She gave birth to twin boys. Eliot the first born was two pound three ounces heavier than Oliver. The smaller of the twins was kept in the Special Care Baby Unit for the first eight days, until the consultants decided he was strong enough to come home.
Eliot seemed to resent his younger brother right from the moment Oliver was placed in the cot next to him. Having had undivided attention for the last week, he seemed almost to have developed an over defined survival instinct. According to the baby book, human babies are amongst the most helpless of all young, relying only on their cute looks and their vulnerability to get the care it needs.
Eliot began gurning the moment Oliver was placed next to him. The previously placid child became more and more fractious. At first she laid the boys facing each other, Eliot's hand moved with fine precision onto Oliver's face and his sharp nails gouged down his brother's cheek. Despite the fact that his movements until that moment had been random and careless due to his undeveloped optical focus. She calmed the scratched baby and then placed him next to his brother again, within five seconds the younger child had been scratched again. Over a couple of days every time she placed him next to his brother either face on, or top to tail, Oliver was scratched and bleeding within seconds. She bought them separate cots.
At first she fed the babies together one on each breast, but again Eliot would reach across and scratch his brother. Even through cotton scratch mitts the elder twin managed to hurt the younger, weaker baby. She would give them fifteen minutes each side. Eliot would guzzle hungrily making her breast ache and her nipple bleed; he was fierce in his feeding. Oliver was a gentler feeder but he was lazy and sluggish and she had to wake him often when he fell asleep on the teat. To stop Oliver being hurt she took to feeding the twins separately, at first she would alternate the feed so that each child was fed first every second feed. Every time Eliot took the first turn her breasts would be empty by the time Oliver fed. Whenever Oliver fed or was changed or cuddled Eliot would scream constantly, until his brother was put down. It made no difference whether he was then picked up or not.
The boys developed at a dramatically different rate. At three months Eliot was twice the weight of Oliver. Oliver was a sickly child bringing back much of his feed, succumbing to constant colds and conjunctivitis. One minor medical problem followed another for Oliver while Eliot thrived with rosy cheeks and healthy appetite.
She bought books on twins. The experts said that twins were always very aware of their sibling. They would become distressed if separated, and they would interact with each other, involve in toe holding and later play with their twin. By the time the boys were five months old it was blatantly obvious that Eliot's behaviour around his brother was not co-incidental. As he grew able to demonstrate his personality it was only too noticeable that he detested his brother.
Eliot walked at nine months. Oliver took his first step twelve weeks later. Eliot got teeth four months earlier, and had a staggered vocabulary before Oliver got his first tooth or spoke his first word.
The boys could not be left alone for even a second. Eliot would use any weapon available to hit his brother. He was a good child in every other aspect, but his jealousy over his twin altered his mood and behaviour and he wasted no opportunity to hurt him.
Oliver was terrified of Eliot, he was submissive and introspective in Eliot's company, but the same child on his own was a delight, always laughing and chuckling. The babies had no preference over mother or father and responded normally to both. But although Oliver occasionally tried to touch Eliot, the latter never made any overture towards his brother other than a violent one.
The boys were only eighteen months old when Oliver became the victim of cot death.
Eliot was giggling and pointing at Oliver when she walked into the bedroom that morning. Oliver was still and cold.
The first thing she asked the coroner was if the baby had been suffocated. She accused her elder toddler of killing his brother. No signs of suffocation were evident. Because of her neurotic accusations the family were closely monitored by Social Services. And she was given Prozac and labelled as postnatal depressive.
Eliot did not miss his brother. He never once looked for him or cried for him. He became a content and placid child. But he didn't fool her. He might have fooled the others but not her.
She hated him.