A Brand New Year!

Rex/Shutterstock © Champagne flutes Illustration: Rex/Shutterstock


A time for fresh starts – but you have to throw out the old to make room for the new!

“Happy New Year,” said Clare, as she opened the front door to Tom. “Come in, come in,” she went on, smiling as he stepped inside and removed his coat and boots. “I’m so glad you’re here.”

Tom and Clare had been best friends at university. He’d known at the time that she’d never look at him as more than a friend – he never had his friend Mark’s good looks and flashing green eyes, for starters – but they’d laughed together, and been there for each other, when things went wrong.

Clare ushered Tom into the lounge, where a sea of people gathered, all knocking back fizzy wine and eating nibbles. The sound of chatter and music filled the room, as everyone anticipated a brand new year.

Clare handed Tom a drink

“I’m not even sure why I’m having a New Year’s Eve party,” she said with a sigh. “I’ve been up since the crack of dawn cooking and cleaning. I must be mad!”

Tom smiled. “It’ll be fun,” he said, half-heartedly. He knew only too well that Mark would drink too much and flirt with other women, and Clare would end up in tears as she always did. Clare and Mark had been together two years, and every social event was the same.

Clare suddenly headed to the bay window, and Tom followed.

“Oh my goodness, it’s snowing,” she whispered, as a fine sprinkling covered the pavement like icing sugar. “Look, Mark,” she called, but he was oblivious, standing far too close to Suzy from next door. He whispered something into her ear and she burst out laughing, pressing her slim fingers to his chest playfully.

“It’s beautiful,” Tom said, nodding towards the snowy evening in an attempt to avoid Clare seeing what was going on, but he knew she already had.

Clare dashed a tear from the corner of her eye and smiled at Tom, and Tom wished he could take her into his arms and make everything right.

He was transported back to a New Year’s Eve at university when they’d broken away from a crazy party and played liked kids in fresh-fallen snow.

They’d lain next to each other, sinking deep in the frozen fluffy stuff, leaving snow-angel imprints. They’d thrown snowballs, and built a snowman. She’d used twigs for arms and stones for eyes, and he’d used his empty lager bottle for its nose, which promptly fell off.

“He’s lost all sense of smell,” Tom said, and she’d laughed.

“I love snow,” she said now, leaning into Tom as she looked out at the snowflakes twirling from the night sky.

Later, as Big Ben chimed in the New Year and everyone let off party poppers and sang Auld Lang Syne, Tom saw Clare searching the room for Mark. He wasn’t there, and neither was Suzy.

“Happy New Year, Clare,” said Tom, approaching and smiling into her eyes.

“Happy New Year, Tom,” she said, rising on tiptoe and kissing his cheek.

As he walked through the park with Mark the following day, both wrapped in thick coats against a snow blizzard, Tom said quietly, “Break it off with Suzy, or I’ll tell Clare.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, mate,” Mark countered.

“It’s not the first time. I’m not stupid.”

“Alright, alright,” Mark said, stopping. “It just sort of happened.”

“It always ‘just sort of happens’.”

“Listen, Tom, can’t this wait? I’ve a bit of a hangover.”

“Clare deserves better than you.”

“What? Someone like you, you mean? She chose me, mate. Get over it.” He looked serious for a moment, then laughed dismissively.

Tom growled and continued walking, his boots crunching the snow.

Mark quickly caught up

Tom’s cheeks glowed red with cold and anger. “You don’t deserve her.”

They continued towards the house in silence and as they approached, Mark’s eyes widened. Four cases were on the front lawn covered in freshly fallen snow… and there was a sheet of paper pinned to the front door.

“What’s going on?” demanded Mark, but there was no need for words. Clare’s note said it all: 2019 is a brand new year. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to realise I settled for second best.

As Mark threw the cases into his car, Tom noticed Clare standing at the window. Her eyes were red-rimmed, but she met his gaze and smiled bravely.

He smiled back, her words echoing in his head… 2019 is a brand new year.

He already knew it was going to be the best year ever.

Karen Byrom

My coffee mug says "professional bookworm" which sums me up really! As commissioning fiction editor on the magazine, I love sharing my reading experience of the latest books, debut authors and more with you all, and would like to hear from you about your favourite books and authors! Email me kbyrom@dctmedia.co.uk