Tales of food, sex and friendship




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.”

***