Wednesday, 6 January 2010

New Years Resolutions - A short story for you...

Clare bit her pencil and she read back her list of New Years Resolutions. The usual suspects appeared, as expected, year after year, flowing unprovoked from her pencil tip and of course year after year, here she was, writing the same list again.

She broke off to get herself a cuppa and stood staring out of the kitchen window. On this clear Saturday morning there was a slight mist and a glaze of frost on the grass, transforming the garden into a sparkly winter wonderland. Of course the garden was on the list again, ‘keep garden tidy’ was up there with ‘buy a composter’. Like it was every year, no surprise there then.

Likewise, ‘eat less biscuits’, ‘keep on top of housework’, ‘stop biting nails’, ‘do more arty things with the kids’. The latter had actually made a valiant attempt at sticking power, the potato prints and homemade cards lasting well into March but even that had trailed off into leaving them to it with the posterpaints, albeit with a brief foray into toilet tube rockets in October.

Clare sighed. This was not going very well, at this rate she would talk herself out of writing them entirely and that was surely not the point. People make new years resolutions all the time, well once a year anyway and the tradition apparently continues so there must be something in it.
Also where would the stop smoking and the weightloss clubs be without the annual resolutions she mused, mentally adding another one to her own list, with a little dotty line leading from ‘eat less biscuits’.

Chewing a nail thoughtfully, Clare sat back at the table, picking up her pencil once again and wrote carefully in the squashed space between ‘New Years Resolutions’ and ‘stop biting nails’; ‘keep New Years Resolutions’, and sat back, staring at the line.

Now, she thought, I have overstepped the line. I have well and truly set myself up for failure and there’s not a chance of lasting past February with any of them, nevermind flying to the moon on a cardboard rocket in October. She added ‘try to’ at the beginning of the sentence and stared at it again. Yes, that seemed a little more forgiving.

She sat for a while longer looking at the list, then in an attempt to clear her head, got up from the table and got started on the housework, starting in the lounge where there was a carpet of building bricks and pony figurines, intermingled with a couple of empty breakfast bowls, abandoned as the culprits raced out the door with Clares sister who had promised them Ice skating this morning and Clare had been too pleased to get a couple of hours to herself to bother insisting they tidy the place before they left.

Taking the bowls back into the kitchen, she picked up the debris of Daves breakfast from the dining room, again, abandoned as he too rushed out the door to an emergency gas leak job. Almost too late, she avoided stumbling over his trainers in the middle of the floor, then scooped up a towel from the chairr, noting the dust bunnies hovering at the side of the bookshelves on the laminate flooring.

She put the dishes in the sink, returned to her list and wrote ‘get family to agree to tidy up rota’ and immediately scrubbed it out, laughing silently to herself and wrote on the next line ‘hire cleaner’. Allowing herself to laugh out loud to that one, she again put a line through it and wrote instead ‘photograph all flying pigs’, threw the pencil on the table and went off around the house collecting up the laundry, returning a few minutes later to the kitchen, separating it into piles with a martyred air.

The first load safely installed on its wash cycle, Clare once more sat down and looked at her page of Resolutions. She scored a line though the flying pigs comment and wrote on the next line ‘join pottery class’. Pleased with that one, she leant over to the biscuit barrel and scooped out a custard cream, and promptly dropped it again, guiltily glancing at the 2nd resolution regarding biscuits on the list.

She reached for another piece of paper and wrote ‘Shopping List’ at the top and the first item was ‘low fat biscuits’. Returning to the resolutions page, she scrubbed out ‘biscuits’ and replaced it with ‘fatty foods’. She then added ‘download fat free family friendly recipes online’ and drew a line from it to the previously written ‘join weightloss club’.

After starting the shopping list with ‘low fat biscuits’ it seemed rude not to continue and once the list was more or less complete, Clare added a new line to the Resolutions page; ‘do online food shopping in order to limit impulse buying’. She then hurriedly added ‘spend less time on the computer’, wincing as she remembered playing Solitaire for hours on end one evening while Dave was out on a job and the latest TV talent show had ended so there was nothing on the box to watch.

Looking up at the clock, she realized that the children would be home soon and the peace would be shattered, closely followed by Dave, the whirlwind who had passed his energy onto his offspring. Where has the time gone she thought, and added ‘be more organized - make more time’ to the list of resolutions, squeezing it in at the bottom, squashing it up so the word ‘time’ was hardly visible

She surveyed her handiwork, which now looked more like a spider diagram than a list. All these things vying for attention. Offshoots flying off in different directions, creating a chaotic image of a life needing resolutions to restore order. Glancing at the clock, she picked up a new sheet of paper, wrote one word on it then made a couple of phone calls and made lunch ready for when her family returned.

That evening, Clare sat in the lounge with Dave after putting two very tired children to bed; freshly made toilet-roll robot and rabbit in pride of place on the mantlepiece. Looking up from the footie on the telly, Dave said “few messages on the phone for you, Lovely Landscapes and Carols Cleaning Services, both confirming appointments for Monday and a weird one from Potty about Pots, saying they have space on Thursdays, hope that means more to you than me”, and promptly turned back to his match.

Reaching for a chocolate chip cookie, Clare thought of the new sheet of paper stuck on her fridge, one word in the middle of it, nearly three hours in the making really, replacing the spidery list, now crumpled in a ball in the waste paper basket. It’s what it all boils down to really. The only thing that is important, and her only New Years Resolution this year was to make it happen. TIME.

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