‘Dylan, honey… It’s 4 o’clock in the morning. Can’t work wait?’ Sleepily, Louise tousled a hand through her hair as she stared bleary-eyed at her fiance. She’d woken to find his familiar presence absent from their room, replaced with the cross face of Cooper as he pawed her awake. Dylan had left the living room light on.
‘It’s not work!’ Dylan exclaimed as he closed down several browser windows as fast as he could. ‘I just… I couldn’t sleep…’Louise raised an eyebrow. ‘Well, sitting in front of that screen isn’t going to help you doze off…’
‘I know, I know. Just looking up a couple of things, is all…’ Dylan could hardly look at Louise, and, knowing she wouldn’t find answers, she grudgingly kissed him lightly on the head and padded off back to bed again, her brow furrowed. Dylan breathed a sigh of relief, and reopened his browser.
Imaginary friends continuing into adulthood… Repressed memories… Hallucinations…
Groaning, Dylan buried his head in his hands.
* * *
‘Hey! Freya, no fair! I was going to use those sticks!’ Ignoring the plaintive cries of her sister, Freya carefully stuck the twigs into the sides of her sandcastle. ‘Oh be quiet Lil, you wouldn’t know how to use them anyway. There, finished! Look! It’s a robot castle!’
Gleefully, Freya looked up at the less-than-impressed face of her twin and the bordering-on-angry one of their friend, Bianca. Paying their expressions little attention, she turned hers back to her project. ‘This is just like the castle Mummy and Daddy are getting married in. Did I tell you that they’re getting married soon Bianca?’
‘Yes, but Lily says they’re not getting married in a castle, they’re getting married at the park cos your Mummy wanted to get married outside.’ Bianca rolled her eyes at Lily. Freya was going to start again…
‘Well, Lily’s lying,’ Freya fibbed openly. ‘They’re getting married in a robot castle, and I’m going to be a bridesmaid.’
‘No she isn’t.’
‘Yes I am!’ Lily piped up. ‘We both are!’
‘Only cos I said to Mum that you should! Anyway, I’m the important bridesmaid, so there,’ Freya stuck out her tongue as she let sand fall between her fingers.
‘Why’re you the important one?!’ asked Bianca, indignant on Lily’s behalf.
‘I’m the prettiest, and my dress is the nicest. Obviously.’ Freya grinned as Lily’s face fell.
‘We’re identical twins, Freya. We look the same…’
‘Yes, but I’m the pretty one!’
‘No you’re not, Freya!’ The three girls looked up to see a face peering down at them from the tree house. Finlay, a boy from their class, grinned down at them.
‘What did you say, Finlay?!’ Freya screeched up at the laughing boy, leaping to her feet and crushing her sand castle in the process.
‘You ‘eard!’ Finlay jeered. ‘You’re not the pretty one! Lily’s the pretty one cos she’s the good twin, and everyone knows good people are the most beautifullest! You’re just mean and nasty, and you look it!’ Cackling, Finlay withdrew from the window just as Freya threw her spade at him. Scowling, the eight year old turned on her twin.
‘God, Lily! As if you’re going out with that moron!’
‘It’s obvious,’ Freya continued, a sneer creeping across her features. ‘He loves you! Why else would he say all those things?’
‘No he doesn’t!’
‘Yes! He does!! Finlay loves Lily and Lily loves Freaky Finlay!’
‘Wait till everyone at school hears about this!’
‘Freya!’ Lily felt her cheeks flushing bright red. Oh, how she wished her sister would cut her some slack once in a while…
‘You’ve gone all red! It’s so true!’
‘Well at least someone does like me!’ Lily snapped uncharacteristically. ‘No-one will ever love you! You’re so mean, Freya!’
* * *
Glaring at the two dolls clenched in her fists, Freya tried to nurse her injured pride the only way she knew how.
‘You can be Lily… and you can be Finlay…’ Angrily, she clashed the two dolls’ heads together. ‘And you can be married!’
‘Living unhappily together forever and always! Lily can have a moustache…’ Throwing Finlay to one side, the angry girl pulled a pen from her pocket and started doodling on the doll’s face, and soon ‘Lily’ was sporting a handlebar moustache and sideburns, with “Lily smells” tattooed across her forehead. ‘And Finlay… Finlay can have spots!’
‘Freya!’ The sound of her mother’s scolding voice made Freya jump, and she missed ‘Finlay’s face. ‘Mummy! You made me draw on me!’
‘Well at least the pen will come off your thumb! Those poor dollys, Freya! What have we said to you before about your toys?’
‘You said not to break them, but I wasn’t breaking them -‘
‘Defacing counts as breaking, young lady!’
‘What’s defacing?’ Freya retorted cheekily.
‘You know full well what defacing means! Hey, what’s this…’ Freya’s heart sank as Louise reached for the ‘Lily’ doll.
‘Oh, dear. Have you two girls had another fight?’ Louise tried her best to smile. Her two girls were at each other like a pair of spatting cats lately. Where had her two little angels gone?
Freya’s mind worked fast.
‘Lily said that no-one would ever love me…’ Her bottom lip trembled right on cue, and her big eyes misted over.
‘Oh, love! Why did she say that?’
‘Don’t know. I didn’t do nothing.’ Freya bowed her head, sniffling.
‘Yes, really! You always take Lily’s side! You never believe that she’s horrid to me!’
‘Sweetheart, you know that’s not true. Oh, come here…’ Louise reached out and enveloped her daughter in a tight hug.
‘I’ll go have a word with Lily, okay? But what she said isn’t true, you know. I love you, your Daddy loves you, Cooper loves you, Lily loves you – yes, Freya, Lily loves you! And some day you’ll find someone else who’ll love you just as you are, Freya Rivers. Now, go do your homework!’ Her heart warmed by Freya’s beaming smile, Louise tweaked her eldest twin’s bunches and watched as she scampered off into their bedroom, not seeing the smile settle into satisfied smirk as Freya’s back turned.
She’d gotten away with it.