It was the last day of December. Cindy was feeling all the festive excitement. It has been months that she looked forward to celebrating this night at her penthouse condo. All meals were cooked. There will be mingling and music. Her favorite local band even RSVP’d to her invitation to provide the entertainment. She’s all set to rock and roll.
Clark, the guy she’s been dating for months, will also be at the party. Though they may haven’t had much conversations with each other over at Christmas and New Year’s Eve because of the busy holidays, it would be wonderful to have someone to kiss when the clock strikes at midnight, she thought. After all, this will be the first New Year that she will actually have a date.
She would just need that brand new royal blue velvet dress she’s been dying to borrow from Cassie, her sister whom she’s living with, to go with the romantic moment. But Cassie was out of town for the New Year’s. And Cindy knew that even if she called Cassie to beg for the dress, her sister wouldn’t budge in lending a cocktail outfit that she hasn’t worn yet. Let alone a piece of fashion she had spent a quarter of her paycheck to.
The party’s just minutes away and Cindy’s in desperate need of something to wear for the evening. Without hesitation, she hurried to Cassie’s room and opened its closet. There it was, the dress she’s been longing for. “Just for tonight,” she whispered as she pulled off the piece of garment out of its hanger. Cassie wouldn’t have any clue that she sneaked the dress out for the occasion. Yet, she also knew she needed to be very careful about the dress.
The party was in full blast. Hugs and cheers were exchanged. Everyone danced to the music the band played. Cindy carefully sashayed her way through the crazy crowd while holding a flute of champagne in one hand. Heads turned as she strutted through. An overflow of compliments from acquaintances echoed through her ears. Raves for the dress were resonating left and right. She was damn good wearing it. Things were going perfect.
It was 11:30pm when Clark showed up; just in time before the countdown started. He was with Deana, one of his female friends.
“Why are they together?” Cindy asked herself quietly while heading towards Clark. She gestured to a table and accompanied him to their spot as everyone gathered to their places for dinner.
Deana kept trying to take Clark’s attention away from her, but she just ignored Deana. It might just be a silly flirtation for all she knew. But it’s showing obviously that Deana has a thing for Clark. The way Deana looked at him with those batting eyelashes as she sipped her Margarita and pouted her lips towards him. Cindy’s gut was telling her that something wrong was about to happen that night. She just hoped she’s wrong.
One of Cindy’s friends stood up and raise her glass to initiate a brief round table celebratory toast before the midnight countdown. One by one the guests expressed their goals for the coming year.
“To exploring and conquering places with my guy here,” Cindy jeered and smiled, pointing to Clark when her turn came.
It was Clark’s turn. There was a moment of silence. He cleared his throat. “I’m sorry, Cindy…but I can’t be with you anymore,” he muttered.
Hearing it made her felt like she was swimming in a sea of broken glass. It completely killed her vibe. It was devastating.
Clark got up from his seat. He was about to leave when Deana slid herself between him and Cindy. Deana gave him a brief kiss on his lips. He pushed Deana away and immediately stormed off.
The scene continued as Deana shouted out to everyone about how good Clark’s lips were. A male guest came up to her and told her to step back. But Deana started screaming at him and her drunken behavior was becoming progressively worse. When she advanced towards Cindy, she accidentally tripped, spilling her cranberry drink down the entire front of Cindy’s velvet dress. A few buddies were alert enough from restraining both ladies, preventing an escalated cat fight. One of them escorted Deana out of the party.
When things calmed down a few minutes later, Cindy grabbed her purse from the table and rushed into the elevator all by herself. She wanted to confront Clark. She had to know why. Half way down the building, the elevator shook and came to a complete halt. She pushed the emergency button. A few seconds later the light on the ceiling flickered until it blacked out. It can’t be. It’s not a good time to be trapped inside.
A voice came out of the speaker system. “I’m sorry miss. We had a short circuit with the electrical wirings. Don’t worry. We’re working on it. We’ll get you out soon.”
It’s been a while since she last heard from the speakers. Every minute passed that she was inside added to her anxiety. She started pacing back and forth. She felt the winter breeze from outside seeping through the metal walls. It must have been 30 degrees that night. Her stilettos were slowly making her feet vulnerable to blisters. That’s it. She’ll would have to go bare feet. While removing her shoes, she heard people counting down and celebrating outside. She banged the intercom with her heels and yelled at it. But there was no response.
“I’m okay,” she thought while standing in front of the elevator door waiting for a miracle to happen. Yet, for some reason, she no longer could contain it. Her mascara came running down her face. She was hysterical. She continued to bawl even after the cheers she heard outside was over. It was unfair. He could have told her that he was not happy anymore with their relationship. And worse, the picture of Deana kissing her boyfriend in her head was not her idea of starting the New Year. The one night that didn’t failed to give her a memorable time – memories for all the wrong reasons.
The light came on again. Her teeth were already becoming hard like diamonds. And her lips, from the reflection she’s seeing on the back wall mirrors, was already turning blue. “Oh no, Cassie will kill me,” she gasped in horror realizing that the dress she’s wearing was ruined by the blotches of cocktail residue. A very bad break-up at the turning point of the year, an ugly stained dress you don’t want your sister to find out, and a claustrophobic confinement for who knows how long inside your building’s elevator – what a rough way to start January. It was way past 1am when the door opened and she finally stepped out.
She made a dash to her bathroom after entering the door of her condo. She undressed and wrapped herself in the bath towel she grabbed from the bathroom closet. Picking up the soiled dress, she turned the faucet on and ran it over cold water in the sink. But no matter how hard she washed the garment, the stain would not come out. It’s stressing her out even more. What would she tell Cassie about it?
It clearly was not working. She gave up. Seeing her bathtub empty, she conceded laying down on it and defrosted herself in a warm bath until she felt better. But how could she feel better when she never made it far enough to enjoy the full magic of the firework that midnight. And that night she was far from being drunk. It was sadder than ever as she spent another round of crying that burned out her eyes sockets before she finally crawled out to her bedroom.
Getting away for a much needed alone time from the night of the year that’s sending her into a deep and dark depression, she saw the box of chocolates she had left on her night table. She picked out these treats from the box and began munching with the pretense that she needed to get rid of these sweets before the next day comes. Her cellphone rang while she was eating.
The caller ID read Cassie. It took three rings before she answered.
“I heard. I’m sorry. It’s not your fault,” was what she heard on the other line before she could say hello.
“I’m sorry, Cass. I didn’t mean to mess up your dress,” she whimpered as she confess about the dress.
“I know. I saw you wearing it on your Instagram. I’m a little mad,” Cassie paused. “You can have the dress. But you need to take care of the dry cleaning bill.” Cassie laughed after reminding her of this.
Cindy was speechless but felt relief by what Cassie told her.
“Listen, this is going to be a great year,” was the last encouragement she heard from Cassie before she hung up.
She wiped her eyes and immediately opened the drawer of her night table, pulling out a piece of stationery. Having that conversation with Cassie made her feel like giving her sister a huge thank-you card. The gesture made her conclude a very important New Year’s resolution for herself. She would just have to make the better out things. She vowed that this will be her last unhappy and mundane New Year’s Eve…even if she have to travel the other side of the world to make sure, was what she wrote on the card.
© Noel Knhaux Suguitan 2016