“Hurry up, find your shoes, we are going to be late.” Sarah yelled at her twelve-year-old daughter.

“Quit yelling, Sarah. No one is late it’s only seven o’clock.” Her husband countered.

Sarah shot Robert a angry look as she finished wrapping her pot luck dinner dish.

“Ah, mom, why can’t I go with you?” Their daughter Sally complained. “I’m old enough. I don’t want to spend another New Year’s Eve at grandma’s. She’ll just want us to eat herring and watch stupid channel seven. She always raves about Dick Clark’s New Year’s Eve. I rather go with you guys.”

“Sally, Grandma and Grandpa are expecting you. I’m sure you’ll be baking cookies, too. Now find your shoes.” Sarah said.

Then, Brian, their seven-year-old chimed in. “Yeah I want go with you, too! Grandma sings silly songs at bedtime and always makes me take a bath. I’m already clean.”

To prove his point Brian lifted his shirt and showed his belly.

“You, mister, find your toy bag. Don’t forget your stuffy. Remember the last time you cried half the night. I’m surprised Grandma even said yes.” Sarah said her voice still shrill. 

“You are hurting my ears,”. Robert said. “Can’t you stop yelling.”

“I’m not yelling. I just want to get to the party on time. It’s New Year’s Eve and it’s icy outside AND I DON’T WANT TO BE LATE! “ Sarah repeated emphasizing her desire.  

Fifteen minutes later they were in the car and Sarah continued to rant. “Oh, I wish my mother volunteered to babysit at our house. It would have been so much easier.”

“Sarah, you need to relax. It’s nice your parents are watching the kids at all. She told me they turned down a party to help us out,” Robert said. 

“Oh, she loves to babysit. It doesn’t matter it’s New Year’s Eve. Just hurry up I don’t want to be late. You are driving like a snail.” Sarah said repeating her complaint.

Robert shot a quick glance at his wife then focused on the road.

But even that quick glance still melted his heart. He loved his wife. Why it was New Year’s Eve. Did she even remember that they first meet twenty years ago? That freezing New York night. She was with a group of her friends. Young beautiful twenty something women. Having fun, standing like sardines squished together in Times Square waiting for the ball to drop. He picked her out of the crowd and it was love at first sight. For him.

Somehow, after midnight, the group of them, his friends and hers, went to a nearby bar got warm, went pee, and continued to celebrate. Turned out they were all young graduate students enjoying all New York had to offer. Sarah was a fashion model on the side, as were some of her friends. Many of the same friends they were about to celebrate with again, twenty years later.

Finally at seven forty-five Robert parked in front of their friend’s house. “Hum, not many cars here. You sure you have the right time?” 

Looking at herself in the visor mirror she adjusted her hair and reapplied her lipstick.

“You look beautiful as always, honey. I hope you have a kiss for me at midnight.” Robert said, reaching over to hug his wife.

“Don’t you’ll mess my hair.” Sarah said quickly climbing out of the car.

Robert followed hoping the evening would be better than the last two hours had been.

What was going on with her?

“Hi,” Sarah said sweetly as they walked into the ornately decorated house. “Wow, you’ve gone all out! But what did I expect from the best home decorator in our group.” 

White and gold balloons were hung everywhere. Streamers were draped around the giant flat screen television which had on CNN and Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen who were hosting this year’s party. Hats and noisemakers where piled on a nearby table. And plenty of booze and food to enjoy. Quite the bash to ring in 2020. A new decade. The roaring twenties!

Hugs and kisses were exchanged and Sarah bubbled with excitement. A different person Robert thought as her took her coat.

Robert headed to the bar and found his group of friends, some new some old. He and Tom had married women they met that cold New York night, but right now Tom was in the middle of a nasty divorce battle. 

“Yeah, my life really sucks now, Jen wants the house and I get to see the kids on weekends. But they have games and want to see their friends so it’s just a big nightmare.” Tom said as he took a slug of his beer. “I’d do anything to turn back the clock.” Glancing over at Sarah, all sparkles in her low cut silver tight fitting dress, he continued, “You are lucky Rob, you have it made.”

Robert looked over at the buffet table. Yes, there was his gorgeous wife, all sparkles with hands waving, demanding the attention of her friends. She beamed. Why couldn’t she be like that at home? He wondered. 

The group of women drifted into the den, thick in conversation.

Alice, the hostess, said conspiratorially, “I’ve invited Tom. I just hope he doesn’t get too maudlin. Jen had other plans. Besides, the two of them can’t be in the same room together. I’ve got some single girlfriends who might cheer him up.”

Sarah glanced over at the group of men surrounding Tom, her husband one of them. She remembered the night they all met. Everything was fresh everything was fun.

Alice continued, “so to change the subject, I’m planning a surprise party for hubby in February. Everyone is invited. Can you believe he’s turning turning fifty. First one of our group. He’s not too happy about it. He wanted to take a family cruise but I thought being around his friends would be better. I know he’s a bit self conscious about his extra weight and receding hairline but I still love him. He’s a fun guy when he isn’t worried about this stuff. Somehow I have to impress that upon him.”

Quickly Sarah excused herself and headed to the bathroom.

Closing the door she studied her face in the mirror. Hidden behind her extensions and thick make-up crows feet were visible. Her eyes were tired, slight wrinkles were forming around her neck. She’d stayed thin all these years, but fighting the extra pounds was a daily battle, and it made her cranky. Fifty was just a few years away for her and Robert. She just didn’t want to get old and lose her beauty. Wasn’t that why everyone liked her. Wasn’t that why Robert loved her? Her photogenic beauty. That’s the first words he ever said to her she remembered now, “Hello, gorgeous!”

Still at the bar Robert listened to his friend continue to complain. Divorce wasn’t good for anyone. He’d fight to keep his marriage in tack. He loved Sarah, despite her fury and screaming fits. He loved her. She was an intelligent woman with a funny sense of humor and a creative flare. She was the bright light of their home. Yes, she was still drop dead gorgeous but that was just the icing. It was her inner self he loved. He just couldn’t imagine life without her.

Still looking in the mirror Sarah vowed to stay beautiful. That was her continuing resolution. Plastic surgery was always an option. Staying on her strict diet no matter how cranky she got. Pilates every morning. Then her jog. Who cared if she had to wake up at five. It was her beauty they all loved. She couldn’t lose that.

With slightly trembling hands Sarah left the bathroom and rejoined the party. 

The room hushed as the lights were dimmed and CNN was turned louder. The countdown was about to begin.

Sarah felt arms around her. Then Robert whispered in her ear, “Hello, gorgeous.”

Smiling at him she again contemplated her resolution. Stay beautiful whatever the price.

Their friends joined the countdown. “Ten, nine, eight, seven.”

Still whispering in her ear Sarah heard Robert continue, “I love you. You are beautiful but mostly I love your beautiful personality, your spirit and your heart. I can’t imagine my life without you.”

Inwardly, Sarah smiled. Well, maybe she could skip her five a.m. weekend jog and snuggle more. 

“Six, five, four, three, two, one, HAPPY NEW YEAR!” 

January 03, 2020 22:34

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RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

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