Tales of food, sex and friendship




Posts Tagged ‘Apology’

Season 4: Episode 2

September 13, 2011

The sharp smell of coffee filled the air at Di Bella’s roasting house in North Melbourne, exploding through the doors and windows so that passers by – only early morning joggers or dog walkers at this hour – would stop for a second, mid stride, to close their eyes and inhale the distinctive scent, each silently vowing that they would come back and treat themselves after the next kilometre or two. Because it was still early, the Saturday morning breakfast set hadn’t descended on the popular establishment, leaving Mia and Willow to enjoy their pre-market caffeine fix in a leisurely fashion. The first week of spring had failed them spectacularly, the weather still reminiscent of mid-winter and the girls were huddled inside, warming themselves after their short walk to the cafe.

“Where the fuck are the flowers and spring leaves,” growled Mia, uncharacteristically grumpy, pulling her coat tighter around her chest and warming her hands on the latte glass. “And why they fuck is it still so fucking cold?”

Willow raised as eyebrow as she sipped on a perfectly crafted flat white. She was the only one who had picked up on Mia’s irritability, which had come on right after Ana’s wedding and didn’t seem to be abating any time soon. Today, despite her unique aptitude towards morning chirpiness, Mia had been particularly snarly and cranky since they had left the house thirty minutes earlier.

“Something the matter, dear?” asked Willow, a healthy dollop of sarcasm in her otherwise serious tone.

Mia sighed. “Sorry. I’m just cold and tired and…I don’t know. Just a bit…over it all.”

“Over what all?”

Mia opened her mouth as if she were about to say something, but then thought better of it. She absently stirred her coffee, making swirls in the crema, then licking the spoon.

“Over what all?” repeated Willow.

Mia wasn’t exactly an open book. She rarely spoke about her feelings or what was going on in her personal life, which was frustrating for her friends when they could see that something was the matter. They knew better than to push her though, having learnt that under pressure she became a vault for emotional tension. Over the years they had expected some kind of explosion of pent up energy, but it never came. It wasn’t normal; it was just Mia.

This time, however, Willow had an inkling about what was bothering her. She had seen the exchange between Mia and Johnny at the wedding; an exchange similar to one she had witnessed many years prior. Ages ago, when they had all first met Mia, Willow had sensed a tension – no, not tension…a curiosity – blossom between Mia and Johnny. They had circled each other for a very short while, kind of like shy teenagers, before getting on with their lives. It was lucky; Johnny – with his extensive experience of the opposite sex – would have eaten poor, naive Mia alive.

But Mia wasn’t the young, innocent girl that she had been back then and Willow wondered if anything had happened between the two of them.

“Is this to do with a boy?” she asked gently.

Mia looked up from her coffee, her face going red. “Why do you say that?”

“I just wondered…well, I thought I saw something at the wedding…that’s all.”

“Something like what?” asked Mia, suspiciously.

“Something like…Johnny making googley eyes at you.” She tried to keep it as light and playful as possible, but she saw immediately that she had stepped over the line.

Mia’s face closed over and she refused the meet Willow’s eye. “That’s ridiculous!”

Willow shrugged. “Ok.”

“I mean, me and Johnny…that’s crazy.” She paused. “Right?”

“If you say so.”

“We’re just friends. Just like you and Johnny.”

Mia went even redder. She’d momentarily forgotten about Willow and Johnny’s past. It wasn’t something that any of them ever talked about – just one of those things that happened and was forgotten as a folly of youth, stored in the annals of time.

“Not exactly like you and Johnny,” she stammered. “I mean…we’ve never…we’re just mates.”

The lady doth protest too much, thought Willow wryly, momentarily distracted by trying to remember which Shakespeare play she was internally quoting. Hamlet? Macbeth? She shook her head, bemused. All those years of English literature had obviously done wonders. She wouldn’t push Mia anymore, she decided. Mia got flustered whenever she was questioned about anything to do with men, whether she was involved with them or not. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, thought Willow changing the subject.

“Have you managed to hang out with Sarah at all?”

Mia looked relieved. “A bit. She’s really keen to start Pilates, so I’ve been showing her some basic stuff. I like her.”

“Yeah, me too,” said Willow. “She’s really down to earth.”

“Wasn’t it amazing that she found Ana’s brooch!”

“I know! So lucky.” Willow paused and grinned at Mia. “I don’t know that Ana is super keen on her though.”

Mia rolled her eyes and laughed. “Ana takes a while to warm up to everyone.”

“That she does,” said Willow joining in her laughter. “Come on,” she said, slinging her huge bag over her shoulder. “Shall we hit the markets before the hoards arrive?”

***

They wandered slowly through the fruit and vegetable stalls, carefully selecting the freshest produce as they went, Willow chatting to the stall owners as though she were a long-lost relative.

“I have a brilliant idea,” said Willow, stopping suddenly and grabbing Mia’s arm. “Lets make a huge feast for lunch, and spend the rest of the day eating and drinking too much.”

“If you’re offering to cook, I’m not going to say no,” replied Mia with a chuckle. “What were you thinking?”

“What about roast chicken stuffed with lemon, thyme, garlic and….Rosemary? I’ll do some smashed potatoes and beans and then… let’s just get some cheese and dried fruit for desert?”

Mia’s tummy gave a loud rumble at the thought. “Sounds perfect!”

***

They left the markets, shopping trolley and bags heaving with fresh fruit and vegetables, meats, cheese and bread. Mia wondered momentarily how she would ever be able to live anywhere that wasn’t near the markets; they were so spoiled for incredible food choices. As they were crossing Victoria street, Willow’s phone rang from somewhere in the depths of her handbag.

“Ah crap,” she said, digging through the gigantic bag – affectionately nicknamed ‘the tardis’ by her friends – to try and answer it before it rang out. “Here, hold this,” she said, thrusting a bag full of gourmet cheese at Mia.

“Hello…hello…” she said breathlessly, managing the catch it just before it stopped ringing.

There was a pause on the other end. “Willow?”

She know that voice and immediately stopped in her tracks, her voice becoming cold.

“Oh. Hello.”

“It’s Robert Fortescue.”

“I know. What do you want.” She was trying to be cool, but her voice was sharper than she had intended.

Willow was still furious with Robert: She was angry that he had spent weeks wooing her, pestering her for a date when she wasn’t interested. When she finally relented and agreed to dinner, he had dispelled her initial opinion of him and had been charming and courteous and interesting and handsome and… oh, so many other wonderful things. But then, just as the night looked as though it were about to get a lot more interesting, he had  got up and left, without so much as an explanation or a follow up phone call.

Nothing.

Nada.

She hadn’t heard a peep from him in weeks, and even though she’d had a wonderful time with him, was damned if she was going to do the chasing this time. He was just like all the rest of them: Never considering how his actions might affect other people –  and Willow was done dealing with guys like that.

“How are you?” he asked, his voice stilted.

“Fine.”

“Oh. Ok. Good.”

He paused. She could hear him expel a deep breath.

“I think I owe you an explanation,” he began slowly. When Willow didn’t respond, he continued. “Willow, what I did that night, leaving like that, it wasn’t because of you.”

Here we go, thought Willow. The it’s-not-you-it’s-me speech.

“You are the first woman that has made me feel anything since Vanessa – my wife – died. I panicked. I didn’t know how to deal with it.”

“But…”

Robert cut her off. “No wait, let me finish. I like you Willow – really like you – and I want to try this again. I can’t promise that I’m not going to… freak out occasionally, but I think that you an amazing woman and I hope that you’ll give me a second chance.”

Willow’s mouth opened and closed a few time, but no sound came out: A North Melbourne sidewalk goldfish.

“Think about it,” said Robert after a while. “And Willow. I’m sorry.”

He hung up before she had a chance to respond.

“Who was that?” asked Mia.

“It was Robert,” said Willow. “He wants to see me again.”

Mia nodded slowly. She’d seen how hurt Willow had been by this guy only a few weeks earlier – even though Willow would never admit it. And so soon after Carlo had trampled mercilessly on her heart. No one deserved that twice in a row, especially not Willow.

“What are you going to do?”

“I don’t know,” said Willow. “I really don’t know.”