That makes six and we’ve already been married a day. Mrs
Peters, I think we need to lift our game a bit.”
“So, is this what I have to look forward to for the rest my
life, Mr Peters? Just sex?”
“I call it making love…”
“Well, Mr Peters. Tell me about other things in your life
that you have done badly. No, tell me some things I don’t know about you and you
were never going to tell me.”
Josh thought for a while. “I suppose it’s safe to assume
that rock stars have a sordid lifestyle. What if I told you that I did drugs for
a while and spent a lot of my time being drunk – during performances and even
live, on TV?”
“Is that it? Is that all you’ve got? I thought I was
marrying someone exciting.”
“Okay, Miss Prim and Proper. What can you tell me that will
have me marching into the divorce court tomorrow?”
“I served time for delivering drugs.”
“It’s true. And before that I lived on the streets of
Sydney begging and stealing to stay alive.”
“And my best friend was a brothel owner…”
“Okay, Megan, now tell me the truth. Or has your life been
so perfect that you have to make things up…”
“No, it’s all true. I did all those things.”
“Well, how come I’ve never heard about them? And how come
you became an internationally-renowned model if you had a criminal record?”
“My name was Amelia then. Amelia has a criminal record and
a sordid past, but Megan is squeaky clean.”
“So you’re telling me that your real name is Amelia?”
“No, it’s one I made up.”
“This is all getting too much for me. Perhaps we can
discuss it in the morning…”
“So – you don’t love me now that you know I am a common
“Ha! Ha!” Josh rolled his body on top of her and pinned her
to the bed. “Love you? I adore you – worship you even. And now I love you even
more. Damn, and I thought that you had such a boring, prim and proper life
before I met you. I thought that I was going to show you some of the seedier
parts of life on the rock scene, but you, my darling, will be able to teach me a
few things I could never have even dreamt about. Oh, what a wonderful life we
are going to have together,” he joked.
“Listen here, Joshua Peters, it’s after four and we have to
get up in the morning to catch a plane…”
“Well, there’s no point going to sleep, is there?” Josh
kissed her on the nape of the neck and started working his way down to her
Megan giggled. “Josh, that’s enough, and I’m really tired
now. Can you go and check on the girls? I need to go somewhere.”
“And where would that be?” Josh asked as he crawled out of
“Where do you think? To the moon?” Her joyous laughter was
interrupted by a distressed shriek from Josh. Her heart raced and a shiver
leapt up her spine as she waited, fearing the worst.
“Megan! The girls aren’t there – what’s going on?” Josh’s
eyes flashed around the room, concern on his face and panic in his voice.
“What are you talking about? They’ve got to be there.”
Megan rushed out of the bathroom towards the girls’ room.
“Alicia and Josie – they’re not in their room. Quickly
search the house, I’ll check outside.”
Josh’s thirty-five-year-old body was not as strong and
athletic as it was when he played hockey for his country. Years of smoking,
drinking and dabbling in drugs had taken their toll; nevertheless he still had
the lithe body and the strong, handsome face of a man ten years younger. In a
few, fleeting, life-changing moments, none of this mattered. Megan was two years
younger and the mother of their twin girls. She still had the looks, slender
body and natural rhythm in her every movement of the model she once was and her
heart had been filled with the love of so many wonderful friends. What’s
physical beauty worth? What does it matter that the simple act of walking a few
paces caught the attention of the most cynical eye? What did her bird-like grace
stand for? An elusive PhD in Geomorphology hung annoyingly in her conscience and
she believed that she would fulfil her dream, starting after her honeymoon. A
hundred PhDs – who cares? Their honeymoon – so meaningless. She would give it
all up in an instant – just let the twins be here, somewhere, safe. “They have
to be here,” Megan pleaded once again.
She checked the beds again – the bathroom, back to the
beds. She was frantic, blindly frantic. Josh was outside somewhere. As she wrung
her hands in desperation she screamed, “Hurry up and find them, Josh.” Black
dots grew in front of her eyes. It was incomprehensible. It can’t be happening.
“How can this happen to us?” The pain that spread down her neck, through her
shoulders to come to rest in her chest was insignificant. She barely noticed it.
The pain of her loss suppressed all else. Josh appeared in the doorway, ashen
faced – tears running down his cheeks and dripping onto his shirt. “Tell me it’s
a dream – a nightmare,” he blubbered, holding onto the door frame for support.
This image of her brand new and frantic husband, her tower
of strength, jolted Megan – jolted her into action. “I’ll call the police.” She
stumbled around, looking for her phone before finding it on her bedside table,
charging. “Josh, what’s their number?” He looked at her uncomprehendingly.
“What’s their number, the police?” she shouted in his face.
“Triple 0,” he mumbled. “It’s triple 0.”
“My girls are missing. They’re not here,” she blurted into
the phone when the female voice answered. Her panicked conversation with another
voice accentuated her fears. “They’ve been stolen…” she stumbled onto an
admission that terrified her. It drove a spike into her heart.
They were outside, searching, searching – retracing their
steps aimlessly, not knowing how they got there. The only thing that mattered
was to find their wonderful, oh so wonderful children, so fragile and
vulnerable. Were they frightened? Of course they were. Were they harmed in any
way? “We just want them back.” All of the splendour and colour in their lives
now stood for nothing. Their dreams were forgotten as they continued their
frenzied search in the dark for their beautiful, ‘I’m going to be three, Mummy,’
twin girls. A police car whizzed by, its lights flashing, signalling that they
needed to return to the house and plead for assistance.
Questions. They were interminable. Josh and Megan answered
them mechanically, feeling the suspicion of the interrogators. Panic overcame
them; horror, grief and emotions they didn’t even know how to describe.
Questions. Megan could feel the butterflies in her stomach, increasing with
every demand. It was more than butterflies, it was pain. She looked to Josh for
support. Her rock – so pale and helpless, wringing his hands and tearing at his
hair. She tried to stand and walk to his side, but her shaking legs were too
weak to support her. The questions kept coming. When would they ever stop? Light
was starting to chase away the night. Alicia and Josie would be out there,
somewhere. Asleep in someone else’s garden, lost in the dark during a
mischievous late-night exploration. In her mind Megan could hear their nervous
giggling, turning into fear, wanting their mummy to come and rescue them.
“Please don’t let them be hurt.”
Police found a footprint in the garden. Under the window.
Specks of soil on the carpet. Josh’s heart turned to lead in his chest and his
stomach sank. The feelings were unimaginable. All those years of loving Megan
without her even knowing he existed, that long period of rejection and the
heartache of believing he could never gain her love were nothing compared to
this. He could die, yet he would still feel the pain. A footprint in the garden.
He feared the worst but from the very second the police had finished their
interrogation, he continued his fruitless search. Nobody had seen or heard
anything. There was no trace of any other person other than a footprint in the
garden and soil on the carpet. No fingerprints, no blood, no DNA. He could feel
Megan by his side but all his thoughts were for his precious little girls –
defenceless and so innocent. Their beauty was beyond belief. People who saw them
sucked in their breath in astonishment and disbelief that two little girls could
be so perfectly beautiful, like their mother. How they loved to sing along, join
in with Josh when he was strumming his guitar, creating new music. Alicia had a
melody in her voice and she even made up her own lyrics. Sometimes she would sit
deep in thought then, without warning, start singing simple, childish words. Her
own little creation. Josie was so similar but so different. She loved to sing
along, but she was more insightful, more calculating. She was already
manipulating her parents, and at such a young age. Of all her toys, her
favourite was Franco, an asexual, bald, plastic doll with no clothes. It was
funny to see how she spoke to Franco, ordering him around, giving him
A rock star and a world famous model. Their reputations and
public recognition opened doors for them, but their fame made no difference to
the police. Perhaps it was their aboriginality, perhaps not. They were number
one suspects and treated with deep suspicion. They were questioned in their
home, at the police station, told to go home and not go anywhere. They weren’t
planning on going anywhere. Except to Europe on their honeymoon – with their
children. But the plane had left without them, long ago.
It was all over the news. Rock star and world-famous model
suspected of murdering their children. ‘How can they make up such bullshit?’ Not
one police officer had mentioned murder. There was no mention of dealing with
their children in any malicious way. It was alleged that… ‘Alleged?’ it sounded
like a death sentence.
The search continued. Houses and backyards were searched,
microscopically. People were questioned. ‘Yes, they loved those little girls.’
‘Pride! Yes, that’s what I’d call it. I don’t think I’ve
seen anybody as proud of their children as those two.’
‘They’re just so lovely. The perfect couple.’
‘Fuck’n blacks, they shouldn’t be allowed in the
neighbourhood. Nothing but trouble I say.’
The search widened. A week, two weeks, a month. Still nothing else. Just a
footprint in the garden and soil on the carpet. Six weeks and then at eight
there was one big discovery. Megan was pregnant.