Tales of food, sex and friendship




Season 7, Episode 3

August 7, 2012

The chilly morning sunlight was barely seeping through the curtains as Mia silently zipped her suitcase and gave a final, cursory glance around the room. Aside from the rumpled bed covers it looked exactly the same as when she had arrived only weeks ago: Empty.
She tiptoed out of the room and pulled the door closed behind her as quietly as she could. Carrying her case instead of dragging it so as not to wake the others, she went into the kitchen. The kitchen was at the other end of the house to the bedrooms and she was fairly confident that the others wouldn’t be able to hear her as she made a cup of tea and put some bread in the toaster. She knew that making breakfast was a bit like tempting fate: The longer she spent in the house the more likely Willow or Ana were to wake up and try and stop her.

Maybe I want them to stop me? she thought. Maybe I don’t really want to leave?

If she was honest with herself, she didn’t want to leave. Not really. She felt like going back to Melbourne was a step in the wrong direction – a step backwards – but the thought of not giving it a go with Johnny was something she knew she’d regret more. She knew she was being a coward, leaving like this, but she didn’t want to deal with Ana’s pointed remarks, Willow’s hurt look. She didn’t want to face the inevitable questions that they would ask.

“Why are you leaving?”

“Why not give it some more time?”

“Have you talked to Johnny about it?”

That last one was the kicker. Why haven’t I told Johnny?

The nagging doubt that had been her constant companion for the last few weeks intensified: What if he said “Don’t come”?

Mia sighed, frustrated. “Am I doing the right thing?” she whispered into the tea cup.

Not surprisingly, the curling steam didn’t provide a definitive answer.

***

Ana stretched as she walked into the kitchen, rubbing her bleary eyes. She opened the fridge, pulling out her precious supply of coffee beans. Standing near the sink, she ground them and transferred the spoils to a stove-top espresso machine. She frowned when she saw the white envelope sitting on the counter. It was addressed to her and Willow and wasn’t sealed.
She pulled out the letter and started reading.

***

Security check was done, customs was done. Mia found a seat near her gate, managing to sit still for a grand total of two minutes before she got back up again and started walking aimlessly around the terminal. When she’d passed the same news agency for the third time, she looked at her watch and groaned. She still had hours to kill. The sooner she could be airborne, the better. Once she was on that plane there was no going back, no changing her mind.

***

“Willow!” Ana threw open the door to Willow’s room. “You have to get up! We have an issue!”

Willow sat bolt upright in bed, not quite awake. “Whassamatter?”

“It’s Mia!”

“Mia?” Willow flung the covers off and jumped up. “What’s happened to her? Is she OK?”

“She’s gone!”

“Gone?”

“Back to Australia,” Ana said. She thrust the letter towards Willow. “Look.”

***

Mia stared absently through the airport crowds, waiting for her flight to be called. Her heart skipped a beat as she caught a brief glimpse of a faded denim jacket, a guitar case, a sandy mop of hair. She half stood, her mouth dropping open, before the stranger was swallowed back into the throng of people coming and going. Mia sank down, feeling stupid. She’d been doing this for weeks – seeing him in crowds, at bars, as she glanced into coffee shop windows. Of course it wasn’t him. It never was.

***

“We have to stop her,” Willow said.

“I know,” said Ana. “Seriously, she couldn’t have picked worse timing, could she?”

“Is she answering her phone?”

Ana shook her head. “And I’ve tried having her paged over the loud speaker at the airport, but no luck.”

“We have to get to the airport.”

“How are we going to get in?” Ana said. “We don’t have tickets anywhere.”

“I’ll buy the cheapest flights I can find,” Willow said, grabbing her purse and flinging on some jeans and a jumper. “Come on, you drive and I’ll book the flights.”

“Wait,” Ana called. “What are we going to do about… you know.”

There was a loud knock on the door. “I guess we’ll deal with that right now,” Willow said.

***

“We’d like to welcome aboard all remaining passengers traveling on Qantas flight 482 to Melbourne.”

The announcement startled Mia out of her daydream. She picked up her bag and made her way to the end of the long line of people, all queuing up to sit in the tin can in the sky for a ridiculous number of hours. She never understood why people always seemed so eager to get on the plane and strap themselves into that little seat. They were going to be there for long enough anyway; why encourage the inevitable? She always waited until the last possible minute to get on.

“Welcome aboard, Ma’am,” an attractive stewardess said as she scanned Mia’s ticket. “Enjoy your flight.”

“Mia!”

She turned. It had been faint but she was certain that she’d heard her name called. She scanned the crowd, but couldn’t see any familiar faces.

“Everything all right Ma’am?” The stewardess looked inquisitively at her.

“Mia!”

There is was again! She spun around again, this time watching as the crowd parted and Ana and Willow came rushing towards her. There was a third person behind them, jogging at an easy pace. Mia blinked. Faded denim jacket. Sandy hair pushed back from his face. For the second time that morning, her heart skipped a beat.

“Don’t get on the plane,” Ana panted, the first to reach Mia.

Mia barely even noticed her. She was staring behind Ana at Johnny. He drew up level with Mia.

“What are you doing here?” she blurted out.

“Franco has taken in some new investors in the restaurant who want Medina to go global,” Johnny said. “He wanted to set up in LA, but I convinced him to go with San Francisco.”

“So, you’re… moving here?” Mia said, processing the information.

“Moved here,” Johnny said, correcting here. “This morning. I was hoping to surprise you at home, but…” He shrugged. “And, look, I don’t want to rush you into anything, so I’ll get my own place and…”

“No,” Mia said quickly. “It’s not rushing.” She blushed. “What I mean is, you can stay with us for a while… or longer… if you want to?”

Johnny grinned. “Yeah, I’d like that.”

“What about… Cecelia and the baby.”

“Mia, you’re the most important person in my life,” Johnny said, taking her hands. “Cecelia finally understands that. I’ll still be in the kids life,” he added, “but from a distance.”

Mia nodded slowly. Willow and Ana were hanging back a bit, barely able to contain their excitement.

“You knew about this?” Mia said to them.

“Only recently,” Willow said quickly. “And we promised not to tell.”

“I’d like to say, for the record, I wanted to tell you,” said Ana.

Mia turned to Johnny “Why didn’t you tell me you were coming?”

“Probably for the same reasons you didn’t tell me you were leaving,” Johnny said in a low voice. “What if you didn’t want me?”

“I want you,” Mia said. “I want you so much it hurts.”

Johnny leaned in and kissed her softly before whispering in her ear. “Well, let’s see about getting you home and taking care of that.”

***