For just a moment

Photo by Kimson Doan, via Unsplash

Everything is alive tonight. Electricity prickles against my bare skin and I can feel my eyes lit with sparks. Looking down from the bridge, I watch the sea of people undulate slowly. They move and yet they go nowhere. Tinsel halos on young girls sparkle and children scream with excitement. The river glitters darkly. Amidst the throng, I still feel alone.

Today was hot, but now the heat disappears rapidly into the clear, moonless sky. Midnight approaches. The sea presses in on all sides, expectant, hysterical. I can barely breathe, but as the air pulses with something undefined and wild, my discomfort becomes second to my anticipation. Tonight the city is vibrant, burning with a life of its own. Tonight, waiting to greet a new millennium, everyone is expecting something important, something exciting.

Me? I’m waiting to see if the world will end.

Foolishly, I believed that I could solve all my problems before this day came. I chose this event, this calendar mark as my goal. I would analyse myself, talk myself through everything until it all went away. Mind over matter. Or was it mind over mind? No matter; I believed I was equal to the challenge. I would resolve all that was unresolved and start afresh. It was a foolish thought. I am not so strong that I can overcome myself. In fact, I am so weak that I barely even try.

Now, see where I stand? A naive little girl, masquerading in the body of a woman, alone on New Year’s Eve, watching a world of strangers, waiting for the world to end.

As the chant is taken up, I feel myself hold my breath. Reality spins.

“Ten!” A groups of drunken youths stand atop a wall, brandishing glowing sceptres. Their countdown is two seconds faster than everyone else’s.

“Nine!” There is a woman standing near me who has brought an infant in a pusher. The poor child looks terrified and I’m sure he sees nothing but legs.

“Eight!” Adorned with glowing tubes around their necks and limbs, several teenage girls press past me, red and yellow, purple and green.

“Seven!” What am I even doing here?

“Six!” Already, a young couple in front of me start to kiss passionately. Some people watch, some turn away delicately.

“Five!” When I was ten, I sat next to a boy in class. He told jokes and made me laugh. One day he found out I had a crush on him and stopped being my friend. It was his taunts that stung more than any of the others.

“Four!” It would be interesting if the world did end. I am not afraid to die, and if something as monumental as the end of the world is going to occur, I would like to witness it.

“Three!” Rudely, a small girl stamps on my foot with force and with purpose as she is dragged past by her parents. Her face is covered in freckles and she smirks maliciously at me.

“Two!” I can’t move. I can’t breathe.

“One!” Alone.

“HAPPY NEW YEAR!” Colours explode above our heads in showers of light. Artificial stars and fireflies rise and fall and writhe and explode. Hundreds of faces are turned to the heavens, and I see delight and awe written on each one.

And then the sky is dark once more.

The sea shifts. I follow. Twisting, to look behind me, I collide with someone in front. Expecting anger and rudeness in return, I am stunned when I turn and see he who stands before me. His eyes are blue flames as he stares searchingly into my face. It is said that eyes are the window to the soul. I feel my soul standing naked.

Everything feels still, but not quite. I cannot know him, and yet I do. I know there is more than what he tells me, but he won’t admit that I am a part of his life. Reflections and echoes rippling. Beauty I have not known before.

And the world starts to move once again.

As he passes, He takes my hand. I feel his heat pressed into my palm and my heart in my throat. With no right to even ask for it, I want to keep him there always.

When he lets go, I know I will never see him again.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Melissa Hill’s story.