It’s December 31st, a second before New Year’s
11:59:59
Black and White and Color
The coffee has turned cold. I’ve been holding it in my hands for the past ten minutes, but can’t take a sip. New Year’s. Too excited.
I could imagine the television, wide-eyed spectators watching the ball drop in Times Square. Changing lights, flicking from green and blue to orange and yellow across the surface.
People leaning across metal bars, waving excitedly at cameras and hoisting handmade posters. “Happy New Year!” scrawled across the front in Sharpie. Red, smiling faces, peeking through hats and woolen scarves and parkas.
“Can’t you see the excitement in these children’s faces? What are your names?”
I feel a soft touch on my shoulder. It’s Mom. “Don’t take it so seriously.”
That’s when I realized. Can’t you see...
Because I can’t see. Any of it.
“It’s okay,” I shrug, tentatively shifting my fingers around the mug, tracing a small crack on the outside. “What color is the ball now?”
“Green and blue...” she says. “Shifting to lighter green and turquoise.”
I stare into the blackness of my vision, blurred with white blobs, and try to envision this. “Nice. How many minutes?”
“Two and a half.”
My fingers walk down my right leg, stop just below my knee, and then feel their way towards a cold table. The fingers walk around until they scrape against chopsticks. Mom and Dad have ordered Chinese takeout. Usually they stay in the kitchen for hours, frying steak or boiling carrots, but they took their time to haul blankets to the couch and snuggle with hot chocolate and Chinese takeout for the special night.
The chopsticks shift around in my hands, and I manage to get them in the right position. I pick up a dumpling with not much difficulty, and pop it into my mouth.
“Now how many?”
I’m assuming she’s smiling. To be sure, I feel around for her face, left from the mug and up. Warm chin, and then her dimples. She is smiling.
“One and fifteen,” she replies.
“Is Dad on his phone?” I ask. I hear a thud on the couch next to me, which means that he has just flung it down. “Dad!”
“Sorry,” he ruffles my hair. “Fifty seconds.”
We sit in silence as noise blares from the T.V. Mom slaps a fortune cookie into my hand. I crack it open.
“What does it say?” I ask.
“Nothing. That’s odd,” she says.
I turn the paper over and feel something under my thumb.
Braille. Strange.
“Ten, nine, eight...” the crowd chants.
“Seven, six, five,” my parents whisper.
I imagine the 11,875-pound, LED-lit crystal ball sinking toward the ground. The crowd’s screams of excitement suddenly stopping, while the thousands of spectators hold their breath. I run my fingers over the piece of paper.
How different would your life be if that one event never occurred?
Wait.
This wasn’t a proverb.
“Four, three...” the reporters’ voices sounded wild, ecstatic.
What would you redo?
“Two...” The answer comes to me in a flash.
Last May. May 15th. The day we climbed into the taxi.
“One...”
I smile to myself, ready to shout in unison with my parents and the excited people on T.V.
But the screams of “Happy New Year!” never come.
Complete silence.
I blink, and the world is flooded with color.
Mom raises her arm on the side of the road to hail a taxi.
“Taxi,” she calls. And then again. “Taxi.”
Wait, why am I here?
A taxi pulls up to the curb. The driver has bags under his eyes and seems to be slouching slightly.
Oh no.
I glance at my phone. It’s May 15th.
The day of the accident.
“Where to?” he yawns. Mom takes in his stubbly chin and tired expression but doesn’t reconsider stepping into the cab.
You don’t know, Mom. He’s going to crash. And I’ll hit my head hard and never see again. Don’t go in.
“W-wait! Mom!” My mouth seems to move on its own. “I, uh, need the bathroom. It’s urgent.”
“Really? You’re joking, right?” she rolls her eyes. “Can you hold it?”
“No!” I squirm with the little acting I have. “Really.”
“Please, just get in.”
“No!” I persist, backing away from the curb. Out of my peripheral vision, I see the driver’s eyes droop, and then close. Good.
Mom gives up, steps out of the cab. “I’m sorry, sir, I’ll be right back.”
I sigh. She grabs my shoulder and shakes it.
“Don’t do that again,” she warns. “That poor driver doesn’t need more trouble than he’s already in.”
“I won’t,” I respond. Her hand is still on my shoulder as we walk off the curb and into a nearby coffee shop with a bathroom.
“One...”
There’s a living room, though not mine.
I look around. Dad on the couch next to me. Mom on the floor.
Crossed legs. Warm milk and cookies.
Friends. Three I know. Two strangers, though they smile at me as though they’ve know me for a while.
I’m dreaming. I’m dreaming.
“Happy New Year!”
Warm hugs. Bright lights. Thick snow on the window. Lamplight.
So much color.
I’m dreaming.
I blink.
I’m not dreaming.
Everything stays exactly the same.
Something rustles in my pocket.
A slip of paper.
I put it back in my pocket.
12:00.
Midnight.
And there’s color everywhere.
Create an account

Create an account to get started. It’s free!

Sign up

or sign in with email below