The gray mist rolled across the marshes causing strange shapes to appear and disappear as if by magic. The scene was timeless and could have been from 10, 100 or a 1000 years ago. It was just the end of another year.

A small light pierced the gloom, and if you looked deep at it you could see it was coming from a small window in an equally small and isolated cottage.

In the distance a clock from the church in the small village struck nine.

People all over the world were celebrating or making ready to celebrate the New Year. Parties were being planned or taking place even now, be it on a national or a family scale. Where ever, everybody was set to enjoy this night.

That is everybody except me, if you looked into the window where the light shone, you would see me. I was there sitting at the table in the small cottage I had rented.

I had chosen it to get as far away from the celebrations as I could. I sipped my tea, nothing stronger tonight, for the same reason as renting the cottage. I wanted to be on my own, after all, what was there for me to celebrate?

My mind flicked back like a film on rewind, until as I flinched with the pain, it stopped and started to roll forward again. Then, in still photographs, scenes from the last year appeared. A family laughing, loudly, the face of a beautiful, smiling woman, and two small angels.

A tear ran down my cheek and mingled with the other on the tabletop. The tea turned from warm to cold and the pictures in my mind changed. The three women in my life waving to me as they set off on a trip to their friend's house. It was for a party, and my angels looked beautiful in their new party frocks. It was only ten miles away, a twenty-minute drive, not far at all.

After that, the pictures got confused, blurred. The knock at the door, the policeman and woman, telling me there had been an accident. The trip to the hospital, holding my wife's hand, and seeing the life drain from her eyes. Not being allowed to see what was left of my angels after the firemen got them from the wrecked car. That is, until I had to identify them later.

Another tear splashed until the table, they were really angels now. The funeral, vague faces, I could not remember anything, the photographs were so blurred, as was indeed, everything after that. The empty house, the empty life.

Days came and went Christmas was nearly the end of me. I twice almost joined my loved ones, but each time something stayed my hand from taking the tablets I had bought for just that purpose. I could not go through the same pain again, so I had found a place I could hide away, forget the New Year, forget life itself.

I sipped my tea, it was stone cold. The clock struck ten. I was brought out of my thoughts by a small knock on the door, at first I did not move, but the knock came again. I downed the last drops of the cold tea, and dragged myself to the door. At first I could see nobody. I looked down and a small face looked back up at me.

I must have looked very rough, very wild. For as I looked at the small child, for that is what she was, she stepped back, I thought she was going to run. She looked back at the gate, where I could see the shadowy figure of an adult.

The girl seemed to gain courage, and biting her lip, turned back to me, and pulling herself together, she started to repeat what she had obviously practiced.

"My mummy and I wondered, as you are all alone, would you join us to see in the New Year?"

She gasped at the end, and grinned an impish grin at the fact she had managed to get the words right. Her grin turned to a frown, as I did not answer, she looked back towards the gate. I could not answer, due to the lump in my throat and I did not see the figure coming down the path.

I looked up as a quiet voice said "Lynn and I would be happy if you shared the New Year with us. We are just down the road, and like you, we too are alone." The tear veil cleared from my eyes and I looked into a pair of hazel eyes, where I saw a look of pleading covering one of despair that I knew so well. I did not know what to say, until a small hand slipped into mine. I found myself soon being lead down the road by two strangers.

As the midnight hour came, I found a New Year, a new beginning. The door for the future lay before me and in the touch of a small hand and a pair of hazel eyes, my future and a new life was just beginning.

Barry Eva 2004