Three Wishes(2)


by Liane Moriarty

And then they all started arguing about what it was like to be a triplet. But in a friendly, funny way.

That’s why I couldn’t believe it when I heard them start fighting. Like really fighting, as if they absolutely despised each other. It was sort of embarrassing, you know? Like they were doing something really private in public.

Sam told me to distract them with their coffees. So I was trying to keep my face normal, walking up to their table, and that’s when it happened.

I tell you. It gave me such a shock the coffees were wobbling in my hands.

You know those two old fossils that come every second Thursday? You know, the fat woman always has the crème brûlée? She’s got the skinny husband with something right up his arse. Anyway, my hand was shaking so much I sent cappuccino froth flying over the guy’s bald head! O.K., O.K.! Gimme a break, I’m trying to set the scene for you!

One of the girls stood up at the table and she’s yelling at her sisters, right? And all the time she’s yelling she’s sort of poking at the air with her fondue fork.

They shared the special fondue for their entrée, you see. Actually, now I think about it, it was my fault the fondue fork was still sitting there on the table.

Wow. I hope they can’t sue me or anything. Ha.

So this girl, she’s got the fork and she’s yelling like a complete maniac. And then she throws the fondue fork at her. Can you believe it?

And the fork gets stuck in the pregnant one’s stomach!

She’s just sitting there looking down at her big belly and there’s this fork sticking right out of her. It looked just completely bizarre.

The girl who threw it is standing there with her hand sort of held out, frozen, in midair. Like she was trying to stop a glass from falling or something and then realized it was too late.

And then—get this—she faints.

No—not the pregnant one. The one who threw the fork.

She just sort of crumples and falls—really heavy—onto the floor and on the way down she bangs her chin, like bang, really hard, on the edge of the table.

So she’s lying on the floor, completely out of it.

The pregnant one, she’s just sitting there looking at the fork sticking out of her stomach and she’s not making a sound. She’s just staring at it in this sort of dreamy way and then she touches her stomach with her finger and holds it up and it’s covered in blood! Totally gross!

The restaurant is silent, like so silent, it’s loud. Everybody is just sitting there looking at them.

So the third sister. She sort of sighs and shakes her head as if it’s no big deal and leans down under the table and picks up her handbag and pulls out…

…her mobile and rang for an ambulance for the two of them.

Then she rang me on the way to the hospital. I mean really. What a complete debacle.

They’re over thirty now, for heaven’s sakes, and they’re behaving like children. Throwing things at each other in public places! It’s disgraceful. And on their birthday of all days!

I think they all need to see a really sensible psychiatrist. I really do.

Remember that restaurant in the city, when they were little? Remember? The manager asked us to leave after Lyn threw her glass of lemonade at Catriona. What a fiasco! I’ve never been so humiliated in my life. Not to mention the perfectly good bottle of Shiraz we left behind. Cat needed four stitches that day.

I blame you, Frank.

No. It makes perfect sense.

Well, if you like, you can share the blame equally with Christine.

Christine, Frank, was the name of the woman who broke up our marriage. Now that is a perfect indication of how much your mind was involved in that sordid little incident.

I have not strayed from the point, Frank! Our broken marriage clearly damaged our daughters. Today’s incident is not normal! Even for multiples!

I was seeing the accountant when I got the call. I was speechless!

I could hardly say, oh, please excuse me, Nigel, my daughter just broke her jaw after fainting from the shock of throwing a fondue fork at her pregnant sister!

You should have seen them when I arrived here at the hospital. They were giggling! Treating the whole thing as a hilarious joke. They make me so cross.

I just don’t understand them at all.

Don’t pretend you understand them any better than me, Frank. You don’t talk to them. You flirt with them.

They all smelled unpleasantly of garlic, too. They had some sort of seafood fondue for their entrée apparently. I mean, really, what a strange choice! It doesn’t sound edible.

I think they have a drinking problem too.

I fail to see the humor in this, Frank. The baby could have been hurt. It could have died.

Our daughter could have murdered our grandchild!

Dear God, we could have been on the front page of the Daily Telegraph.

No, I do not think I’m being the slightest bit dramatic.

Well yes, obviously, that’s what I’d like to know too. It was the very first thing I said to them when I got here:

“What in the world started it?”

CHAPTER 1

You could argue that it started thirty-four years ago when twenty-year-old Frank Kettle, a tall, fair, hyperactive ex–altar boy, fell madly in lust with Maxine Leonard, a long-legged languid redhead just a few days short of her nineteenth birthday.

He was pumping with fresh testosterone. She knew better but did it anyway. In the backseat of Frank’s dad’s Holden. Twice. The first time involved a lot of head-bumping and grunting and breathless shifts of position, while Johnny O’Keefe bellowed at them from the car radio. The second time was slower and gentler and rather nice. Elvis soothingly suggested they love him tender. In each case, however, the terrible result was the same. One of Frank’s exuberant little sperm cells slammed head-on with one of Maxine’s rather less thrilled eggs, interrupting what should have been an uneventful journey to nonexistence.

Over the following days, while Maxine was chastely dating more suitable boys and Frank was pursuing a curvy brunette, two freshly fertilized eggs were busily bumping their way along Maxine’s fallopian tubes toward the haven of her horrified young uterus.

At the exact moment Maxine allowed the very suitable Charlie Edwards to hold back her long red hair while she puffed out her cheeks and blew out nineteen candles, one egg fizzed with so much friction it split right in two. The other single egg burrowed its way comfortably in between the two new identical eggs.