It was mid-December and two days before the Christmas break. The gang were trying to coordinate their reunion.
They had all agreed to spend every big holiday together back in Derry.
They were all on the phone coordinating their travel plans.
“Right girls. I’m leaving Belfast at 1600 hours,” said Clare.
“1600 hours? It’s the Christmas Holidays, not D Day Clare” said Erin who was currently sitting on James’s lap on the sofa.
They had the phone on speaker phone.
It had been a fancy one his mother had sent over to him so they could talk on the phone more. Since then, she had only rung once.
“Erin, we have only a short window of opportunity to meet up,” said Clare.
“A short window of opportunity? We’re off for nearly a month Clare” said Michelle who was dying to get this conversation over with so she could head to Ayre Square for the start of NUI Galway’s 12 Pubs of Christmas.
“Yeah, but we have exams and assignments during that Michelle” replied Clare.
“I swear to god if she’s going to keep wrecking my buzz over Christmas like this I’m not going home,” said Michelle.
“Michelle you better be coming. We haven’t all seen each other since Hallowe’en and I have to talk to you girls,” said Erin.
“Why what’s wrong?” said a worried Clare.
“You’re not pregnant are you, Erin?” asked Michelle.
“Oh my god, no Michelle!” exclaimed Erin.
“Is James pregnant?” asked Michelle cheekily.
“Seriously Michelle!” said James.
“Ok fine. So, what time will we all be getting into Derry at?” asked Michelle.
“Well, if we leave Dublin at 2 pm we should make it up to Derry by 6ish,” said James.
Granda Joe had given him strict instructions and several approved routes to get them from Dublin to Derry in the quickest time.
Then Gerry had given him another route to go. He had chosen the latter.
“Four fucking hours?! Could you not put the foot down James and cut that down to 2?” asked Michelle.
“Yeah, if you want us to crash or get arrested” replied James.
“Laurie is picking me up from the station at 6 pm,” said Clare.
They were still going strong, but Clare was seriously finding it all stressful with a new city, college, exams and a long-distance relationship. Luckily Laurie was much more laid back than her and was able to calm Clare down whenever things got too much.
“Lucky for some. I have to travel up to Dublin to get to Derry because there’s no trains or buses from Galway to Derry! The railway. The one good fucking thing the Brits ever did on this island the Free State cunts had to go and rip them all up,” said Michelle.
She loved living in Galway, but she hated having to get to and from there.
She had tried to bribe James to pick her up in Galway with a fiver and a phonecard. Unsurprisingly he had refused, and she had to settle for getting picked up from Busaras in Dublin instead.
James, Erin, and Orla were attending college in Dublin.
James was studying engineering at UCD. He had wanted to study film, but his mother and Deirdre had convinced him otherwise. There would be no money in it apparently.
Erin still encouraged him to make little videos and take photos as a hobby.
Erin had somehow managed to get enough points to follow in the footsteps of her hero Samuel Beckett and study English Literature at Trinity.
While Orla was thriving studying art at NCAD.
They were all sharing a small house in Rathmines, just outside Dublin city centre.
The rent was paid in part by James’s mum. Her sticker business had really taken off apparently.
They made up the rest of the rent by working part-time.
“Ye would want to hit the road early, there’s meant to be snow,” said a worried Clare.
“Would you catch yourself on,” said Erin. “They always say it will snow and it never does”
“But they said so on the news!” insisted Clare.
“What the fuck do they know?” replied Michelle. “So, we’ll be hitting Derry by 7 pm. Then we’ll actually hit the town at 9 pm. Pre-drinks in Erin’s”
“Clubbing the night, we get back? Do you not think it’s a bit much?” asked Erin.
“Yeah, I thought we were just going to go and get something to eat? We’ll be pretty tired after travelling all the way home,” said Clare.
“For fuck’s sake the hell have you all been the past four months? University or a fucking retirement home?!” said Michelle.
“Some of us actually you know study and work Michelle!” said Clare.
“I study! Just you can repeat the exam, but you can’t repeat the sesh” And Michelle would be repeating. Two modules to be precise.
That’s why she really wanted to go out in Derry and just forget everything for one night at least.
“And like James will be driving us all up home so he won’t be wanting to go out,” said Erin.
“Well leave him at home then. He can watch Corrie with you ma,” said Michelle.
“Thanks, Michelle. Really can’t wait to see you again too,” said James.
“Jesus the pair of ye sound like an old married couple so ya do” replied Michelle.
“We can go out on the Saturday Michelle, it will be better,” said Erin.
“Ok, fine. But you dry shites better cheer yourselves up. It’s nearly Christmas. We’ll be back in Derry. This is the best time of our lives girls, and we need to fucking enjoy it because it’s all downhill from here. Look at our ma and das”
“True,” said Erin.
“I can’t wait to see you fuckers,” said Michelle.
“Where’s Orla? She’s been awfully quiet” asked Clare.
“Upstairs. She better not be melting stuff again. She keeps setting the fire alarm off. Hold on a second!” Erin jumped up and ran to the bottom of the stairs. “ORLA!!”
“What?” asked Orla from the landing.
“Are you on the call?” asked Erin.
The others could hear the conversation through the phone in Orla’s hand.
“Aye, these cordless phones are cracker. I’m recording this for one of my projects,” said Orla.
“I hope she’s fucking joking!” yelled Michelle down the phone.