ACT I, SCENE 2: “God rest ye merry”

    “Let Nothing Ye Dismay” – tells the story of a group of Millenial 20-somethings trying to celebrate Christmas together for the first time away from their parents, in a house down at the beach. Various adventures, romantic and otherwise ensue.

    Time: MONDAY EVENING

    Belinda had so often visualized this hour-long drive up to North Carolina. She and Paul would be in the car with Dan and his friend Carly. That would leave those goofballs Scoot and Jeremy free to crank up the Nas and the 50 Cent on the SUV’s sound system. (Belinda’s best friend, Steffi, ever profligate, was taking a limo from the airport later on that evening.)

    tothebeach

    Belinda yearned to chat with the cousin who’d been like a brother ever since the two of them had first romped in diapers on Ocean Isle Beach 25 years ago, the coddled first children of two intensely close sisters. The cousins had been each other’s pillar in the last rough year, trading tears and cynical jokes on their cells, filling the wall on the secret Facebook page they’d set up just for themselves, shooting each other supportive texts in the midst of workplace agita.

    But Belinda couldn’t leave Paul to drive by himself; so she slid into the seat next to him, calling to Dan, “Beat you to the beach.”

    She didn’t. Belinda ground her teeth as a taciturn Paul somehow managed to catch every red light on Route 17, the clogged gantlet of pancake houses, tourist traps, fried seafood buffets, tacky-neon swimwear stores, and overwrought miniature golf courses known, hilariously, as The Grand Strand.

    By the time the Camry pulled into the driveway of small white stones and inched onto the car park beneath the beach house, the others were already on the porch – hooting, high-fiving and waving down at them.

    arrival2

    Belinda had dreamed of seeing the boys react to their first glimpse of the sweet digs she’d found after so many Google searches, an ocean-view house so much plusher than the squat cottages for which her mother and Aunt Pat had settled all those summers past at Ocean Isle Beach..

    Upstairs, Scoot tossed a long arm around her shoulders: “Awesome, Beebs. You did an awesome job on the house.”

    Scoot’s vocabulary hinged on a few go-to phrases. This summer’s rotation included “Awesome,” “That’s random,” “That’s shady,” and his word of the year, “Wow,” a syllable he could imbue with shades of light and dark like a Dutch master.

    The hug felt good, a miracle in fact, coming from Scoot. But she’d still have preferred to see his eyes when he first spied the soaring ceiling of the upstairs living room.

    Paul was sweating as he unloaded bags from the elevator:
    “Jeez, it’s humid here. Didn’t anyone tell them it’s Christmas week?”

    “Our stuff goes in the master bedroom there,” Belinda replied. Her throat tingled. She sought, could not find, the silvery happiness she’d anticipated at this moment. Off, everything’s off. Ocean, I need ocean …

    She walked out to the covered porch, which stretched the width of the house. The Atlantic shimmered just on the other side of the street; a lucky gap in the beachfront housing (who let real estate that costly go unimproved?) meant their porch offered a clear view of the blue-green waves at dusk.

    nighttime

    Belinda plunked into a rocker, pulled her legs up, then shivered, despite the unseasonable heat. Ghosts. How often had Mom and Patty settled into rockers just like this, after the dishes were cleared, the kids absorbed in the Little Mermaid, or in later years, Super Mario. They’d share a wine spritzer, a furtive smoke and oceans of talk, deep into those nights of a million stars.

    Belinda thought of the last time she’d seen her aunt – her bossy, rambunctious aunt and mentor, so brilliant in kindness. She’d been imprisoned by tubes, unable to speak, eyes pleading release.

    “We’re here, Aunt Pat,” she said, hugging herself as she rocked and drank in the waves. “We’re here. Merry Christmas.”

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