Contest #25 shortlist ⭐️



On January first, at eleven fifty-three in the morning, Becky sat down to write her New Year’s resolutions. She’d vowed to have them sorted out before the year began, figuring the best strategy was to hit the ground running. Of course, she’d also vowed not to wake up with a hangover on New Year’s Day, so the year was already off to a bad start. She decided right then and there that she was not going to move from that chair until she came up with at least three – no, five – resolutions. Tossing back a couple of aspirin with a coffee chaser, she stared at the blank pad of paper on the table.


Becky wrote down the first resolution that came to mind, quit drinking. She paused, tapping the pencil on the desk. That didn’t seem entirely realistic, given that she had a little hair of the dog in her coffee at that very moment. She erased it and wrote, drink no more than twice a week. She stared at the revision for a moment, then erased it again and wrote drink only on weekends, holidays and birthdays. Becky smiled. Perfect. On to the next item.


She glanced around her apartment for inspiration. The dining table was cluttered with mail. A laundry basket full of stained clothes sat near her feet. Piles of old magazines spilled out from under the coffee table. In the kitchen, dishes and plates sat festering in the sink and the garbage was overflowing. Her bedroom was a post-coitus disaster, and she didn’t even want to think about the mess in the bathroom. Becky frowned slightly. It really wasn’t hard to keep a one-bedroom apartment tidy. She wrote clean up after myself, then wondered if that was too vague. She erased it and wrote clean apartment once a week, thought for a moment, then modified it to read clean apartment as needed. After all, if she was going to clean up after herself, she probably won’t need a weekly schedule. Two down, three to go.


Proud of the progress she was making, Becky decided to reward herself with a cigarette. She’d bought a pack at the bodega on the way home from the bar last night, and there was nothing like that first cigarette from a fresh pack. When a fishing expedition into her purse turned up empty, she twisted around looking for her coat. She spotted it on her chaise lounge chair, under that guy Rick’s. Becky started to get up but quickly sat back down. She vowed she would sit there until her resolutions were done, and that would go a long way towards keeping her resolutions. She reached across the table and grabbed the soup can she’d been using as an ashtray, having gotten rid of her real ashtray as part of last year’s resolutions. She fished out a half-smoked butt and reached into her purse for a lighter. Finding none, Becky angrily tossed the cigarette back into the can and assigned quit smoking as resolution number three.


Becky put down the pencil and stared out the window, absently sipping coffee that was lukewarm rapidly on its way to cold. January was a bleak month, a stark contrast to the weeks of holiday frivolity leading up to the new year. The sidewalk trees were stripped of their lights, holiday decorations disappeared back into storage, Christmas trees lay on the curb bleeding dried-out pine needles. It was as if the whole city was suffering from a hangover. She could feel her own subsiding as the caffeine and alcohol worked their magic, sighing contently as the world outside changed from bleak to serene. All the noise and pollution and imperfections of modern life were smothered by a blanket of freshly fallen snow. It was almost perfect. Almost.


Gripping the sides of her chair, and with butt firmly planted on seat, Becky rose just high enough to walk the chair back to her coat. She scooped her cigarettes and lighter out of the pocket, then walked the chair back to the table. A minute later, with a burning cigarette clasped firmly between two fingers on her left hand, she replaced quit smoking with smoke only with coffee, alcohol, and after sex.


Speaking of sex, Becky knew that at least one of her two remaining resolutions should be about dating. Specifically, find a nice guy to date instead of bringing home bar hook-ups. Her thoughts switched to last night’s hook-up, Rick. At least she thought his name was Rick. Rob, maybe? Most of last night was still a blur. She didn’t do one-night stands very often, and sometimes they even stretched into a few weeks of dating. But the sex was never anything special, ranging from “pretty good” to “five minutes of my life I’ll never get back.” And when things went wrong, they really went wrong. She glanced over at the bathroom, where Rick/Rob was in the shower. She’d have to get rid of him soon. For now, she simply wrote no more one-night stands, then turned her thoughts to the last item.


Becky thought that for her last resolution she should focus on a good habit, like reading more. She pulled the local newspaper out from under the pile of bills and junk mail and leafed through it. New parking fees were now in effect. Major drug dealing operation uncovered at the Arby’s on Wilton Street. Environmentalists continue to do battle with Cherry Woods golf course. The body found in Campbell Park was identified as Aaron Geary, a grad student who disappeared last April. Becky folded the paper back up and set it aside. She was getting off track. She had a lot of cleaning up to do today, and she couldn’t get started until she wrote down one more resolution.


“Read more,” wasn’t enough. Maybe “read more print media and less social media?” She could get her own newspaper subscription instead of swiping her neighbor’s paper, although that was more about payback for his lead feet stomping around at all hours. That thought morphed into “keep up with current events.” She could read several different news sources on a topic for a more well-rounded opinion. Taking it one step further, she could pick one topic she’d always been interested in, like forensics or conversational French, and take an online class. No, take a class at the community college. Meet new people.

Hunger pains stabbed at Becky’s stomach and she remembered she hadn’t eaten yet. She mentally checked contents of her refrigerator, and all she could come up with was vodka and butter. “Eat healthier,” might not be the most original resolution, but then again none of her resolutions were. Becky blew out a frustrated breath. It felt like she had gone down the same path so many times. She wanted her last resolution to be something she’d never tried before, something significant yet attainable, something that could break through years of apathy and help her get the most out of life. She knew all too well how short it could be. 

Her thoughts were interrupted by the sounds of a shovel scraping snow off the street below. Looking outside, she saw her lead-footed neighbor shoveling out their car.  She wondered what the odds were of them having the same type of car as hers, until she realized that it was her car! Becky stared at him in disbelief. Why would someone who’d made it his mission to keep her from ever having a good night’s sleep be doing her such a big favor. Leadfoot suddenly looked up and their eyes met. He smiled, waved and got back to work. 

It was as if a mental block had been dislodged from Becky’s brain and swept away like snow off a windshield. She ripped the top page off the pad and furiously scribbled away at a clean sheet, not pausing once. When she finished, she had her list at last.

Drink only on weekends, holidays and birthdays.

Clean apartment as needed.

Smoke only with coffee, alcohol, and after sex.

No more one-night stands.

Be nice.

Number five was the perfect New Year’s resolution. Simple yet complicated. Tough yet attainable. Guaranteed to improve her life, one nice gesture at a time. She could start by writing a thank-you note to Leadfoot, or buy him some cookies. No, bake him some cookies. Go the extra mile.

Becky looked at the clock and was pleasantly surprised to see it was only twelve-eighteen. It had taken less than thirty minutes to write her resolutions, and she didn’t get up from her chair once! It took her a moment to realize that the buzz she was feeling wasn’t the spiked coffee, but the thrill of achievement. She was ready to take on the whole freakin’ year - and she would start by taking care of Rick/Ron. 

She got up and walked to the bathroom door, the sounds of the shower running on the other side. She opened it without hesitation and went in. The shower knob had been set to cold, so there was no steam to soften the image of Rick/Ron lying in the tub. He stared up at Becky as she turned off the water with the same shocked expression he’d while she was stabbing him. She wasn’t sure how many times. All she remembered was being really drunk and really pissed off. But judging by the holes in his chest and torso-much easier to see now that the blood had been washed away-it was nine.

She tore down the shower curtain and spread it on the floor, but getting Rick/Ron onto it was proving to be quite a struggle. He wasn’t a big guy, definitely not as big as the last one, but after a few minutes her muscles began to ache and sweat began running down her face. When she finally got him onto the plastic she cursed as it bunched up underneath him. Becky let go and sat on the toilet to catch her breath, silently resolving never to do this again. That would be an easy one to keep since she’d only done it that one other time, and that was two years ago. No, wait. The newspaper was right, it was last April. Funny how it seemed so long ago.

After resting a minute, she stood up and returned to the dining table. Not bothering to sit down, she edited her list one last time.

Drink only on weekends, holidays and birthdays.

Clean apartment as needed.

Smoke only with coffee, alcohol, and after sex.

No more killing one-night stands.

Join a gym.

She looked it over, nodded in satisfaction, and went back into the bathroom. 

January 25, 2020 04:39

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


RBE | We made a writing app for you (photo) | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.