Today's Reading

NEW YEAR'S EVE 2019

The Night Jam was rammed. Pounding music pulsed through the club and the walls felt sticky with sweat, alcohol, and likely worse. Minnie held tightly to Greg's hand as they jostled through the crowd near the door.

"We're never going to get to the bar," Greg shouted back to her.

"What?" Minnie yelled back, her ears adjusting to the heavy bass.

"We won't be able to get a drink before midnight. I don't even know where Lucy's party is," said Greg.

He pointed upward, indicating they should try to push their way upstairs to the terrace on the mezzanine above. Minnie looked at her watch—it was ten to midnight. So far, this whole evening was only validating her hatred of New Year's Eve. Why hadn't she stayed at home and gone to bed early? Then she remembered that her heating had been cut off—she'd come out to keep warm. And Greg had been determined to go to his work friend's party; she would have felt like a bad girlfriend if she'd made him go alone.

Minnie let herself be dragged through the throng of pulsating bodies. Finally, they emerged from the crush, stepping out into the cool night air where the thumping bass from the club settled to a more manageable decibel.

"Watch it!" Greg said, pushing a drunk guy out of his way. Greg glared at the man, trying to make him notice he'd spilled his beer on someone, but the man was too far gone to care.

"I did warn you about spending New Year with me," said Minnie.

"Will you stop with this jinxed stuff?" said Greg, shaking his head.

"Honestly, it's a thing; bad things happen to me at New Year's. I wouldn't be surprised if this whole building went up in flames before the night's out. Or perhaps a very small asteroid lands right where I'm standing."

"I don't think we're having a terrible night because you're jinxed; I think we're having a terrible night because you dragged us to dinner at weird Alan's house on the other side of the galaxy. Now we're arriving at a party two seconds to midnight when everyone's high on moon juice and . . . come in, Star Command?" Greg lifted a finger to his ear, pausing to listen to an imaginary transmission. "Mission control says we're not even at the right party."

"Permission to abort the mission?" Minnie asked hopefully.

"Denied," said Greg.

Minnie and Greg had been dating for five months. They'd met at a march outside City Hall, protesting the lack of affordable housing in London. Greg was the journalist covering the story and Minnie was there supporting Mrs. Melvin, a lady she had been delivering food to since the early days of her business. Minnie and her friend Leila had made a sign for the march that read HOUSING IS A HUMAN RIGHT, but they'd used too much paint on the first H so it looked a bit like an M. On the march, Minnie, Leila, and Mrs. Melvin found themselves walking next to a group of people dressed as large cats wearing monocles and top hats. One wore a T-shirt that read SAY NO TO THE FAT CATS! Greg ran over to take a photo of Minnie's sign with
the fat cats in the foreground. He shook his head, laughing as he snapped away.

"Why are you laughing?" Minnie shouted crossly.

"Maybe the cats are so fat because of all the mousing?" Greg said, pointing to her sign. Leila looked and laughed. Minnie rolled her eyes.

"It doesn't say mousing," she said, hand firmly on her hip.

"It does look like it says mousing, Minnie," said Leila.

"Minnie Mouse, this photo will make a great front page," said Greg with a sly smile.

"You'd better not," said Minnie, trying not to laugh. She liked men who could make her laugh. She was instantly drawn to Greg's sarcastic manner and his angular features. He had a neatly trimmed brown beard and distinctive, dark-rimmed glasses. Once they started dating, Minnie discovered that it wasn't just for work that Greg liked to make up headlines—he enjoyed captioning everything she did. When Minnie tripped on a step he would say, "Stunner trips on stairs: Stairs seek legal advice; chances are they're going down!" Or when she took the last banana in his fruit bowl, he'd pipe up in an American drawl, "Fruit bowl homicide still unsolved: Did victim go bananas? Cross the lime? Or was it simply a case of sour grapes?" Puns were his thing. But Greg wasn't making any jokes this evening.
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