“Most people get damaged at some time or other I think. More or less badly, with more or less chance of healing. So we grow into our own shapes, in the way that feet form the shapes of shoes and you can’t step into those of someone else because they will never fit. I wonder who the baby was whose outgrown little canvas boots were thrown out casually into the garden? Perhaps they belonged to Monsieur Antoine Legre, who was born in the corner of our sitting room seventy years ago. It was he who told us the story of the ruined house, sitting drinking Pernod in our kitchen, his small cheeks hard and red as cider apples.

My damage had been on the inside and didn’t show. A secret. Only I knew it was there. I was convinced it would never go away. Something inside me that had gone wrong and could not be put right. Something missing. I didn’t know what it was. Only that I was afraid. Something terrible might happen. I didn’t know what it was.”

Story “for Jim Latter”: No Hands, in Playing Sardines (2001), by Michele Roberts.

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