Short? SHORT?

“Short? SHORT?” Lydia snorted. “You think this skirt is SHORT? I tell you, Mum, you’re SO behind the times. THIS would be considered LONG by my friends. I’m only wearing it at all because it’s a retro party.”

“What – retro-prostitute?” said Lydia’s mother. “You go and stand on a street corner in that and you’ll get a few offers to make a couple of quid. Go change!”

“Hell!” said Lydia. But she needed money to get to the party, and her mother was her only current resource for that, so she went upstairs to change. She didn’t go quietly. She continued to snort. “Short?!”

“And stop that snorting!” shouted her mother up the stairs.

Lydia’s mother knew that Lydia’s skirt, though ridiculously revealing, would not be the shortest one worn amongst Lydia’s friends. But, she felt, you had to draw the line while you still could. Lydia was seventeen, and soon there’d be no more line-drawing possible, warnings about looking like a prostitute would fall on ever-more-deaf ears, Lydia’s friends would be weirder and Lydia herself even less controllable. If Lydia succeeded in her plan to get a job next year, it wouldn’t even be possible to rein her in on the purse-strings.

Lydia’s mother went back to the kitchen and picked up her cup of tea. She leant her elbows on the counter and warmed her hands on the cup between them. She took a thoughtful sip and gazed out at the melancholy, wet garden through the kitchen window.

“I suppose she’ll want twenty quid tonight,” thought Lydia’s mother. She always struggled to decide just how much money to provide – enough to make sure Lydia had bus fare home, but not enough to buy drugs. It was difficult. You couldn’t really lock up a seventeen year old; though when she’d seen that so-called skirt, Lydia’s mother had wished she could.

Lydia came downstairs, changed out of the skirt and into silver tights, killer heels and a low-slung top that showed a great deal of young bosom.

“Not THAT top, Lydia. It’s way too low,” said her mother.

“Low? LOW?”

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