Inspired by the time of year, and as always, some recent conversation!
April and her twin sister May were separated at birth. Their birth mother, Flora, was by herself and had just ended a fairly abusive relationship with a man called Seth. There was no way she would be raising these children herself. But she managed to secure three unusual things for her daughters: they would grow up in the same town, and they would all see each other at least once a month. And they would keep her mother’s unusual last name: Paradise.
As kids, April was the favourite. Flora knew she shouldn’t have favourites, but April was full of such optimism and courage; every time Flora visited the girls she would leave feeling inspired and hopeful. April had long, beautiful dark brown hair that Flora always loved to brush when they saw each other; May’s parents encouraged her to keep her dark blonde hair short, but Flora still liked to mess it up. April was quick-witted and did a little better in school than May, even though she did less work.
As the daughters grew, Flora began to see the light inside of May, too. When she was very young, she was prone to tantrums and looked gloomy. It took ages to take her anywhere. But it was just a phase. Soon she was nothing but kind and polite. Quieter than April, but never had a bad word to say to anybody. She wanted to please everybody, just like her mother. Flora saw that as her greatest strength.
The two sisters never knew what to get each other for their birthday. April went through phases – every year she was into something new and May was always playing catch up. This persisted into adulthood. April seemed to have a new hobby every third week. Last year, she liked sewing in September, and baking in October. Then she made wine in November, and took up calligraphy in December. May, on the other hand, was constant. She liked poetry. She liked keeping fit, and going for long walks by the river. She liked to cook. These things never changed. Despite that, May was quite selective in her interests and April always tried her best: she bought her tickets to poetry slams, but May preferred to read alone; gift cards for three months of gym membership even though May preferred her yoga studio; packs of ready-made spices which May never used because she liked to do it herself.
As adults, April liked to go for long runs, but May preferred her yoga. April liked going for a drink in a pub, but May just wanted to read a good book in the sunshine. While they didn’t often agree on what to do when they saw each other, they didn’t mind taking turns doing each other’s activities.
Flora became very ill last year. It started with dizzy spells, strange unexplained headaches, a numbness in her limbs. It was her heart, and it was soon clear that she would need to slow down, and be taken care of more and more. By the end of the year, she had been in and out of intensive care twice. April and May became closer. May covered April’s passive-aggressive emails to the hospital, and April gave May the hope she needed to keep going. Sometimes they have bitter conversations about how they wish they’d been raised together, because they weren’t all that different – but they knew it wasn’t anybody’s fault. Had it been different, they might have never known their birth mother, or each other, at all.
They see each other twice a week now, sometimes more, to make up for lost time, and they have the rest of their lives to catch up, and find all the missing pieces.