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Chloe had a face like a little chimp, ugly and full of mischief. From the time she was small, she liked creating a ruckus. People guessed it might be because of Barry. Chloe’s older brother was a star: attractive, athletic, a natural leader. People were charmed by him though he said little. His beauty spoke.

As Chloe grew, so did her rebellion. She shaved her head. Her wiry body was a mass of tattoos and piercings. Every day, she wore the same disreputable black jeans, carefully ripped to show her naked butt. She found ingenious ways of skipping school. She drank and used a variety of drugs bought with money stolen from her mother. She sneered at her parents’ efforts to befriend her.

Chloe had a deep and grating voice. “I believe that child sneaks smokes when you’re not looking,” friends told her mother. Some even said, “She sounds like an old boozer.”

When Chloe dropped out of school and disappeared, no one was surprised. Her parents felt ashamed of their relief. She was, after all, their child, just like Barry. Friends rushed to help with stories of good parents who’d borne impossible children. Her parents let themselves be comforted.

For two years, they heard nothing. Then, one day, a neighbour called. “Turn the TV on,” she sputtered and named the channel, “turn it on.” Chloe’s mother hurried to obey. There, unmistakably, was Chloe, ensconced in a luxury villa with a boisterous group of friends. Cameras followed their every move: eating, fighting, cursing, making love. And Chloe was the crudest, the noisiest.

Chloe’s mother wept. “A pack of monkey’s,” she sobbed, “a pack of monkeys.”

Not long after, they received a letter from Chloe. It ended with a row of hugs and kisses. “Darlings,” she wrote, “I have found my happiness.”

Flash Fiction by Eva Eliav
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Published in Autumn 2017


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