This column is an advance reprint from Unwinnable Monthly #160. If you like what you see, subscribe and get all future magazines for half price.
Fictional companions and goth concerns.
As we all know, every year on the fourteenth of February, ancient beings rise from the deep to rend flesh from the bones of those who did not gift an appropriate offering to their beloved.
But don’t be frightened, gentle reader. I am here to help you through this dark period. I am here to help you get your girl, or your beloved, what she really wants for Valentine’s Day.
I may refer to your beloved as “girl,” but I understand that your beloved may not be a girl. Your beloved may be a swamp mist, a creature from outside time, a “man,” a flock of sparrows circling your window at night. For the purposes of this guide, your beloved is “girl.” For the purposes of this guide, I am your beloved.
It makes no difference to the ancient ones. It will not change their punishments should you fail.
Your beloved craves eye contact. When you are not looking upon your beloved, what can she gaze into other than the abyss from which the ancient ones will ultimately rise? Gift your beloved a wax mold of an eye – if not a mold of your own eye, a mold of a generic eye. Let your beloved imagine it is you she sees, should she choose to turn from the abyss.
Get your beloved a haunted doll. Beloveds love haunted dolls. When your beloved wakes in the night and you are not there, she will instead see the face of her new companion, the haunted doll with the succulent growing from her crown, and she will feel relieved. Even if the ancient ones take you, your beloved will not be alone.
It might inconvenience your beloved if you ripped out your own heart and gave it to her, because then you would be dead, and she would have to locate a new beloved before the next fourteenth of February. In lieu of your own heart, give her an ethically sourced mink’s.
Does your beloved enjoy quieting her mind while strengthening her muscles? Does she enjoy contorting her body into shapes the mortal eye was not meant to see? Get your beloved a yoga mat that will remind her, fondly, of the ancient ones’ punishments.
Get your beloved a luminescent heart (again, not yours) so that it may shine light into the darkness of her own heart.
Your beloved might need this to protect you when the ancient ones come. Don’t you want to feel protected by your beloved? Of course, if you give your beloved an appropriate offering, you will not need protection from the ancient ones. Unless . . . ?
Beloveds love maenads. Beloveds love sarcophagi. Do not worry that your beloved will prepare this sarcophagus for you; it is merely a replica to remind your beloved of all who have gone before.
Your beloved has trophies of past lovers in her chambers. You may experience jealousy, but you cannot blame her for using sentimentality as a shield against the rising dark. If you give your beloved this charming set of rabbit, rock dove, pond slider turtle and black-spined toad skulls, they will fit nicely with her other trophies.
It is not your beloved’s fault that these others failed her; your beloved did what she could to guide them, after all. In the end, only the ancient ones may decide what offerings are acceptable.
Not that your beloved is a mere vessel between you and the forces of darkness. Surely, you see your beloved as more than as a symbol. Surely, your beloved sees you as more than a sacrifice.
Many beloveds enjoy receiving jewels and adornments on the fourteenth of February. What better way to recognize your beloved’s venomous kiss than with a bracelet of cobra vertebrae? When the ancient ones come, she may wear it like a talisman of your devotion. Perhaps, then, the ancient ones will see that unlike her former loves, you understand her deepest nature and love her all the same.
Whatever happens on the fourteenth of February, your beloved will be tired by day’s end. Give her a place to rest. If you are feeling optimistic, consider a matching set.
Rest assured, there is a reason your beloved has chosen you. Your beloved believes that you love her enough to risk the wrath of the ancient ones. Your beloved believes you can withstand their glories. Your beloved believes that you truly see her, and that in seeing her, you will be able to prepare a suitable offering. Your beloved does not believe that you will fail. I do not believe that you will fail your beloved.