“I don’t care about your stupid year and don’t you ever come back, you mindless little kitten!”, I yelled at the paperboy cycling away to stay alive. “You know, I can’t do that as you do have a daily subscription!” he shouted out as he shot out of sight.
After ensuring he had gone away, I settled down at the kitchen table with the newspaper sprawled in front of me. Snorted at the headlines. Happy New Year, my foot! Nothing but a waste of money and resources which could be used for better purposes. I mean, come on, everyone’s really losing a fortune over this stupid tradition. Ranting aside, I had been waiting for December 31 for quite some time. No, not for the New Year, which is just a marketing gig operated by-, never mind. I had been waiting for December 31 because today was the day that my letter would be published in the Symmerly Daily.
The bell rang again. Another overjoyed kid out to wish me a Happy New Year. One glare drove him away quickly enough. I filled a saucer with milk and placed it on the floor for Bobby to drink. Disregarding how fat and lazy it usually was, the cat rushed towards the milk and slurped it up before I could take another step.
I enjoyed writing that letter. My letter heralded a new era where I proposed a new way of celebrating the coming of a new year by simply recognizing that we have indeed circled the sun once more, being thankful and simply getting on with our lives. We, through a collective effort, could use that money for a greater things. What purpose did New Year’s Eve serve in our daily life anyway? Many were misguided by the fact that a New Year would solve all their problems, despite the fact that time is merely a concept invented by us. I sent the letter on November 15 and foresaw nothing coming out of it. I expected the letter to go down poorly with the editors at the Symmerly Daily due to its placid nature with a negative overtone being at sharp contrasts with their irritating unbridled optimism within every article they wrote. Why, you may ask, do I still read their daily? Well, what better does a 70-year-old woman relying on her pension have to do? I couldn’t be further caught up on my family’s coming and goings. Despite my continued insistence, they couldn’t help join the crowd in celebration of the earth’s revolutions.
I washed the dishes, well, my dishes and laid down satisfied after I made sure they were all spotless and clean. It was nearly afternoon. All my daily chores done. A satisfying regular day, just like any other.
I went for a small walk on my porch and contemplated more on the letter.
Anyway, wonders abounded, when a surprise landed in my mail one week after I sent the letter. Apparently the chief editor had “enjoyed” my pessimistic article so well that they had sent me their cash prize. I had unwittingly participated in their annual New Year’s contest where by pure coincidence, the question had been, “How will you be spending your New Year’s Eve? (Creative answers awarded a huge cash prize)”. When I opened their enveloped letter with its familiar logo, I discovered the following written,
“Congratulations, Mrs. Alice Stane on winning the Symmerly Year! This envelope contains the cash prize due to you as well as to inform you that your eloquent article will be published on New Year’s Eve, that is 31st of December as well as the responses towards it submitted online, which you can view on our website, the link for which is provided on the bottom right of this card.”
“Thank you for your beautiful contribution and your loyal subscription.”
See what I mean by “unbridled optimism”? Anyway I didn’t know how to access their website and considering my constant enmity with the paper boy, as well as being the receiver of judgmental looks of my neighbors, not one to ask help too. So I waited till today.
I was pretty sure that the Symmerly would attempt to reframe my article in a positive light or attempt to show its cynical outlook of a delightful tradition. Either way, I was a little excited to see how my letter must have infuriated them and waited for the letter to arrive in the evening at around eight’ o’clock.
Having daydreamed through my walk, I decided to go on a second one, through the street and passed quite a few houses filled with decorations of the New Year. Disgusted, I kept walking. I had made the foolish decision of taking Bobby with me. He ran away after a glimpse of a mouse near the sewers. I went back home and left the door open, knowing he would return late.
The Symmerly arrived. I placed it in the corner, wanting to savour it in the last hour of the day as opposed the rest of the neighborhood. I did ,politely, I think, decline their invitation, to join the rest of them as they planned to come together at to gaze, awe, ooh and aah at the lackluster fireworks unleashed at the stroke of midnight by the StarLights, a travelling circus group, who had arrived in the nearby town. No, thank you, I am fine where I am. Not supporting pollution. That was one of my reasons for declining, although I must admit it hadn’t been a factor in my decision to not go with them.
Bobby came back, looking defeated. The mouse must have got the best of him. I couldn’t remember whether I had fed Bobby today so I laid down a saucer of milk for him. Momentary things I forget sometimes but in this case, I am pretty sure I didn’t feed him. Or did I? I switched off all the lights and glanced at the clock. It was nearly midnight. I went ahead and locked the door.
I got into bed and Bobby jumped into bed with me. Lazy thing. I took out the Symmerly and began to go through it and halfway through, found what I was looking for.
My article lay bare and untouched by the editors, leaving me to be, I must say, quite surprised. I peered down expecting the responses to be negative and well, they weren’t . Every one of the reactions agreed with what I said and some added more suggestions of how not to celebrate New Year’s Eve.
As I gazed at the article for a longer amount of time, my joy began to fade away. For some reason, I began to feel regret over writing the letter. Had I grown old and joined a group of sick people who hated everything? Maybe the article had been a tad too much.
I switched off the lamp and laid on the bed and proceeded to look at Mathews photo on the bedside table. Today would mark thirty years since the Marine had arrived all the way to my doorstep to announce why Mathew wouldn’t be coming home, when I was celebrating New Year's Eve with the kids. Thirty years. Thirty New Years’Eves.
Being a widow isn’t easy. It wasn’t all those years and it isn’t now. It's best not to dwell on people's absence but once in a while, it's hard not to. Their smile and laughter stay with you.
It’s true what they say, anger is one of the five stages of grief. And anger can make you laugh at stupid petty things.
I heard the countdown begin across the street through the thin walls and imagined that maybe I,too would breath my last breath at one.
I curled more tightly into my bed, muffling my ears to the sound of the fireworks while Bobby lay fast asleep beside me, being one sleepyhead of a cat.
Another long year, another longer day.