Monday, 1 March 2021

What’s Normal?

 

by Paula R C Readman

camomile tea 

 “I mustn’t be late?” The girl muttered, while pacing up and down the platform.

 I was sure she wasn’t talking to me. I’d been sitting watching her. No, not stalking her, I knew that was against the law. “Not a nice thing to do, George.”

She got off the bus when Mum dropped me off at the station. Like the girl, I’m capable of getting myself from the station to my place of work. I enjoy working. Being around other people makes me feel normal. I wasn’t sure what normal meant, but normal people say the word a lot.

“It’s not normal.”

“That doesn’t normally happen.”

My favourite one is “On a normal day, the trains run on time.”

I asked Mum while eating our breakfast, “Is it a normal day, today?”

“Yes, George it is,” she said.

I was pleased to hear it was and went to get ready for work.

 

The girl looked worried. I think her name is Kathy. I’ve seen her every day for the last two years as she works at the same company as I do.  We catch the same train, at the same time every working day.   She doesn’t normally speak to me.

There’s that word again. Sometimes the word makes me sad.  “You’re not normal, George!”

I’ve tried talking to her at work, but she gets a funny look on her face, and then glances around as though unsure that I’m speaking to her. I just smile, and let it go.

I want to speak to Kathy now, to reassure her that the train will arrive, though a bit late. Mum and I always check before leaving home that the trains are running on time. I rang my place of work to let them know what has happened.

“Okay, George, thanks for letting us know. Other people aren’t normally as thoughtful as you, but remember it’s out of your control, if they’re running late.”

I checked my watch again.  The train is five minutes late.

“You’re George, aren’t you?”

“Yes.” Kathy stands before me with her blue eyes sparkling.

 “Can I sit with you?”

“Please do. You’re Kathy.”

“Yes, that’s right. You know my name?”

“Of course. I like to know everyone’s name at work,” I can’t stop smiling. She’s even more beautiful close up. She has fresh skin, and wears hardly any make up.

“I hate being late for work,” she says, plonking herself down beside me.

“Me too. It’s okay I’ve phoned ahead. It’s the train’s fault, not ours.”

“Oh, so we won’t lose our jobs.”

“No, silly.” I took her hand in mine, and she doesn’t pull away. “Why would you think that?”

“Because we’re not seen as being normal people, it’s hard for us to get a job.”

So that’s the reason, she didn’t speak to me. Too frightened of being seen talking, instead of working.

“Kathy, your job is safe.” I say, just as the train pulled into the station.

She laughs. “What makes you so sure?”

“Because I own the company.”

“Do you George. That’s not normal for people like us.”

I laugh and step back, allowing her to sit by the window. “What is normal, Kathy?” I say as I sit down beside her. I know it’s going to be an extraordinary day.  

About the author 

Paula R C Readman lives in England, with her husband and has many short stories published by Bridge House, Black Hare Press, Kandisha Press and CafeLit. She has three books published too, Days Pass Like a Shadow, The Funeral Birds and Stone Angels.

 

 

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