Tales of food, sex and friendship




Season 3: Episode 1

June 7, 2011

It was Saturday afternoon and Ana was sitting in the kitchen, consumed by her thoughts. She absently took a sip of the tea in front of her only to realise that she had neglected it for too long and it was now stone cold. She grimaced as she swallowed the mouthful and tipped the rest down the sink. She felt restless and anxious. Couldn’t focus. The tight knot in her stomach was so disturbingly familiar, that she couldn’t even remember how it was to feel Normal. Whatever that meant.

Tom was being weird and distant. Had been for days. Since the night of the function, he wouldn’t look directly at her when he spoke and he was spending too many nights at the office. Ana was sure that it was so he could avoid her, but when she’d tried to talk to him about it – to explain for the hundredth time that she didn’t know Marc had hired her – he brushed her off, saying that she was reading too much into things.

“I’m busy with work,” he’d said. “Just chill out. Everything’s fine.”

Chill out? How on earth she was meant to chill out, Ana didn’t know. She felt as though the best thing that had ever happened to her was slipping through her fingers, and there wasn’t a damn thing she could do to stop it. If she didn’t know better, Ana would have suspected he was having an affair.

There’s no way though, she thought, her anxiety peaking again. Not Tom.

She glanced at the clock, glad that Mia and Willow were due any minute, hoping that they would arrive brimming with culinary inspiration. In an attempt to draw Tom out of his shell, Ana had decided it would be a good idea to throw an informal dinner party tonight. But, best laid plans… Johnny had phoned earlier with an incredibly obtuse reason for why he couldn’t make it, and Ana still hadn’t gotten a straight answer from Tom as to whether he was even going to turn up.

She sighed and put the kettle on again, more for something to do than the desire for another cup of tea, before deciding that 5:30pm was a perfectly reasonable hour to open a bottle of wine.

Half a bottle of a delicious Pinot Gris later and still no sign of the others, she decided that cooking was perfect way to occupy her mind. She surveyed the contents of the kitchen sceptically: A few tins of beans, miso paste, some limp celery, potatoes that had seen better days, and something in a bowl that resembled a green hedgehog. Willow usually did the grocery shopping – she knew about little tucked away places that the others didn’t even realise existed – but since the Italian grocer had broken her heart, the poor kitchen cupboards had been seriously neglected.

After some deliberation, she discarded the furry mammal carefully, topped up her glass, and set to work creating something from, literally, all the other food they had in the house. By the time Mia and Willow arrived home the house was filled with the smell of hearty vegetable and bean soup, and Ana was full of Pinot Gris.

***

Much to Ana’s surprise, Tom turned up about half an hour later, full of warm smiles and hugs for the other two girls. He turned his cheek when Ana leant in to kiss him so that she ended up smooching the air and nearly falling forward.

“I don’t think you need any of this,” he said jokingly, holding up the bottle of Chablis that he had bought.

She looked at him, hurt, but he was already busy asking Willow about how her school term was shaping up and what she thought of the new state government’s approach to education. Ana fumed silently, but dedicated herself to final dinner preparations. Now wasn’t the time.

“Let’s eat!” she said, more brightly than she felt.

Tom’s phone rang as he sat at the table and he jumped up to answer it, moving immediately to the other room and pulling the door behind him. She could hear muffled laughter as he spoke to whoever was on the other end. He returned a few moments later and didn’t meet her eye.

“Who was that?” she said, not meaning for her voice to sound as accusing as it did.

He reached for a piece of bread. “Work.”

“On a Saturday night?”

“Yes.”

“What did they want?”

Tom stared at her.

What am I doing? thought Ana. The filter between her brain and her mouth had diminished significantly with the third glass of Pinot and she knew better than to get into such a stupid fight after she’d had a few drinks.

“Why?” he asked after a long pause.

Ana shrugged and picked up her figurative shovel. “It just sounded awfully friendly for a work call.”

He put down his spoon and rolled his eyes. “What, you think it’s another woman? That I’m having an affair?”

Ana dropped her gaze. “No.”

“Because really, Ana, I think you’ve got the charter on affairs in this relationship, don’t you?”

The room was silent. Willow and Mia shifted uncomfortably in their seats, keeping their eyes well averted from the duelling couple. Ana gently folded her napkin and stood up from the table.

She spoke to Tom quietly, her voice trembling, close to tears. “Decide how long you want to punish me, Tom, and let me know. I can’t keep doing this forever.”

She turned and left the room, walking slowly upstairs. Tom hung his head and made no move to follow her.