"Sidereal Year"

365 days, 6 hours, 9 minutes, and 9.5 seconds ago in Duquesa Bay...

Currently on the island of Maui...

"DJ Fingerling" (aka Gracie Takanachi) spins her last set inside FLOE, the posh nightclub of a 5-star resort. Very tired and very pregnant, she waddles across the dance floor as a few drunken flailers and unlucky stragglers are ushered out by the management. The bright flashing colors slowly go out, one by one. Red. Pink. Blue. A faint yellow behind the bar is all that remains.

Gracie: Goodnight… or should I say good morning, folks – I'll be taking pictures of some of you later for your company's luau, so be sure to lose your shitface – cucumber slices and Visine are available through the concierge - Aloha auinapo!

Nu, the buff Polynesian bartender, chuckles as he wipes glasses and takes inventory of the fruit slices. Gracie slides up to the bar and wraps her large white sweater around her.

Nu: Cold?

Gracie: (Popping a pineapple slice in her mouth) Always

Nu: Your mash-up of Linkin Park and Don Ho was all kinds of wrong

Gracie: (Moving on to a couple of cherries) Good

Nu: But you made it work

Gracie: I always make it work – just wait until you hear what I do to Hillary Duff tomorrow night

Nu: Thankfully, I'm off tomorrow night

Gracie: (Playing with the chopped mint leaves) As an artist, I can take a steaming pile and turn it into a blossoming bouquet

Nu: (Swatting her hands) Forget artist, you're a miracle worker

Gracie: Musically, maybe – if I were a true miracle worker, I'd be back in Duquesa Bay

Gracie falls silent as Nu stares at her pensively.

Nu: It's been a year… maybe it's time for a visit?

Gracie: When that thought enters my mind, projectile vomiting usually kicks it back out

The low rumbles of an approaching storm echo in the distance. The lightning flashes clash with a stray strobe light.

Gracie: (Grabbing a bottle of rum) Mind if I borrow this?

Nu looks at her in abject horror as she spins it around and places it back behind the bar.

Gracie: Kidding

Nu: Not funny

Gracie: I'll make it up to you with a track in your honor – the ‘Nu's Nu Shooz' mix

Nu: Make it up to me by coming along to Kelly's party this weekend

Gracie: Is karaoke involved?

Nu: Only if you want it to be

Gracie: Nah, maybe another time

Nu: That's all you ever say, when are you going to give up the hermit routine?

Gracie: I like my shell, it has pretty spots

Nu: Believe it or not – even with your penchant for playing songs from both Simpson sisters – people like you here and want to be around you

Gracie: Yeah well, I don't really want to be around them – nothing personal but I'm just not looking for socialization right now

Nu: Doesn't it get lonely?

Gracie: Dude, you've been behind the bar too long – save it for your psych classes

Nu: Just trying to help

Gracie: I know

Nu throws some bananas, strawberries, pineapple, and vanilla ice-cream into a blender and whips it up.

Nu: (Pouring it into a large container) Here's your "to go" cup

Gracie: Mahalo – I appreciate you always looking after me

Nu: Do you need me to walk you home?

Gracie: It's not that far of a trudge, thanks

Nu comes out from around the bar and wraps Gracie in a huge hug. She reluctantly reciprocates.

Nu: (Gently patting her stomach) You take care… both of you

Gracie: I promise… see you on your next shift

As Gracie heads out the door, two beer glasses mysteriously fall from their place and shatter against the bar top.

Nu: Why does that keep happening?

With cup in hand, Gracie now shuffles through the ornate hotel lobby and sheepishly waves to the night crew behind the desk.

Crew #1: Hey Gracie, we get off in ten minutes – want to have coffee with us?

Gracie: Thanks but I'm a little tired – maybe next time

Crew #2: We'll keep trying!

Gracie: (Under her breath) Just leave me the hell alone, people

Now outside in the eerily quite courtyard, she passes by a well-lit bronze water fountain. The postmodern non-fishlike fish statue gapes at her.

Gracie: Stop following me with your eyes

Now quickening her pace from a plod to a shamble, she takes a path that parallels the churning beach. She has been on the island long enough to know that she has less than 20 minutes before the skies pour down.

Gracie: Almost paradise…

The sharp ocean breeze whips her long hair across her face. Still on the resort property, she goes beyond the accent-lit tropical bushes behind the guest buildings and heads for the tiny staff bungalows in the far corner.

Gracie: (Fumbling for her keys) Oh great, where did I put them now?

After searching and swearing for a few moments, she succeeds in finding them. A night bird darts overhead and spooks Gracie with its piercing squawk. It slams into the side of her roof and then flutters off into the night.

Gracie: Lovely

Gracie now opens her door and flips on the lights.

Gracie: Bed, bed, bed – pee, brush my teeth, and then bed… what the?

The stark silhouette of a female relaxes out on the patio amongst the gray-blue shadows. She has her back to Gracie, overlooking the ocean.

Gracie: Ah, not another lost drunk!

Gracie ambles over to her glass patio door and throws it open with a push.


Morrigan McBride turns around and offers a simple smile.

Gracie: (Gasping in disbelief) Mor…

Morrigan: Hello, Gracie

Gracie snaps back away from her, squeezes her eyes shut, clenches her fists, and shakes her head.


Morrigan (Standing up) You're not seeing things… and neither am I

Gracie: (Now realizing the reality) Morri?

Morrigan: It's really me


Morrigan: Not quite, at least not now


Morrigan: He needs to check his facts

Gracie: MORRI

The two awkwardly embrace each other. Gracie now takes Morrigan's right arm and twists it hard.

Morrigan: OW


Morrigan: (Stepping back) I guess I deserved that


Morrigan: I know apologizing is not going to help but it's the only thing I can offer – I did what I had to do

Gracie: (Wiping her nose on her sleeve) I'm sure you did

Gracie stares long and hard at Morrigan's face.

Gracie: You look… different

Morrigan: Literally - mind if we go inside?

Gracie: (Freezing in her tracks) HOODIES?

Gracie frantically scans around the patio.

Morrigan: No, no Hoods – not here

Gracie: (Sigh of relief) Good

She leads Morrigan inside her place. There is a long silence between the two.

Gracie: I… I apologize for my reaction – hormones

Morrigan: (Soft grin) So, I've noticed… congratulations

Gracie: Yeah

Morrigan: Is the father a local?

Gracie: More like loco – and no, you're not the only visitor I've had from Duquesa Bay this past year

Morrigan: You can't escape your past Grace, no matter how hard you try

Gracie: I guess I'm not trying hard enough

Morrigan: The father - is it someone I know?

Gracie: That depends on who it is…

Morrigan: I see… sorta

Gracie freezes again.

Gracie: Wait a minute… are the cops still after you? – I love you, McBride, but I have a new life here - the only law and order drama I want to deal with is on my TV

Morrigan: Don't worry, the only ‘police' around here are in your CD case - I'm no longer a fugitive

Gracie: (Shocked) Seriously?

Morrigan: I was technically "underground" for awhile but I've been free and clear for the last few months

Gracie: How did that happen?

Morrigan: We have a lot to catch up on

Gracie: I'll say

There is another awkward silence.

Morrigan: (Taking in the view) This is an awesome place

Gracie: My college buddy is part of the management here – he hooked me up with a sweet deal – I take photos of the guests and their functions during the day, I get to do some DJ-ing at the club at night, rent is pretty cheap – yeah, I lucked out

Morrigan: (Musing) I'm happy one of us did

Gracie does not know what to say. She nervously twirls her much-longer hair

Morrigan: (Noticing) I like it - it looks good on you

Gracie: Can I get you something to drink?

Morrigan: Some hot water, please

Gracie: I have lemon tea, green tea, and chamomile

Morrigan: No tea… just the hot water

Gracie: Still with the mystery – does it ever end with you?

Morrigan: I'll let you know when it does

Morrigan continues to admire the furniture as Gracie heats up the water.

Morrigan: No more ugly futon

Gracie: Nope, most of the décor comes courtesy of the resort but I can add a few of my personal touches

Morrigan: What, no tiki masks?

Gracie: I'm live in the land of tiki, I no longer need them on my walls

Morrigan inspects several black and white framed photos covering one large wall. Smiling, happy strangers stare back at her.

Gracie: Besides, as you can see, I've moved on to living masks

Morrigan: Outstanding work as usual – hey, is that us?

They both peer at a photo taken long ago of Zach, Amy, Morrigan, and Gracie playing pinochle.

Gracie: I secretly shot that on a time delay – we all had such a look of innocence and fun on our faces – it's one of my favorites

Morrigan: Where did the time go?

Gracie: I dunno – I still remember yelling at you to cover up that ketchup-stained Smurfette shirt before you went on air

For the first time, the two relax a bit and reflect fondly over the memory.

Morrigan: My first day working for KCON – it seems like yesterday

Gracie: More like a different lifetime ago… your water's ready

Gracie fiddles in the kitchen with their beverages and some stale graham crackers while Morrigan continues to study the photos.

Morrigan: Is that who I think it is?

Gracie: Yep, that's Ortega and his new beau – they came for a vacation a few months ago

Morrigan: He looks familiar

Gracie: Think late-night infomercials

Morrigan: NO – that's not Marc of ‘Muscles by Marc?'

Gracie makes a ridiculous face and strikes a body-building pose.

Morrigan: Aw, I'm happy for Austin – how's his job in Miami?

Gracie: Lovin' it – half the pay and a crappy weekend weather slot but anything is better than KCON

The two fall silent again.

Gracie: (Sitting down at the table) Here's your hot aqua

Morrigan joins her at the table and drops a small thermometer into the mug.

Gracie: I'm not even going to ask

Morrigan: I love that wedding photo in the corner – who's the happy couple?

Gracie: They were guests of the hotel, I covered their reception

Morrigan: (Snacking on a cracker) I hope you got paid double because that's worthy of a bridal magazine cover

Gracie opens a jar of pepperoncinis and wolfs them down.

Gracie: (Offering them to Morrigan) Want some?

Morrigan: Not in the mood, thanks

Gracie: Most of the people in the photos are work-related… weddings, anniversaries, corporate retreats, birthday parties - I fell in love with their expressions

Morrigan: Have you tried showing these at all?

Gracie: That would mean being social – doing the whole phony artsy-fartsy gallery thing – I'm just not up to that right now

Morrigan: Maybe in a few months?

Gracie: Maybe a few years…

Morrigan: You really ought to think seriously about…

Gracie: I said NOT NOW

Morrigan: Sorry

Gracie: No, I'm sorry – I've been a little short with people lately

Morrigan: Especially with people who should mind their own business

Gracie: You never could – that's why you made such a damn good reporter

Morrigan: (Wistfully) Yep

Gracie: And that's why Shepperton hated your guts – she knew her beauty queen looks couldn't hold a candle to your solid skills

Morrigan: Kylee is smarter than she realizes – she opts for the easy road with her body instead of the rough road with her brain

Gracie: Do you think she'll ever get tired of being a guy's "filler fuck?"

Morrigan: That depends on what you mean

Gracie: You know, the girl he uses between real relationships or between wives - I know I finally did

Morrigan: I suppose it depends on whether she's unhappy being that filler or not – some women don't seem to mind that at all

Gracie: You're right – my brother is dating this gal, a total positivity princess whose sole purpose seems to be cheering him up, cheering him on, and catering to his sexual needs

Morrigan: Where can we buy one of those?

The two chuckle as rain begins to bombard the ceiling.##

Gracie: Uh, shall we continue the small talk and pretend we ran into each other at The Coffee Bean or try for something deeper?

Morrigan: I'm enjoying the small talk for now

Gracie: (Biting her lips) Works for me

Morrigan: As far as Kylee Shepperton goes, at least one of the "old gang" is still on the air

Gracie: Like where else would she be? - after Claudia's death, she crawled right out of Turner's bed and into the lead anchor chair

Morrigan: Do you ever think about going back?

Gracie: To KCON? – no – to Duquesa Bay? - HELL NO

Morrigan: I'm talking about TV in general

Gracie: No, that door is pretty much closed to me now

Morrigan: Ditto

Gracie: What are you doing now or dare I ask?

Morrigan: Actually… I'm working for the PCOC

Gracie: How… how could you do that?

Morrigan: I have my reasons

Gracie: Sell out!

Morrigan: That's one way of looking at it

Gracie: Aren't you afraid someone will come after you?

Morrigan: Always… but I have an ace or two up my sleeve

Gracie: Well, I suppose getting a boatload of cash working in the corporate sector is fair trade for your soul

Morrigan: I'm not doing it for the money

Gracie: No, it's something more complex as usual – and I need to be drunk to handle your truth, Morri, and since that can't happen, I'm asking for small doses… at least for now

They both go to say something, change their minds, and retreat behind more crackers.

Gracie: (Biting one in half) You know, I really miss Henshaw's strawberry-apricot preserves

Morrigan: I heard he was doing better at the clinic

Gracie: You mean the nut house, the funny farm, the rubber room…

Morrigan: It's better than a jail cell

Gracie: I don't blame him for what he did – KCON and Dan were synonymous

Morrigan: Gracie – the man took a loaded handgun into the newsroom and nearly killed himself and Turner

Gracie: AFTER he was forced out of his contract – Steel departed prematurely for that great news desk in the sky, what a grand oportunidad for Gates to clean house and elevate his little Kylee queen bee to the throne!

Morrigan: Stop being snide, Gracie, for once

Gracie: Start being straight with me, Morri, for once

Morrigan checks the mini thermometer and plops a fizzing yellow tablet into the mug.

Morrigan: Excuse me for a second

Gracie: Okaaaaay…

Morrigan rushes out the patio door and returns a few seconds later. She calmly steps inside and takes her seat at the table.

Morrigan: So…

Gracie: So…

Morrigan: When are you going to ask about what happened to me?

Gracie: I'm getting around to it – why don't you ask me more about me – that's always an interesting subject

Morrigan: Fine, I'll ask… when are you due?

Gracie: Less than three months

Morrigan: Is this something you wanted or was it an accident?

Gracie: The first few months, I was in complete denial – I was so busy establishing my new life here, I wasn't really thinking about it – finally, when I saw the bump in the mirror one morning, I knew I had to make a choice

Morrigan: Understandable

Gracie: I'm still a little defensive and I'm not absolutely sure what I'm going to do

Morrigan: It seems a little too late to change your mind

Gracie: I'm talking about after – I might give it up for adoption – it depends…

Morrigan: Well… whatever you decide to do, I will support your decision 110%

Gracie: I mean, we're smart women – how did we get here, to this point in our lives?

Morrigan: I'm trying to think of something profound or pithy to say but all I can truly do is shrug my shoulders

Gracie: I'd always preach that we're one simple catastrophe away from the barefoot and pregnant days – and now here I am, walking on the beach, barefoot and pregnant

Morrigan: When you're surrounded by soft sand and endless daiquiris, I could see how that might be a byproduct

Gracie: It didn't happen that way – I wish it did

Morrigan: Nothing is ever simple with us, is it?

Gracie: At least my dad didn't have to sell me off to some hairy guy for two dozen sheep and wheelbarrow

Morrigan: (Smirking) No wheelbarrow necessary – two dozen sheep is more than a fair price

Gracie: (On the verge of tears) God, I missed you - I miss you, so much!

The two hug again for a moment. Gracie breaks off and, with affection and concern, cups the side of Morrigan's face in her hand.

Gracie: So…

Morrigan: So…

Gracie: I'm guessing you're not going to a costume party?

Morrigan: Correct

Gracie: Living out a pirate fetish?

Morrigan: Not this year

Gracie: Does it hurt?

Morrigan: It did at the time

Gracie: Is there anything I can do?

Morrigan: Not now

Gracie: Is there anything anyone can do?

Morrigan: Nope

Gracie: Shit

Morrigan: Yep

Morrigan gets up from the table and looks at herself in a wall mirror. She adjusts the black eye patch over her left eye.

Gracie: Sorry – I wish I could say something more but what do you say?

Morrigan: It's what you don't say

Gracie: Can I look underneath? – do you have a glass eye with diamonds in it?

Morrigan: Examples of what you don't say

Gracie: Curiosity gets the better of me at times – did that happen in the hospital explosion?

Morrigan: It would have been easier if it did

Gracie: It's hard to imagine Bay Valley Medical Center as the site of so much death and carnage…

Morrigan: Not a big stretch when you honestly think about it

Gracie bursts out laughing and Morrigan can't help but follow.

Gracie: I know, we should get a card game going and say that we don't play with chips, we play with body parts – totally freak everyone out!

Gracie now starts to sob.

Gracie: Games, Morri, games – I'm so sick of freaking games!

Gracie struggles to her feet and shoves her chair in anger.

Gracie: They're fine at a fuzzy green table or with little silver pieces you can throw across the room – not with paychecks, not with someone's heart… or with someone's life

Morrigan: I know

Gracie: Then WHY do I get the overwhelming feeling that you brought another game with you?

Morrigan only answers with a guilty expression.

Morrigan: I'll leave first thing in the morning

Gracie: (Wiping her nose) Just… just tell me what's going on and you can stay here as long as you need

Gracie suddenly freezes and gawks at her glass patio door. Darkfin, mug in hand, peers back at them.

Morrigan: My ace of spades needs to stay in your tub

Surfaced on July 1, 2000
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