Like the gap between Penny’s front teeth there was always a space between the sisters. It was hard to miss. Penny and Ginny by themselves were standouts, wāhine ātaahua, who stole the eyes of whoever they were with.
Ginny’s skin glowed in the colour of honey. The Old Ones said she must carry the story of the bee in her blood, but her mother said it was simply an appreciation for the sun. Ginny walked through the world in a body that was built for running. Her legs could carry her beyond the horizon but she didn’t care for covering distance. Her preference was to saunter, swinging her hips to an island beat that only she could hear. As Ginny aged, her hair turned from gold to bronze, matching the flecks in her eyes. The bronze gave her a complex. Still, Ginny lived her life in a constant dialogue with the ancestors, always questioning why they chose to cast her in the colour of a loser.
Penny was lighter in tone and spirit. As a baby, her eyes were so big that Aunty Kuia started to take her to bingo and charge folk $5 to look into them, promising a vision of the future. After their father found out the family didn’t speak to Aunty Kuia for a year. By her twelfth birthday Penny’s hair was so long and thick she convinced herself that she was Rapunzel. In the evenings she’d sit on the windowsill of their inner-city terrace, hair hanging over jasmine, waiting for Prince Charming to arrive. After a year of nothing but Mr Whippy vans and last-to-leaves from the local pub, she gave up waiting and found a love of soft-serve ice cream. It was all she ate. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Ginny was secretly thrilled at the thought of her sister transforming into a dumpling, but the opposite happened. Penny got thinner and thinner, her hair longer and longer, her eyes big as the moon. The boys would yell, “Ay, Snow White, wanna climb up my beanstalk?” and Penny would yell back “They’re two different stories, you gronks!” with a strength well beyond her body.