Arcadia Cafe is nestled in the cafe district on Gertrude Street, Fitzroy. It boasts excellent coffee and excellent service. Click to read the short story by set in Melbourne…
“I have a new superstition,” said Mel taking a sip of her cappuccino.
Bianca rolled her eyes at her housemate. The two were sitting outside Arcadia Café on Gertrude Street, around the corner from their dodgy three-bedroom apartment on Gore. They had tried to get a table at Archie’s but there was already a line when they arrived and they were both severely un-caffeinated. Besides according to Bianca, “Arcadia had the nicer waiter.”
It was a pleasant sunny autumn day so they had decided to sit outside. A little wooden crate was their makeshift coffee table. It had a spikey cactus perched in the middle.
“Want to hear it?” asked Mel placing down her cappuccino.
“Hear what?” replied Bianca taking off her sunglasses.
“My new superstition,” said Mel looking at Bianca expectedly.
“Not really, no,” said Bianca in a flat tone while she destroyed her latte art with the flick of her silver spoon.
“What? Why not?” asked Mel.
“Because last time you had a superstition we bought sage smudge sticks from that weird shop on Brunswick Street and chanted evil spirits out of the apartment,” said Bianca with a hint of annoyance, “I do not have the time or the patience to go find purple crystals or nutmeg incense so that you can rest in peace.”
“It’s not that kind of superstition,” said Mel defensively, “plus our house is already cleansed and might I add, nothing bad has happened since we did that chant?”
“I burnt my toast this morning,” replied Bianca.
“You burn your toast every morning,” said Mel.
“Yeah, it’s that fucking smudge stick!” laughed Bianca.
“It’s saved us from making more terrible housemate choices,” said Mel seriously.
“No, we just don’t allow footballers to live with us anymore,” said Bianca, “it has nothing to do with bad juju.”
At that point the waitress came and brought over their brunches. She wore fun black and white striped overalls and bright red lips. She balanced Bianca’s corn fritters and Mel’s middle-eastern eggs in her hands. They had to move the cactus off the crate to make enough room.
“Okay but is it a coincidence that Sarah is amazing and before the smudge stick ritual we had Ryan who slept with a different woman every night and Alley the crack head?”
“Yes it is a coincidence,” said Bianca taking a bite of her corn fritters, “this is seriously good, what’s yours like?”
Mel ignored the question, “Bee, how can you as a scientist even believe in coincidences?” she asked placing specific emphasis on the word scientist, “isn’t the whole basis of science that there are no coincidences, everything happens for a reason, there is no cause without effect, there are clear rules that govern the order of the world!”
Bianca put down her fork, “As a scientist I don’t believe that us doing some stupid ritual has any affect on our luck, that’s not cause and effect, that is just some stupid thing you convinced me to do,” she said trying not to get frustrated with her housemate.
“But nothing bad has happened since then!” said Mel.
“Oh for gods sake!” said Bianca, “just tell me about your new suspicion.”
Mel’s eyes fixed on Bianca again, “Okay,” she said excitedly, “so last night, Patrick broke a wine glass.”
Bianca looked at her puzzled, “and now we’re having 7 years of bad luck?” she asked, “I thought that was just mirrors.”
“No not 7 years,” said Mel thoughtfully, “but I do think it might be, you know, like a bad omen.”
“Did he break one of your nice ones?” asked Bianca.
“Yes, the ones I picked up from that second-hand store in Mornington,” said Mel. She picked up her knife and fork and cut open the poached egg. The yolk flowed freely over the pita bread and baba ghanoush.
“Darn so how many is that now?” asked Bianca.
Mel munched her mouthful and then replied, “Well I had 6 originally, one broke when we moved house, Oscar took one, Ryan broke one and now Patrick has broken one.”
“That sucks,” said Bianca, “those glasses are so big, I do enjoy drinking out of them.”
“Me too,” said Mel. She placed down her knife and fork and looked at Bianca, “so do you think I need to stop sleeping with Patrick?”
Bianca made a face, “Because he broke your wine glass?”
“Yes, “ said Mel seriously, “do you think it’s the universe telling me something?”
Bianca also put down her eating utensils, “and what might that be?” she said in a sarcastic tone.
“Okay no! So hear me out,” said Mel. She took hold of her right thumb with her left index finger, “So glass Number One broke on the move from the best apartment we’ve ever had to the shitty one we are in now.” She moved on to her index finger, “glass Number Two, Oscar took and never gave back.”
“Yeah but didn’t you technically give him that one?” asked Bianca.
“No he basically stole it,” said Mel.
“I kind of remember you telling him he could have it,” said Bianca going back to her corn fritters.
“Yes with my words I was telling him he could have it but with my spirit I was saying I wanted to keep it,” replied Mel.
“That doesn’t make any sense, how the fuck is someone supposed to know what your spirit wants,” asked Bianca, “like you know I thought Oscar was a dick but that doesn’t make any sense.”
“It’s like the Justin Bieber song,” said Mel, “What do you mean?” she sang, “Ohh ohh ohh. When you nod your head yes. But you wanna say no. “What do you mean?”
Bianca laughed at Mel’s failed attempts to sing on tune, “How is it like the Justin Bieber song?”
“Because he should just know what I mean,” said Mel, “But anyway, glass Number Three,” she continued taking hold of her middle finger, “glass Number Three, Ryan broke. Remember when he had what’s her face over?”
“Clara?” asked Bianca.
“No the other one.”
“No the one right at the beginning, the Serbian looking one.”
“Oh Anna!” said Bianca remembering that first week with Ryan.
“Yeah, he had Anna round and he broke it and spilled red wine all over our carpet,” said Mel.
“And I had to clean it,” said Bianca still obviously annoyed.
“Yup you did – and now Patrick broke a glass last night,” declared Mel. She looked at Bianca expectedly however Bianca was looking at the three Goths that just walked past, “you know two’s a better set than three,” she said somewhat distractedly.
Mel snapped her fingers in front of Bianca’s face to regain her attention, “Not the point Bee, the point is, every time a glass breaks something bad happens.”
Bianca looked back at the group of Goths but they were now hidden behind a dad-stroller duo and two women both holding large Aesop and Left shopping bags.
She looked back at Mel, “yeah but Oscar didn’t break the glass,” she said matter-of-factly.
“He metaphorically broke it,” said Mel.
“You can’t metaphorically break something,” said Bianca.
“Yeah you can,” said Mel earnestly, “it symbolised the end.” She looked down at her plate.
“Mel, I think you’re being ridiculous,” said Bianca, “you really like Pat. He’s nice, he’s funny, he’s tall, and he has big hands. I feel like you’re just creating drama here.”
“Maybe he’ll die?” said Mel.
“Mel I am no longer having this conversation with you. No one else has died from breaking one of your wine glasses,” said Bianca and went back to eating her corn fritters, which had now gone a little cold.
“Sometimes I wish Ryan died,” said Mel almost more to herself, “like he’d just get some awful sexually transmitted disease and die before he gave it to someone else. It would be almost poetic.”
Bianca smiled, “that would be poetic, but if literally or metaphorically breaking a glass equalled death wouldn’t me, you, Ryan, and Oscar all be dead?”
Mel smiled, “that could be the plot of a scary movie!” she said, “The Glass Murders.”
“With B grade actors?” said Bianca.
“Dying in mixtures of blood and red wine,” said Mel.
“That’s gross,” said Bianca and changed the subject, “how’s your middle-eastern eggs?”
Mel looked down at her mostly untouched plate. She picked up her knife and fork again. She took another mouthful and smiled at Bianca. The food really was good.
Bianca ordered another coffee and started to tell Mel about the problems she was having with her research supervisor. She was already feeling stressed about presenting at a conference next month and he was making things worse. He’d asked her to practice her presentation three times and kept coming back with more and more negative feedback.
“Like why can’t he just let it go?” asked Bianca, “so I say um a lot! Do you know last time he counted them! Six! Six ums in a 15 minute presentation!”
“That’s not even that bad,” said Mel apologetically.
“I know!” exclaimed Bianca.
Bianca’s latte arrived and Mel felt a quick vibration in her pocket. She took out her phone and saw that Pat had text her. She typed her four-digit pin into her iPhone and read the message. She reread the message.
“What’s wrong?” asked Bianca noticing that Mel was staring at her phone in silence. Mel looked up from her phone, “He has fuck-ing chlamydia!”
– The End –