New Year, Same Me

Prompt: New Year’s Resolution

Genre: Romance

January 1st.

Here we go again. Kendra thought. Everyone is about to start in with their “New Year, New Me,” resolutiony crap, but it never is! The few that do change are never the ones we wish would change!

Each year, Kendra attempted to convince herself that “this will be the year I find love,” but 2020 didn’t seem like it would pan out for her either.  She had grown accustomed to dating duds.  The local fare seemed comprised of three types: unattractive but interesting, gorgeous but boring, and finally, the unattractive and boring, of which Kendra was most acquainted.

“Hi, Kendra!” A familiar voice disrupted Kendra’s ennui.  The visitor’s blonde curls danced along with her bright blue eyes, drawing the attention of the sole male present in the cafe.

“Hi Pollyanna,” Kendra replied.  The two had met a couple of years ago after dual blind dates in this very cafe that went almost comically bad.  Kendra had thought that her date was boorish, but then she caught snippets of a neighboring conversation (Pollyanna’s) that told her it could always be worse.  She and Pollyanna exchanged a look that day and like soul sisters, they simultaneously sabotaged their dates.  After the guys had left, the two girls bonded over their atrocious dates with the dudly duo.

Pollyanna pulled up a chair and set a blueberry muffin down in front of Kendra.  “Kendra, this is the year!  Mr. Hot and Humble will walk through the door and into my life, then he’ll ride off into the sunset with me by year’s end!” she boldly declared.

“Not you too!” Kendra rolled her eyes and flicked a crumb at her friend.  “Aren’t you over all of this resolution nonsense?  It’s not like a new year will make any grand difference.”

“Of course it isn’t the calendar change over itself that’ll prompt him to sail into my life.  It’s all about a tweak in attitude that’s easier to fake on January one than any other day of the year.”  She popped the crumb into her mouth and chased it with a swig of something overly sweet and caffeinated.

“Or you’ll ditch any semblance of standards and settle for whoever walks through the door next.”

No sooner than the words left Kendra’s mouth, then the bell over the cafe’s door jingled.  In walked a face Kendra hadn’t seen in over a year, one that she used to dream about, but that later haunted her less pleasantly.

“Don’t look now, Kendra, but I think that’s Paul who just walked in,” Pollyanna warned.

Both girls quickly averted their eyes and timidly sipped their drinks.

“Hey, Kendra.  It’s been a while,” Paul’s smooth voice caressed her ears and she shivered involuntarily.  He’d always had that effect on her, even after the breakup.

“Hi!  It’s Bobby, right?” Pollyanna vocally jabbed.  Bobby had been Paul’s dog that ran away during Paul and Kendra’s brief relationship.

“Hi Paul,” Kendra squeaked out before clearing her throat.

“How’ve you been?”

“I-” Kendra abruptly stopped and sighed.  “I’ve been just great, Paul.” She continued in a snarky tone.  “How’ve you been since you abandoned me?”

Paul jerked upright midway through dragging a chair over.  “What?”

Kendra raised her eyebrows in silent response.

“Abandoned you?  Is that what you think?”

“I’m sure Mr. Webster would gladly define abandonment for you, Paul.  I promise I did not coin the word, nor redefine it.  Since you so expertly demonstrated it a year ago, though, I’m fairly certain you’re already familiar with the term.”

New Year’s Eve of 2018 had been the last time she saw Paul.  He had told her that he had a surprise for her and would be right back.  That was it, no calls, no messages, no anything.  His phone went straight to voicemail and was later disconnected.  She had gone to his apartment several times, but no one ever came to the door.  Finally, two weeks later, she made one last desperate attempt to see him, but a strange man came to the door and informed her that he had just moved into that apartment.  Just like that, Paul was gone.

Paul slowly and deliberately set the chair down next to Kendra, sat, and took her hands in his before it registered with her what he was doing.

“Kendra, I never would have abandoned you willingly.”

She flinched in a gasp.

“Kendra, I love you.  I always have, I just forgot for a while.”

“For-forgot?!” she nearly shrieked.  “That’s not something you simply forget!”

Still grasping her hands, Paul shook his head and backtracked, “That didn’t come out right.”

“You bet your a-”

“No, Kendra,” he interrupted her gently.  “I was in an accident.  New Year’s Eve.  I was trying to rush home to get something and make it back in time, but a truck pulled out in front of me.  The next thing I knew, it was March.”

Stunned, Kendra absentmindedly started shaking her head slightly.  Her mind played “no” on repeat as it tried to reconnect with her body.

“By April, they had transferred me over to a rehabilitation center.  It was three more months before I finally returned home; only “home” was no longer my apartment.  My parents had packed all of my things and stored them in their basement when it looked like I might never wake up.  The hardest part of it all though, was that I couldn’t remember anything from before.”

Kendra knit her brow. “But, you know me now…”

“It wasn’t until I started digging through my boxes and came across something that reminded me of you.  Then everything started to fall back into place.  Kendra, you were my rock.  I’d still be just a shell of my former self if it hadn’t been for you.”

“But- but what could have shocked your memories back?” She whispered through a slight quaver in her voice.

“This.”  Paul slipped out of his chair and fell to one knee.  He released his hold on Kendra’s hands, reached into his inner coat pocket, and produced a black, velvet ring box.

Pollyanna gasped on Kendra’s still stunned behalf.

“Kendra, will you marry me?”

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