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CUPID'S ARROW

By kayley ulmer

  1. Untitled
    Untitled
    By Ashley Wu
Half the names on the list were crossed off. He hung his head low as he weaved through the party. A crumpled piece of paper hung from his right hand and a rather large bow was slung over his shoulder. If anyone noticed the tall, lanky man with the unusually formal clothing, they hadn't bothered to make a scene. He had a bit of a bowlegged stumble to his step that seemed weighed down by the side of his body that carried his weapon. Cupid checked the shiny golden watch on his wrist and bit his inner cheek. 11:32 am. He was late.

Neither the girl with too much lipstick on nor the stout boy beside her paid him any mind as he approached them with a drawn crossbow.

For a fleeting moment- against every bit of judgement they'd taught him in vocational school- Cupid wished he could take off the Aphrodite's Matchmaking pin that rested on his blazer and forget the rest of his list entirely. Maybe next time.

Like clockwork, Lipstick Girl pulled the Poor Boy in for a hearty kiss and smeared her excess lipstick all over his awestruck grin in the process.

He couldn't bring himself to watch. Cupid sighed to himself, clearly dissatisfied with his work. It wasn't like that relationship would last. Why did he even bother?
Maybe it had been the Valentine’s Day sales flanking the shop windows all around him or his own blasé acceptance that he was not, in fact, making it to his noon appointment on time, but Cupid couldn’t bring himself to climb back into his car.
Only his mother’s tedious eye would have felt inclined to choose such a flowery-pink design for a notepad. He frowned. Cupid slowly dragged his pointer finger down the remaining four names on the list.

Noon: Emily and Peter. Divorce
12:30 pm: Ava and Frank. Long-Distance
1 pm: Lunch break

With an irritated quiver of the upper lip, Cupid ripped the paper in half and let the remains litter the sidewalk. He would be taking his break early, today.

[[]] [[]] [[]]

The blonde man nearly dropped his drink on his expensive dress shoes at the sight of a woman in his car. For a moment, he contemplated turning around and going for a walk until she gave up on finding him. He decided against it when they locked eyes and he was faced with a rather annoyed red-head on his trail. The colorful slew of curse words that spat from his mouth got lost in the sound of car horns as he made way across LA traffic. Of course his mother had sent someone after him again. They might give him a free pass if he let a few slip every other day of the year, so why did today have to be any different?

When he yanked open the car door, he was met with the kind of glare he almost wished he’d actually done his job to avoid. Almost.

“What is it this time, Celeste?”

“You're slipping up again. Two more Matches missed? And on the busiest day of the year, no less-!”

“Took you long enough to notice”

Celeste didn't say anything at first. She leaned up off the car and faced him, her arms still crossed over her chest. She tucked a strand of auburn hair behind her ear, like she always did when she was thinking.

“I mean, really-! I had enough time to squeeze in a full meal, or have you been hiding out in my car since 12:01?”

“Cupid,” she chastised. “Please tell me you're not flaking out on me- on us- because it's Valentine's Day! We already went over this. You do this every year and I'm not about to cover for you again. So, tell me: what's goin’ on?”

He blinked. No one had ever bothered to ask him how he felt; it was assumed that he felt honored. He simply laughed.

“You think this is fun for me? Half of these ridiculous arrows are a waste, anyways! That girl I shot this morning? Yeah, she's gonna end up sleeping with his brother. And I'll have done absolutely no good”

“Maybe you're just bitter,” she concluded.

“Perhaps I am,” he paused. “But it's not exactly a walk in the park, you know? I'm forced to make these morons fall in love - most of the time I already know it won't last- yet I'm not allowed to love anyone myself. You'd be bitter too, if you were meant to spend eternity surrounded by romance but aren't allowed to have it yourself”

Celeste pursed her lips inward. She wanted to remind him that, yes, he could have all those things, if he really wanted them. He could probably have anyone he wanted in the whole company, too. He was just being an entitled prick. Cupid knew the rules, she was sure of it. Celeste, as much as she wanted to tell him to quit being lazy and do his job, needed the money too much to mouth off on her boss’s son.

“Get it together, kid,” she snapped. “Plenty of people are single on Valentine’s Day; in fact, if you don’t quit feeling sorry for yourself, there'll be about ten more than there should be”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about, Celeste. You work with the Security department and you lot don’t have any stupid rules on love”

“Actually, sure, I do know what you mean. You’re not the only person with problems, Cupid. Did you honestly think I wanted to spend today chasing after your irresponsible, sorry self?”

Cupid’s lips parted and slammed shut like a fish out of water. “Er, no,” he said. “I suppose not”

Celeste patted the seat beside her and handed him another- reinforced this time- copy of his job assignments for the day.

“C’mon, get through today and I promise I’ll talk to your Mom about it”

“Think you can talk her into letting me talk off the charmed pin, too? It’s bad enough that I feel invisible. I make one teensy mistake and suddenly I’m not allowed to talk to the humans at all-!”

“A mistake? I didn’t know we were calling sabotaging your own assignments ‘mistakes.’ Don’t push it, kid. Just get your tasks over with and we can talk after”

“Promise?”

“Yeah, sure thing, it’s not like my dogs will miss me too much if I’m gone for an extra hour”

Cupid shot Celeste a short laugh, amused by her playful honesty. He was almost glad his mother didn’t trust him to be reliable; he’d grown rather used to Celeste showing up on February the Fourteenth. After all, nobody felt lonelier on Valentine's Day than Cupid himself.
   
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