Chapter 25: New Year’s Resolution
Merry Christmas, Amarea called out. Amarea’s parents had decided to celebrate Christmas after they got back from the mountains. It was weeks after Christmas, but Amarea was happy to be celebrating it anyway.
Joey jumped. Same to you, he replied. Where are you?
In the car, Amarea replied, a couple blocks from your house.
Did you have a good Christmas? Joey asked.
I’m glad Christmas is over, Amarea admitted.
Really? Joey frowned.
All that expectation, Amarea said, all that greed.
Greed? Joey laughed. Who had a list five miles long?
I only had two things on my list, Amarea blushed.
And you got both things. In fact, you knew you got both things because you picked them out, so what expectations did you have? Joey asked.
That others would like their gifts, Amarea said softly.
Oh, Joey cringed, I guess that makes sense.
Did you? Amarea asked shyly.
Did I what? Joey tried to play dumb.
Like your gift? Amarea asked.
Joey was grateful Amarea couldn’t see him blush.
It was all right, he lied. It was more than all right, it was fantastic. He had no idea how Amarea had found such an amazing gift.
I’m glad you like it, Amarea smiled.
Thanks, he said meekly.
Amarea’s phone buzzed in her pocket. It was Joey.
“Hello?” she questioned.
“Um, Amarea,” Joey said.
Why are you calling me? Amarea asked.
“Tell her,” Mrs. Moore said in the background.
“Um,” he stammered, “I wanted to thank you for the card.”
“I’m glad you like it, Joseph,” Amarea replied.
“She really shouldn’t have gotten you something so expensive,” Mrs. Moore said.
It was nothing, Amarea blushed.
“No, it’s amazing,” Joey said. “Thank you. I don’t know where you got it, but thank you.”
“Tell Amarea I said hello,” Mrs. Moore said.
I heard, Amarea replied.
“My mom says hello,” Joey repeated anyway.
“Back at her,” Amarea replied.
“She says hello,” Joey said to his mom.
“Ask her if she wants to come over for dinner?” Mrs. Moore said.
I heard. I’d love to, she replied.
“Do you want to come over for dinner?” Joey repeated. Amarea laughed. “She’d love to,” he said.
“Great,” Mrs. Moore said, “Tell her we’ll pick her up at five.”
Sounds great; see you then, Amarea replied before Joey could repeat what his mother had said.
Joey ended the call. Amarea’s phone went dead. She put it in her pocket. It buzzed a second later. It was Joey.
“Hello?” she questioned.
“Um, Amarea,” Joey stammered. “I’m sorry I hung up on you. We’ll pick you up at five.”
Amarea laughed again, “Goodbye, Joseph.”
Amarea felt bad. She didn’t realize she had given Joey such a great gift. She thought it was a neat card, and he might like it. She found it inside the pages of a book she purchased from a yard sale for one dollar. So technically, the card was free. It looked old, yet was well preserved within the pages of the book.
Curious, Amarea went to the computer, when she got home, and typed the card into Google. She coughed and stared at the screen. The rare, or so the screen said, rookie card was worth over $200. Amarea gulped. She really did give Joey an awesome present. She knew Joey wasn’t into baseball, but his dad was. She had wrapped the card and given it to Joey’s mother, when she had come to visit her in the hospital. Mrs. Moore had stuffed it into the toe of Joey’s stocking.
When Joey removed the usual candy and socks from his stocking, he was surprised to find the small package in the toe. He unwrapped the gift and didn’t think much of it. Joey was reading the stats on the back of the card when his dad noticed the card. He snatched the card out of Joey’s hand.
“Wow,” Mr. Moore said, “Who’s this from?”
“Amarea,” Joey replied.
“That’s some girlfriend you have,” he said, gently holding the card.
“She’s not my girlfriend,” Joey replied, snatching back the card.
“Careful,” he said, “That rookie card is worth over $150.”
“No way!” Joey said astonished.
“Way!” he replied taking the card back. “I’ve got a case for this.” He got up and went to the cabinet where he kept his memorabilia. “Wow,” he repeated. “This card is in mint condition. She must really like you.”
“She’s just my friend,” Joey replied.
“Some friend,” he said, “make sure you thank her.”
“I will,” Joey said and quickly decided he wouldn’t make a big deal of it.
It wasn’t until the next day, after his mom and dad talked, he was instructed to call and thank Amarea for the gift. That was weeks ago. He had forgotten all about calling her. He had forgotten all about the card. His dad had been polishing the items in his cabinet when he asked Joey if he had thanked Amarea. When he admitted he had forgotten, his mom made him take is phone out and call her.
Amarea jumped when the horn honked. She grabbed her jacket, scarf, and hat and rushed to the car. She jumped in the backseat and rubbed her arms to chase away the chill.
“Merry Christmas,” Amarea said to Joey and his mom.
“Merry Christmas,” Mrs. Moore replied with a smile.
Joey was silent.
I didn’t get you anything, Joey said sheepishly.
For what? Amarea asked.
For Christmas, Joey replied.
You didn’t need to get me anything, Amarea smiled. She snuggled closer to Joey.
I should have, Joey stiffened and moved slightly away.
Why? Amarea pouted and moved closer to him.
Because you gave me such a great gift. Joey reached across her and grabbed her seatbelt. He securely fastened her in.
Did you like it? Amarea smiled, pleased to see that he actually liked the card.
It’s amazing, Joey said as he slid back to his side of the seat. You shouldn’t have gotten me such an expensive gift.
What did your dad say? Amarea asked.
He loved it, Joey replied, he put it in the cabinet with his signed baseballs.
Wow! He locked it up? Amarea said in amazement.
Yup, Joey replied sadly.
Cool! Amarea smiled.
I’m sorry, Joey said.
Why? Amarea was beaming.
I didn’t get you anything. Joey was looking at his feet.
I didn’t want anything. Amarea reached out and took his hand.
I’m sorry, Joey repeated, not willing to look up.
Don’t be, seriously it was nothing, she squeezed his hand.
It’s amazing, Joey replied.
Seriously, she stated, it was nothing.
Joey looked at her, confused. What do you mean?
I found the card in a book I bought at a garage sale, Amarea admitted. The book was only a dollar.
Joey laughed loudly.
Mrs. Moore turned and looked at him. He shrugged.
You’re the best, Joey leaned over and hugged Amarea. She blushed.
“Hey Mom,” Joey said.
“Yes,” she replied. She glanced at him through the rear view mirror.
“Can we stop at the dollar store?” he asked.
“I guess. Why?” she raised an eyebrow.
“I need to pick something up for Amarea,” he said. Amarea elbowed him in the ribs.
Ouch! Joey rubbed his ribs.
That’s not funny, Amarea blushed.
Only it was, and soon they were both laughing.
“Private joke,” Mrs. Moore questioned. Joey just laughed harder.
At the dollar store, Joey got Amarea a little Christmas tree pin. The pin had lights and played Jingle Bells. Amarea held her breath as Joey pinned it to her shirt.
“Thank you, Joseph,” Amarea blushed.
He reached out and took her hand. He held it the entire ride to his house.
Mrs. Moore had prepared an amazing dinner. Amarea sat back in the chair stuffed. “Great meal, Mrs. Moore,” she said.
“Glad you enjoyed it,” Mrs. Moore replied. “Why don’t you two go watch TV?”
“Ok,” Joey jumped from the table, took Amarea’s hand, and pulled her from the room.
Hey! Amarea protested.
If we stay any longer, Joey urged, we’ll have to help clean up.
Oh. Shouldn’t we help anyway? Amarea asked.
I think we should obey my mom and go watch TV, Joey replied.
Amarea laughed, “Silly boy,” she said. Amarea flopped down next to Joey.
The room was warm, her stomach was full. It didn’t take long for Amarea to fall asleep. She jumped when her head bobbed to the left.
“Come here,” Joey said, putting his arm around her. She snuggled into his chest and fell back asleep.
“Ahem,” Mr. Moore cleared his throat.
Joey and Amarea jerked awake. Joey stretched and yawned. Amarea blinked and rubbed her eyes. She noticed it was dark outside.
“What time is it?” she asked as she yawned.
“8:30,” Mr. Moore replied. “Your mom is here.”
Joey stood up, took Amarea’s hand, and pulled her off the couch. Amarea blushed.
“Thank you,” she said.
“You’re welcome,” Joey replied.
As the car pulled away, Amarea heard Mr. Moore say, “Not your girlfriend, huh?” Joey just shrugged and blushed.
“What’s your New Year’s Resolution?” Joey asked two days later as they were watching TV at Amarea’s house. A plate of macaroons sat uneaten on the table.
I don’t have one, Amarea replied.
You have to have one, Joey said.
Why? Amarea asked.
It’s what people do, Joey replied.
Why? She asked.
I don’t know, Joey shrugged. It’s tradition.
Whose tradition? Amarea asked.
Everyone’s, Joey smiled.
What’s your New Year’s Resolution? Amarea asked dryly.
To stop cussing, Joey stated proudly.
You don’t cuss. Amarea’s brow wrinkled.
Exactly, Joey beamed, so I’ll keep my resolution.
That’s stupid, Amarea frowned.
Why? Goals should be attainable, Joey grinned.
A resolution is to change something you don’t like about yourself, Amarea stated flatly.
So now you’re the expert on New Year’s Resolutions? Joey asked.
Shouldn’t you change something? Amarea asked.
What would you change? Joey jokingly asked.
To not have cancer, Amarea shot back.
Joey looked at Amarea. She stared back. Joey broke eye contact first. He cleared his throat, “I guess I need a better resolution.”
“I guess you do,” she replied simply.
They sat in silence, watching TV.
“I’ve got it,” Joey said.
To be a better friend. They both said it at the same time.
“Hey, how did you know?” Joey asked.
“That’s the only thing about you that needs to change,” she replied.
Am I that bad of a friend? Joey asked. He was clearly hurt by the declaration.
No, Amarea conceded, but you could be better.
How? Joey asked.
You could go get me a root beer and some popcorn, Amarea smiled.
Joey laughed, “Friend equals servant?”
Servant? No! Slave, yes! She grinned.
Joey laughed again, “Silly girl.” He got up and went into the kitchen.
Amarea laughed and called after him, “Don’t forget the ice!”