Friends Like You
Womans Weekly Fiction Special|December 2020
Leah was about to find out what sort of people she’d had in her life all these years…
Victoria Chie

Her dream 60th birthday had taken months to save for and weeks to plan. Now it was all systems go. Sort of…

Leah peered through her car’s windscreen. The rain was getting heavier.

‘Can’t you go faster?’ her front-seat passenger Delia said. At this rate, it’ll be dinner time before we get there.’

‘Better late than dead,’ came Irene’s voice from the back seat. ‘I don’t trust speed.’

Leah shot Delia a hard look. ‘I’m doing my best.’

‘You shouldn’t have turned off the sat nav.’

‘She told me to drive off a cliff, remember?’

‘I don’t trust technology,’ Irene said. ‘Follow your nose is my advice.’

‘Look where that’s got us,’ Delia said. ‘We’re in the middle of nowhere. I can’t even find it on the map.’

‘Can we all calm down?’ Leah said. ‘We’re not going to enjoy this weekend if all we do is snipe at each other.’

By some miracle Spike, who shared the back seat with Irene, was staring quietly out of his window.

‘It was supposed to be sunny,’ Delia said. ‘Cold, but clear. No chance of rain.’

‘I don’t trust weather forecasts. They’re usually wrong,’ Irene said. ‘Especially on long weekends.’

Leah took a deep breath. She’d strangle the pair of them if they didn’t snap out of it. They were the ones who’d pleaded with her to let them join in her birthday dream.

‘Just think about our luxury accommodation, the heated pool, and a town close by full of antique shops to explore.’

‘I won’t be exploring in this weather,’ Delia said.

Leah ignored her. ‘We’ll turn up looking every bit as glamorous as film stars.’ The dress she was wearing had cost more than her usual budget for clothes. Then there was her new hairdo and the acrylic nails in fiery red.

‘It’ll be nice to live in a duke’s bolthole for a few days,’ Irene said. ‘Or did you say he was a marquis?’

‘I forget,’ Leah said. ‘Down on his luck, if he sold it to a hotel chain.’

‘Aren’t you lucky they take dogs, too?’

Leah didn’t answer. She was too busy squinting at the way ahead. A herd of cows ambled along the road, a man walking behind them.

Catching sight of the group, Spike barked, his little body quivering with excitement.

The road was twisty and narrow with high verges. There was no chance of passing and Leah slowed to a crawl.

Delia flounced in her seat. ‘This is ridiculous. We’re barely moving. Give him a blast on the horn.’

‘And start a stampede? He can’t be going far. Relax,’ said Irene.

This was something Leah couldn’t do. Cows being cows, they’d made the road – and her car– very mucky indeed. What a waste of time it had been giving it its yearly wash and polish. And what an impression they’d make motoring up to the hotel.

Then Spike let loose a volley of barks. Leah said, ‘Quiet!’

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