Everyone forced themselves into the small living room. For the next few hours all arguments are forgotten. Everyone is dressed up yet still comfortable. They're just family, you have looked worse. If it wasn't for your mother and her constant attack with words then you would.
The house has been cleaned from top to bottom – even when you insist that nobody wants to see your room – in preparation for tonight. The small lamps are lit, the TV is on the music channel, the coffee table is covered in snacks. Several dining room chairs were stuffed into the small space.
The first of the guests arrive. Your mother turns into the 'perfect hostess', smiling and laughing with your father's family who she secretly hates.
There is mild chaos as everyone shakes hands and kisses each other's cheeks, lipstick getting everywhere and a face full of hair. There is a chorus of 'how are you' and 'you look great'. The small talk is killing you.
Your father and his brother – your uncle/godfather – are seated on the couch, cans of lager in hand, discussing work. Your grandma is seated near them staring into space as – like you – she is being ignored.
The door goes again. This time it is the family you only see at parties. They are only here for the food, you swear. There are more 'how are you' and 'I've not seen you in ages'. This goes on for around half an hour as more and more family show up. You retreat into the corner of the room.
You sit there and observe them. Your father and uncles talking about work, occasionally interrupted by you grandfather, starting with the famous 'back in my day…'. Your mother and aunties are having the same problem with your grandma. Your older cousins are seated slightly away from them, talking about college or university. They are interrupted by the adults with 'you have it so easy these days'.
After a while the party is split between the living room and the kitchen. Everyone is yelling in a futile attempt to be heard over everyone else. The laughter created by one joke interrupts the telling of another.
Eventually the music channel is repeating itself and instead of changing it the CD player is put on with a dance hit album. Your cousins groan at the older music.
Glasses are passed back and forth, some almost spilling over as the room slowly gets drunker and drunker. Only yourself and the children are sober. And that one uncle who is a recovering addict.
You consider texting a friend but they are in the same position that you are in; banned from your phone. You seem to be the only one as some of your prettier cousins take selfies.
The music is almost non-existent as the room gets louder. It's not long until an argument – no 'debate' happens. You have no idea what it is about, how it started or how it's going to end. Neither, apparently, do they. The two sides get tossed back and forth until someone storms out. And it had started out so well!
And then you notice a stranger in the darkest corner of the room. Interested, you wander over and they whisper something to you. Something so shocking and unbelievable that it will change your life forever.
True fully, you are staring blindly at a wall.
The hours slowly trickle by and eventually a game is introduced, a boared game for multiple players. This will strike up another argument about god knows what. Someone else storms out in a huff.
Eventually, the crown leaves in twos and threes. Sloppy kisses and promises to meet up slows everyone down but finally the house is ours again.
Then we see the mess.