It was a constant mystery to Jeff, how, whenever he encountered Sarah, she was always like a mid-morning sun, even on the darkest days. Nobody, but  NOBODY, could be that upbeat and positive all the time! But somehow Sarah was. And he couldn’t figure why.

Jeff and Sarah went way back, all the way to elementary school. They even dated for a while between high school and college but broke off when Jeff headed west to Colorado and college. Sarah stayed close to home, married, then lost her husband in the Lockerbie tragedy.

Jeff, meanwhile, became a lawyer, moved back east, married as well and raised his family across town, but the old ‘hood kept tugging at him.  When his wife died of breast cancer, Jeff floundered in darkness, dealing with the loss.

Old friends invited him to a New Year’s Eve party but it took Jeff till the last minute to decide to go. Sarah was there, bright as the falling globe at Times Square, and they reconnected like magnets. They caught each other up about their lives and recalled their dating days. Sarah asked Jeff, “Are you still at war with the world?”

Jeff tilted his head, looked puzzled and said, “Is that how you remember me?”

“Well, yes. I wasn’t surprised to hear you had become a lawyer. Don’t you remember all our arguments?”

“Yeah, but they were fun for me. I kept trying to help you get real.”

Sarah’s turn to tilt her head. “Maybe we just live in different worlds, Jeff. I’m not at war with anyone. I learned a long time ago that the only wars worth fighting are within myself. You seem to take on the world while I treasure life’s gifts and accept its challenges. I feel I can’t get more real than that.”

Jeff locked onto Sarah’s eyes and was momentarily speechless. She was suddenly back in high school but the woman she had become did not diminish the sunlight within.

“Your world is brighter than mine, Sarah. Where do you go with your anger?”

“That’s one of the wars I won. When I lost Tom, I learned my anger solved nothing. So I put some not very pretty words to it and got rid of it. Tom’s death gave me that gift.”

Jeff’s eyes reddened. He looked away, then back again, saying softly, “Maybe I need to try that.”

From the other room they heard the loud countdown, “…seven…six…five…” and joined in. Then Jeff and Sarah’s New Year began with a hesitant hug and a very tentative kiss.