Five Hours To Go

Lilly sat down at her writing desk, her large leather bound journal open in front of her. It had told the same story for the past three years. It always began with a whole list of New Year Resolutions, things which Lilly was determined she wanted to put into practice over the coming months. By the third of January, at the latest, the entries told the story of failure and renewed determination but after a further few weeks of hovering between hope and failure, the entries started to decrease in frequency, thus sending her final resolution out through the window. From now on, the only entries in the journal told the helter skelter story of Lilly's usually unreciprocated loves.

Lilly took up her new pen. She always bought a new pen to start her journal with. It gave her a greater feeling of success and put her in the mood to attack her resolutions. As the pen hit the paper she hesitated. Could she really do it? In the past, there had been at least fourteen resolutions every year. Sometimes as many as twenty-five. How could she write just... What would happen if she failed. There'd be nothing left to following. She had to concede, however, that multiple resolutions weren't helping her at all. Maybe this really would help focus her mind on essentials.

So with a flourish she wrote the first sentence, and thus begun her usual New Year's Eve ritual of looking back, and plotting for the future. She did this every year before going out to the New Year's party held as always at the family mansion. Her Grandmother, and now her Aunt had kept up this tradition for the past 52 years, and Lilly would not miss it for the world. Had she but thought of enshrining this in her annual list of items with which she would torture herself for the rest of the month, she would surely have one small success. But resolutions weren't about fun, they were about things which were doomed to failure from the start. But this torturing of herself was her way of coming to terms with her life. At least, she could claim she was trying to get the better of herself.

She stopped after the first sentence and read it again.

My one and only resolution for this New Year is not to fall in love.

It seemed a strange resolution for a young girl to make but Lilly was always falling in love. She frittered away the better part of nearly every day sighing after her latest hero, and this inevitably led her to offer herself slain at his altar, only to be rejected by a surprised but unwilling knight, not yet in search of a maiden to rescue. It would have to stop, otherwise her life would come to nothing. She made a mental list of all the young men she had been smitten by over the past 12 months, shooting them down one by one.

True, there remained no acquaintances left, now they had all been buried by the wayside, but that hadn't stopped her in the past. Besides, there was always Mike. Not that she had ever fallen in love with him. That would be wrong. Mike had been her friend and faithful companion as long as he could remember. They had grown up together, attended school together. They were closer than brother and sister. He knew about every one of her past heroic fantasies and had remained stoically unmoved by whatever protestations she had sworn at the time, remaining there to pick up the pieces when the inevitable denoument shattered her confidence once again. Indeed, if ever there was a perfect partner, then Mike must surely be it. But one couldn't fall in love with Mike. Marry him, yes; surely someone would, one day. And they would love him truly, she hoped. But fall hopelessly, altogether head over heals in love - no, not with Mike.

Anyway, there was no time to think about that now. She was late already. Mike would be calling to pick her up in less than an hour, and she wasn't even nearly ready for him. Yet, there was so much she still wanted to write, so many dreams she wanted to share with her journal before the New Year began, and strangely enough Mike began to feature in some of them. She gathered up her journal, pen and all her coloured pencils. She would make time to continue her dreaming at her aunt's, she decided, racing off to the bathroom.

She took more time than usual in the bathroom, that evening; certainly more time than she had ever taken before going out with Mike. But he didn't mind. He was used to her caprices and was glad of a few minutes alone before she came down, as he had something to do. That afternoon, he had ended the undecision which had afflicted him for quite some time now, and declared himself to Lilly. But shy as he was, he couldn't bring himself to do it in person. So he had written her a long epistle in a steady hand and was now looking for a place to hide it where she would surely come upon it the next day. Seeing the journal lying there on the table, Mike quickly slid the letter in the place where the bookmark for that day was, taking great pains not to read what she had written. He didn't have to read anyway. He knew it would be full of tears and sighs as his only friend flitted from one fantasy to another with unrelenting eagerness. Oh, she was so vulnerable, and how he longed to be able to cherish and protect her if only she...

But there she was, coming down the stairs, and who could not help noticing that this evening she was more beautiful than ever. There was a certain gleam in her eyes that he had not noticed before and that he could not help reciprocating, causing Lilly to blush. His surprise turned to consternation when he saw her pick up her journal and make to put it into her bag. She looked at him wide-eyed as the letter slid out from the place he had hidden it and flattered slowly and gracefully to the floor.

In a fever of excitement Lilly bent down to pick it up, tearing open the envelope, reading attentively the first few lines, flicking through the several pages before flinging herself onto his neck and encamping herself there. Then, just as suddenly she broke the embrace, sat herself down at her desk, opened her journal and took up her pen:

18.58. I'm in love with Mike, and he's in love with me. Isn't it wonderful! And what's more, I'm not even breaking my New Year's resolution, since the New Year doesn't begin for another 5 hours and 2 minutes.

7 comments:

This is wonderful. And I joked after I posted my story that people didn't make resolutions regarding love ... it was about exercise, cigarettes, chocolate etc. But here we are - the second story for the New Year and its also about making resolutions to do with love.

I was a little freaked out about the similarities in our stories - which heartens me to think that I am a) not the only crazy person in the world or b) I'm sane and the rest of the world is crazy.

Fav bit for me was the last journal entry - the wonderful twist of breaking a resolution that had not quite yet been made!

Thanks for sharing Paul and hope all is well in your life :o)

4 January 2008 at 09:09  

Paul, I really loved this. It made me smile and I think that smile will linger. It has a wonderful youthfulness about it and almost makes me wish I was that hopeful, and foolhardy, again. ;)

And Jodi, I'm number 3 and I wrote about relationships as well. It seems likely that people do make resolutions about love. :)

4 January 2008 at 10:47  

I'm number 6, and mine is also about love - must be something in the air at New Year!

When I read Jodi's I thought "wow, that's like mine but from the other side..." Then I read your's Paul, and I thought "wow, that's like mine except with a happy ending!"

I'm almost scared to move on to Cerebral Mum's...

I really liked the concept of a resolution broken before it had begun. People in fiction should never declare that they could "never" love someone, that just seems to spur it on!

4 January 2008 at 14:15  

Yikes, I have a similarly plotted story that's been brewing in my own head. Great minds think alike, and I'm such a sucker for romance. I loved this story. Nicely done.

4 January 2008 at 16:44  

As I mentioned at Jodi's, I am terrified of long Fiction Friday entries. But again, I really liked this one. Really liked it quite a lot. I think it could be tightened perhaps, with a little more show and a little less tell particularly in the first few paragraphs, but it is a lovely story.

I, too, love the fact that the resolution is broken before the new year. Cute twist!

4 January 2008 at 18:47  

That was great. At first I was gonna feel bad for Mike because he was in the same situation as many guys are but the ending was a good one.

4 January 2008 at 20:15  

Well I really don't want to sound like a broken record played, let see, seven times now, but it's worth it – this really is really wonderful and I really love it. I loved the lead up to the first journal entry. You didn't give anything away so when I finally got to the pay off I had to smile at its simplicity and because you had me hooked. The end was great as well. The second journal entry was priceless. I did find the paragraph in which Lilly declared she could never fall for Mike an obvious telegraph, but I think it needs to be there in some form. I don't have any suggestion as to how to tone it down, maybe something to ponder on your end. Anyway, in the end still a wonderful story. Great job.

5 January 2008 at 03:14  

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