'Ding, Dong, The Year Is Dead!'

Submitted for Contest #74 in response to: Write a story that takes place across ten seconds.... view prompt

16 comments

Dec 26, 2020

Holiday Funny

Ten...


Ten months ago, it was late in February, and early in 2020. It had started out a pretty normal year. In ten seconds, all the memories come flooding back. Pictures saved in the files of the mind. Remnants of festive wrapping paper still cluttering the carpet here and there. It had been a perfectly normal holiday season, and now the question: Will it ever get back to normal? You, like everyone else, has been asking this nearly all year long. As the last ten seconds of the undisputed worst year of your life disappear, one by one, into the dismal archives of history, an unprecedented air of bittersweet anticipation nips at your soul like the frigid draft bellowing through every little gap in your creaking house nips at your extremities this late New Year's Eve.


Nine...


Last March, things really began to turn South. Physically, you were okay, but the luck ended there. You found yourself living in a global ghost town. It was as if some silent Armageddon had swooped in and wiped out everything that made life worth living. You felt dead. Your individuality had been replaced by a face veiled in plain cotton; your freedom ended at the edge of your yard; the world was quickly becoming an online-only prison of bar-less boundaries. You remember hoping, praying, and wishing. What else was there to do?


Eight...


In April, Spring was in full bloom. Nature carried on as if nothing were wrong, but by now, nothing seemed right. Baseball just seemed pointless and silly without anyone around to root for their respective teams. Spring cleaning, on the other hand, had made a full-blown comeback. So had yard work. And that led to more problems custom-tailored specially for you by whatever higher power sat up there laughing at it all.


Those killer bees. Most of your life, you had heard the horror story: That they're moving north. Never had taken it seriously before. You still thought it was an urban legend when you fired up the mower underneath the old oak tree that morning. You should have known better; it was 2020.


Seven...


The psychosomatics leftover from the ordeal still make you throb with stinging sensations as you continue to watch the ball drop from the isolated, miserable safety of your sofa. May. Things were finally starting to look better in May. Some places were open again. "The warm weather will make it all go away," you thought. 


Then, there was the heat wave. Triple digits and perfect one-hundred percent humidity joined forces to toy with your sanity in very inventive ways that left you with no choice but to stand in awe of the havoc. By the end of this so-called "merry, merry month", you were convinced Hell had relocated itself to the earth's surface. You tried cooking an egg out on the porch, but it got burnt. The humidity caused your front door to warp, setting the stage for what was to come in June.


Six...


At this point, if you had just one wish, it would be the ability to travel in time just six seconds into the future. That New Year's ball is descending way too slow. If you could be at Times Square right now you'd find a tall ladder, climb up there, and jump up and down on it trying to make it move faster.


Now you recall the Great Bug Plague of 2020...No, actually you don't have to recall; your arms and legs are still covered with welted scars from the mosquito bites. The warped door, with it's gap big enough to put a hand through, certainly didn't help.


Five...


"Halfway there," you attempt to reassure yourself, but it comes out as a seethe. During this second, you think back to the fire. It was the Fourth of July. You remember it well. It hadn't rained in over a month, and the threat of drought was becoming more real with each passing dog day of summer.


But that was another story. You were sitting at home with three fly swatters in each hand, trying to relax, when you started to see smoke pouring through the gap in the door. Long story short: They were able to put the grass fire out before it burned your house down, which was the closest thing to good news you'd had all year. Apparently, one of the neighbor's kids had been outside lighting firecrackers. Unsupervised.


Four...


Good ole August. The month of the blizzard. Snow that made your roof sag; icicles that fell from the very tree that once housed your killer bees, shattering your windshield; temps cold enough to kill off all the bugs finally, and you with them if you didn't watch it; north wind shoving you around everywhere you went. It was August. Freaking August! Enough said.


Three...


The voice bounces around in your skull. Watching this countdown is no longer a mere spectacle, it has become a mission. The ball is practically touching the ground now. You realize that over the course of the past seven seconds, you have formed into a ball yourself. You're leaned over, back arched, arms and hands wrapped so tightly around your knees it hurts, and static electricity tickles the tip of your nose as it presses against the TV screen. Somehow, the sofa you've been sitting on has wiggled its way forward all the way from the back of the living room.


And the tornado and flood of September is as much at the forefront of your mind as you are close to falling over, taking the TV with you.


Two...


What would a year like this be without some good Halloween fun? Hell as far as you're concerned, 2020 was Halloween come to think of it. Well, two very, very long months ago, some local teens really got into the spirit; and your house and yard was the target. But it all ended well: At least you now had ten pounds of toilet paper gathered up and stashed in your closet in case worse came to worse.


One...


You spent most of the month of November straining with crossed eyes in a vain struggle to think of one single thing for which to be thankful this year. It was like digging for buried treasure, except there was no map and no treasure. You knew Thanksgiving was going to be a mess the likes of which no one in the U.S. of A. had ever seen in the entire history of the holiday. There would be no family get-together, unless you counted video chat as a "get-together". It was going to be a brutally-lonely day any way you sliced it. But hey: At least there would still be turkey!


Key word: Would. The week before Thanksgiving, it happened. Covid. You were lucky; the case was mild. But by the time Grandma had set the steaming platter of bird, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie on your porch - and ran - you couldn't taste any of it. So it all sat in your freezer, awaiting this triumphant moment. The moment this luminous ball and this glorious ground kissed. When December became sweet January. When we could all slam the book containing this rotten chapter shut and burn it.


Happy New Year!


You leap from your sofa and run around in circles, acting in a way that would put George Bailey to shame. You finally made it. You feel like hugging everything in the house; even the warped door. You're a survivor. You fought the Battle of 2020 to the bitter end, and won.


Now it's time to round up every charm you can get your hands on. Throw salt over your shoulder. Saturate the air with that good-luck incense spray. Keep your fingers crossed on both hands at all times. Eat every black-eyed pea you can stuff down your throat. And pray. 

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

16 comments

I loved this story! :)

Reply

Gip Roberts
00:46 Dec 27, 2020

Thank you. I hope it did justice to some of the frustration we've all been feeling this year. Thanks for the likes on my other stories as well:)

Reply

Yes, it definitely did, and your welcome! :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Laura Clark
19:28 Jan 02, 2021

Haha! This really taps into the way every single person on Earth feels about 2020! This poor protagonist has had it worse than most, though I don’t know many people who have had wildly successful years. I really like the way you’ve turned each second into a month and reflected on it - that’s very clever. It’s a great structure to the story, too, moving through the months and seconds simultaneously. I really enjoyed this - thanks for sharing it!

Reply

Gip Roberts
22:09 Jan 02, 2021

Thank you so much, Laura! I'll bet I'm not the only one who went with the 'what a crappy year' theme in their story since the main theme, "Countdown", pretty much encouraged it. I've found that using time itself (seconds, months, years, etc.) really helps in structuring my stories and I'm glad you liked the idea.

Reply

Laura Clark
22:49 Jan 02, 2021

I think everybody has that at the back of their mind! I wrote mine not intending to do a 2020 themed one and someone pointed out to me that I’d gone on quite a cathartic journey. Writing is free therapy, I guess!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Laura Clark
08:44 Jan 03, 2021

Oh, also: I have a new one out as well. If you have time and are interested, feel free to check it out.

Reply

Gip Roberts
20:01 Jan 03, 2021

I always try to return favors on here, so I'll be glad to check out your new story.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 2 replies
Show 1 reply
Kathy Roberts
23:02 Jan 04, 2021

Great story! You described 2020 perfectly.

Reply

Gip Roberts
21:13 Jan 05, 2021

Thanks for the comment. Now that I've described it "perfectly", I'm just glad it's over :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Lucía M
03:10 Jan 03, 2021

OMG, this story felt like living through 2020 all over again. It was charming, funny and witty. It also reminded me about how, even though it was a hard year, overcoming -or rather surviving- the year was an achievement in itself. Thanks for the laugh. Also, it would mean so much to me if you could read my latest story. Its also on this prompt and I would love to hear your thoughts on it!

Reply

Gip Roberts
21:04 Jan 03, 2021

Thank you, Lucia. Hopefully now that the new century just turned 21, it will mature a little and treat us all better. I'll be happy to read your latest. Thanks again for the feedback.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
12:26 Jan 01, 2021

Nice history ended with step by step stride and from transferred from season to season.

Reply

Gip Roberts
19:38 Jan 01, 2021

Thank you for the comment.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Kristin Neubauer
00:03 Dec 31, 2020

Hah! What a great way of capturing the year. I love the irony of COVID at Thanksgiving and losing the sense of taste and smell. So vividly written with just the right touches of humor and irony to make it a really enjoyable piece. I feel that I must join in all the good luck rites now!

Reply

Gip Roberts
02:08 Dec 31, 2020

Thanks for the feedback. Yeah, we're pretty much all ready for this year to die. I think I even heard that some company is coming out with T-shirts that say: "I survived 2020." So I thought I'd try tapping into some of the common bitterness with this little story. Glad you liked it :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply