New Year’s Resolution
Bill was a charmer, well he thought he was at least. There was no way he could be without someone to talk to for less than an hour, to him it was torture.
Mary had known Bill for just under four months, she’d met him in Blockbusters where she worked and through a set of circumstances he had somehow been invited to her New Year's Eve party.
Bill and Mary were very different in their manner as well their physique. Her raven hair and Slavic squinted dark brown eyes gave her a mysterious oriental look while Bills round rosy cheeks and bright blue eyes seemed to make some strange static force that leapt into his frizzy blonde hair and left him looking boyishly scruffy most of the time.
He didn’t mind, he knew women liked him, and he had liked Mary the moment he had seen her behind the counter when he rented a film out.
The trouble was that she was extremely quiet.
‘Hello’ he’d beamed at her when he first stood in front of her with the D.V.D. in his hand. She’d just looked at him, expressionless. He tried his funny face technique and a quick one liner about first impressions. She didn’t look too amused.
For months he quizzed his friends about the mysterious Mary.
Spotty Barry knew her sister who volunteered in the Heart Foundation.
‘Yeah her sister said she was a bit strange, y’know never spoke hardly’.
Barry told Bill one Saturday night when he’d seen him at the local nightclub.
‘Has she always been like that?’ Bill had asked trying to glean more info out of him before he became completely distracted by the big bosomed blonde stood by the bar.
‘Well her sister said that before she had her bad fit she was really chatty but after it she just never hardly spoke anymore’.
It had taken Bill a bit of a plan of action to get an invite to the party. Through Barry he had convinced Mary’s sister that he was not a womanizer who would even consider breaking up happy together couples. She was really against flirts and that adultery thing.
Just before they had gone into the party Barry had mentioned casually to Bill, ‘and don’t make any funny comments about God or anything tonight will you, they’re quite into all that stuff and take offence if you start mouthing off about it even in a funny way.’ Bill had met his look with an amused expression.
‘Sure mate, no probs, my lips are sealed hey’.
But as they went in he was already thinking of a few good God jokes he’d told recently.
He saw Mary stood at the far corner of the buffet table, it was a lovely spread of food, a quite civilized set up he thought as he walked towards her.
She saw him approaching and looked steadily at him.
‘Hey Mary’ Bill said in his most charming affectionate manner.
She smiled half-heartedly at him.
Bill shrugged ‘so is this your folks place then?’
The sound of a Bob Dylan record echoed out from the lounge area and he picked up a paper plate. He recognized the song as he helped himself to small cocktail sausages and pieces of finely cut cheddar cheese.
‘Lay lady lay’ he said to her as he stood upright with his plate half filled and began eating.
Then Mary spoke.
‘I know, Bob Dylan wrote it for a cowboy film soundtrack in the late sixties’
Bill coughed up half of his sausage, his eyes wide and sparkling at the gorgeous girl stood beside him.
‘Hallelujah’ he said without thinking.
‘Do you believe in God Bill?’ Mary continued speaking.
Bill was dumbstruck for a moment but recovered quickly.
‘Erm yes Mary, I mean y’know I believe in something, erm that something is beyond us and yet..’ she cut him off.
‘Don’t flap please’ she was looking at him intently, he could see that he was slightly taller than her, funny that, he thought, she must wear high platform shoes to work or otherwise they have a raised work area.
‘You either believe in God, a real God, or you don’t’ Mary said softly.
Bill was watching her perfectly formed set of teeth as she finished speaking, she really was so beautiful he thought.
She was watching his eyes ‘Well?’
‘Er well what my princess’ he smiled.
She folded her hands across her chest ‘you need to listen more Bill’.
She began to walk away from him but he reached out and took her gently by the arm. She turned and saw his blue eyes wide in hopefulness.
‘Mary please dance with me’.
‘No, let go of my arm’.
‘Okay I will, but if you won’t dance with me then at least do me one small thing’
‘Tell me why you have hardly spoken to me in the last four months, you never said anything to me all those times that I spoke to you at your work’.
The Dylan song had ended and he thought he heard the tones of a Stevie Wonder song beginning.
Mary took his hand off her arm.
‘People, Peanuts, and Jesus’ she said.
He had dismissed Mary as a bit of a religious loon by the time New Years day came in and he didn’t make any New Year’s resolution that year to change anything. But exactly a year later he went to another party, a far livelier one than Mary’s sisters, and it was after that that he came to make his biggest and most life changing resolution ever. Afterwards as he recovered in hospital he reflected that it had had to happen as thus, otherwise he would never have understood the relevance and meaning of such incredible things.
He lay back in his bed, the saline drip skewered into his vein, he recalled everything clearly in the time he was unconscious but he struggled to remember the events before he’d collapsed.
He’d been drinking heavily, the party had started at seven o clock and he’d mixed drinks to the point that he was pretty out of it by ten. The house seemed so full of people and he didn’t even know half of them. But he danced, he kissed, he swore, he smoked and then he got the munchies. The food was laid out in the small kitchen and he’d not even looked at what he was eating, just taking handfuls of crisps and lots of peanuts.
And then he remembered, he actually remembered falling to the ground but not the fitting part, he supposed that most of the people thought it was some strange dance he was trying to enact but it was only when foam had appeared at his mouth that someone had realized the seriousness.
Funny that, how far away but peacefully he actually remembered the whole time from then on, at least in that time of five or six hours when they had wheeled him into the ambulance, got him into hospital and put him under observation.
Apparently he had swallowed his tongue and they feared brain damage had occurred because of the lack of oxygen to the brain. They had operated and cleared the windpipe but he was in no-man’s land by then. He'd sufferred an allergic reaction from one of the many foods he'd eaten, most likely the peanuts. Bills family was called and they sat with him as the New Year came in. He was unresponsive for a while and the doctors hadn’t been able to say how long he would be unconscious.
Well that’s what they had told him happened when he came round on New Year’s day at four o’ clock in the morning.
They still thought something wasn’t right with him though, but Bill had never felt better, it was just that the moment he had woken up he had made his New Year’s resolution. He’d made the resolution after spending some of the best hours of his life in a beautiful garden where he’d met a man who had absolutely become his best friend. He was so genuine that it had deeply affected him and he had truly felt loved, completely loved in His presence. When he’d begun to ask questions one after the other to the man he’d discovered that he could hear the answers in his mind and then just before he woke up the man had said to him.
‘Learn to wait and listen more before you speak Bill’.
It wasn’t long after that that he’d woken up.
His family gathered around him and hugged him and there were tears but he just laid there smiling at them as he remembered the vivid dream and rested blissfully with the feelings in his heart that had not yet faded away. He wanted to keep them feelings there forever. Words seemed to dilute them somehow. He didn’t want to talk at all but he thought of that Mary girl. She must have met Him too. Silence seemed much more valuable and appealing now and he understood it to be a treasure, like a peaceful realm that was full of understanding, just like that time spent with Jesus.