Sunday, November 30, 2008

The 12 Hours of Christmas

The thouand plus decibel screams of excited siblings pierce her dream bubble. She opens her pretty eyes and prods at the sleep that is caught up in corners. Her fingers snag on clumps of mascara as fragments of last night's reunion creep through her brain. A feeling stirs in her gut - a good feeling. Pedro is back. And she is now back with Pedro. 

She closes her eyes again, and slips back beneath the cosy mantle of sleep to doze fitfully. The noise downstairs probes at her fantasies, and she jolts from sleep as a gaggle of giggly girls bounce on the end of her bed and scream...
"Get up, Annie -it's Christmas. Let's open our presents..."

Her face is now scrubbed clean from last night's kisses. She sits in her Target pyjamas, a gift from Pedro last year, just before they broke up. Her hair is dishevelled, blonde lengthy tufts that look naturally beautiful uncombed or untouched. She swims in a sea of torn print and scrunched balls of old wrapping and eventually wades her way from the wreckage of Christmas morning. Beside her, her mobile searches the airwaves. The phone is a present that came early on Christmas Eve so there is only his number recorded inside. She stares at the signal. The phone refuses to ring.

The wreckage of Christmas morning is over and the piles of personal possessions form a circle around the circle of gathering family and friends. Each comes to claim their pile with equal amounts of disappointment and joy. The good stuff sits on the top of the pile like the angel on top of the tree. The crap sinks to the bottom and hopefully seeps from the pile altogether. Still, the phone hasn't rung.

She has showered and changed - slipped into some of the gifts, trying them on for size.  Her bracelet from Prouds hugs her delicate wrist and her Nikes and snug and already a winner. She has pulled on a pair of old shorts and a white singlet top. She pulls the phone from her pocket as another wave of rellies arrive - car doors banging out front and more squealing as cousins unite. 

She waves away passing platters of food that her mother has slaved preparing for days.  She sips at a Coke that has gone warm and flat and wishes for ice and the shrill of a text message beep. She wanders inside and calls all her friends on the landline. They chat as she picks at the dribble of chocolate sauce that has dried down the front of her top. 
"He hasn't rung?...nope...not even a text?....nope...shit...he will, it's early...maybe..."

She runs upstairs and gets changed. Lunch is around the corner at Aunty's -like they haven't eaten enough already. The crowd merges and plates are crammed high with food. Laughter and popping of corks carry on for what seems like ages. She pigs out on pork and prawns and some ham, then downs a glass of champagne or three, all the while touching the phone that sits in the pocket.

She feels sick and drowsy and happy and sad and the champagne has knocked the living bejesus out of her delicate frame. She curls up on a lie low in the shade by the pool. She is a tiny whale with no beach.

There is nothing - just deep peaceful sleep where even the phone no longer matters.

She wakes and wipes the drool from her chin. Her head buzzes with the feeling you get from residual booze that still hovers about in your brain. She pulls the phone from her pocket. Nothing. Prick.

More cousins bombard. She fills her glass as a second wind fills her sails. She is so engrossed on the catch up she forgets all about what's his name.

She downs another and stares at the screen. She should text him. Maybe he's hurt or sick or possibly dead. Maybe... She thumbs in a message- short sweet and not too possessive. She bails and hits "save" and heads for the champers again. 

Its over for another year - and she stumbles after the family into the car. She winds down the window and hangs her head halfway out,  a mix of happy and sad.

Her head hits the pillow beside where the recently acquired personal pile of possessions has landed. She needs rest. Such a big empty kind of a day. Downstairs she can hear the neighbours arrive -more popping of corks. She wonders about her parents sometimes. She stares despondently at the wall, listening to the din of the crowd beneath her. Then it comes. Two high pitched beeps sing out in her room. She rolls on her side, takes a big breath and grabs her phone from the table beside her bed. She frantically thumbs her way into the great unknown.
"Whajya up 2?" it reads. 
She exhales a long boozy breath and then smiles, her thumb already responding.
It's Christmas at last...

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