Tallulah was going out west. She was going to visit her best friend Rosalyn McQueen for a week. Then she and Rosalyn would return to Ontario together because Rosalyn was moving back to Roehampton. It worked out really well because she needed an apartment and Bernie had just moved out. Tallulah only had one reservation about living with Rosalyn and Priscilla at the same time and that was that their combined meanness would overtake everything else. Unbelievable as it was, Bernie had kept them relatively kind people or, at the very least, less aggressively and blatantly sarcastic assholes. Rosalyn, who was arguably more sarcastic than Tallulah even, would not make that any better. Their apartment would be like a cave of anger and cruelly stated irony.
Rosalyn lived with two of their other friends in Kelowna. When Tallulah had informed her friends in Roehampton that she was going on vacation to Kelowna, Jemima had suggested she meet up with Jacklyn’s former roommate Stephanie, who dated countless brokers in various fields and ignored her abnormally toed cat. Tallulah had merely stared at her in silence until she dropped the subject.
Tallulah packed the morning of the day she left, which stressed out Priscilla. She somehow managed to convince Robin, the only person she knew who owned a car, to drive her to the airport on the edge of the city. Robin was incredibly displeased about this. He maintained that she could’ve just as easily taken the subway, which was technically true, but Tallulah still ignored him.
“You owe me for this,” he informed her for the hundredth time as they pulled to a stop in front of the airport. The parking attendants were already waving him on, the orange reflective vests shining in the sunlight. They’d been stopped for roughly thirty seconds and already the parking attendants wanted them to move on so that other people currently circling behind them could stop, likely also for a nanosecond.
“What the hell am I supposed to do with this?” Tallulah asked, ignoring Robin and gesturing to the parking attendant with one hand while she unbuckled her seatbelt with the other. “Tuck and roll? What about my luggage? This is bananas. I hate airports.”
“You hate airports?” Robin repeated, scoffing derisively. “I don’t even have to be at this fucking airport, but I took time out of my incredibly busy schedule to help you out.”
“Incredibly busy schedule,” Tallulah repeated just as disdainfully and dubiously as he had. “And you’ve been so gracious about helping me as well.”
“Just get out my damn car before this dude reaches through my open window and tries to strangle me with his reflective vest,” Robin returned darkly. Tallulah laughed at him, but pushed open the passenger side door nonetheless.
“Thanks so much for the ride, dickhead!” She called back through the open window as she walked around to the trunk to grab her luggage. “I’ll miss you!”
He honked at her and then peeled away from the curb before the parking attendant, who had in fact begun walking over to the car, could say anything to him.
Tallulah flew from Roehampton to Calgary, where she had a twenty minute layover. The flight was three and a half hours, there was an empty seat between her and the young woman in her row, and a baby two rows up cried for literally the entire time. Tallulah didn’t blame the kid; her ears were probably plugged and she had no idea why. She also felt for the mother, who was getting glares and aggressively unkind sighs directed at her for the entire length of the flight as well. That having been said, Tallulah also didn’t really want to hear another baby cry for as long as she lived. Her own children, if and when she had some, would have to be silent at all times.
On her flight from Calgary to Kelowna, the small child in the row next to hers occupied himself by counting to one hundred over and over again. He forgot fifteen nearly every single time. Each time he made it to one hundred, he would cheer for himself. It was really quite sweet, except that he had not yet reached the point in his life where he could differentiate between excited cheering and the blood-curdling scream of someone being murdered. The kid’s shrieking startled the man next to Tallulah awake every single time.
It was eleven o’clock at night by the time she landed in Kelowna, though that really meant it was two in the morning Roehampton time. Needless to say, she was exhausted and not at all prepared to be tackle-hugged by Rosalyn next to the baggage claim. They probably would’ve fallen over if Rosalyn hadn’t used the shoulder of a stranger to push them back to a stable standing position. She knocked the man’s bucket hat off and he did not seem pleased, but she wasn’t the slightest bit apologetic.
“It’s nighttime,” she informed him bluntly. “What do you need a hat for anyway?”
He huffed and stormed away, but Rosalyn had stopped paying attention so it probably wasn’t as effective as he’d been hoping.
Tallulah and Rosalyn left the airport and walked out to Rosalyn’s car. Tallulah had never understood the hype about B.C. until she was actually there. And even though it was eleven o’clock at night and her best friend had just knocked the bucket hat off a stranger, it was beautiful. Even the airport was beautiful. It was loads better than the airport she’d just left. There were hanging baskets full of pink geraniums on the outside and there wasn’t a single parking attendant in sight. No overly pushy, bitter man in an orange reflective vest to urge them on. Rosalyn apparently had left her car at the front of the airport for a good twenty minutes.
“Wow, it’s so beautiful,” Tallulah said in awe, looking over her shoulder at the hanging baskets as she opened the passenger side door of Rosalyn’s car. Roselyn shot her a shrewd look.
“If you’re amazed by an airport, you’re going to lose your damn mind when you first see the mountains,” she remarked. Tallulah didn’t bother disagreeing; it was most likely true. There were no mountains in Roehampton. There were high-rise apartment buildings, too many people, and weird city smells in Roehampton.
Rosalyn drove them back to her apartment, which was right in the downtown of Kelowna. She stopped along the way so that Tallulah could get a burger, not having eaten since lunch in Roehampton. Rosalyn’s apartment was the top floor at an old house. It was a narrow three-bedroom with a small kitchen and a surprisingly massive bathroom. Rosalyn lived with two of their other good friends from high school, Ashley Burrows-Kozlowski and Doug Li. Doug had been in Kelowna the longest, having gone to university at the Kelowna campus of UBC. Rosalyn and Ashley had moved out together when they’d graduated and been unable to find jobs. Tallulah, who had also been unable to find a job in her field, had chosen to stay behind in Roehampton so that she could be closer to her family. She’d always been a little bit jealous of her other friends, especially since she’d been working at a record store for quite a while with no other prospects.
When they got into the apartment, Doug was waiting for them on the living room couch. He was eating cereal in his boxers and a t-shirt that declared him “LIT AF” in block letters. He was wearing a backwards baseball hat, which seemed unnecessary indoors and also close to midnight, but it was very reassuringly Doug. Tallulah hadn’t seen him in a long time, but clearly nothing had changed. She had spent so much of high school hanging out with him and their other friends in Rosalyn’s parents’ basement or next to Ashley’s pool just like that. Ashley was nowhere to be seen, likely asleep. She had to work the next morning. Rosalyn had briefed Tallulah on everybody’s schedule in the car on the way back to the apartment from the airport. She had the entire week off since she had quit her job to move. Doug had to work the first two days that she was there, but was off for the rest. And Ashley was working for most of it, unable to take time off because she was taking a three-week trip to Australia during the winter.
“How was your flight?” Doug asked, mouth full of cereal.
“She was in awe of the airport,” Rosalyn replied instead of letting Tallulah answer.
“You are not going to be able to handle it here,” he told Tallulah bluntly. She stuck her tongue out at both of them.
In the morning, Rosalyn took Tallulah for brunch and then on a hike up the nearest mountain. Tallulah was fairly convinced that she was going to die. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d gone hiking. She wasn’t actually sure she’d ever gone hiking. The chances of her hurling off the side of a mountain became more and more probable the higher they hiked. According to Rosalyn, it was one of the gentler trails. According to Tallulah, it was going to be the cause of her death. Rosalyn hadn’t even broken a sweat. By the time they’d reached the first lookout point, Tallulah was gasping for air and choking back vomit. Rosalyn laughed at her almost the entire time.
But then, when the gagging finally subsided, Tallulah looked out over the Okanagan and Kelowna and it was worth it. She definitely understood the hype. In that moment, she had no idea why Rosalyn would ever want to leave, let alone why she would want to come back to boring Roehampton with its myriad of smells and horribly inefficient transit system. She almost asked, but Rosalyn pointed out some deer and Tallulah got distracted.
Later that afternoon, when Doug got home from his shift at the gym where he worked, the three of them bicycled to the beach. There were beaches everywhere, but this one was the best according to both Doug and Rosalyn. The last time Tallulah had been on a bike, she’d been eleven. That was thirteen years ago. Rosalyn retaught her how to ride a bike in the parking lot behind their building. Just like the saying, it was in fact just like riding a bike, although turning posed a bit of a problem for her. There were several times when she just stopped short instead of turning, convinced she was going to fall over. Doug laughed at her from his own bike as he cycled around her in circles. It was weirdly comforting.
The rest of the week passed in much the same fashion. Tallulah and Rosalyn would cruise around the city, hiking, biking, swimming. They spent a lot of time at the beach. Doug joined them after the first two days and they drove out to Peachland to stroll along the beach. Ashley was noticeably absent. She was home in the evenings, but never for long. She seemed to have a lot of plans with other people. She had a birthday dinner one night, a yoga class another. She spent a lot of time in her room, presumably reading some book she just couldn’t put down. It was all extremely odd. Every time Tallulah tried to ask about it, Rosalyn or Doug managed to change the subject. It wasn’t until they were in the middle of their winery tour that Tallulah finally managed to slip it into conversation without either of them avoiding the subject. It was during their third wine tasting and they were all a fair bit intoxicated.
“Why isn’t Ashley hanging out with us?” She asked. Rosalyn and Doug exchanged looks before Rosalyn finally answered.
“The mountains make it hard to leave, but she’s making it easier,” she said evasively. Then she dashed outside with Doug to cycle to the next winery. Tallulah had no choice but to follow, confused and wobbly.