorated every possible shared space with the traditional Valentines symbols and imagery. Hearts and fat winged babies with a bow and arrows, more hearts. All these in varying shades of red, pink, and white.

Most of her coworkers had been drawn into the holiday decor game, as well. She could look over the walls of her cubicle in any direction and see pops of red or pink here or there, where it wasn’t before.

Dena Ritter hated Valentine’s Day.

Okay, that was per haps a little harsh. It was more like she was quietly jealous of people who had someone to celebrate it with. She herself was hopelessly single and had been since her college boyfriend broke up with her so he could backpack across Europe with no strings attached. Even Patty, that was her actual name after all, a late 40s divorcee celebrated her cats. The woman had season pictures taken with her cats regularly.

Dena sighed as she took one last look around the room, and got back to work.

A few hours later, just as everyone was wrapping up their lunch, which Dena took in her cubicle, Patty walked by, knocking on the padded wall of Dena’s cubical.

“Hi, Dena!” Perky Patty cheerfully asked.

“I’m good, Patty.” Dena responded, looking up from her computer screen. “How are you?” Like most of their coworkers Dena found Patty mildly annoying but not enough to be unkind. She had her “a little too much moments, but it was tolerable most of the time.

“Great! I’m so glad!” She exclaimed, giving Dena’s forearm a quick pat. “I didn’t see ya in the break room, so I thought I’d. One by and give you this.” She handed her a sheet of copy paper. “It’s the list of activities for the week of Valentine’s Day! It’s going to be so much fun!” She did a little clapping motion with her small hands. “And there’s a potluck on the 14th! Isn’t that lovely?”

Dena smiled at Patty, “that’ll be great, it’s gonna be a fun week!” She exclaimed, hoping the sarcasm was hidden well enough.

“It sure is!” Patty agreed. “Well, I’ll let ya get back to your work, then.” They smiled politely at each other one last time and Patty turned and left.

Before she put the sheet down she glanced over it. Cupcakes one day, cookies another. One day had “chocolate covered strawberries or chocolate fountain TBD” written on it.

“Strawberries seem more sanitary but a fountain seems nice.” She thought to herself. “Might as well embrace Valentines with coworkers, they’re really all I’ve got.”

Three hours later it was fine to head home, and Dena packed up and headed out. She ended up in the elevator with Patty and a few other coworkers, including the snobby blonde who hated everything but her phone, and the quiet awkward guy who worked in IT that didn’t talk to anyone unless their computer was broken and he couldn’t fix it remotely.

For the few minutes it took the elevator to reach the ground floor where the parking garage was located, no one really spoke, and Patty bummed cheerfully to the elevator music. Just before the doors opened, Patty turned to the others and wished even a lovely evening then walked away.

Dena, who always waited to be last because she didn’t want to get in anyone’s way, stood waiting for her turn, when awkward guy motioned for her to go.

“Oh no,” she said, “you go ahead.”

He motioned for her to go again, and she again insisted he go. After their back and forth lasted longer than necessary, Dena was too tired to not get frustrated and give up. She sighed exasperated Lu and walked off the elevator. Walking away quickly she just barely caught him saying, “have a good night.” She turned around to return the sentiment but she saw him walking quickly in the opposite direction.

She shrugged, “whatever” then walked to her car. When she finally got to it she pushed the button in Her keychain to unlock it and went to step inside, when she saw something tucked under the wiper blade. She grabbed it, her first thought being a flyer for one thing or another that she’ll just toss later.

When she looked closer at it after starting her car and locking her doors, she noticed it was an envelope. Nothing on the outside, front of back. She was slowing becoming the only car in the garage, which made her look uncomfortable so she pulled out and drove home.

When she made it home to her empty apartment, which did not allow pets if any sort, and took off her shoes. After dropping all of her belongings she’d she’d reach them in the morning, she flopped down in her couch and opened the envelope.

TO BE CONTINUED