James and Tricia were sleeping on the sofas, both making strange purring noises. Georgia could see the spare mattresses on the floor, but Michael and Sue were in the kitchen standing with Lucy and Jill hadn’t come back last night, not with them and not by herself. None of them were talking, but there was no way the Browns could have not heard the commotion. Georgia could see that Michael desperately wanted to put his arm around Lucy but couldn’t, partly because his sister was there and partly because he didn’t feel right putting his arm around her when she was wearing Carter’s shirt. Of course, Georgia couldn’t see into his mind, but she knew pretty much how his brain worked and she could see his arm twitching towards Lucy every so often. Sue looked up and smiled a relieved smile when she saw Georgia.
“Hey,” Georgia said softly, “so how is everyone?”
“Hungover,” replied Sue. A strange grunt came from Michael, which Sue translated, “Mikey’s lost his voice and he feels like a car has hit him in the face three times.”
“How do you know that if he can’t talk?”
“I just do,” Sue shrugged, as did Michael.
“It’s their weird twin telepathy thing,” piped up Lucy, “Plus anyone would feel like that after the amount of Tequila Michael drank last night.” The girls laughed and Michael shoved Lucy playfully, earning himself a retaliation shove and making Lucy laugh for the first time that morning. There was a short silence after her laugh which was relief tinged with awkward hesitation just in case she started crying again. Even Lucy looked concerned. Georgia took the silence as an opportunity and grabbed Lucy’s hand, pulling her outside and facing little resistance.
“Thank goodness it’s summer,” said Georgia as the two girls sat on the wall outside the house, “Else we’d both be freezing.” Lucy laughed and looked at herself and then at her friend.
“Gee, we match!” she giggled, pointing out that both of the girls were wearing pastel-coloured men’s shirts and bare legs with their hair in messy buns. It looked like a uniform and Georgia and Lucy laughed and began to reminisce about the hideous shirts they had been forced to wear to school for so many years.
“Remember when we always had to be sure our shirts were tucked in so Mrs. Willows wouldn’t take our jumpers?” Georgia giggled.
“Remember how long your skirt used to be?” Lucy giggled, slightly louder.
“Remember how short yours was?” Georgia retaliated, laughing even harder.
“Remember when Jill’s became non-existent and she got sent home?” The two girls were roaring with laughter now, but they calmed down soon enough when their minds wandered to the morning’s events.
“And Claire was so cute and ditsy.”
“She still is.”
“You know she doesn’t mean it,” soothed Georgia, “She tries her best but it’s a lapse in judgement and she doesn’t mean to upset you, neither of them do.”
“I don’t know why I care so much. It doesn’t directly affect me so I should be fine with it as long as I don’t have to see it.”
“It’s just because you know what they’re both like. You know they don’t actually want to be together, it’s just a mistake. Claire always regrets it, at least. Steve wouldn’t tell anyone except you.”
“He doesn’t tell me. He rarely talks to me about her because I don’t let him. She tells me not to and I don’t want to anyway.” She sighed, “I wouldn’t mind it, I’d be fine with it if they didn’t regret it so much and if it didn’t make everything so awkward and make them hate each other. Every time they do this I end up clearing up after their mess when it all… goes pear-shaped.”
“Impressive that you’re not swearing,” said Georgia.
“New year’s resolution.”
“Just to be different.” The girls laughed quietly again. Georgia put her arm around Lucy, who fidgeted slightly to fit better into the embrace.
“You need to stop caring about other people and be more concerned with yourself. Hang on, haven’t we had this conversation before?”
“Only every time I’ve been upset over the past 8 years,” said Lucy, “So it’s rare… or not so rare.”
The girls sat like that for a good 5 minutes before they both got cramp and decided to move. Georgia sighed to herself. Nothing like a good cuddle on a Sunday morning before I have to leave and go all the way back to Nottingham with Tricia. As she followed Lucy back into the house she looked around at all her friends once more. Joe had come downstairs and was sitting with James, Margaret, Tricia, Michael and Sue, who had shoved all the mattresses together and piled cushions and blankets up on top of them. Georgia smiled.
“Right, nobody gets dressed until we’ve watched at least 2 shitty films in a row. Where are the others?” 10 minutes later they were still arguing about film choices but they had been joined by Steve and Claire (Carter had gone home) who were sitting at opposite ends of the group. Lucy, in her typical fashion, was pretending nothing had happened and crawling over everyone, trying to bring some order to the chaos and quite happy to be failing miserably.