Sami flipped her calendar over to the month of February, took a swig of coffee and offered the new month her middle finger. As if January — the longest, bleakest month of the year — hadn’t sent her swirling into despair with already failed resolutions (the pile of clothes on her apartment floor reminded her that she hadn’t committed to regular, routine laundry; the four unread texts on her phone reminded her that she hadn’t committed to regular, routine conversations with her mother), February only laughed in her face that she would — once again — celebrate Valentine’s Day alone.
“Screw you,” she shouted at the calendar, with such force that coffee spewed from her mouth, leaving brown-colored polka dots on a few random days. Ironically, the fourteenth remained untouched. Just like she would be again this year.
Armed with her coffee in hand, she sat down at the counter and silently vowed that the cursed Hallmark holiday would not get the best of her this year. Scrolling through her phone, she found an invitation app and briefly considered proactively planning an “all girls night” instead, but as she glanced at her possible invites, she realized her supposed girlfriends were either married, engaged, seriously dating, or in the case of Eva, would desperately find a man and pretend to like him just to have a date on the fourteenth. As much as she dreaded the entire month, she promised herself she would never be so desperate as to agree to a fake double date with Eva.
She needed to forget about Valentine’s Day and her complete lack of any love in her life. But how? On a whim, she googled “February holidays” and found there were quite a few others that could keep her pleasantly occupied; some of them even offered food, which she silently admitted was the only true love of her life.
Balancing her laptop, she wrote down other February holidays and was immediately content. It looked full! She appeared busy! She nearly danced out of the house, but not without stopping at her calendar and blowing it a kiss.
The next evening she found herself curled up on the couch wrapped around a bowl of popcorn. “I love you so much. Would you rub my feet?”
Eva pushed Sami’s feet off her lap. “I love you too, but not that much. Girl, I would rather pay for your pedicure than touch them myself.” She sighed her deep, theatrical sigh. “Remind me again why we’re watching this movie?”
“We’re celebrating Groundhog Day. And since we don’t live anywhere near Punxsutawney, Bill Murray was second best.”
“Well then, let’s get this God-awful flick started.” Eva rolled her eyes but smiled as she snatched the popcorn bowl from Sami and placed it on her own lap.
Sami spent a few hours googling — and even making phone calls — until she found a science research institute that was holding a Periodic Table event on February 7th. The receptionist explained it was simply an after-hours employee activity but when Sami boldly asked if she could attend, the receptionist didn’t see why not.
Sami almost didn’t make it inside. After a lengthy explanation to the security guard about her self-invite to this event, she about talked herself out of trying to get in. But a man from the inside opened the door and said, “It’s okay, Bertrand. She’s with me.”
Once they got inside, Sami furrowed her eyebrows. “Thanks for getting me in. But to be clear, I’m not with you, right? You’re not expecting me to be your date or anything.”
She noticed he was wearing a t-shirt with the periodic table of elements which read “I wear this shirt periodically.” She chuckled internally but also judged any man willing to wear that kind of shirt as lame.
“You just looked panicky. I have no idea why you’re here, but I’d hate to think anyone should miss out on a wicked Periodic Table Day party. Not to brag, but we here at the Advanced Research Institute like to think we throw the best science themed parties in the area.” He lightly punched her in the shoulder.
Sami backed away. “Uh, yeah. Well, thanks anyway.”
She heard him ask, “What’s your name?” as she walked/ran away.
Sami later learned his name was Sammy after she went to pick up her pizza on National Pizza Day, only to open it and find it covered in meat. He came in from his car one minute later and swapped his pizza for her veggie lovers.
He was either a stalker or was following the same holiday calendar, she realized when he showed up to a pasta making class on National Tortellini Day. She considered ignoring him until he offered up his hand and said, “Samuel.” Sami wiped her hand on her apron, shook his hand and replied “Samantha.” They said nothing more to each other until they both dropped their finished pieces of cheese-stuffed tortellini on the floor and laughed.
Samuel brought his cat (and tortellini from the local Italian restaurant) to her house on February 20. Although it was Love Your Pet Day, her pug did not love his cat, and his Burmese cat arrogantly could have cared less about her dog. But after dinner Sami daringly kicked her feet up on his lap and Samuel began to rub them without question.
He promised to leave his cat at home, and they both agreed to call in sick to work on February 28 for National Public Sleeping Day. Instead of working, they spent the last day of the month together in her bed, their bodies so intertwined one could not tell them apart.
Kimberly Berk resides in Grand Rapids Michigan. By day she is an adjunct professor in the English department at Grand Rapids Community College and a recent MFA graduate from Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina; by night she is a wife to her husband of 23 years and mother to three children (plus a dog). She believes she can save the world in her electric-hybrid minivan, but when it all becomes too much, she reads and runs to escape the world.
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