Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

Ghosts of Years Passed

There is a woman sitting by herself on a chair in the corner. She’s been there all night. She wears a ring, but the man that she just arrived with doesn’t. Disgruntled husband or gentleman caller, maybe a friend or brother, walks past her, barely regarding her with a slight nod. He proceeds to the bar in the kitchen and mixes himself a drink (gin and tonic from the looks of it).
I can only assume they’re romantically involved from the shattered looks of distress and mild passion they glance to one another every now and then.
An hour passes, and she sits there still, no drink in her hand, and no shoes on her feet. He still stands at the bar in the kitchen, continuously refilling his drink; he’s left his long winter coat on, and seems to be wanting to forget something at the rate he’s guzzling down his gin.
The party goes on, and every soul in the room is dancing, talking, or playing games; regardless, having the times of their lives. Every soul, save for the woman (who just stares off into space, sporadically glancing at the man), the man (who stares at his reflection in his drink, randomly glancing at the woman now and then), and me (who, for some reason, keeps a watchful eye on the somber couple). We have our own burdens to bear, and choose to do so in our own ways.
Life is a curious thing that I’ve found becomes curiouser and curiouser as that swinging pendulum ticks on, chiseling away at the cornerstones we’ve laid, until that last grain of sand reaches the bottom glass.
It’s twenty minutes until midnight, and the party still goes on. More singing and dancing, more laughing and drinking, people continuing to enjoy themselves in the social uniform in which we’ve all become accustom.
But the man at the bar and the woman in the chair remain isolated. Standing alone at the bay window, I wonder if anyone else even notices they’re there, or cares why they sulk in their melancholy fashion.
Midnight approaches. The majority of the party gathers around the TV to help the rest of the country herald in the New Year while the mirror ball descends on Time Square. I go over to stand by my aunt, who gives me a drunken peck on the cheek.
She raised me from infancy. When I was less than a year old, my parents were in a car accident driving home from a New Year’s Eve party similar to this one. Save for their wedding photo, in which they were nearly a decade younger, there are no surviving pictures of them. They weren’t anti-socials or pariahs, just valued their privacy.
I look behind me discretely to see the man at the bar filling up his drink, and the woman in the chair looking sadly into her lap. Slowly and in unison, then, they both turn to look at me. We make awkward eye contact. The man and I share with each other a mutual smirk, and the woman gives me a warm and meek smile, which I also return. I then decide to mind my own business, and turn my attention back to the front of the room.
Everyone begins to count down. Ten… Nine… Eight… Seven…
In the upper left corner of the TV, I can just barely see their reflections. For the first time that night, the man puts down his glass. He cautiously approaches the chair and puts his hand on the woman’s shoulder, who touches it gently and rests her head on it.
Six… Five… Four…
Everyone else watches the ball drop, but I can’t stop looking at the austere couple. She stands, finally, and turns to face him.
Three… Two…
They embrace each other gently.
One…
They kiss.
Happy New Year.
I look away for a quick second to see the ball land snuggly in its place. Then the entire party is shouting, blowing into noisemakers and hugging and kissing one another. I decide to share the warmth with the couple, but when I turn around to head towards them, they’re gone.
Curiouser and curiouser.
On the ride home, I ask my aunt who the couple was. At first she says she didn’t notice them, but when I describe to her their appearances, the looks they shared, the demeanors and clothing they both wore, the structures of their physical features… She gives me a look of awe, and her eyes swell with tears.
This was the seventeenth anniversary of my parents’ death. I have no memories, and the only picture I’d ever seen of them were their wedding photo, and that was ten years before their death. I knew they had their problems with each other, but I also knew they loved each other deeply.
For the longest time I regretted having never known my parents. As I stared at the snow covered world, a smile slowly crossed my face. It was good to know they still love each other, and good to know they're watching over me.




Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!




Site Feedback