Boxes, special boxes, lie at the bottom of my locked filing cabinet. Deposited there, are letters and cards collected throughout my life. From grandparents, school friends, parents, lovers, wives, children, more lovers, more children. Since the invention of e-mail though, they’ve been few and far between.
Tonight it’s New Year’s Eve 2028 and there’s a very special box of letters I want to look at. But first, there’s something I have to do – The Ritual.
I go to my trusted computer and start. I’m alone in the house. My partner, Suzanne, is at her parents, the kids are grown up, probably remonstrating with their own kids about coming home at a ‘sensible’ hour. As if!
I begin to type. Dear -. I leave the name blank for now, anticipating the thrill of typing it in. ‘I hope you are well and I wonder how this will find you. You were talking about moving to a villa in Portugal. Are you still planning to live there? Did you marry Fiona? Is your mother still alive?’ Questions surge into my mind.
I take a swig of cider, Weston’s Vintage Cider 2027, 8.2% alcohol. Three bottles for a fiver at Tesco, the same as it’s been for the last ten years! I swill the amber liquid around my tongue and savour grass, twigs, toffee, leaves, and moonlit apples.
For the next two hours, I sit writing and drinking cider. About what I’ve been doing myself for the last year, my failing health, my increasing wealth and my disastrous love life. Then about my goals and aspirations. Maybe they’ll be interested? Do that trek up Kilimanjaro, play a recital on the piano, and maybe get that novel published. The one that’s been rejected more times than I care to think about. But hey! What about Stephen King, Agatha Christie and J K Rowling?
Finally, it’s finished. 11.30 p.m., half an hour before ‘witching hour.’ How pleased I am to sit ‘in here’, writing, rather than ‘out there,’ getting ‘wrecked’ and singing Auld Lang Syne with strangers!
I fill in the recipient, print my letter, sign and address it, and then seal it up with tape. Finally, I delete the document and empty the trash folder. That completes the ritual!
I go down to the fridge and take out a bottle of Chardonnay. I pour a large glassful of lemon-coloured nectar, then go back upstairs to my ‘special box’. It contains ten long, white, thick envelopes, all with the same handwriting. I slot the one I have just written in at the back and take out the one at the front. It’s dated 2018, and labelled ‘to be opened 31st December 2028’.
The cycle is finally complete! I open it, trembling with anticipation. I begin to read, my eyes misting as I do so. Throughout the last ten long, eventful years, of life, death, joy and heartbreak, it has been waiting patiently in this box for me, though I now have no memory of ever having written it.
Please note, in terms of ‘likes,’ this post has been my most popular post ever (in terms of views, it is The Downfall of British Journalism) and was previously published twice (unchanged). If you’d like to read the comments on these (recommended) please click below:
New Year’s Eve Ritual [2016/2017]
New Year’s Eve Ritual 2017/2018
It is featured in the book and audiobook, To Cut a Short Story Short: 111 Little Stories.
Also, something I came up with recently was to make a list of ten great things that happened to me in 2018 (even though it was my worst year for twenty years!), ten things to aim to do every day, ten things to aim to do at least once a week, and ten goals for 2019. Onwards and upwards!
Finally, a couple of very inspiring posts, perfect for ‘resolutions’!
A Very Happy New Year to all my readers and followers!
Best Wishes, Simon.
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