He was the kind of boy who grimaced after drinking soda and you were the kind of girl who showed up to a New Year’s Eve party in Mary Janes. You were licking your way around stiff peaks of strawberry frosting that topped a yellow cupcake, and he was on the opposite side of the kitchen, sipping lemonade from a plastic cup. There were microcosms of the eighth grade in the gaping space between you two: girls in black dresses, boys in sweatpants, bottles of stolen champagne and rosé dotting the counter. The Times Square Ball Drop flashed across the television in the living room, fresh from this year’s Black Friday binge. It illuminated the living room and adjacent kitchen in extraterrestrial violet light. You were an adolescent alien. If you blinked too long, your lashes would cling to each other like lovers.
You liked how years were born: celebrated with explosions of color on the skyline, with golden bubbles, with clinking glasses, with balloons, with promise. Four babies are born within each second. If every childbirth was treated like yearbirth, part of the world would always be in celebration and maybe that's the cure to postpartum depression, maybe what the world needs is a few more fireworks.
It was nearly midnight and the television glow swam across your face like a school of fluorescent fish. You trekked across the kitchen to lemonade boy, Alfred or Alex or maybe Arthur, and with each tap of your clunky Mary Janes on the tile floor, you formed your New Year’s resolution. This year I resolve to be more confident. This year I resolve to be more confident. This year I resolve to be more.
“Hey,” you said, and when the boy you knew as A didn't respond you added, “I like your glasses.”
“Thanks,” A replied, pushing his wire-rim frames up his nose. He had long, narrow fingers. Orchestral hands. He played the violin and you could hear him practicing in the orchestra room at school before the bell rang, clear and poignant. It sounded like hope buried between the lines of a eulogy, echoing through the halls. His hand fell back to his side and then went for his cup of lemonade, draining it.
“Where did you get your copy of Romeo and Juliet?” you blurted, eager to waste away the minute that remained before the year died away. A was in your English class, and while most of the students had bland, washed-out book covers, A’s copy was beautiful, bold cursive against a background of roses.
“Oh,” he said, “it’s my cousin’s copy. He collects books. He let me have it when I visited his house in Connecticut.”
“Great,” you said. “It’s pretty. You're pretty. Happy New Year.”
The clock struck midnight and the room erupted into cheers. You stood on your toes and kissed A’s shocked mouth. And then you ran like Cinderella, tasting lemons, sugar.
YASMEEN KHAN is a high school student currently residing in Texas. Her writing has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and she has work forthcoming in Bitter Melon Magazine. She loves her friends and mangoes very dearly.