Your name is Isla. Your name is pronounced Eye-lah, but sometimes people mistakenly call you Iz-la.
You are not only the youngest of six kids, but you are also the younger of identical twins. Your sister’s name is Jade.
Jade and Isla.
The pair of you were best of friends, once upon a time.
You still talk to your parents and your four brothers on occasion. Sometimes one of them will slip Jade’s name into the conversation. They saw Jade the other day. She’s getting fat, you know. Not long to go now. According to your mum, Jade’s fingers have swelled up and she no longer wears her wedding ring.
A part of you feels sorry for Jade. Another part of you feels a funny, shameful kind of pride about it. Serves her right. Bloody Jade. Bloody Jade and that wedding ring that she had to have.
You never did go to the wedding. It didn’t seem right. You were in the city by then, starting over with your new life. You had money and lots of it—a chance trip to the newsagency and some winning numbers had taken care of that. You had a new man by then too. Darren.
Darren Saunders, the weedy, mixed-race kid from your class at school. The boy who Jade swore was gay, but you did not think so, because you and only you knew about the kiss that you and Darren had shared behind the bike shed at recess. And you’re pretty sure that you’re not the only girl he has kissed like that.
You met Darren purely by chance. A trip to the pub with a mate. And there was Darren, sitting at the bar. He was different by then. He was bigger, taller. He had a good job, too. He had played football at AFL level for a year or so and now he was teaching Phys Ed at one of the top private schools in the city. Darren was happy to see you. He was sorry to hear about Jade, but not surprised. According to Darren, Jade would have thrown her own mother under a bus if it meant that she could have what she wanted.
Deep down, you know that it never could have really worked out long term with you and Andy. You were the cool, quiet one. Andy, on the other hand, was quite the charmer. He was fun, charismatic. Everyone loved him. Mum, Dad, your brothers.
And Jade. Especially Jade.
The discovery of the two of them together—inside your bed no less—cut you like a knife. There were some things that even twins were not supposed to share and Andy was one of them. You left town that night, stuffing as much as you could in your backpack and getting a bus to the city. Everyone thought you would be home within a week. But then you met Darren and you bought that winning lotto ticket.
You never told your family about the money. Not even when Mum rang to tell you that Jade and Andy had twins on the way and were to be married. You don’t know why you kept it to yourself. You only know that you just did not want to talk about it.
* * *
Your mobile phone rings. You’re inside the Jacuzzi. It is Darren who picks your phone up and answers. He turns his back to you and speaks for a moment. He puts the phone down and turns back to you.
‘That was your mum,’ he says. ‘Some bad news. Jade’s twins were stillborn.’
* * *
You’re not at all sure about this trip to the hospital. You know that you do not want to see Jade. You do not want to see Andy either. But it seems too callous, too vengeful for you to stay away. Together, you and Darren walk inside the building. Your mum leads you up to the private room were Jade is staying.
Jade is surprised. Mum and Darren clear off to give the two of you some privacy. Jade looks you in the eye and says that she thought that you would never speak to her again.
‘Andy and I have split up you know,’ she adds.
‘Since he found out that he’s not the father of the twins …’ Pausing a moment, Jade laughs. ‘
‘So who is the father then?’ I ask. ‘Anyone I know?’
‘Oh, you know him all right.’ Jade chuckles. ‘It’s Darren. Darren Saunders.’
* * *
You leave town that afternoon. The plan is to drive home solo, but when you find Andy standing alone at the bus stop, you find yourself pulling your Audi over to the side of the road.
‘Heading to the city?’ You ask, as you open the window. ‘I can give you a ride if you like.’