Monday, December 26, 2011

REPLAY: PCC's Ghosts of Christmas Past

I covered my face with my pillow. It was well past one in the morning and those wenches on the top deck had finally had their fill over singing hiccup versions of “Deck the Mizzenmast” and “Silver Cannonballs”. Now all was quiet as they passed out in a drunken state of Christmas bliss. It was of no wonder to me why the pirates of the RWR were never taken seriously as writers.

Because they never got any writing done!


I got up, sat at my desk and stared at the cursor blinking back at me from a blank document. It was bad enough that those wenches kept me awake with their caterwauling, but I was still suffering from a mild case of missing word muse. Would this day never cease to end?

I tapped my fingers over the keys hoping for inspiration yet nothing came to me. I closed the screen down on my laptop and pushed it away. I needed a short nap to rest my eyes before I tackled ripping down all the festive decorations while the wenches slept. I meant it when I told them earlier I didn’t want to be reminded it was Christmas. The day was memory enough.

I closed my eyes and enjoyed the peace and quiet for a change. I dreamed everyone was quiet and concentrating, hunched over laptops and notebooks. No merrymaking or carousing or drunken lunacy. Just hard work and determination to get to the end. Peaceful dreams- I reached out for a blanket.

Except there was no blanket, only crumbled papers, an open marker that soaked into the palm of my hand and a laptop.

“Blast!” I muttered and let my head drop to the desk. The thunk echoed in the empty cabin and I groaned. Clearly a nap didn’t do me any good. When had anything good ever come to me?


I slowly straightened up in my chair, bones cracked and muscles screamed in agony. I stretched my arms over my head and noticed my window was wide open. The sliver of moonlight streamed onto the dark wood floor, the rustle of palm tree leaves lulled the rest of the pier to sleep. Everyone awaited a visit from Santa. But I knew he wasn’t coming. No such thing is Christmas cheer. The whole idea of Christmas was nothing but… ridiculous.

I stood up and hobbled over to my captain’s bed, both legs were asleep. I tossed and turned on the uncomfortable mattress. My mind whirled from my overactive imagination, images of a monster with three heads quoting lame sonnets and tittering nervously danced through my head.

No way was a Ghost coming to visit me tonight. What a bunch of crap.

I rolled over and punched my lumpy pillow back into shape. I couldn’t believe I was actually giving this any real thought. Ridiculous!


The hour ticked by. Then the next. I laid there in silence, waves lapped at the ship hull, seagulls bellowed in the distance. The moon was just a slice of light in the sky, stars twinkled faintly. It was dark. A perfect night for sleeping. Yet, sleep wouldn’t come to me.

I blame that blasted figment of my imagination earlier filling my head with thoughts of Ghosts.

Tick. Pause. Tick. Pause. Tick. Pause. Tick. Pause. Tick.

I rolled over onto my stomach and buried my face into my pillow. I should just get up. After all, sleep was just overrated. I needed to complete this first sex scene between my hero and heroine tonight so I could write in the big fight tomorrow to keep on my deadline. I thought about the scene in my head, figuring the position. Figuring the finesse, the moving of bodies…

Gunshots blasted in the distance.

One. Two. Three. Three in the morning I could believe. My eyes felt like sandpaper rubbing against cashmere.

“Damnit! Every night that flippin’ racket… A pirate ninja tart can’t concentrate with all that bloody noise!” Sin shouted from the Crow’s Nest. “Randy Andy, cut it out! No one cares what time it is!”

Four. Five. The sun would be up any minute.

“Shut your bleeping mouth you nagging wench!”

I heard growling and heavy swearing. Sin lost her temper- what a shocker. “I’m going to poison your rum you one armed worthless bag of seaweed!”

Six. Seven. Wait. Seven?

“Shut up the both of you!” Bo’Sun shouted. “I’m trying to get my beauty rest.”

Eight.  Nine. Okay this was just getting a little weird. Even for the ship.

“Eat it, Ter!” Sin yelled and something thumped onto the deck and hissed.

“Oh, hell,” Hal swore. “It’s the undead monkey!”

I could hear Sin laughing.

Chance shouted to the crew, “Someone get the baseball bat and rotten bananas!”

Chaos broke out and the monkey’s claws skittered along the deck as footsteps thundered around.

Ten. Eleven. I didn’t sleep Christmas away, did I? My luck wasn’t that good.

“Hold him! Hold him!” Marn shouted. “Holy Nikes! He’s trying to bite me! Help!”

“Don’t let him go!” Lisa screamed as nails scratched the top deck.


I let out a sigh of relief. I could deal with midnight. It would give me enough time to pass back out and sleep through the supposed haunting of the RWR in my honor.


All the noise on the top deck died. Dread weighted me down into my bed. I waited in silence for the noise to resume but minutes ticked by and nothing happened.

I groaned. This was a dream. All a dream. In the morning, I would chalk this up to Chance’s special spiced rum cider.

I rolled over and came face to face with a floating black hoodie.

I blinked once. Twice and the hoodie floated closer. I wasn’t sure quite how I landed on the wood planked floor, but it shocked my system enough to get me standing.

“Who the hell are you?” I couldn’t see its face. Only the cloak smoldered as though it were on fire. Darkness filled the inside, and hovered at the edge of my bed. “And what the hell are you doing in my quarters!”

“Will you dare to come with me?” The voice was angelic, soft and hung suspended in the air as if waiting to be caressed. “I cannot wait all night, dear Captain. For I am the Ghost of Christmases Past and I have something for only you to see.”

I rubbed my eyes and focused on the voice coming from the hoodie. Crap. Emily Brontë was the Ghost of Christmases Past. This wasn’t going to be easy.

“Thanks but no thanks.” I laid back down and willed the aberration away. Damn, Chance. Tomorrow, after I pulled a Grinch and threw away all the Christmas decorations, pitching the rum rations to the Kraken would be my next mission.

A feathery touch of fingertips brushed my forehead and I nearly wet myself when I slowly opened one eye and saw the cloak hovering above me. No hand in sight.

Goosebumps broke out over my body. I refused to be scared. Pirates do not get scared.

“Don’t touch me.”

I sat up and blew out a breath and the hoodie smacked against the ceiling in a burst of flames. I rolled off the bed and grabbed the hoodie around the neck. I slammed it to the floor boards and beat the flames with my pillow. The hoodie lay still at my feet, all signs of life gone. I stood over it, Capt’n Morgan style and breathed a sigh of relief. I had to say it felt pretty damn good to one up ole Ebenezer Scrooge.

I kicked the scorched hoodie in the corner and flopping back into the bed. At least one good thing came of the ghostly visits; peace of mind there would be no more. This just served to remind me I didn’t need a hero to save me. I could do it for myself.

I snuggled into my Capt’n Jack blanket and my eyelids drooped. Visions of Jack Sparrow in nothing but his boots danced in my head.

“Not so easy Captain,” a soulless voice caressed my ear. “The dead cannot die again.”

I flopped over on my back and glared at the hoodie hovering above me.

“Do I have to spell this out for you? I’m not interested in a smarmy walk down memory lane. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m a pirate. I have no need for warm fuzzy memories.”

“It’s my job to awaken you to what you missed,” the ghost replied.


“You’ve got to be kidding me.” I rolled my eyes.This is ridiculous!”

The cabin went black and the scent of coconut suntan oil permeated the room. A tranquil vision of ocean and sand appeared before me.

I glanced to my left, and the cloaked figure hovered at my side.

I crossed my arms over my chest. “So enlighten me if you must.”

I saw the pirate girls of the RWR soaking up rays of sunshine, cabana boys flocked all around them. They were decked out in skimpy bikinis and holding different colored drinks and I sat away from them underneath an umbrella laptop situated in my lap waving off two really hot guys.

I shrugged. Who needed guys when you could write the perfect one yourself?

Chance looked up from her drink and elbowed the rest of the RWR pirates. Lisa took her straw out of her mouth and yelled over her shoulder, “Hellion! Come over here where the sun is hot and the men are hotter!”

“No,” Hellion mumbled. “I’m almost done with this paragraph and then I’ll be over there. Gimme five more minutes.”

“You always say that!” Marn whined.

“Get your rear over here!” Chance waved a couple more guys Hellion’s way, but they came back sulking.

“Alright, that’s it.” Sin went to her knees and brushed sand off her as she stood. “If she won’t come over here on her own will, then I’ll drag her skinny butt over here myself.”

“If you pirates would worry more about your writing and not so much about the cabana boys hanging all over you, you’d be finished with your manuscripts by now. Sin, you’re the worst of them all.” Hellion didn’t bother to look up from what she was typing, but I noticed the look on Sin’s face. Pissed off didn’t cover it.

Bo’Sun reached up for Sin’s arm and pulled her back down to the sand. “She didn’t mean it. Christmas time always gets to her.”

“She’s gonna think Christmas time is what is getting to her,” Sin hissed through her teeth.

I watched Hellion continue to write, ignoring the happiness and laughing and couldn’t say that I blamed the younger version of myself. Christmas was just another day. I waited for the day when everyone else would realize it too.

I looked to the Ghost of Christmas Past, “This is the best you can do? I’ve seen better on the Hallmark channel.”

“Don’t you feel bad that you hurt your friend’s feelings? That you didn’t share in Christmas with your the pirates you consider to be family?”

I looked at Sin and the Grinch in me softened a little before I snuffed it out.

“You can’t be mad if it’s the truth.” I picked up a seashell and chucked it back into the ocean. “Next memory and it better be good.”

The Ghost gave me a look and I crossed my arms over my chest. “Ebenezer was a punk.”

“Alright,” The robed arm reached out to me and wrapped around my torso tight. “Don’t say I didn’t try to warn you.”

Everything went black and faded into night. The smell of the sea salt was heavy in the air. I stood out in the cold watching people walk by as they poured down the sidewalks, linked arm and arm. Women dressed in their best wench dresses, lots of skin showing, hair bouncing with each step as their hips swayed in five inch come-fck-me-pumps. Men dressed respectably as a pirates can get, refraining from scratching themselves or tugging at the collar of their button up shirts their dates forced them to put on.

The streetlights were lit, wreaths and garland hung with care and tied with red velvet bows. The only holiday pirates got respectable for- Christmas.

Ridiculous, if you asked me.

I wrapped my arms around me, and rubbed my hands over my shirt sleeves to warm up. You could hear the racket a mile away. The laughter. The singing. And worst of all, the smell of happiness. I wrinkled my nose. Idiots. All of them. Didn’t they know the holidays were just regular days not paid merrymaking time to go out and squander what little coin they had?

“Now what are we doing?” I shot the Ghost a nasty look. “This is ridiculous!”

The Ghost of Christmas Past set its gaze upon me; the black hood rippled with the breeze. “Come with me.”

The Ghost turned away from me and floated away. It made its’ way over the sidewalk before hovering over the bricked road towards a house with every room lit up in decoration. My eyes followed the Ghost to the house in question and I stood frozen on the sidewalk.

I knew this house. It once had been my home.

A terrible feeling sank into the pit of my stomach. Oh God. The one memory I never wanted to revisit and I was here about to relive it.

My heart skipped a painful beat.

“I will not ask you again. Come forward so we can end our night.” The Ghost’s robed arm stretched out in my direction, an endless abyss of darkness met my eyes and I tore my eyes away from it and forced myself to step off the sidewalk. I held my breath as I stepped closer and closer to the front door.

We slipped inside with another couple, warmth of the fireplace raced over my skin. Firelight flickered against the walls from candles burning bright in the chandeliers hanging overhead and lights twinkled on the Christmas trees scattered about.

Sin’s laughter echoed out of the house and I watched her run past a group of masked guests with a male right on her heels as they ran into a room and slammed the door behind them. Bo’sun sat at the DJ booth and spun a mixture of Christmas music and pirate booty music, drink firmly planted in one hand as she moved to the beat. Chance ran behind the bar, tossing out drinks faster than a pirate should be able to move, Silent as Sins and Bo’Sun Burners, Glittery Hoohas were traveling the length of the bar in lightening speed. Marn, Lisa and Hal were up on the bar, dancing around in little elf outfits teasing the hell out of everyone as they twirled around tinseled poles. Santa and JP doled out little sample treats to guests, smiling and flirting and wrapping everyone around their pinky fingers.

Everyone was present except for me.

Gatherings were never my thing, I reasoned. I made a rude noise in the back of my throat and looked to the Ghost. It gestured for me to move forward and I dropped my eyes to the floor. My heart pounded a little harder with each breath I took. I licked my lips nervously.

He was here.

Even after all those years, I was painfully aware of him being in the room even if I couldn’t see him. When I walked into a room, my eyes automatically looked for him. I wouldn’t do it this time. I couldn’t. I couldn’t do this again.

Ridiculous, I told myself. Memories never got your anywhere in the world.

I looked up and there he was, standing at the edge of the dance floor, empty drink in hand. His hair was messy from the wind, his button up shirt unbuttoned at the cuffs and rolled up, three buttons undone and opened without a care. He smiled over at Chance and lifted his empty drink cup and Chance nodded and started him another.

He looked my way and I couldn’t breathe. His dark eyes searched the crowd, mouth twitched into a frown. He looked to his watch and back around the room. I stared at him, unable to tear my eyes away from him. He was perfect, without being perfect. On track to be a successful agent, he just needed a big break.

I wanted so badly to do that for him.

I felt my face flood with color. It may have been a long time since I’d seen him, but never in a million years would I forget the way he made me feel inside.  I could conquer the world as long as he was standing by my side.

My nose burned and my eyes started to water and I looked to the Ghost of Christmas Past. “Well, let’s get on with it. I’ve got a chapter to write.”

The Ghost of Christmas Past looked to me; hood a vacant black hole and voice soft, “Learn the error of your ways, Hellion or your life will never change.”

A Brontë line if I ever heard one.

The Ghost gestured beyond the crowd and I found the younger version of myself easy among the crowd. My hair was a wild mess softly waved and flowing loose over my shoulders. Even though I’d spent the day in the office working on my first manuscript I’d taken the time to run upstairs and slip on my Santa Baby outfit with a short red velvet dress with the white pom-pom bracelets and black come-fck-me heels.

I smiled sadly to myself. The younger version of me looked distracted as she made her way through the crowd. She chewed the tip of her fingernail. Tossed her hair over her shoulder and laughed at what was being said but with a distant look in her eye.

It wasn’t hard to recall what I was distracted by. It was the end of my first manuscript and I was trying to work out the Happily Ever After between my hero and heroine. For weeks, it eluded me. Christmas was my deadline and I’d tried to get out of the Christmas party but everyone looked forward to the distraction for weeks.

I couldn’t take it away from them.

Ridiculous, I reminded myself. You should’ve. You would’ve saved yourself a heck of a lot of heartache.

My younger self looked for him in the crowd. He found her and smiled in her direction with a sparkle in his eye as if she lit up his entire world with one look.

I had been such a fool.

He moved towards her, the crowd parted and the women sighed as he came up beside her.

He smiled at everyone and made pleasantries. She grinned up at him as if he hung the moon and stars and nothing else mattered in the world.

I felt sick. I was going to be sick.

He leaned in close to her, his lips brushed against her ear and she melted into him. He took her hand and led her out to the dance floor.

I put my hand to my ear and found it difficult to breathe. He asked me to dance so sweetly. I remember how he felt against me. How his words affected me. Every time my heart beat in my chest it broke a little more.

She smiled and shook her head. I told him I only had time for one dance.

He grinned and pulled her out to the dance floor. They moved together, made for one another. If only I’d realized that then and not taken the time we had together for granted.

The music wound down and she turned to go but he held onto her hand. He brushed the backs of his knuckles across her check and swept the hair away from her eyes. I read his lips, heard his voice as though he were speaking to me. He asked her to stay until after one. He had something very important to ask her when the clocks chimed one.

She stared at him, her lips parted, red stained her cheeks. She dropped her eyes to his chest and put her hand over his heart. I saw her lips move. I saw the way the light died in his eyes.

I told him to meet me in my room at dawn and we’d celebrate Christmas the right way.

I wanted to interfere. I wanted to shake her and say, “That wasn’t what he was talking about!”

I later found out he was going to ask me to be his pirate and sail away to the seven seas while we conquered the writing world together.

Fate was so cruel.

I looked away from them and sniffed. Ridiculous. “I’ve had enough and I want to go back to the ship.”

The Ghost of Christmas Past looked upon me again, and I felt a chill to my very marrow as the consequences of my actions settled onto me. “Oh no, Hellion, you’ve yet to see the best part.”

I swallowed hard as I watched him watch her walk away from him. All I wanted to do was run to him and throw myself in his arms and apologize for how dumb I’d been. “No.” I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. “I can’t do this anymore.”

“You can do this and a lot more.”

She never looked back. She never turned to ran back to his arms. And as if our love were a candle to be snuffed out, I saw it die right there.


“You’re going to miss it.”

I looked up as he pulled the ring out. The firelight from the fireplace flickered over the stone and played against his features. I tried to not cry but felt tears slide down my cheeks one right after another.  ”He never married.”

“You broke his heart.”

The Ghost of Christmas Past stretched its robed arm out towards me and I slipped from its grasp.

“He broke mine!” I spat as I looked towards the office door that slowly closed. I wanted to break it down and drag the younger version of myself out by her hair. “I waited for him!”

“Maybe you don’t understand, dearest Hellion, that he waited for you to return to him but you never did.”

“If only he could’ve given me another day.”

The robed figure of Christmas Past wrapped around me as it whispered, “He would’ve given you a lifetime of time but you walked away.”

The truth hit me like a Mack truck. All these years I spent blaming him were wasted in one short second. I left him.

The room faded away and I closed my eyes. The smell of wood smoke and cedar wrapped around me and as I opened my eyes firelight greeted me. The room was tastefully decorated, heavily masculine and warm neutral colors. But dead of any emotion.

I knew where I was without asking.

The Ghost of Christmases Past was no where in sight. The room was empty save me and him. I could hear Christmas music playing on a radio somewhere in this place, but there was no sign of Christmas in this room. No tree. No lights. No stockings. Or pictures of family. The only personal item in the room was a ring box sitting on the fireplace mantle.

My knees trembled as I stepped closer to his chair. He sat with his forearms balanced on his thighs, head dropped to his chest. The glass in his hand was half full of amber liquid. The firelight played on his face, danced off the cut crystal of the glass. I wanted to touch him. To run my fingers through his hair, brush my lips against his 5 o’clock shadowed cheek.

But I couldn’t do those things. He wasn’t mine.

I sank to my knees in front of the chair and watched him in silence. I bit my lower lip to keep from crying and reached out. My hand rested on his wrist, but he didn’t move. I memorized every line of his face. The tilt of his lips into a fine line. I noticed the sad look in his eyes as he stared past me into the fire.

“I’m so…,” I choked on the last word. I couldn’t breathe as I dropped my head in defeat and covered my face with my hands. “I didn’t mean for it to be this way. You have to believe me.”

The fire cracked and his phone rang and I froze as I listened to it click over to voice mail.

“Hey, it’s me again. Mother wanted to know if you were coming over for Christmas.” In the background was laughing adults and screaming kids. “Please. Just this once come home for Christmas. You don’t have to spend it alone.”

There was a pause and I looked at him, horribly saddened and desperate to hold him.

I heard a sigh on the other end of the voice mail. “Okay, I’ll call later. Love you brother and Merry Christmas.”

“I’d do anything to make this right.” I reached up to his face; his eyes were on the ring. “Anything.”

He looked at me and my heart skipped a beat, but the room started to fade and I struggled to hold onto him. “No. Don’t do this!”

The air around me started to cool and I pressed myself closer to him as I whispered against his neck, “Don’t take him from me.”

I closed my eyes and held onto his memory only to wake up staring at the walls of my cabin. If only I hadn’t burned the house to the ground the next day and set everyone permanently to the ship. Things could’ve been different.

But time will never tell a story not written and ours never had a chance.

Who’s played your favorite version of the Ghost of Christmases Past? Who would make a great Ghost to make you change your ways?