Martin would always remember it as his most favorite Christmas ever. After he downed two glasses of Arthur’s mulled wine, feeling a bit sick and lightheaded, they left GERTI with Arthur bellowing out Christmas carols and the rest of them joining in with him, not caring that none of the words were right. They felt right.
Martin wore his hat, blinking spaghetti out of his eyes and grinning at the stares he got. He even tipped his hat at one of the engineers whose jaw was hanging open at the sight of them.
And what was it that four pasty, pale English people did when they were in Hawaii for Christmas? Noon the next day, the beach.
It was practically empty for Christmas day, and they had it mostly to themselves. When they got there, Douglas immediately went to the side to call his daughter. And Martin, Arthur and Carolyn wished her a merry Christmas, loudly, and into the receiver, leaning over the man's shoulder as he laughed.
They lay back together on the sand and let the ocean eat at their toes. Martin even pulled out his aviator shades, the ones he had mended painstakingly with glue and tape because they had been more expensive than he had cared to admit, and made him feel like a proper pilot. He lay on the sand with them on, letting sand scratch at his scalp and salt crust on his skin.
And Arthur ran around like a wild thing, building half-formed sand castles and leaping into the waves, still bellowing Christmas carols. Eventually Carolyn made Douglas and Martin go in after him, running clumsily through the water. Martin found he could swim better than Douglas, and this made him so happy, he let himself forget that he was turning lobster red in the sun.
The setting sun came like a shock, turning everything orange like it had been set on fire, or as if everything had turned into liquid gold like the braid on Martin’s hat. Martin had never heard Arthur say brilliant so many times, and so quietly, under his breath like a prayer, the dying light making him seem even younger. Douglas was laughing breathlessly. His hand was half raised as if he wanted to shield his eyes from the glare, but didn't want to stop seeing it either.
Behind them, Carolyn watched the silhouettes of her cabin crew leaning against each other against the red sky, her book lying face-down and forgotten on her knee and a smile on her face.
Night finally fell. They went back to the hotel smelling of salt and the sea. And Douglas treated them all to almost unhealthy servings of festive sushi, which the little island of Molokai, surprisingly, did indeed offer.