Joanie faces another lonely New Year’s Eve without her partner of almost thirty years. Lily, her one true love, has been gone for two years. Can she ever hope to find happiness when she blames herself for Lily’s absence and won’t let her go?


Well, well, I thought. My friend has finally gotten her ass over here. “Barb, it’s about time you showed up,” I said, realizing too late that I was wasting my breath since Barb had obviously stood me up. I blinked several times to clear the sticky remnants of sleep out of my eyes and focused on my surroundings.

A sense of calm washed over me, only to be followed by one of impending chaos. That’s when a cold front whooshed through the stale heated air, crackling as if fraught with electric charges. The laundry room adopted a surreal aura as though I had landed back in my dream, but I was awake. Wasn’t I? Brilliance obscured my vision for the briefest instant, less time than it takes to blink. And then she appeared. Lovelier than the last time I saw her on that fateful morning before I’d left for work. The ache in my heart returned full force.

Gone were the emptiest years of my life, for here she stood. Finally, my one true love had returned. Waves of golden, silky hair framed her pure as snow complexion, falling in tendrils to brush the shoulders of the royal blue satin gown that matched her eyes. Not trusting my vision, I roughly rubbed my eyes with my knuckles this time and opened them again, slowly, and focused on her delicate frame—she had always appeared fragile, but I knew she was like steel inside where it counted. I thought I’d burst. I was overcome with emotion. Immobilized, I didn’t dare breathe, fearful that one sudden move and she’d vanish again, this time forever. Yet I had such hope in my heart, unlimited want in my soul, and endless need everywhere else. I couldn’t summon a sound, but I had to touch her. I needed to feel her soft skin with my fingers and hear her sweet wisdom, for she knew me best. I missed her special cuddles and caresses and the way one look, without a peep, spoke volumes. I could be quite a cynic, but not my girl. She was pure through and through. I had loved teasing her optimism, testing her patience, and toying with her emotions. She would return the favor with unconditional love and torturous tickles.

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