Tales of food, sex and friendship




Season 7, Episode 1

July 24, 2012

Ana had been awake for a good few hours before she’d finally allowed herself out of bed, the dark circles under her eyes evidence of the fact that she’d slept terribly, if at all. She checked her watch. It was only seven in the morning, but felt like mid afternoon. Jet lag. It did wonders to the body clock. Feeling disoriented and foggy, she pulled some clean clothes out of her suitcase and dressed quickly, knowing the only thing that would fix her was a double strength flat white.

She found Willow sitting in the kitchen, perched precariously on a kitchen stall, her body curled into a tight ball, biting her nails as she read the last few chapters of the trashy crime book she’d started on the plane.

“Did you sleep?” Ana asked her.

The grunted monosyllabic response could have been in either the affirmative or negative. Ana could tell that Willow would be pretty much out of action until she knew whodunnit.

“I’m going out to get coffee. You want some?”

Although Willow didn’t take her eyes of the page, she nodded her head and let out an excited squeak.

The apartment where they were staying was in an area called Hayes Valley. They’d found it online yesterday (or was it the day before? It certainly felt like they’d lost a day somewhere) and, even though it wasn’t cheap, they had promptly booked it for two months. They’d heard that the rental market here was much like Melbourne – competitive and expensive – but were counting on beginners luck to find somewhere a bit more reasonable as soon as they could. The morning was sunny but brisk, a light breeze gently rustling the tops of the trees. Even though it was the middle of summer, it was too cold for the light shirt she’d thrown on, so Ana picked up the pace, hoping that there was a Di Bella equivalent somewhere within walking distance.

***

Ana kicked the door to the apartment closed behind her. In one hand she had three enormous cardboard cups of coffee, stacked on each other like Lego, her chin resting on the top one to stop them toppling over. In her other hand, she held a bag containing three Danish pastries.

“I thought we’d lost you,” Willow said, emerging from the living room, her hair freshly washed and pulled back from her face in a tight bun.

“Sorry,” Ana said. “I had to go to about seven different coffee shops. Most places only do that awful filter stuff.”

Willow took the bag of pastries from Ana and went into the kitchen. Ana followed her, carefully placing the coffees on the bench.

“Is that coffee I can smell?” Mia said, emerging from her bedroom, rubbing her eyes.

“It’s the closest thing I could find,” Ana said, handing a cup to Mia. “One soy latte.”

“Do they only sell it by the litre here?” Mia said, eyeing the cup suspiciously.

“And that’s just the medium,” Ana said, pulling the lid off her own cup. “Well, cheers. Here’s to our first morning in the US of A.”

The three of them solemnly clinked their gigantic cardboard goblets and took a cautious sip of the hot liquid. Ana promptly spat her mouthful of coffee across the kitchen bench, Willow swallowed, making a face, and Mia subtly dribbled hers back into the cup.

“It tastes… weird,” Mia said, wiping her mouth.

“It’s fucking awful!” Ana said, dumping hers straight into the sink. “The milk’s too hot, the coffee is burned, and they’ve got the quantities all wrong!”

“It’s not that bad,” said Willow, taking another tentative sip. “On second thoughts…” She emptied her cup next to Ana’s in the sink. They settled instead for the pastries which, although sweeter than they should have been, were actually rather good.

“I guess the first thing we need to do today is hunt down good coffee,” Ana said. “And then what? Golden Gate Bridge? Alcatraz? Fisherman’s Wharf? Something a little less touristy?”

“We could just have a wander,” Willow said. “Orient ourselves a little.”

“We should also start thinking about jobs soon,” Mia said. “If we’re going to stay.”

Willow and Ana looked at her blankly. “Jobs?”

“Yes,” said Mia. “You remember those don’t you? Where you go to a place and do stuff for them and they give you money?”

“Oh those,” said Willow, sighing dramatically. “I might pass. I’m going to be a lady of leisure for a while I think.”

“And I’ve got the rent money from my house in Melbourne,” said Ana. “That should see me through for a bit, at least.”

“We’ll look after you too,” Willow added quickly. “So you don’t have to worry about anything.”

“Yeah, as if we’d let you get a job,” Ana said. “Mi Casa es su Casa.”

“That means ‘my house is your house’,” Mia said.

Ana shrugged. “Whatever. The sentiment is still the same. Our money is your money.”

“That’s very generous,” Mia said patiently, “but you still have to get a job in order to stay here. Assuming we do want to stay.”

“Why?”

“For the visas.”

“What visas?”

Mia groaned and rolled her eyes. “The visas to stay here because we’re not US citizens. Why do you think at customs they ask you how long your trip is? And why do you think we said only two months?”

Ana shrugged. “I don’t know. I just figured they’d sort of forget about us and we’d just… stay.”

Mia looked at her witheringly.

“What did you mean ‘assuming we want to stay here’?” Willow said, looking curiously at Mia.

“We might decide we don’t want to,” Mia said, a tad too defensively.

“We?” Willow arched her eyebrows.

“Fine,” Mia mumbled. “I might decide that I don’t want to stay.”

Ana and Willow looked at each other. “Johnny.”

Mia turned a charming shade of fuchsia. “No,” she protested. “Not entirely. It’s just… well… it might not work out here.”

“I thought we were all for one and one for all,” Ana said. “The five musketeers or whatever they were. Isn’t that what we agreed?”

“It’s the three musketeers,” Mia said. “And yes, we did say that, but I’m just saying that we shouldn’t force ourselves to stay if we don’t want to.”

Ana sighed loudly and took another bite of her pastry. It was too early and she was far too caffeine deprived to have this conversation now.

“How long have you been thinking about going home?” Willow said, her eyes sad.

Mia paused, looking at the ground as she answered. “Since Johnny left,” she said quietly.

“Have you spoken to Johnny about this?”

“Not exactly.”

“Why not?”

Now it was Mia’s turn to sigh loudly. “We sort of had a fight before he left, and we haven’t really spoken about it since, and I don’t want to tell him that I’m thinking of coming back because he’ll think it’s because of him…”

“It is because of him,” Ana said exasperated, pastry flecks flying out of her mouth.

“He doesn’t need to know that,” Mia shot back.

Ana rolled her eyes again. “Seriously, if you and Johnny ever get your shit together I think I’ll die of shock!”

“Ana, that’s not fair,” Mia protested.

“No Mia, what’s not fair is saying that you’re going to do something with your friends and then running after some guy.”

“He’s not just some guy. Besides, who are you to give relationship advice?”

“Mia,” Willow said in a low voice, shaking her head slightly.

“What? She started it,” Mia said, crossing her arms defiantly across her chest.

Ana held up her hand. “Whatever.” She jammed her handbag onto her shoulder. “I’m going out to find decent coffee.”

“Fine,” Mia shouted after her, before promptly turning on her heel and stalking back towards her bedroom.

The two doors slammed simultaneously, making the apartment shudder. Willow threw her hands up in despair.

Not again.

***