1 May

Hey Twister,

It’s taken almost ten years, but you got me to go to therapy. All the shit I’ve dealt with over the years, and then you up and leave me.

Fuck. Marilyn, not the same lady who lived next door to Oma, seems not too out there, but she suggested I write to you and tell you how I feel. She seems to think that letters might be a way to gather thoughts and memories and share them with Elise when she’s older.

I feel fucking angry and let down. You’re my twister. Older by several minutes, but always there for me until a month ago. And no, not lost on me that it was April Fool’s Day either, or Easter. It’s fucking wrong, and if Mark wasn’t dead too, I’d kill him for taking you as fucked up as that sounds.

The most horrid end to the perfect weekend. Friday, we’d almost finished packing up Oma’s place. The irony that Elise arrived the evening we buried Oma just over two months ago, and then you and Mark insisted on a christening and me being a bloody godmother even though you know I don’t do gods and then…I can’t even think about that day without crying.

I wish you weren’t organised and all legal. I mean, I know you were a lawyer and a bloody good one, but actually having plans for what would happen to Elise, that’s macabre, almost like you and Mark fucking planned this. And you didn’t listen to me. You knew I’d be the world’s worst guardian, and still you made me do it. I’m just so scared I’m going to fuck her up worse than me because she doesn’t have a twister to help her navigate life. What the fuckity fuck were you thinking? Were you high on hormones or something?

And then there’s Owen. He might have been Mark’s best friend and partner in his practice, but he knows more about horses and cows than babies. Granted, he knows more about little things like babies, though, even if they are baby animals, and I know Elise would be so much better off with him, but he won’t hear about it. That supermodel he brought to the christening–Siobhan or whatever it was–she dumped him a couple of weeks back when he chose to come here and give me a break for an hour rather than go to a bar with her. Not that I thought it was serious, but she seemed to like Owen even if he ignored her throughout the christening.

She seemed to be his type too. Well, the same type as the woman he brought to your wedding, that tall, leggy woman with big tits and long hair. I know I shouldn’t judge because that describes you too, but it doesn’t describe me at all. Not that, I think. Fuck. Wouldn’t that be a disaster–me and fucking Owen Wainwright. That’s the only thing that makes me realise that you and Mark didn’t plan this–there’s no way you would have thought the two of us could raise your precious Elise.

Shit. She’s crying again. I’ll write again soon.


3 May

Hey Twister,

When Dad hung himself, I answered the door when the police came knocking, remember? We were sixteen. Mum had been dead for two years, and he refused to take care of us. When I look at what some of our friends got up to as teenagers, we were fucking angels. But he didn’t want us. Then again, we didn’t want him, a fucking alcoholic who mistreated Mum.

Oma tried to get you and me out of the room with her whole “Felicity and Joy, can you please go and boil a kettle,” but you refused, and I just stood there. There was no emotion. We knew it was Dad–not like there was anyone else it could’ve been. Whatever. No real loss. I didn’t even cry at the burial. Oma was stoic, even though she was burying her only child, and no one should have to do that. I’m glad Mum succumbed to her cancer now and didn’t have to be there to bury you.

I screamed when they stood there. The cops, that is, this time around. He clutched his hat as if it were a frame holding him up. She’d been crying. Even though neither of them knew you or Mark, it was like they knew what amazing people you were.

I was told to sit down, but I crumbled on the floor, and over and over, I said it couldn’t be Twister. They told me about the accident. Still don’t know if it was a fucking accident, but that’s what the cops believe. Someone driving opposite to you swerved to miss a kangaroo, and Mark overcompensated, hitting a tree.

They told me he’d died instantly. You were still alive, but just. In the hospital. Elise had been strapped in her car seat so well that she didn’t have a scratch on her.

I sat with you both overnight, even though the doctors and nurses tried to get me to leave. Elise was in one of those plastic crib things they put the newborns in, but she didn’t look like a newborn. She refused to take a bottle. After all that stress you had at the start trying to get her to take a tit, you drummed it into her over her first couple of months. It’s made life hell when my tits couldn’t be a substitute.

The irony that they got a fucking lactation woman or something to show me how to attach this thin tubing to my finger and get her to suck my finger. Something about a milk bank she mentioned. I didn’t take a lot of it in. I mean, I knew nothing about caring for a baby.

Then I was told the following morning that there was no way you were coming back to us. I can’t remember the terms the medical people used, but you were brain dead. The most amazing woman came and sat with me and cried. She was also called Felicity. Such an uncommon name, but I know you would have liked her. She spoke to me about organ donation. I’d never really thought about it, but I knew what an altruistic person you were.

Owen came. I don’t think I’d ever seen a man cry before this. I got the police to visit him too–I just couldn’t call him myself, not that I even had his number. He told you that he would make sure Elise knew what amazing parents she had and that he and I would take care of her.

The hospital staff lined the corridors as they wheeled you to the operating room. Elise was wailing. I couldn’t calm her. She knew. Felicity, the organ lady, was there with us and a social worker. Fuck I could have killed the bloody social worker with her platitudes. At one stage, the organ lady had to step between the two of us because she must have recognised that I was going to punch her.

My last memory of Mark was the huge hug he gave me after he strapped Elise into her seat. He thanked me for catering for the party after the christening. You both knew it was the only thing I really knew how to do. He also wished me bon voyage. That’s not happening.

The airline has put my flights on hold, and luckily, I hadn’t booked much. I think I was meant to be in Paris this weekend. I wanted to see Versailles with the spring flowers out and take photos of them for you because I know how much you love flowers and gardens. Maybe another time.

Owen’s bathing Elise. He calls in after work every day and sees her. I’m living in your home. I don’t think he really calls in to see Elise, but he doesn’t trust me with Tripod. The dog’s missing a leg and still manages to get into everything and under my feet. I woke up last night with a cat on my bed. Not sure which one. They eat their food so they both must still be around, but they must know how much I hate cats so avoid me. Owen says he’s seen them.

I still hate you for leaving me.


5 May

Hey Twister,

Remember when we were seven or eight and we changed schools? No one realised we were sisters, they thought we were both the new girls who started on the same day. Remember that bitch Rachel McSomething-or-other? You told her to piss off at play time because she said you should be ignoring the other new girl?

It was one of the many times you stood up for me. You were always the beautiful one. The successful one. The one who the boys liked. The night you met Mark at schoolies, you got one of his friends to hook up with me. They were all from Perth, like Mark. Owen hadn’t been allowed to come because he was moving east to study, and his parents forbade him from going, and he couldn’t afford the airfare.

Anyway, I remember you seeing Mark across the room and liking the look of him. Our plan was to ditch our never-had-sex status that week; after all, we were the last of all of our friends and were eighteen. I wonder if you waited because no boy ever really looked at me? I knew you had gone to the formal with Craig Watson, and I was so jealous when I saw the two of you kissing, even if it was totally tongueless. Craig looked me up online and sent me a message this week. He’s married. To José. I think I know why he wasn’t keen on getting in your pants.

Mark came over with his posse. We were drinking Midori and lemonade. I can’t drink the stuff now after that week. Mark commented on your eyes, and you introduced me as your twister. “You want to play Twister?” Mark asked, and you laughed, saying that no, I was your twin sister, twister. Mark was an only child. Kevin was his friend who he pushed towards me. I think he was the shy inexperienced type like me.

I was so thrilled for you when we reconvened the following morning. You told me how romantic Mark had been. The way you described your experience was so different to mine. Kevin had kissed me a bit, suggested we get undressed, climbed under the covers with me, put on a condom after I insisted, poked it inside me, which fucking hurt and two pumps later was done. If anything, your experience with Mark showed me that there were guys out there who were half decent, and perhaps I didn’t need to put up with less than I deserved.

Of course, I only thought about that after my session with Marilyn today. Who would have thought–you leaving me is the tip of the iceberg with things that have affected me over the years that I have just ignored.

The Child Protection officer who has been assigned to us (apparently, it’s a formality) seems happy with how things are going and has said she doesn’t need to pop in regularly or anything. At least I can fake things enough with her. Thank fuck you bought all those baby books. I’ve been trying to read them.

I wish I was telling you this in person.


10 May

Hey Twister,

Mark’s mother rang again today. She is such a miserable woman. She finally met her only grandchild at your funeral. I know Mark had mentioned over the years that she had never been maternal, and that he had been an inconvenience to her, but she didn’t even want to hold Elise when they met.

Anyway, she called to say she was rewriting her will and leaving everything to charity as Elise was benefitting from Mark’s life insurance. I don’t know what she expected me to say. Ok? Thanks for letting me know? Does this mean I’ll never hear from you again? I’m trying to be positive for Elise’s sake. Her Grandmama (and who asks to be called that, I mean really!) is the only other relative she has, it seems.

Owen’s youngest sister came over after school. She’s so sweet. When I handed her Elise and called her Auntie Natalie, she cried, even though she prefers to just be called Nat. To think that Mark’s family stayed in Perth when he came east to study, only to pack up after a year and move across the country because they missed him so much, says a lot about the differences in families. Megan, his second-youngest sister, is due home in a few weeks from whatever course the Navy sent her on. I never realised someone could have a career as a flautist in a naval band.

Nat suggested we get together for Mother’s Day on Sunday. Although the shops are full of merchandise for that day, it still hadn’t hit me that you would never get a Mother’s Day. Just another injustice with the situation.

In the great Aussie tradition, Nat’s planning on taking a gap year and going travelling to Europe. She wants to go to uni and become a midwife. Apparently, the lady who helped with Elise’s feeding in ICU was a lactation consultant. Nat was telling me all about it, and how wonderful it is that the milk bank still provides milk for Elise.

I found some milk in the freezer that you’d started storing for when you went back to work and Elise was in childcare. I couldn’t bring myself to thaw it and give it to Elise, but Owen did. He gave the last of it today. The last nutrition Elise will get from you. I sobbed for an hour as she slept. Yeah, a lot is sleep deprivation, but it reminded me that you should still be here.

I’ve still got no idea what I’m doing. The child health nurse visited again the other day. She told me I was doing an amazing job. All I seem to do is change nappies, warm milk, and try and tidy the house a little. Maria insists on still coming once a week to vacuum and clean the bathrooms and kitchen. She won’t let me pay her and says she’s been the cleaner for you and Mark for five years and wants to keep coming so she can see Elise.

Some of your friends still pop around. Indira, Sanjeev’s mum, calls in once or twice a week and brings me food. She cooks the most sublime curries. I can see why the two of you got on so well. Sanjeev seems to cry as much as Elise, so at least I can think that perhaps it’s not just because she’s stuck with me.

Indira’s husband works with computers or something and she’s going to bring him around this weekend to fix the router and help with your social media accounts. It hurts that I need to close them or put them in memorial status or whatever.

I scrolled through your Instagram last night. You had people following you on there who have no idea what’s happened and keep questioning why you stopped posting weekly photos of Elise. Most of them keep asking if she is ok. If only they knew. Indira told me she’s sent a few people messages to let them know. All these people you touched with sharing your life online, and I can’t bring myself to share your death with them. I shouldn’t have to.

Oma’s house sold for more than we were expecting. Her estate should be finalised in the next few weeks. It all goes to me now, but I’m still putting your half in a college fund for Elise. I was using the small bit of life insurance from Dad to travel. I know we’d talked about me starting up my own café or patisserie, but I can’t see how I’ll do that with Elise. It’s probably best I don’t because it would just be another thing I’d fail at.

I’m seeing Marilyn again tomorrow. Elise comes with me and either sleeps or sucks on a bottle. I’m so glad we got her to take one in the end. Marilyn doesn’t share much about her life, but she told me she believes me when I say Elise cries most of the time, except when I’m seeing her. I wonder if she had a kid similar. I’m going to talk to her about the Travis years tomorrow. I never told you everything, and I don’t know if I can tell her either.

I can’t believe how much I miss you.


11 May

Hey Twister,

Fuck. That was brutal. Like I’ve drunk half a bottle of wine brutal, and it would have been scotch if not for Elise. Owen called in after work and took one look at me, and rang and cancelled his date for the night. He told me he didn’t want to go on it, but I don’t believe him, and now I feel worse. I haven’t told him about seeing Marilyn.

Marilyn got part of the Travis story. It’s not like I told her the whole lot either, and I turned to the bottle. I’m turning into Dad. Elise doesn’t need this. She doesn’t need me.

I’m going to bed because I fucking hate you so much. It’s so unfair you put me in this position. I hate kids. I hate babies, and I hate sisters.

Can’t even sign my fucking name because it has never suited me.

12 May

Hey Twister,

How can I have a headache after only drinking half a bottle of wine? Owen stayed over for the first time last night. No, not like that. There’s no way he would find me attractive. Plus, I ruined his date.

I ended up telling Owen about Travis, well, similar to what I’d told Marilyn. Whereas Marilyn offered advice and ways of looking at things, Owen laughed. He told me he was laughing with me, not at me, but I don’t believe him.

Perhaps talking about Travis and picking up the humorous aspects is a way of coping. I mean, I spent four years with a married man old enough to be my father, believing he would leave his wife and choose to be with me. And then I didn’t finish my apprenticeship, that I’d already got multiple extensions on because he wouldn’t sign me off after I told him it was over.

I wonder where I’d be if it hadn’t been for Travis. Would I be a fully qualified pastry chef? Would I be working in a top-class restaurant in the city or running my own business? I doubt it. In a way, it was providential that Oma had her first stroke around that time and needed someone to care for her.

She and I talked a lot about Travis. I thought I loved him. I thought he treated me the way Mark treated you, even though he was married to someone else and screwing a couple of other chicks on the side.

Oma thought I would have left him regardless of him giving me the clap. Owen suggested that raising Elise is giving me a chance at motherhood that I might not otherwise have. I’m glad I never found out if Travis made me sterile. The doctor I spoke to seemed to think there’s less than a twenty percent chance I will ever be able to conceive without IVF.

I miss Oma, but I’m glad she never had to deal with this. I’m not sure how I dreamt you would experience your first Mother’s Day tomorrow. I know we would have visited Mum and Oma at the cemetery, but I think I would have left you and Mark to do something special with Elise for the rest of the day.

Your ashes are in the cupboard in the hallway. I don’t know what to do with them. I know you and Mark liked hiking the ranges near here, and that was where Mark proposed, but it seems scattering them is more final than I want. It might help if Mark’s mother had some idea, but she has never replied to any of my emails and not brought it up when we talked.

I also hate the idea of going hiking. That’s not me. I’m the baker. I miss making those hiking bars you used to take. What did Mark call them again–Flick’s Fancy or something. He loved you so much. Who would have thought a one-night stand from schoolies could turn into what you two had.

Today’s almost the first full day off I’ve had since Easter. Every time I go to do something Owen stops me. He’s taken Elise for a walk with her strapped to his chest. It looked so adorable. I can see why you and Mark liked him so much–he really is a lovely guy. Deep down, I’m glad you made sure Elise had someone solid like that to care for her.


PS- still not feeling my name. Plus, who would have called twin girls Felicity and Joy? Mum must have been smoking something.

13 May

Hey Twister,

Happy Mother’s Day. Fuck, that feels strange. It’s six weeks since the accident. Elise is three and a half months old. She’s a giggler, like her Mum after two glasses of bubbly. This morning seeing me in tears made her laugh. She’s inappropriate like her Auntie. There was no way I could get through today without crying. I don’t think there’s been a day in the last six weeks where I haven’t cried.

Owen stayed again last night. We had a lovely chat. He apologised for not doing as much as he should. I told him he was being stupid because he does so much already. He told me his lease is up in early June and wondered how I’d feel if he moved here into the other spare room. I haven’t been able to sleep in your room. I took the room opposite Elise’s, but I usually sleep in the bed in her room.

I did tell Owen I’d think about it. He seems like a lovely guy, but I don’t know if he could put up with me. Oma told me I was a joy to live with, but I think she was just making fun of my name. Perhaps it would help for a bit. I mean, Owen’s thirty like us, and he is probably thinking about settling down. I still feel bad that Siobhan dumped him because she seemed nice enough.