A Very Hallmark Valentine

*Storyline developed from Hallmark-inspired cliches



     6:00 a.m.

     Ruby shut off her alarm clock and shrank deeper under her warm cocoon of blankets. 

     “It’s too early for this,” she mumbled.

      As Ruby was drifting back to dreamland, she suddenly sprang out of bed.

     “It’s Valentine’s Day! How could I have forgotten? I have been counting down the days for weeks! There is so much to do before tonight, and I haven’t even wrapped Brad’s present yet!”

     Brad, Ruby’s boyfriend, had an elaborate dinner planned for the couple at one of the fanciest restaurants in the city. Ruby could hardly contain her excitement for the evening. All of her friends were telling her Brad was going to propose that night, and she was hoping they were right. 

     The workday passed far slower than Ruby would have liked. She normally enjoyed working as the Chief Marketing Officer at her father’s company, but all throughout the day she could not keep her eyes off of the ticking clock. 

     5:00 p.m.

     Ruby rushed out of the office the very second the clock struck five. She did not have a moment to lose. Ruby was meeting Brad at the restaurant at seven, and she could not afford to be late. Fortunately, Ruby had a plethora of dresses and fancy clothes to pick from for the event just lying around her house. One hour and a dress montage later, Ruby was ready to go. She hailed a cab outside of her apartment and rushed over to the restaurant.

     7:00 p.m

     Ruby arrived at the restaurant right on time. As she followed the server to their table, she was disappointed to see that Brad had not yet arrived. Twenty minutes passed, and he was nowhere to be seen. Ruby was getting nervous.

     Where could he be? Brad is never this late, especially on holidays.

     It felt like ages since she had gotten to the restaurant, but her boyfriend was a no-show. Ruby almost lost all hope until Brad showed up ten minutes later hurrying to the table. 

     “Sorry I’m late; it was a work thing. Have you been waiting long?” Brad asked. 

     “Oh, no. Not long at all,” she lied. “I was just looking over the menu. Should we order?”

     The dinner was pretty uneventful. They discussed Ruby’s job and Brad’s big promotion, but no hints were given about the assumed proposal. There was one false alarm, though. Brad, clumsy as he is successful, dropped his fork and got down on his knees to pick it up. Ruby of course did not see the silverware fall and took it as his proposal.

     “Yes! A thousand times yes!” she exclaimed.

     Luckily, Brad did not hear this declaration due to his fork-saving endeavors, so Ruby was saved from further embarrassment. 

     8:00 p.m.

     Ruby was, again, losing hope. 

     Maybe he is waiting to propose until after dessert? 

     Her thoughts were soon interrupted by Brad clearing his throat to get Ruby’s attention.

     “Ruby, I’ve been wanting to talk to you about something for quite a while..”

     Here it is. The big moment. Ruby was frozen with anticipation. 

     Should I stand? Am I going to cry? What should I do? she wondered.

     Brad looked nervous. He was silent for a few moments and looked as if he was contemplating holding back the words that he was about to say. Finally, Brad worked up the courage to blurt out, “I think we should break up!”

     Ruby was in complete shock. She thought back over the past couple of months to see if there were any signs of him pulling away. Sure, they did not see each other much throughout the week, but that was because they both had big dreams and busy schedules. They made time for each other, but other priorities came first. Nothing Brad had said or done that night had pointed to this conclusion of their relationship. They have been dating for two years. Two years! Surely he would have broken up with her by now if he was unhappy in their relationship. 

     “Can I just ask why?”

     “Ruby, you are an amazing person. Any guy would be lucky to call you his girlfriend. I want you to know it is not you, it’s me. Look, Ruby, I have big dreams, and so do you. We used to want the same things for the future, but now it seems like our lives are going in different directions. I don’t want to be the one that holds you back. Can we still be friends?”

     “No, I don’t think so. Goodbye, Brad.”

     9:00 p.m.

     Ruby stood outside in the cold February weather with her warm coat wrapped tightly around her, as she waited for a cab. She stood there, absorbed in her thoughts until a warm voice broke her silent counsel. 

     “Did your date not show up either?”

     Startled, Ruby turned to the tall man standing next to her.

     “Uh, no. My boyfriend had dinner planned for us tonight… and then we broke up.”

     “Oh. I’m sorry to hear that. It must have been hard.”

     Ruby contemplated everything that occurred that evening. “Yeah, you could say that again. But maybe it was for the best after all… I’m sorry, I don’t usually load all of my problems onto people I have just met. Speaking of, I didn’t catch your name.”

     “I’m Jason. Jason Beck. And you are?”

     “Ruby Murphy.”

     “It is a pleasure to meet you, Ruby Murphy. Now that we know each other, why don’t we make the best of our failed valentine’s dates? I am headed to the ice cream shop down the street if you would like to join me.”

     “Yeah sure, that would be great.”

     As the newfound friends walked down the street, Ruby looked back on her life and realized that she was truly happy for the first time in a long time.


And here I thought I was going to be alone on Valentine’s Day…