“How’s that song go?”
“I have no idea, and don’t sing it anyway.”
“Oh, come on. You get so ‘Bah, humbug!’ around Christmas, Scrooge.”
“Because it’s just–”
“–fake and commercial and no one knows the true spirit of Christmas anymore, is that it Charlie Brown?”
“You’re a cunt, you know.”
“Christmas is over, Surly McBitchypants. You got more than coal in your stocking, nobody died and best of all you’ve got the next week off. No assignments. You can celebrate the New Year in style. Or at least with enough fucking booze to kill yourself or at least wish you were dead tomorrow morning, if you even wake up tomorrow morning.”
“There’s always that.”
“Oh, there it goes–”
“You know, I miss it every year.”
“You know I do.”
“And last time you were even there.”
“Should old acquaintance be forgot.”
“That’s how it starts.”
“…how wha–Oh. Thanks.”
“Just don’t actually sing it. I’d hate to have to suffocate you.”
“I–ah. You missed it again.”
“–aw, damnit! Happy New Year, Brightman.”
“Heh. Happy New Year, Checker.”
* * *
He could see everything from up here, the surging crowd, the SONY screen, the ball of lights; this time, he wouldn’t miss it.
As the ball fell, he poured two glasses and raised one to her, and when the lights exploded into life, burning the new year onto his retinas, he drank a silent toast, and closed his eyes.
“…should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Should old acquaintance be forgot, for auld lang syne?”
His voice was rough enough, low and in tune, but nothing beautiful.
“For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne… we’ll take a cup…”
She’d have laughed at him. And he would have poured her another glass.
“…of kindness, yet…”
There was nothing harder than this.
“…for auld lang syne.”