The Clock Strikes Twelve  

by Michael Tuberdyke



It was New Year’s Eve and the snow fell gently to the ground outside of the second story dining hall windows of the old hotel that sat beside the lake. Everything was extraordinary in its refined freshness as each individual kept their eyes and their hearts to the thought of the new year on its way, and the joyful exuberance that radiated was one in which by just sheer sound and tone could only be matched by an athletic stadium after the win of a home town team’s game.

For young Daniel and young Christine their lips being pressed together was not any sort of new sensation, but a sensation of the past.

They both brought someone else along that night, but that someone else was not in the room. They were off in the large hotel with other company, and as Daniel and Christine both parted themselves away from one another he looked deep within her eyes and thought,

“She has a powerful stare. One that could melt the ice of the coldest heart in its darkest winter. And those lips—her lips, they breathe a warm fresh scent of life, and I— I am a fool.”

They both did what all couples do after a relationship ends. They wrote each other off and forgot each other and since the spring the two became nothing more than ghosts that lingered in the shadows of their thoughts. It took tonight of all nights to bring them back together and at first each seemed unfamiliar, but it did not take long until they found a spot tucked away in the back. They talked at first about the weather, and how hard it is to go out when it’s cold, because all people talk about when it’s cold is how cold they are. As tensions ceased they began to speak more personally while the same musical ensemble that played last year stuck up a familiar chord that formed a somber note.

“We can never tell anybody about this.”

Christine’s voice sounded as though it were breaking.

A smile edged along the corner of his lips.

“Who’s to tell?”

“I just, I mean, I know, but let’s not say anything. This will be the only time. In a few moments it will be midnight.”

“We’ll have to find who we came here with.”


A pause hovered between the two, while they looked about the room. Garland draped from one chandelier to the next and it moved like a wave that led their eyes around the great hall, before it stopped above the windows where outside the snow was falling.

“The first time we did that was here. Remember?”

“Yes. At the start of last year. I could not forget that.”

“Me either,” He sighed, “maybe that is why it happened again.”


“What’s wrong?”


“No. Something is wrong. What is it?”

“Why did it happen?”

“The kiss?”

“No, well, not just that. I mean, any of it.”

“Because it had too.”

They both grew tense then the feeling died away. They then sat there without saying anything as time became more apparent.

He wanted to ask why it had too, why they had it all for one split second before they let it go and he knew that if he kissed her again it would not be like the last. In fact, he believed it would be over doing it.

Daniel began to move himself away from her, which caused a dramatic look upon her face to form. She looked lost for half a second and that second stood out among all the rest.

“This could never work.”

“Let’s not tell anyone about this.”

“I thought that was established.”

“You’re right, why do you have to be right all the time?”

“One of us has to be.”

He flashed a smile before he moved away from her.

“Some dead are better left in their graves,” he thought walking away, before realizing again that he arrived with someone else.

His consciousness tore through him while he wandered around the banquet hall that felt empty despite how full it was. Christine had proved herself untrue in the spring, which left him alone. That thought ate away at him as time went by.

When the clock hit midnight and all the young lovers were wrapped within their new embrace, the young lady searched for Daniel. She passed Christine who held happily onto her new lover.

The young lady would never be able to find him. No one would. For he stood alone, a great distance from that hotel and with all the lights it looked as though the building was on fire.

He smiled.

“All great fires burn to a simple pile of ash.”


Michael Tuberdyke is the author of The Pharaohs and The River May Run. He lives in the Finger Lakes Region of New York and is working on his third novel.