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(A short story of 3041 words)

Being Normal


by Stephen Shieber

My father was a painter and decorator. An artisan, he called himself, in his effusive moments. What he meant was that he slapped up posh wallpapers in houses he quietly lusted after.

He was a man of modest ambition. Towards the end of their marriage, my mother struggled to conceal her contempt. Sometimes, she spat in his tea and stirred it in with a spoon.

‘Think that milk’s off, Maureen. Me tea’s all frothy.’

She moved out the day puberty arrived. I heard the door click shut, but was mesmerised by the ugly bumps on my balls. I didn’t get out of the bath, didn’t see where she’d gone. She left a note, but it only said that she was off in search of a less normal life. I knew exactly what she meant...

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