A love story …

Welcome to Flash Fiction Valentine.


In honor of Valentine’s Day, I am writing a short love story with a sentence prompt sent to me from Christi Corbett: Gina scanned the crowded park, searching for the man wearing the agreed upon red baseball cap.

They say true love is hard to find. For many it never happens. They come and go in this world and never find that illusive something that connects them to another human being. That is sad … for as  poet Alfred Lord Tennyson said: ‘Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.

The remains of the day …

Gina paid the taxi, took the tiny map the caretaker provided, and walked along the winding pathways of the Most Holy Trinity Catholic Cemetery, in East Hampton, Long Island. It was where the Gambone family plots were located. It was where the remains of his mortal body rested, under six feet of dirt she did not own, beneath a tombstone she did not select, surrounded by dozens of dead strangers. His grandparents’ mausoleum stood in the background, guarding the others, overseeing in death as they had in life.

It had been three long years since she came to this place. The graves were tended by perpetual care. Flowering bushes, low branches of Dogwood, and the clinging blooms of the wisteria on the mausoleum reached for the noon-day sun. Spring was in the air, its colors splashing the landscape of his rarified internment.

She stopped in front of his grave site and told him, “Not exactly where the likes of Gina Ferrante will be put to rest.”

Her fingers stroked the letters of his name, Michael Gambone, they circled the dates of his birth and his untimely death. The family had kindly provided a stone bench. She sat and placed the flowers from her cousin’s florist shop on the ground. “The family takes good care of you, Mike,” she said. “I guess they always took good care of you.”

She let her eyes wander from the massive house to the grounds with several other benches and  the graves of his younger brother, two cousins and three aunts and uncles, “And not a room in the inn for the outsider.”

She felt daft talking to his tombstone although she knew well many others talked to the ground, to cold, hard stones, shouted at the wind and railed against the finality of this place.

She did a semicircle of the bench. “I guess I came to say goodbye, Mike. I owe you that,” she said. “Only to you, not your family.”

Like others who came to visit, Gina began rooting out weeds, picking up dried leaves and doing a bit of gravesite housework. “Your mother told me they spend a fortune to keep up everybody’s graves.” She tossed dried leaves in a small metal can behind her. “I didn’t tell her I was coming. If I told her, she would have wanted to come with me. And I wanted to talk to you alone.”

“I brought some fresh lilac. I remember how you loved the lilac’s in your mom’s garden.” Gina found a plastic funnel and fixed the lilac branches she brought. “I don’t believe you’re really down there. I think you’ve already been recycled.” She laughed. “Of course, I won’t tell your mom.”

She shifted in her seat, unable to be still. “I met someone.” She put her head down, ashamed and embarrassed at once. “Well kind’a met someone that is.”

Gina stood and walked over to the other graves, braved one long look through the stained glass of the mausoleum and paced around to another group of tombstones. Shaking her head, she sat again. “Some friend of a friend told me about this guy. We only talked in emails and on the phone,” she said. “It’s not like I don’t still love you. I’ll always love you, Mike.”

She thought of the day she saw two uniformed officers at her door, the grim reaper in NYPD Blue. “They tried to be nice about it. Asked if there was someone they could call.”

Gina became aware of tears. “Imagine that? Asking me if there was someone they could call.” She swiped her face with the back of her hand. “You were the one I always called. How rotten is that? I didn’t expect to be a widow at twenty-five. I’m sure you didn’t expect to be dead either.”

Gina slipped off the bench and sat on the ground. “I need you to tell me what to do, Mike. Tell me it’s okay.” She stroked the side of the stone. “What would you say if I met someone else? I mean, it’s not like you’re gonna come back. You didn’t take a trip to Cleveland or drive to Jersey, you know. You took the big ride, the last trip.”

A gust of wind blew up the few loose leaves left on the ground. When the wind calmed, Gina looked over and saw a blue jay sitting on the top of the mausoleum. It squawked and complained as they do. “Noisy birds, those damn blue jays.” It complained further and she laughed. “Oh, why do you make such a fuss?”

The bird continued to complain to the universe about something until in a flurry of blue feathers, it was joined by another. They rubbed beaks, preened each other’s feathers and with more noise than a room full of ten year old boys, they flew off.

Gina took it as a sign. “You were a good man and I’ll always miss you. But it’s time for me to take flight, maybe find another bird. You know what I mean?”

She pressed two fingers to her lips and pressed them to his name. “Maybe we can take up where we left off one day.”

Without another word, she walked out of the cemetery.

Four days later, Gina scanned the crowded park, searching for the man wearing the agreed upon red baseball cap. Prospect Park in Brooklyn, was ablaze with spring colors. Gina sat on a bench and waited. She saw another pair of blue jays in one of the giant oak trees lining the sidewalks in the park and smiled.

“I told him to wear a red cap. Like the one you were wearing the day we met,” she said.

She saw his approach, measured his stride. Under the red baseball cap, his wide smile welcomed her. He waved, “Gina, is that you?”


Have you met our soul mate?

And please tell all … what was your most memorable Valentine?

fOIS In The City


Filed under Flash Fiction

18 responses to “A love story …

  1. Hi, Florence. What a wonderful story and girlfriend, it’s time to get them published. This one really pulled my heartstrings. Handsome is my friend, and partner through life. But my most memorable Valentine was when I got a Dear John letter. You can read the tale here: http://kcchristinatime4love.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/worst-valentines-evah-by-vicki-batman/

    I never thought this would happen to me. But I got poetic justice. Happy V-day, sweetie.


    • Thanks, Vicki … don’t you just love a good love story? If I did this one as a long short or a novella … I think I’d make the guy in the red hat Michael who comes back to help her move on 🙂

      And about that bad Valentine of yours, as I said in comments … good that you burned it up !!!


  2. What a great story, Florence, and I swear you have such a super talent for this type of writing. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I could read an entire book of your shorts!


  3. I admire how you infuse each piece with such atmosphere and emotion, Florence. Lovely.


  4. christicorbett

    I’m so excited you used my prompt, because I KNEW you’d do such a great job and you did! Wow!

    Christi Corbett


  5. Yes, Florence, I think you should put together your short stories into a book. Whenever I read one of your offerings, you always take me into the world of the character(s). Thank you for the Valentine story, and happy Valentine’s Day to you!


  6. Florence: My friend, I walked inside your ‘voice’ and took up residence. I stayed with you as you ran a narrated silent film. A film that’s played over and over within the memories of my long ago past. I’ll say right here, no one could have captured the emotions I felt while reading your blog, than you. Because of the emotions evoked, you took me to a long ago place where sweet remembrances dwell. I don’t take those memories out often but, from time to time they surface and I walk hand in hand with what once was an honest and true love story,
    I’m not sure how many are fortunate to find true love twice but, I did. I was so very young when my knight in shining armor walked into my life. Five years later I made a terrible judgment in error and married just to get my family and everyone else to leave me alone. There’s not a single love story within those 10 unbearable years. But, found my own courage to leave, Tom walked into my life and I was home once again. I cannot imagine spending my life with anyone else ever again.
    BTW – When my computer crashed, I lost your e-mail. Would you be so kind to send it to sheri@sheridegrom.com. TX.


    • Sheri, you and Tom are a true love story that needs to be told. I am so glad to know both of you, virtual or not, it’s a wonderful experience and teaches me that our soul mates come to us when we least expect them 🙂

      No problem. I’ll write you off line. Email is on the sidebar:
      cronin501@gmail.com 🙂


  7. I was lucky enough to meet my soul mate on the first day of high school . . . he’s not the most romantic Valentine’s Day guy, but I’m looking to our date this Friday at the craft brewery . . . Sex on the Peach beer, Norman Love Chocolates, and good live music–what more could a girl ask for 🙂


  8. Vicki wrote what I was thinking when I read this, Florence.

    When are you going to get these published? Your stories invariable tug at me. They consistently pull me on scene with compelling settings, and believable, likeable characters. I care what happens to your characters.

    I care enough to want to see you share them with the world.

    And, yes. I found my soul mate nearly half a century ago. It’s bittersweet, but having had that feeling for another human being is something I wouldn’t trade. Ever.


    • You are too kind, Gloria. I’m glad you and the others are enjoying my flash fiction … because I’m enjoying writing them. I am thinking of putting them together. I’ll give a shout out when I do !!

      Wonderful, that bittersweet or not, you have found your soul mate. That is something none of us would trade 🙂


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