Chapter Three - Mark Speaks His Mind
Back to: Chapter Two - Not Quite a Dream Wedding Next: Chapter Four - The Question of Children
My sister infuriates me sometimes.

It wasn’t always this way. When we were kids, I used to worship the ground she walked on. She was the one who came up with the best games, made friends easily, didn’t cry when she fell over on the playground. All the things I found difficult. So I happily became her shadow, and looked to her to solve all my problems.


“Lisa said boys are icky.”
“Well, boys are icky.”

“I’m a boy! I don’t want to be icky.”
You’re alright. Because you’re my twin, see, and I’m a girl, so you’re… almost as good as a girl.”
“But Lisa won’t let me play with her. She says it’s no boys allowed.”
“Then we’ll play our own game. Pretend we’re pirates, and I’m captain, and…”


But eventually, giving her the final say in everything wasn’t enough for me anymore.


“Pretend we’re aliens, okay? And I’m captain of the spaceship, and-”

“Why are you always the captain? It’s my turn to be captain.”
“Is not! I’m older than you. Older gets to be captain.”
“You’re only five minutes older!”
“That’s still older! Anyway, it’s my game.”

“Well maybe I don’t wanna play your game, then!”


Perhaps it was a necessary part of growing up, that refusal to be the perpetual sidekick. Certainly it was around then that I began to figure out what I wanted for my life.

But once I’d broken free of Hazel’s orbit, I started noticing all sorts of annoyances that I’d previously been willing to overlook.

Like her tendency to ignore our teachers, then expect me to fill her in when it came to homework time.

Or the fact that she never picked up after herself.

Or the way that I worked my ass off all through high school trying to earn money, while she spent her time partying, then breezed her way into college using mum and dad’s funds.

And it’s been like that ever since. I work so hard trying to do the responsible thing, to succeed, while Hazel just… coasts, and somehow the universe seems to hand her everything she wants on a platter.

She doesn’t even have a job. Just stays at home all day and dabs paint onto a canvas, while Maria pays her rent.

Meanwhile I’m working two jobs, trying to move my way up the property ladder.

Or, well, I was working two jobs.

I kind of lost one.

I… didn’t take it too well. But I’d rather not talk about that part.

And I especially didn’t want to talk about it to Hazel.


“Nice tux, bro. I think you look more formal than I do.”
“Thanks? I mean, you could’ve worn a big white dress if you wanted…”
So not my thing.” Hazel gestured towards Charlotte. “It suits her, though.”

“She’s beautiful,” I dutifully confirmed.
“So… should I be reading something into her dress choice? Are the two of you-”
“-Did you miss her hands?” I hastily cut in. “No ring.”
“Maybe she’s hinting for one, then,” Hazel suggested with a too-smug smirk.

“And maybe it’s none of your business.”
“Hey, don’t be like that. I just want to see my baby bro happy and settling down.”
“I’m five minutes younger, Hazel! And Charlotte and I are just fine as we are!” I lowered my voice, aware that I was making a scene. “For your information, I might be saving up for a ring, but I don’t want to discuss it here and now with Charlotte in the same room!”

“Oh come on, “saving up?” Really?”
“I know how hard you work, Mark. If I could afford a ring for Maria, I’m pretty sure you can afford one for Charlotte.”

You could afford a ring by not needing to afford anything else! Some of us have grown-up financial responsibilities, some of us are trying to get mortgages, we can’t all afford to blow our money on jewelry and giant parties for something that’s not even a wedding!”


I wasn’t welcome at the party after that, obviously.

Charlotte thinks I had too much to drink. I haven’t corrected her: I’d rather let her think I can’t hold my nectar than have to explain how Hazel pushed my buttons.

I really hope Hazel hasn’t repeated any of the conversation to her.

I lied. I haven’t been saving up for a ring. Haven’t made any plans to propose. I know I should. I love Charlotte, and it’s the responsible thing to do. It’s what’s meant to happen.

And when it happens, I’m meant to promise that I’ll be faithful to Charlotte, and only Charlotte, for the rest of my life. That I won’t even look at another woman, or imagine myself with anyone else, because that’s almost as bad as cheating.

And I've got no idea how I'm going to keep that promise.

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