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Holiday

Boots clicking on the brick floor, gloved hands in the pockets of my coat, woolly hat snugly fitted over my head. People taking down their Christmas decorations, shoving snow out of the sidewalk. Cars rumbling down the road, tires grinding each turn they take. And pedestrians spitting into the gutters, sticking their chewing gum underneath the railing. It's the New Year, but it doesn't seem any different from last year.

The frosty breeze tickles my cheeks as I continue down the pavement, the cold seeping through the layers of my clothes and giving me another reason to hate this season.

Motorcycles race past, engines roaring, kicking up sleet. Bells ring as people walk into stores to snag some good deals on overstocked Christmas items, and also to escape from the terrible winter.

"So what's your New Year's resolution for this year, dear?" I hear a mother ask her daughter as I pass, helping her fit her backpack on.

"I'm gonna sleep less and eat more candy," the tiny, annoying voice chirps happily. "And maybe even gather the courage to punch Inigo Hunter back."

The mother laughs and kisses her daughter on the head. "Sweetheart, that's not what New Year's resolutions are for."

Well, I say that girl has the right to think whatever she wants, the bitter me hisses in my brain. It's not like New Year's resolutions work out the way they're supposed to, anyway.

The mother-daughter duo frolic past me, both singing nursery rhymes as they turn the corner, heading to the nearby kindergarten. I stare at the oversized backpack on the little girl's back before it disappears. There's a resolution for you – get a smaller bag.

I quicken my pace and brush past the cheerful people handing out flyers for lonely orphans in Uganda or dying dogs in China or whatnot, regretting my choice to not bring my earmuffs out this morning.

I spot a couple waiting in front of a restaurant, the man sporting dark circles under his eyes.

"You should sleep way more this year," the young woman says a little too loudly, kissing him on the cheek. I catch a glimpse of a ring on her finger as I pass. I almost want to stop them and shout out: "New Year's resolutions are a lie!" They don't work – especially if you're imposing them on your significant other to whom you've just gotten married.

I turn, planting my feet by the side of the road, a line of people already waiting in front of me. The light stays red, blinking in our faces as if it were teasing us. "And why would you say that?" My mother would ask, should she hear my opinion about these so-called "resolutions".

"Well, I think they're entirely useless because they're goals. Goals that you'll never live up to." I don't realise I've said it out loud until a few teenagers turn to look at me like I've got a hole in my face.

"Take last year's resolutions, for example," the pretend me continues to say. "Remember when I said I would finally tell Rowan I loved him, if he didn't say it soon enough?"

Pretend Mom nods, although she seems to be resisting the urge to roll her eyes. She knows where this is going.

The light flashes green, and the wave of people in front of me begin to cross the road, save the few jaywalkers who've already gotten a head start.

Pretend Me continues. "Well, I was so enthralled by the idea of me finally stepping up and showing my true colours, leaping out from behind the shy me, that when Rowan told me one day that he had something to tell me – "

Pretend Mom sighs and puts an imaginary hand on mine. "Hey, don't beat yourself up over it."

"But then I wouldn't be able to deliver my point, and you'd settle it as another time where I was wrong again." Pretend Me doesn't look like she's gonna give up, even when Pretend Mom stiffens at that accusation. "I jumped the gun and told him 'I love you' before he could say 'I don't think we should go on'."

I make it to the middle of the road. "The resolution gave me a false sense of hope, a fake pat-on-the-back that told me I would achieve my goal and finally be my own independent person."

Pretend Mom looks like she wants to give me a sympathetic hug. "Aria, you really didn't have to use that as an example."

"Oh, yes, I did." I almost trip over a rock on the road as I continue forward, nearly to the other side. "Because it hurt."

Pretend Me shakes Pretend Mom's hand off. "My other resolutions were also just a waste of time. Wanted to visit the gym more, then forgot to, and then gained a little weight. Burned it off sooner or later, but when I was freaking out over my arms getting a little plump, the post-it note on the wall saying 'Go to the gym!' didn't help one bit."

I kick a soda can out of the way, letting it rattle and roll under a car. Almost to the opposite pavement.

"I also said I'd visit Gran. Brushed it off until I heard she was sick. By the time I flew over and arrived at the airport, she was gone." Can the pretend version of yourself cry? "And the list of resolutions on my desk, staring at me when I got back home, just drove the knife in deeper. It made me want to kill myself."

Pretend Me and Pretend Mom fade away, the bickering dissolving into the sound of traffic and city life, and my left boot hits the opposite sidewalk, jolting me back to reality.

Bitter, bitter reality.

I've crossed to the other side, the same person I was before. The same Aria. Sure that resolutions are around just to make you feel more responsible, whereas in reality they just break you down, piece by piece.

January 25, 2020 03:54

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