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Fiction Holiday

Roger looked at the woman curled up next to him on his sofa while the New Years Eve show they were watching played on the television. 

She smiled back at him. “So, any resolutions?” she asked.

It was the same question he had heard from hundreds of different women in all the variations of New Years Eve he had experienced so far. 

It was the question that had started it all.

The first time had been asked about his resolutions for the coming year he had laughed it off. But his companion on that first changing of the calendar seemed offended by his cavalier attitude. 

“You must have a resolution,” she insisted.

“It’s just a silly tradition,” he replied. “No one really does anything they promise for the whole year.”

“That’s no excuse not to try,” the woman replied.

“I’m open for suggestions,” he challenged.

In the background, the countdown for the New Year was coming down to the last few seconds.

He’ll never forget that expression on her face. She was smiling, but not in a friendly happy way, it was more of a smirk that conveyed to Roger that she knew something he didn’t know.

“You might regret that decision,” she warned.

“Try me,” he dared.

“Okay. Since you are so reckless with your decisions, you resolve to make only good decisions for the entire year.”

“What does that mean?” he asked, but before he could even finish the question, the people around them erupted into shouts of “Happy New Year!”

She grabbed his face with her hands and kissed him, hard. It wasn’t the soft, passionate kiss that promised more to come he had experienced on previous New Years Eve dates. She held him tight, and it felt like she was sucking the air out of his lungs. He struggled to break free, but couldn’t, and eventually everything went dark.

He awoke alone in his bed, not remembering how he got there. He was hung over and felt the beginnings of a cold tickling the back of his throat.

It was a day off, so it took him a while to notice that something was odd. At first it was a weird sense of deja vu that he couldn’t turn off. It felt like everything he did, everything that happened had happened before.

Then he realized why.

He was back to the beginning of the year he had just celebrated the end of.

At first he wondered if it was some kind of prank. But if it was, the whole world was in on it. The same news stories were on the front page of the newspaper, the same teams were playing in the big college bowl games, the weather was exactly the same.

The next day at work, he sat through the same first quarter company meeting, had the same conversations with his coworkers and went home to find out that the latest episode of his favorite television show was the one he had already seen.

He was reliving the last year over again.

He couldn’t handle it. He thought it was a dream. He tried to go along with it for a few days, but after the first week he couldn’t bear to go to work any more. He spent a month just staring at the television, tuning to the channels he never watched to see something new. Anything new.

But nothing new really happened. He would go out once in a while, but his savings soon evaporated and he started borrowing himself into a financial hole.

He just needed to get past this year. 

And so the year passed, day by familiar day until he found himself watching some mindless New Years Eve show on TV. Midnight came.

He awoke alone in his bed, not remembering how he got there. He was hung over and felt the beginnings of a cold tickling the back of his throat.

For some reason, the memory of his last New Years Eve date and the resolution she had crafted for him was present in his mind.

Was that it? Was he being given a chance to remedy all the bad decisions he had made over the past year? Was this a blessing instead of a curse?

So, he tried using his knowledge of where he could have made better choices to improve his life instead of hiding from it.

And things went well. Mostly. And at the end of the year, he accepted an invitation to a party he had turned down previously, met a nice girl, exchanged resolutions and a kiss with her.

He awoke alone in his bed, not remembering how he got there. He was hung over and felt the beginnings of a cold tickling the back of his throat.

So, obviously he was going to have to do better.

The third time through things did improve markedly. He got a promotion at work, entered into a healthy relationship, even found time to visit his parents. But after he exchanged a kiss with his newly minted fiancee on New Years Eve…

He awoke alone in his bed.

The next few iterations he continued his effort to make the best decisions, the ones that would lead to the most successful outcomes, always chasing a slightly better path each time, but each year ended back at the beginning.

So, he gave up and tried something else. By now he had a good idea of who was going to win all the major sporting events, so he gathered all the cash he could including advances on his credit cards and quickly parlayed it into a small fortune and just had fun. He bought sports cars, yachts, exotic pets, luxury mansions, even drugs and thousand dollar bottles of wine. 

Several iterations passed in decadence, but always led him back to the beginning.

So then he memorized a few big lottery jackpots, giving him enormous payouts that he donated to charities, hoping that one big beau geste would earn him a reprieve from his timeless prison.

He awoke alone in his bed.

He had lost count by this time of how many years had passed—or rather, how many times this one particular year had passed. He’d tried making the best possible decisions he could come up with, he’d tried making the most financially beneficial, the most considerate, even asking “What would Jesus do?” but each ended with the same result.

He awoke alone in his bed, not remembering how he got there. He was hung over and felt the beginnings of a cold tickling the back of his throat and the words of his bewitching New Years date echoing in his ears. “You resolve to make only good decisions…”

Good decisions? Hadn’t he tried that? 

Well, he supposed it depended on what your definition of good was.

Awfully subjective, he complained.

But at the same time, he got to thinking about what a good decision was to him.

If he was forced to come up with a definition, the first one that came to mind was that it was a decision that he felt good about.

Well, why not?

When it came time to decide which project to lead at work, he picked the one that he knew he would have fun doing, that would be interesting and challenging rather than the one that was simple and straightforward and an easy win.

When he chose where to go on vacation, he picked the place that was familiar and relaxing rather than the one that was advertised as the single’s paradise and met Emily, a sweet girl who was strong and independent and made him want to be the best version of himself.

And when he had to decide what to do on New Years Eve, he and Emily spent a cozy evening at home.

“So, any resolutions?” she asked.

Roger smiled. “Just one. I want to find a resolution to my last resolution.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Emily asked.

“Just kiss me first,” Roger said as the host on the television show they had tuned in counted down to zero.

Emily kissed him softly, passionately. 

He clung to that kiss for as long as he dared, his eyes closed. 

Their lips parted.

And then he heard Emily say, “Happy New Year.”

Roger opened his eyes. 

Emily was still there, smiling. “What do you want to do this year?” she asked.

“I have no idea,” he answered. “You decide.”

December 31, 2021 06:08

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2 comments

Lyndsey La Van
17:36 Jan 07, 2022

What a wonderful take on the prompt and I understood the message you were trying to convey. Which was lovely. The flashes through the different (same) years kept the story moving quickly without losing or muddling details of how each year was treated differently to break the curse. Quick and interesting. Great work.

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Kev Neylon
12:09 Jan 07, 2022

Groundhog year. Nice use of the subjectivity of what is considered as "good", and what good means to different people. The pacing of the story is good (to me, subjectively that is). Overall a good read. Thanks

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