David had always had a problem with New Year’s resolutions. He invariably broke them. Like the time he resolved not to wash his hands every few minutes. Or not to tease his sister.
It was all very well for other people. Their lives were easier than his. They never had a mother or a sister like his to put up with. Why couldn’t he have had a father as well, like everyone else?
“David!” his mother exclaimed. “That’s the fifteenth time today you’ve washed your hands. It’s not necessary. As long as you wash them before each meal it’s amply sufficient.”
Why couldn’t she just say ‘enough’? Amply sufficient – who said that kind of thing? It didn’t help him. He knew that washing his hands all the time wasn’t regarded as right but he just couldn’t help it. He had to wash off the filth that stuck. He had to scrub his hands till they were raw and still it wasn’t enough.
As for his sister Karen, why had she been put on this earth? Just to annoy him. They couldn’t have been less alike. Could they possibly have had the same parents?
Never mind. Neither Mum nor Karen was there any more. And he no longer had the problem with washing his hands – or not very often, anyway.
He had another problem, though. One he knew he had to deal with. And from 2012 he had resolved that he wouldn’t do it anymore. The coming year was going to be different. But just one more time, he promised himself.
That New Year’s Eve promised to be freezing. It had snowed hard a few days before and it hadn’t yet melted. David put on his sheepskin coat, the one he always wore in the car. As a precaution, he put on his gloves as well. You could never be too sure.
Sliding on the path out to the garage, he fingered the hard object in his pocket. Then he felt safe.
He loved his garage. The smell of petrol was comforting – the most soothing smell he had ever known; even more soothing than Mum’s talc. On one side his tools were neatly arranged on the wall. Just one space was empty but that was okay. He knew exactly where everything went.
The Mercedes started first time as always, despite its 15 years. David grinned. He reversed out of the garage onto the narrow street and turned on the light. The engine purred as he cruised along the side streets.
“Need a taxi, love?” he asked, sliding down the window.
She was shivering, despite her long coat. She hesitated.
“Yeah, well, why not? Could you take me to the town centre? I’ll meet my friends there.”
“Course I can,” David said. “Hop in the front here. It’s warmer than in the back. Cold tonight, innit?”