New Year’s Eve Feast
On New Year’s Eve in 1997, my mom decided to give up the pool boy she hired to cut our grass every summer, even though he had a full time job in the city. In 2009 on January 31st, my neighbor gave up her marriage. On the same day in 2013, my sister quit smoking cigarettes behind the house when she came to visit.
Mom claimed it was impractical.
My neighbor cited domestic hatred.
My sister still smokes when she goes home, where my mom can’t smell it.
The cabinet full of my expired feelings is a daunting task, but New Year’s Eve is meant for daunting tasks. Starting in the front wouldn’t be easiest emotionally, but the plastic sleeve of bagels that held my feelings for Henry was resting so close to my fingers that it was easiest to snatch up.
Bagels are odd, because they don’t really seem to go stale until they’re rock hard. I dumped Henry over the phone, because he wasn’t in love with me anymore.
I put the last of it into the toaster. He was the first boy I ever spent the night with.
The bagels don't smell stale. Not sex, just sleeping.
There's no mold to be found on the crusts. It made my chest ache to watch him sleep, his mouth dropped open and defenses dropped down.
The bagels are hard when I tap them against the counter. I saw the stretch marks up his back, from growing too quickly from boy to man and back again.
It sounds like someone trying to carve stone when I tap the stale bread against the granite counter. We've been broken up now for longer than we were ever together.
If I hold the bite in my mouth, it softens with spit and almost tastes fresh. Sometimes he smiles at me, under hooded eyes across the room.
And I swallow.
When I was ten, my grandma quit collecting small glass figurines of Pinocchio. When I was twelve, my aunt poured all the alcohol in her house in the bathtub. When I was seventeen, my cousin stopped calling my grandpa.
Grandma probably didn’t mean to quit, she just couldn’t handle all the dust at the flea market.
My aunt plugged up the tub and tried to gulp the concoction of vodka and cheap wine until my uncle caught her.
My cousin only gets so many calls in rehab.
The ache I have for Amy is apocalypse-proof canned ravioli. There’s less prep with canned food and it all tastes relatively the same.
Ravioli has approximately a billion year shelf life. I have loved her since we were children.
But the seal is broken. When we said best friends I meant it.
The air started to seep in like enemy troops crawling under the castle through tunnels. I went months without seeing her when it wasn't convenient enough.
Just like that, the unspoiled begins to fester, oxygen and marinara colliding like jousters. When we go to different colleges I say “see you never.”
I didn’t notice the crack in the can. We both laugh.
When new groceries get put in the cabinet the ravioli gets pushed out of sight. When we see each other over Christmas we don't bring presents.
Spoiled ravioli smells like regular ravioli. Her mother looks surprised to see me and we all force our lips into tight smiles.
I put the food in the microwave for extra time because heat kills germs. When I leave we hug and I say “see you soon.”
I can't finish the ravioli so I put the leftovers in the fridge and pretend that I will eat them later. I don’t send the long text about how abandonment is still betrayal.
My babysitter quit wearing make-up for a year when she was seventeen. My mail carrier threw away her pair of Post Office issued shoes on her third year working there and replaced them with Sketchers. My principal stopped wearing a wig when we came back from break when I was in eighth grade.
My babysitter’s boyfriend broke up with her, but she found a new one.
My mail carrier got better posture.
My principal was ridiculed by the twelve year olds she lorded over, but she didn’t seem to give much of a shit about us anyway.
Years ago, I ate most of the abandoned flour Coach McCall left here, but there was a few cups left, the bag held closed by rubber bands that ached at the stretch of childhood praise.
I threw the flour into a batch of cookies here, a pie there, a loaf of bread occasionally. When he coached me in high school, for a fundraiser game, I thought I could stomach it.
I dug up the remaining flour, shook the jar. He told me I was his secret weapon, every play revolved around me.
Expired flour looks the same as regular flour. He was constantly checking in with his star.
The flour starting to look like sand in an hour glass. The game came and went.
The flour trickled from one side of the jar to the other as I shifted it. I floated again.
I tucked the last of the flour back in the cabinet after I made cookies. Kept his number, but deleted the message thread.
The flour made the cookies deflate. I stopped trying to be the childhood sports star.
This year one of my college friends decided not to use utensils. My roommate decided to communicate only through foot gestures. I decided to eat through the expired feelings in my kitchen.
My friend got kicked out of a few restaurants.
My roommate quickly decided sign language had made a good choice with hands.
I found that the past is hard to stomach and stayed in bed for the first few days of the New Year.
Haley Holden won second place the Reading Rainbow writing contest as an eight year old and has been trying to one-up the accomplishment ever since. On this quest she has been published in journals such as The Gateway Review, Linden Avenue Literary Journal, Palaver, and a handful of others. Haley is from Ashtabula, OH and loves nothing more than free steak.