“10… 9… 8…” everyone in the crowded living room chanted. They clutched their champagne glasses in excitement and anticipation. On the television in front of them, the ball moved slowly down toward its final destination. The mass of bodies in Times Square raised their own glasses and flasks up towards the sky.
“7… 6… 5…” Lorelai and Adrienne glanced at each other and grinned. This was it. Their new start. In just a few more seconds, they would be strangers once more. They would fall in love once more. Their whirlwind romance could begin again, for the fifth time.
Each of their friends held their phones tightly to their chest. Over in the corner, May finished typing a last minute note on the NYE application. As everyone drank the special champagne reserved for ringing in the new year, their minds would be relieved of every major event that had occurred in the past year. Political, personal, and so on. Only the basics would remain: name, age, and the current year.
Technology would receive its annual purge as well. Everything on the internet, all major media, news stories, historical evidence, would be wiped. The whole world would get its chance to start over.
With some addendums. The NYE app was the only piece of technology authorized to store a limited amount of information that a person could carry with them into the new year. Relevant medical history, relationship details, addresses. On her app, Lorelai had stored her checking account information, health insurance, and the contact information for her family and closest friends. Along with one other note.
Say hello to Adrienne Miller. You will fall in love for the fifth time.
Lorelai continued to look at Adrienne, enjoying the last few seconds of her memories. She was overflowing with joy and love for this beautiful woman. This would be their fifth year being together. But the beauty of the wipe was that every passing year was a new honeymoon phase. They could always rediscover each other. Follow the chase. Feel the rush. Fall, hard, all over again.
“2… 1… HAPPY NEW YEAR!”
Adrienne kissed Lorelai before they both pulled apart, distancing themselves slightly in their crowd of friends. Everyone in the room raised their champagne glasses in a toast, then knocked the fizzy concoctions back.
Lorelai closed her eyes, wrinkling her nose as the bubbles worked their way down her throat. She waited for the feeling of elation to hit, for the soft white glow that followed, blocking out everything. All the pain. The disasters. Everything bad, gone. A fresh slate, to build upon.
But the feeling didn’t hit. Lorelai opened her eyes and looked around the room. Everyone else was staring at each other in confusion. Together, almost simultaneously, they turned toward the television.
The crowds in Time Square were performing a similar dance. Millions of confused turns and stares played out on the screen. After a moment, the event announcer’s voice came through the speakers. Something about drug failure. Company scandal. Faulty technology.
Lorelai’s friends began to murmur, the large crowd breaking into smaller segments to discuss the implications of this worldwide failure. From across the room, Adrienne’s gaze met Lorelai’s.
Adrienne smiled weakly.
Lorelai’s stomach sank.