Déjà Vu | Patricia Carragon

It happens every New Year’s Eve. It’s always at the same restaurant. Twenty Cinderellas sit at tables set for two. Their thoughts move like minutes, anxious for love to strike before midnight.

Plates and wineglasses occupy their tables. Knives, forks, and spoons wrapped in napkins wait for action. On each plate, a box of “Happy Nude Year” condoms. In each vase, a single red rose to keep the women company. The scene is the same each year, except for fashion, aging, and newcomers. Only a few will toast the new year with a mate.

I’m one of these twenty women. Our faces are lined with screwed-up stories. I sit before my rose, observing the quiet desperation. My smile conceals my anxiety. I take out my compact and lubricate my lips. I see the same desperation on my face. The rose is in Prozac withdrawal.

My watch reads 11:35 p.m. Two of the newcomer women are leaving. Their 20-something smiles radiate. Their Prince Charmings did arrive before midnight, but how long will their lipgloss, condoms, and euphoria last?

My rose is in striptease mode. It will be January 1st in a few minutes. No one has entered the restaurant since those two women left.

I decide to leave. As I rise, the tablecloth slides. The plate, wineglass, and vase crash. The knife, fork, and spoon scatter. The condom box and napkin bathe in wine. My rose lies naked on the floor.

I exit the restaurant. At the sports bar next door, the ball drops on a flatscreen TV. I head for the subway and crowd in with the drunks. Leaning against the door, I zone out the noise. My thoughts tell me not to return. But that was last year’s resolution and the years’ before.

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