I’m entering the “Valentiny” contest sponsored by Susanna Leonard Hill. Check out all the details here.

This story was inspired by my sister, who had development delays related to extreme prematurity, back before there were neonatal ICUs and specialized care for preemies. My mom would let her stay home from school on Valentine’s Day because it was so heartbreaking for her to go to school and watch the other kids get valentine’s cards and she didn’t get them. 🙁

A VALENTINE FOR VINCENT

210 Words

Vincent usually kept to himself during school.

And the other kids kept themselves from Vincent.

Valentine’s Day was the worst!

His heart drowned in dread.

Vincent buried his nose in a book,

pretending not to care as his classmates filed in

with decorated shoeboxes—

for ALL the Valentines they’d receive.

He wasn’t expecting a single one.

Until something amazing happened…

Caroline held out a red heart

with VINCENT written in marker.

A Valentine! For him?

Heart racing, Vincent began excitedly cutting paper into squares.

Hands flying, he folded one into a crane.

“Wow!” said Caroline. “Can you make a cat?”

A tsunami of enthusiasm washed the dread from his heart.

He folded. Then turned and folded again.

He repeated the process, until… 

The paper square magically became a pointy cat.

Caroline beamed. “It’s beautiful!”

Soon, a crowd gathered with requests:

“A swan?”

“An owl?”

“How about a heart?”

“Can you make a star?”

“Where did you learn this?” Ms. Waltz asked.

Vincent explained that his neighbor, Mr. Nakamura,

taught him origami after school on days his mom had to work.

“It’s so cool!” Caroline said. “Thanks for my Valentine.”

Vincent’s heart burst into an excitement explosion.

It was the best school day ever.

And it all started with one Valentine.