The Resolutions of Rebecca Rand

Submitted into Contest #25 in response to: Write a short story about someone writing Valentine's Day wishes.... view prompt

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Holiday

I, Rebecca Rand, being of sound mind and of my own free will do not – well, make a will. I’ve already done that, though I hope to be hanging around making a pest of myself for several decades yet and I really ought to change that bequest to the Donkey Sanctuary, seeing as it closed two years ago. I’ll get around to it.

     But this is about resolutions. Okay, a bit late, but there’s still a lot of year left. And this morning, Amelia asked me, “Have you made any New Year Revolutions, Auntie Becks?” 

     I corrected her on the “Revolutions” business, though I quite like the idea of riding down the High Street on a motorbike waving a red flag, but I’ve learnt to live with Auntie Becks. Okay, I quite like it. 

     Well, here goes.

1.  I will do Dry January. Steve in the Supermarket meant well when he greeted me with a broad grin and said, “We’ve got your favourite red on offer, Rebecca!” but there are situations when you feel people’s eyes on you even if they’re not. Admittedly I wouldn’t have been quite as pleased to hear, “We’ve got your favourite mineral water on offer” but perhaps it’s an acquired taste. But wait. It could be said I’ve broken that one before I’ve even made it and not just that Cava at Bernie’s party on New Year’s Eve. Very nice it was, too, if it could have done with being a bit colder. And I did have that horrible cold and I don’t care what anyone says, a nip of brandy is better than all that cough linctus, and anyway, doesn’t that have codeine in it, so it’s probably even worse for you? Anyway, it’s Lisa’s 50th on the 29th and I don’t care what anyone says, the studied Dry January person at a birthday party is a pain in the backside. I mean, someone that doesn’t drink at all is another matter, all respect to them. But I’ve never been one for virtue-signalling. So okay, let’s move on to ….

2. I will stop spending so much money on magazines. It sort of sneaked up on me, and I wonder if I’m protesting too much when I say I much prefer a good book. I always used to. Anyway, they’re starting to annoy me. I know it sounds mean and I’m not proud of myself, but I sometimes think I’m going to scream if I read about another heroic fund-raising child, or about someone who was taken in by a fraudster (and yes, sometimes I think, the silly woman should have seen a mile off that he was trouble!) and as for the illness and injury stories – well, I’ve always been squeamish and that one about the chainsaw and the chin – I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s given me nightmares, but I suspect sometimes I’ve woken up just in time. As for those so-called quick and easy recipes, don’t get me started, as they’re neither.  And if I see one more so-called tip telling me you can shift any stain with toothpaste and/or vinegar then I won’t be responsible for myself. But hang on. In November I won £50 on one of the crosswords. Okay, it’s not like the £3003 prize (something about that extra 3 quid that makes it all the more appealing) on the bumper what connects the celebrities one, but it came in very handy. And that anti-wrinkle cream I found in the Bargain Beauty section – well, I’m not deluded enough to think it makes me look like a teenager, but I swear some of the laughter lines seem to be finding life a bit less funny. I might cut back on them a BIT, but they have their uses. It’s not wasted money. How about…..

3. Now some folk say you should make positive resolutions, not negative ones. The thou shalts rather than the thou shalt nots. Whilst I think positive thinking can definitely be over-rated, that has possibilities. The trouble is, I don’t think that I will eat more chocolate digestives or I will watch more soaps quite count. So how about being nicer to Marjorie? Or fair enough, nicer ABOUT Marjorie. I’m polite enough to her face. Well, most of the time. And of course she has a right to be proud about how well her children have done. I have this nasty suspicion that she may just be one of the few people whose Christmas round robin would be, substantially, true. Except she didn’t write one, and made a point of observing how irritating she found them and how she would never do such a thing. Up until then the thought of doing one had never entered my mind, but suddenly it seemed rather appealing. Or it would have done if I had a life like Marjorie’s. That’s the trouble with Marjorie. She makes you want to do things – okay, she makes ME want to do things – just because she disapproves of them. Like eating chocolate digestives over my computer keyboard. She’s actually totally in the right about that, and even more so about the coffee. And she DID cover for me without saying a word when I had that cold, even though she’s the kind of person who would come in if she had one of those illnesses in the magazines, which she thinks are a waste of money. And she’s had some subtle little digs at my drinking, too. I tell myself it was pure coincidence that the newspaper (she allows herself a newspaper) was open at the page with the article about how amazing some celebrity whose name I’ve forgotten (or am trying to) felt after giving up the booze. Oh, nothing shock horror, all about the positive, not the negative. Typical Marjorie. AND she’s a hypocrite. Teresa reckons she’s seen her shift a bottle of amontillado without batting an eyelid, okay, without slurring a word. But that could be hearsay. All the same, I know my limitations and know that there’s no way that the thought sanctimonious old biddy won’t enter my mind at some point this year, indeed, at some point this month, so no point to making a resolution I can’t keep.

4. I will declutter. Now let’s get this straight, no matter what CERTAIN PERSONS might say, I most definitely not a hoarder. Look in my house and you will never see a newspaper more than one day out of date (I even end up accidentally throwing away those I keep on significant dates under the probably misconception that one day they will earn me a fortune. Nor will you see one empty baked bean tin (fair enough, I don’t like baked beans, so make that empty tomato tin) or one rusting aerosol. All of my rooms are utterly accessible (well, usually) without piles of clothes or rotting duvets or inhabited cushions. But I’ve never been what you might call a minimalist. Funnily enough, this is one area where Marjorie and I are in a form of half-agreement. I caught her glancing at one of my magazines a couple of weeks back and it was one of those “makeover” articles (which might well be another reason for not buying so many of them as they only annoy me, but I’ve moved on from that now!) and she said, “Well, I couldn’t live in a place like that,” pointing at the “after” photograph. “Way too clinical. It needed a tidy-up, I’ll grant you, but throwing out that lovely bunch of artificial flowers and those corn dollies and that rug was a crying shame.” True, Marjorie likes what she calls “nice things” and I tend to refer to “stuff” and her “nice things” are considerably tidier and dusted more often than my “stuff” but we still have at least this in common. Sort of. It probably wasn’t a good idea to tell so many people that I collected pig ornaments, but I bought at least as many myself as I’ve been given. And I suppose that the floor isn’t really the place for books, but what else could I do when the bookshelves were full? Maybe I was a tad over-ambitious in getting quite so many various “kits” in that “kit” phase I had a year or so ago and should pass them on to a good cause and so, directly or indirectly, to someone who’ll make more use of them. But I’ve never been a quitter (well, I have, but my decision not to do Dry January proves it’s not in my nature) so who knows? I may well get round to wanting home made bread or home made yoghurt, or to make my own rag rug (Marjorie was right, the one in the “before” picture did look lovely) and then how would I feel thinking that I’d given away the means of making them? As for that old carpet sweeper, well, what could be more embarrassing than having company coming round and the vacuum cleaner deciding it’s packed in? Always as well to have a standby. You can never have too many coffee mugs, can you? They get broken so easily, though of course when it’s just the handle, they can be ideal for putting seeds in (now where DID I put those packets of seeds I picked up last year thinking it was high time I grew something of my own? I think they might be in the airing cupboard, under the spare bedding set I picked up when it was on offer, so they shouldn’t be damp. I’ll have to look them out). Anyway, buying a mug is one of the cheapest and most useful kinds of retail therapy, isn’t it? A couple of quid, less in a charity shop, and then there’s one with a cute little pug dog, and one with a picture of Windsor castle, and one commemorating the 2008 town Marathon. An alien happening to land here could do worse than look at a collection of mugs in a charity shop to get a picture of life on earth in all its rich variety. Perhaps I should at least explore the darkest recesses of my wardrobe, though I know I will not step into a world of fauns and talking lions but discover clothes that I have not worn for the last 5 years because (go on, spit it out get it over with) they don’t fit me. And aren’t they supposed to be top of the declutter list? But wait – no way ……

5. I will lose some weight. Now I’m the first to admit that this isn’t the most original of New Year’s Resolutions and that I have made it before and that not much has come of it. No way on this earth do I want to end up with the emaciated stick insect look, and it gets totally on my – well, let’s just say, a flabby part of my anatomy, not that there are many that aren’t! – that perfectly normal, average women with curves exactly where they’re supposed to be are referred to as “Plus Size”. Why not call the Skinny Minnies “Minus Size”? Only fair, isn’t it? But much as elasticated waist trousers are a wonderful thing, perhaps it would be nice to have an odd pair that isn’t. And there are all those warnings (those ruddy magazines again!) about the particular dangers of an apple-shaped figure. But though I know you’re never supposed to put the blame on genetics, that my Mum has an apple shaped figure, my Grandma (who is the healthiest nonagenarian that I know!) has an apple-shaped figure, and though it’s hard to tell with the clothes of the time, it looks on old photos as if my great grandmother and great aunts all have apple-shaped figures. I have this nasty feeling that if I were otherwise the epitome of skeletal, I would still have a belly that resembled a granny smith with blusher on. And I never wore a bikini in my 20s so I certainly don’t intend starting now! I might at least put it on the back burner. BACK burner, not fat burner! After all, it’s Amelia’s birthday next month, and I’m highly honoured in being asked to the party, and what on earth is she going to say if Auntie Becks doesn’t appreciate the birthday cake and the chocolate brownies (I hope her Mum makes chocolate brownies – if there’s a heaven without my sister-in-law Susan’s chocolate brownies, I’m not sure if I’d be interested in going there!). Easter is quite early this year, too, and though I know it’s wholly unscientific, chocolate DOES taste better when it comes shaped like an egg. Perhaps I’ll at least try to make a few nods in the direction of healthier eating. I could probably endure an odd plate of steamed veg with the thought of a chocolate mousse or an apple Muller Rice afterwards. The latter almost counts as one of your five a day, doesn’t it? Well, doesn’t it?

6. I will exercise more. Now perhaps I’m beating myself up too much about this! I hardly live a sedentary lifestyle, do I? I walk into work at least half the time (and when I take the short cut through the industrial estate, where some of the paths aren’t brilliant, that makes it count as more rigorous, I’m sure) and always use the lift instead of the stairs. The fact that the office is only a 2 storey building and we only had the lift installed in the first place to be more disabled-friendly is neither here nor there, nor is the fact that I tend to be claustrophobic. And it’s hardly my fault I live in a bungalow, is it? Anyway, look what happened to Cathy when she joined the gym last year! Went into it all guns blazing (I’ve never quite worked out that phrase, I mean, guns don’t blaze, do they?) and full of enthusiasm and eager anticipation about all the zumba and circuit training and kettlercise (don’t ask, but let’s just say it doesn’t have much to do with making a cup of coffee) and Tai Chi, and what happened? She ended up on crutches for two months after breaking her ankle? I gather that she seriously considered phoning one of those claim management companies you see advertised in the intervals of the sort of TV I ought to make a resolution about giving up, to complain about them not de-icing the steps that led up to the Leisure Centre, but whether they told her she didn’t have a claim or whether she decided against it, to be frank, I don’t know. Okay, fair enough, she’s gone back to the gym afterwards, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, does it? So let nobody say that going to the gym is guaranteed to make you any fitter.

7. I will make an appointment with the solicitor to change my will and make a bequest to the Hedgehog Hospital …..

January 22, 2020 08:34

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2 comments

Julie Le Blanc
09:56 Jan 31, 2020

Hi Deborah, what a funny story! I love the tone of it, your character really jumps off the page. We know exactly what she likes and dislikes, and it really feels like she could be anyone's neighbour. The number 4 passage got a little long for me, but maybe if it were just broken into paragraphs it'd be easier to read. I love your character's personality, though. Also, the bit about the Donkey Sanctuary vs. the Hedgehog Hospital really made me laugh. Thanks for another great story, and here's to many more in 2020!

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Deborah Mercer
10:15 Jan 31, 2020

Thank you so much, Julie! On reflection you're right about the paragraphs. I meant it to some extent to be stream of consciousness, but that didn't quite work. Oh and I definitely look forward to writing more stories in 2020!

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