Tales of food, sex and friendship




Archive for November, 2012

Season 8, Episode 4

November 20, 2012


It was still dark when the overwhelming nausea woke Mia up. She’d remembered reading somewhere that morning sickness wasn’t meant to last for too long, but she figured the person who wrote that we either a man or had never been pregnant. Either way, it was complete and utter bullshit. She felt as though she couldn’t even remember a time when she didn’t  have to leap out of bed early in the morning to empty the contents of her stomach into the toilet bowl – quietly, so that no one else in the house knew what she was doing.

She pushed herself out of bed as inaudibly as she could, thankful at least for the fact that Johnny was a heavy sleeper. He had never woken during these morning jaunts. The wave of queasiness hit her like a freight train and she retched, clamping her hand over her mouth and running to the bathroom, barely managing to make it to the toilet before whatever remained of last night’s dinner made its way up her oesophagus and into the porcelain bowl.
Mia sank to the floor, groaning. She waited for the second bout of biliousness she knew would be arriving within the next minute or so. At least it was predictable in that way. That was something she could be grateful for. Five… four… three… and there it was. She pushed her hair back and leant forward.

A knock. The door handle turned. “Mia are you in there?”

Oh my God. I forgot to lock the door, Mia thought frantically. “Don’t open the door!” she shouted. But it was too late.

“What did you… Oh my God! Mia! What’s wrong?”

Mia wiped her mouth with some toilet paper and sat down shakily on the floor. Fuck.

“You poor darling,” Johnny said, rushing over and picking her up in his arms as if she were weightless. He carried her back to the bedroom and lay her gently on the bed. He ran out again and got a cool, damp cloth and a bucket.

“Is it food poisoning?” he said, gently pressing the cool cloth against her brow.

“Not exactly.”

“Flu?”

“No.”

“Have you caught some kind of stomach bug?”

Mia shook her head miserably.

Johnny looked puzzled for a few seconds before an expression of clarity came over his face. “Oh. It’s… wow. You’re…?”

Mia nodded.

She had expected one of two reactions when she eventually told Johnny she was pregnant. The most desirable obviously was for him to jump up and down in excitement then run joyously through the streets, shouting out their great news to anyone who would listen. The less desirable was for him to get mad with himself for letting this happen (again), tell her that he wasn’t ready to have a kid with her yet, and then offer to drive her to the clinic and pay for half of the abortion. Either of those she could have dealt with.

She didn’t expect silence.

“What are you going to do?” he said after a few minutes.

Mia hadn’t been expecting that, either. “I thought we could… you know… talk about our options,” she mumbled.

“Yeah. Right.” Johnny said, swallowing rapidly. “What are the options?”

Mia looked at him in disbelief. Seriously? “Option one, is we keep the baby,” she snapped. “Option two, is we don’t keep the baby.”

“Yeah. Right.” He swallowed again. “Um… what do you want to do?”

Mia couldn’t believe she was hearing this. This wasn’t the same guy that had come half-way around the world to be with her, was it?

“I had hoped we could make a decision together,” she said coldly. “But if that’s too much for you…”

“No… no. I just…”

“What. You just what?”

Johnny sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “I don’t know. I’m not sure what to say.”

“You don’t know what to say?” Mia repeated, incredulously. Of course she wanted Johnny to have input in what happened – it was his kid too – but honestly, either he wanted the baby or not. This wasn’t something you could think on for a few months and then make a decision. Or just see how it went and opt out if you didn’t like it. “You’d better think of something soon,” she snapped. “Because we can’t just put this on ice.”

“I know, I know,” he said. He took her hands in his own, and she promptly pulled away. “Please Mia, you have to understand…”

“Understand?” her voice was trill, bordering on hysterical.

“Calm down,” he said softly. “There’s a lot going on right now, and you’re probably feeling very hormonal…”

“Oh no you didn’t!” Mia said, cutting him off. “You have no right – NO RIGHT – to tell me how I feel! I know how I feel! I feel crap! I feel fat and sick and stupid for letting this happen and…” once the tears started to fall there was no stopping them. “And… I… don’t… even… know… if… you… love… me,” she sobbed.

“Of course I love you,” Johnny said. “But it’s big news, Mia. You’ve known about this for, what, weeks?”

Mia nodded trying to control the sobs that were wracking her body.

“Well I’ve only just found out about it,” Johnny said. “And I just need a little bit of time to process. I need to figure out a few things, that’s all. ”

Mia nodded slowly and wiped her face with her hands. “Well, let me know when you’ve decided what you want Johnny. Because I can’t live like this for much longer.”

She turned and left the room, closing the door quietly behind her and locking herself in the bathroom until she heard Johnny leave the house.

***

Season 8, Episode 3

November 13, 2012

Willow hiked the bed-covers further up over her legs and pulled her big woolen cardigan around her shoulders. The pillows behind her back had started to fall down the crack between the mattress and the bed frame, but she couldn’t be bothered rearranging them. What was the point? They’d just fall back down again. She looked down at the page of the book she was reading. It was the same one she’d been on for the last forty minutes. She blinked. Who the hell was Charmaine and where had shecome from?

Closing the book, she tossed it on the ground next to her bed. It landed spine down with a dull thud on the carpeted floor, pages splaying open and the bookmark falling out. Didn’t really matter. It wasn’t like she had any idea what was going on up to that point anyway. She reached her hand out for the cup of chamomile tea she’d made. It was stone cold. She tentatively took a sip anyway, wondering if it would have the same calming properties. It tasted bitter. She made a face and put the mug back on the bedside table. Sliding her body further underneath the blankets, she switched her reading light off and rolled over. She listened to her own breath, even and steady. Couldn’t get comfortable. She fussed with the pillows and rolled over again, finally giving in and switching the light back on. Her usually faithful buddy, sleep, was being particularly evasive tonight.

Swinging her legs out of bed she tip-toed towards the kitchen, pulling the door silently behind her before switching on the light. The house was deathly silent, the others having gone to bed hours ago. The clock on the oven told her it was nearly six. She turned the kettle on and got out a fresh mug. She opened a cupboard, searching for another camomile tea bag. Her gaze rested instead on an open bottle of sherry she used for cooking. She pulled it out and poured a slug into the mug. That would probably help her sleep more than the tea, anyway. She sat heavily on a stool and rubbed her eyes, wincing at the saccharine flavor of the alcohol as she took a healthy swig. She waited until the cloying taste had dissipated and took another gulp. Wasn’t too bad after the initial shock.

Her laptop sat at the other end of the bench, antagonistic in its presence. She hadn’t opened it for days. Not since she had seen Fred and Marjorie (or, as Willow preferred to call her “that bitch from the bank”) walking down a pier in Sausalito, hand in hand. That day had been the start of the niggling feeling in the pit of her stomach; a sensation of dread that wouldn’t go away.

She polished off the mug of sherry and went back for seconds. Truly, it got better the more you drank!

She knew once she opened her laptop she would go straight to her internet banking business account. She didn’t want to do that. She was terrified of what she would find. Or, rather, what she wouldn’t find. She was sure there were many explanations as to why Fred would be out with that lady, but she couldn’t stop dwelling one one: That he was playing Willow. That he had duped her into giving him all her money and was in cohorts with Marjorie (if that was even her real name!) and they were going to abscond to Hawaii or Costa Rica and live happily ever after while Willow had to survive as a pauper, not able to pay the rent, or get a job, finally ending up on the streets living out of a cardboard box and…

She lifted the mug to her lips. Empty again. Time for another refill.

Now, where was she? Oh yes. Pauper. Cardboard box.

Emptying the rest of the sherry into her cup she eyed the laptop again. The sherry had taken the edge off and she felt wonderfully blurry, a sense of possibility creeping in where previously she had felt only doom. So what if Fred had screwed her? She could still make it work. She could find another investor and do it all over again. And it would be all the sweeter when the business worked because she would have done it off her own steam, not relying on other people. Besides, there were some very decent cardboard boxes out there, so if it all fell through, there was nothing to say she couldn’t live a very respectable existence. Hell, she could even have a vacation cardboard box set up somewhere warm to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas! Something Romney could be proud of, you know?

She glanced at the clock on the oven again. 6:30am. The others would be up soon. It was now or never. She pried the lid of the laptop open and fired it up. She logged into her bank account and, squeezing her eyes shut for only a moment, looked at the screen.

For a second, it didn’t register. She blinked and looked again, to make sure she wasn’t imaging it.

The money was still there. All of it.

“What the hell…?”

Instead of relief, Willow just felt more confused. If Fred wasn’t scamming her, then why had her intuition spiraled out of control? And why was he hanging out with Marjorie?

So, Willow did the only logical thing one can in such a situation. She put on a hat, some dark glasses and a trench coat, and set off to stake out Fred’s house in order to get the bottom of it all.

***

She followed him to a large coffee shop and took a seat in the far back corner, so she could see him and he couldn’t see her. She didn’t understand what all the fuss with spying was. Seriously, it was a doddle! She smiled smugly to herself. Best spy ever.

“Willow?”

Fuck. Worst spy ever.

“Oh, hi Fred. I didn’t even see you there.”

“Are you OK? I’ve emailed you a few times, but you haven’t responded.”

“I’ve been… sick. Yeah, really sick.” She coughed pathetically.

Fred sniffed the air. “Can you smell… sherry?”

“Cough medicine,” Willow said quickly. “I’ve had lots of it.”

Fred sat down opposite her. “And why are you wearing sunglasses inside?”

Willow snatched the sunglasses off her face. “Sensitivity to the light. From being sick.” She coughed again.

“Right.” Fred looked at her a little strangely. “Anyway, I’m so glad I’ve run into you. There’s something I need to talk to you about. I feel really terrible that I hadn’t told you this earlier, but… well, I’ve met someone.”

“Oh yes?” Willow said weakly.

“Do you remember the lady from the bank? The one who couldn’t give us the loan?”

“Um, yeah. Sort of,” Willow mumbled.

“I ran into her at the grocery store the other week and we started chatting about the dry grown tomatoes… Have you tried them?”

“The tomatoes?”

“Yes.”

“No.”

“Ah. Well they’re good. Very good. Anyway, we were talking about the tomatoes and she said that she had a great recipe for gazpacho and I told her how I loved gazpacho and then she invited me over and… well, what I’m trying to say, is that… we’re kind of going out now. I was too scared to tell you because I didn’t think you liked her very much.”

Willow suddenly felt exhaustion surge through her. That was it? Fred had started seeing someone that he didn’t think she’d like?

“That’s great Fred. I’m really happy for you.” She stood up and slung her bag over her shoulder. Bed was definitely calling. “I really should get home.”

“We should all get together for dinner sometime.”

“Sure.”

“I’ll get her to make gazpacho.”

“Sounds great. Bye Fred.”

Willow hailed a cab and went home. She fell into bed without taking her clothes off and slept until late that afternoon, waking up with only the mildest of hangovers.

***

Season 8, Episode 2

November 6, 2012

Sitting in her bedroom with the door closed Ana didn’t need to hide the tears as they ran down her face. Homesick, jobless, alone. Ana was absolutely and positively miserable.

For so many years, Ana felt as though her life was completely on track. Of course, there were several – fairly major – hiccups on the way, but when one is wallowing in self-pity regarding the current state of one’s life, these incidents tend to get glossed over.
Right now it felt to her as though Mia and Willow were both going places and here she was, uselessly unemployable and woefully lonely. She was seriously considering going back to Melbourne, but what was left there for her?

She felt another bout of hot tears welling up in her eyes and wiped them  away angrily.“Oh, snap out of it,” she chastised herself. Taking a few deep breaths she grabbed her towel. Time for a shower and another day of job hunting.

Great.

***

It was unseasonably gorgeous weather, the November greyness not having descended yet on San Francisco. Already at nine o’clock the sun was bright in the sky and there wasn’t a hint of fog anywhere. It wasn’t hot sun, but it was sun nevertheless, and Ana basked in in like a lizard on a rock, hoping that an excess of vitamin D might snap her out of her melancholy mood. She was sitting in the small outdoor area and eating breakfast, slowly sipping coffee and nibbling on toast. The Vegemite that they had bought over was running low, so it was being rationed very sparingly by all of them. One piece of toast a day. Ana made sure she savoured every single crumb. After the last skerrick was devoured, Ana knew she could avoid the inevitable no longer. Firing up her laptop, she started the unhappy task of trawling through the latest lot of job offerings that were presented to her.

She sighed loudly, wondering what delights of the corporate world would be on offer today, when her inbox showed a new message. Her heart brightened a little as she toggled between the screens. Anything to break the monotony of finding a job!

Her heart skipped another beat when she saw who the email was from. She hadn’t heard from Tom in ages. He had crossed her mind more than once in recent weeks, and having had no communication from him, she often wondered if he still thought of her at all.

Hi Ana,
How is life going in San Fran? (I heard that no-one over there calls it ‘San Fran’ except tourists. Is that true?) I’m sure that by now you have a fabulous job and have settled into your glamourous new life there. Things here are the same: We won a few more contracts so I’m flat out with work again. It’s good and I shouldn’t complain but sometimes I just feel like packing it all in, you know? Apart from that, nothing really to tell. Except you’re not here and that is pretty weird actually. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think of you always and miss you.
Much love,
T.

Ana re-read the email a number of times. She hit the reply button, but couldn’t think of anything to write. Her pride stopped her pouring her heart out to Tom, telling him just how miserable she really was and how she wished that things could just go back to the way they were.

She desperately wanted to tell him that she missed the way he made her feel like everything was going to be all right; she missed his strong hands, his broad back, his soft lips, the way he’d rake his fingers down her back when…

She shut the laptop lid quickly. Thinking about things like that wasn’t going to get her anywhere, so she decided that she needed a walk to clear her head.

***

Wandering down the street, she was surprised to see so many people out and about carrying posters and wearing t-shirts with slogans on them. Ana almost started laughing when she realised what it was. She had been so caught up in her own spiral of desolation, she had completely forgotten that today was election day! She followed a hoard of people carrying Obama posters, vaguely pretending that she could actually have some impact on the outcome of the election.

“Ana?”

Ana turned around, scanning faces to see where the voice came from. A tall woman wearing and Obama jumper and cap was waving at her.

“I thought it was you! How are you?”

Ana peered at the person. She knew she’d met them, but where? And how?

“It’s Joey.” The woman pulled off the cap. It was the wonderful lady Ana had done a bit of work with before she’d quit the job at Bleau.

“Joey!” Ana grinned. “I didn’t recognise you.” She greeted the woman with a hug and kiss on the cheek.

They exchanged pleasantries about the weather and how the outcome of the election would determine whether the planned move to Siberia went ahead or not, and within a couple of minutes Ana’s mood had brightened considerably. She had forgotten how much she had liked this woman when she’d met her previously. Joey had an infectiously vibrant and delightful personality and Ana found herself wishing she could spend more time hanging out with her.

“What are you doing at the moment?” Joey asked, as they ambled in the general direction of where Joey’s friends were waiting for her.

“Like, right now?”

“I was wondering more in general. I heard that you’d left Bleau.”

“Yes. I had a… misunderstanding with the guy who owns the company.”

“It’s OK,” Joey said grinning. “You can say it. He’s a complete misogynist. I think you’re way better off not being there.”

Ana smiled wanly. Misogynist or not, at least it was a job!

“So, where are you working now?” Joey continued.

“Still trying to find something else.”

“Really? I thought you would have been snapped up immediately.”

Ana blushed. “Not yet.”

Joey’s friends called for her to hurry up and Joey smiled apologietically at Ana. “I should go,” she said. “But let’s keep in touch?”

Ana nodded and waved as Joey ran to catch up with her group. “Good luck today!” Ana called after her. “Go Obama!”

Joey turned and grinned, giving the victory sign.

***

Ana had nearly reached home when her mobile rang.

“Ana, it’s Joey. I had to double check something before I mentioned this to you, but do you remember me telling that our funding came predominantly from a single source? A woman who donates a pretty decent chunk of money to us every year?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I told her all about you and she said that we could use the funding the hire you outright. Full time.”

Ana was shocked. “Wow.”

“It’s not great pay,” Joey cautioned. “Like, really not great. Probably less than half of what you earned at your last job. And the contract would only be for 12 months to begin, but it would be fun and you’d be really helping a fantastic cause.”

“Wow,” Ana said again. “That’s… that’s really flattering.” She toyed with the idea in her head. It would be something different and an exciting project to work on. But, how could she afford to live on that little money? And did she really want to stay here for that long?  “Can I think about it and call you back?”

Joey paused and Ana could tell that she was disappointed that Ana hadn’t made a snap decision.“Sure. Can you let me know within the week?”

Ana hung up the phone. The pay would suck, that was for sure. And it would mean she was locked in to stay here for 12 months, at least. But maybe once she was working she would be happier here? And Joey was totally awesome. Ana couldn’t remember the last time she met someone so fun and kind and inspiring.

“What is there to think about?” Ana said aloud, taking her phone back out of her bag and pressing callback.

“I’m in,” she said excitedly, when Joey answered.

“That was quick,” Joey said, laughing. “What made the decision?”

“I couldn’t think of anyone else I’d rather work with,” Ana said truthfully.

She could hear the smile in Joey’s voice. “I think I’m going to really enjoy working with you too, Ana. Very much indeed.”

***