Accosting the New Year
by Tonia Brown
She sits in a darkened dining room, sipping hot coffee and eyeing the New Year across the table. This wasn’t what he expected, and she knows it. He thought this would be easy, that she would beg him for new possibilities, new fortunes, a new life. But no. She has other plans. He shifts in his seat. She enjoys his discomfort, and sips again.
“So,” she says, “you’re the New Year. What was your name again?”
“2013,” the New Year says. “You may have heard of me.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard of you. I heard you weren’t coming, but you saw fit to make an appearance.” She smirks. “How kind of you.”
“Well, these things are never certain until the time they happen.”
She shrugs and sips.
He clears his throat. “I’m sure you know what I am here about.”
Setting her cup down, she folds her arms and leans back in her chair. “What are you about?”
His brow furrows as his lips part in surprise. “Excuse me?”
“What are you about? What will 2013 bring the world? Because the last few years have been sort of okay. Nothing spectacular. A little success, a lot of disappointment, and every day we got older and older and older.” She laces her fingers and, leaning over her half full cup toward him, she whispers, “What are you going to do differently?”
“I … I … well, I don’t know what to say.”
“I know you don't.” She stands and leaves him sitting there to think about it. She goes to the kitchen counter and with her back to him she asks, “Coffee?”
“Yes, please. Black.”
She shakes her head as she pours and preps his cup. Joining him at the table again, sets his mug down and returns to her seat.
He picks up the cup and sips, then swallows with a grimace.
“Problem?” she asks.
“You must’ve misheard me,” he says and pushes the cup away.
“No. I heard you. Black.” She sips her coffee again.
“But … this has cream and sugar.”
She pauses to watch him over the lip of her cup, the steam framing her mischievous grin. “I know. Drink up.”
He narrows his eyes at her. “What is your game?”
“I see.” He stands and checks his watch. “This has been just lovely, but I have other places to be. Can I get your resolutions and be on my way?”
Instead of placating him with promises and hopes, she laughs, long and loud.
He turns in place, looking about, unsure what the source of her humor is until he realizes it is him. “What’s so funny?”
“You are,” she says. “I don’t have any resolutions.”
“No. Not this year.”
He stares at her in silence for a moment. After her words sink into his thick skull, he nods. “Okay then, no resolutions from you. Are you certain? This is your only chance.”
“Yes. I am.” She stands and approaches him, tracing her fingers along the tabletop as she takes careful, cautious steps toward the New Year. “After romancing almost forty of you fuckers, I think I’m fairly certain how this is going to play out. I make promises I know I won’t keep. You roll on and on, ignoring my struggle. And in the end I spend my last day with you weeping about how I am so glad our relationship is done, only to have another bastard come along and take your place.” Almost atop him, she leans down into his face. “Am I right?”
He swallows hard enough for her to hear. “Yeah, well, that’s how it goes.”
“Not with you.”
“N-n-not with me?”
“Nope.” She backs off a bit, allowing him some room to breathe. “Not this year. This year I don’t have resolutions.”
“No, I have demands.”
He chuckles. “You must be kidding. I don’t do demands.”
“You’ll do mine.” She pulls a slip of paper from her cleavage, and sets it on the table. She leaves it there and returns to her seat.
The New Year picks it up and unfolds it. He reads, and as he reads his eyes widen. “You can’t be serious.”
She nods. “Perfectly serious. I want every single one of those fulfilled by the end of your run.”
He points to the paper. “But this one isn’t even physically possible!”
“Then get it as close as you can.”
As his eyes scan the page, he blinks over and over, as if trying to wash the requests from his mind. He gasps and blushes when he reaches number eleven. “Really? That is just … you should be ashamed.”
“What? I’m a woman of many tastes.”
“Yes but I’d be surprised you’d have any taste buds left after something like that. Oh, now this one I can do. And this one. I can do this one twice.” He smiles. “Some of these are rather simple, aren’t they?”
“They are, yet somehow you guys manage to miss the simple things.”
He looks to her over the paper, his ancient gaze heavy with a millennium of experience. “So do you.”
“I realize that, which is why I plan on making those things happen with you. You won’t be in it alone.”
“I thought as much.” He folds the page with a chuckle and pokes it into his jacket pocket. “You all make resolutions in the end.”
“Don’t mistake my commitment for submission. These aren’t promises from me to you. This is a to do list. Things we will get done, together.”
He taps the side of his mug and considers her words. “Together?”
“That will be a new one.”
“A new one for a new year.”
The New Year lifts the sweetened coffee and drinks it down in a few gulps. He smacks his lips with a satisfied smile. “I always enjoyed a little sugar in my cup.”
“So do I, hon. So do I.”