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Act Three

Scene: Black Friday evening. Harper and Alex are wrapping gifts in Menetre's home.

ALEX: So what is this thing tonight?

HARPER: It's the Christmas tree lighting in the Town Square. It's tradition.

ALEX: Oh, like the national tree lighting on the mall.

HARPER: Well, less opera stars, more high school choir, but yeah, something like that.

ALEX: So look, Harper. I was thinking about moving our flight up to tomorrow. If that's okay with you? I know we agreed to stay until Sunday but it seems like we've seen everyone...haven't we?

HARPER: Alex...

ALEX: It's just that we have those Congressional hearings coming up in January and this is really important. It could mean getting or losing our funding. Bob could really use my help preparing for that.

HARPER: I know. I know that's really important for you. But...there are some things going on here you're not aware of. I...maybe need to stay a little longer.

ALEX: Longer than Sunday?

HARPER: Yes, Alex, longer than Sunday! It's my family, okay? This is important to me!

ALEX: Well is everyone okay?

HARPER: Yes, it's not that. It's Mama's shop. She's going to close it by the end of the year if she doesn't find a buyer for it.

ALEX (looking relieved): Oh, well that's just business, Harper. If that's what she has to do then you're not going to be able to change things by staying another couple of days.

HARPER: Actually, I was thinking of staying til the new year.

ALEX: The new year?! That's impossible! What about Kimberly? You can't just take off on her.

HARPER: The Senate is in recess, Alex. She's back in New Orleans through the holidays. I'm actually closer to her here than I am at the office. I have my laptop and phone; I'm not just disappearing.

ALEX: You've already decided, haven't you?

Harper nods.

ALEX: Then I guess there's no reason for me not to go tomorrow. But I'm going on the record here, Harper: I don't understand the point of this. I think you're making a mistake not coming home with me.

HARPER: Yeah. I know you do.


Scene: Poinsettia Town Square Christmas Tree Lighting. The school choir is assembled on risers and the marching band is in chairs playing Christmas carols. A beauty queen in a long sparkly gown and gigantic crown is seated in a makeshift throne in the gazebo, which is decorated in Christmas lights and poinsettias. Harper is walking with Amy Ray.

AMY RAY: Where is Alex?

HARPER: Packing.

AMY RAY: He's not coming?

HARPER: No, he's decided to head home tomorrow.

AMY RAY: Oh, I'm sorry honey. Is everything okay with you two?

HARPER: I guess. I told him I was going to stay here through the holidays to help Mama. He thinks I'm being stupid.

AMY RAY: Well I think you're being sweet, Sissy. Guys like Alex, they don't always understand what family means to girls like us.

Harper lays her arm across Amy Ray's shoulders and gives her a squeeze.

HARPER: Family first, right? And I can not wait to add that little cocoa bean you're carrying to our family!

AMY RAY: Speaking of cocoa, you want to get some?

The two of them head to the hot chocolate stand, where they join the short line. The man in front of them turns around. It is Beau Bergeron.

BEAU: We meet again, Harper Lee Delahoussaye.

HARPER: Are you following me Beau?

BEAU: It's a small town, my friend. If you don't get outside the Town Square, you don't see a lot of new faces. (nods to Amy Ray) Amy Ray.

AMY RAY: Beau. How's your mama'nem?

BEAU: Good, good. Everyone's good.

AMY RAY: Good. Hey Harper, I think I see Will over by the bonfire. I'll catch up with you in a minute.

HARPER: Okay, sweetie. (To Beau:) It's 60 degrees out here and they've got a bonfire going.

BEAU: Excuse me! It's like...56! That chill in the air is practically an arctic blast in these parts! Anyway, it's tradition.

HARPER: I know...and I love it, really. You just look at things with different eyes after you've been gone for a while.

BEAU: I suppose. But I guess I I like the way things look here. I never felt the need to see them any differently.

HARPER: Well, hey! Guess what? I've decided to stay until the new year. I suppose my eyes will refocus by then.


Scene: Poinsettia Town Square Christmas Tree Lighting. School Choir is singing "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!" to the accompaniment of the high school band. Menetre, Will and Amy Ray are at the front of the crowd. Harper walks up with a cup of hot chocolate and joins them.

HARPER: Hey y'all.

MENETRE: Hey, baby. You're just in time. They're lighting the tree next!

HARPER: Who's throwing the switch this year?

WILL: From what I understand, a town celebrity came home for it.

HARPER: "Town celebrity"? Who in the world could that be?

AMY RAY (laughing): Someone who played in the 1986 Sugar Bowl, no doubt.

The town mayor comes to the microphone in the gazebo.

MAYOR: Good evening and Merry Christmas, Poinsettia! I want to welcome everyone and thank you for coming out tonight. Thank you to Mrs. LaMarca and the high school choir (clapping), to Mr. Jameson and the marching band (clapping) and to this year's Miss Delphine Parish Fair Queen - Maribelle Madison! Our first third-generation Fair Queen!

Maribelle steps forward, parade waves to the crowd.

MAYOR: Now, without further adieu, let's get this tree lighted! I am so proud to welcome home tonight's Star Lighter. She grew up right here on our Town Square and was a star student at DPHS and then at LSU. After college, she went on to even bigger and brighter stars to work for our Honorable Senator Kimberly Hebert in our nation's capital. But she is back home with us tonight! Please give a warm Poinsettia welcome home to MISS HARPER LEE DELAHOUSSAYE!

The crowd claps. Harper's eyes are wide. She shoots Will an I'm-going-to-get-you-for-this look and makes her way to the gazebo stage.

MAYOR: Hello, Harper Lee and welcome!

HARPER: Hi. Thank you. And merry Christmas, Poinsettia!

The crowd cheers. The mayor holds out a large power strip to Harper.

MAYOR: Now, Miss Harper Lee, if you'll do the honors.

Harper flips the switch and the tree lights up. The crowd cheers. The band breaks into "Joy to the World."

Fade to black.

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