Tales of food, sex and friendship




Archive for June, 2012

Season 6, Episode 11

June 26, 2012

Willow wandered down the hotel hall towards the suite that the three for them had been calling ‘home’ for a couple of weeks now. It was already 11:15am and she’d just managed to catch the very end of the buffet breakfast, the staff leaving it on a bit longer for her, still grateful for the multitude of pastries and cakes that had been left for them by this rather lovely guest.

She inserted her card into the door of the hotel room and pushed it open. Ana was draped over the couch, wrapped in a bath robe, and Mia was sitting cross legged on a chair, staring absently into space, still in her pyjamas.

Willow gritted her teeth. It had been the same every day since they’d arrived back in London: Killing time until Ana and Mia felt better, stronger, ready to make important decisions about their lives. Willow was beginning to feel like she was in limbo, waiting for her fate to be determined by her two friends who were – currently – incapable of making a decision harder than which crappy movie to watch next. She had tried to talking to them about going somewhere new – just like they had planned – and starting fresh, but they hadn’t wanted to do that just yet and Willow had indulged them, not wanting to push them into something they weren’t ready for. The three of them had even talked about the possibility of going back to Melbourne, starting over there. At least there everything was familiar. Mia could give it a real shot with Johnny and Ana could try to work things out with Tom.

But even that was a choice they apparently weren’t ready to make.

“What do you want to do today?” Willow asked in a faux cheerful voice.

Mia looked blankly at Willow. “Huh?”

“Today,” Willow repeated. “What do you want to do?”

“Ummm…” Mia shrugged. “Nothing?”

“We did nothing yesterday,” Willow said, trying to keep her voice calm. “And the day before that, and the day before that.”

“So?”

“I’m bored,” she said, her irritation showing through. “We’re in London. For goodness sake. There are a million fun things we could be doing.”

“I don’t feel like doing anything fun,” Mia said in a petulant voice.

“Oh for god’s sake!” Willow exclaimed. “Snap out of it!”

Mia looked at her, eyes wide, before promptly bursting into tears.

“Oh no… don’t cry,” Willow said, immediately regretting sniping at her friend when she was in such a fragile state. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be cranky.”

“It’s not you,” Mia said, trying her best to sniff back the tears. “It’s just… I miss Johnny.”

“I know you do,” Willow said, stroking her hair. “But don’t you think…” she trailed off.

“What?”

“Well, don’t you think that maybe if we went out and did something then you might feel better? It might take your mind off it?”

“I don’t really feel like doing anything either,” Ana chimed in. “You go out, Willow. We’ll stay here.”

“But it’s more fun if we do something together,” Willow said. “Please? Just for a few hours?”

Ana sighed reluctantly and looked at Mia. “What do you think?”

Mia shrugged. “Oh, all right then. But only for a few hours. I don’t really feel like being around people at the moment.”

***

It was a crisp, sunny day and there were people everywhere, smiling and happy. Tourists posed to have their photos taken and kids ran around, laughing and eating ice-cream. But even wandering along the Thames, going to the Tate Modern and devouring a delicious Greek feast (well, Willow devoured. Ana and Mia picked) didn’t manage to bring so much as a smile to Ana or Mia’s lips.

“Can we go back to the hotel yet?” Ana said yawning, as they stood taking in the vista of London bridge.

That was the last straw. Willow snapped. “I can’t do this anymore!”

Mia and Ana looked at her, puzzled.

“Do what?” said Mia.

“Deal with you two! You do nothing but sit around the hotel and mope all day. I thought that we were meant to be embarking on a new better life? Quite frankly, at the moment it’s a bit crap.” Willow sighed. “We may as well just go back to Melbourne if this is what we’re going to do here.”

“Willow, I think that’s a bit unfair,” Ana said. “We’ve been through a lot and…”

Willow cut her off. “We’ve all been through a lot. No more excuses. We either do this properly or we don’t do it at all.”

“What are you saying?” Mia asked.

“I’m saying that we need to decide. Either we pack it in an go back to our old home in Melbourne or we do what originally planned and move to our new home.”

“Can’t we just stay here for another week or so,” said Ana. “See how we feel then?”

“No,” Willow said adamantly. “It’s time to choose.”

Ana and Mia looked at each other and nodded slowly.

“Let’s go home,” Mia said.

***

There was a slight bump as they touched down. Ana lent over and squeezed Willow and Mia’s hands.

“Welcome home,” she said.

The pilot’s voice came over the loud speaker. “Ladies and Gentleman, welcome to San Francisco where the local time is ten-fifteen am and the weather… well, lets just say it will change about fifteen times over the course of the day.” The pilot paused, giving time for the chuckled laughter of his captive audience. “If you’re visiting this lovely city, then have a fantastic time, and if you’re returning, then welcome home.”

“Home,” Willow repeated softly, letting the word linger on her tongue. It felt good. Right. A new start with new people to meet and adventures to be had. Her stomach rumbled loudly. Adventures will come, she thought. First things first. At this juncture, the most important thing was discovering some new food to be eaten! Even in business class, plane food was still plane food.

They collected their bags and walked slowly towards the big shiny doors that stood between them and their new lives.

“Ready?” Ana said.

“Yep,” said Willow.

Mia nodded and took a deep breath. “Absolutely.”

Together, they stepped through the doors. They were home.

***

This is the final episode of Season 6. Stay tuned for Season 7, when Ravenous returns in a couple of weeks.

Thanks for reading. xxx

Season 6, Episode 10

June 19, 2012

By the time the three girls managed to check back into the Langham in London, Willow felt as though she were a nanny in charge of two sullen children: Ana was feeling very sorry for herself and the general state of her life; Mia hadn’t resolved anything concrete with Johnny – who had flown back to Australia a few days earlier – so was in a particularly foul mood too. The two of them had spent the day sniping at anyone and everyone – air hostesses, taxi drivers, the concierge, even each other – and Willow was looking forward to a long bath and having some time – and space – to herself.

The suite they’d booked last time – but didn’t really get to use – had already been taken by someone else, so they stayed in a smaller suite, equally lavish but with slightly less space. They could have arranged for separate rooms, but Willow wanted the three of them to stay together, at least for a little while, until she was sure that Ana was doing a bit better.

As soon as they got into the room, Ana and Mia plonked themselves on either ends of the couch, sighing simultaneously. Mia kicked off her shoes and tucked her toes underneath her as Ana picked up the remote, flicking aimlessly through channels until she came across a movie. George Clooney’s face filled the screen and Mia and Ana both let out a little sigh.

“I truly believe,” Ana said, “that our lives would be one hundred percent better if we could just meet George Clooney.”

“Oh yes,” Mia said. “I agree.”

Willow smiled and rolled her eyes. She had never understood the George obsession that most females tended to have. “Do you guys mind if I head out for a little walk?” she said.

She took the grunted response to be in the affirmative and walked out of the room in search of some piece and quiet.

***

It was raining outside and so Willow decided to say within the hotel. The concierge had pointed her in the direction of a small, secluded bar, that was reserved for special guests. Willow took that to mean guests who were paying stupid amounts of money for their accommodation.

As it turned out, the bar was perfect.  It was at the top of the hotel, affording an incredible view of the twinkling city below, and was empty aside from a barman cleaning glasses and a guy softly playing the piano. Willow ordered a glass of champagne and took a seat next to the window, getting lost in the maze of alleys and lights, wishing that Robert could have been there to share it with her. She took a sip the champagne, the bubbles popping lightly on her tongue as the cool liquid slid down her throat. It should have been a happy moment, but she was overwhelmed by a sadness so exhausting that all she could do was give into it. She been bottling it up for the last few days, trying to keep a happy face on when she was around the others. Out of nowhere, tears sprang to her eyes and she started crying. They weren’t uncontrollable sobs, but delicate hiccups of tears. She cried for Ana’s divorce and Mia’s relationship that seemed destined for failure. And she cried for Robert, her beautiful man who she would never ever see again. She barely even noticed when the pianist stopped playing mid song and walked over to her.

“I’m no concert pianist, but I didn’t think it was that bad,” a kindly American voice said.

Willow smiled thinly. She was not in the mood for small talk. “The playing is beautiful. Please don’t stop.” And please leave me alone.

“Well if it’s not the playing, then is it something else I can help with?”

“No thanks. I’d just like to be on my own.”

“How about another drink?”

“Oh for gods sake,” Willow said angrily. “Can’t a girl cry over her dead boyfriend in peace?” She immediately regretted shouting at the man. He was just the piano player, after all. She softened. “I’m sorry. That was very rude of me. I apologise.”

“No need to apologise,” he said. “I shouldn’t be sticking my nose in other people’s business, but when I see a beautiful girl crying…”

Through her tears,Willow gave him a scathing look.

He laughed. “OK, I get it. At least let me buy you a drink though. To apologise. My girlfriend would never forgive me if I didn’t try to make amends after offending someone.”

Willow sighed. “Oh, OK them. A champagne please.”

A bottle of French champagne appeared at the table minutes later. “They don’t do the really good stuff by the glass,” the man said, shrugging. “You don’t have to finish the whole thing.”

Willow laughed and shook her head. “You may as well join me then,” she said. “I couldn’t bear to see good champagne go to waste.”

***

As it turned out, the man was a very good listener and sat silently while Willow recounted – what felt like – her entire life story. It was so good to talk to someone about it though, someone who didn’t know her or Ana or Mia or Robert or Johnny or Tom. Someone who would just listen and not offer advice.

“I thought that leaving Melbourne would help me forget,” she said after she had been through the entire sage. “But it hasn’t.”

The man took a thoughtful sip of his champagne. “What would you do to make yourself feel better if you were at home?”

“If I was at home?”

“There must be something that you do when you’re feeling sad. Something that you can only do at home. For example, I like to get into my oldest pyjamas and climb into bed with a huge stack of newspapers and a plate of toast and not worry about getting crumbs on the sheets.”

Willow grinned. “Well, if I was at home, I’d bake. I’d keep baking until there was nothing left to bake. Until I’d used every single cup of flour and gram of butter in the house and every single surface was covered in cakes!”

“Baking, eh?” The man smiled at her. “Wait here.”

He sprang up and spoke quietly to the barman who made a phone call and then nodded at the gentleman.

“Follow me,” the man said, waking back towards Willow.

“Where are we going?”

“The kitchen.”

“The kitchen?”

“I know it’s not your own one, but it might help a little,” he said, weaving through a maze of corridors. “Ah-ha. Here we are.”

Another man, dressed in an impeccable black suit, pushed open a door and ushered them into the biggest, shiniest, most beautiful kitchen Willow had ever seen.

“It’s all yours until the breakfast shift, Mr Clooney,” the man in the impeccable suit said as he walked back out.

Willow turned around sharply and looked at the man in front of her carefully. Tall, dark, handsome, well dressed, American…
“Errr… What did you say your name was?” she asked slowly.

“I didn’t, but it’s George.”

“Right,” Willow said, feeling like a prize idiot. “George. As in, George Clooney.”

He shrugged, smiling, and pulled on a white apron. “Tell me what to do, Chef.”

***

Even Willow wouldn’t have been able to bake her way through all the flour and butter that this kitchen had to offer, but she did her best. Hours later, the counters were lined with croissant, cakes, pies and breads. As it turned out, George had proven to be a very good assistant, even licking the mixing bowls clean when she’d made up the batter. Willow hummed happily as she washed up the last of the crockery and put it away.

George yawned. “Well, not even my jet lag is going to keep me awake for much longer, Chef. I think I might turn in.”

Willow looked at the clock. It was nearly time for the breakfast crew to start preparing anyway.

“I might take some of these though,” he said, filling a container with fresh croissant and danish. He winked and gave Willow a small wave as he walked towards the door.

“George?”

He turned.

“Thank you,” she said sincerely.

***

Willow opened the door to her hotel room quietly. She was smiling to herself and for the first time in weeks she felt completely at peace. The TV was still on in the background, both the girls asleep on either ends of the couch.

Ana sat up groggily as she heard the door close.“Whatimeisit?”

“It’s still early,” Willow whispered, so as not to wake Mia. “Go back to sleep.”

Ana stretched and rubbed her eyes. She peered at Willow. “You look different,” she said. “Happy.”

Willow grinned. “You were right,” she said. “All I needed to do was meet George Clooney.”

***

Season 6, Episode 9

June 12, 2012

Ana shoved the rest of her belongings into her handbag and picked up the large bunch of flowers that still sat next to the bed. She looked around the small hospital room to see if there was  anything she’d forgotten. She wasn’t going to miss this place, that was for sure: Bad food; pervasive smell of disinfectant; grumpy nurses. Yep, she sure was glad to be going home.

Home.

Wherever that was.

It was a strange feeling not knowing where you belonged. Up until recently she had been sure of where her home was. It was in Melbourne, with Tom. But now…? Now it was anywhere she wanted it to be. But she wasn’t quite sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing.

The door to the room opened and the doctor walked in.

“I’m glad I caught you,” he said in a friendly tone. “I wanted to say goodbye.”

“I would say it was great to be here,” Ana said. “But, I don’t look forward to coming back anytime soon.”

“I hope not,” the doctor said with brevity. “I sincerely hope you mean that.”

“Of course I do,” Ana said.

The doctor hesitated. “You know there is always help around you if you need it.”

Ana laughed dismissively. “Oh, I don’t need help. I’m fine.”

“Well, if you ever do…” He trailed off as Willow walked into the room.

“Everything OK?” Willow said, concern etched on her face.

“Everything’s fine,” Ana said brightly. “I’m ready to go when you are.” She hitched her bag onto her shoulder and walked past the doctor, out of the room.

***

“What shall we do tonight?” Willow said as they walked slowly towards Ana’s hotel room. “Anything you want.”

“I think I’ll just have a quiet one,” Ana said. “I’m pretty beat. Besides, it’s so nice to have my own room with no nurses coming in every five minutes to check on me.”

“I guess they were just doing their job,” Willow said. “We were all pretty worried about you.”

“I know,” said Ana. “But you really didn’t need to be. The doctors said that there was no long term damage and that I’m right as rain.”

Willow tugged at a loose thread on her t-shirt. “I suppose they weren’t sure… you know…”

“If I was going to kill myself?”

“Well I wasn’t going to put it quite like that, but yeah, I guess so.”

Ana laughed. “Don’t worry. I’m fine.”

“You’d talk to me if you weren’t though?”

“Of course.” Ana stopped outside her door and slid the card into the lock. “I promise, Willow, I’m absolutely fine.”

Willow gave her friend a hug and walked next door to her own room. Ana pulled the door shut and rested against it, closing her eyes, sighing in relief.

Alone, at last.

It felt as though she hadn’t managed any alone time in weeks. She stepped out of her clothes and turned on the shower, letting the hot water rush over her body, steam filling the room. She washed her hair, inhaling the smell of the shampoo. It reminded her of Tom. She was almost certain that it was the same brand that he used. She felt a sudden pang of… regret? Sadness? She hadn’t had time to miss him before now, but it suddenly hit her, and she felt tears well in her eyes and start running down her cheeks, mixing with the shower water. She rinsed her hair quickly and stepped out of the shower, not bothering to dry herself properly, pulling on the hotel bathrobe.
She picked up the phone and dialed Tom’s number. She still knew it off the top of her head.

“This is Tom’s phone.” The voice was light, playful, a hint of laughter around the edges. “Hello? Anyone there?”

Ana heard a small struggle then giggling.

“Give that to me,” Tom’s muffled voice said. The girl laughed again before handing him the phone. “Hello, this is Tom.”

Ana felt her heart skip a beat.

“Hello? Hello? Anyone there?”

“Tom…it’s…it’s Ana.”

The background laughter stopped. Ana could have sworn she heard Tom say “shhhh”.

“Ana! How are you?”

Ana curled the cord of the phone around her fingers. “I’m fine.”

“I haven’t heard from you in ages. Not since… I tried calling you a few times, but you never answered.”

“I’ve been away,” Ana said. “Overseas.”

“But you’re back?”

“Actually, I’m still away,” she said carefully. “Not coming back for a while I don’t think.”

Silence on the other end of the line.

“Tom?”

“Yeah, I’m still here.”

“Oh. Well… how are you?”

“I’m fine,” he said brusquely. He sighed loudly. “Ana, what do you want?”

“I just wanted to say hi,” she said in a small voice. “To see how you were.”

“Well, I’m doing just great,” he said angrily. “You know, the usual. Working too hard. Wife divorcing me. Trying to get on with my life.Nothing out of the ordinary.”

“Who was that in the background?” Ana said, immediately wishing she hadn’t.

Tom sighed again. “That was Carly.”

“Are you… You’re seeing someone?”

“Well… yeah. I guess. I couldn’t wait around for you, could I?” he added defensively.

“No,” Ana said quickly. “I think it’s great. It’s really great.” Tears pricked her eyes again. “Tom, I’ve got to run, but we’ll chat again soon, OK?”

She hung up the phone before he could respond. Her heart was pounding and her mouth was dry. She felt frantic, her breath coming in short, shallow gasps. Without even realising what she was doing, Ana went to the fridge and yanked it open. She pulled out the small bottles of spirits and drank them, one at a time, barely stopping to take a breath. She couldn’t stop crying the entire time.

“I don’t’ want to feel like this anymore,” she whispered to herself between sobs.

She staggered into the bathroom where she’d put her toiletry bag and rifled through it finding what she was looking for. A full bottle of sleeping pills, prescribed before she left, to use for jet lag. She’d hardly had any of them. She popped off the lid, and emptied the pills into her hand.

***

Willow was flicking through television stations when there was a quiet knock on her door. She peered through the peephole. Ana was dressed in a robe, her hair wet, her face red and puffy from crying. Willow pulled open the door and ushered her in.

“What happened?”

“I’m not OK,” Ana said between sobs. “Willow, I’m not OK.”

Willow wrapped her arms around Ana and pulled her close, feeling her body heaving as she sobbed uncontrollably. Willow could smell booze on her breath and saw that, in her hand, Ana clutched a full bottle of sleeping tablets.

“I’m here,” Willow said. “It’s all going to be OK.”

***

Season 6, Episode 8

June 5, 2012

Mia woke with a start, heart hammering, mouth dry. Another nightmare, same as the others: She was trapped in a huge, empty grey house. No matter how hard she tried she couldn’t find a way out. Eventually, she gave up and collapsed on the floor, resigned to the fact she would be alone there, forever.

She sat up in bed, allowing her breathing to regulate and her rational mind to kick in again. The eerie green glow from the bedside clock told her it was 3:14am.

Too early to be awake.

She pulled back the covers slightly from the other side of the bed and felt relief flood through her. Johnny. He was still here. She didn’t know why he wouldn’t be, but she just couldn’t shake the feeling that she was going to lose him.

“I’ve only just got you,” she whispered to the sleeping figure. “Please don’t go away again.”

He rolled over, still asleep, and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close. Mia smiled and closed her eyes, eventually falling back into a dreamless sleep.

***

“Good morning sleepy head.”

Mia groggily opened her eyes. Johnny was sitting on the edge of the bed, grinning at her. She wiped the sleep from her eyes and stretched.

“What time is it?” she mumbled.

“Nearly ten.”

Mia groaned. “You should have woken me up.”

He leaned down and kissed her gently. “But you look so at peace when you’re asleep,” he whispered. “I couldn’t possibly disturb that.”

His skin felt cool and damp, and he smelled like shampoo with a hint of chlorine. He had nothing but a white towel wrapped around his waist. He’d obviously had his morning swim in the hotel pool and was showered, almost ready to start the day. Mia grinned back at him, a familiar warmth glowing in her chest and, for about the millionth time, marveled at his divine body. Sunlight streaming through the cracks in the curtains emphasised his toned abs and muscled arms. His skin had a hint of golden tan from the times during the last week they’d actually managed to leave the hotel room.

From where she lay, Mia ran a hand lightly over his chest, her fingers tingling where they connected with his skin. She pushed herself up to sitting, the white sheet falling from her naked torso. Johnny leaned forward and gently cupped her breast with his hand, lowering his head and kissing it slowly, seductively. Mia inhaled sharply, feeling her heartbeat quicken and the warmth in her chest spreading downwards. She ran her fingers roughly through his hair, forcing his mouth harder onto her nipples until she couldn’t tell if she felt pleasure or pain. She let out a small moan. Johnny lifted his head, bringing his lips to hers, his hands to either side of her face, kissing her deeply and ferociously.

“I love you so much,” he whispered, between kisses.

Mia gently pushed him away, a smile playing on the corner of her lips. She knelt on the edge of the bed, next to where he was sitting.

“Stand up.”

The towel did little to cover his excitement for her and she tugged it, throwing it to the floor. She roughly pulled him onto the bed, so he was lying on his back, and kissed his toes, his knees, his firm stomach and broad chest. She pinned his hands above his head with her own, straddling him. Very slowly, she slid him into her, moving gently, rhythmically, until neither of them could bare it any longer and they clutched at each other, their bodies convulsing in the most beautiful pleasure they could possibly imagine.

***

The bed was littered with half empty plates from a tapas feast Johnny had prepared. Plump, juicy tomatoes with buffalo mozzarella drizzled in olive oil, warm bread, cured meats and local cheeses. They’d spilled food on the sheets and there were crumbs everywhere.

“It’s the beauty of living in a hotel for a while,” Johnny said, brushing crumbs onto the floor. “We don’t actually have to clean anything up.”

He stroked Mia’s head gently, watching the gentle rise and fall of her chest. She seemed as though she were somewhere else entirely.

“What are you thinking about?” he said gently.

She wrapped her fingers around his, looking thoughtful before answering. “I was just wondering what happened,” she said.

“With what?”

“With you. Why are you here?”

“To see you,” Johnny said. “And Willow and Ana too.”

“But why now?”

He shrugged. “It’s like I said. I didn’t want to live a lie anymore.”

“But what about…” Mia paused. She didn’t really want to bring this up, but she knew they had to talk about it one day. “What about Cecelia?”

“That was never serious,” Johnny said. “I told you. I was just doing it so her family wouldn’t disown her.”

“Does she know it wasn’t for real?”

Johnny hesitated for a second. “Of course.”

“So she knows you’re here? She knows about us?”

“Well… Not exactly.”

“Johnny!”

“What? I didn’t even know there was going to be an us!” he said. “You weren’t exactly forthcoming in your feelings, you know.”

“Can you blame me?” Mia said. “Given everything that I know about you?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You’re not exactly a saint, Johnny.”

“That’s not fair!” he protested, sitting up in bed. “So I had a few indiscretions, but I’m here now. I love you.”

“I know you do,” Mia said slowly. “But you’re going to be a father. To another woman’s child. How do you think that makes me feel?”

“How do you think it makes me feel,” he replied, exasperated. “Look Mia, I don’t love Cecelia, I never have and never will. I’ll agree that it’s a fucked up situation, but we’ll make it work. I know we will.”

Mia nodded thoughtfully. “So what happens now?”

“We go home,” Johnny said. “Start over.”

“Home?”

“Yeah, back to Melbourne.”

“But…” Mia’s head reeled. “I can’t go back there.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t have a job, a house…I don’t have anything there anymore.”

“You’ll have me,” Johnny said.

“I know, but…” she trailed off.

“But you don’t know if I’m enough,” he finished bitterly.

“That’s not it at all,” Mia said quickly. “It’s just… well… I can’t be in Melbourne right now. I think it’s important for me – for us – to have a fresh start. To be somewhere without all the… history.”

“It’s a nice dream, Mia,” he said. “But I can’t exactly pack everything in and leave. I have a business, a house. A kid on the way.” As soon as it was out he immediately regretted the last sentence.

“As if I needed reminding,” Mia grumbled. She pushed herself off the bed and pulled on a robe, crossing her arms in front of her chest. “Why can’t we go somewhere new? To give us a real chance?”

“You don’t think we can do that in Melbourne?”

“No,” she said. She looked closely at him. “And I don’t think you do either.”

Johnny stood up, walking over to Mia and putting his arms on her shoulders. “You understand why I can’t leave there though?”

Mia nodded, blinking back tears. “And you understand why I can’t stay?”

Johnny shook his head, his shoulders slumping. “It seems we’re at a stalemate again.”

“It seems so,” Mia said sadly.

Johnny pulled her into his arms again, hugging her tight. “It shouldn’t be this hard, should it?”

No, thought Mia, as tears started to run down her face.

***