The tower-block looked no more jolly in the afternoon light. As she nodded her welcome to the doorman, Andrea’s mind was on dinner. She wasn’t hungry, but it was wise to plan ahead, so her grandmother had always reminded her. The lady had lived in Lansdale her entire life, just like Andrea, and the two shared more than just a love of cookery.
Andrea’s flat was on the third storey. It took her the walk up the stairs to plan what she intended to eat. Chicken, yes, that was easy, since Andrea was peckish for chicken alone; it was the accompaniment and dessert that took her two-thirds of the route.
On the other hand, she had planned her lifestyle this way. Taking the lift with other, inspect-able people would have been too much of a temptation to apply her knowledge of personalities and ‘types’ (to not let herself wander into the many different approaches there could be to discovering the human psyche). Instead, when Andrea needed to discover only dinner, she walked the two stone flights up to the dull door she called the entrance to home.
Flat 23 – as read the placard. Andrea pulled her door-keys from one pocket and slotted them into the lock. After sticking for a second, the door sprung open and Andrea staggered into her flat.
Dropping her keys into the specific pot by the front door, Andrea surveyed the measly flat she had let since she had left university, almost five years ago. There were four rooms and that sufficed, since Andrea used her living room as a study, and the kitchen and dining room folded to the new convention of being one and the same.
These facts accounted for the layout that Andrea tentatively walked into. Her architect father had bequeathed her his easel and plotting table, which stood alongside her own paints and a single canvas-sheet. She had taken the bookcase from her childhood home, before she had sold the house, and that overflowed with textbooks. As she passed, one book labelled ‘History of Art 101’ caught her eye. Andrea removed it from its place and tossed it towards the door. It was all but useless now.
Other possessions that were hers only by hereditary law were easy to spot because of their ‘antique’ feel against the cold stone of the flat walls. Record disks she intended to sell; two pairs of heels that she hadn’t worn since she was twenty; a tennis racket with two broken strings…
The room was full of rubbish that Andrea daren’t clean. Her past was too much a part of her, and her discoveries for the future.
Moving to the kitchen, she unstacked the dishes, discarded in her hurry to march to the interview, and put them away. Having lifted out a recipe book, Andrea rifled through its pages to stop on a dish of chicken with vegetables.
With a smile that she used to hide odd teeth (despite there being no one around), Andrea set the oven on its pre-heat. The cooker groaned as Andrea started it up. She hoped that there wasn't going to be a repeat of the previous week’s disaster. Granted, it hadn’t been Andrea’s fault; she had checked the recipe over and over as she had learnt to, but still something had become faulty with the mechanism and the cooker had began to pump out black smoke. There had never been the chance that her casserole would have been saved.
Now, the depths of the device rumbled, but eventually the cooker fixed itself to a steady, typical hum. Andrea sighed, not knowing if she was happy with this revelation or not.
She danced across to the cupboard, beginning to lift out each and every item she needed. She laughed at her useless attempt at sorting, where order was not her forte, and she doubted it ever would be. Thanks to genetics, Andrea was left with the urge to fling everything in together.
Of course, the cook within her raged at this disregard of safety. By this fifth year, Andrea had done her best to provide some sort of system that, at least, meant that the raw meat would not drain its bacteria into the vegetables, and that everything that said ‘store in a cool, dry place’ was kept in rough obligation of the suggestion.
Andrea fetched her favourite herbs from the rack and marched back over to the recipe, checking all the additional ingredients that made a nice dish something ‘a bit more special’.
Something was missing.
“Oh!” Andrea cried, pulling herself to the other cupboard to check. No, it was not there. What was a chicken dish without any chicken?
As she searched for a reasonable explanation, she remembered that morning, when she had done the grocery shopping for each of the other ingredients, now laid out on the counter before her. She had hurried through the aisles… Andrea closed her eyes to battle through the fuzz of memories. Bread, sides, vegetables… She remembered even making her way through the crowd of the meat aisle.
Then why hadn’t she bought any chicken? Andrea frowned. She visualised walking through, the sounds of footsteps in her head, the images of stacked food swift through her head. As she flicked back to that moment, another image dotted into her mind: that idea of the new job.
Andrea curled her fists. She hated how that little interview still had her affected, just because it was a new flavour of her life.
With another dismal shake of the head, Andrea turned off the oven, strode through her living room and snatched up her keys again, ready to head out to the supermarket.