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A New Year

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A New Year

By Simon Jimenez

The sand was still dry, and warm. May gathered the feet of her sundress up to her thighs and glided toward the sinking water. June had undone her red bikini, allowing her breasts to roast under the sun. June?s twin, July, mimicked her, but being more sensitive to the heat, stripped off her underwear as well.

August was walking back to the car, rubbing grains of sand from his coarse hair, muttering that the sun was about to set.

September through December were already in the car, blasting the AC until their skin prickled into a thousand goose eyes. September gazed out at the beach with longing, knowing if he were to step out into the sun, he would sunburn too easily. October played little games on his cell phone to pass the time. November propped a dusty old tome on his lap, his mind lost in a land of fantasy.

In the back of the car, where it was coldest, December was fast asleep.

Back home, January sat on the porch, sipping a mug of amber whiskey as her eldest daughters February, March, and April, tended to the garden. Being the more talented of the three, April directed her two sisters as she watered the lilacs. ?Gentle hands,? she would say, ?Flowers need you to be warm.? But no matter what she said, Feb and March were lost causes, and had to be happy with simply watching April work.

By now, the sun was beginning to fall. January leaned back in her rocking chair with a contented smile, as she knew that at this very moment, whether they were at the beach or at home with her, her children were okay. The finely aged woman set down her mug of whiskey and closed her eyes to the sound of girls? laughter. Her breathing slowed, and didn?t stop slowing.

She died as the embodiment of Tomorrow ought to die. With grace.

Not a moment after January?s heart gave its last beat did old man Time stop walking the halls of his garden maze. A thick wall of shrubbery blocked the way ahead. Time put his hands in his pockets, and did what he did best; he sat down and waited, and when Time waits, the world waits with him. All the people in the cities and fields stopped moving, as well as both gods old and new. Life was quiet as the Months of the year held a funeral for their mother.

It was a somber affair. February, now the oldest Month, led the funeral march across the blazing sands of the Sahara and through the brick canals New York City, to the White Land of Souls, and into the pocket universes that exist only in the mind?s eye. The march lasted for days, and not for one moment did the Months rest. Not until they arrived at the edge of the world.

The edge of the world is a dark lake from which everything springs, and to which everyone, at one point or another, must return. A boat waits at a lonely pier to take the dead back to the lake?s black embrace. August, the strongest of the eleven, carried January to this boat and laid her down as April wreathed her hair with lilacs. Each child kissed their mother goodbye in turn. No one said a word except for November, who read from an old scroll the words that needed to be said. The boat, unmoored, drifted off into the dark, and January was gone.

Now was the time of the Wake.

The Months returned home. As they marched back through the world?s eye and the souls of the living, they stretched out their arms and caught stray memories of the old January, memories of change, of regret, and of hope. Like a rolling ball of snow, the memories accumulated, interacting with each other, forming connections and knotted loops. The children continued to march, and I slowly began to take shape. A face, an arm, legs, ears, another arm, a heart, eyes.

When they arrived at the porch, where a half-full mug of amber whiskey still sat, I was a baby cradled in December?s arms. I suckled on his thumb as they congregated.

?She?s so small,? December whispered tiredly, surprised he was able to stay awake this long. He frowned. ?Do you think she?ll be like Mom??

?A little bit,? May said, being familiar with gradual transitions. ?But not quite.?

?She has her eyes,? June observed. July agreed, but added, ?Such pretty eyes.?

?Her disposition is different,? August grunted.

May rolled her eyes. ?Babies don?t have dispositions. They poop and cry.?

?Fine,? August relented, ?but something about her is different.?

?As it should be,? February said. There was an old look in her eyes. ?She?s the memory of the new year.?

December was startled when I began to cry. ?What do I do? What do I do?? he asked helplessly, to which April laughed and brought me to her arms. ?Treat her like a flower,? she said, humming softly. ?Gentle hands.? I settled down, and closed my eyes against her bright warmth. My mothers and fathers gathered around me. They smiled, and I was welcomed home as an old memory ought to be welcomed.

With love.

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Simon, I was more than enchanted. I was totally wrapped up in the imagery, the words, the feelings behind this work. Simon...you've married flash fiction with poetry. Absolutely WONDERFUL. I intend on showing this piece to friends.


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