12.31.2014 Journal Prompt

Image from Last Orders
Image from Last Orders

December 31, 2014: Times long past.

3 Replies to “12.31.2014 Journal Prompt”

  1. New Year’s a thing in Kale. We all meet at the clock at about a half hour before. By then everybody’s been drinking some and they’re laughing too hard and their voices are lifted loud. The clock has two faces and neither of them tells the time right, each one off by a different few minutes. But mostly that’s ok in the village where everything runs slow anyways.

    It’s been like that for as long as I can remember, the slow that everything is and the meeting each year at the out-of-step clock and everybody putting on a show of being happy and excited.

    It’s quite a crowd we make as the time moves closer to the end of one year and the start of another. We know each other. There’s just the two shops in the village and the one pub. And everybody’s nodding and asking how things are and how they have been. Even the old have made it out onto the street and they are smiling thinly and waving to people they still recognize, even Mrs Christie and she walks crooked and leans hard on a stick.

    And the thing is, I hate New Year. I hate it every year. The looking back and weighing up the past year against all the others, and the looking forward and wanting it to be better and thinking it just could be. It never is.

    Someone offers me a drink, there in the street, and any other time of the year that’d be against the law, only it’s New Year and briefly the law counts for nothing. It’s Ed that offers me the drink. I put the bottle to my lips and I take a mouthful of fizzy wine. It’s cold and sharp and salty. I hand the bottle back and I wear a smile.

    ‘Looking pretty as ever,’ says Ed and it’d count for something if he said it any other day or night. But right now his words are all slippy and slurred and tomorrow he won’t remember having talked to me. He never remembers.

    Then someone starts with a countdown, a little uncertain at first, and then growing in confidence. No one knows if the timing is quite right, but in Kale it doesn’t really matter. We all join in with the backwards counting, sounding like we did in school years back, reciting our times tables and sometimes losing our way but no one noticing in the noise of the crowd. We chant down the seconds until we reach zero and, though neither of the clock faces says it is midnight, we play it like it is. Everybody is suddenly shaking hands and kissing and hugging and wishing each other well and wishing each other the best. A firework goes off somewhere and corks pop from the necks of more bottles. Ed finds me again and he is suddenly shy and he leans in to kiss me, not sure if he should put his lips to my lips or to my cheek. I decide for him and then he says ‘Happy new year, Lily,’ and he won’t remember any of this in the morning when he’s sober.

    Then, after maybe five minutes or ten, the fizz goes out of everything and people just quietly drift away. Maybe the young linger a bit longer, still drinking from their bottles and talking too loud and dancing crazy to no music in the street. There’s a party some place and some of the people are pulled there. The rest of us creep to our own houses, and we don’t put the lights on, and we lock all the doors, and we take to our beds, thinking to lie a little later in the morning to make up for the sleep we’ve lost.

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