Dinner is overcooked. The guests haven’t arrived.
Luke is sitting alone at his dining table on New Year’s Eve. He was hoping to romance Nathan, one of the people he invited for this intimate evening meal.
As midnight draws closer, it seems an angel, who has magically appeared in Luke’s apartment, is the only person to drink champagne and watch the fireworks with.
But this angel has other ideas. He’s about to grant Luke the New Year’s Eve party he thought he wanted.
It was almost nine p.m. and none of my guests had arrived.
My place smelt of roast chicken. It had gone dry, yet I let it sit in the oven once I accepted no one was coming. Even with the oven turned off, the potatoes would have turned into little black rocks inside the trapped heat. I considered going down to the creek and chucking them as far as they’d go to quell my frustration.
I sat at my dinner table, eyes closed, trying to find my peace. As time ticked by, melancholy was my only companion.
Why would I think this plan would work? I had many invitations this New Year’s Eve, but my search for love kept me blind.
Three guests were supposed to be here tonight. If I was honest with myself, I’d have known one would have been here for sure. He invited himself. But he wasn’t here either, and I couldn’t blame him. He was Tim. Someone more interested in me than I in him.
For a while, Tim was dropping hints. “Here, take my jacket,” followed by “You really need someone to look after you.” “I’ve never been kissed by a man, well, not with love.” That one was followed with a longing look, waiting for my response. So I kissed him on the cheek.
And then there were the small gifts. A record of a band I once mentioned. I had to buy a turntable just to be nice. A chilli plant. Not the best present as I have a black thumb. It lasted two months. And just the week before, a letter. I never opened the envelope. I meant to throw it out several times, but something stopped me.
When Tim found out I invited Nathan and Lucy for dinner, he stuttered while telling me he had no plans. I still don’t know why I caved in and told him to come.
But Nathan was who I really wanted to see, and if I were to win his affections, it would be his best friend Lucy I’d have to win over. She’s one of those gal pals who cherishes her gay mates. I met them both at a party, and even though I’m too embarrassed to say it, I was captivated by him. His candid nature made me feel at ease. The three of us shared one-night-stand horror stories until Lucy left us alone. But she still checked on Nathan from time to time.
Nathan told me he liked to be called Nate. He talked a lot about their friend Ben who didn’t believe in romance and then asked me for my thoughts on the whole Mr Right thing. I played it cool, yet inside I wanted to break the world record for the longest kiss; his lips against mine.
Nate longed to travel, so I looked for cheap deals to Thailand, just in case I found the courage to suggest a holiday as a New Year experience for both of us. I printed details about the Full Moon Party while imagining his soft caress in the midst of techno rhythms and disco lights.
But he wasn’t here. No one was here except my tragic self.
I felt that shudder you feel when you’re at risk of breaking down. I held the table to steady myself in my seat. I was determined not to cry.
A little later, when I wanted to, no tears were shed.
“Love isn’t worth it,” I said to myself. “It’s the worst of all the four-letter words.” I longed for alcohol, but drinking alone would verify my loser status. “I promise to never fall in love.”
“I don’t think that’s a promise you can keep.”
I jumped in my seat. My knees hit the underside of the table, causing the cutlery to clatter. Then I was cemented to my chair, too scared to investigate whose voice was coming from my kitchen. I heard a flutter, like a bird getting excited that the door to its cage was open and maybe an escape was possible.
That’s it! A bird had flown into my kitchen while my mind was giving me audible hallucinations. Those two things happen all the time, right? Now I needed that drink.
A tall man strolled into my dining room, holding a bottle of rosé.
“Who are you?” I asked.
“Someone who’s here to stop you making stupid promises to yourself.”
“Are you a friend of Tim’s? A friend of Nate’s?”
“I’m your friend.”
I screamed. Not because there was a stranger in my home who may have been planning to wallop me with a bottle of wine. I screamed because wings expanded from his back.
Thanks to Truus for her review at Diverse Reader Blogspot
“What follows is some emotional and amazing insights of how reality looks like. How the lines of love, desire, loss, hopes and fear can be blurred.”
Thanks to Sandra for her review on Goodreads
“There are a couple of humorous moments, and some that are quite poignant, especially as Luke, in the fantasy world the angel concocts, really sees true love as it happens.”
Thanks to Serena Yates and her thoughts at Rainbow Book Reviews
“…if you’re looking for a read about the old year making place for a new year, new realisations, and a new life, then you will probably like this powerful short story.”