We are having dinner, New Year’s eve. It is the seventh anniversary of my marriage proposal to Dawn. Our last year in Alaska we went to a party at the train station in Anchorage where I played in the band, and Rose heard her first bag pipes, and there were fireworks over the ocean. But now, we have no plans. Or rather we do – sleeping. Up until an hour ago, we had forgotten that there were fireworks in Montpelier on New Years that can be seen a block from our house. We have an hour to get ready, but we don’t move and we know we won’t.
The children have been whining all day, Rose frequently bursting into tears and tantrums. Preschool has been out for a week and the strain is showing on all of us. It has been a fun week, but we are all at loose ends. Rose excuses herself from the dinner table early and disappears into her room to play. I take advantage of the moment to toast Dawn with the Reed’s Ginger Ale we are drinking, a treat she has lovingly purchased for the occasion.
“Thanks for marrying me,” I say.
“Thanks for asking me,” she replies. Her smile is genuine, if a bit wan.
“Here’s to a great New Year,” I continue, and we drink. The ginger ale is very strong and very fizzy. It tickles my sinuses, but I manage not to ruin the romantic moment with a sneeze or hiccup (though that would be my style).
Rose yells something from her room. We look down the hall, but we can’t make out what she is saying. It has a very whiny ring to it. She wants help for something.
Dawn looks back at me and conspiratorily whispers, “Let’s have another.”
I nearly gag and spit soda. “Another child! What, are you crazy? That would just about kill us.”
She laughs at me, amused at my naked fear. “No! I meant another year.”