by Ian Rochford
Curiously, I don’t hate New Year’s Eve, despite everything, even though every year it’s the same. My son Christopher will ring shortly after midnight because he’s been drinking, he’s alone and he just wants to talk about how his life has taken a downturn and how he has no one to share his misery and his desperation. He’ll tell me how he can’t face University anymore, how he’s failing because some girl he loved has dumped him... all those things that seem to happen simultaneously when you’re at your lowest. At first my wife used to talk to him because she wanted so much to comfort him, to let him know he was loved and not alone, but after a couple of years she would let me take the call; then she would go to bed early to avoid it; then she just left, forever. The phone rings, just after midnight, when all the horns and shouts are fading away and I answer it as usual and I listen as Christopher talks. I don’t talk back, just listen as he talks, and I listen as his words fade into broken sobs, listening to him for hours, crying softly on the phone as I gaze at the urn containing his ashes and wonder if it’s time to join him on the other end of the line.
Ian Rochford, author of Minibar Blues, is an unemployed Australian screenwriter (ostensibly of comedy) who recently rediscovered the pleasures of writing short stories. He is now plundering his fading memory for all the good ideas that came and went unrecorded, which probably accounts for the maddening inconsistency of his output.