“Hey Tomi, happy new year!” Elsa’s bubbly spanish accent filled his ear from the other end of the line as Tom picked up the phone.
“Hap… happy new year, Elsa, how are things?” he faked a smile through the phone.
“We’re good, celebrating, you?”
“Lots of pies, lots of candies, lots of everything,” he tried to laugh clinging on the handset, trying not to push it too hard against his ear as he balanced on his heels.
“Hey, Chris and I were thinking - hey Indie. HEY. Put that down, sweetheart put it down. Yes, that’s right put it down, baby. We thought that if it’s not too much trouble for you to come over, I mean I know you’re with your family now but if you had enough turkey and pudding already we have so many prawns, Luke went fishing the other day and we just can’t stop eating the seafood, I mean…”
Tom chuckled imagining the Hemsworth brothers throwing emtpy prawn shells at each other.
“And you must, you must try my cranberry bakewell, Chris keeps telling me I’ve put too many cranberries in it but what does he know, eh?”
“Where’s Chris?” Tom asked casually. Yet another forced grin.
“He’s - oh he’s outside, trying to find a snake for Tristan, he’s so curious he insisted to have dad find a snake for him, can you believe it?”
“Like father like son I guess,” Tom smiled playing with the buttons of his shirt.
“Where’s that idiot? Give me the phone, Elsa,” a distinct New Zeland accent in a familiar commanding tone was heard from a distance. “Hi Tom, your saviour is here, remember me? Swarthy guy, grey hair, the one who revived your career?”
“Heyyyyy Taika,” Tom giggled, “good to hear you, man.”
“Good to hear you too. So. Are you coming yes or no?”
“Well, I was just saying-”
“Pffft I don’t care what you were saying, I asked a very specific question, yes or no?”
“I’m-I still have stuff to do here and-”
“Stuff?” Taika sounded bewildered. “What stuff? You working on something, mate?”
“To be honest I have this terrible headache from two nights ago and I’m afraid it could be a bug or something.”
“It’s from the stress, Tom, come here and I’ll give you a nice massage and it will go away.”
“A massage from your hands, what more can I ask for.”
“Tell me now you don’t like my massage…” Taika bragged in a posh accent mimicking Tom’s. “Tell me you didn’t like it last time…”
“I did. I did.” There was no escaping this man, was there. His imposing affection and his confidence and that thick cloud of chaotic happiness that he always carried with him.
“Alright,” Taika said. “I did my duty as I promised Chris, I pushed you to come, don’t embarass me, ok? I’m waiting for you. Here’s Elsa. Love ya Tom.”
“Soooo are you coming?” Elsa took the phone. “We still have one guest room available.”
“Uuuuuh I don’t know, I mean I haven’t booked a ticket, it’s Christmas time and…”
“I’m looking them up now, are you online? There’s one for… tomorrow, it’s a direct flight.”
“I’m… I’m not so sure I can-”
“Aw c’mon querido, c’mon, Chris insisted that you came.”
Tom felt his stomach sink. That familiar sense of losing before even trying. He never got that in his life, only when he was thinking of Chris. “He didn’t call me I mean… I mean we talked on Christmas day and he didn’t mention-”
“Yes because he was crazy busy, and he thought you were crazy busy yourself. But he told me to call you. Say yes?”
Tom hesitated before answering, too many thoughts crossing his mind. He felt like he was being invited to the biggest party of the year at the very last minute and only after he had put on his pajamas.
“Alright, Elsie, alright. I’ll get my ticket.”
“YES!!!” Elsa exclaimed and almost broke his eardrum. “See you soon, querido, mwah,” she kissed the phone and hang up.
“Right…” Tom let out a deep breath and held the handset on his chest.