Three

Two

One

A myriad of red party poppers is flooding the stage with the melody of Happy Days as background music. A camera from upwards is zooming on the presenter, crossing that rainfall of synthetic petals and filming the man while uncorking champagne bottles with the help of a crowd of fascinating young showgirls.

I am pretty sure that the New Year is not going to bring anything new to me, nothing at all. I am celebrating New Year’s Eve like every year: my cousin’s house with him and his classmates. Same couch, same supermarket-wine, same dirty crisps covering the floor.

Actually, last year we had no crisps. My cousin’s girlfriend was the one in charge to buy them, but in the end she was found at the cinema with a bodybuilder, and consequently we had to settle for discount nachos.

Some months ago she’s came back by the way. That’s better. I never liked discount nachos.

This is how I developed my final thesis: New Year’s Eve is just a formality after all. It’s only a way to enrich nachos’ lobbies and Italian television broadcasting the countdown. Who knows why everybody in Italy watches TV for the countdown.

In conclusion, New Year’s Eve is just a way to deceive yourself into thinking that the next year is going to be better than the previous one, and finally every year, after my cousin’s party, I find myself at my grandparents’ house eating the same lunch as last year. My new year is going to be exactly the same, apart from my shoes. That’s the only thing I am going to change, as my feet keep growing. By the way, I always buy trainers, as I feel comfortable with them.

After the toast, I went out in the garden for a while, to watch the stars as every year. They’re the same as as usual too. Always in the same corner of the sky, always the same path, every year. They’ve always been there, and they’re going to shine over there forever.

I need a glass of wine, but I can’t find it.

A girl on my left is drinking from my glass.

That’s strange.

I haven’t seen her last year.

Anyway, who cares about the glass.

She’s now coming close to me, speaking with a fluctuating voice (it seems it’s not my glass the only one she has stolen). Then she says: “I’m sorry, I’m afraid I have taken your glass. Are you Matteo? I know you! I know you! Oh, your cousin has told me so much about you!”.

I am embarrassed. My name is Mattia. Matteo is my cousin. Anyway, I answer: “ahahahah, ehm, I’ve never seen you before, in the last 18 years, I mean…”

She had silky black hair and her fair complexion was reflecting the light of the stars, like in a fairy tale. I was trying to impress her, but that day, as usual, I was wearing a Captain America t-shirt with the trainers. She turned to me, staring right into my eyes, and said:- “Do you like looking at the stars? I always do it at New Year’s Eve!”

“Really? Stars! Yes, me too, every year…”

Then she came closer and whispered in my ear:- “You know, half of those stars are already dead! You’re looking at the light they have emitted billions of years ago, but most of them don’t actually exist anymore now”.

“ Excuse me, if they are dead, how can they still shine?”

“ That’s because the lights they produced billions of years ago has spent all this time to reach us! We’re very lucky, me and you, you know? This light is a gift of the past, and we can enjoy it only now.”

I was struck. Not only that party was taking an unexpected turn, but also the stars had stopped shining as usual. Moreover I was feeling a strange responsibility on my back, a galactic responsibility. I was the only one in the universe who could see that special light in that exact moment.

2018 was already too special.

It must have been a strange astral curse. I was feeling uncomfortable: a part of me was re-born, or maybe even born, as it didn’t exist until that moment.

I realized how beautiful that girl was.

We spent the whole night staring at the stars: she was talking about black holes and galactic storms while I was gripped by an hormonal storm.

I thought of all my New Year’s Eves, all on the same couch, with the same people, drinking the same wine.

Then, like every year, I started my countdown:

Three

Two

One

When I grazed her hand, she didn’t move away, but took mine and held it tight.

In that moment, that rare light shined on her cheek again, and for the first time it also crossed a small tear of mine.

Drying my face on the t-shirt, I realized she wasn’t wearing high heels like other girls. She had trainers.

Yes. That year would have been different.

“What interests me is living and dying for what one loves.” (Albert Camus)

What I love is telling stories about beauty, about courage, about fear. I hope you can appreciate them and then write your own ones.

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