Technically, it’s New Year’s Day.

None of us have gone to bed yet,so it’s still New Year’s Eve to us. I’m not sure how I ended up here, it wasn’t planned. Someone asked if I wanted to ride along, so I did.

The table and counters are crammed with empty bottles. Sticky pink tendrils of wine from a broken bottle spread in a corner of the kitchen, threatening to creep under the refrigerator. A thin ice cold breeze wafts from the window, open just enough to let out the smoke from the pot and cigarettes that have been burning for hours.

I know some of the people here. Tony, of course, and his girlfriend Tasha. Tony and I have known each other for a long time. I used to be his boss when we worked on a summer crew at the state park. We have that comfortable kind of friendship, that watching-TV-together-with-my-feet-in-his-lap kind. In an few years, he’ll introduce me to my future ex-husband, but I’m in between boyfriends at the moment. 

The party is at Ken’s house, Ken’s double-wide to be more accurate. We sort of knew each other back in high school, from an art class, or maybe it was math? His long wavy dirty blonde hair and deep brown eyes remind me of a slightly deranged cocker spaniel. There are a few other people I know peripherally, friends of friends, ex’s of ex’s, a few I’ve never met before, and a few people I’ll never see again.

“Um, where should I crash?” I ask Ken. I’m hoping I might get a choice place on a couch or an easy chair instead of a spot on the living room floor, or worse, the camper in the frozen backyard. Ken says he’s already saved a spot for me. I pour the last of my wine down the drain, take one final drag of my Camel Light and stub it out on top of a heap of butts in an overflowing ashtray.

Ken leads me to a bedroom. His bedroom, I discern immediately from the Judas Priest posters on the walls. Figures, he’s been staring at me with those crazy puppy eyes all night. I’m tired, he’s short, I size him up and decide I could take him if I need to. I don’t undress, but I get under the covers and doze off. I wake up awhile later to Ken hovering inches above my face.

“Hey,” he whispers, spraying beer breath all over my face.

“What? What? Is it morning?” I sit up, confused at the lack of sunlight.

“No, no. I just wanted to talk to you, baby,” he breathes. “Well, more than talk, I think you’re a special lady. How about we make love?”

I roll off the bed, dodging his grasp. He’s so drunk that he moves in slow motion. Finally, he gives up and shuts his eyes. I snag a pillow and the comforter off his bed, leaving him with a top sheet. He’s all sweaty, I figure he’ll be warm enough.

I clear off a space on the living room floor and try to sleep, but I can’t get comfortable. I get up to get a glass of water and to look for some aspirin in my purse. Tony wanders into the kitchen. “Can’t sleep either, huh?” he asks. I shrug. He sees the pillow and blanket on the living room floor, then glances towards Ken’s room.

“Kenny try to put the moves on you?” Tony smirks.

“Oooh yeah, Mr. Smooth himself,” I reply. I tell him what happened.

“Special lady? Jesus, at least my lines aren’t that stale,” he says.

“Oh yeah?” I chide him, “What’s your best line?”

“Wanna fuck?” he answers.

“Okay,” I answer.

“Really?” Tony asks with a laugh.

“Yeah,” I say, taking a step closer to him. Tony leads me by the hand to the pile of blankets on the floor.

“What about Tasha?” I ask.

“My problem, not yours,” he says. “We’re on the skids anyway, might as well have some fun putting the final nail on the coffin.” Goosebumps dot my flesh as he lightly bites the back of my neck.

“We could have a thing,” he says. “At least I won’t make you go to a Judas Priest concert,” he says, nibbling my ear.

“Well, that’s an incentive,” I answer, slipping one hand down his jeans.

We fumble, trying to slip off each other’s clothes, then we finally undress ourselves when the struggle takes too long.

It’s the kind of opportunistic sex tinged with loneliness. We don’t stare into each other’s eyes and find some mystical connection. We just fuck, there on the living room floor of a strange double-wide. Neither of us really comes, we just sort of gradually get what we need, and it’s okay. When we’re done fucking, we light cigarettes and flip on the TV, my feet in his lap as he leans against the back of the sagging couch.

The next New Year’s Eve, we’ll find each other at a different party, and we’ll fuck there too, and for the next few after that. We’ll only ever fuck on New Year’s, our lonely secret thing.

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