Jill looked at her step-tracking app on her phone, and then to the clock on the wall, and then at the treadmill in the corner of her basement. The cobwebs on the railings visibly trembled in the draft from the open basement door. She looked back at her phone and sighed.
Back at midnight January first, Jill had been drunk on champagne and high hopes for the new year as she partied with her friends. Everyone started announcing their resolutions, and silly Jilly had declared that she and her new fitness tracker would walk 10,000 steps per day. At the time, she didn’t realize how many steps that was or even that it was an arbitrary number that someone had made up to market fitness trackers, but gosh darn it, she was going to do it!
“Let’s make things more interesting,” Jill’s friend Amelia had said. “Let’s put some money on it, and I’m not just talking $5. I mean something like $100!”
Everyone agreed that sounded like an awesome idea. Who couldn’t lose five pounds in a year or travel to the Grand Canyon or walk 10,000 steps a day?
Those that didn’t complete their resolutions by New Year’s Day of the next year would have to fork over $100, and those that fulfilled their resolutions would split the spoils. The seven people drunk or delusional enough to agree to the scheme clinked their glasses in agreement, and the deal was done.
Jill started the year well enough. Despite her day-after hangover, she came close to her 10,000 step goal because of a shopping trip at the local mall. Then, she watched her neighbor’s dogs for a week and got plenty of steps by taking them for walks. She had an early February hiking trip that put her well over her daily goal, and she was flying high. In March, her motivation dwindled as she got caught up binging a new television show. To be honest, she kind of forgot about her resolution for the next couple of months until her friend Marjorie posted some pictures in June of her trip to the Grand Canyon.
Jill had taken in the beautifully rendered cliffs and funny shots of donkey behinds as they wound down narrow paths, and it inspired her. Well, maybe not "inspired", but made her think, huh, maybe I should start walking more.
She started parking farther out in parking lots whenever she thought about it and took some walks over the summer. December came before she knew it, and she pulled up her tracking app to see her progress. She tallied her totals and did a little more math to see that she was short about 3,000 steps per day for the rest of the month. She was so close and yet so far!
She started prancing in place while brushing her teeth and pacing her living room while she listened to podcasts. She walked around the block and then switched directions for a different perspective.
Now, here she was at noon on New Year’s Eve with 15,000 steps left to reach her goal. She had five hours until she had to get ready for her New Year’s party and twelve hours for her 15,000 steps. She swiped a towel over the dusty rails of the treadmill and stepped on.
She pulled her hair up into a clip as she started the treadmill at a slower pace. She didn’t have time to waste. With her hair up, she cranked the treadmill up to three, a far cry from the two miles an hour she usually used as a warmup. She moved her legs, finding her stride, her heart starting to pump, and her body growing warm. She hummed a couple of bars to the Rocky theme but didn’t keep it up as she started to get winded. After five minutes, she considered herself warmed up and cranked the speed higher.
After 45 minutes, Jill was dripping sweat and ready for a break. She nudged the speed down gradually until she was at a crawling pace and finally stopped it completely so that she could get some water and catch her breath.
As she climbed the stairs, she wrapped her hands tightly around the railing and pulled. When she reached her sink, she filled her favorite glass with a Pikachu decal smiling at her. “I choose you, Pikachu,” she said and downed the water. She pressed the cool glass against her head and closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and then checked her tracker for her progress, certain that she was almost there. Six thousand five hundred and eighty-nine steps. She was less than halfway there, and she didn’t know if she could do another round on the treadmill.
Jill calmly set her glass down on the kitchen counter and laid down on the kitchen floor. She was splayed there five minutes later when her younger brother Lucas came in.
“What are you doing on the floor?” he asked, nudging her leg to the side with his foot so that he could get into the refrigerator.
“Restoring my energy so that I can do another 10,000 steps in the next three hours so that I can go to Bianca’s New Year’s party and not lose $100,” she mumbled from the floor, rolling onto her side and resting her forehead on the cool tile.
“Ten thousand sounds like a lot,” Lucas said, drinking some milk from the carton and putting it back into the refrigerator.
“It is,” Jill said, pulling herself into a seated position.
“You might want to start moving.” He dodged out of her grasp as she reached to trip him, leaving her bent at an odd angle, alone on the floor.
She groaned and checked her tracker again. The count had gone up by two. She looked at the ceiling and groaned in frustration.
She begrudgingly stood and shook out her limbs. Maybe she just needed to put on some music and get away from the treadmill for some motivation.
She opened her music player app and scrolled through her playlists until she found the one labeled “Jill’s super awesome workout mix!” Katie Perry blasted through her earbuds as she settled them in.
“You’re going to hear me ROAR!” Jill sang off-key as she stepped out her front door and into the chilly afternoon air. A dusting of snow had fallen, and her body heat was quickly wicked away from her sweaty yoga pants and shirt. By the time she reached the end of her driveway, her teeth were chattering, and her legs were frozen. She turned around and marched back to the house. Katy Perry still hadn’t finished roaring, but Jill was back in the house, rubbing her legs for warmth.
She paced some circuits around the house, struggling to get any feeling back into her legs that wasn’t burning cold.
“Shouldn’t you be getting ready for Bianca’s party?” Lucas asked, sticking his head out his bedroom door a couple of hours later.
Jill groaned again, and Lucas ducked back into his bedroom and shut the door to avoid being strangled. He was right, but Jill didn’t have to like it. Her step count had slowly climbed as she paced the house, but she was still about 4,000 steps short.
She removed her tracker from her wrist to quickly shower, not wanting to waste much time. As soon as she climbed out of the shower, she resumed her pacing, at first marching in place wearing her towel while she styled her hair and applied moisturizer, and then back and forth as she pulled on her ensemble: black leggings and a silver sequined tunic top.
She nearly wept in frustration five minutes later when she realized she hadn’t put her tracker back on her wrist. “I’m never going to hit this goal!” she shrieked.
“Not with that attitude!” she heard Lucas shout from his bedroom.
Jill paused her pacing, took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. She folded forward to touch her toes, letting her arms dangle for a moment before returning to a standing position. She could do this! She gave herself a little pep talk. Just a little more here and there and she will meet her goal.
Jill resumed her pacing as she bronzed, highlighted, and glittered her way to New Year’s perfection.
She was still rotating between walking in place and pacing when she arrived at Bianca’s house. “You made it!” Bianca squealed when she opened the door and embraced Jill in an excited hug.
Jill followed her into the house where the party had started. Music thumped, and clusters of people chatted and snacked.
“Is there anything I can help you with?” Jill asked, still moving from foot to foot but trying to not be too obvious about it.
“Sure. I’ve got a platter of pigs in a blanket in the kitchen if you would like to bring them out,” Bianca beamed.
Jill trotted to the kitchen and grabbed said piggy platter and a handful of napkins. She returned to the living room and walked from guest to guest offering snacks.
“Wow, Denise! You look great! You must have really blown that five-pound goal out of the water,” she cooed over her friend Denise.
“Oh, yeah. I started doing Pilates, and the weight just melted off,” Denise said, running her hands down her tight-fitting red dress.
“Well, you look great. Maybe I’ll have to take up Pilates next year,” Jill said and continued on her weenie-mission
“Marjorie!” she greeted another friend. “I just loved seeing your pictures from the Grand Canyon. How scary was it riding that donkey down that teeny-tiny ledge?”
“It was awful,” Marjorie confirmed, grabbing a pig in a blanket, “but it was so worth it when we reached the bottom.”
“You’ll have to tell me more about it when I come back around,” Jill said. “I’ve got to keep moving!”
Jill made a couple of circuits and returned to the kitchen with an empty tray. She took the moment of solitude to do another quick burst of running in place before grabbing a drink from a punch bowl and returning to the crowd.
She spent the next couple of hours shmoozing and dancing, hardly sitting still and never sitting.
At ten minutes until midnight, Bianca came around with party favors. Jill grabbed a hat and horn.
“You haven’t stopped moving since you got here,” Bianca commented.
“I’m trying to finish my goal,” Jill confided, looking at her tracker. “I have just a couple hundred steps left. I am so close and don’t want to lose a hundred dollars. Do you want me to help hand those out?” She motioned to the box of favors Bianca was holding.
“Sure,” Bianca said, handing the box to Jill and taking a horn for herself.
Jill made one more circuit around the room, passing out favors, and returned to the kitchen to dispose of the empty box. She checked the time and her tracker, her goal was within sight. She started running in place again, lifting her legs and pumping her arms, she racked up the steps.
She heard everyone getting into position in the living room to count down for the ball drop, but she couldn’t break her stride, or she would miss her goal. She ran faster as she heard her friends, “Five! Four! Three! Two! One! Happy New Year!”
She looked at her wrist to check her tracker. As her friends sang Auld Lang Syne from the other room, she puddled to the floor, her legs folding beneath her. She sobbed, tears rolling down her face, her shoulders shaking.
Bianca breezed into the kitchen with a tray of empty champagne flutes and stopped. “Jilly! What’s wrong?”
“I didn’t hit my goal…” Jill mourned. “All I needed was ten more lousy steps.”
“Oh, honey. I gave up on my resolution back in May. I mean, what kind of goal is saying yes to everything anyway? I couldn’t even answer the phone because I was afraid of telemarketers.”
Jill gave a weak laugh through the tears.
“What’s going on in here?” Denise asked from the kitchen doorway.
“Jill is upset because she didn’t hit her step goal for the year,” Bianca explained.
“You didn’t? I thought you were doing so well! You posted the other day about how you’ve been going to the gym, and over the summer you had that hike with all of the tree pictures.”
“I missed it by ten,” Jill sniffed.
“Can I tell you a secret?” Denise asked, kneeling down and lowering her voice. “I didn’t really lose five pounds this year. It’s more like I lost three, gained four, and then found Spanx.”
Jill looked at her warily. “No, you look great.”
Denise lifted the hem of her dress to show the leg of her shapewear. “And there’s one more thing,” she said, pulling her dress back into place and walking to the kitchen door. “Hey, Marjorie! Come here for a sec!” she called.
Marjorie entered a moment later. “What is everyone doing in here, and why is Jill on the floor?”
“Jill didn’t make her resolution of however many steps a day and feels awful,” Denise said. “I was just telling her how I didn’t quite lose five pounds, and I thought you might want to tell her about your resolution.”
“What do you mean?” Jill asked. “Marjorie wanted to go to the Grand Canyon, and she went.”
Marjorie looked down at her feet. “Well, I may have posted some pictures and let people think I was at the Grand Canyon when I wasn’t.” Her cheeks turned pink. “The pictures were from my Aunt Ruby’s trip with her Single Seniors club.” She pulled out her phone and zoomed in on one of the pictures from the perspective of riding the donkey. Jill noticed that the hand holding the saddle looked kind of wrinkled.
“Did anyone actually complete their resolutions?” Jill asked in disbelief.
Bianca shook her head. “I don’t think so. Amelia’s resolution was to lose weight, but she got pregnant instead. Bill said he was going to stick to just one girl, but he’s been through three girlfriends this year. Dan wanted to quit smoking, but he was just out on the porch with a cigarette in his hand.”
Jill’s shoulders started to shake, and tears were streaming down her cheeks again.
“What’s wrong now?” Bianca asked, patting her back.
“I was so worried, and I got closer than any of you suckers!” A peal of laughter racked her body, and her friends who had been about to help her up left her to convulse on the floor. “Hey! Help me up! I can’t move my legs!” she shouted after them as they returned to the party without her.