1. Claire

Jill was being irritating again. Claire had about had enough of her incessant chatter and bitching. She needed to be saved but she couldn't get Lucy to ring her because Lucy was out. It was strange that Lucy hadn't specified where she was going, usually she did because Claire had spent so much time in Cambridge that she knew it better there than in Leeds. Then again... Cogs were turning in Claire's mind. Obviously Lucy must be with Steve, he was at Cambridge too and they always had coffee on Fridays before going home to get ready for the evening. Claire used to be there with them and Neil, she loved Cambridge Friday nights. Smart people knew how to ‘cut loose,’ as her dad kept saying.
         “Claire, are you even listening?” Jill sounded exasperated. No, Claire thought, my attention wandered when I realised that nobody cares as much as you do about anything you say. 8 years ago. She wished she was confrontational enough to say it out loud, or at least make some indication that she wanted the conversation to end. She knew that Steve had made her less confrontational and eager to avoid any friction with anyone. The problems between the two of them had made Jill think that she and Claire were kindred spirits, ‘two souls drawn together and bonded for life over heartache caused by the same person,’ she insisted.
         “Sorry, my mind wandered for a moment. Go on.”
         “Never mind, Hun. I've got a rehearsal I need to go and get ready for! I'll see you at Clive's later, yeah?”
         “Awesome! Toodles chiquitita! Lol!” She left in a flourish, leaving Claire to wonder why a 20-year-old was still saying 'lol' as if it was a real word. Claire got out her phone. J JUST LEFT FOR REHEARSAL. NEED SANE HUMAN TO TALK TO. X. The reply, as always, was almost instantaneous, Y U TEXTING ME THEN? X. Claire's phone rang. 
         “Because all the sane people were busy.” She said.
         “Well that's not very nice. I might hang up now.”
         “You won't, though.”
         “How do you know?”
         “Because you're in love with me.”
         “Oh yeah. Darn, foiled again!” Claire laughed. Michael wasn’t actually in love with her, everyone knew who he was in love with. Except the girl herself. Lucy was plenty observant (they were complete opposites in that way) but only about other people, never herself. It amused her friends endlessly that she consistently failed to notice obvious things about herself when she picked up on them instantly in others. Michael had been in love with Lucy for 2 years now, but he was too chicken to do anything about it, despite constantly being told to. That was just his way.
         “So what are you doing? Putting on your make-up for a big night out?” Claire asked. Michael laughed, he made fun of himself more than anyone else.
         “Yeah, course. Just wondering if I could borrow some eye shadow, actually. You know what it’s like here in Warwick – party, party, party!” They both laughed. Claire was happier already, Michael had that effect on people just by being him.
         “Well I have a wonderful new purple you could try.”
         “Doesn’t that make it look like you’ve been punched?”
         “Not if you use it correctly. But you’ll have to come up here to Leeds to get it from me.” Michael sighed. “I wish I could. Even if it means spending the night getting my ears chewed off by Jill. How do you cope with living with her?” Claire often wondered that herself. The truth was that it wasn’t that bad living with Jill, because they had different timetables and separate friends. When they did in fact end up spending time together, though, Jill was really full-on. That was partly what attracted so many boys to her, the fact that she was gorgeous and fed on attention like a light bulb, getting louder and more flirtatious with every admirer (and every drink).
         “Jill’s not that bad once you get to know her. Then again, I might be lying and she’s worse when you get to know her.”    
         “You’ve known her for what, 9 years now? I’ve known her for 4 and it’s already too many.”
         “Sue seems to like her.”
         “That’s because they are essentially the same person.”
         “You’ve been paying attention. You sound like Lucy, though.”
         “Lucy makes a lot of sense, she’s a clever girl.”
         “Oh is that why she’s at Cambridge then?”
         “Nah, she got in there on looks and charm.”
         “Michael Brown! Was that sarcasm?!” Claire realised that Michael had spoken to Lucy recently. It was easy to tell because he started to pick up her habits and sound like her. “So where’s Lucy today?” There was an awkward pause on the other line.
         “She’s out, she said.”
         “With who?”
         “So she’s out with Steve, isn’t she? Did she tell you not to tell me? You could have at least made up a lie.”
         “I have to go now; I’ll speak to you later. Have a fun night out with Jill and everyone else. Bye!” Michael hung up before Claire could say anything else.

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