Paul Shepherd’s wish for the New Year.
From Chapter 15, Maker of Footprints.
“The thought of food hadn’t crossed his mind since he had boarded the plane. Late in the night, his stomach reminded him that he was hungry. He made himself a cup of coffee and some toast from frozen bread. Restless, he paced round the kitchen and sitting room eating and drinking as he moved. When he had finished and left the dishes lying in the sink, he forced himself to sit down. His eyes caught on the clock on the side table. He got up again and put on his coat.
He didn’t want to sleep through the turn of this year. He wanted to know about its dawning, watch its birth. He wanted to catch it slipping into time, gathering him with it, pulling him on down the tunnel of days as if the journey had no end.
The bolt on the back door was stiff and cold to his fingers. Outside, he crouched on a stone at the edge of the untidy path and breathed in the air of his home place. The stars wheeled into the new year and, across the city, fireworks shot into the sky, bursting above his head in cascades of light. With a whoosh, several more scored the darkness – up, up, until his head was back and his neck ached with looking. Light splashed across the blackness, tossed above the rooftops and fell in a tracery of fire.
Transfixed, he watched the sparkles as they whirled and fell and dimmed and vanished. When all was done, the darkness hunched itself over him again, the cold breeze brushed his face, the black dart of a bat cut above the tiny rustle of unseen things.
He pushed himself to his feet and went back inside. The bedroom was strange without Dianne. There was no smell of her cream, no rhythm of her brush.
He didn’t believe in prayer so he closed his eyes tight and wished. He knew what he was going to do in the morning, and he knew who he wanted at his side.
He wished again and then he slept.”