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Resolutions From A to Z
It was 364 days ago. Adam sat in his room, watching the fireworks at midnight when the new year came in. He made a vow to himself that this would be the year to claim the heart of the illustrious Zoe. Now, he stood on her doorstep as the clock ticked down again.
Day one. Adam walked into school. It was a new year, with whole new challenges. But Adam faced the same one as last year, and the year before. He spotted his friends Jason and Tyler across the hall.
“Hey man,” they said as he walked over. Jason clapped him on the back. “Happy New Year! Any resolutions?”
“I’m gonna try to get a job.” Tyler said.
“Dude, you’re so boring. Can’t you have something interesting? At least choose something fun. I’m trying to go out of the country, or at least out of the state. Adam, what about you?” Adam didn’t hear the question, for Zoe Morris had just walked in the door. Tyler followed his gaze.
“Oh, it’s no use Jason. Zoe just walked in.” Tyler said. Jason groaned.
“Aw, man Adam. Give up on her! It’s been like, 3 years. It isn’t going to happen. Move onto someone else. Quit torturing yourself. Hello? Earth to Adam.” He punched him on the shoulder. Adam jerked to attention and shot a look at his friend.
“Ow! Calm down, I can hear you. Anyway, this is gonna be the year. She’ll be mine, I know it.” Just then, Zoe walked by. She held her books in one arm and brushed her beautiful brown hair behind her ear.
“Hi Adam,” she said with a smile. Adam, caught off guard, choked on his words. She was ten feet past him before he squeaked out a hello.
“Yeah,” Tyler said. “you got her for sure.”
Day 47. The school dance was happening in fifteen days. Adam had planned this moment for weeks. After school, he was going to find Zoe and ask the big question. Finally, he heard the closing announcements over the intercom.
“Good afternoon, Westfield Tigers,” the voice buzzed. “This is Devon Brandt. I know a fellow student doesn’t usually do these announcements, but I had something to say. Zoe Morris, will you go to the dance with me?” The sound of screams around the room drowned out the sound of Adam’s breaking heart. He looked over at the next table, Zoe’s table, and saw her blushing. Smiling. Grinning. Undoubtedly, she would say yes. As the bell rang, Adam sulked out of the room, tears in his eyes, and went out to his car to be alone.
Day 86. Adam turned 17. As he walked the halls, people wished him a happy birthday, but he hardly heard them. He was only interested in seeing if Zoe would remember his birthday or not. In his final class, he said hello to Zoe. She said hi to him back, tilting her head slightly to the right with a small smile. But no acknowledgement of happy birthday. Defeated, Adam took his seat.
Later that night, there was a knock on Adam’s door. He opened it, but in place of a person, an envelope lay on his doorstep. Puzzled, he took it upstairs and opened it in his room.
I’m really sorry I didn’t wish you a happy birthday in class. I had written a note for you this morning, but I lost it somewhere. In this letter I included a picture of an alligator drinking a martini with a flamingo on a beach. I thought it quantified our friendship. I hope that makes up for it. Happy birthday!!!
Day 160. Adam was at Zoe’s house for her birthday party. He was planning on giving her a heart-shaped necklace, but he wanted to do it in person to finally confess his feelings. He saw her dashing upstairs and thought this was the perfect opportunity. He ran upstairs after her, only to see an open door to the left. Peering into it, he saw Zoe. On her bed. Wrapped in a tight embrace with Devon. For a second, Adam could only stare, frozen in shock. Then, he placed the necklace on the ground and ran home.
Day 210. Senior year had just started. Over break, Adam had had little contact with Zoe after the party. Now, he saw her for the first time since June. Her brown hair was cut short. Her blue eyes radiated brilliantly because of her shirt. And around her neck was the heart-shaped necklace. He locked eyes with her. She waved and walked over to him.
“Adam! It’s so nice to see you! How was your break?”
“I can’t complain, I guess. Some parts were great, some...” He looked at the necklace. “Some not so much. Yours?”
“Yeah, I’m kind of in the same boat.” She started to tell him about an adventure she had but was stopped short by Devon, who came up from behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. She jumped in surprise.
“Hey there!” She gave him a kiss; Adam looked away. “Do you know Adam?”
“Can’t say I do.” He looked at Adam.
“Yeah, hi, my name is Adam, I’m a...” he began to say, before being pointedly ignored by Devon.
“So, you wanna come over tonight? My parents are out of town, and it’d be nice to have some privacy...” Zoe started smiling as Devon told her this. Adam decided that he had had enough and walked away.
“Oh, bye, Adam! See you in third period!” He didn’t look back.
Day 309. Adam sat on the edge of a bridge. Hundreds of feet below him, the cold water flowed melodically. There was a certain draw to being so close to death, only one slip from letting the pressure of the world around you fall away. He noticed a man walking towards him. He stopped within ten feet of Adam and approached the edge.
“You got any intention of jumping tonight, son?” the man asked. His voice was raspy, one worn down by hard times.
“Nah, not really. Just kinda nice to have the option. But no, I’m not going anywhere.” He took a pause. The breeze rustled his hair. “How about you?” Now it was the man’s turn to pause.
“I don’t know. Yesterday, I did. Walking here, I did. Now, I’m not so sure.”
“Oh yeah?” Adam looked at him. “You wanna talk about it?” He walked over to him. The man sighed.
“Yeah, what the hell? I’ve just been in a real rough spot. In the past year, I’ve lost both my parents, my wife divorced me, I got laid off, and it doesn’t look like I’m getting a new job any time soon. It’s just been a really hard year. Why are you here?”
“Well, I’ve been clamoring over this girl for like three years, and she’s hardly looked my way. Moreover, every time I try to talk to her or be around her, her aggravating boyfriend shows up and puts me in my spot. And normally, you know, I could just move on. But there’s just a certain something about her. Maybe it’s her smile, maybe it’s her laugh, maybe it’s both. But something about her is just... is just...”
“You don’t need to finish that sentence. I understand completely. Sara had that same draw. My ex-wife, that is. Some women, there’s just something about them. But while they seem perfect, they can really crush you. If it weren’t for women like them, nobody would walk this walk we’re on, nobody would be floating in that water down there.”
“Yeah, you’re right there. But without women like them, I don’t think we’d even be able to get out of bed. I mean really. It’s women like Zoe--or, Sara, for you--that drive us guys to get up in the morning. Just a chance to see their face, to talk to them, to be around them. It can hurt when it doesn’t go well, and it’s easy to only think of those moments, but you can’t forget the great moments either. Like this time on my birthday. I had originally thought Zoe forgot all about it, and later she came by and delivered a little note to me. She probably doesn’t even remember she did it. But I think about it every day, and I look at it every time that I need a little boost. I know you had those moments, too.”
“I did, I did for sure. I remember this great moment I had with Sara, right before we got out of college. It was New Year’s Eve, a minute before midnight. I took her up to this rock wall on the top of my street. Same place we had our first kiss. I sang “Auld Lang Syne” to her as we walked up the steps. A ways away we could hear this crowd shouting down from ten. I looked at her, into her beautiful eyes. Put my hands around her waist. Pulled her in close. They counted to one, and I pulled her in. Best kiss I’ve ever had. Despite all the stuff we’ve been through, I never could be upset when I thought of that.”
“And now that you’re thinking about it, are you still upset?” The man smiled to himself.
“Yeah, yeah I am. But I can live with being upset.”
“So you’re telling me you’ll live then?” Adam was smiling, too. The man turned to him.
“What’s your name?”
“Stephen. Yeah Adam. Yeah, I’ll live. Tell you what. Tomorrow, I’m going out. I’m getting Sara back.”
“Good. And I’ll get Zoe, too. Take care of yourself, Stephen.” And Adam went out to go win Zoe over.
Today. Adam had intended to ask out Zoe fifty-six days ago, after meeting Stephen on the bridge. However, he could never build up the courage to do so. He sat alone in his room, miserable that he had again failed in his resolution. He glanced out of his window. A man was walking across the street with a woman, hand in hand. A familiar silhouette... Stephen!
Adam rushed outside and across the street, shouting his friend’s name. Stephen turned and immediately recognized his friend, his savior.
“Adam! Long time no see, man! Great to see you. Hey, allow me to introduce you to Sara.” He turned and gestured toward a woman behind him.
“How do you do?” she said with a wave.
“Honey, this is Adam. He’s the kid that inspired me to come get you. I owe him my entire life.”
“This is him?” Sara walked over to him. “He’s said a lot about you. I really respect you, Adam. It’s a miracle that you ran into Stephen that night. He and I both owe you a lot.”
“Hey,” Stephen interrupted. “it’s New Year’s Eve! Where’s that lady you told me about? Zoe, was it?” Adam looked at Stephen and Sara. This was a woman that almost caused Stephen to throw his life away. That’s how much he loved her. He had dated her for a long time, even married her, and had to bounce back from losing all of that. But with a bit of encouragement, he had become inspired enough to win her back. If Stephen could overcome that hurt, that suffering, and get back the love of his life, surely Adam could do the same.
“I’m on my way to get her right now.” And with that, Adam sprinted past his friend. He checked his watch. Three minutes until midnight. Three minutes to complete his resolution. He jumped over bushes, ran through yards, and took a route that would impress Ferris Bueller to get to Zoe’s house. 11:59. He rang the doorbell. A woman answered the door. Zoe’s mother.
“Hello, can I help you?”
“Hi, I’m looking for Zoe. Is she here?” Adam said between breaths.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I don’t think she wants to see anybody right now. But have a happy new year anyways!” And with that, she shut the door. Adam checked his watch. Midnight. He had missed it. He stared at Zoe’s red door for a few seconds. He couldn’t believe it. Heartbroken, he started to walk away.
“Adam? Adam, is that you?” He looked up. Zoe was calling him from her bedroom window. “Hold on, I’ll be right down.” Seconds later the front door opened. Adam quickly realized how little he had prepared. What would he say? He started to try to whip something up, something cute, but stopped when he saw the tears falling down her cheeks.
“Oh, Adam...” She ran into his arms.
“Zoe, what happened?” He sat her down on her front step, keeping his arm around her.
“Nothing particular... It’s just... Well, I imagined that I’d be kissing Devon tonight.” A flare of jealousy surged through Adam’s body. “But a few weeks ago, he decided that Stacy was a better fit for him. At least, that’s what I assumed he meant when I found him naked on top of her in his room.” She burst into another fit of tears. “I just... I thought he really was different, you know? I thought he was one of the good ones. Just goes to show you, huh? All guys are the same...” Adam couldn’t hold it in all of a sudden.
“You’re wrong, Zoe.” She looked at him. Her blue eyes, stained red with tears, were bewildered. “I’m sorry, but you are. I know there’s a lot of awful guys out there like Devon. I know. But there are others. Others like me. Others, who sit on the sidelines watching you for years on end. Others, who notice every little thing you do, every way you smile, or laugh, or cut your hair. Others, who are madly in love with you but are too scared to tell you. Others, who try to tell you, but find you making out with your boyfriend and just opt to leave that necklace you’re wearing on your bedroom floor.” Zoe’s hand slid to the heart around her neck. She had worn it every day since she found it. “Others, who go out to a bridge in the middle of the night and look down in the water hundreds of feet below them wondering if they belong down there because they can’t hope to be with girls like you. And sure, I’m not the most attractive guy. Sure, I’m not the smartest, or the funniest, or the guy who deserves you the most. But I’ll be damned if there’s another guy out there who thinks that you’re as beautiful as I do. Look, you can go out and find another Devon, another guy who won’t appreciate you, and who won’t realize how perfect you are and decides to go cheat on you like you’re one of his remedial class tests. Or, you can choose me. The guy who notices that when you wear that blue shirt with flowers on it, your eyes come to life. The guy who knows that when you get nervous you bite the inside of your cheek. The guy who knows you’re Zoe Marie Morris, the girl who was scared of spiders, heights, and for whatever reason stegosaurus, who loves spaghetti and rotini but hates rigatoni, who likes chocolate but likes it more with a splash of vanilla. Look, I know that a beautiful and graceful flamingo like yourself is much too perfect for an alligator like me, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t one day drink martinis on a beach. And before you find another flamingo friend of yours, I’m taking my chance. So Zoe, I love you, and I always have.” Zoe sat speechless.
“Adam...” she started to say.
“I’m sorry, did I do something wrong? Ah, I knew I’d screw it up somehow. What about--” But his question was cut short by Zoe’s lips against his. She pulled away, and it was his turn to be at a loss for words.
“It’s too bad that we’re five minutes after midnight.” Zoe laughed.
“Yeah, that’s too bad,” Adam admitted. “but I think that this is better. If we kissed at midnight, we’re celebrating the world’s new year. But we aren’t celebrating that. This year, it’s all about you and me. Might as well make it our year with our new year’s kiss too, right?” Zoe blushed.
“You’ve got to be the cutest alligator in the world. Count us off?”
“Roger that, my lady. Ten... Nine... Eight... Seven... Six... Five...Four...Three...Two... One. Happy New Year, Zoe Morris. Happy New Year to us.”
“So, any resolutions?” Zoe asked after a long, long overdue kiss.
“No, I don’t think so.” Adam put his arm around Zoe again. “For the first time, I have everything I could ever want.”