New Year’s Special: A New Year’s Carol

[SCENE I. SARAH returns home, apparently from a vacation–she has a couple of laden bags, etc. It’s rather late at night, and she looks exhausted and like she is trying not to make noise. She manages to wake up MELINA on the couch.]

LINA: Sarah?

SARAH: Hey, sorry, didn’t mean to wake you.

LINA: I don’t sleep. I thought you weren’t going to be back for New Year’s?

SARAH: Plans change.

LINA: How was Christmas?

SARAH: I don’t want to talk about it. I’m really tired.

LINA: Sure, sorry. Go get some rest.

(SARAH trudges her way upstairs and into her room. She drops her bags to the floor with a thud and collapses into bed without bothering to get undressed. Time lapses, the sun rises, etc, with her not moving from this position. MELISSA runs into the room and jumps onto the bed next to her.)

MELISSA: You’re back!

SARAH: What time is it?

MELISSA: I don’t know, noon, probably? I thought you’d be awake by now. (She pokes SARAH in the shoulder.) Also I thought you usually didn’t do the ‘pass out in your clothes’ thing.

SARAH: Jesus.

MELISSA: Are you smuggling again?

SARAH: What? No.

MELISSA: This isn’t like you. Are you sick?

SARAH: Maybe.

MELISSA: Will you still be sick tonight?

SARAH: Maybe.

MELISSA: Would you like me to make you some coffee?

SARAH: Okay, but bring it up here.

MELISSA: You got it. (She departs. SARAH tries to go back to sleep. MELISSA returns and sets the coffee on the nightstand.) Coffee is here if you want it, Sarah.

(MELISSA quietly departs. SARAH lies motionless on her bed for a while, until a SPIRIT appears, bound in chains, and calls her name.)

SPIRIT: Sarah Ames!

(SARAH opens one eye.)

SPIRIT: Sarah, this is an evening of celebration. Why do you lie here in bed?

SARAH: I’m holidayed out, spirit. Also, go away.

SPIRIT: If you don’t change your ways you will suffer my fate!

SARAH: What fate would that be?

SPIRIT: I’m a ghost, haunting people on New Year’s Eve.

SARAH: That sounds like a personal problem.

SPIRIT: Regardless of the nature of my fate, you will be visited by three spirits today!

SARAH: Can you maybe tell the other ones not to wake me up?

SPIRIT: No!

SARAH: Then fuck you and fuck your organization. (She pulls the covers over her head and rolls over. The SPIRIT departs.)

(Much later, she sighs and reluctantly sits up just as a SECOND SPIRIT arrives.)

SECOND SPIRIT: I am the Ghost of New Years Past!

SARAH: And I am in dire need of a shower. Can it wait?

SECOND SPIRIT: Come this way, and you shall receive a shower of the soul!

SARAH: . . . okay, yeah, that sounds gross. Go away. (She gathers up her bathrobe and a towel and walks out the door. Unfortunately, the door has been ghost-enchanted and she walks onto the scene of a new years party welcoming in the year 2007.)

SECOND SPIRIT: Come and see.

SARAH: I hate you so much.

(The party is a traditional high school party, complete with cheap beer that was no doubt acquired under dubious circumstances. A high school-aged SARAH is drinking alongside MELISSA.)

SARAH: Wait, hang on, I remember this party.

SECOND SPIRIT: I did say I was–

SARAH: I drank too much and spent most of the evening throwing up, then Melissa had to carry me home, except she didn’t know where I lived so she just took me to her parents’ place.

SECOND SPIRIT: And over the celebration of the New Year, you bonded and became fast friends.

SARAH: Actually I woke up in a strange house and had a panic attack, then I ran home and cried for several hours.

SECOND SPIRIT: . . . moving right along.

(A party welcoming in 2010.)

SARAH: Had to walk home on a freezing cold night without a winter jacket.

(A party welcoming in 2011.)

SARAH: Ooh, now that was a good party.

SECOND SPIRIT: You have forgotten the joy the celebration of the new year has once brought you. Remember!

SARAH: . . . okay, sure.

(The SECOND SPIRIT vanishes, leaving SARAH standing in the hall just outside her room. She shakes her head and makes her way into the shower. Not too much later, she emerges, wearing a bathrobe and a towel on her head, and is ambushed by a THIRD SPIRIT.)

SPIRIT: I am the ghost of New Years Present!

SARAH: That’s great for you. I’m happy.

SPIRIT: Come and see.

(The SPIRIT leads her into MELISSA’s room. MELISSA is putting on the finishing touches of her costume this year, which appears to be the traditional black-and-white-striped jailbird.)

SPIRIT: See the joy of anticipation! The happiness this yearly celebration brings!

SARAH: Tell me something I don’t know.

(MELISSA starts and turns around.)

MELISSA: There you are! I thought you were going to sleep all day.

SARAH: You can see me?

MELISSA: Of course I can see you.

(SARAH gives the SPIRIT a glare. It quickly fades away.)

SARAH: I thought–

MELISSA: You sure you’re feeling okay?

SARAH: Would you believe I’m being visited by ghosts trying to convince me to go to the party tonight?

MELISSA: It would explain a few things.

SARAH: It’s really annoying.

MELISSA: Well, are you coming?

SARAH: I really don’t feel well.

MELISSA: It’s not the same without you there. Please?

SARAH: I don’t think I can.

MELISSA: (Clearly saddened by this.) Okay. I hope you feel better.

(MELISSA’s room dissolves, leaving SARAH once again standing in the hallway. The SPIRIT is standing there looking smug.)

SPIRIT: See how your refusal to celebrate hurts your friends!

SARAH: So that wasn’t really Melissa?

SPIRIT: Well, no.

SARAH: So I only hurt fake people. (She walks into her room, only to find a THIRD SPIRIT waiting for her.) Let me guess. You’re the ghost of New Years yet to come?

(The spirit nods.)

SARAH: Fine, fine. Let’s get this over with.

(A party celebrating the arrival of the year 2015. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves. SARAH is nowhere to be seen.)

SARAH: What happens if I steal one of these future drinks? (She pours herself a rum and Coke and drinks as she listens in on a conversation between future-MELISSA and future-GAVIN.)

GAVIN: Sarah not coming?

MELISSA: She doesn’t do parties anymore. I don’t even see her much anymore. She doesn’t leave her room.

GAVIN: That’s a damn shame.

SARAH: This is really implausible. (She finishes her rum and Coke.) But this is tasty. What’s the story, spirit? Does the future just taste better?

(The SPIRIT remains silent.)

SARAH: I’m going to steal some of this and bring it back. (She passes through the door into the present once again, carrying several bottles of future booze.) Melissa!

(MELISSA jogs upstairs. She does not appear to have the jailbird costume that was present in the spirits’ visions.)

MELISSA: You called?

SARAH: I just stole some booze from the future and it’s delicious.

MELISSA: Excellent. You feeling better?

SARAH: Turns out the best cure for holiday malaise is stolen liquor.

MELISSA: Would you care to help me decorate for this evening?

SARAH: I would love to.

MELISSA: Good to have you back, Sarah. It’s really never the same without you.

(They both head downstairs and begin decorating in preparation for a party. Fin.)

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