Two minutes to New Years.
Has it really been that long? Can’t be. It certainly doesn’t feel like a year has passed since he was sitting in this same spot, on this same day, staring into the same night sky and waiting anxiously to see the same fireworks display. Where did the time go?
Out in the streets, that same thought passes through the mind of thousands of other Matoran, but their disorientation does nothing to compromise the spirit of zeal that clutches the city at this moment. From the factories of Ta-Metru extending all the way to the temples of Ga-Metru, the labour that is the signature of Metru Nui has ceased for this one fateful day.
For a single day, the tense solemnity that is the norm has relented to make room for hope and wonder. The streets are packed with people camping out, huddled in parks or by canals, sitting on lawn chairs with relatives and peering at the heavens through makeshift telescopes. Young couples are curled up in each other’s arms sitting on rooftops, cuddling to stave off the cool nip of evening. Even the stoics are present. Ko-Matoran scholars, hardened Po-Matoran alley workers and grim Onu-Matoran archivists have put aside their icy dispositions and allowed a timeless youth to infuse them, just for the day.
Amidst all this, he sits in the cradle of a Knowledge Tower thirty-six flights high, facing out the crystal wall in silent anticipation of the crack of midnight. Around him is a crowd of people. Strangers. Friends. Some are basically his family for how long he’s known them and how close they’ve gotten.
As far as his heartlight shines, he knows he would do anything for the Matoran around him at this moment. The close of the year always feels like a decree, as though in this moment this very group of people is a defining factor of his life. It’s the closure of an adventure that is wonderful in how mundane it is, but also the opening of yet a new chapter in their lives. Ending and rebirth. A time when magical things can happen.
Sixty seconds to New Years.
“Nobody’s judging midnight New Years,” said a friend to him some time ago. “It’s the last of the year you’re ever going to see again. Make it worthwhile. Do what your heartlight illuminates to you.”
He has never been good at doing what his heartlight has screened. It’s not that he’s aloof like a scholar, or so dedicated to his work that he cuts himself off like some forgers and sculptors he knows. He has a trait that is rather adolescent in nature, the trait of timidity, but he’d be hard pressed to name any soul who doesn’t have a streak of adolescence about them.
Because of his timidity, there are a lot of people he’d like to say a lot of things to but never could. Brothers he never thanks nearly enough for their unwavering support and friendship. Elders whose imparted wisdom is often taken for granted, but whose guidance is irreplaceable and had been truly crucial into guiding him into maturity. Petty rivals who are the products of grudges he’s never been strong enough to let go of, but secretly he wants to purge himself of the burden and simply close the feuds with a simple apology. Something he doesn’t think he would ever muster the courage to do. Most of all, there is a girl he’s been smitten by since the inception of his career but who he was always too scared to express his real feelings to.
He compensates. Though a smile could never express the gratitude and respect he holds for his friends, he passes them a smile and they do likewise. Though he couldn't comprehend how to pay his elders the credit they deserve, spending time with them over the course of the year was the one gift that was invaluable. Though he has rivals in the room, and out in the streets across the city metrus, they had called off their quarrelling and let an absence of words sever the tension between them, if only for the day.
These understandings are all mutual, however. The one thing he can't do to make it understood between the two of them, is send some subtle implication to the girl he loves to clarify how strongly he feels about her. She has no idea, and in order to tell her he would need to be outright. He has such trouble being an outright person.
Thirty seconds to New Years.
Why is he feeling like this? He has stability; there should be no wiggle room in his person for anxiety to exist. He has friends that care, rivals noble enough to step away in the spirit of cherishing, and elders that he is indebted to but who would never demand that debt. He has little to fret about, but he feels like he does. He feels like there is a needle in his heartlight and the resultant spasms of energy are paralysing him.
The truth is that beyond all logic, the chasm that unrequited love left inside him mutes out any other viable reason for being content. The truth is he wants to tell this Ga-Matoran how he really feels, above all things. The truth is he wants to kiss her from the last minute of the last hour all the way through to the first minute of the next, so that they would have an unforgettable close to the passing year and a breathtaking start to the coming one.
Fifteen seconds to New Years.
He glances sidelong at her. She is smiling. Inside his chest, something cranes itself to an angle it should never be at; it is an emotional pang at the idea that there is a smile on her mask and it’s completely unrelated to anything he could ever do. The idea that she offers her gaze to the stars, when he would be content for the rest of his life to stare affixed into those radiant eyes.
Ten seconds to New Years.
Nothing happens. A fusillade of soaring projectiles slice above the horizon and detonate in a spectacular showing of hues and brilliance, their explosions like cracks of lightning across the sky and the residual sparks etching out iridescent pictures in the heavens. They outshine the stars and transfix the entire city, a panorama of beauty and fire at the very second it turns New Years.
He forces himself to smile because he has everything he could possibly be happy for. But he starts the New Year with a hole still in his heart, because like the last, he is going to spend it harbouring an endless reserve of love for a girl who would never realise it – all because he couldn’t bring himself to say.
Ten seconds past New Years. The whoops and shouts of people resound not only from those in the room, but down in the streets, on the rooftops and balconies; all across the city, culminating in a jubilant crescendo that sails above the skyline, all the way into the heavens.
Happy New Year, BZPower. I know that this is just a very basic short and it could easily be more CoT than BIONICLE fiction if you extract the sparse terminology, but I honestly wrote it to be a BIONICLE story and intended it to capture the hopeful atmosphere of Metru Nui on a holiday like this. If you've read it, by now you've had to swallow the avalanche of romantic cheesiness that I hopelessly infuse into most of my stories. I hope though that it makes the short a little more relatable as it is supposed to be a personal reflection of the narrator, and who can’t appreciate a little sob-story romance now and then?
In any case, thank you for reading! And Happy New Year!