"He sleeps through the night now - it won't be a problem. I'll leave the monitor in your room."
For someone who didn't think of herself as able to keep anything hidden underneath the surface, a regular ticking time bomb waiting to explode when she was expected to keep a secret, especially when it came to Ezra, she told him everything, it was difficult not to, she felt sedated with guilt if she was keeping something from him, Rose was surprising herself in a pleasant manner, keeping her blueprints under wraps for the entirety of the day, the family of three gearing up for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day just twenty-four hours away. It was easy at first without Ezra around while she spent some of the day shopping with her mum and Rocky, the three of them having an early lunch together while they tied up any final loose ends on their shopping lists.
Fussier than usual, Rocky didn't want anything to do with the stroller, all he wanted to do was plant his feet on the pavement and walk or wobble in his case. Rose bounced him on her lap while they sat outside at a little cafe, giving him some of the snacks she had in her bag for him to munch on She filled her mother in on the plan she had been drafting, gauging her opinion, seeing if she would oblige and follow along. Her mom was a kind and wonderful woman who knew Ezra was away from his family in Jersey, making it even easier to offer to help, not that she would have turned her daughter down regardless. Rose didn't spill every detail of what she wanted to accomplish, but she did lay out the details that were important: Rose was going to set an alarm for five in the morning, scurry out of bed and get changed, waking him up if he hadn't already sleepily noticed she was gone from the right side of the bed. She had a tote bag all packed, the rental car keys on the table ready and waiting, all she had to do was have Ezra trust her enough to get behind the wheel.
Back at home was when it began to feel like Ezra knew something was up. Spending the day working on music while Rose's dad was out on his own, Rose and her mum returned back to the house, hearing word that Lucy, Alice, the boys, and their husbands would be in from Melbourne this evening. Everyone was going to be spending Christmas together, including George who was staying at his place down here. Rose and Ezra offered for everyone to stay with them, but while the rental house was spacious, her parents were already occupying the guest room, not leaving much room for anyone else. Offering up their space anyway, her sisters went in together on a rental about fifteen minutes from where they were staying, everyone in the closest distance they had all been in in such a long time.
Ezra suspected nothing, didn't have a clue, though that didn't stop Rose from walking around on eggshells like he had figured her all out. "Is everything okay, you seem tense?" He'd put his hands on her shoulders and rub, her eyes closing while fading off for seconds before snapping out of it. "I'm fine- I'm good- just tired." Those words alone should have been enough of a red flag that something was brewing, Ezra knew that too, but he didn't pry too much.
The evening was spent with everyone out to dinner at the Wharf, the restaurant inside the theatre where they had eaten so many times. It was kid friendly and spacious and no one was staring at them from a distance while the entire family sat, enjoyed each other's company, laughed, drank and ate to their heart's content. Everything had been going so well, the pieces falling into perfect place with Ezra at her side, the two of them nudging elbows and making eyes at each other throughout the night like two lovesick puppies who wanted a few minutes alone. The night didn't last very long since her sisters had just arrived in the city and wanted some time to rest up for tomorrow and then Christmas day. Saying all their short goodbyes, her, Ezra, her parents and Rocky retreated back to the rental house where they began to separate into their nighttime routines; taking off the day with water and cleanser, reading Rocky a story, and sliding into bed.
Exhausted by the day, they had a date with sleep sooner than either of them liked. The alarm buzzing underneath Rose's pillow where she kept her phone. She was all nerves to do this right, waking up suddenly and all at once, looking over at Ezra who had turned the other way in his sleep and still looked passed out from what she could see. The monitor had already been placed in with her parents, the bag packed, all systems were go. Not bothering to shower, she headed back into the bedroom in a pair of jean shorts, flip flops and a light sweater since it was still very early in the morning. Her eyes looked over the mound of blankets draped over his body, smiling to herself, feeling bad she was about to wake him up at all. She considered jumping on the bed knees first, tackling him or even putting her hand over his mouth, but she opting for the most boring of all, she stepped around the bed and put her palms on his back, shaking him.
"Honey, wake up, come on, we've to go."
This, as to be expected, was met with his lids pulling apart delicately, his confused, sleepy stare and persistent arms tried to lure her back in. "Noo, no, none of that, come on, papa. I want to share something with you." His head flopped right into the pillow. Rose laughed until she took matters into her own hands and tugged at the duvet and stripped it from him, her knees against the side of the bed while she shook him harder this time. "Rose, what the hell, what's wrong? What's wrong? Are you okay?" Her smile was warm, she moved in and took him by the arm, but not without a kiss pressed to the tip of his nose. "I'm fine. Now come on."
Ezra was groggy, she didn't blame him there, he was puzzled and slow moving around the house, his hair still messy from how he slept on the pillow. The drive was literally six minutes from the rental house- the darkness from the streets serving as their backdrop outside the car windows. "Where are we going? What the fuck is going on, Rose?" She kept tight lipped, turning the music on the radio up to keep herself awake and to keep him quiet. She wanted to give him a glimpse of a tradition that wouldn't have come to light, it was one her and George took part in when she didn't have Rocky or anyone to bring with her while she was home for the holidays or even when she was younger, it was always them, maybe her sisters, sometimes Krew, but never a significant other, it felt sacred keeping it this way.
Pulling into a lot outside of Bondi, she knew Ezra had an idea where they were, having been here numerous times since they had come to Sydney. She was grinning from ear to ear, elated to share this with him. "Almost there," she said, getting herself out of the car and into the backseat where she pulled out this giant tote. She pulled off her shoes once she hit the sand, he did the same, the two of them emerging into the darkness along this desolate beach where it looked like no life had hit, the sun still hiding from them.
"You know how George and I would come here on Christmas Day, well, I know we can't do that now, but I wanted you to experience this. I've never let anyone outside of my family- well and Krew- outside of this tradition, and I wanted to share it with you. I wanted you to watch the sunrise with me. This is the best view."
She was right, it was a stunning view, something they learned once the pinks and the oranges ascended from the darkness, the waves lapping in the distance. Their two bodies collided into one under this blanket they wrapped around their shoulders, coffee in a giant thermos to be shared and some mashed up avocado and bread she had toasted while Ezra was still in bed before she woke him up. It was the precursor to the rest of the holiday, to everyone getting together the next two days, to celebrating Rocky's first holiday, it was the perfect way to introduce her to what was kept separate from anyone else, but now was theirs.