Gadzooks and Egads watched the monitor as people filtered into the party. The room was adorned with colourful textiles with art used as accent pieces in between. Gadzooks and Egads had no idea what any of it meant. The side opposite the door had large ceiling-to-floor windows that overlooked the city and there was a stage set up at the end opposite the bar. In the centre were high-top tables, each with a couple stools so people didn’t have to stand all night.
“What’s a Chrismukkwa New Year’s Party?” Egads said in a language that wasn’t English.
“It’s something those stupid Earth people came up with to celebrate the orbit of their stupid planet around their stupid star you stupid idiot!” Gadzooks said.
Gadzooks blamed Egads for the failure of their mission to colonize the planet they had come to know as Earth. What Gadzooks didn’t know was that it was Egads that saved them from complete obliteration when The Supreme Commander dematerialized them and brought them back to the mothership. Egads negotiated a deal that they would never screw anything up ever again if they could have, the recently vacated, planet scouting jobs. They had not screwed anything up so far as they watched the Earth monitor, however, they could not focus on it for too long as they had 103,472 other monitors to view to find the planet they should colonize next.
“Well, I hope they all have fun,” Egads said.
“Bah! Fun? What is fun? Fun is bah!” Gadzooks said.
“This should be fun,” Santa said.
He was back behind the wheel of the Yellow Cab he had grown so fond of during his pre-Christmas bender and almost blunder of Christmas 2015. He had company this time. After apologizing profusely to his wife Wendy, he managed to get the North Pole under control and knock Christmas off with the help of two elves, Tiny Olaf and Lil Lana. They had approached him with a plan and helped him execute it. Now the four of them were on their way to “the best” New Year’s Eve party in the world. The Chrismukkwa party was deemed the best by Santa because it incorporated all of the big seasonal holidays, but also because it was host to the people that Santa felt his negative behavior impacted the most. He hoped to atone, in disguise of course, by having his favourite artist play the event.
The organizers had no idea that Bruce Springsteen was coming on at midnight. All they knew was that an anonymous donor, in this case Santa, had gotten in touch and said that the post-midnight entertainment was taken care of and they needn’t worry.
The foursome planned to arrive just after 10pm when most of the other guests were already on their second or third drinks. The only thing Santa requested of Olaf and Lana was that they not reveal themselves as elves, nor that they reveal who was going to grace the stage later in the evening. Lana and Olaf agreed and were excited to see these humans that they worked so hard to please during Christmas.
Tee, Em, DJ, and Jay had spent the last two hours mingling and greeting their guests. They met up just to the side of the bar.
Em looked at his phone.
“Alright. It’s 11pm, one hour to 2016. Everything set up?” Em said.
“Not sure what else we have to do, mate,” DJ said.
“Anyone figure out who the anonymous party person is that organized the after midnight entertainment?” Tee said.
“I figured it’s someone you know from the industry,” Jay said.
“Not me or Em. Is it some Australian good Samaritan?” Tee said.
“No one I know,” DJ said.
“Ok. Let’s do another lap and make sure people are enjoying themselves and then ring it in with everyone else,” Tee said.
“And hope we don’t wake up with our heads sown to the carpet,” Jay said.
“‘Christmas Vacation’ is the best Christmas movie,” Ben said.
“It pretty much saved our marriage,” Imogen said, clinking her champagne glass with Ben’s.
They were talking with their neighbours Tess and Killian, the latter checked the address for the party seventeen times to make sure he was in the right place.
It was a party full of friends, acquaintances, and six degrees of separation.
Ben, Imogen, Regina, and Hank all knew Jay from high school, and it was through that connection how Tess and Killian found themselves invited to the party. Killian had gotten in touch with Tess at her parents’ Christmas Eve party and was one of the people who was equally surprised by his parents’ swinging lifestyle.
Anderson and Georgia approached the group after they cheersed to “another year, because you never know when you’ll get another.”
“I love ‘Grumpy Old Men’ because it’s not a traditional Christmas movie,” Georgia said.
“I just love that I’m here,” Anderson said.
“Did you almost not make it?” Imogen said. “You seemed fine at work yesterday.”
“It’s a bit of a longer story than that. I’ll tell you another time,” he said.
“So when’s the ball dropping?” Ozzie said. He and DJ were leaning up against the bar.
“Not sure mate,” DJ said. “Who did you bring with you?”
“Just some neighbours who helped bring the Christmas cheer with the 14 foot Santa last week,” Oz said.
He was referring to Amy, Trevor, Chris, and Darren. They had collected around one of the high-top tables.
“Seems like a decent party,” Trevor said.
“As long as Dad doesn’t show up pantless, we should be fine,” Chris said.
“I’m sure your mother wouldn’t let that happen,” Darren said, giving Chris a peck on the cheek.
“Anyone notice the sexy Santa girl and leather McGee?” Amy said nodding to a couple two tables over.
Joseph wasn’t sold on wearing the outfits they had picked for their Christmas fetish liaison – him in his Christmas coloured leather cowboy outfit and her in her sexy Santa dress – but Mary had insisted it would be hot.
“Everyone is staring at us,” he said before taking a sip from his beer.
“Let them stare,” Mary said. “I look super-hot and you look adorable. I hope the washrooms here can fit both of us because the way I feel right now, I want to ring in the new year with my legs making a ring around you.”
“I won’t be able to wait another half an hour if you keep talking like that,” Joseph said, looking around for Em, his connection to the party.
“A half hour of foreplay sounds good to me,” Mary said. “Did you bring the light peppermint lube this time?”
“I brought everything,” Joseph said, holding up the leather satchel filled with kink that was by his feet.
“Let’s go then,” Mary said.
They downed their drinks in one go and quick stepped hand-in-hand to the large one person washroom they had seen on the way into the party.
The Writer and Jonah watched as the leather-clad man and sexy Santa woman trotted by.
“Now there’s a story,” The Writer said.
“If only I brought my camera,” Jonah said.
Stella was confused when she first heard the voice and felt the presence in her bedroom. She had just tucked herself in for the night and was ready to drift off to sleep as the clock struck midnight.
“You don’t have to be afraid,” the presence said. It didn’t so much speak as flow through Stella’s head.
“Who are you?” Stella telepathically said.
“I am Earth,” Earth said. “You might be preparing to leave my surface but I have witnessed many before you go and none of you ever truly leave. This is simply the turning of another trip around our star, and when you go, you will become part of the endless universe that surrounds me and all of us,” Earth said.
“Thank you,” Stella said.
She closed her eyes and felt the warmth of the presence. As she drifted off, she hoped that when she finally closed her eyes for the last time it would feel as welcoming and comfortable as that moment.
“So, like, you guys are together now?” Jenna said.
“It’s the weirdest story,” Kelly said.
“Ya, so Santa Claus is real,” Lucy said.
“Where the hell was he when our carriage broke down?” Guy said.
Jenna was surprised to see two of her university girlfriends at the party, let alone see them finally together. She knew them as best friends but always felt they had something special that should have been explored.
“Ugh,” Jenna said. “Fucking New Year’s and its surprises. But a good ugh and good surprises!”
“Seriously though, Santa Claus is real,” Lucy said.
“Sure, I really really believe you,” Jenna said, nodding her head with exaggeration.
Beatrice found herself at the New Year’s party and the mystery behind the invite just got deeper. After that night when the white bearded stranger told her everything would be alright, her legal troubles seemed to disappear. It was that same night when she returned home that she found the envelope containing the invitation had been slipped under her door.
She looked around and didn’t recognize anyone and considered leaving before a somewhat familiar face caught her eye. She approached the semi-stranger with caution.
“Hi,” she said. “You look really familiar.”
He was caught off guard and gave her a furtive glance before scanning the room and focusing his attention back on her.
“It’s probably from the news,” he said.
“What did you do?”
He took a deep breath.
“I’m the guy who flips out whenever he hears the Christmas Shoes song. I can’t control it and I also have no idea why I’m at this party,” Jeremy said.
“Yes, that’s it! I’m Beatrice,” she said extending her hand.
He shook it and then took a sip from his drink.
“Did you also find an invitation slipped under you door?”
“Yup, but I don’t know anyone here,” he said, motioning around the room.
“Ya, me neither,” she said.
Beatrice eyed his glass. It was near bottom like her own.
“Say, did you want to get another drink?” she said.
Erica was shocked when she saw him at the party. She was on her way to him before she had the chance to ask herself if she should. She questioned her feet but didn’t stop them. Mark was running late so, at the very least, he would be someone to talk to before he arrived.
When she reached Bon, she placed her finger tips gently on his elbow so as to not startle him. He looked to be admiring some art on the wall. She smiled with genuine care and he, at first, seemed not to place her.
“Whoa!” Bon said. He opened his arms wide and took her in. They squeezed and then stepped back. “How…why…wait, what are you doing here?”
“Hi. I’d say the same thing for you! It’s been – ”
“About two years I’d say,” he said.
They each took sips from their drinks and then stumbled over their words as they both started trying to fill the silence.
“You go,” she said.
“Ya, I, well, I’m here because of who I’m with. I mean I was invited by someone,” he said.
“I’m with someone as well,” she said, hating how it came out as though she was competing. “I mean, I’m – ”
“It’s all good. I get it. Which one is he?” he said, gesturing to the room.
“Oh, he’s not here yet.”
“Ah, nice. Well I hope to meet him when he does arrive.”
“Where is your date?” Erica said and turned to face the room.
“She’s Vanessa, the brunette by the bar in the black dress talking to the girl in the black blazer and jeans,” he said.
She turned to face him.
“Very nice,” she said.
“I still think about you,” he said.
“Thank you?” she said after a moment of pause. Erica wasn’t sure how to respond or even if she wanted to have this conversation. Her furrowed brow betrayed her thoughts.
“I’m not going to make a scene, I just wanted you to know that,” he said and chuckled.
“I read your letter,” she said, “but not when you gave it to me. I put it in a box and forgot about it and then just read it this Christmas.”
He nodded toward the windows and she followed him there.
“I still feel like an idiot about that,” he said.
“I poured it out there and when you didn’t show up at the airport, I figured I had said too much,” he said.
“No, it was…it was perfect and I wish I read it when you gave it to me. I wanted to apologize for not reading it until now.”
“You have nothing to apologize for,” he said. “I’m sorry.”
“You don’t have to apologize either,” she said.
“I’m not apologizing to you. I’m finally apologizing to myself for caring about you as I have for the past two plus years. There was always a part of me that thought maybe that unread text or knock at the door would be you. Which is crazy because you didn’t know where I lived. Seriously though, you do not need to apologize.”
“I know, but I don’t know. Reading it made me think about things from then and about now. And seeing you here after reading it…it’s just really weird,” she said.
“Ya I can see that. The only way I can or need to think about it is like this. If you really wanted to come to New York you would have, and if I really wanted to stay in Toronto I would have, so it makes the ‘what ifs’ meaningless in a good way. We couldn’t get over whatever to get to each other. It’s not that we weren’t the right person for each other, it’s that…fuck it, we were the right people for each other. We were perfect.”
Bon paused and took a breath and then continued when Erica didn’t fill the silence.
“If we really needed to, we would have and the past two years would have been a lot different. Life is messy, glorious, and sometimes fucked up beyond all recognition, but if you really need something or someone you ignore the mess and the fuck and go for the glory. At that time we didn’t need it. It’s…it’s shit that we didn’t, it really fucking is, but we didn’t.”
“For a few moments we were perfect,” she said.
“And it’s in those moments that we are immortal. For better or worse.”
“Sometimes I think about this book, like the archives or encyclopedia of love. It records every single occurrence throughout the universe where love makes an appearance. It catalogues every relationship past, present, and future and where they land on the scale of love and relationships. And I think about where ours ranks.”
“Everything is motivated by love to some degree so that would be a massive tome.,” he said looking out the window.
Bon brought his attention back to Erica.
“I can’t say for sure where we would land in the rankings but I know to me, in some weird way, you will always be the flame that sets me on fire and the tidal wave that puts me out. I know that in the archives of love, we are still pretty damn close to the top.”
“It’s so weird how in one second everything changes from old to new and how it really doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things unless we give it meaning, unless it means something to us,” he said.
She held up her glass and Bon followed suit.
“Cheers to everything changing, and meaning, and the past, and the future, and everything meaning something to someone, and to our day of adventuring around the city and not dying,” she said.
They touched glasses and took a sip. Erica noticed Mark enter the room and give it a scan. She took Bon in her arms and he reciprocated.
“Love you,” she said.
“Love you too,” he said and released her.
Erica started towards her future but turned and gave Bon a brief smile which he mirrored before walking to Vanessa.
As the lights dimmed in the room, the countdown started and so Bon quickened his pace so as to not miss his midnight kiss just as the familiar first notes of his song with Erica – Springsteen’s “Thunder Road” – began to play from The Boss’s piano on the ever-lightening stage.