new year’s eve. a house carved into a hill, yard littered with beer cans. not a “party” but a “get together.” we arrive late, after spilled drinks, ashtrays too. soot on every surface. in the living room, twenty people sit or stand or lean their heads against the wall. as far as furniture, nothing but bodies breathing. i slip my coat off—scarf, sweater, undershirt. still i sweat. m. & i touch each other through a layer of condensation. the introductions begin—hi hello, this is, no, this is. where are you from? have you lived here long? the owners of the house—two couples—are of some vague age i can’t place. late thirties, early forties. details are shared, though, i’m having trouble hearing. the girl in the kitchen—yes, that girl—snapped her heel in half, lays up turned on the floor. although she’s had enough—the only single girl in miles—she is offered yet another. we raise our hands, tilt our heads. present are two boys from work & one guy i recognize from that snowy night at whitney’s house. i remember him at all: goddman kind smile, voice like closed eyelids. later when he sees the girl—teetering now in bare feet—he pulls her into a hug & asks do you want to step outside for a cigarette? watching from her perch on the kitchen counter, whitney says do they know each other? i mean, have they met before? one of the hosts shrugs not that i’m aware of.
as midnight approaches, the stragglers filter into the living room. whoever cannot sit, stands shoulder to shoulder. the drunk red-head kicks the edge of the couch then knocks over the ottoman. whitney seals the seam of her joint. where’s the lighter. the countdown begins. we all kiss. on the porch, the girl is throwing up over the banister; behind her, the guy sits, hands wrapped round her hips.
we drive home very slow.