8. Claire

The girls flopped down on their plush sofa and Margaret pulled out the remote from under a cushion. They had just begun flicking through the channels and discussing what they could be bothered to do for dinner when Claire’s phone rang. Picking it up, she saw it was Steve so she muted it. She didn’t want to talk to him. They had narrowed down the choices to pizza, Chinese, Indian, Thai or a different pizza place when Claire’s phone rang again, Steve’s number on the screen once more. Pressing ‘ignore’ this time, the girls managed to narrow down their viewing options to between 2 films, a documentary, a reality show, 2 dramas or a comedy before Claire’s phone rang, yet again. But this time it was Joe’s number on the screen. Claire sighed and picked it up.
         “Hi Joe, how’s it going?” she asked lightly.
         “Claire, it’s Steve. Don’t hang up.”
         “Oh.” She had been about to.
         “Why wouldn’t you answer your phone when I called?” Claire heard a faint, “Not important!” from Joe in the background, followed by, “Fine! I’m doing it!” in response from Steve.
         “What’s going on, Steve?” she asked, apathetically. Steve sighed and explained as much as he knew. Claire gasped, “Holy moly!” and there was a muffled silence as she covered the phone in order to explain what had happened to Margaret and Jill. As she took her hand away, Steve overheard Jill saying “…yet again. Literally, it’s like she can’t, like, hang on to a man, you know?” Claire put the phone back to her face.
         “Not the time Jill, shut up.” Surprisingly, Jill did so. “Steve, I want to talk to Lucy.”
         “Yeah of course hang on; I need to add in Georgia and Neil.” She heard a door opening and buttons on Joe’s phone being pressed, then Georgia’s voice, then Joe’s.
         “Everybody present?” asked Joe.
         “Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’re all here. Now tell us what happened!” Georgia nearly shouted. Steve cleared his throat and pointed out that he had already told them all what happened.
         “Yeah but we want the actual sequence of events from the actual person they happened to,” said Claire, trying not to sound too contemptuous of Steve, “Luce, what happened? This is so out of the blue! Or is another one of those times where everybody knew except me?” asked Claire.
         “No worries, babe, nobody had any idea. Not even Neil. At least I don’t think he did,” Georgia assured her, “he’s asleep – he got sick from eating stupid food. Prawns and taramasalata.” Lucy, Joe and Steve laughed at this.
         “Ooh pink vomit. He’s made that exact mistake before.” They heard a groan from Neil. Claire laughed now, and diverted the conversation back to the original topic. Unfortunately, Jill could hear everything that was going on as Claire and Margaret had the phone on speaker and this meant she kept feeling the need to input derisive comments and snotty remarks. Claire got fed up with this after about two minutes and tried to send Jill to go and get the food. Even more unfortunately, Jill decided she was ‘too tired’ and therefore either someone had to go with her or they would just have to order in. Margaret volunteered to go with her, not wanting to force Claire to leave a crucial conversation. Claire paused the conversation until they had left and then returned, finding renewed appreciation for her friends, both old and new, and the support they had always given to each other, and would continue to give for as long as they could.

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