Crystal was in the office cafeteria getting her morning cup of de-café and trying to choose between a shot of peppermint and a shot of gingerbread syrup. Not that she needed the extra sugar from either but it would be the most pleasant decision of her day and she was at the age where she took pleasure where she could find it.
The cafeteria had recently upgraded adding the flavored syrups to the coffee array and new décor and piped in music. Just in time for the holidays.
Crystal put in a shot of peppermint and moved to the next choice of white, blue, yellow or pink sweetener just as she heard Nancy Wilson's smooth voice under the traffic around her.
Maybe I'm just a bit before the game
Oh, but I thought I'd ask you just the same
What are you doing New Year's
New Year's Eve?
She sighed deeply, having a love/hate relationship with the song. Love the melody, the voice, the sentiment. Hate the fact that no one had ever asked her just that question in just that way.
"What are you doing New Year's?"
The question startled her, reminding her of the limited coffee preparing space. She jump and glanced at the speaker.
"Oh! Sorry." She didn't recognize him. Then again, it was a large agency; she saw a lot of people she didn't know. "The usual, I expect. Dick Clark and bed by 11:30."
He laughed. "Me too." He added cream to his cup. "Take care."
She watched him move away and then moved on her own, to by the coffee and go back to her office to drink it and get a little work done.
Her morning was quiet and allowed her to actually get some work done for a change. She got her filing up to date and a few spreadsheets that needed to be refreshed for the coming year. By lunch time, she was considering moving some unused files to off-site storage. Shortly after that, she realized that it was more than 'shortly' after that and if she wanted lunch, she better move now.
The cashier was just about to lock the door. "Better run!" She teased as Crystal hurried down the hall.
Pickings were slim but there was enough salad left to make a decent meal. She contemplated another cup of coffee and, by coincidence, realized that it was playing again.
Wonder whose arms will hold you close and tight
When it's exactly 12 o'clock that night
Ringing in the New Year
New Year's Eve
It had been a while since any arms had held Crystal close. She thought of her morning coffee buddy. He seemed nice. Of course, he only spoke because she was blocking the sugar and cream. But he had a nice smile. For a moment, she had a wild fantasy of his arms holding her tight.
But of course it was silly. She'd barely even seen him; she wouldn't recognize him if she saw him again, she suspected. And even so, he probably didn't even see her — just a woman in the way.
And then, she saw him. At the register. She got in line behind him. He was digging through his pockets. "I have to have a penny..."
She reached into her own pocket and in a handful of change, found a bit of copper. "Here." She handed it to the cashier.
"Oh thanks ... Hey!" He smiled brightly. "I owe you one."
Crystal laughed. "You can pay me back on New Year's." He looked confused. "We'll both be watching Dick Clark, remember?"
He laughed too. "Yeah, well, unless you get a better offer!" He went his way, and she went hers.
Crystal's apartment was small. Not tiny or cramped but small. Big enough for one. She didn't have many friends or family. Then again, she was a fairly self-contained person. A bed for one, a table for one, a dinner for one. All fit neatly into her life. She didn't have space for a big New Year's bash even if she'd been inclined to throw one. At best, she could entertain one. One guest, one friend.
She thought about that as she sipped her one after dinner drink and tried to read, sitting curled in the corner of her loveseat. Her sister, maybe. Or someone from work. Most of her college friends had scattered around the country. They kept in touch — thank God for e-mail — but they all understood her need for small. Quiet. Simple.