As a girl whose activity in the Valentine’s Day game of love had, in her twenty-one years of life, seen less human activity than Chernobyl, Veronica saw her advocacy of the Hallmark holiday as the height of human maturity. She would smile at the man browsing the aisles of luxury chocolates in John Lewis. She’d volunteer her opinion to the chap pondering whether to buy his other half red roses or white lilies as though he’d be sent to North Korea if he got it wrong. She admired the boy buying a variety of different flavoured lubrications ahead of her in the queue at Boots while she bought her monthly supply of extra-absorbent tampax. Each scenario brought on a small smile – albeit a sad, wistful sort of smile – to Veronica’s face as she wondered what it must be like to love and be loved. “While I’ve never had a boyfriend”, she thought, “and no boy has ever asked me out for dinner, that is no reason for the world to be deprived of love”. She decanted her Chinese take-away into her favourite bowl and settled in to watch two re-runs of The O.C.

Somewhere nearby Claudia yelled at Steve for being the reason she was fat. “You always buy me f***ing chocolates. When have you ever seen me eat a f***ing chocolate in my life?”. Two doors down Charlotte locked herself in the bathroom to hide her face as she broke out in a cold sweat. Gripping the bathroom sink she frantically repeated Just because he bought you flowers it doesn’t mean he’s cheating. Just because he bought you flowers it doesn’t mean he’s cheating. Just because he bought you flowers doesn’t mean he’s cheating… Billy was downstairs texting his girlfriend. Across the road Ellie was pulling her jeans back on: “Just because you got different flavours does NOT mean all that should happen tonight is that you get a blow job. My vibrator has more personality than you. I’m going home to enjoy it”.

“Yes”, Veronica thought, as she watched Ryan and Marissa fight and break up for the fifth time before re-kindling their undeniable love for each other in the next episode. “Yes, true love does exist. And when it comes knocking at my door, it doesn’t need to be carrying chocolates or flowers or lube. Just a heart big enough to hold me in it. Maybe next year”. And with that thought, she put her headphones in and turned on her favourite Taylor Swift song. She fell asleep, dreamt of white horses and knights in shining armor, and woke up nine hours later to just another bloody freezing cold day in the middle of February.