Valentine's Day Flash Fiction Contest Winners

Thank you to the writers for sharing your stories with us and the readers for taking the time to post your feedback. Here's how the stories ranked based on our opinions and reader comments:

1st place: Out of Practice Aphrodite by Sheryl Babin - $25 Amazon gift card
2nd place: A Change in Plans by Lucie Simone - $15 Amazon gift card
3rd place: Baked with Love by Karen Jerabek - $10 Amazon gift card

Congratulations! You all did a great job! You'll receive your prizes via email. 

Hope everyone had a happy Valentine's Day! :)

Valentine's Day Flash Fiction Contest: A Change in Plans

A Change in Plans

            I checked my watch. 6:57pm. Plenty of time to change out of my scrubs, touch up my make-up and dash over to the restaurant to meet Jonathon by 7:30. I signed off on the last patient release form, clicked my pen closed and stuffed it in my coat pocket.
            “Goodnight, Marcus,” I said to the young man just coming in to work the night shift.
            “Goodnight, Dr. Jane,” he said with a wide smile.
Everyone called me Dr. Jane since my last name was a mouthful of consonants handed down from generations past. 
“Happy Valentine’s Day,” he added with a wink. “Have fun with your new man.”
I instantly blushed. Jonathon and I had started dating in December and our relationship was very new, but I was excited about our plans for the evening. We were meeting at one of the finest restaurants in Los Angeles with views that stretched from downtown to the beach. A recipe guaranteed for romance.
I headed to the small locker room to primp and change into the sexy red dress I’d bought specifically for the occasion. But just as I put my hand on the door, I heard Marcus call my name.
“Dr. Jane, Dr. Jane!” he yelled, frantic. “Trauma room three!”
I rushed over to see what the problem was and discovered the patient I had just cleared for release was in cardiac arrest. My team and I went to work quickly, but I feared the old guy might not make it. His breath was labored, his blood pressure was through the roof, and his pupils non-responsive. It didn’t look good. But Harley had been my patient for ten years and I’d seen him through mange, heartworms and even hip dysplasia. I couldn’t let him down now.
It was nearly eight o’clock by the time I’d gotten Harley stabilized. I could feel my phone vibrating in my pocket while I was working on the large, lovable Labrador, but I didn’t even have five seconds to answer it. Harley was touch and go for nearly an hour and I simply would not give up on him. When his vital signs finally regulated and he regained consciousness, and I could tell by looking into his big brown eyes that he was feeling better, I phoned Jonathon.
            He’d left me two messages, but I didn’t bother listening to them. I just dialed, hoping he would understand why I hadn’t arrived at the restaurant. Emergencies came up a lot in an animal hospital, and my patients were my priority. Unfortunately, this had lost me more than one boyfriend over the years.
            My call went straight to his voicemail, though, and I feared my tardiness had jeopardized yet another relationship. I left a message explaining my emergency, and asked him to return my call as soon as possible. Defeated, I slipped my phone back in my pocket and headed to the locker room.
            I didn’t bother with the red dress. Instead, I changed into the jeans and sweater I’d worn to work. I shoved the dress into my tote bag, tossed my scrubs into the laundry bin and headed out. I peeked in on Harley, who was now resting comfortably in an oversized and cushiony cage. He was fast asleep, and as I stroked his silky brown fur, feeling the rhythmic rise and fall of his chest, there was no doubt that he would pull through with the usual gentle grace he always managed.
            “You have a good night,” I said to Harley. He snored in response and stretched out his paws, one big foot pressing against my hip. I pouted and gently placed his leg back inside the cage. Yeah, he was going to be just fine.
            I was less confident, however, about my budding relationship with Jonathon. Was this Valentine’s Day going to be the end of our barely begun love affair? I hoped not, but with no return call yet, all my past experiences with impatient boyfriends flooded my mind.
            I stopped by the front desk before leaving and found Marcus with his head buried deep in his medical books. The rest of the staff had gone once Harley was out of danger and resting, and our small hospital was quiet and still. He had a cup of coffee warming one hand and a yellow highlighter in the other, marking important passages in his textbook. Marcus was in his final year studying veterinary medicine and worked nights keeping watch over the animals in recovery and tending to emergencies that arose overnight.
            “This was very exciting,” he beamed, tilting his head up to me. “My first heart attack!”
            “And you did great,” I said. “Harley and I both thank you for being there. You’ll make a great Vet.”
            “Thank you,” he smiled. “Oh, and there’s a message for you.”
            Hope soared through me.
            “It’s from Jonathon. He said not to come to the restaurant. He’s made other plans.”
            “Oh,” I sighed, my elation quickly plummeting. “Thanks.”
            “Sorry,” he said, offering me a sympathetic pout.
            I shrugged in response and headed out the door.
            But when I stepped into the parking lot, I found Jonathon leaning against my car and my English Bulldog, Ralph, at his feet.
            “What’s this?” I asked genuinely surprised.
            “Didn’t you get my messages?”
            “Oh.” I’d completely forgotten about them!
            “I see,” he said with a knowing nod, his sandy hair falling over his blue eyes. “Well, I figured when you didn’t show up to dinner, you were saving somebody’s life. So, I thought a change in plans might be good. I picked up Ralph from doggie daycare and we’re going for a walk and a gelato. Care to join?”
            I smiled as Jonathon took my hand and led Ralph and me down the street.
            “So, did you have a good day?” he asked.
            “Yep. A really good day. But no gelato for Ralph. He’s on a diet.”
            “Got it.” He squeezed my hand. “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

Valentine's Day Flash Fiction Contest: Out of Practice Aphrodite

Out of Practice Aphrodite
By Sheryl Babin 

Aphrodite sprawled across the couch with her laptop, clicking idly through the latest dating profiles on Sipping a latte, a slight frown touched her delicate face as she pulled up the latest people looking for love.
Click. “His picture is about 10 years and 45 pounds out of date.”
Click. “He loves his Mercedes more than his mother.”
Click. “She forgot to mention her addiction to the Home Shopping Network. Hate to meet the poor bastard that winds up with her.”
She shuddered delicately and shut down her laptop. Aphrodite set her latte down and buried her head in her hands. “Of all the days to be forced to make a match, I get stuck with the cheesiest holiday on Earth. I’ve died and gone to Hades.”
Born from the sea, Aphrodite was the most beautiful woman in the world, responsible for the fall of kingdoms and legions of pissed off wives everywhere. While Aphrodite couldn’t help the beauty she was born with, she didn’t hesitate to use it to her advantage. Thus, the current predicament she found herself in.
Thanks to an incident where she may have incited a teensy, weensy riot at a Kiss concert trying to get backstage passes, Zeus summoned her to Olympus and proceeded to chew her a new girdle. Properly chastised, Aphrodite slunk home to her New York apartment to lick her wounds.
She later heard through the nymph grapevine that Eros had been granted Valentine’s Day off but hadn’t realized the ramifications until Zeus visited her yesterday. Appearing in her apartment in an explosion of light, he commanded her to make one true love match before midnight. Aphrodite stared at him in disbelief. After all, this was Zeus. The father of thousands of illegitimate demi-gods to unsuspecting mortals, he was the last person she expected to be demanding anything about love. When she confronted him about it, Zeus gave her a withering glare.
“My affairs are none of your business, woman!” he boomed.
Aphrodite snorted. “Yeah, tell that to the nymphs. You should really learn to lock your door, Zeus. You’re lucky Hera hasn’t shriveled your balls into acorns.”
Zeus gritted his teeth. “By the mountains of Olympus, I command thee, Aphrodite, to bring true love to two deserving mortals by midnight on Valentines’ Day. Should you fail, I will banish thee to Hades for the period of two hundred years.”
Aphrodite gasped. She knew she was in deep shit as she felt the binding swoop around her ankles in a sparkle of golden light, binding her to the word of Zeus.
Aphrodite cursed profusely. She had forgotten how hard matchmaking was, especially in modern times. Women’s lib was becoming a complete buzz kill for the goddess of love. Toying with the rim of her martini glass, she glanced at her watch and cursed again. It was 9 p.m. Three hours before 200 years of nagging. Of all the punishments Zeus could have come up with, the threat of the next two centuries with her ex-husband was a genius move to ensure complete cooperation.
Aphrodite glanced in the mirror behind the bar and her mouth dropped open.
               “Well, hello hormones,” she chuckled under her breath, staring at the hunk that just walked in the door.
Ebony hair framed an olive complexion and hollow cheekbones. Green eyes swept the room, dismissing everyone he saw. Walking with purpose, he made a beeline for the bar, overlooking Aphrodite as he settled himself on the stool three seats away from her. He removed his jacket and rolled his sleeves up, exposing strong, tanned arms. Lifting a hand, he motioned the bartender over and ordered a drink.
Confused, Aphrodite discreetly lifted an underarm and sniffed. What the hell? He hadn’t even given her a second glance. For a few minutes, she sat there stealing glances at the man and tried to formulate a plan. Gay? she wondered, but didn’t get that vibe from him. Perplexed, she toyed with her curls with one hand and tried to come up with a plan.
A flurry of activity from the corner caught her eye. A frizzy red-headed waitress came up to the bar and motioned the bartender over to fill a drink order. Sitting close enough to the man, she heard his sudden intake of breath and saw him staring.
Unfortunately, the woman was clueless. Glancing at the olive-skinned stud, the redhead offered a slight smile as she lifted the drinks the bartender had placed on her tray.
Aphrodite sprang into action. Spinning her finger, she ensured the woman caught her foot on a bar stool. The tray of drinks went flying and the woman stumbled forward, right into hot guy’s lap. Reaching out to catch her, hot guy also lost his balance and they landed together in a tangled heap of limbs. The bar was dead silent, and Aphrodite stared in shock. Apparently, she hadn’t accounted for gravity on hot guy’s part.
The woman untangled herself, apologizing profusely.
Hot guy lay dazed on the floor, a loopy smile on his face. “I’ve been waiting three months for something like that to happen.”
A shocked laugh burst from the woman. “I’m sure I could have arranged something without ruining your suit.”
Hot guy stood up, dusted his suit off and held out his hand. “Steven,” he said.
The woman stared, not quite sure what to make of him. Finally, she placed her hand in his. “Katie.” A slight smile touched her lips.
Aphrodite grinned in delight. The ginger was kinda cute when she smiled and obviously Steven was into her. As she watched the two of them, heads bent together picking up broken glass and brushing their fingers together when they didn’t have to; she thought the feeling was beginning to be mutual. Turning back to her drink, Aphrodite startled when she saw Zeus staring at her from behind the bar. A salacious wink was the only indicator she received to let her know that Hades had been avoided for now.

Valentine's Day Flash Fiction Contest: Baked with Love

Baked with Love

Cloudy dreariness envelopes the streets outside. The sun hasn't dared to crack the iron curtain in the sky which threatens an assault of raindrops at any moment. For the time being, it's holding off, as if in a standstill with the day that's unfolding in the town below. Sarah Jane stands in her kitchen watching her old pear tree swing in the breeze as the final two leaves are pulled off, tumbling in the wind. She glances up at the sky, hoping the rain won't start for at least an hour or so as she carefully ties red ribbon on each cellophane bag that has been decorated with tiny heart stickers. A yawn escapes her mouth and she's forced to admit she stayed up too late the night before baking treats. She smiles as she puts the final touches on her homemade gifts.
Loading them in a large basket, she calls for Jasmine. As she hears her padding down the stairs, she grabs an umbrella just to be safe and bends down to clip a pink bow in Jasmine's hair. Happily, they bound out the door and into their SUV.
Jasmine sits quietly in her seat and stares out the window as Sarah Jane navigates through the traffic. It's been a while since she's planned anything special. Gosh, she thinks, it's probably been almost a year, but it's been a tough year, she sighs. It's been filled with too much heartache, too much divorce. It feels like they've finally turned the corner though. They've stopped watching the door at six o'clock waiting for Bill to walk through it. They've stopped looking at the empty side of the bed wondering if they should venture over there or not. They've  stopped waking up at seven in the morning when his alarm would have gone off. It's taken a while but they've finally accepted that Bill isn't coming back and it's just going to be the two of them from here on out. Just because life's taken a detour, Sarah Jane is determined to put the past behind her and start focusing on the good things in her life...starting today.
As she pulls into the parking lot at the park, she glances up at the thick, dark clouds above. She hurries out of the car with her basket while Jasmine bounds out the door. As they enter the gate system to get into the park, Jasmine starts to prance and whine a little, as if urging Sarah Jane to go faster. All of her friends race up to the fence, wiggling and dancing while they wait for her to join them. The adults sitting on benches and in chairs reading books or checking their cell phones glance up at the commotion going on at the park's entrance. 
“Hey, everyone,” Sarah Jane yells out as she and Jasmine are mobbed entering the park gate. She holds the basket up high as wet noses sniff the air and hungry eyes yearn to get a better look at what she brought. She laughs and then orders them to, “Go play!”
“What do you have there?” asks Marissa, curiously.
“Just a little Valentine's Day treat,” she says smiling. 
“Oooh,” croons Marissa.  “Is it for us or the little monsters?”
“How can you talk about our babies that way?” Sarah Jane ask playfully. 
Marissa doesn't say anything; she just smiles and points. Sarah Jane follows her gaze and sees a pile of dirty, filthy “monsters” that are wrestling the ball from each other and knocking each other down for a turn.
“Okay, okay,” Sarah Jane concedes. “Our babies are monsters!”
“Now come on. They're not monsters and they're not babies either,” says Jack pointedly. “They're acting just like they should because they're dogs.”
“Ah Jack,” Sarah Jane sighs. “You always call it like you see it.”
Jack shrugs his shoulders and lobs a ball for the pack of dogs, including my sweet yet dirty furbaby. He doesn't say much, but you can tell he thinks the bows and fancy collars are a bunch of hooey.
“Well, whatever you want to call them, I have homemade doggy treats for them,” Sarah Jane says, smiling and waving her basket. Even grouchy Jack's eyes perk up a little. He may call his dog a dog, but everyone knows he's his best friend.
 Sarah Jane happily walks around with her basket handing out treats and wishing everyone a Happy Valentine's Day. She heads over to Derrick last, the rugged guy in the cargo pants and sweatshirt. He's engrossed in a book as usual.
“Hey,” she says sweetly, waiting for him to look up at her. 
“Hey,” he says, smiling and closing his book curiously.
“Um,” she stammers as she notices the amber flecks in his eyes. “I baked some dog treats and wanted to share them with Jasmine's friends for Valentine's Day.”
“Thank you,” he says sincerely, taking the bag from her hand. His fingers brush against hers and she blushes.
“It was nothing,” Sarah Jane says as she studies his angular jaw and scruffy face.
“No, it was something,” he says. “It was really kind of you.”
“Well then, you're welcome,” she says.
“You know,” he says and pauses. “We should go out sometime.”
“Yes, we should,” Sarah Jane replies. It's been ages since she's had this butterfly feeling. It's slightly intoxicating and makes her happy and nervous all at once. Baking dog treats was the best idea she's had in a long time. Not only has she made the dogs happy and their owners happy, but now, she's also scored herself a date. 
“I have a date,” she mouths to Marissa as she walks back across the park, trying to restrain herself from doing a little happy dance. A drop of rain falls from the sky and Sarah Jane couldn't care less.        

Valentine's Day Flash Fiction Contest

We're so excited to announce our Valentine's Day Flash Fiction Contest

Here are the details:
  • Women's fiction only
  • Valentine's Day theme
  • 500 - 1000 words (If you aren't familiar with flash fiction, it just means a really short story)
  • Submissions are open now and stories will be posted from now until February 12th
  • Winners will be announced on February 14th
  • Nancy and Shannon will choose the winners based on comments from readers. So, if you love a story, be sure to comment and let us know!
  • First place prize is a $25 Amazon gift card, second place prize is a $15 Amazon gift card and third place prize is a $10 Amazon gift card
We hope you'll submit your Valentine's Day flash fiction to our contest!

Please email submissions and any questions you have to Nancy at Thank you! We look forward to reading your stories!