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Blank page, blotchy pen; check. Start with a solid, non-vomit-inducing beginning. Finish strong.

Dearest Jane.

Love letters would be jack shit compared to your dissertation, but they're so unprecedentedly hard. So much for your arts degree, your "creative spirit." You're undermining your dignity and three years in university by even trying, really.

My dear Jane.

Maybe it's the least you can do. Jane's a lawyer. Her schedule's hectic, so no breakfast, lunch, or dinner dates. You've been unemployed for months, so no trip to Malibu. And you broke her favourite mug this morning. It's been the best Valentine's Day.

Dear Jane.

Actually, it's definitely the least you can do. Simplistic, sweet and sentimental things. She loves all that Disneyesque traditional romance. She loves the idea of Prince Charming sweeping her off her feet. And you love her.

So that's why, leaning on a box of heart-shaped chocolates, you start roughly drafting in black ink.

Jane, my dear. What is this, Downton Abbey?

Jane. Solid, minimalistic. Nailed it.

It's Valentine's Day. Thank you, Captain Painfully Obvious.

We've known each other since we were kids, so you're probably sick as shit of me by now.

I know I've got no money to buy groceries, let alone get you a proper engagement ring.

But you've stuck by me through everything. Even that rough patch with work. Even that rough patch with my parents. Even this rough patch with everything.

That's why if my heart swells anymore, it'll be hard to breathe.

There are no words to express how much adoration I have for you. Your breakfast is coming quickly back up your oesophagus.

I love you, most ardently. Blatant plagiarism, shame on you. Austen is rolling over in her grave.

I love the way your eyes crinkle into half-moons, and I love how you send the sun my way when you laugh. Nope, that looks stupider on paper. Scribble.

Your smile can grow flowers. Scribble.

I don't know a lot about love so I'm making it up as I go along.

I'll fake it 'til I make it.

But I really hope you're the one to make it.

For a second you admire your own honesty.

Then you look back at the whole mess and scrunch it into a ball. Bloody love letters.

"Is everything okay?"

Then there's Jane leaning against the doorframe, and in her baggy tee-shirt and joggers, she radiates light. She's everything wonderful in this universe.

"Is that for me?"

You shake your head and scrunch the paper.

She looks disappointed. Great boyfriend you are. Some Valentine's Day. Why couldn't you have just bought a ring?


But you do have a pen.

And you did take an arts degree, after all.

And you love her with everything you've got.

And if you could marry her, you would. On the spot.

Finish strong.

This is a bad idea.

Oh, fuck it.

You bend down on one knee, poise your permanent marker, take her beautiful right hand. Her fingers are so delicate they shimmer with fragility. And gently, you draw a ring around her fourth finger.

(You do the proper shading and everything as your creative spirit kicks in.)

"Marry me."

Jane just stares back at you.

"You're proposing to me with a Sharpie?"

If she was serious about the spontaneous, wildly romantic Valentine's Day she had wished for, this was not the way to execute it. Gold star for you.

"It's temporary, I swear." You grimace, "But it's Valentine's, and I love you, and...that's the truth."

You could disintegrate from the shame. It's been the best Valentine's Day.

But for some reason, she's looking at you with that smile.

Somewhere, flowers are opening their petals. And she nods.

Funnily enough, it has been the best Valentine's Day.

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