The Perfect New Year: Part 2

By Isabelle Cruz
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Cari is walking halfway through the crosswalk across her apartment when she hears the bike jingle. She dodges the biker this time and helps them from their crash. She does a little victory dance the rest of the way back to her apartment.

“Hello, Cari,” Mr. Jacobsen greets at the elevator again. “Hello,” she replies.

“Do you mind helping me with my computer? My family is trying to video call me and I don’t have a clue on how to set it up.” He explains.

Last time she had rejected his request.
“Sure, Mr. Jacobsen, but is it alright if I eat my breakfast first?” she asks.

“Oh sure, I was just about to make breakfast for Lucy and I, you are welcome to join us,” he says.

Lucy was his cat. Mr. Jacobsen’s wife had passed away the previous year so it must’ve been lonely having an empty apartment.

“Oh, okay,” she answers.

They get off on his floor and she follows him into his apartment. Lucy is waiting at the door.

“Just give me a second,” he says scrambling to the kitchen.

The cat trails after him. Cari admires his pictures hanging on the wall. His wedding photo hung next to a picture of travels then his grandchildren.

“Do they ever visit you?” she asks him walking to the bar side of his kitchen.

“Oh, no, dear, it’s too expensive nowadays and I’m far too old to travel there anymore,” he explains.

“Where are you from?” She asks him.

“London,” he chuckles.

“Wow, that’s far,” Cari sighs sipping her coffee.

They continue their conversation as he made eggs and bacon. He refused help and served them breakfast.

“Where are you from?” he asks.

“San Francisco, but my parents immigrated from their home countries Philippines and mainland China.” she answers.

“Why aren’t you with them this holiday?” he asks.

“I’m always working and they understand that, but I saw them for Christmas,” she answers.

“You remind me of myself when I was your age,” he chuckles, “I felt on top of the world providing for my family. I felt like that was enough for me.”

“Are you okay?” she asks. He had a sad look on his face.

“Yes, dear, I just miss them,” he says.

“Let’s get this call in order so you can see them then?” she tries to cheer him up.

Cari cleans up their dishes before sitting on the couch next to him. He hands her a device like an iPad.

“Are they calling you on Skype? Facetime? What is it?” She asks him. He pulls out a flip phone and squints at the screen.

“They said to call from Google Hangout,” he says, “I have to go to Silicon Valley to call them?” She laughs at his confused demeanor.

“It’s a platform like Skype or WhatsApp where you can call or text people overseas, sir,” she laughs.

Cari looks at the phone and typed the address and then the screen rings the call. The screen changes to connecting and faces appear.

“Grandfather!” The smaller faces shriek.
“Poppy! Ralph!” Mr. Jacobsen says, a small tear falling from his face.

Cari sighs watching them conversate a couple minutes before gathering her stuff. She catches his eye and he mouths a ‘thank you’ as she leaves. Her heart warms as she leaves his apartment and heads back to her own.

She thinks about calling her mom since she didn’t get the chance to the other New Year’s Eve.

Cari jumps on the couch and turns the TV and heater on before video calling her mom. She answers on the second ring.

“Cari, how are you?” she greets.
“I’m good, how are you? I miss you guys,” Cari admits.
“The twins miss you,” her mom sighs.
They catch up on their lives before her mom has to help get ready. “You’ll visit soon?” she asks.
“I’ll try,” Cari says honestly for the first time in a long time.
“I love you, bye.” she says.

“I love you too,” Cari responds before ending the call and turning her attention to the TV. The message was the same, new year’s resolutions – life is short, every moment, every connection made matters.

Cari remembers she was invited to two parties, Ava’s and Jack’s. She really wasn’t in the mood to go out, but maybe she just needed to get out of the house.

***

Cari decided to spend her time out at a bar across town. The place was full, but not overwhelming with people.

“You come here alone?” a familiar voice asks. She turns to the voice not letting go of her glass. “Jack, hey,” she greets, “what are you doing here, I thought you had a thing?”

“I do, but I walked by and saw you in here so I thought I’d say hey.” He says. The dim light hides her blush. He could have kept walking.

“Hey,” she repeats, facepalming herself mentally for sounding so awkward. He looked more handsome in this setting.

“Hey,” he repeats, “my turn, what are you doing here?”

“I thought I’d pregame before going to a party,” she attempts to lie. He clearly saw through her facade and shook his head. He grabs her wrist, tugging her to get up.

“Put the glass down, the universe didn’t give you a second chance to have you drown yourself in scotch among a sea of strangers,” he says.

“Where are we going?” she asks leaving the glass at the bar. “You’ll see,” he says.
***
Cari and Jack arrive outside the cafe.

“You took me to the cafe, aren’t you tired of coffee?” she asks him, following him inside. They go behind the kitchen doors to a hidden stairwell.

“It’s not only a cafe,” he says, “we’re going to watch Bang! Perform at La Ritz, aka the underground speakeasy.”

“Why?” she asks still unconvinced, but impressed with the speakeasy.

“Because, I’m in the band,” he says with a wink and leaves her to step on stage with his bandmates.

“Hi, how’s everyone doing tonight? We’re Bang! And we hope you have a good time,” he says before hitting the first chords to a catchy song.

The bass thrums and Cari finds herself jumping with the crowd, getting carried with the music. Jack meets her eyes from the low stage. After about eight songs, Jack and his bandmates end their set and set up the stage for the next group.

“You were amazing,” Cari compliments, handing him a water, “I didn’t know you were in a band.”

“It’s our first gig if I’m being honest, we were offered this morning and we originally weren’t going to take it,” he says.

“What made you decide to perform today?” she asks.

“Actually you inspired that idea with the universe giving you signs to make a change, so I took that as my chance to make a leap,” he winks.

Cari is speechless. She’s lost in his gaze, feeling him lean closer.

“D-do you want to get out of here?” She asks him unable to face the next move. He nods dripping some sweat on her arm. Cari slaps his chest laughing.

***
Jack invites Cari inside his loft so he can get ready for the party, but she declines politely.

“I think I’ll meet you later, Ava might kill me for not making an appearance,” she states, trying to ignore his shirtless chest.

“If you say so, I’ll text you the address,” he says backing into his loft. She turns and waves shutting the door before leaving.

Cari dials Ava’s number.

“Sup, girl?” Ava answers.

“Can you text me the address?” Cari asks, immediately regretting it.

“YES! I thought you’d never show!” She responds and her phone dings.

“Thanks, Aves, see you then,” Cari says and ends the call. She takes a breath and looks at the address on my phone. Rooftop, of course.

***

The elevator stops at the roof floor. The music and flashy scene hits her the moment she steps out.

“Cari!” Ava hollers, tackling her into a hug.

“Hi, Ava,” Cari greets when she unlatches. Ava’s sway tells Cari she is already drunk.

“Thanks for coming, I’ve missed you, how have you been?,” she says guiding her to the bar. They take a shot together.

“I missed you too and I’ve been alright, just busy with work,” Cari answers, “do you hate me?” “God no, I could never, we are cool,” she says flailing her arms for emphasis.

“Speaking of cool, where’s Zara?” Cari asks with curiosity. The blonde and brunette were usually inseparable.

“We are taking a break,” she says ordering another shot. This takes Cari by surprise.

“Wait, slow down on the shots, what happened?” Cari asked caressing her arm.

“I asked her what we were and she totally freaked so we’ve been on a break since,” Ava shrugs.

“I’m sorry, Aves,” Cari says, “you know what they say about cuffing season in LA.”

This earns Cari a punch from her friend who smiles at the joke.

“Shut up, that is so not a thing,” Ava scoffs.

“Let’s cheer you up a bit with some drunk karaoke?” Cari suggests, pulling her friend away from the bar.

Several hours after drunk singing, crying, and selfies Ava gasps mid conversation. “Your first New Year’s kiss! You don’t have anyone to kiss!” She exclaims. “Neither do you,” Cari retorts, but her mind wanders to Jack.
“Wait, what about that hot barista, what’s his name John?” Ava suggests.

“His name is Jack and he actually invited me to his party too…I kind of said I’d show this time,” Cari says in broken sentences. Ava’s squeals at the mention of the barista’s name.

“This time?” Ava questions with a smirk, “what are you waiting for go for it!” She shoves her friend slightly.

“You really think so?” Cari asks, feeling her face heat up again. It was 11:30 now. Would she make it?

“Yes, now go! I’ll be fine, it was really nice to see you tonight,” Ava says. With this Cari hugs her friend and races to the elevator.

***

People were gathered at the edge of the roof when Cari arrives at Jack’s loft. She runs inside the building and clicks on the up button frantically. The elevator opens to a mass of people exiting.

“You have got to be kidding me,” Cari murmurs. She searches the area for stairs and starts running up the stairwell. It was on the fifth floor Cari realized she couldn’t run 10 floors. She slows her pace and tries to jog the rest of the way. It was 11:50.

Cari takes a deep breath and makes it the rest of the way. As she is nearing the last floor she hears the cheering countdown of five, four, three… Then fireworks. She closes her eyes, bracing herself but she doesn’t wake up in bed. She’s still here, but then, there was Jack.

Cari’s heart drops.

She stops at the last step people cheer and kiss. Where was Jack? She walks the small space shoving a few people, but there was no sign of him. She checks her phone. No messages.

She gives up her search and decides to just go home. Cari walks to the stairs and sees someone walking down the stairs.

“Excuse me,” she says impatient with their pace. The person turns. Jack. “Cari,” he says with his eyes wide.
“Jack,” she says.

Before he can say anything she steps forward pulling him by his shirt into a deep kiss. He puts his arms around her waist pulling her closer. When they both pull back, Cari chuckles softly.

“Happy New Year, Jack,” she says.

“Happy New Year,” he says.

“I swear to God if today resets again, I’ll jump off this rooftop,” Cari says.

Jack guides them up the stairs back to the chaotic scene.

“Why’s that?” He asks.

“I’ve never felt more alive in my life, this do over helped me realize that,” Cari says squeezing Jacks hand.

Cari wanted to end the year with a bang. This was not quite what she had in mind.

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