Auld Lang Syne

by Derek Hamilton

I’ve seen this exact same party in stupid teen movies. The dining room’s primary function has been transformed to accommodate for beer pong. The kitchen counter is littered with dozens of bottles containing various types of alcohol. The front door is at the end of a long narrow hallway directly in front of me. I wish I could walk out that door right now. Annie wants me to be here, or at least she keeps making it seem like she does.

“What’s wrong?” she asks.

I think about how I could be spending New Year’s Eve anywhere else with my actual friends instead of in this shitty house with these idiots pretending to be adults. I lie and tell Annie that nothing is wrong, because I know that’s all she wants to hear. I can tell she doesn’t believe me. She nervously tucks her hair behind her ears, leans in, and kisses my cheek. She forces a smile and flutters off to join in the next round of shots at the kitchen counter.

It’s at this point that the host of the party, Lauren, stumbles into the bedroom door to my left. She’s so drunk that she can’t walk in her stupid four-inch heels. This is her house though, so I don’t know why she doesn’t just take the heels off. I have no idea.

She attempts to sit on the end of the bed, but slides off in a lurch. The enormous purple comforter clings to the bed frame, partly suspending her like a makeshift hammock. She calls to me, still holding onto her drink somehow, and asks me to help her up.

I really don’t want to be in a bedroom with an inebriated girl unsupervised. I look over my shoulder and can’t see Annie anywhere. She must have stepped outside for a smoke or gone to the bathroom.

Lauren grumbles incoherently as I grab her outstretched hands. She shakes her head like a toddler, waiving me toward her, signaling that she wants me to lean over to pick her up.

I can’t believe this shit.

Two or three girls gather in the doorway to raise a commotion about me putting the moves on Lauren. Fucking morons.

Annie appears in the doorway now, from wherever she was.

“GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY ROOM!” Lauren screams as she pushes me out the door and into the crowd gathering in the living room. Annie pulls me into the kitchen as everyone else’s attention quickly shifts to the TV to watch the ball drop.

“What was going on in there?” Annie asks.
“I was just trying to help her. She’s drunk as shit.” I explain.
“You don’t have to lie. It’s okay, you can tell me.”
“Nothing was going on, I swear. Why don’t you believe me?”
“Look,” she cups her hands and holds my face gently, “it’s totally fine if something happened,” she assures me, “I’ve been in those kinds of situations too, so I get it.” She giggles expectantly, hoping that I’ll join her in the laugh.

“What does that mean?” I ask sharply.
“I’m just saying, that’s how I’m sure I want to be with you,” she tries to convince me. “Just because I was with other guys doesn’t mean…” She continues on from there, but I already stopped listening.

Everyone in the living room counts down from ten. The crystal sphere descends upon Manhattan.

I reluctantly look into Annie’s eyes and see fear. I recognize it. It’s the same fear that consumed me two months ago when she told me that she didn’t want to be with me. It’s the same fear that tore me apart every night.

Annie’s slender fingers graze my cheek. I remember when I used to find peace from her touch. Now, it’s like the pores on my skin are electrified at every point of contact with her. Each charge sparks back to a memory from the break-up:

The gossip I would hear from people at school. Her late-night, drunken calls that would make me worry so much I couldn’t sleep. That hollow feeling in my stomach that wouldn’t go away until I heard her voice again.

And that’s when it happens. That’s when I realize – I don’t love her anymore.

I walk past Annie and head toward the front door. Our shoulders brush, but she stands her ground. I continue to pass by as she reaches her hand across my chest, her last attempt to stop me. I push her hand away.

She strings together a combination of obscenities and hurls them at me, but I don’t respond. I open the door as everyone in the living room cheers, welcoming the New Year.

I step on the lawn and the cold air hits me in the chest. Snow falls slowly, accumulating on the frozen lawns. I can still hear the muffled cheers from the living room, contrasted by the silence of the winter night.

There are dozens of cars lined up on the front yard, and that’s when I remember – Annie drove me here. I think it’s safe to say she won’t be giving me a ride home.

She’ll probably stay here all night. She’ll probably try to drink away the pain. She’ll probably fuck somebody she hardly knows. She’ll probably call me tomorrow and expect me to forgive her.

It wouldn’t be anything new because it’s all happened before, but it doesn’t matter now.

I bury my hands in my pockets and tilt my head up to the navy-blue sky, watching the gray clouds gather in front of the moon. I figure it’s about a five-mile walk home from here, but that won’t be so bad. Actually, it’s a good thing. New Year’s Eve is typically the night that most alcohol related automobile accidents take place.

Ah, who the fuck am I kidding? I wish I’d driven separately.


Derek Hamilton is a writer, musician, voiceover talent, and self-proclaimed nerd from Northeast Ohio. He’s a Columbia College Chicago alumni, a published poet, and currently works as a streaming media producer. You can find more of his work at derekhamiltonedits.com

Final Resting Place

by Renee Chaisson

The waves splash in front of us and my nose is full of salt and astringent decay. Behind us, your house still stands looking out at the water. There is a different family living in it now; they painted and they enlarged the porch out front. It looks foreign, but it feels the same. Like I could go on in the back door without knocking, and you would make me a cup of tea and I would sneak a candy while your back was turned. I wonder if they still have your vegetable garden. Did they keep your clothesline? Does someone stand outside, like you used to do, with wet laundry and sing about the lilies while she clips the shirts and sheets and tea towels up on the line? Do her kids run through the sheets? Does she yell at them to knock it off? I wonder about that.

The waves are loud and wild here and the tideline is close to us. I can see the sand fleas leaping up from the long line of dead seaweed and kelp. If I were to dig in there, I would find crumbling bodies of crabs and sand dollars. Probably some beach glass; remember how you used to keep it in that jar in the window? Right next to that little, sparkling vase that held sweet peas when they were in season. Mark loved to pick you sweet peas from the beach. He would bring them home in his sweaty little fist, and you were always so delighted. As though he was presenting you with some magnificent, expensive bouquet. I brought you beach glass, and Mark brought you sweet peas, and you loved them both like they were treasure.

I bought you a rose bush today. I hope you like it. It is yellow, because I remember how you used to sing a song about yellow roses. I will plant it as soon as I can get your urn to open. I do not know why they closed it so tight, but it is good and stuck. I will keep working on it while I sit here with you. Mark should be here. We both know that it has nothing to do with the cost of his airline ticket. Maybe I should have tried harder with him, but I didn’t want to keep you waiting any longer. There’s a sailboat out there; its sails are fully puffed out and it is moving slowly on the water. You loved spotting those.

The dirt was pierced more easily than I expected, and the yellow rose looks stable and brave in the packed-down earth. Your urn feels heavier now that it is empty. The sailboat has moved closer, I see. In fact, it is so close that I can see a man walking on the deck. He pulls in the rigging and collapses the sails to let the vessel drift. He stretches, and then plops down in a lounge chair. Feet up, drink in hand, I can almost see him exhale.

This is a good place to rest.


Renee Chaisson grew up on beautiful Vancouver Island and she is proud to be raising her daughter there as a single mother. In the past, she has worked as both Early Childhood Educator and an Educational Assistant with the local School District. She is currently on disability due to a chronic illness called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.

Enough

by Derek Hamilton

Lonely; whispers and echoes, and I’ll answer the
Call me; ask if I’m sleeping, I wonder if it’s lost its
Appealing; the jury’s decision, you’ll have it for once in your
Lifestyle; but after a while, it gets harder to know what you’re
Worthless; give it a rest – I’ll make you think I’m something I’m
Not here; I’m no Shakespeare – I’m the best that you’ll never get to
Have fun; when it’s all done – you’ll end up resorting to
Pleading; your case to the courts – something you’ve gotta see to
Believe me; we belong to the Keys – and I don’t need to ever get
Homesick; learn a new trick – a showcase to try to
Impress you; it’s the least I can do – but it seems like it’s never enough

It seems like it’s never enough.


Derek Hamilton is a writer, musician, voiceover talent, and self-proclaimed nerd from Northeast Ohio. He’s a Columbia College Chicago alumni, a published poet, and currently works as a streaming media producer. You can find more of his work at derekhamiltonedits.com

Self-Image

by Derek Hamilton

And even though it seems to be, a losing battle fought
One must remain, and keep at bay, each and every thought

For discord in is discord out, and we are all at fault
Plainly seen, and clearly heard, the constant self-assault

Although the cost is still so great, and we have paid our dues
Even when there is nothing left, there is still so much to lose


Derek Hamilton is a writer, musician, voiceover talent, and self-proclaimed nerd from Northeast Ohio. He’s a Columbia College Chicago alumni, a published poet, and currently works as a streaming media producer. You can find more of his work at derekhamiltonedits.com