Georgia parked outside the train station and the back door opened. First Tricia’s bags, then Tricia herself, were flung into the back seat. She slammed the door behind her and started rooting around the biggest of her bags, shivering. After pulling out a towel and wrapping it round her drenched self, she finally sat back in her seat and clutched her legs to her chest, trying to stay warm and get dry.
“I am going to abso-bloody-lutely murder Clive,” was the first thing she said out loud.
“And hello to you too, babe,” Georgia resisted the urge to chuckle.
“Hey, Tricia!” came a chorus of voices from the car’s dashboard. It was then that Tricia realised that the speakerphone was on and she had just expressed her anger to people in three different counties.
“We should probably hop off now,” said Joe’s voice, “Our pizza and should be here in a couple of minutes anyway.”
“And cheesecake!” Lucy added almost gleefully.
“Yeah, exactly,” said Joe, “It’s pizza and cake time down here. Who knows, if we’re feeling adventurous we might even have something healthy.” Everybody laughed and the voices of Lucy, Joe and Steve all said goodbye, with a lot of emotional thanking on Lucy’s part and more than the usual amount of “I love you”s from everyone. Then there was a swift, “Gotta go too, love you, bye!” from Claire’s voice when the sound of the door to her flat opening and Jill’s voice crowing “We’re baa-aack” came through the phone. Georgia hung up the phone, checked if Neil was still okay and then turned to the soggy girl in the back seat.
“So what exactly happened?” she asked the scowling-slightly-less-than-before Tricia.
“Clive promised he would pick me up and he never did. He rang me after I had already left the station to say that something had come up and he couldn’t make it but he would pay for my taxi. So, I couldn’t get back into the station, there are no taxis because it’s Sunday evening, my bags are super heavy and it started to rain after about two minutes.”
“Is that when you rang me?”
“No, I rang you just before the heavens opened. When I was still slightly happy and had a little dignity left. Did you know that people in cities just drive past and stare at you when you’re drenched outside a train station?”
“In London, they drive past and laugh. Or ignore you altogether.”
“I miss my village.”
The two girls and Neil spent the drive back to the house comparing country folk, city folk and London folk, whom Georgia maintained were altogether an entirely different species. Every time he laughed Neil groaned in pain, which only made the girls laugh harder. They passed their favourite café on the way and Tricia said, “Wow, do you know what I really fancy? A sandwich. Neil, do you have any suggestions? I think prawn and taramasalata sounds pretty good right about now.” This caused Georgia to laugh so much she had to pull over to the side of the road to avoid having an accident. Neil, on the other hand, did not find it so amusing. Then, Georgia stopped laughing abruptly and gasped. She pointed out of the car to an umbrella sheltering two figures with their arms wrapped around each other.
“What?” asked Tricia confusedly, looking in the direction Georgia was showing but only seeing the umbrella, “Gee, do you need a new umbrella or something?”
“No, look!” Georgia nearly yelled. Tricia looked. She saw the umbrella adjust slightly, just enough so that she could see the faces of the people beneath it. Georgia didn’t even have enough time to cry, “Trish, wait!” before Tricia had flung open the car door, thrown herself out onto the street and planted her feet firmly on the pavement in front of the couple under the umbrella. It was still pouring.
For Clive, time stood still. Or at least, it slowed down so much that it seemed as if it as standing still for a moment. He looked up from under his umbrella and saw Tricia, face like thunder, tongue like lightning, drenched with rain. A storm of a girl he did not want to face. Then, within the same millisecond he became acutely aware of the fact that he was strolling leisurely down the street with his arm wrapped tenderly around the waist of someone he should not be seen in that position with, especially not by Tricia and especially not by Tricia when she was in this condition. Then, time started up again but still felt like it was going all too slowly as he tried to disentangle his arm from his companion’s body and put a respectable amount of distance between them. By the time he had finished doing this, Storm-Tricia was being joined by Confused-Yet-Sympathetic-Georgia, who had acquired an umbrella from the back seat of her car, which he now realised was parked right next to them. Georgia sheltered her already-soaking friend. Time sped right back up to normal when Tricia started shouting at him.
“So this is what you leave me stranded for? So that you can go and hang out with Thomas, who broke my heart? I was cold, soaked, tired, miserable, unhappy and alone and you were just about town with my ex, like you were the best of friends?” she screamed at him. Clive was lost for words. He wasn’t sure whether it was that he couldn’t respond, that he didn’t know how, or that he didn’t want to. As the silence grew, though, so did the anger inside Tricia, who continued to scream, “Do you seriously have nothing to say for yourself? Nothing? Seriously?” while Georgia attempted to calm her down. Finally, Georgia gave up trying to be the calming influence and chose to shout over her instead.
“Tricia for goodness’ sake we understand that you’re angry but isn’t there something else about this situation that seems like an important thing to ask about?” she yelled, grabbing Tricia by the shoulders (as well as she could whilst holding an umbrella) and turning her so that they were facing each other, before turning her back towards Clive and Thomas. Tricia looked confused, she had been too blinded by her own fury to notice what Georgia had, and what Clive had been the most afraid of her noticing.“Clive, Thomas. Are you two on a date?”