A Very Country Christmas
My novella “A Remarkable Bay Christmas” is part of this collection of five Christmas themed stories, which will be released just in time to warm the Christmas cockles of your heart. Five wonderful stories, inlcluding mine – a return visit to the setting from “The Three Miss Allens” – Remarkable Bay.
Prickly Sofia has hit a crossroads and is hoping a Christmas alone in idyllic Remarkable Bay will help. Police officer George is also alone at Christmas. Drawn together unwillingly, they try and stay out of each other’s way. But Remarkable Bay is a small place…
Here’s an excerpt:
This was absolutely, definitely the perfect place.
A country town but with waves. Oh, yes. This would do nicely, thank you very much, world.
Mara Blumberg turned the key and her car’s engine purred to a stop. She opened the door, stepped out and breathed it in: salt, sea, fresh air. In front of her, there was ocean as far as the eye could see, an azure blue carpet rolled out right to the horizon, a million white caps dancing in the distance. The sandy beach of Remarkable Bay was below, down a set of sturdy wooden stairs set into the low cliffs, and it curved into the sand like a half moon. The wind was warm and as Mara breathed it in, it seemed to seep into every muscle, dissolving the tension she’d been carrying for months.
She wanted small and sleepy and serene and Remarkable Bay looked absolutely perfect. After what she had been through the past few months, she needed something quiet. She didn’t want the big, noisy, argumentative family Christmas that she’d endured for her thirty-five years. When she’d told her mother she was going away on her own, she had looked at her daughter as if she’d taken leave of her senses.
‘But it’s Christmas,’ her mother had implored. ‘How can you go away at Christmas?’
‘Don’t worry, Mum. You have two other children—and their children—to spoil rotten. You won’t miss me in the slightest.’
She just couldn’t do a loud family get-together this year. And she didn’t need Bali or the Gold Coast or Sydney or Fiji. She needed simple and peaceful and quiet so she could stop and think and have the clear space in her head to make some big decisions about her life. Her post-divorce life.
She turned from the spectacular sea view to check out the house she’d rented. For the next two weeks, until after New Year, it was all hers. It wasn’t anything fancy but she didn’t care. She’d found it on the website of the local real estate agent—‘Remarkable Rentals in Remarkable Bay’—and had snapped it up immediately. It wasn’t a beachside McMansion or anything like that. It was a simple brick home, circa 1970s, and it had two bedrooms, a living area with a big table that seated eight people, and a big deck out the front to take in the best of the view. She’d been secretly relieved when she discovered the place had a dishwasher—who wants to spend their much-needed holidays washing dishes, right?—but there weren’t any other mod cons she needed. She had a quick thought: a coffee maker didn’t technically qualify as a mod con, did it? That was an essential, like a toaster or hot running water or a hair straightener.
Mara unloaded her bags from the car and in half an hour she’d unpacked everything, hung up what needed hanging in a white laminate built-in robe in the main bedroom, packed the food she’d brought with her into the fridge, changed into her swimsuit and her thongs, slapped on some sunscreen and a hat, grabbed a towel and a book, and she was out the door.
It was December 23. The school year was well and truly over and her holiday was starting today. Right that minute, in fact, with a book and the beach and the ocean.
She hoped the sea breeze would clear her mind and help her relax enough so she could at least get some sleep while she was down there. She needed it. She hadn’t had a decent night’s sleep since the divorce papers had arrived twelve months . She needed the kind of sleep that parents craved after they’d had babies. She had that black-bags-under-your-eyes kind of tiredness that afflicted mums and dads in the shell shock of those first weeks and months of parenthood. Not that she was a parent herself, but she’d seen it in her sisters’ faces after they’d had children. When she stared at herself in the mirror these days, she saw it there in her own eyes. Maybe one day she’d know that exquisite exhaustion of parenthood.
Now, it was about something else. Someone else. Abbie.
But all that could wait.
She stepped outside, locked the door and looked out to the horizon. She breathed in the fresh air and set off for the beach.