Un-Happy New Years, New Years tears, grandmother, short story, short stories, imagination, writing, Panama, beach, time to celebrate, time to mourn, death, grief, healing, heal

Un-Happy New Years

It was 9.01 pm, and she was late getting ready for the New Year’s Eve party.  Once again, she had no desire to go. Days before, she had felt excited and eager.  But as the day dawned, and the hour neared, she drew back into her shell, wanting to shun it all and stay home.

The excitement was already replaced with anxiety.  And she was feeling pressured into going.

“What will they say when I don’t show up?”, she thought.

She was already thinking about the excuses she could make up. I have a headache (no one will believe it, of course).  My stomach is playing up again and I don’t want to drink anything feeling like this (that was actually true, but they still wouldn’t believe it).

A drink would, without a doubt, leave her with an upset stomach overnight and probably for days to come.  Multiple trips to the bathroom throughout the night would make for a bad night’s sleep and a thick head in the morning.  The woes of a weak digestive system that could no longer withstand even one glass of wine or bubbly.

But that wasn’t really what she was avoiding.  It was the overwhelming feeling of being lost within a sea of energy – some dark, some light, but all crashing into her, bombarding her.  The extroverts in the room completely unaware of the energy they threw out… the damage it caused as it crashed into her unabated.  Nowhere to hide, even if she locked herself in the bathroom.

How she hated the multitudes and gatherings in closed quarters.

She thought, for a moment, about the invitation to join her family at the beach.  At least at the beach, there was space to get away from everyone, and she could go for a solitary walk.  But how she loved her own bed and really disliked going away overnight. And if she left now, she wouldn’t reach the beach until almost 11.00, and there would be no chance of turning around and driving back home.

For a moment she was lost looking at a photo from years before.  Happier times, younger days.  Times when she loved being at the beach with her family – when all the cousins would still get together and the neighbours would all come over. That single sparkler in her hands, a reminder of a happy childhood spent with family and friends.

She sat down with the photo in her hands. For a moment, she felt the joy of the party and the multitude.

It was almost enough to motivate her to finish getting ready and leave for the party.

But then she heard the sound  of the car horns and the traffic jam on the street outside. The sound of the traffic as the stragglers that had gone for drinks before driving home and were now stuck in late traffic as they tried to make their way out of the city.

What traffic would she have to navigate to get to the party?

And just like that, her mind was made up.

Pijamas it was!  Another New Year’s Eve at home alone.  In bed before 10.00.

But was that really so bad?  Un-happy for some – perhaps.

But at 6.00 a.m. on New Year’s Day, she would have the promenade to herself as she went for a run with the dogs, enjoying the first sunrise of the New Year.  Beautiful solitude.

Quiet.

Ah. Bliss.

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Tears in my Soup

Another tear rolled down her face, gently dropping off her perfectly groomed cheek. Plop! Straight into the bowl of soup.  The waiter noticed that her makeup remained impeccably set, as if nothing had happened – no running mascara or watercolor mess. It was as if it had never happened.

With her perfectly manicured french nails, she pushed her bowl away, across the rough surface of the wooden table, and broke off another chunk of bread from the fresh baked bread that was already cool on the plate beside her.  Lathering it in creamy butter, she stopped the train of thoughts rushing through her mind… carrying her back to  a time and place not visited in a long time.

Somehow, this simple soup in a small roadside cafe, with its rustic tables & chairs, warm fireplace and occasional traveller, had transported her from the cold wintery weather back to the tropics.

She struggled to get ahold of herself – this was no place to cry!

“That’s not who I am!  Big girls don’t cry!”

Pulling herself back together, and wiping away the tears, she asked for the check.  The waiter pretended not to have noticed the breakdown, and in a simple black server book handed her the bill.  She paid hastily, leaving much too large a tip, but in a hurry to get out of there.

She’d wanted a coffee, but she would find somewhere else for that.  Perhaps, instead of travelling down country roads, she would find her way back to the motorway and pull over into a Services. There was always Starbucks, Greggs or something equally familiar.

As her boots tapped along the cobblestones, she put her gloves back on, thankful for the fur lining on her wool coat.  Even after so many years, she still felt the cold acutely.  It was hard to adjust, after the tropics.  She touched the button on the remote and the door opened, and she gingerly sat down at the wheel.

As she looked at the three-pointed star of her steering wheel, the tears started to fall freely.  She gripped the wheel, even though she hadn’t even started the car and certainly was in no state to do so now.

Soup.

That’s all it took to bring back the memories.

Soup.

Everything she had worked so hard to forget and leave behind her, and a simple bowl of homemade soup had brought it all bubbling back to the surface.  The years faded away and she was transported back to another time and place.

The floor beneath her feet was harden dirt, the walls a mix of straw and dirt that had been roughly patched and painted in places.  It was dark, but cool inside, as she sat at the wooden table, that wobbled on the uneven floor. A single window, with a wooden frame with gaps all around it as it was rudely stuffed into the hole. The door frame was just as rustically made –  no masterpiece of woodwork, crookedly hanging on its hinges, and had to be lifted to actually shut in place.

Over to her right, the wall had a hole broken through the dirt & clay, to let the water out when it rained too hard and the roof started to leak.  Luckily, the house wasn’t perfectly flat and all the water run into that corner.  So, the hole had been made to let the water out, and then a rudimentary screen covered it, to keep the rats and rodents out.

In front of her, a bowl of soup that her mother had made and beside her a slice of bread for dipping in the soup.

In the dark corner, over to her left, she knew there was hanging a smoked pork loin, which was rationed out each day.  It hung inside a woven basket and was covered in a cloth to keep the flies off it! Just one small piece…

Yesterday she and her brother Ramón had eaten the last of the pork rind crackling while their parents were out.  Her back still hurt from the beating her father had given them both when he discovered what they had done.  Was it really so bad to be hungry and have eaten the crackling?

Mother lay on the bed they all slept in, recovering from the beating Father had given her when she had stepped in to defend them both.

That was the day she had decided she would not grow up to be poor.  That she would eat whatever she wanted when she was hungry. She would never depend upon a man to say what she could or could not eat.

Angry tears now started to flow as she remembered.

And finally, she gave in to the tears… Mother was dead and she had been unable to convince her to move with her. She had left it all behind to build a new life and never looked back.

Mother was dead, and he had finally killed her.