Excerpt: 'We Need To Talk About Kevin'

"For starters? What happened last year, in that after-preschool play group. One after another, every mother took her kids out. Oh, there was always some excuse — Jordan keeps catching colds, Tiffany is uncomfortable being the youngest. Until it's down to just me and Lorna's kids, and she mumbles something about it not being much of a group anymore and calls it quits. A few weeks later I stop by Lorna's unannounced to drop off a Christmas present? All the old play group is reassembled in her living room. She was embarrassed and we didn't address it, but since Kevin tells you everything why not get him to explain what might drive all those mothers to sneak off and reconvene in secret, all to exclude our 'happy, healthy' son."

"I wouldn't ask him because that's an ugly story that would hurt his feelings. And I don't see the mystery-gossip and cliquishness and small-town fallings out. Typical of stay-at-home mothers with time on their hands."

"I'm one of those stay-at-home mothers, at considerable sacrifice I'd remind you, and the last thing we have is time on our hands."

"So he was blackballed! Why doesn't that make you angry at them? Why assume it was something our son did, and not some neurotic hen with a bug up her ass?"

"Because I'm all too well aware that Kevin doesn't tell me everything. Oh, and you could also ask him why not one baby-sitter will come back a second night."

"I don't need to. Most teenagers around here get an allowance of $100 a week. Only 12 bucks an hour isn't very tempting."

"Then at least you could get your sweet, confiding little boy to tell you just exactly what he said to Violetta."

It's not as if we fought all the time. To the contrary, though, it's the fights I remember; funny how the nature of a normal day is the first memory to fade. I'm not one of those sorts, either, who thrives on turmoil — more's the pity, as it turns out. Still, I may have been glad to scratch the dry surface of our day-to-day peaceableness the way Violetta had clawed the sere crust on her limbs, anything to get something bright and liquid flowing again, out in the open and slippery between our fingers. That said, I feared what lay beneath. I feared that at bottom I hated my life and hated being a mother and even in moments hated being your wife, since you had done this to me, turned my days into an unending stream of shit and piss and cookies that Kevin didn't even like.

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