Andrew Jackson pressed the power button on the remote control and watched the TV screen blink off across the room. He picked up a noisemaker from the end table beside his armchair and blew into it, producing a rather unconvincing celebratory squawk.
“Well, so much for that,” he said. “Another year is shot.”
“Happy New Year,” said Rose without enthusiasm, from her chair across the room. “Out with the old, as the saying goes.”
“And yet, here we are,” said Andrew, “still in.”
“Ah we’re not really old,” said Rose. “And I’m not sure you could accurately characterize us as being in either. Unless you just mean inside.”
“What will the new year bring?” said Andrew. “What new joys? What new sorrows?” He picked up his glass of Scotch and took a sip. “Will I get a new snowblower or will I not? These are questions only time can answer.”
“I can answer the one about the snowblower,” said Rose.
“Don’t though,” said Andrew. “Exactly a year from now I want to sit in this chair and raise my glass and say well, that answers that. Only time could tell.”
“Everybody knows you’re going to buy a snowblower,” said Rose. “You bring it up, like, every day.”
“Well yes, I do,” said Andrew, “but I only bring it up as a question that is yet to be answered.”
“Well, I just answered it,” said Rose. “Everybody knows you’re going to get yourself a new snowblower.”
“And yet,” said Andrew, “I may not.”
“Riiiiight,” said Rose. “You may not.”
“We shall see,” said Andrew. “Only time can tell.”
“And your wife,” said Rose. “Your wife can also tell.”
“Only time and my wife can tell,” said Andrew, “but unfortunately I never listen to my wife.”
“That’s true,” said Rose with a laugh. “So time will tell indeed. Next Saturday, I’m guessing.”
There was a brief pause while they both pondered the darkened TV screen and the darkness outside.
“Was it a good year, 2017?” asked Rose. “I always ask myself that at New Year’s and I can never tell for sure.”
“It wasn’t horrible,” said Andrew. “But it is hard to tell just afterwards. I think you need a few years to go by before you can say whether a particular one was good or bad or just normal. In the end almost all of them are just normal.” He took another sip of Scotch. “Nineteen eighty-nine,” he said. “Now THAT was a good year.”
“What happened in 1989?” said Rose.
“In 1989,” said Andrew, “Harry met Sally. And I met you.”
“Of course! How could I forget?” said Rose. “What a year that was!”
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” said Andrew. “One day I would be on Cloud 9, absolutely positive that we were going to spend the rest of our lives together, just living happily ever after, and the next day I’d be convinced that I was going to blow it somehow and we’d be history by Friday.”
“Why Friday?” said Rose.
“Because Friday is when girls break up with guys,” said Andrew. “So they can go out with someone else on Saturday. I could be wrong about that,” he added, “but that’s what somebody told me and I never questioned it. I used to hate Fridays back then.”
“Goodness,” said Rose, “that’s not funny and it’s hilarious at the same time!”
“As many things are,” said Andrew. “I can laugh about it now. It was one of the best years of my life but it was not without stress.”
“I don’t look forward to a year where we have no stress,” said Rose.
“You don’t?” said Andrew. “Why not?”
“Because that’ll mean we’re dead,” said Rose.
“I see what you mean,” said Andrew. “Stress is good, when you look at it that way.”
“We should aim for limited stress,” said Rose.
“Like, when we’re half dead?” said Andrew.
“Not that limited,” said Rose.
“Yeah that would be going a little far, wouldn’t it?” said Andrew. “Actually I think we have a pretty good balance now. We’re older, and wiser, and better at handling what life throws at us. Take me for instance. I’m not stressed by Fridays anymore, unless the forecast calls for snow.”
“And we both know what would relieve that snow-in-the-forecast stress, don’t we?” said Rose.
There was another lengthy pause.
“I love you, Rose Jackson,” said Andrew at length.
“Half as much as I love you,” said Rose.
“Let’s not start that again,” said Andrew.
“OK,” said Rose. “Two thousand and eighteen will be a great year though, as long as I’m with you.”
“Well I’m not going anywhere,” said Andrew. “Except maybe to buy a snowblower.”
Rose grinned at him across the room.
“Only time will tell,” she said.