I took a few weeks off from the weekly blog hop to celebrate the end of 2020 and welcome the beginning of 2021. But it’s time to get back into the groove (especially since I have a new release coming up in March. More on that in future blog posts!).
This week, I challenged our members to write Flash Fiction using the phrase/words: Happy New Year, cigars, and orchids.
If you joined me from Clair Brett, welcome! Here is my contribution:
Eloise had never felt the slightly hysterical excitement so many others did watching the seconds tick down to the new year. It was a completely arbitrary distinction between one moment and the next, something dreamed up by whey-faced administrators centuries ago. There was no magic in it. Nothing ever changed. It was the same old same old, just with a new number next to it.
She had planned to sleep away the last hours of the year, much as she'd slept the last week away. Instead, she found herself curled in bed, the glow from her phone the only light in the room, streaming the countdown from New York City that had already happened three hours ago but was being replayed for those in the Pacific Time Zone. Just one more indication of how fake the whole celebration was. Like another version of the movie Groundhog Day, only without the saving grace of Bill Murray’s comic insanity.
“Happy New Year!” the crowd in Times Square shouted.
“Yeah, yeah,” she mumbled. “Happy freakin’ New Year.”
The doorbell rang.
Eloise blinked. Had it really been the doorbell, or was it one of the bells and whistles shrieking from the video on her screen? She muted her phone.
The doorbell rang.
Who could possible be at her door at midnight on New Year’s Eve? Well, it was New Year’s Day, she supposed, but midnight New Year’s Day was still twenty-four hours away technically, so it seemed calling it New Year’s Eve made more--
The doorbell rang a third time, cutting off her dribbling thoughts.
She flung back the covers, trod barefoot through her darkened home to the front door, and peered through the sidelight.
Jax stood on the stoop and she recoiled, pressing her back against the wall, her heart racing.
Rapid knocks thudded on the wood panels of the door. “Eloise! I know you’re in there. Please, I just want to talk.”
“Go away!” The words blurted out and she shoved her fist against her mouth. Damn it. If she’d stayed silent, he would have left eventually. Now she’d given him proof she was home, he’d never leave.
“Please, Eloise.” His tone softened. “I made a mistake. It’s a new year. Can’t we start over?”
A mistake. Hah! That’s what he called it? “Go back to your whiskey and cigars or whatever it is you rich people do on New Year’s,” she said bitterly. “I’m just the poor waitress you had a fling with. No need to worry about me.”
“It was more than a fling,” Jax said.
“Really? Then why did you pretend you didn’t know me?”
What they’d had was still so new, they’d agreed that meeting each other’s families over the holidays would put too much pressure on their relationship. But that meant they wouldn't see each other for a few days, so when she’d gotten off work earlier than expected on Christmas Eve, she’d gone to his apartment, hoping to surprise him before he joined his family that evening. Instead, she’d been the one stunned when he’d opened the door with a tall blonde in a sleek, simple black sheath that screamed expensive draped over him. He'd stared at her in shock as the heavy scent of orchids had wrapped itself around Eloise, the woman’s perfume as cloying as the smirk on her face.
“Who’s this, Jax? A friend of yours?” she’d said.
Which was when Jax had broken Eloise’s heart. “No,” he’d said, “she’s not a friend.”
She hadn’t stuck around to hear more, simply spun on her heel and fled.
Now, in the silence of a new year, his voice came muffled through the door. “I was surprised to see you,” he said, “but I didn’t say what you thought I did.”
“Oh, trust me, I heard exactly what you said.” The words were branded on her brain, still sizzling and smoking more than a week later.
“You heard the words, Eloise. But you didn’t hear what I meant.”
“What the hell does that mean?”
“You aren’t my friend. You’re so much more.”
Eloise realized she was standing with her palms pressed against the door's surface as if she could reach through to Jax’s warmth and strength. “I’m wh-what?” she stuttered.
“I love you, Eloise. Please, let me in so we can talk properly.”
“If you love me, then who was that with you on Christmas Eve?”
Eloise closed her eyes. “I don’t believe you.”
“Her name is Helene. We were driving to my parents together that night.”
“If that’s the truth, why didn’t you call me to explain? Why did you wait until now to come see me?”
“Because I was scared. I was scared you wouldn’t listen. I’ve never felt this way about anyone before. I didn’t realize how much it would hurt, to have the person I love distrust me.”
They came from such different worlds. The dress his sister had worn was probably worth more than Eloise’s monthly rent. But when she was with Jax, all she could feel was how right they were together. Did she love him enough to work through her issues, to find the trust he deserved?
She opened the door.
I hope you enjoyed this little story. Now hop on over to Jenna Da Sie https://jennadasie.com to see what she came up with!