Oh, this is a favorite!
I used a prompt for this, from a blog called Write Anything, for their Fiction Friday activity: Take a favorite character you have created. Pick a New Year’s Resolution that they truly intended to keep. Now, why did they break it within 24 hours?
Because I started writing the first version of Ruth and Ian’s story in 2008, they were the characters I knew well at that time and the easiest to write. I also maybe relate to Ruth a little too much, and some parts of the premise in this piece were from real-life experiences with my previous team who kept on setting me up and teasing me to people. This was a very easy to write, and kinda jumpstarted other future pieces in this universe later on for Wordplay.
That said, this…won’t be in the book I’m planning for Ruth and Ian because their backstory changed when I wrote Fake It Till We Make It for You Could Be the One. So this is an AU now, right?
Also, haha, that comment about Melody being almost thirty – I wrote this when I was 22, okay, so 30 seems far, far away. 😂
Fun Fact: I like writing relaxed workspaces because actual work can be exhausting already, but also I was fortunate enough to spend a few years with great teams and work environments so they just translate into what I write. Also, their events company here is based on a small events group that some friends and I started when we were still organizing concerts. Fun times.
The moment I saw Ian approaching me on the first day back at work, a few hours after The List was posted on the board, I knew it was trouble. Not trouble trouble, but trouble meaning he’s got something on me, and he’s not going to let go until I give in somewhat.
“Hey Ruth,” he said once he reached my workstation. He sat at Sheila’s area and leaned over the divider casually, a grin on his face.
“Hey Ian,” I said, removing my headset to hear him properly. “To what do I owe this honor?” I was thankful my teammates were out to buy some food for the meeting later, because I don’t think the combination of them and Ian would help me at all. Why did I even make this resolution in the first place?
“Have you seen The List?” Ian asked. One of Lia’s big projects every year was to get all our resolutions and post them on the board for everyone to see. She posts it there for accountability, and she has a gift for everyone who manages to accomplish their resolutions for the year. Everyone makes a big fuss out of it at the start of the year, and only a few manage to fulfill their resolutions.
I nodded. “I have, as soon as Lia posted them. And frankly, your resolution? No coffee? How long will you last?”
“One day,” Ian said proudly. “And it’s not that I would swear off coffee. I’m just limiting myself to one cup a day, and not on weekends.”
“Yes,” Ian gave me a look, and I knew I should start getting ready. He perched over Sheila’s workstation and gave me a smile. “You, however, seem to have a very…interesting resolution.”
Oooh, I knew he’d bring it up. “Why do you say so? And why do you care?”
“Oh, I just thought it’s funny,” he said, brushing his hair away from his eyes. Annoyingly, I found that action of his a bit endearing, but he doesn’t have to know that. “Ruth Garcia resolves to go out on dates for the year. Interesting.”
I could feel my face heat up despite myself. “Why is it so interesting? Melody had the same resolution. In fact, hers was Get a boyfriend. Mine’s just go on dates.” I realized I may have sounded a bit defensive there, but the words were out of my mouth before I could stop it.
“Well, yeah but seeing that beside your name was more interesting,” Ian said, shrugging. “Besides, Melody is almost thirty.”
“And so? I’m not too far from Melody’s age.”
“Still,” Ian said. “It’s just so…different.”
“At least it’s a bigger resolution than yours,” I knew it was a cheap shot and I also knew Ian would not react to it, but I hate it when he starts spewing those things about me like he knows me that well. As usual, he just laughed.
I groaned. “I knew I should not have let Mitchie convince me to write that.” I really intended that to be my resolution, and Lia was even really encouraging about it, which fueled my confidence and somehow made me forget that, oh, everyone will be reading that in The List. My teammates have cracked their jokes already but their teasings were something I was used to already. Ian…was just different. “I’ve got half the mind to convince Lia to remove that and change the list. Maybe I should –” I reached for my phone but Ian’s hand beat me to it.
“Uh-uh. Once it’s on The List, it’s on The List. Remember?” He wagged a finger at me.
I pouted but moved back from my phone. Ian chuckled. “Aw, Ruth, just kidding. It’s not so bad.”
“Right. Whatever. I never even thought of how I can do it. I guess I’ll have to rely on Mitchie for that,” I said, then added under my breath. “Like that would make it easier.” I started clicking through some files in my computer, almost forgetting that Ian was sitting there and he heard every word.
“Come on, it’s the New Year, everything’s possible,” Ian said in a comforting tone. He pulled a chair and scoots closer to me. His sudden nearness felt a bit jarring but in the same way, it kind of felt…nice.
“Tell you what,” he said softly, reaching for a pen on my desk and started fiddling with it. “Let’s make it easier for you.”
“Huh? And how will I do that?”
He got this serious and tender look in his eyes, and to my surprise, he reached for my hand gently. He looked straight into my eyes and said in a low voice, “Will you go out with me, Ruth?”
I stared at him incredulously, and he looked back at me, still with the serious expression. I fought the urge to laugh for a while until I couldn’t keep it in anymore and I snorted. “Seriously now.” I pulled my hand away from him and reached for my mouse, shaking my head chuckling for a while.
Ian’s eyes widened, and for a moment I thought he was actually serious about what he just asked. But…Ian? Asking me out? On a date? Surely not.
“You’re kidding, right?” I asked, just to make sure.
We stared at each other for a while and then he finally laughed. “Yeah, just teasing. Anyway, I better go. Good luck, Ruth.” Ian said, standing up from his seat. He gave me another smile, returned the chair he was sitting on and started to walk away. I watched him, suddenly feeling alone and like I missed something big.
He really wasn’t serious about it, right?