Claire grimaced for what had to be the hundredth time that minute and the thousandth time since Jill had started speaking. As was her custom, she was insisting on telling Claire and Margaret everything about her night, right down to the details of her conquest. At some point about 4pm, she had swept into the house in Cambridge, gushing about her ‘amazing’ night and ‘fantastic’ day, not even slightly aware of the extent to which she was not welcome there. She had helped herself to tea and biscuits and then had begun badgering Claire and Margaret about the time it was going to take them to get back to Leeds. Georgia sighed.
“I’ve got to go as well, I have to get a ticket back to Nottingham.”
“Don’t bother, I’ll drive you,” said Neil, “I don’t have any lectures tomorrow anyway and I’d feel bad making you go alone. Plus this way Clive won’t have to go back to the station to get you once he’s dropped Tricia off.”
“You’ve thought this through,” Georgia laughed. Now it was Claire’s turn to sigh. She hated having to leave everyone. It had been the same way since she was young, goodbyes made her so sad. Part of it was probably some deep psychological reason but she was pretty sure that most of the reason she had for hating leaving was that she knew she was about to end up in this very situation: trying to concentrate on the road while Jill went on and on about the gory details of her night. After the thousand-and-first grimace, Margaret cut in. Claire could see a change in Margaret; she was becoming a lot more confident and less afraid of Jill.
“So I’m hungry. Claire, how about you?”
“Guys, you totally interrupted the best part of the whole thing I was just getting to it and you cut me off!” whined Jill. The other two girls ignored her as Claire pointed out a sign for a service station two miles away. As they pulled in, Jill started to make a beeline for the McDonalds, while Margaret and Claire had turned towards Boots in search of sandwiches.
“What are you guys doing?” demanded Jill on seeing that they weren’t following her, with quite blatant scorn in her voice, “McDonalds is so much cheaper and so much nicer, I always get it!” Claire and Margaret nudged each other and stifled their laughter and any snide comments they wanted to make.
“It’s actually cheaper and easier to just get a sandwich or something,” Claire pointed out, “but if you want to go there then we’ll just meet you back in the car in half an hour, okay?” Jill was now torn between her overwhelming desire to binge and her other overwhelming desire to never be alone and especially never leave Claire and Margaret alone. She did not like people having bonds that she wasn’t involved in – if people were alone together, they would end up with their own inside jokes and stories that Jill wasn’t a part of and that was so not ideal. But when Jill looked in her purse she saw that she had just enough left over for a burger and chips and her mind was made up. She left Claire and Margaret and said she’d try to come and find them in the seating area in a minute.
“Don’t worry about it,” Claire reassured her, “We’ll just see you at the car in thirty! Have fun!” she called out before quietly adding, “Enjoy your McHeart Attack” in a voice low enough so that only Margaret would hear.
“Is it really going to take us half an hour to eat sandwiches?” Margaret asked. Claire was a notoriously slow eater but even that seemed like a push.
“No way, but it was the longest I thought I could get away with telling Jill. I need to mentally prepare myself for the last hour of the journey.”
“I would laugh but that’s actually just such a painful concept,” agreed Margaret, “I really hope she’s at least finished with her story about… What’s this one’s name?”
“Will? Or maybe Bill. Or maybe I'm thinking of Jill and I have literally no idea what his name is.”“That seems like the most likely option,” laughed Margaret. Her laughter was cut short by a rumbling overhead, which was soon followed by the heavens opening. The girls squealed and ran inside protecting their hair. They bought their sandwiches and took seats as far away from McDonalds as they could, finding the best ones before the station got overcrowded with people sheltering from the rain.