The windows were frosty from the rain, and every time he woke up to be sick, a little more moisture and mud would sneak inside, adding fresh stains to the grey carpet. She was wedged in the middle, between their two sleeping bags, with no room to toss. Winter bites through her two-day-old soiled socks, three-day-old jeans with pasta stains, crusted cider from up north and still wet mulled wine from that night. With sand underneath every fingernail, she tried to scratch her teeth clean. There is no way to locate the chapstick in the dark, without waking the others. Her mobile had gone out of battery before it went out of service. Bags were shoved in the front seat, but almost empty of their contents: cash and id, cheap bags of oatmeal and bread rolls, change of clothes, toothbrush, her pill, one’s rolled smokes (he wouldn’t stop reminding how much cheaper they were where he was from), a refidex, and a prize certificate from the local pub for ‘discount flight to the Whitsundays’.
He flirted with the girls, and talked about Canada.
They hauled him home at eleven o’clock – cross the railway and take a left until they saw it. Earlier that day he took photos of the nearby water tower, covered in graffiti.
“He wouldn’t live long in France”, the first one said.
“Huh. I had the same as him, and I don’t feel it at all”, she said.
They were parked along a gravel track, just outside town. On their side, the ground dipped into a gulley, the unmown grass and leaves the brightest greens. It was forest from that point. The other side of the track held dispersed small paint-peeled fenceless houses.
The air was fresh and pure outside, crisp from the unseasonal rain. Inside the station wagon, there was nothing but sweat, tobacco, and sick.
But there were only a few hours until dawn.