It was New Year’s Eve. She sat on the pier, watching the moonlight sparkle on the quiet lake. The thought of a glass of punch or hot cider crossed her mind, but the party lights and music were too irritating to brave for a single drink. It was much more peaceful outside, she thought, though it was a little lonely.
To pass the time, she began to fantasise. The lake was deep; perhaps she would hear the cries of a baby bird, fluttering in the water beneath her feet. A little cardinal drowning. She could rescue it, nurse it back to health, and name it Scarlet No’Haira. They would be friends.
But a bird couldn’t speak to her, couldn’t provide human interaction and love. Perhaps a handsome young man would appear beside her, also seeking refuge from the superficial banter and glamour of the ballroom. He would ask her permission to be her companion for the night, and the two of them could sit on the pier, passing the time, desiring nothing other than each other.
No. That would never happen to her. No one would ever want her, need her.
It was cold, and she shivered. Why hadn’t she brought a coat? For the first time, she realised that coming outside in her thin party dress was a bad idea. Now, the battle was between warmth and peace. Her solitude wasn’t entirely satisfying. But braving the party was…
“Mind if I share your space, love?”
It was an older woman, old enough to allow her hair tinged with gray to show, but young enough to sit on the pier and swing her legs.
“I love the moonlight,” said the woman. “And the lake. It’s almost magical, isn’t it?”
The older woman babbled, commenting on everything from the weather to her latest knitting pattern. Finally, she paused for breath, and her companion relaxed.
“D’you suppose they’ll have fireworks, love?” the older woman said, after a few minutes.
Her companion shrugged.
“I love fireworks. Derek and I always used to sit outside and watch the fireworks. Just the two of us and the night sky.” The woman sighed. “It’s been eight months since he passed away. I still miss him, you know?” The woman’s eyes lit up. “Love, I know this might be asking a bit too much, but would you mind terribly sitting here with me for the show? I wouldn’t want to watch them alone. I know you’re not Derek, but just having someone might help…”
Her companion smiled. Finally, she had found someone who wanted her.