This story is based on Next To Normal (I DO NOT OWN NEXT TO NORMAL, UNFORTUNATELY!) and i am basically telling the story without the music, as well as going into further detail, describing scenes we didn't see, especially between Henry and Natalie. It is a bit rough at the moment, but i have some ideas for the story as it develops, so please be kind. Thanks for reading.

Something next to normal, that's way to far away...

It was 3 am on a monday morning. A women with messy red hair was rocking in a chair drifting in and out of sleep, all alone, in the dark in the living room. Her eyelids slowly closed and opened, gazing at the family pictures that were displayed on the mantel piece. Her eyes wondered across to the wedding picture. She was so young and beautiful back then, then across to the picture of a chubby little girl being held by the man she had married. Her eyes drifted across these pictures, whilst falling in and out of consciousness. Diana Goodman slowly lifted a picture she had been holding in her hand of a small baby boy sleeping. No emotion crossed her face as she held the photo sleepily. She slowly tucked the photo in her dressing gown pocket and gazed into space, half asleep, until she heard a click.

"It's about time" She said sleepily, with a smile spreading across her face. "I've been waiting up for you and your in trouble"

No hint of anger crossed Diana's face as the boy walked towards her.

"Sorry….You know you don't have to do this. Stay up for me. I am almost 18 mom." The teenage boy said smiling.

Diana looked at her son. He was almost a man. Where had all the time gone? She found it hard to discipline him at times like this, him standing there so tall. He was growing up and he would not be hers forever. He was the best child a mother could ask for, not just her son, but her best friend. She straightened up in her chair, no hint of exhaustion crossing her face and said;

"I have been waiting up for you because…..Mothers worry Gabe. You told me you would be home by 11 and you lied to me. No phone call, no text, its unacceptable and immature"

Diana studied his face. A hint of a smile crossed Gabes face. Diana never got angry with him. A sense of guilt rushed through him, seeing his mother so worried and on edge. The smirk vanished.

"I'm sorry, it won't happen again"

"Diana? What are you still doing up?"

Diana and Gabe froze. Diana straightened up and got out of her chair, pulling her robe tighter around her.

"Your not going to tell him are you….He already hates me"

"He doesn't hate you, you are just a pain in the ass. And no. Go out the back way, be quiet"

"Ok, I love you mom….And i'm sorry"

Gabe kissed his mothers cheek and disappeared.

Dan Goodman walked into the sitting room where Diana picked up her books from the table, attempting to make herself look busy. Dan calmly walked in the room, smiling at his wife. She had bags under her eyes, her red hair was strung all over her face, but she still looked beautiful to him. He weakly smiled.

"I was talking to myself, You know how i am. These game show repeats were on and i get carried away…I'm pretty sure i could win one of those things now" Diana said with a yawn. Dan nodded and edged out the door.

"You go ahead, I'll be up stairs in a minute" Diana told Dan. He smiled and sleepily walked back up stairs, not noticing his teenage daughter running past him.

Even with bags under her eyes, Bed head frizzy hair and bloodshot eyes, just like her mother, Natalie was beautiful. She threw her books down on the kitchen table and opened the fridge pulling out three soda cans and sat down. Her eyes frantically opened the books and studied there pages. It was late and Natalie had gotten to the point where words didn't mean anything anymore, but that didn't stop her. Diana peered round the door, watching as her daughter frantically turned pages in between taking gulps of soda.

Diana, slowly walked into the kitchen and closed the book Natalie had begun reading.

"What are you doing? Do you know what time it is"

"Yes, but i have 3 Calculus test, a quiz on floral imagery.."

"Just.." Diana cut Natalie off,a hint of frustration in her voice "It's gone three. Nows not the time. Go to bed. Your a smart girl, studying at night…Not so smart."

Natalie froze, looking up at her mother dumbfounded. She looked away re-opening her book, until Diana turned the light off.

"Take some time for yourself, i'm going to go….Spend some time with your father" Natalie cringed and ran upstairs, closing her door.

Natalie slammed her door and crawled into bed. She reached for her ipod and put Mozart on as loud as she could and rested her head on the pillow. Natalie paid careful attention to every note being played drowning out the thoughts of her mother and homework until tiredness won her over making her fall asleep with her head phones on. The music eventually stopped and Natalie shot up wide awake. The battery had died on her Ipod and she had woken up to the sound of piercing ring.

"Good Morning Sunshine!" Diana heard her sun shout to Natalie.

Dan walked out of the bathroom having just got dressed, walking towards Diana. Diana let him hold her and stare into her eyes.

"That was great wasn't it. You are just,great!"

Diana smiled and pulled away whilst answering "Yes, it was…." She turned away from him making the bed, the smile she had just had fading from her face. She walked towards their bedroom window, staring outside, mesmerised by the raindrops hanging from the ledge. Diana studied the detail of the day, taking in every cloud, every crash of a raindrop, every effect the win had on the trees surrounding their home.

"What a beautiful day" She smiled, gazing out into the gloom. Diana could make the darkest situations look like sunshine in her eyes.

Dan had began searching for something in his draw and turned to Diana, half paying attention.

"Yeah, beautiful" He said without a trace of enthusiasm.

Diana watched him as he turned back around searching in his draw. She walked out of the room downstairs to find Natalie packing her school bag. The red from Natalie's eyes had gone and the bags, although still there, were not as obvious as the night before. She seemed slightly perkier as she pulled out a slip of paper from her bag. She gland at her mother, as Diana pulled out bread from the cupboard.

"So…" Natalie said, breaking the ice. "I have finally got a date for my final recital. I think some colleges want to come see the talent performing, so…." Natalie looked at her mother for a reaction. Diana was in a world of her own, smiling to herself, at times glancing at Natalie, but not taking in what she was saying. Natalie watched her mother and finally finished. "…..Do you think you can come?"

Diana smiled at her daughter, taking the note from her and reading it. She handed the slip back to Natalie and smiled, getting back to her work.

"Sure, Put it on the calendar"

"The calendars still On april of last year" Natalie sighed, waiting for a reaction.

"Happy easter!" Diana Giggled and carried on making lunches. Natalie sighed and yelled:

"Happy easter Mom!" As she ran upstairs to fetch her books.

Diana stopped what she was doing as Gabe entered the room. They greeted each other good morning. Diana was always more alert when Gabe was in the room and she was aware of this. She loved him so much. She loved Dan and Natalie, but she felt a connection with Gabe that felt…Normal. Diana found herself questioning this sometimes. Was her family normal? Did she love Gabe more then Natalie? Diana never understood Natalie. Diana was wild and free at her age. She was not afraid of risks, she had tons of boyfriends, even if none of them ever really meant anything to her, she had the memories and she treasured those. School seemed like a distant memory now, but her life outside of school and the fun she had and the people she met during that time did not. Natalie was missing out on so much. She was proud of Natalie and she knew she had a feeling for her, but was it love? What is love? Diana would question herself, but it always came back around to how she felt about her son. This was a time when she felt normal, she loved her son, she did not always see eye to eye with her daughter, but maybe this is how normal families are.

Natalie reflected on her family, as Diana did that morning. Are we normal? Natalie thought. Her music would repress such thoughts, she grabbed her sheet music and gazed at it, trying to distract herself. Natalie made sure all her thoughts were out of her head before she came downstairs. Today was no different from any other day, she thought to herself. She would get her lunch and catch the early bus to school so she could practise. Natalie walked into the kitchen. Diana was placing bread on the floor, frantically emptying the bag, buttering every slice. She would at times glance at Gabe, who standing by the door, Natalie who stood in shock, rubbing her temples to try and calm her down. Dan edged towards her, grabbing her arm.

"Honey…"

"What?" Diana smiled. "I'm making the lunches! You two, Go to school!" Natalie looked at her mother, hurt filling her eyes. The shock never seemed to ease, although this was one of the minor things that Diana had done.

"GO!" Diana laughed. Dan pulled her up from the ground gently.

"You go. Don't worry. We are going to go see the doctor. Everythings ok." He said reassuringly looking at Natalie.

Diana watched Gabe leave, and Natalie took a final sad stare at her mother and at her dad"

"Natalie. Please. It's ok. You go…..Have a good day" Dan stared at his daughter before she nodded and slowly opened the door shaking and soon she was out of site. Dan looked at Diana.

The realisation of what she had done started to settle in. She looked at the floor and at Dan. Reality and fantasy began running through her mind. What was real and what was not? She looked at Dan as he led her towards a chair to sit her down. She sat and watched him as he picked up his phone.

"Dr, It's Mr Dan Goodman….Yes….Immediately."