Lydia Rose Hecker | fiction | Five Seconds to New Year’s

Five Seconds to New Year's


“Cinnamon chai with almond milk for Tara!” the cute barista calls from behind the counter. In his hands is a steaming cup of delicious tea.

Normally, I’m more of an iced chai girl, but the heating in my car decided to break, so it’s a warm drink sort of day to make up for the freezing winds and slushy snow. 

Light brown eyes with unfairly long lashes watch me as I take the cup from his hands.

“Thanks!” I smile.

His nametag is written in cursive. Isaac.

My mittens are damp from melted snow, so I clutch the cup close to my chest. It smells beyond perfect, and I can barely restrain myself from chugging it before I even make it back to my car.

It isn’t until I sit down at my desk that I notice the note left on the side of the cup, slightly smudged but still legible.

I think you’re cute. Call me?

There’s even a small doodle of a cartoon figure of me and the cute barista holding cups. His phone number is scrawled beneath the drawing.


“Can you believe we’ve been together for five months?” Isaac asks me as we head to our reservation at the steak place I’ve been hinting at for the past week.

“I can’t believe I never realized you liked me,” I say. “You always volunteered to make my drinks when you were on shift. I must be dense.”

“I thought it was cute.” Isaac laughs. “Honestly, I was worried you just weren’t interested and were going to boycott the café after I wrote the note. You should have seen me pacing after you left.”

“Look at us now.” I lean against his side.

Isaac smiles down at me.

“Move in with me,” I say suddenly.


“Move in with me. There’s room in my apartment. And it’ll save us both rent money.”

“You would think about moving in together with financial terms, wouldn’t you?” He laughs.

“I’m an accountant. Of course, things like money will come up.” I pause. “But I would like us to live together for non-financial reasons.”

“Really? Such as…?”

“Shut up!” I lightly smack his arm.

“I love you, too, Tara.”


“Working late again?” Isaac asks me when I step into our apartment.

“Yeah. It’s tax season.” I shed off my coat and mittens. “Things always get busy this time of year.”

“You could have called,” he says.

“I figured it would be better if I just focused on my work. That way I could have a chance at getting home before midnight. Why do you care so much, anyway?”

“I was worried!” Isaac huffs. In a petulant whisper, he adds, “And I made dinner.”

“You’re making me feel bad on purpose,” I say. “It’ll be like this all of December and well into March if not April. That’s why I have to get ahead now.”

“It’s almost the holidays, Tara. Can’t we focus on family for a little bit?”

“If you really want to go to art school in the spring, then we have to focus on saving up now. Leaving work early isn’t conducive to that.”

Isaac shakes his head. “I’m going to bed. Enjoy your cold fettucine. I know it’s your favorite.”

He walks out so fast that there’s no way he heard me mumble, “Thanks.”

In the kitchen, I find a bowl of pasta covered in aluminum foil, though it did nothing to save the heat after hours of sitting out. I stick it in the microwave and wait. 

Light, cushioned footsteps come from behind me.

“I’m taking the couch tonight.” Isaac has his favorite quilt in his arms and the bunny slippers I bought him on his feet.


“Goodnight, Tara.”

“Night.” The microwave beeps.

When I get in our room, I see a box wrapped up on my pillow. Slowly, I open it and find a set of gorgeous earrings resting on a piece of paper. The note has a drawing of me and Isaac nearly identical to the one he first drew on my cup.

Happy One Year Anniversary!

“Shit,” I whisper.


“Hey, Martha.” I pull my boss aside by the coffee machine. “I’m going to need to head out early today. It’s New Year’s Eve, and my boyfriend and I have plans.”

“Is your work done?”

“I’ve been working since Boxing Day,” I tell her. “All the other accounting firms close for the last two weeks of the year. Besides, we both know staying late today won’t help us any more than getting it done three weeks from now.”

“Don’t give me that attitude,” Martha says. “It’s not my fault we got two new clients this month. Besides, when you signed your contract, you agreed to work holiday hours.”

“Not all of the holidays,” I say.

“Don’t be like that. You didn’t work Thanksgiving week. I don’t see why you need to leave early so badly.”

“I told you. I have plans for New Year’s.”

Martha sighs. “I can let you off at 6:30 instead of 8, but you’ll need to come in early first thing tomorrow—and don’t expect me to pick up your slack. If you really want to work your way up in the corporate world, you have to get used to making sacrifices.” 

Now I’ll have time to make dinner for Isaac before he gets off his shift at 8 tonight. Maybe I can even surprise him and pick him up from work, so he won’t have to take the metro.


“Freaking Martha with her bogus rules,” I growl with my hands clutched around my steering wheel. 

It’s not really her I’m mad at, though. I’m mad at myself. For the past three weeks, I’ve been trying to make it up to Isaac, but work keeps me shackled me at my desk. He hasn’t brought it up again, which only makes me feel worse.

My first stop is the grocery store to get a brownie kit and ingredients for Isaac’s favorite winter dish: turkey stew served on top of fresh biscuits.

With the food acquired, I head home.

Normally, the drive to my apartment is half an hour plus five-to-seven minutes of walking to my door. However, the streets are crowded with cars, pedestrians, and everything in-between. Drunken partygoers stumble in front of my car, and I slam on the brakes—and on the horn.

The ice and snow catch beneath my tires, but my car stops with an unfortunate screech.

When I press the accelerator, nothing happens.

“Not today,” I whisper.

I kick the accelerator, but my car doesn’t budge. Behind me, the other cars have begun to honk. Another, more violent, attempt at the accelerator causes the engine to sputter and die. 

I grab my phone.

Do tow trucks operate on New Year’s Eve?


I can hear dozens of TVs through the doors in my apartment building. All of them are counting down. My hands shake from the cold. Tow trucks do operate, but the rental cars were all booked. I fumble with my keys.


I knock on the door.

“Tara—” Isaac begins.


I smash our lips together.

Cheers erupt from the crowds on the streets and the live news feed on the televisions.

“I know I’m a little late, but I promised you I’d make it back in time for a New Year’s kiss.”

Beeper Peddle is a writer and healer living on the East Coast. She lives with her partner and their beloved soul puppy. Beeper writes about sorrows, lies, and deep loves. When you read her work, you will dip down into her heart and end up in all manner of body parts. Should you find yourself reflected in these words, it is merely coincidence; however, it does not surprise her you share the same heart. Find her at and @beeperpeddle on Twitter and Instagram

Lydia Rose Hecker (she/her) has always been interested in superheroes. Even though majoring in chemistry and working in a microbiology lab hasn’t granted her any powers yet, she hasn’t given up hope. For now, she’s making writing into her own superpower. She has always had her head in the clouds, so it’s surprising to see that she’s the shortest in her family. This is her first fiction piece to be published.