We have the same eyes. Kind of peanut-shaped and poked quite far into our heads. It’s one of my favourite nearly-identical things about us. Mum says Lou’s are hazel. Mine are slightly muddy puddle. We have the same Mum and Dad, and the same birthday, even though she came an hour earlier, but definitely different hair. We remind me of the ladies in Abba, except they’re not even sisters. Anyone who says they don’t want to be the golden one is a fibber.
Lou got picked to be one of Gabriel’s lady-angel helpers, with lipstick circles on her cheeks, and a tinsel tiara and scrunched net-curtain wings. My second choice was Mary. You don’t need yellow hair to be Mary. Miss Carnaby walked up and down for ages, doing eeny-meeny-miny-mo, over and over again. My hand was up so high, I nearly fell off my chair, but her glasses mustn’t be working. Her finger landed on Penny Armitage – and Miss Carnaby said she couldn’t have made a better choice if she’d tried because she’s got a lovely olive skin and she’s very serene and humble.
My freckles look like a tan, from far away, and I bet I could be serener than humble-bumble Penny, if I practised and practised. I’m not a very good piano-practiser, but it’s not my fault because my hands don’t stretch like Lou’s. Mum says it’s lucky for everybody’s ears that I’m not any keener, and lets me off, even though she could cry when she thinks of the money she’s thrown down the drain giving me equal chances.
Miss Carnaby told us all about show-offs and plonked me in the choir. Everyone who isn’t anything gets in the choir. And I would have been stuck at the back, miming, forever and ever, but Jamie Burns moved to the top of the waiting list the day before the show and went to get his tonsils seen to. Miss Carnaby decided I was born to wear a tea-towel on my head. She couldn’t believe she hadn’t realised before. Even a ginger can be trusted to watch cotton-wool sheep. Right at the front, next to Lou.
I had trouble making it stay put, in spite of the Sellotape. My curls were too boingy and pingy and the hem slipped over one muddy puddle eye. Mum and Dad didn’t mention it. Nobody noticed. They said Lou and I were both stars, and we really looked the part. On the way home, Lou put a hand over half her face and pretended to walk into a lamppost. Mum was so surprised at her angel being so silly that she got the hiccups. For tea, it was Shepherd’s Pie. I worry when Dad goes purple and rocks like he needs a wee.
Miss Carnaby had an announcement that in the summer it’s a musical. Either Grease or Annie. Mum says she likes them both, exactly the same. But she’s going round the house singing “Sandy”.
I write in the North East of England. I have an MA in Creative Writing (Distinction). I won the Ink Tears Flash Fiction Contest 2015 and the Bridgwater Homestart Short Story Competition 2013. I am the author of ‘Piece by Piece: Remembering Georgina: A Mother’s Memoir’ (Slipway, 2015). helenvictoriaanderson.co.uk facebook.com/helenvictoriaanderson @HelenVAnderson