Thursday, 19 June 2014


In every fairy tale, there are always three sisters; three sisters alike in looks and close in age, but with no shared traits or interests. Three defined by their order of birth, appearance or demeanour:
Eldest, middle, youngest.
Beautiful, good, plain.
Brave, trustworthy, kind-hearted.
But once upon a time there was a girl who was all three. A single girl who formed her own trinity. A trinity that people envied for this girl led a treble life. Envied because people always want what they haven't got and compare themselves to others unfavourably. A clever student wants a fellow student's beauty; a woman wants her friend's married life; a man wants his brother's charm; a boss wants to be just an employee, and an employee wants to be the boss. These same people don't realise that a life lived like this doesn't make a person whole, it makes them incomplete. Like autumn leaves torn from one tree, this girl was scattered in three different directions. Unsettled because the three disagreed and wouldn't unite as one person.
Sisters from the same flesh always fight, but this was to the death. It was cat and dog, tooth and nail. A bitter rivalry of control: one would win, two would fall. A conflict that in time people would call The Warring Trio. But when uncovered like a wooden Russian doll, these three independent personalities were actually quite striking. Erica, the eldest, was argumentative; Heather, in the middle, was a martyr; and Ling, the youngest, tried to give wise counsel. All had fair Irish skin but perceived the world through different eyes. Erica's were a startling green, Heather's were a watery grey, and Ling's were a speckled blue, which when combined with chestnut hair possessed an air of unusual beauty. A beauty that men declared was quite bewitching, but none of these three could see it, nor were they sure they wanted to.
Beauty like this can exist in one body, but a threefold persona cannot. Erica was impulsive and analytical, Heather seemed aloof, but was actually intensely shy, and Ling instilled calm just like a soothing balm massaged on your temples. Each responded to the same situation differently: Erica fought, Heather froze, then fled, and Ling created a tangled web as she tried to veer between the two.
The lives they craved were too diverse. Erica had a robust hunger for life which Heather denied her and Ling just wanted refuge from these two. To outsiders this one girl was a massive contradiction and they were never sure who they would end up talking to. In the mornings, they might meet sensitive, evasive Heather, in the afternoons impetuous Erica, and in the evenings a resigned exhausted Ling. But if the situation was out of control all three would appear during the course of a conversation; a voice with altering pitches and a pair of eyes shifting hue from grey to green to sea blue. Her responses too quick, vague or silent as her manner erratically swerved from Erica's dramatics to Heather's reserved to Ling's placid nature.
How could those three be one? Two would either have to die so one could survive or they would have to split into three forever. The in-fighting drained too much energy, yet complacency made for an unbalanced state. Erica wanted to win, but Heather wanted Ling to be the victor, when all Ling wanted to do was cement the two together.
It was a bloody war where there would be no winners, no losers, no ultimate victor. They wouldn't divide and they couldn't be killed, so a treaty was drawn where the heads of three had, no choice but to agree, to rule the heart of one.

*Inspired by my late grandfather and by Alice Hoffman's The Story Sisters.