The Smith's party was much like any of their other parties - uncomfortable looking grown-ups drinking wine they didn't like and talking to people they didn't know about stuff they didn't care about. It was hell on Earth to Lydia, especially since there was nobody for her to talk to.
Why had her mother dragged her along? She knew there was nobody there interested in conversing with her sixteen year old daughter. It wouldn't have mattered if Lydia had been the most eloquent, charming, witty person on the planet - because, in the eyes of the Smiths and their friends, she was just another lousy punk teenager.
She sank into a rigid leather-look sofa and scowled. The adults were all standing in the new extended kitchen talking about work and houses and airmiles. Lydia was bored. Occasionally her mother would break away briefly from the glow of mwarm light emenating from the Smiths and their company, usually to tell Lydia to sit up straight or stop scowling. Once, her father came across to see how she was doing.
'Are you OK over here?' he'd asked. 'You sure you don't wanna help out a bit, serve some drinks maybe?'
'I'm fine Dad. I'm sure you're getting on very well without me.'
'Sure,' he said, missing the sarcasm, and trotted off again.
The television didn't work. Just my luck, Lydia thought as she attempted to flip the channels.What was she supposed to do. There was no-one to talk to, nowhere to retreat to. Normally, Lydia would have liked to be at the house of somebody she knew; so if the party got too much for her - which it frequently did if her mother were present - she could retreat to the sanctuary of a bedroom or some such thing. But not here. She was trapped downstairs, just where she didn't want to be.
And she couldn't leave.
About half an hour later, three more people arrived. One was an adult, the other two were teenagers, both a little older than Lydia.
She stared. The adult was normal - if constipated-looking adults in peach dresses were considered 'normal' - but the kids were alien. The boy had hair as red as a fire engine, and wore a black leather jacket and black trousers. His clothes were adorned with stids, belts, buckles and chains. He looked bored. The girl wore a zip up leather top, her arms covered with spider-webnetting. She wore a short skirt, leggings and very high heels. Her eyes were heavily lined and shadowed with a lurid purple. She also looked bored.
Everyone else stared, mouths open wide. Lydia could make outr her own dear mother, gobbling in surprise.
'Hello everyone,' the adult said, dragging herself inside. 'Sorry about this, but Michael asked me to bring these two along. I hope it's not a problem...'
'No,' the Smiths said simultaneously through gritted teeth.
Lydia's mother continued to gobble. Lydia herself just sank back into the sofa. Great. Another group of people she couldn't associate with. Maybe they were nice people - just maybe - but why would they want to talk to someone like her anyway?
The adult walked into the kitchen. The two teenagers strode into the living room and draped themselves over the sofa adjacent to Lydia. They stared curiously at her.
Lydia pulled her jumper over her chin, and said nothing.