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New Year's Resolution (an original story)

Okay, world premier time, but nothing big. A few odd decades ago (circa 1988-1989) I wrote up this little story, and it has remained mostly unseen ever since (outside of possibly appearing somewhere in the debths of my obscure little personal Tripiod site). It's based on an odd little premise that I won't spoil by revealing here (though in retrospect, it looks like it'd make a passable Twilight Zone episode). So, without further adieu, may I present...

New Year's Resolution

A clinking of glass sounded as the four members of the Fellowship Of Mental Philanthropists toasted the coming new year, now only an hour away. They'd been critiquing the past year and discussing how Mankind, Nature, Fate, and themselves, could have done better. They hadn't yet gotten around to making their resolutions yet, but were still drinking, in the heat of the fireplace coupled with their bourbon. The room was a cozy rich-man's clubhouse library-dining type room, while outside it was giving a light country snow.

"Well gentlemen," spoke a middle-aged slightly rotund medical doctor with most of his brown hair still left, "time to decide on our resolutions. Who wants to go first?"

"As I remember, Tom, I went first last time and lived to regret it," smiled a tall grey-haired gentleman, whose function in life it had been to see the problems in other people's heads, if they had problems or not, "No, I think that George here ought to try first."

"Now wait a minute, Joe," said the referred-to custodian of others’ savings, "I'm not making a fool of myself first. What about Jeff?"

The quiet and youngest one of the group, a delver into mysteries and situations that most considered ridiculous and unnecessary. He was, perhaps, just a tad too introverted and always carried a somewhat troubled look on his face, as if the world might fly away if he didn't figure it out soon.

"Well," he began, "I hadn't really..."

A light pounding on the door interrupted his anemic soliloquy.

"I'll get it," said Tom as he went over to the door.

As he opened the oaken door, he saw without it a young golden-haired lady of obvious beauty both within and without. Though it snowed, she seemed ignorant of the climate, looking like she'd just walked out of a summer day in her frail gown.

"May I come in sir?" she smiled pleasantly.

Tom caught himself from staring and motioned her in towards the rest.

"Gentlemen, we have a visitor," as they walked in.

They turned and looked at her in her simple white dress, not showing even a small chill from the cold outside. Various looks of surprise and approval ringed the room.

"Well, I know of at least one resolution I'm not going to make," Joe smiled and lifted a glass in her direction.

"And where did this lovely young nymph wander in from?" George added.

"I seem to be without transportation at the moment, and was wondering if I could ride out the New Year with you," the lady asked.

"Madame," Tom bowed sweepingly, “we would deem it a tribute to our gathering for such a rare feminine presence."

"I thank you very much, oh kind sirs," she smiled back.

"Jeff here was just about to start us out with a resolution," pointed George.

"Well, I don't..."

"Tell you what; I have a resolution," interrupted Joe as he lifted his refilled glass, "never to ignore the desires of pretty young ladies go unattended." He downed his glass.

"Here, here," echoed the rest, Jeff though still looking a little worried.

"A lovely resolution," she replied, a slight smile crossing her lips., "one which I will not say nay to but one which gentlemen of quality could well come to regret."

"A fate which we all take with pleasure," laughed Tom.

"I was wondering," began Jeff somewhat timidly, as he then cleared his throat before proceeding, "you don't seem affected by the cold outside."

"That's because I'm inside now," she gave a lilting laugh that caused the others to join in, "besides, I've always been close to nature."

"Yes, but..."

"Come now, Jeff, now's not the time to concern ourselves with professional curiosity," smiled Joe, "but with the upcoming year." He began sipping again from his drink. "Come, who's next with a resolution?"

George went over to a plush chair, sat down with a heave, and began.

"I have one; in remembrance of all those defaulted loans I get stuck with, and all those insolent housewives wanting some extra cash for their own luxury and crying at my making a little money off of it, I hereby resolve to not be so giving in the future," then he downed the entirety of his drink.

"George! That's a cruel thing to say; especially in front of a lady!" reprimanded Tom.

"Well, it's true," George replied. "And besides, no one ever takes these things seriously anyhow."

"There are those that do," the lady spoke up, "and others that look down upon those that don't. Even a bad resolution, such as yours, can be a reflection into one's soul, and its fulfillment or not, a confirmation."

"Well out, m'lady," toasted Joe. "But what might be your own resolution?"

She walked over to the decanter, as if in serious thought, poured herself a glass of bourbon, sipped it once, and then turned to face them.

"On this matter, I need the help of you gentlemen. You see, I am one who takes resolutions quite seriously, and frowns upon those that don't; so, I have to decide quite carefully."

"A commendable attitude," said Jeff somewhat timidly.

She smiled at him and continued, "You see, I have a house of which I am quite proud of and show great care for. But, I also have staying with me some friends that badly abuse my house. They keep it dirty, they're always fighting amongst one another and wrecking things, they're always loosing and destroying my prize possessions, and they're quite a nuisance."

"Why do you not talk to them and straighten them out," suggested Joe.

"Or better yet, sue them for damages and then kick them out," put in George.

"That would be quite cruel," said Jeff quietly.

"That's just it," she continued, "I also love them very much. I've seen to their deeds for a long time now, and care for them aplenty, but they're never grateful and seem to almost disdain my presence."

"Are these your children?" asked Tom.

"In a manner of speaking, yes."

Tom took a drink and then said, "There comes a time, in the life of all offspring, when they must learn to fend for themselves, or it will be very bad for both parents and offspring."

"I think I see your point, harsh as it is," she said, lowering her head.

The snow flurry outside began to pick up into a harsher storm.

"I would like, though," she added, looking up again, "to take a final vote from amongst you and then let that decide it. You do seem, after all, like a reasonable selection of opinions," she smiled.

Joe took another sip from his drink and said, "I think, hard as it is, that you must let go and see them off."

The storm outside picked up into a blizzard.

Tom spoke up next.

"Well, in matters of the mind and psychology I defer to Joe here; send them out. Jeff, what about you?"

Jeff, who'd been looking more thoughtful than usual, and seemingly concerned about something, paced once or twice before giving response.

"I think," he began slowly and softly, "that you should give them another chance."

"Oh, come now," responded Tom, "surely she's put up with enough, don't you? Having all of her possessions wrecked or threatened; come on now, Jeff."

"But with one more chance and a bit of added patience and–"

"Oh I think that you're just thinking like a whimp again," spat out George, "I say, boot them out right quick before they do much more harm."

"But–" Jeff looked almost pleadingly.

"I'm afraid, my introspective companion, that you've been out voted," pointed out Joe.

The storm began shaking the thick-plated windows.

"Storm's picking up a bit," began Tom "Well, be that as it may, you have our vote; it's out with the little beggars."

Jeff looked downcast.

"Thank-you, gentlemen," she sighed, "I think that I will have to take your advice."

A heavy window shattered open from the storm with a crash as the grandfather's clock sounded the new year.

"What the devil­–" George went towards the broken pane.

"I think my resolution's going to be to get some new storm windows," Tom chuckled.

"You never did give us your resolution, Jeff," put in Joe.

"Yes," she said, "I'd be quite interested."

"Well,” he began doubtfully, paused, and then looked up with the surety of conviction, "I resolve to help her set her house in order."

"Commendable," replied Tom, "smitten by the lady, I see."

"Are you sure you know what you're really getting into?" she asked, concern and hope mingled on her face.

"Yes, I think– I do," he finished with conviction.

"Why the sudden concern?" came back George from blocking the window. "You're taking this whole new year clap-trap stuff too seriously; it's just a game!"

"Oh, but gentlemen," She spoke up, "I fully expect you to keep all of your resolutions; as I will keep mine."

"I have no problems with mine," smiled Joe, sipping his drink again, "I'll gladly consent to a lady's will."

"I'm glad you think that way; it'll make things easier," she smiled.

A crack of thunder sounded outside that visibly shook the room's solid walls.

"What do you mean?' George narrowed his eyes.

"And I fully expect that you will keep your promise­– unfortunately," she looked down at him.

More thunder.

"That storm's really beginning to blow," said Joe, "maybe I'll warm myself up a bit more," as he went for yet another drink.

"It'll blow us all away soon enough," Jeff said to himself under his breath.

"And you seem to represent yet another segment of Mankind," she turned towards Joe, "with your drinking and false intuition into men's souls."

Joe looked aghast.

The storm worsened.

"And you, Tom, with your exterior courtesies, but yet then turn around and take financial advantage of others' medical miseries," her smile began to disappear.

The house shook as if with fury unleashed.

"Listen Miss," pointed Tom, "I don't know who you think you are but–"

"I do," put in Jeff timidly, half to himself.

"I am the force behind the wind," she intoned, "I am the rage of the storm, the force of an earthquake, and yet also the dew drops on a flower petal."

She looked straight at them now.

"I am Mother Nature!"

Her voice seemed to resound unto forever as another, rather deafening, thunderclap seemed to echo and punctuate her statement.

"What?!" gasped Joe.

"She's crazy," dismissed George.

A sudden gust of wind burst through another stiff window pane, its force sending George to his seat, but not so much as messing anyone else's hair.

"I've made my resolution," she said firmly, "so now I give you all a month to get off planet or out of your cities, as they won't be standing for too much longer."

"Now listen here-" approached Joe, but a windy fist lifted him up and sent him hurling across the room.

Tom, shock on his face, looked over at Jeff who was calmly observing everything.

"You knew," he started.

"I– suspected."

"The only one among you with any concern but, like throughout most of Mankind, unlistened to."

"But you can't–" Dismay crossed Tom's face.

"It's been decided."

The door blew open as she turned around to leave, then turned towards Jeff.

"Come. You have your own resolution to fulfill in helping me."

Jeff smiled shyly and then joined her.

"I wonder what resolutions that Father Time has made," she muttered as they both went outside, with the others staring on in varying degrees of shock, the door slamming behind them.

…Cities now are tumbling down into ruin, with Man roaming the wilds like the animals he's always mastered, as Nature takes back her own. But there is one shy, man with a lot of work to do in organizing the recovery, because of a resolution that he made. But he doesn't mind, and Mother Nature seems to have developed a fondness for him. Mankind, though, is now on his own, realizing for perhaps the truly first time what he'd really been depending on for his existence, but now on the steps outside of the house in the snow. All because of a New Year's resolution, for once truly kept.

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