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Funny American Speculative

Resolutions for the New Year That Are Manageable and Doable and Stick-To-Able So Help Me God or May My Hair Fall Out


  1. Do not give yourself more than ten resolutions, Emeline. Last year you gave yourself eighty-seven resolutions and finished three of them, and one didn’t count. Let’s keep it to ten, shall we? That’s more than enough. If you do all ten, then next year, you can make more resolutions. Although, hopefully, you won’t have to, because you’ll have less wrong with your life. Won’t that be nice?
  2. Return all those books about bathroom renovation to the library. You are never going to renovate that second-floor bathroom, and as long as you have those books out, some poor soul that actually can renovate a bathroom will not have access to them. There’s nothing wrong with your bathroom anyway. So what if the tub has a hole in it? You put a bucket on the first floor to catch whatever drips down and you call it a day. That’s how the pioneers did it. You think you’re better than the pioneers? Can you get gunk out of a horseshoe? No? Then, you’re no better than they are, and if they had to put a bucket under their bathtubs to catch the water when their tubs had holes in them, you’ll do the same and you’ll like it, young lady. And not to point out the obvious, but you’re not that young either. You’re not old, but you’re not young. Keep that in mind when you go around thinking you’re going to tear up a bathroom and put a new one in its place. You need to be put in your place, that’s what I think, if you want my two cents.
  3. Be firm with yourself. Emeline, you’ve probably noticed that I’m speaking harshly to you. That’s because Dr. Rothmiller has said that your toughest critic should be yourself. So this is me, Emeline, speaking to myself, Emeline, and I’m using an unyielding tone, because that’s how it’s got to be from now on or next year will just be a repeat of this one. Cry, sob, scream, repeat. I can’t do it anymore, Emeline. My throat must look like roast beef from all the wailing and shrieking I did these past few months. It’s time to buck up, bucko. Put on your big girl pants. I’m not talking about the pants you wear when you go out for your walks to the animal shelter just so you can look at kittens you’ll never adopt. I’m talking about the metaphorical big girl pants that will help you become the woman I know you can be, because right now, you’re a sop. You’re a sop mop, Emeline, and there’s no getting around that. 
  4. Stop telling people you’re an expert on the Titanic. You watched that movie one time. One time does not make you an expert. Even two times does not make you an expert. Three times might make you an expert, but I’m not sure about that. I’d have to find that Malcolm Gladwell book and see what he says about it. I think it’s fourteen hours before you’re an expert, and Titanic is three hours long, so I think you’d have to watch it at least three times before you become an expert. You walking around at parties telling people you’re an expert just so they’ll be impressed by you is not wise. What if you were to run into a real expert on the Titanic? Then what, you big genius? You’ll look pretty silly then, won’t you? Stick to what you know, Emeline. Granted, it isn’t much. I know people at parties don’t necessarily want to hear about the dangers of typhoid as it pertains to 18th Century orphans, but you’re the one who decided to study that in school, so you have to make the most of it. If you wanted to be a Titanic expert so badly, you should have studied shipwrecks and icebergs and the films of Kate Winslet. But you didn’t, so here you are. You are where you are, Emeline. You are where you are.
  5. It’s time to ask Crystal for a raise. Don’t let her brush you off like she always does. Madison Plastics has made a fortune over the past year and that’s after they laid off half your department and had you pick up the slack. You deserve more money and you’re going to get it. I don’t care if Crystal used to pick on you in high school and you’re still somewhat terrified of her. You’re in your forties now. It’s time to learn to stand up for yourself. You can’t let her throw you in a locker like she did in 10th grade and 11th grade and 12th grade…and 9th grade. I’m speaking metaphorically now, Emeline--a metaphorical locker. Remember Dr. Rothmiller said that speaking metaphors might be beneficial to us because we think in terms of what things are like and not necessarily how they are? And while that may seem like a bad thing, you go to war with the army you have, and so that’s what I’m using to speak with you now when I tell you that you are trapped in a metaphorical locker that Crystal has thrown you in, but unlike in 10th grade and 11th grade and 12th grade…and 9th grade, that locker is not locked. She forgot to lock it, because she’s an idiot, Emeline. She’s a big old fool, and it’s time for you to come out of the locker. Come out, come out. Come out and ask for a raise. A moderate raise. A reasonable raise. Don’t go crazy. Baby steps here. And if she won’t give you a raise, ask her if you can at least have an extra few minutes at lunch, because you never manage to finish your Cobb salad in time. Oh, that reminds me--
  6. Stop ordering such big salads. Your eyes are bigger than your stomach, Emeline. It’s a waste of food and a waste of money and a waste of time. You do not need to order the Extra Extra Salad from Steve’s Green’s. The Extra will suit you fine. I’m not shaming you for eating. I’m shaming you for not finishing what you eat. It’s a huge problem, and we need to nip it in the bud.
  7. Cancel your subscription to the New Yorker. It’s a wonderful publication, but you never read it, and all those back issues are putting far too much pressure on the integrity of the upstairs bathtub, which is probably where the hole came from in the first place. Once you get the bucket where you want it, I expect you to start using the tub as a tub again and not as a magazine repository. Take all those issues to the recycling plant (once you find out where it is) and then stick to reading People magazine. No need to feel guilty about it. You like what you like. Is it Moby Dick? No, it’s not. But who wants to read about whales anyway? What is the most interesting thing a whale has ever done? Because whatever it is, I can’t imagine it’s worth ten thousand pages or however long that book is. The point being, you would much rather read about who Adele is dating instead of a short story by Ann Patchett, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
  8. Call Etheline. She’s your sister and life is short. Life is short and this grudge has gone on too long. You see what I’m getting at? Short and long, Emeline. Short and long. Dad’s gone, Mom’s gone, and Cousin Mike has been missing for twenty-two years. She’s the only family you’ve got, and it’s time to forgive her. It’s no small thing to steal somebody’s high school boyfriend and marry them right after college, but if you’re being honest with yourself (and Dr. Rothmiller says we need to be honest with ourselves), Darryl was never really your boyfriend anyway. He was just a boy who helped pull you out of your locker every time Crystal would shove you in there. Etheline didn’t go chasing him like you accused her of. He liked her and he didn’t like you, and you’ve spent all these years being angry about it instead of just going out and finding another Darryl. Or a better Darryl. Between you and me, we both know he’s no prize. Oh sure, he’s a gentleman when a girl’s been shoved in a locker, but where is he when your sister is getting her house condemned, because Darryl won’t stop adopting all those kittens at the shelter that you never have the guts to take home? Etheline didn’t get any great shakes of a deal on her life, missy, and the least you can do is give her a sister back, don’t you think? Mom and Dad up in Heaven will be so happy when you bury the hatchet provided you don’t bury it anywhere near that little cat graveyard Etheline has behind her house. All those little tombstones. It’s enough to give you nightmares.
  9. Since it’s not New Year’s Day yet, I’m going to break one of these resolutions. Or maybe I’m not breaking it since you can’t break it until you make it and we haven’t officially made any of these yet. Just between us--Be a little kind to yourself when you can. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be tough as well. Tough and kind. I know some nights you sit around the house thinking about all the things you don’t like about yourself. It’s been a rough couple of years, and I’m not sure anybody’s all that happy with where they’ve wound up. And the trouble is, we’re still winding. Dr. Rothmiller says we’re all living through a trauma, and when you’re living through trauma, you’re supposed to hunker down. No break-ups, no new romances, no buying houses, and no renovating bathrooms after you chuck all your New Yorkers. The trouble is, all these particular traumas we’re seeing have reminded us of our own mortality. That conflict between needing to be in survival mode but also not wanting to die while you’re stuck doing nothing, because you were so worried about survival has all of us losing it on a daily basis. That’s probably why last night you crawled under your own bed with a tub of cottage cheese and convinced yourself that you could stay under there for a few days until your anxiety went away. Everybody’s so mean to each other lately, I don’t see the need for being mean to yourself as well. Hold yourself accountable, but don’t hold too tight. I’m proud of you for making it his far, Emeline. As quickly as things can turn bad, they can turn back around just as fast. Chin up. Head high. You’re going to be fine.
  10. Surprisingly I don’t have much more to say, so I’ll use this as a Bonus Resolution. Whether you do it or not, you don’t have to beat yourself up. I’m just putting it here since I said you could have ten. Hmm, let’s see. Maybe watch The Wire? We always said we would. I have no idea what it’s about, but it sounds thrilling. A whole show about a wire? I know I’m interested. Get yourself into a good tv show, order some smaller salads, and who knows, Emeline? Next year might just be our year.
December 30, 2022 21:27

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31 comments

Angela Tyler
21:57 Dec 26, 2023

I'm a year late on this but I loved this story!! I felt so seen in much of it (especially as I OBSESSED over Titanic as a kid — I might actually be an expert haha) and am currently watching The Wire. This also has reminded me to cancel one of my magazine subscriptions... Thanks for sharing!

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Story Time
05:36 Dec 27, 2023

Thank you so much, Angela!

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Virginia Smith
23:43 Jan 11, 2023

Kevin. I like it. I like the way you chat and the quirky we-all-know-that-person character.

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Story Time
00:00 Jan 12, 2023

Thank you so much, Virginia.

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Lily Finch
01:53 Jan 11, 2023

This is great in your head speak. You picked a character who definitely could be a little kinder to herself. Let's hope this year is her year. Well done. LF6

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Story Time
17:06 Jan 11, 2023

Thank you, Lily. I was thinking we could all be a little kinder to ourselves and she became a great vessel for that message.

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Daniel Allen
19:27 Jan 09, 2023

I love how you managed to tell the story of Emeline's life through this list, Kevin! I'm very impressed with how well you used all the little details to bring things to life.

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Story Time
08:00 Jan 10, 2023

Thank you so much, Daniel. She was fun to spend time with on a Friday afternoon.

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Amanda Lieser
06:50 Jan 09, 2023

Hi Kevin! Oh gracious I loved this one. I loved your take on the prompt and I do agree-10 is enough. I think my favorite bit was Evaline and Etheline. What is it with our natural need to make siblings’ names sound alike? I also loved the salad resolution. I identified with it. I think this story was witty and fun and I certainly liked that she embodies her doctor’s voice. Nice job!

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Story Time
06:56 Jan 09, 2023

Thank you so much, Amanda! Glad you enjoyed it.

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Stevie Burges
14:22 Jan 08, 2023

Good story which I enjoyed reading. I forgot halfway through that you are Kevin and therefore not a woman - cos it read like a woman. Well done you. Thanks for writing.

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Story Time
05:48 Jan 09, 2023

Thank you for reading it!

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Marty B
08:23 Jan 08, 2023

Great story for the prompt- Next year might just be -YOUR- year!!

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Story Time
05:48 Jan 09, 2023

Thank you, Marty!

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Wally Schmidt
03:28 Jan 08, 2023

All these resolutions were hilarious and relatable. Especially liked the references to Malcolm Gladwell, the Titanic, and the reproducing New Yorkers ( I have stacks of them too, minus the bathtub). Glad she eased up on herself a bit and threw in the last one. Fun read! BTW did you make any resolutions?

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Story Time
05:49 Jan 09, 2023

I resolved to try and not make any resolutions ;)

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Wally Schmidt
06:00 Jan 09, 2023

Excellent resolution!

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J.C. Lovero
18:44 Jan 07, 2023

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a Kevin Broccoli story, but this reminds me how much I enjoy them. Your mastery of internal monologue is second to none, and I love how sassy Emeline is with herself. I also find it difficult to write in 2nd POV, but you handle it well. Thanks for sharing!

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Story Time
20:36 Jan 07, 2023

Welcome back to the madhouse, JC! Careful of the next one, it involves a mutilated bunny.

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Wendy Kaminski
16:41 Jan 07, 2023

This was really enjoyable! I love your wry humor in this piece, and the voice of Emaline is just perfect for the prompt! Thanks for sharing it. :)

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Story Time
18:28 Jan 07, 2023

Thank you so much, I loved spending time with her.

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Laurel Hanson
15:23 Jan 06, 2023

Love this character. So well developed through her internal monologue and all the little details revealed. Loved that she starts off setting a limit of 10 and I was so sure she'd go over, breaking that first resolution. Seems like there's hope there when she didn't. Love that she concludes not to beat up on herself, when kind of she has been, yet very gently. Do we secretly love our flaws and weaknesses making it hard for us to actually change, or are the solutions and resolutions to our problems just so much less familiar to us and harder t...

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Story Time
18:02 Jan 06, 2023

Thank you so much, Laurel.

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Helen A Smith
08:07 Jan 06, 2023

I laughed out loud at this one Kevin. Fortunately, there weren’t many people on the train to notice. Ten new year resolutions? Seriously? Isn’t one enough? Totally readable and fun. Thanks for cheering my day.

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Story Time
18:13 Jan 06, 2023

Thanks so much, Helen. Glad you enjoyed it.

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Tommy Goround
01:24 Jan 02, 2023

eight-seven 87?

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Story Time
03:24 Jan 02, 2023

Ah good catch, Tommy. Thank you! And Happy New Year

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AnneMarie Miles
18:23 Jan 01, 2023

Another lighthearted and humorous one from you, Kevin. I loved this prompt as soon as I read it. I know a lot of writers have been dabbling in the list form, and here we get free range to do so. I love this character Emeline. She is so relatable. I particularly loved the rant of #2 - "You think you’re better than the pioneers?" Oh man, that's totally an internal rabbit hole if I've ever heard one. The other resolutions are simple and stick-to-able, as promised, except for maybe the one about being kinder to herself. That's hard for all of ...

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Story Time
03:25 Jan 02, 2023

Thank you so much! I'm working on that last resolution too.

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Delbert Griffith
17:02 Jan 10, 2023

Anyone who can put Malcolm Gladwell and "Moby Dick" into a story and make it work deserves a shortlist - at least! I loved the way you told me all about Emeline's life through her resolutions, but you did more than that; you showed me the true and unfiltered Emeline. What a masterful way to attack this prompt, Kevin. Nicely done, my man. Nicely done.

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Story Time
17:06 Jan 10, 2023

Thank you so much, Delbert. She was a great character to explore.

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