04-04

          “My parents aren’t…most parents,” replied Lenna, staring at the floor. “My dad used to be in the army but he was fired after he had to be sent to a mental asylum for mild schizophrenia, which by the way was where he met my mother, who was recovering from a severe mental breakdown, partially induced from a sense of displacement since her family moved to England very suddenly and she left everything behind. They were both discharged after being—apparently—cured, when they got married, but not before my dad realised that actually he was gay.”

          “So what happened?” Davide was fascinated. His family had been relatively normal compared to that.

          “They got married anyway,” she said, shrugging. “Dad thought it would be easier that way, and Mum was too much in love with him to care about little things like that. He’s still mega gay now, even though they’re still married. Non-family often find it rather hard to get their heads around, but we’re all used to it.”

          “All? How many of you are there?”

          “There’s me, and I’m the second oldest. The oldest is my brother, Jim, who’s eighteen and also possibly gay, although we’ve not yet worked out whether it’s something that can be inherited, because there aren’t enough test subjects…understandably enough. Then after me there’s Katie, and she’s thirteen, and finally Chris, who’s eleven.”

          “You’re very calm about all this. Doesn’t it bother you that your family is rather strange and dysfunctional and generally not normal?” Davide’s frank speech was enough to make Linda glared at him.

          “Oh, Mr Sensitive,” she said sarcastically. “You can’t just go around saying that about people’s families, it’s not nice.” She waited for Lenna to break down and cry, or yell at them, but she did neither, instead bursting into unexpected laughter.

          “I’m sorry,” she said between giggles. “But it’s odd: you used exactly the same words as my sister uses when she’s describing us, and it’s so strange to hear it from a stranger’s mouth.”

          “I didn’t mean to offend you,” said Davide earnestly. “I’m really sorry, I didn’t think, it just slipped out.” Despite, or perhaps because of, his normally professional manner, he was not good at personal matters.

          “It’s honestly fine,” said Lenna, equally serious. “But this really isn’t helping us to find that guy you were looking for. Rich. When do you want me to start?”

The End

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