« All is quiet on New Year’s Day
A world in white gets underway
I want to be with you
Be with you night and day
Nothing changes on New Year’s Day
…On New Year’s Day »
Danny was singing while he walked along the countryside road that led to the farmhouse of Alicia’s parents. In his earphones, Bono from U2 sang to him that “he would be with her again ♪”. He smiled and repeated the words softly. The picket fence encircling the property appeared against the ghostly winter sky; soon it would be snowing. He slid his hand on the wood of the fence and followed it until he came to an old rusty gate. On a branch above him, a crow let out a low croak, looking at him curiously. Danny turned off his music and hoisted himself over the gate. As if she was expecting him, Molly, the family’s sheepdog, trotted towards him and wagged her tail happily. Danny kneeled down and patted her back: “hello girl, take me to Alicia will you?”
This side of the property first gave access to a large barn. Danny recognised the voice of Alicia’s father coming out through its’ opened doors. He was cursing repeatedly about some metallic bit “that just wouldn’t bloody fit”. Danny kept quiet because he knew her father was very much against their relationship. He had thus made a habit of sneaking in and walking cautiously alongside the fence until he reached the back of the farmhouse. Molly accompanied him, as if showing him the way.
When he reached the other side of the property, he saw that the light was on in Alicia’s room. He knew she would be sitting at her desk, working on her computer as always. He was so impatient to be with her. He couldn’t wait.
He looked around but no one was there except Molly and the crow that seemed to have followed him. On this side of the farm, a tall ash tree grew alongside the rear wall, its higher branches going right up to Alicia’s window. He’d baptised it “Stairway to heaven” the first time he’d climbed it.
He grabbed the lowest branch and started to climb his way up. Below, Molly was now sitting down and looked up towards him as if following his ascent. The crow had flown into the tree and watched him intensely, letting out a sharp cry from time to time. Up above, the window of Alicia opened gently.
- “Danny? Is that you?”
- “Of course it’s me, who else would it be” he whispered, panting a little as he reached the higher branches.
One more effort and he would be at her level. From inside her bedroom, he could hear the voice of Jim Morrison singing “Riders on the Storm”. He was so excited to see her he almost slipped off the last branch. With a loud last crack, he plunged inside the open window, landing agilely on her bedroom carpet. Looking up at her, he giggled joyfully, throwing back his locks of curly hair as he did so. Alicia stood above him, looking at him blankly.
- “Well? Aren’t you going to help me up my love?” he teased.
- “You are here...again” she whispered, as if to herself.“I was so afraid you wouldn’t come…”
- “Are you insane Milady? I wouldn’t miss our rendez-vous for the world,” he answered in a fake pompous voice.
Alicia went to him at once. She slipped her arms tightly around his neck and covered his face with warm wet kisses.
- “Now if you don’t let me get up and close that window, your father might figure out that I’m here. Come on, get up!” he argued, more seriously.
Danny looked out quickly before he shut the window; Molly had left but the crow was still inside the tree. It let out one harsh cry then became silent again, watching him with a dark eye.
He turned towards Alicia and pulled her onto her bed. They started kissing passionately, barely able to keep up with their desire for each other. The room was dim lit and the wooden beams of the old farmhouse gave it a cosy and rustic feel. Alicia held him tightly and whispered “I missed you so much” over and over in his ear. Their embrace turned into a deep passionate kiss that sent them rolling to the floor at the very same moment the song playing on her computer came to an end. Danny turned towards it but Alicia held him back.
- “Hang on, I just want to put some U2 on. And get a smoke.”
- “Oh no, not already”she cried.
Ignoring her pleas, he got up and sat behind her computer, scrolling through the various songs on her playlist. The first notes of “With or without you” from U2 filled the room. He grabbed her tobacco from a plastic pouch on her desk and rolled himself a cigarette. As he lit it up, he turned to her with a mischievous smile.
- “I just realised I haven’t wished you a happy New Year yet!” he said.
- “There is no need for that, just come back near me.”
Still sitting on her chair, he took one long drag off the cigarette and continued, exhaling the smoke as he spoke.
- “I took a decision this morning. This is the last New Year’s Eve I spend without you. A man should be with his woman on special occasions, even if she’s home studying” he giggled.
Alicia sighed heavily. She got up and sat on the bed, grabbing an old teddy bear for comfort. He kept on.
- “You’ll never believe what happened last night. You know Mr Wolden’s sheep field?”
- “Yes” Alicia answered in a defeated voice.
- “Well we were coming back from Noah’s place. We were out of booze and wanted to throw some toilet paper on the townhouse; you know to decorate it for the New Year,” he laughed again.“We were on our way to Mike’s parents to get some more beers and get as much toilet paper rolls as possible.”
Tears were now filling Alicia’s eyes; Bono’s melancholic voice filled the room with the song “One”.
- “Please stop telling that story,” she pleaded.
But Danny seemed unaware of her or of his surroundings anymore. His stare was set on the wall in front of him and he kept on speaking, as if hypnotised.
- “Anyway, so Mike was driving. We were on our way to his parents’ house, trying to beat our own personal time record. You know we once did it in 8 minutes flat!”
He laughed again. Alicia was now standing next to him and was stroking his curly hair, slipping her long white fingers through every curl. She was sobbing silently but no matter what, Danny kept on.
- “You can drive forever in the countryside and not see another soul. But, at the turn of the road that runs alongside Mr Wolden’s field, we came face to face not with another car but with a whole flock of sheep!” Again he giggled. “We hadn’t heard them because the music was on too loud in the car. I think a part of Mr Wolden’s fence had broken down and the sheep were all out on the road. What a sight, it was surreal in the middle of the night!”
On the computer, the U2 song “New Year’s Day” started playing. Alicia turned her back to him. Behind her Danny started the last part of his story.
- “Mike was super quick on the brakes. He managed to stop the car. Not one sheep was touched. We were so lucky to be able to brake. I told Mike he was driving too fast, even for a deserted country road in the middle of the night. That turn in the road is so dangerous. Did you know there is a steep drop on the other side of it?”
- “Yes, I know now,” she answered softly.
- “Good thing we managed to brake I’ll tell you.”
The song came to an end. Alicia didn’t turn around immediately.
- “You didn’t. Mike didn’t manage to brake my love.”
She took a deep breath and turned around. The song had started playing again. It was always stuck on repeat this one. Danny was no longer there; he had simply vanished into thin air.
- “You didn’t manage to save yourselves my love,” she told the empty room.
She sang on with Bono. “I want to be with you night and day. Nothing changes on New Year’s day.”
“I hope I’ll see you again next year my love,” she thought to herself as she turned off the song.
« I will be with you again,
I will be with you again,
I will be with you again,
I will be with you again »