Woman reading a book

‘New Year, Old You’: a short story by Candice Carty-Williams

This hilarious short story, which flips the ‘New Year, New You’ concept on its head, makes for perfect reading as we enter 2020.

‘Honey!’ A shrill, tired voice came from the other side of the sleeping girl’s bedroom door, accompanied with a loud and persistent knocking.

Honey stirred slowly in her bed, not sure if the calling of her name was part of her dream. The dream had been nice, she’d been lying on a beach somewhere drinking from a coconut.

‘Honey!’ Kadijah said, exasperated, walking through the door, propelled by impatience. ‘I can hear your alarm through the walls!’

‘I’m awake!’ Honey said, sitting up so quickly that she knocked three of her pillows off the bed. ‘I’m awake!’

‘You’re not getting off to a good start, are you?’ Kadijah snorted, reaching for her flatmate’s phone to turn off the alarm that buzzed and bleeped angrily at them both.

‘Good start to what?’ Honey asked, blinking as her eyes adjusted to the light. She’d come back from the New Year’s party and fallen asleep with the curtains open. And her clothes on, she realised as she looked down. And one shoe on. Though not strictly on; the strap that fastened at the ankle remained, while the rest of the shoe dangled from her foot.

‘Do you not remember listing all of your resolutions to me in the Uber home?’ Kadijah asked, sitting on the edge of the bed.

‘…no?’ said Honey, shaking her head, and her badly tied headscarf fell onto the remaining pillow behind her.

‘What a waste of my time that was.’ Kadijah sighed, standing up and going to leave the room. ‘Breakfast?’

‘I remember the resolutions though!’ Honey said, climbing out of bed. 

‘One. Go vegan.’ Honey said, buttering a piece of toast and taking a bite.

‘I thought that was two, after early starts?’

‘Mmm, do early starts count today? I don’t think they do?’ Honey frowned.

‘Okay. How’s veganism going, though?’ Kadijah asked, nodding at the drip of melted butter that slid down Honey’s hand.

‘Shit.’ Honey said, handing the piece of toast to Kadijah.

‘Alright. I’ll do better. Two was health…’

‘…three, you mean.’ Kadijah cut in. ‘You’ve already flopped two, babe.’

‘Alright, fine! Three, health. Going to the gym will be good for my… what are they called?’ Honey asked, waving her hand in the air as if summoning an answer from her flatmate.


‘Endorphins!’ Honey repeated. ‘The only thing is, I don’t have a sports bra, so.’

‘Okay, that’s fine, we’ll come back to a few of these resolutions in the… near future. What’s four?’ Kadijah asked patiently.

‘Be kinder to the neighbour.’ Honey recited. ‘Even though he always tells me that I should wear shorter skirts.’

‘Well, you don’t need to be nice to him, but maybe you could not swear at him this time?’ Kadijah suggested. ‘Go and take the bins out and ask if he had a nice new year.’

250 people form a human chain to help their local bookshop move its stock
New Year, New You: Candice Carty-Williams explores the futility of making too many resolutions.

A few minutes later, Honey returned to the kitchen.

‘Why’ve you got a face like thunder?’ Kadijah asked.

‘The neighbour told me I should drink more water if I wanted to lose the baby fat on my face, so I told him to fuck off.’

‘And why do you smell like smoke?’

‘Well I had to have a cigarette to calm down.’ Honey explained, flopping down onto a chair.

‘Wasn’t that resolution seven?’ Kadijah asked, flicking the kettle on.

Honey nodded silently.

‘What was five?’ Kadijah asked, putting teabags into mugs.

‘Call my grandparents more!’ Honey exclaimed, realising that this one was an easy win. ‘I’ll go and do that now.’

A couple of minutes later, she returned.

‘Did you speak to them?’ Kadijah asked, handing Honey a cup of tea.

‘It was engaged,’ Honey sighed, flopping into the chair again.

‘What was resolution six?’

‘Read more.’

‘Well look.’ Kadijah said, standing up. ‘That one is easy. Here, read this, I finished it yesterday and it’s so good. I think you’ll like it.’

She handed Honey a book and left the room. ‘I’m going for a swim.’

Some time later:

‘Unbelievable.’ Kadijah huffed.

‘No, no, I was reading it!’ Honey lied, opening the book to a random page and lifting it close to her face.

‘Honey you’ve got drool on your chin. How much of it did you get through before you fell asleep?’

‘Loads.’ Honey said wiping her chin.

‘Where did you get up to?’

‘Let’s not worry about that.’ Honey jumped up and opened the fridge. ‘What do you fancy for dinner? My eighth resolution is to cook more.’

‘Oh don’t worry, I remember.’ Kadijah smiled, widening her eyes. ‘What have we got?’

‘…it was my turn to do the shop, wasn’t it?’ Honey asked, looking in the mainly bare fridge. ‘Deliveroo?’

‘I’m going to have a shower, then I’ll throw something from the cupboard together. I think there’s some pasta left, and a rogue tin of tuna.’ Kadijah said.

‘Tomorrow!’ Honey exclaimed. ‘Tomorrow will be the day. You just watch. I’ll be like a whole new person. Trust me.’

‘There’s still time to start, it’s only four in the afternoon,’ Kadijah said, pointing at the clock.

‘No, I want to do this properly.’ Honey said, and was met with a hard stare from her flatmate.

‘Why don’t you try your grandparents again?’ Kadijah suggested.

‘Nah, can’t be bothered.’ Honey sighed. ‘They’ll just ask what my resolutions were.’ 

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams was one of 2019’s smash literary hits, and is available to buy in all good book stores now (Trapeze Books, £12.99). She wrote this short story exclusively for Stylist in January 2019.

Image: Getty


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