"So, how was Boxing Day with your Dad and that...Anne, was it? The hippy-sounding woman."

It was the mistaken name that brought my gaze up from staring down at my phone, my second finger hovering just above the screen, awaiting to tap away at the pictures and videos again. One of Mum's proudest assets was her elephant-like memory- another asset being the way those snide remarks rolled swiftly off her tongue.

"Angie actually, and it was fine, yeah."

Mum hummed in reply. I could sense her planning the next offence of remarks- no sooner had my eyes fallen back to some vine Dan had liked then her voice sounded again, "I suppose with this Angie living with him, your Dad actually has to have food in the fridge-"

"Well I don't think she's actually living with him all the time exactly-"

"How long have they been together did you say?"

"About three months maybe? No, a bit less..." I kept scrolling, sighing into my chest. 'At least Mum hasn't brought up sixth form and universities.'

"Now, this get together of Alexa's- Lily, put your phone down, you'll be seeing your friends in a minute anyway, I want to be sure that you're listening- I don't have many rules, sweetie-"

"Keep myself  safe. No going out of the house with anyone. Don't have too many drinks."

"I know it's New Years, but considering that you have mocks next week, I doubt you'll want to have a hangover tomorrow morning."

"Not especially, no," I admitted.

"Dan will be there, I'm guessing?" Her tone had lightened at that, and I almost expected her to break from her rigid stance behind the wheel to give a teasing nudge of the elbow like a gossiping friend.

"Yeah," I stole a glance down at my phone. Speak of the devil: he'd messaged me. Mum's voice floated into my mind as I typed a default flirty message back. "I am so glad that you've got back together sweetheart- quite why you broke it off is beyond me. Still, he was so sweet on Christmas Eve."

Scanning through the heap of caps locks messages from the girls group chat that had filled my notifications, I suddenly found my attention stolen by the memory of Dan turning up on the doorstep with a present. The thought had been there- him trying to enact out a scene reminiscent of a Christmas rom-com, with the extensive kissing of cutesy leading female kept PG as the camera pans to show a delighted mother and pouting sister inside of a decorated hallway. But said cutesy leading female is supposed to appreciate such gallantry, wind her arms around his neck and have her happy ever after. Not feel like she's being drowned, simply a doll in his arms.

"Most guys would just send a Merry Christmas text- he's the best!"

"If only your father had been a little more spontaneous..." Mum clicked her tongue, "You keep close to Dan, won't you? I know in a few years you'll be going off to uni and high school sweethearts hardly seem to exist any more, but trust me, if you find a decent man then keep hold of him. You don't want to get to my age and be single- you're pretty much past it."

"No way Mum, guys are definitely still into you. What about that sales assistant, Mark?"
She scoffed, "Oh, not when they realise I have a teenage daughter and one near teen."

"You look so young still that most guys think you're our older sister! It's true!" I said at Mum's unconvinced look, trying to swallow back my laugh.

"Thank you poppet," the car began to slow as the driveway to Alexa's came into view, already crowded by a few other cars.

"Are you sure I can have this Mum?" I tapped upon the slim bag that was resting upon my knees.

"Of course, I've got another three bottles of wine already, plus those  two from work friends. Now, Olivia is giving you a lift back, so make sure you don't lose her. I'll try and stay up for you, but you've got your own key to let yourself in,  haven't you?"

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