“Chloe, I’m so sorry!”
Chloe bit the inside of her cheek, her arms crossed while she stood on the sidewalk beside her apartment block. She could hear the sound of the smoke alarms ringing from within the building before her. And with every passing minute she became more and more annoyed.
Beca’d had one job. One job. Keep an eye on the Christmas cake while Chloe was out grocery shopping and, if the timer went off, to turn the oven off - which also meant taking the cake out of the oven!! Not leaving it in there and setting the entire building’s smoke alarm system off!
She tried to ignore the way her roommate looked at her, desperately seeking forgiveness. She tried to ignore the way her clothes currently smelt like burnt Christmas cake. She tried to ignore the thought of how horrendous every one of her belongings would smell when they returned up to their apartment. She tried to ignore the many neighbours she didn’t know (and some she did) who’d also had to evacuate their apartments two days before Christmas and were currently standing around outside the apartment block, gossiping about what might be happening inside.
“Honestly, I-I didn’t mean to burn your cake!” Chloe heard Beca attempt to insist again. But Chloe was too far down the path of anger to forgive her just yet.
See, it wasn’t just the fact that Beca had burnt the Christmas cake that Chloe had painstakingly made that morning. It wasn’t just the fact that the smoke had been so thick when Beca had opened the oven that the smell would undoubtedly stick to all of their clothes and bedding for goodness knows how long. The thing that had Chloe the most angry about this situation was that her mother was due to arrive tomorrow. She was staying at a motel a couple of blocks away. She was finally making an effort and wanted to spend Christmas with Chloe in whatever way possible. And Chloe had excitably suggested that her distant mother join her in New York for a different kind of Christmas.
Now, however, there was no way Chloe could ever allow her mother to see the apartment she shared with Beca and Fat Amy. It was bad enough that the apartment was a studio. But a studio that stank of food smoke? Chloe would be mortified if her mother visited it..
“Please let me make it up to you.”
Beca was unusually talkative. Clearly her anxiety was getting the better of her. And for the briefest of moments Chloe felt sorry for her best friend. The briefest of moments. Then the cloud of anger shifted to disappointment. Beca was in love with her (not that Chloe had ever told Beca that she knew - she’d found the letter when she really shouldn’t have). Surely if she was that in love with Chloe then she would’ve done more to make sure that her Christmas wasn’t ruined?
“Why didn’t you take the cake out of the oven??” Chloe finally burst, not bearing to look from the apartment building down to Beca. Seeing her would only make her more angry. “It was the most obvious thing to do!”
“Yeeeeah it sort of wasn’t though, Chloe.” Fat Amy interjected, unhelpfully. Chloe snapped her attention down to the Australian who was wheezing a bit, her inhaler still in hand, and the redhead glared at her often-reckless roommate. She hadn’t even wanted to live with Fat Amy in the first place. Just living with Beca alone would’ve been perfect…
“I’m just saying,” Amy continued after Beca elbowed her roughly in the side, “you asked Beca to turn the oven off. You never asked her to take the cake out!”
Chloe let out a heavy frustrated sigh, and looked back up at the building before them. It was a cold day. Fortunately she was still wrapped in her winter coat, hat, scarf, and gloves. Unfortunately, those items now smelt of burnt Christmas cake which only served to fuel Chloe’s irritation further..
“Amy, it’s okay, I was in the wrong-” Beca mumbled, but Fat Amy appeared to be on a roll.
“-No it’s not okay.” Chloe felt her arm being taken and she swung her body round on the spot to face Fat Amy who had dragged her for attention. Chloe still avoided any reason to look at Beca. But looking at Amy was challenging when the woman seemed to be so insistent.
“Chloe, Beca would do anything for you. Literally anything. And you know that!”
Chloe hesitated, her expression still stern, but her eyes must have fleetingly shown some hesitation, because Fat Amy continued with as much gusto as before:
“All she ever wants is to make you happy. If you’d told her to take the cake out of the oven, then she would’ve done it right away, because she would’ve known that’s what would’ve made you happy.”
Chloe took the moment to finally glance at Beca, and Beca looked over at her sheepishly, her cheeks pink in embarrassment. But Beca needn’t have been embarrassed, because Chloe knew that what Fat Amy was saying was true.
“If you’d told her to switch the oven off - which you had - she would’ve switched the oven off right away - which she did!”
Chloe swallowed loudly. God, she was beginning to feel guilty. This was her fault. Not Beca’s. Beca had only done what she’d been told..
“So don’t blame Beca for doing what you told her to do.” Fat Amy finished, reaching over to swing one arm round Beca’s shoulders and using her other to reach out and squeeze Beca’s cheeks with her fingers, “Look at this little face. She wouldn’t ever want to upset you.”
As Beca shrank out of Amy’s grip, Chloe couldn’t help the tiny smile that poked into the corner of her mouth, her arms still folded, but the cloud of anger and frustration lifting. She remembered now why she didn’t mind living with Fat Amy. Yes the woman was hard work and a loose cannon at times. But Amy also knew exactly how to lighten the mood. Even if it was at Beca’s expense.
“I really am sorry, Chlo.” Beca added in a timid voice, and Chloe let out a huge sigh.
“I know.” she replied, “Fat Amy’s right, it was my fault. I shouldn’t have given you such vague instructions.”
The two women shared a gentle smile. And just as Beca was about to open her mouth to say something, the sound of the building’s owner’s voice could be heard bellowing from the steps nearby, announcing that it was now safe for everyone to return to their apartments.
Chloe felt sick at the thought of what state their apartment would be in. But she knew that whatever the state, she and Beca and Fat Amy would deal with it together. Like they always did..