Freya was on her way home from the library. She’d found a book she’d borrowed months ago – Not Expecting Much – and, mortified, had run straight back to her paradise with it. She had a good relationship with the staff there having been a regular since her youth and didn’t want anything to ruin that, but thankfully no harm was done. They had even halved the fine for her, given her loyalty to the public service and her clean record.
So it was with an uncharacteristic spring in her step that Freya walked past the park, her heart light. I wish I had more people who treated me that way, she thought. I wish Lily would… Wait… Lily?Freya caught a glimpse of an orange dress out of the corner of her eye. Lily’s dress. What was she doing there? Sat in the den? That wasn’t like her, she hadn’t frequented the playground since she was what, thirteen? This was the hangout of the younger teenagers, Lily and her friends were more likely to be sat out at the park sunning themselves, especially in this weather…
Although her back was turned to her twin, Freya clearly saw Lily’s hand wipe at her face. Tears… Lily was crying?
Had Freya been in her usual cantankerous mood she probably wouldn’t have done what she did next but, as it happened, she was having a good day.
Lily blinked back her tears furiously. ‘What are you doing here?!’
‘Library run. So… What’s the matter?’
Lily ignored the question, staring furiously at the fireman’s pole. Freya rolled her eyes.
The pair sat opposite one another in silence for a few minutes, listening to the slight breeze rustle through the treetops.
‘Why are you here, Freya?’ There was no malice in Lily’s tone. It was a simple question.
Running her fingers through her ponytail self-consciously, Freya shrugged. ‘I don’t know. You’re sad.’
‘I don’t come to you when you’re sad…’
Freya paused, thinking over this. ‘You used to.’
Freya grimaced. ‘And you love him.’
‘And he’s gay…‘
‘I… I know.’
* * *
‘Do you remember the day I missed curfew? I’d been at the library… Well, where else? And I left my card there?’
Lily smiled as she swung gently on her swing; a group of kids had turned up at the park and pushed the sisters off their perch. The swings would do for now. ‘That was so typical of you, Freya…’
‘I know, I know,’ Freya grinned before her smile faltered. ‘Well, I… I’d seen Finlay there. He hadn’t seen me…’
‘Sorry! Well, he’d been at one of the computers sat typing away for a while, and I’d been waiting to use it. I needed that specific one, I wanted a website I’d been on a couple of days ago but I’d forgotten the address completely; I knew it’d be saved in the internet history. He was being really weird, so jumpy… Mrs. Wilkes the librarian asked him if he was okay and he nearly jumped out of his seat! I just put it down to him being, well, him. You know I don’t really like him…’
Freya hesitated, scuffing at a lone dandelion with the toe of her trainer. ‘When I finally got to the computer and clicked on the history, the most recent came up first. He… He’d been on a dating site…’
Closing her eyes, Lily sighed. ‘A gay dating site.’
‘But… why didn’t you tell me, Freya? If you knew for this long, why didn’t you say something? You clearly knew how I felt about him! What, was it just because you don’t like him?’
‘No, of course not!’
Lily nodded slowly, agreeing. ‘You’re right. I probably wouldn’t have done.’
Spinning in her seat a little, Freya sighed dramatically. ‘No “probably” about it, Lily. You wouldn’t have done, plain and simple. All my fault. I’m like the boy who cried wolf…’
‘Probably because we always had to share attention and I didn’t like it, and you didn’t like the way I didn’t like it,’ Freya replied matter-of-factly. ‘I suppose all the detentions I got us both didn’t help either…’
‘But still, you’re my sister. I should’ve stood by you…’
‘But I was very hard to live with, Lil.’
‘Was? You’re using past tense there?’
‘Fair point!’ The two collapsed into giggles once more.
‘Ah, twinny. What have we become, hey?’ Lily said a little nostalgically as the pair calmed down. ‘How can we look the same but be so different?’
‘Gnomes knows. I blame the parents,’ Freya winked.
‘I am sorry though.’
‘Me too. Seriously.’
Freya’s heart sank a little. She knew she should. ‘I will, Lily… Once I find the words…’
* * *
The bag of dirty washing heavy in her hand, Louise paused as she reached her daughter’s bedroom door. The gentle beat of the music sneaking out from underneath it told her she was in there. Louise could picture her, bathed in the magenta light as she sat at her desk, nose buried in another book…
She’d been walking on eggshells around her. She simply didn’t know what to say. Guilt was gnawing away at her, but what she wanted more than anything was to make her eldest twin feel loved, and safe. Like a mother should.
Like she hadn’t. Well, like she felt she hadn’t…
Taking a deep breath, Louise tapped quickly on the door and slipped inside before Freya could call out to her. ‘Just picking up the washing, Freya,’ she mumbled, barely looking at her daughter, expecting the cold shoulder.
Freya took a sideways glance at her mother as she hurriedly gathered up her washing. She looks so… So sad… Oh, what have I done?!
Swallowing, Freya closed her book. Her encounter with her sister in the park had taught her that sometimes, you just needed to deal with a problem head-on. Just go for it…
You never give me the time of day!
There’s no point in being proud of me!
It’s nothing to do with you!
Freya groaned inwardly as her harsh words echoed in her ears. Selfish. She was selfish. There were no two ways about it. She’d wanted everything both ways. Wanted to be left alone, but she hadn’t wanted her mother to actually leave her alone… Her mother had been there for her throughout everything, been dragged into school time and time again for meeting after meeting as a result of countless detentions and missed homeworks and had never once judged her…
She’d just given her what she always said she wanted. Space.