“What do you mean you asked a few people to come with us on the trip?” asked Maya. Her dark eyes stared at Una, bewildered, from beneath her untamed hair. They were supposed to buy Helena a birthday present, and had met after working hours at Zagreb’s main square. In 1999, Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, was a city with a population of a little less than a million people, but it still had a somewhat small and charming center with a few narrow streets, some of them still cobbled, leading onto the main square. One of those streets was Radiceva Street, where Maya and Una had gone to buy a necklace or a bracelet for Helena. There were a few shops there that made beautiful jewelry out of silver and semiprecious gemstones.
“Yesterday, I was out with Sasha, Jakov, and of course Daria, and I mentioned that we plan to go to Spain by van, and they got so excited. You should have seen them. They planned the whole trip on the spot. Called some guy to rent a van, and I couldn’t say ‘no, you can’t come with us,’ could I? Anyway, they would probably still go even if I had said that. And then what would we be? Two vans going in the same direction at the same time, but trying to avoid each other?” Una was quick to explain that there was no way out. It was actually the truth, but she also wanted them to go. She always thought the more, the merrier. What’s Maya’s problem? Why shouldn’t there be as many friends along as possible? Maya will probably ditch me when we arrive in Barcelona and she reunites with Sven. All she talks about lately is Sven. It’s starting to become boring and annoying. Well, not annoying but… It will be merrier with more friends around, especially in Barcelona where those two will canoodle all the time.
Maya, on the other hand, knew Una well enough to know that she loved nothing more than to spend time with her friends and the more people she spent time with, the happier she felt. The two of them had been on a trip a few months earlier and it felt like their own little adventure that had bonded them together even more. Maya felt like she wanted that bond to last a bit longer. Maybe it was selfish, maybe she didn’t want to share Una. Besides, although Sasha, Jakov, and Daria were her friends, too, it was one thing hanging out in Zagreb and another going on a trip together. Daria, as much as she liked her spark, sometimes seemed too self-centered, which was fine if you hung out with her for few hours, but twenty-four hours a day together would be exhausting.
Maya entered a shop, and Una followed her. She took a necklace made from turquoise stones and tried to put it on Una. The turquoise accentuated her darker complexion. Una was a cute girl with a round face and brown eyes, her straight, blond hair hung just below her chin with a lock usually tucked behind her right ear. “Isn’t it beautiful?”
“I don’t think Helena will like something like this. She wears mainly earthy-colored clothes.” Una tried to remember their friend’s taste in clothes and jewelry. “But, yes, it looks beautiful. Maybe you can buy it for my birthday?” She smiled innocently at Maya, but Maya’s thoughts went back to their trip and the potential people going along with them.
“Well then, we should invite Helena to join us for the trip, too. I told her we are going, and she, too, said she would like to go with us. But, I told her I would check with you.” She emphasized the last sentence. Although she did tell Helena something like that, she also told her that she didn’t think Una would have anything against it and that she should come with the two of them.
“So, you invited Helena and you call me out for inviting a few of our friends.” Now, Una was irritated. They left the shop because they ended up just standing there arguing.
“Okay, I don’t want to argue anymore. It’s just that I feel like I have to inform you about my arrangements, but you don’t. Inform and consult to be precise. Because you did sort of inform me without consulting me. Now, I tangled myself up in this argument… I feel like I am arguing with myself… Never mind… It will be fun. You are right. Let’s just find the damn necklace and go for a coffee.”
“It will be fun, you’ll see. And you’ll get to see your darling Sven. He better have some marvelous plans for us in Barcelona!” Una grabbed Maya by her forearm and dragged her into another little boutique shop. “If we don’t find something here, I don’t know where else to look.”