Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?
Baby New Year does an annoying little tap-tap-tap on my office door even though the door is mostly closed and has a little Post-It note affixed to it that reads Don't start none, won't be none.
I look up at the slowly widening sliver of light where a mostly-closed door used to be and stare impassively through my bifocals. I do not wear bifocals for vision reasons, just drama reasons. I point to the Post-It note. Baby New Year looks at the Post-It, shrugs, and then pushes their way through the door and sits down across from me.
"You know I can't read, dumdum. I'm a baby."
"It says--" I start.
"Hey, listen," Baby New Year interjects, "I absolutely do not care. Put it on your blog, or something."
"This is on my blog. Well, my newsletter, if we're being precise."
"This conversation isn't actually happening."
Baby New Year looks stunned and makes a sound like HERK?! "I refuse to be a dramatic affectation in prose! Yeesh! Can you imagine? How embarrassing. For you. No, this is actually happening. I've decided. I am fully realized, honey. Anyway, I just stopped by because I need to steal you for a minute. Well, I'm going to steal you for 525,600 minutes soon enough but right now I just need a smidge of time. Just a scoche of a Scaramouche. A lil baby tiddley-blink of the eye."
"Can you get on with it?" I ask.
"Don't you mean may I get on with it?"
"That doesn't make grammatical sense."
"I'm a baby! So, listen here. I was checking through my records and I realized that you haven't filed a New Year's resolution and I'm trying to get all my paperwork in before the office closes. So, if you want to just tell me h-what your resolution is..."
Baby New Year rolls their R's for some reason. I shake my head slowly. "I'm choosing not to make a resolution this year."
Baby New Year looks a little queasy. "That's actually--funny story--that's actually not an option on the form, actually." Baby New Year slides an iPad across my desk at me. It has a Google Form on it. I would have thought the New Years Industrial Complex would have had their own proprietary database or something. But I guess not. I slide the iPad back.
"No resolution, thank you." I go back to reading Station Eleven, a definite choice on my part, given everything everywhere all the time.
"You have to make a resolution!"
"But it doesn't serve my interests," I say without looking up. "How does it serve my interests?"
Just then Father Time comes barging through the open doorway, holding 2021 in a plastic grocery bag. "Hey folks, howdy folks, just want to see if anybody wants any leftovers--"
"Get out of here!" Baby New Year yells.
"Get that out of my office right now!" I yell.
Father Time is still talking, wandering around the room, knocking my large collection of Precious Moments dolls of color off the shelves. "You gotta take some of this year. I got so much more left and time's running out and I think it's starting to turn. Oh golly, it's leaking through the bag. Hey, did you know I had to pay 5 cents for this bag at the store? What kind of society?! No we can't, am I right? I forgot to bring silverware or something so just reach in the bag and scoop a handful out." A look of terror flashes across his face. "I can't go back to headquarters with this. I got a write-up from HR about it. The batch is off. The batch is off." Father Time's eyes dart around the room desperately. He lunges at Baby New Year, foists the plastic bag into Baby New Year's hands, and then flees out the door.
The bag starts to drip.
Baby New Year makes a sounds like BLERQ!, walks to the window, opens it, and throws the year out the window. Down on the street, Father Time bellows "WHY?!"
"One time," I say, "when I was in young, I made gak, which was this detergent/corn starch/glue/food coloring creation I learned about at school. It was like a slime you could play with. But then when I was done I didn't know what to do with it and I was afraid to flush it down the toilet, so I just threw it out the third floor window. There was a pink stain on the sidewalk for a long time."
Baby New Year looks at me; they're wearing my bifocals now, somehow. "Scintillating."
The room gets cold and I look up to see 2020 at the door. 2020 is a vampire, but not like the fancy Anne Rice vampires. Like one of those vampires from What We Do In the Shadows.
"Can I come in?" 2020 asks.
"May you come in," Baby New Year says.
"May I come in?"
"No," Baby New Year says.
"First of all," 2020 says, "you don't even live here so I don't need your permission to do anything. I wasn't even speaking to you. Second of all, don't you ever fix your mouth to speak to me like that. You need to recognize when you're outranked. I've been in this game for so many Scaramouches, it would make your head spin if I ever bothered to tell you about it. Which I won't. Now, Eric, may I come in?"
"Not a chance," I say.
"Oh snap!" Baby New Year says.
"I'm serious," I say to 2020. "Don't make me come over there."
"Everyone is so rude," 2020 says. It glides away down the hall.
Baby New Year hops up on my desk. "So, about this resolution..."
"Baby New Year, you need to give it up. I'm not doing it."
"You haven't earned it."
"I'm a BABY!"
"So you have plenty of time to work on earning it."
"Don't you know what happens if you go into a new year with no resolution?"
"Uh," I say, "time continues to move forward?"
"Noooooo! Our secret!!! Who told you??!!" The iPad bursts into flames.
At the doorway, the Ghost of Christmas Past appears out of the smoke. "I AM HERE TO SHOW YOU THE ERROR OF YOUR WAYS!"
"Sorry, wrong house," I say.
"THE PAPERWORK CLEARLY SAYS I'M SUPPOSED TO BE HERE."
"I don't know what to tell you. Try the house across the street."
Baby New Year reaches up, grabs the Ghost's requisition form, and studies it for a moment before looking up. "Guys, I can't read. I'm just doing a bit!"
"Okay, everyone out."
The Ghost of Christmas Past comes to my desk. "CAN YOU JUST SIGN THE FORM THAT SAYS I CAME HERE AND YOU ARE ON THE ROAD THE REDEMPTION?"
I scribble my name on his form. It sparks and disappears in a flash of light.
"THANK YOU! WHICH IS THE BEST WAY GET TO BACK TO I-95?"
"I'll show you," Baby New Year says. "I'm headed that way. Last chance on resolutions!"
"I'm good, thanks."
"Oh," Baby New Year says, lingering in the doorway, "question: was that gak story a metaphor or what?"
"I don't know! I don't have an editor for this newsletter."
"This isn't a newsletter; this is actually happening."
"Close the door on your way out."
Baby New Year leaves the door open. What a jerk.
In Previously On....
Random Thing on the Internet
I love this Matt Corby song a lot.
just drama reasons,
My new YA novel, Kings of B'more, a contemporary riff on Ferris Bueller's Day Off, is out everywhere on May 31, 2022. Pre-order it here or from you favorite indie bookstore, or request it from your local library!