Tim stood in front of the machine and gave the key components another check.
Tim turned to the hooker sat on his couch. She was naked from the waist up and smoking a post coital cigarette while watching him tinker with his project.
“Nothing to concern you,” he replied. Satisfied that everything was in order he left the machine alone and walked across to the large floor to ceiling window that took up the whole south end of his penthouse apartment.
“It looks like a hot tub,” she said. “You didn’t say you had a hot tub.”
“It isn’t a hot tub.”
“You seem bothered,” said the hooker. “Was our tumble not to your satisfaction?”
Tim chuckled to himself and caught her eye in the reflection. He wasn’t fond of her smoking inside the apartment, but there wasn’t much point telling her off. It really wasn’t important once he left everything behind. “You were a delight,” he said. “Satisfaction, on the other hand, well that is something in short supply as of late.”
“Oh honey, what’s her name?”
“The girl who broke your heart. You’re wearing it on your sleeve, bright as day.”
Tim chuckled, out loud this time. His mother always said he was rubbish at hiding his emotions. She said he should keep his sorry attempt at a poker face far from the bright lights and green tables of Vegas or he’d end up penniless.
“So, what did she do to you?”
“She didn’t do anything,” he replied. “It was my fault.”
“Did you cheat on her,” said the hooker. “Am I not your first lady of the night?”
He could see her smiling, heard the jest in her words. “I have never, and would never, betray her. She means a great deal to me. Things just got . . . complicated.”
“And there’s nothing you can do to uncomplicate them?”
“There is.” He glanced at the machine sat across the room. “But it’s . . . unconventional.”
“If it works then that’s all that counts, right?”
“My dear, you not only know all the right moves in the bedroom, you seem to know all the right words to make things make sense.”
“Good to hear. And I won’t charge you extra.”
Explosions and bright lights grabbed Tim’s attention and he looked back out at the world beyond his penthouse. Fireworks lit up the clear night sky. Another year over.
The hooker stubbed out her cigarette and joined him at the window. She rested her chin on his shoulder and wrapped her arms around his waist. The feeling was nice, he thought, but they were the wrong arms.
“Any new year’s resolutions?” she asked softly into his ear.
“Only to try and do it better this time.”
“I wish you all the best.” She kissed him on the check as the orchestra of rockets and gunpowder came to a close. “Unfortunately you’re only paid up until the stroke of midnight.” She headed back to the couch and grabbed what clothes weren’t currently covering her modesty. “I’ll tell you what, though, things don’t work out with this woman and you get sad again, you give us a call.”
“That’s sweet,” said Tim.
“What can I say, it’s nice to be with a man who likes it gentle, for once. You were a breath of fresh air. I’d offer you a discount too,” she said as she glanced around the penthouse apartment, “but I know some rich folk get offended by that kind of thing.”
Tim smiled and led the hooker towards the elevator. “You’re a nice woman. Maybe things don’t work out, I’ll whisk you away from this world and show you the wonders of the world.”
“Maybe see you later.”
Another kiss, a gentle hug, and then he was watching the elevator doors close. On the hooker, on the night, on the year that had passed once more.
“Not if I see you first,” Tim whispered.
He waited a little while before making his way around the apartment; lights off, curtains closed. He didn’t know why he carried out this ritual every time he used the machine. Once he left, none of his stuff would exist. But his mind had it that he was ‘going out’ so the routine just felt natural.
Once satisfied, he grabbed his coat, knowing that it was a cold night where he was going, and then settled into the machine. A dome closed over him. He set the date, the time, the location.
He was going back to that party, New Year on the balcony.
The woman. He couldn’t get her out of his mind. She had proven quiet the pursuit.
He knew where he’d gone wrong.
He pulled the lever. The machine whirred to life.
Back again. Back to relive the year over once more. He would keep trying until she noticed him, fell for him, loved him.She was worth it.