The pizza had arrived at her door exactly 6 minutes earlier than expected, which was the first good omen of the new year to come. Bonnie had smiled as wide as she could when she answered the door, probably scaring the delivery man, but she couldn’t help it – when food came 6 minutes early, it was always good. 10 minutes meant they had rushed it. 5 minutes meant it was basically late (as her dad said, “Early is on time and on time is late”) and it was already hopeless if her doorbell rang right when it was “supposed” to. But 6? Not only was it clearly the greatest number, but it never failed her.
As she brought the box back to her place on the couch, she thought about the other times that 6 had shined in 2019 – she was 6th in her graduating class at Binghamton, she had only gotten six points off from a perfect score on her calculus final, she watched all six of the original Star Wars movies, and she had even seen a musical called “Six” in England as her graduation gift.
Numbers had always been one of the biggest parts of Bonnie’s life. From the time she was little and her mother wrote 1 to 10 on her fingers to teach her how to count, Bonnie knew she loved them. It was an ineffable feeling – the kind that made the earth stop spinning. She memorized numbers the way others memorize song lyrics, the rhythm of the numbers forming its own song in her mind. Dates, phone numbers, mile markers…they were second nature to her. Majoring in mathematics wasn’t a decision she consciously chose; it was simply her destiny.
Being on her first ever apartment’s couch by herself was one of 11 different possibilities for her night. Saying it was her first choice would be an understatement, but saying she would rather get trashed with her closest college friends would also be a lie. They were graduates now – they didn’t have time for the nights they couldn’t remember. They had to work the next day. Or at least, Bonnie did.
As she flipped through the channels on her way to New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, Bonnie thought of the best dates of 2019 – like 05/16, the day of her graduation, or 06/16, exactly a month later when she made the journey to England. One date crept its way to the front of her mind, though, pushing its way past all the wonderful ones.
02/11 – the day she met him.
He had three (3) small birth marks on the right side of his face, just below his ear. They formed an isosceles triangle if you drew lines connecting them. He had two (2) different colored socks on, each with five (5) differently colored stars. In the coming months, she would find that these were his “good luck” socks – the kind that only came out of their drawer when he needed an extra push. He wore the number ten (10) on the jersey he was wearing, for a football team she couldn’t remember the name of now.
He had one (1) amazing smile.
The memories flooded over her all at once, each one more powerful than the last. 02/11 – He asks for her number. 02/15 – Their first official date, making sure to avoid Valentine’s Day. 02/21 – Their first kiss. 03/14 – He brought her a pie for pi day. 03/20 – They look at cats together in a local pet store.
Before she could go any further, she turned her attention back to the TV. Breath that she didn’t realize had been frozen in her lungs escaped as she glanced at the countdown. Three minutes and thirty-seven seconds to midnight. Three minutes and thirty-seven seconds to the end of the best and worst year of her life. She would finish the year as she started it – with Ryan Seacrest and pizza. The way it was meant to be.
She can’t pretend that she hadn’t pictured kissing him at midnight, the clock counting down as she stared into his eyes instead of at a TV screen. In fact, the thought had crossed her mind 178 times in the past eleven months. 170 of those happened when she was with him. The other eight were within the past few hours.
The thirty-nine days between the end and today had been less eventful than she anticipated. Sure, she ordered food delivered twenty-one times in that period, and sure, twenty times were foods that didn’t contain one food that would be deemed edible in the eyes of Gordon Ramsey, but all in all, it could have been much worse. She still got out of bed every morning (at 6:52, after twelve minutes of Instagram scrolling). She still went to work. She even managed to still see friends every so often.
Bonnie was the type of person that could be described as “wearing her heart on her sleeve”. Her emotions were always prevalent and loud – she was the most audible crier in the theater when Marley died. It had shocked her mother when she knocked on the door twelve hours and seventeen minutes after the break-up for their usual Saturday morning run.
“This is when you grab the ice cream, get in bed, and watch Love Actually,” she had said. But Bonnie knew:
Life goes on.
Despite her strength, though, the memories would sometimes creep their way into her mind. When she would see the speed on her car hit 51 mph, she would think of how he would comment on her 5’1 stature, calling her Smalls as a result from seeing Sandlot one too many times. He was exactly nine inches taller than she was, making him the perfect hug height. She could picture the hug now, being enveloped in a sea of warmth as his arms pulled her closer…
Bonnie caught herself and looked back at the TV. Two minutes and eighteen seconds now. She wondered where she would be in 218 days. Would she still be working two jobs to pay the ridiculous rent for her apartment? Would she maybe get that cat she’s always wanted?
Would she find someone new?
2019 was a number she was ready to forget. Her life had stopped momentarily, despite all the progress she had been making to get her to that year. Graduation was supposed to be the most exciting time of her life, but with all the excitement of meeting him and thinking about a future together, she had lost sight of her own. She had spent thirteen hours looking at wedding dresses, rather than applying for jobs as an actuary. Now, she spent her time mopping floors in Subway instead of counting numbers.
Thoughts of failure were racing through her mind all year, even while she was with him. Her mom had spent a lot of money (a number she never wanted to know) getting her an education, and even more paying to send her to England to celebrate. When she almost refused to go to spend more time with him, her mother had been heartbroken. Bonnie’s relationship had felt like a failure to her family, as she constantly chose him over them every day for the entire 285 days they were together. In the aftermath, she had realized how much they truly meant to her, and had spent more time crying over that than the break-up itself. It was a mistake that she promised herself she would not make again.
One minute was left of this year – this waste of 365 days. What was the point of it all? Why go through all this to be left here, spending the final night of the year inevitably by herself? She wanted to scream. She wanted to do all the things she had kept locked inside of her for the past thirty-nine days. She wanted to yell at God directly and ask Him what the heck the point of the past 525,600 minutes had been.
Fifty seconds. She had loved someone for the first time in 2019. It was a love she had never experienced – the kind where she forgot she even existed, and lived solely in the view of that one (1) amazing smile. Her mind and his were one, and she put her life on hold to make his life shine.
Forty seconds. And that was the problem of it all. When he left, part of her went with him. He left, and walked away with the flower that had just bloomed in the area of her heart where she didn’t know was inhabitable. What had just become alive now felt dead again.
Thirty. It was only part of her, though. It wasn’t her entire heart. There was still so much good inside of her – flowers that were still waiting to bloom, and an entire garden she had planted on her own. There was the ineffable feeling that had never gone away, waiting to fulfill its true destiny. She had lost part of herself, yes, but it was a part that needed to die to leave room for future flowers.
Twenty. 2019 was not a failure. It was everything she needed to get her to where she was today. It was the way that needed to be cleared to make room for the giant, pi-length future that Bonnie intended for herself. Bonnie was ready, and she was ready because she had conquered 2019.
She smiled her own one (1) amazing smile – one far brighter than any he had ever managed. She had achieved so much this year, even if the year had been clouded by him. There was so much wrong in 2019, but there was also so much time for her to become the person she was meant to be in 2020. There were an infinite number of possibilities for the year ahead – a number that would shape and form over the next 366 days (Bonnie loved a leap year – a great omen!) She took one last bite of pizza, knowing it would be her last in a long time, and counted down to her beginning. A beginning of a new garden.
Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven. Six. Five. Four. Three. Two. One.