A Valentine’s Day short story: “I Can Do Better”

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A Valentine’s Day short story: “I Can Do Better”

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I Can Do Better

by Alyssa Neal

“I know. I know we…” I sighed, frustrated, and ran a hand through my unkempt, black hair. “What I’m trying to say is…” The person staring back at me looked as lost as I felt myself. “Well…Ugh!” I punched my fist forward, shattering myself into thousands of glass fragments.

I jumped when a car horn interrupted my staring at the mirror. “I’m coming, I’m coming…” I raced outside, my cheeks lifting nervously up in a half smile, as I opened the car door.

“Excited?” I stole a glance at him, eyebrows knitting together. “I mean, we are going to see the best movie of all time, so…” he trailed off, leaving silence for a beat.

“How can you know that, if we have yet to see it?”

He looked away from me, starting his car back up in a loud roar. “Jacey, please, none of your attitude right now. I’m really not in the mood for it.” He sighed, begging me with his big, brown eyes, before turning away, and pulling out of the driveway.

“Alright,” I put my hands up in mock surrender, “no attitude from me tonight…”

“Good,” he said, quirking his lips. We rode the rest of the way in silence.

“Hey! This isn’t the movie theater.” My eyes searched my surroundings carefully, in slight surprise. “Why this is…”

“Janie’s Burger Joint. I, um, thought it would be nice to dine out first. Like, even though it’s Valentine’s Day, and we’re not together, or anything, I still thought you might like it…”

“I love this restaurant!”

“I know,” he said softly, a kind smile on his face.

“But, Kolt, if we stay and eat, won’t we miss the movie?”

“I looked into it, and I actually bought tickets for the later showing,” he said with a slight laugh.


“Yeah, didn’t want you griping through the whole thing about how hungry you are.”

“I wouldn’t-” I started to complain, while getting out of the car, but he shut me up with one look. Yeah, I definitely would have.

I stared at him as he got out as well.

We both ordered hamburgers, of course, as we sat there awkwardly. It seemed that everyone else who was there was a couple. We traded small smiles every once in a while, but stayed quiet.

It wasn’t until we got back into the car, and had started away from the restaurant, where he had graciously paid the check, that we spoke again.

“Thanks, again, for that.”

“It was my pl…” he stopped, a stricken look upon his face, before he backtracked. “I mean, anything for a friend.”

He moved his eyes forward, not letting them stray from the road ahead of us. “Anyways, looks like we’ll be just on time for the movie.”

Kolt turned to me as we pulled into the half full lot of the movie theater, “Ready to go in?” he asked, with a quirk of his brows.

“Well, duh!” I let out an excited squeal, then put my hands over my mouth in embarrassment. “I mean, I’ve only been waiting for this movie to come out for, like, months.”

“Fair enough,” he conceded, letting his smirk fall off his plump lips.

“I’m buying popcorn, right? It’s no fair that you bought dinner and the tickets.”

“I’m also not strapped for money. It’s no biggie for me to pay.” My cheeks grew scarlet, changing the usually pasty coloring.

“I’m not-” it was the start of a protest I knew I wouldn’t win, as his hand cut me off. “Kolt!” I raced after him, laughing, as we stopped in front of a counter.

“One medium popcorn, please.”

“Anything else? Like, a drink, or whatever?” The girl behind the counter asked, looking bored, and mildly annoyed.

“A small coke, as well as a small fanta, please.” I smiled.

He handed over his debit card before I could protest further about paying, which I had admittedly forgotten about until then.

“Isn’t it great,” I mumbled low enough that he couldn’t hear me, “that we’re close enough to know exactly how we like things, but not to date?”

“What was that?” Kolt sent a questioning look my way, which I just shrugged off.

“We should probably head to the theater. The movie will be starting in a few minutes.” He nodded, and led the way.

I sat to Kolt’s right, and my eyes were on the screen, but I had trouble actually focusing on the pictures moving across it. I could almost feel an electricity singing through my veins, on the side that was next to his. I was afraid to move too much, cautious I’d break the connection that he must have felt as well.

My arm was on the rest in between us, laying uncomfortably, in the hopes that he would shift, and I would get the buzz of his arm touching mine.

There was just something about movie theaters. Or maybe it was the close proximity. Or it could even simply just be the darkness.

Whatever it was, I wasn’t complaining.

I breathed in deeply when I felt him shift, just like I had hoped. His shoulder was right up against mine, making my heart start a gallop. I could barely breathe through the rest of the movie, and couldn’t remember a single thing that had gone on, either, apart from how much Kolt shifted, as I could feel it every single time.

“Wow,” Kolt remarked, “that was a great movie! Don’t you think?” I was still staring at the screen, noticing for the first time that the credits were rolling in big, block letters.

“Oh, uh, yeah…” I managed a half smile, still not looking at him.

“Did you not like it?” I turned my head his way, noticing that his smile was disappearing by the second.

“No, no, it was great! I’m just, uh, thinking over the whole movie, trying to decide what my favorite part was. They were all so, uh, good.”

“Weren’t they?!?” Kolt was practically bouncing in his seat in his excitement. “I especially liked the part where the aliens agreed to have a treaty with the zombies! Who knows how it would have ended if they hadn’t?”

“Yeah, that part was good. I liked the, uh, kiss scene a lot.” I hoped to Merlin that there was actually a kiss scene.

“Did you? I thought it could have been better? Like, I could have been better?”

“Better? That was a beautiful, non-gross kiss!”

“Yeah, way better.” Kolt was looking at me strangely, like I had two heads or something. I didn’t, did I? Nope. I laughed as my hands dropped from my head. “So, we should probably get going, huh?”

“Yeah…” I stood up, walking, and reached the aisle.

“Jacey. Wait.” Kolt reached out, grabbing my arm. I thought that electric feeling was only supposed to be in the dark, or whatever?


“There’s one last surprise.”

“Oh, Kolt. You’ve done enough. Really.” I started to walk again, but was carefully pulled back.

“No, this one cost nothing. Well, nothing but my dignity, at least.”


He didn’t answer, but, instead, he leaned forward, and kissed me. I know it only lasted a few minutes, but it felt like an eternity in heaven.

And, yet, when he pulled back, it was much shorter than I would have liked.

I can do better, resounded likes an echo in my head. “Is that your better?” I asked him, out of breath.

“My way better.”

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