The Consequence Was...

Entry by: Alobear

29th December 2015
The old man sat by the glittering Christmas tree, snoring gently in his comfy armchair. His white hair sprouted outwards in untidy tufts, clean but unbrushed. His puffy face and corpulent stature spoke to seasonal over-indulgence, and the way the chair seemed to form around him suggested that he hadn't moved in some time. He wore soft pyjamas and an old but clearly very comfortable robe. His feet were encased in fluffy slippers, and his chin rested on his chest in slumber. In short, he was the very picture of ease.

The family of the house went about their business, paying the old man no mind. Mother bustled in the kitchen, parcelling up the leftovers to freeze for another day. Father watched the sport on TV, cheering on his favourite team. The two children poked and teased one another, bored now the first rush of enthusiasm for their Christmas presents was past. Life was back to normal after the festive excess of the last few days. Soon, another year would begin, and it would be back to the real life of work and school.

Some hours later, when the children were snug in bed, Mother and Father drank a glass of champagne at the appointed time, while the old man slept on in the corner. Finally, Mother gestured at him with a significant glance.

"Don't you think it's time to make the exchange?" she said.

Father sighed. "I suppose so."

He levered himself up out of his chair and approached the old man, somewhat reluctantly.

"Come on, you old duffer," he said, loudly. "Time to go!"

The old man gave a snort and a snuffle as he woke. He looked up at Father, bleary-eyed.

"What's that? Go?" His voice was plaintive. "But I like it here. It's warm and comfortable, and I can do just as I like."

"Your time's over now," Father said, sternly. "We need to make plans for the future."

He grabbed the old man's arm and hauled him up onto his feet. While Mother looked on, half regretful, half eager, Father marched the old man out of the room and up to the front door.

"Don't you like having me here?" the old man protested. "I don't make any demands on you. In fact, I encourage you to enjoy yourselves - eat, drink and be merry. That's my motto."

"True," Father admitted, "but we need to stop indulging ourselves now and start forming better habits again."

He steeled himself and opened the front door, letting in a blast of cold air. On the path outside stood a smiling young woman. She had perfect hair and perfect teeth, and the body displayed by her leggings and leotard was fit and trim.

She beamed at Father, bouncing enthusiastically up the steps to the threshold.

"About time you came to let me in," she said. She threw a disgusted glance at the old man, then turned her attention back to Father. "Ready to get started?"

Father pushed the old man unceremoniously out into the cold night. "Good riddance to you, 2015," he said, then gestured for the young woman to come in. "Welcome to the family, 2016. We've got big plans for you!"