June 1996

The summer was long and hot, everyone who was able flocked to the waterhole. Cally Hopkins had, as always been instructed to take her younger siblings with her, wishing she was allowed more time to herself, Mitchell Davis had admired her for quite some time now. Tabitha Watkins openly flirted with the charming young Mitchell, while Cally adored him from afar.

As the summer drew to a close Tabitha and Mitchell were an item. Cally threw herself in to her studies she had aspirations of going on to college if she was able to obtain one of the prized scholarships. Each five scholarships were awarded Cally was hoping for a music scholarship. Mitchell wanted the Economics Scholarship. Cally daydreamed that they would go off to college, one day he would notice she was there and a relationship would blossom.

As the eldest of eight, Cally did not have much freedom between classes, homework and the ever increasing chores she hardly set foot outside of the yard. Her timetable intensified as the end of the academic year drew near; most of the senior class had gone to ground vying for the prized scholarships. The girls had to give two hundred percent in order to ensure a place, in a small town women were supposed to leave school and help out at home until she was married. Joseph and Isobel Hopkins would have preferred Cally to comply with the societal norms. They would not or could not vocalize their feelings to Cally, she had worked so hard over the years and never complained about being a built in baby sitter.

Graduation day finally dawned. Mitchell and Tabitha had been elected to lead the graduation party to the podium; as King and Queen of the Graduation Dance. The Principal was as always long winded keeping the suspense building about the scholarships. Mitchell won economics. Tony Jenkins won law, Miranda Thomson medicine, Jeremy Morgan won applied science, and after a complimentary dialogue about dedication he announced that Cally had won music.

The train station was packed with families and friends as the group headed of to college. Mitchell was sullen and withdrawn. Jeremy and Tony were gracious traveling companions to Cally and Miranda. They attempted to engage Mitchell in the conversation he only said enough to be polite. As they parted ways at the college administration area they planned to meet after supper.

The two young women stood staring at the grand hall of the dormitory, the place was huge. Miss Steele, the matron of the establishment took note of their names before escorting them to their respective rooms. The men were a little luckier they had been placed together. Cally's room mate was a second year student who was not impressed that she had been given a brand new student for a roomy. The point was noted, Cally vowed to spend as little time there as possible. Studying in the library would probably be better anyway; practicing would be done in the music school.

After supper Cally found Miranda, then the guys. Miranda's roomy was making her feel welcome, from the time she walked in the door. Tony and Jeremy were minus Mitchell who was too tired to socialize. The foursome had a wonderful evening; curfew seemed to come around all to fast.

Over the next few weeks everyone threw themselves into their studies; catching up only at weekends. Mitchell was still not joining them. Miranda and Jeremy became an item, and when they reached the stage in their relationship when more that two was a crowd. Tony and Cally took the hint.

Cally received a letter from her mother informing her amongst other things that Tabitha had a baby girl which she called Michelle. Her emotions went totally awry, Mitchell must be devastated that he could not be there to see his daughter. As she was too restless to study or practice she headed into town. Her feelings still had not settled in an out of character move she headed into the local lounge bar. After a couple of drinks she felt more uncomfortable and headed out to the street. She had only gone a few feet when she felt as if someone was piecing holes in her back, just as she was about to run she was grabbed and punched. She let out a piercing scream; Mitchell appeared from nowhere punched the man fiercely in the ribs, then picked Cally up and took her to the local police station to file a complaint.

Mitchell then escorted a visibly shaken Cally to the nearest coffee shop, they talked for a while, she was asked what she was doing out without Tony and in a hotel for that matter. After explaining that Tony was not her boyfriend Mitchell visibly relaxed. It was only as they were walking back to campus that Cally remembered to ask him about his daughter's birth. She didn't miss the fact that he tensed up immediately, before asking her why she thought it was his daughter.

At this point Mitchell decided it was time to come totally clean. Tabitha and he had gone separate ways at lease two months before graduation, plans for that day had been finalized so they decided that it would be easier to leave it alone.

Cally asked why he had been so reclusive they had been inviting him to join them. He was under the impression that they had paired off long ago and didn't want to play gooseberry. Cally told him that she was not seeing Tony romantically, she had been devoted to another man for a couple of years; he didn't know she existed. Mitchell then stated that only a fool would deny her existence, her look gave her away. Mitchell inquired whether he and the fool were one and the same. Her blush confirmed the fact. He tilted her head to look into her eyes for confirmation; he brushed his lips against hers. He told her that he had been admiring someone who seemed unavailable. Mitchell and Cally were inseparable. When Christmas arrived the two decided to get away together, a friend had asked a group of people to his holiday home by the sea for a few days over the break.

Cally was in heaven, Mitchell was more charming than she ever imagined, respecting each other's need to study, making sure that they kept up with assignments. Then spending time in each other's arms or laying on the beach together. Dreading the time when they would have to be apart again.

On the last evening Mitchell had secured the keys to the little cottage in the bottom of the garden, he asked Cally if she minded missing the festivities for a while. His proposal was completely unexpected, once she was reassured that they could financially manage, she smothered him with kisses and accepted. He presented her with a beautiful solitaire engagement ring.

Mitchell once again took her in his arms and escorted her into the next room where a blazing fire was situated at the far end with scatter cushions spread over a large rug, beside a hamper of food and wine. He escorted his fiancée to the fireside and sat her on one cushion, then seated himself on another beside her. After toasting their future, he invited her into his arms. As their kisses became more passionate, Mitchell felt the urge to completely fill his needs; he looked to Cally for guidance, she was looking nervous, but gave her consent.

Tears were running down Cally's cheeks, she now wished she had waited until there wedding night. Mitchell was touched by the fact that until this point she had been a virgin. He had never bedded an inexperienced woman. He felt like a cad, they had just shared a magnificent event; he would have given the earth to turn back time, allowing her to come to him as his wife, with her virginity intact. He would not vocalize that fact; he did not want to hurt her anymore. The pair dressed and snuggled up in front of the fire, holding each other tightly.

The knocking at the door as daylight started to creep in the windows awakened them, Cally was scarlet with shame, Mitchell answered the door allowing their host to enter, telling them that the gardener would be here within the hour, they need to clear out if they don't want to get caught. No one in the house was up at this stage, they could sneak in unseen.

Mitchell could not get the fact that Cally was hurting about the event of the night he proposed out of his head, he wanted to make an honest woman out of her, so she would stop feeling ashamed. He made a vow to himself that the next time he made love to her they would be married; his frustration level was reaching the point that he may not be able to keep his vow; the night in the cottage had been so delightful that he could not imagine ever being without her.

He made contact with the local church, and asked how long they needed to wait before they could marry. The reply was simple that as long as they had parental consent for Cally that it could be done within a couple of weeks. Cally's parents had been happy at the fact that they were engaged, especially to a local boy. He contacted them to ask for their blessings, once received they went ahead and made plans, after contacting Jeremy and Miranda to ask them to be witnesses, he began hatching a plan on how he was going to get Cally to the church.

Miranda was a clever woman; she hatched up a story about friends having a Christening at a local church begging her to come with her. The friends went out to purchase a new frock each. Cally selected an exquisite little chiffon dress, with Miranda choosing one similar in a darker colour for her skin tone. Mitchell had contacted Cally and explained that he needed to head out of town for the day with a field group on the day of the Christening; he would give her a call as soon as he returned.

Joseph and Isobel Hopkins arrived early on the day of the wedding as did Neville and Marjory Davis both sets of parents bustled around the town while Miranda kept Cally busy away from the area. The church was decorated, the reception area checked for last minute hiccups. Jeremy was checking that the nervous groom had the rings. The guests had all been informed that they were all to keep a low profile once they arrived they were to go straight to the church. The service was set for four fifteen pm, all the guests were to be in and seated by four pm to ensure that Cally was the last to arrive.

Cally and Miranda arrived a little before four fifteen, as they entered the church by the side door. Cally was amazed to see her dad and dressed in a dinner suit. He handed her a bunch of flowers and gave Miranda a nod. As Miranda stepped into the main room of the church the organist struck up here comes the bride. With an amazed look at her father Cally followed his lead; she was aware there was a sea of faces, most of whom she must know. Mitchell and Jeremy were standing at the altar awaiting her arrival. As she reached Mitchell he took her hands, and looked into her eyes, asking if she was happy. Her tears were for joy.

After a beautiful service Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell Davis and their guests shared the most beautiful meal. Afterwards, they headed off to that romantic little cottage by the seaside, where Mitchell had proposed. Even though there was a large comfortable looking bed in the back room, there was something that drew them back to the fireside with cushions and rugs. This time there was no reserve on the part of Cally or Mitchell, they hurriedly undressed each other, consuming each other with passion, once they had satisfied each other, they left everything as it was and strolled naked to the bed. The week at the cottage and lazing on the beach seemed to fly past.

If Cally thought that her wedding had been the only best kept secret in town, she had another surprise in store, as they drove back towards the campus. Mitchell steered the car into the lane way of a strange place asking Cally to wait in the car. Returning he swooped her into his arms, carrying her across the threshold saying "Welcome to your new home Mrs. Davis".

Cally had been waking up feeling ill for two weeks, and becoming extremely run down, Mitchell was worried, and eventually he talked her into seeing a doctor. Returning that evening he was afraid to ask her what the problem was. He was relieved when he was informed that she was pregnant. Cally was unsure how long she would be allowed to remain in classes, the college was having a hard enough time with the fact that she was one of the married students. She hoped that she would be alright until the end of the academic year which was a little over four months away.

A little over half way through her pregnancy Cally had been advised to expect a multiple birth, Mitchell was overwhelmed he had already taken on a night job to provide for his wife and coming baby, two babies would increase the financial strain. Cally had already been forced to give up her scholarship; he was hoping and praying that they could survive long enough for him to finish his last year, after the babies were born.

After an easy confinement Cally gave birth to twin girls, she named them Cassandra and Natalie, she was a natural mother. Mitchell was trying to be a good father; he was constantly tired and therefore unable to help Cally much. Within six months Cally was once again pregnant, they were both distraught, they loved each other and their children, but they were going to have a big battle to afford another child. When Cally came home during the pregnancy and told Mitchell there was more than one baby again, he knew what he had to do.

It was with a very heavy heart that Mitchell gave up his scholarship and spent the next month seeking a position. Both sets of parents had been helping out when they could, but the couple, were still feeling the pressure of limited finances and the embarrassment of receiving handouts from kind hearted people. Mitchell eventually secured a position as a stores officer in a local factory.

Once again Cally had an easy birth this time there was a boy and a girl, she called them Isobel and Travis. Having four children under two was not easy, Margaret, Cally's younger sister moved in to help her out with the children. Joseph and Isobel sent bankers cheques every month to assist them with Margaret's keep.

Life was quite settled for a little over a year, this time Mitchell was the first to notice the signs, he asked whether there was a chance that she might be pregnant again. Cally headed off to the doctor who confirmed Mitchell's fears. They needed a bigger house they would have to move. Isobel sent a wire that there was a cottage available on the outskirts of town which had quite a bit of land attached. They would buy it and place them in it, once Mitchell got the land established and stated to make some sort of profit from it they would expect them to purchase it at the same price they paid, with no interest attached.

There did not seem to be any choice. Marjorie Davis had also been able to assist the family to get set up. She had employed two young men who could prepare the land to get it up and running while Mitchell worked a few days a week for his father, in order to give them some cash to meet to feed and clothe his family.

Cally and Mitchell were waiting for the doctor to announce a double birth again, this time it did not come, even though Cally could feel there was more than one, she did concede something was different. From the first moment of her labour she felt something was wrong. Twelve hours later she had still not given birth, nor did it seem imminent. Marjorie, Isobel and Mitchell were outside pacing nervously.

After a further two hours it was decided that a Caesarian section was needed. There were two babies, badly deformed Siamese twins. The child had not breathed alone, nor did anyone attempt to make it do so, it was then whisked away, no one saw it, once this baby was removed the staff were astounded to see a small foetus that would have been no longer than a pen. Emergency carts were dragged in and this miniature baby was rushed to ICU. Cally and her family would not be told of the twins, they developed a story about her being toxemic therefore retaining a lot of fluid which accounted for the weight gain.

Once Cally was taken to recovery, the doctor went out to Mitchell and the grandparents he told them of the tiny little boy and his chances of recovery. After a glimpse at the tiny baby, Mitchell went to sit by his wife waiting for her to wake. He was oblivious to the strange feeling within the hospital that evening. However, Isobel and Marjorie were very aware; they knew it had something to do with Cally.

Once Cally regained consciousness Mitchell told her what he had been told, she kept asking what about the other baby. She was told over and over that there had only been one baby this time. Mitchell became concerned then questioned the doctor, his response was that Cally was used to multiple births her mind was rejecting the idea that she had only given birth to one baby. Once she was fully conscious she would be OK.

The baby remained at the hospital for three months, he grew at a slow but steady pace. Cally thought the attention lavished on her and James was due to his smallness, the fact that if he died she would need help, she had no idea that they were watching her for any signs that she was aware of what went on in the operating room that evening.

Two years passed without any hint of pregnancy, Cally and Mitchell were delighted as they still enjoyed the intimacy of being man and wife. Cassandra and Natalie were enrolled to join the local nursery school at the beginning of the next academic year. They were very excited. Life seemed to be very settled James was still small for his size; he did have a healthy appetite. Isobel was a bossy little miss, with Travis carrying out her every wish. Both sets of twins seemed to have a special bond. They were cordial to the other set, but preferred each others company. Unfortunately James seemed to be left out all the time, when the others would go off and leave him, he would yell out my twin will play with me.

Over the next year whenever Cally was shopping she had the feeling that other customers were staring at her and James in a peculiar way, on one occasion as she entered, a woman abruptly stopped her conversation indicating towards them.

Over the next few months she was noticing funny looks from people some who had been extremely kind to her in the past. Mitchell was starting to sense that she was right; he had been given the cold shoulder on many occasions lately, from folks who were usually cordial towards him. Cassandra and Natalie were informing them that some children were not allowed to play with them. Over the next year Cally and Mitchell encountered more of this strange behaviour. When Cally went to enroll Isobel and Travis in kindergarten, the teacher was extremely stand offish.

Meanwhile, James was very moody wanting to play alone with his imaginary friend who emerged at the time he told the others his twin would come back to play with him.

As time wore on James developed an entire personality for his imaginary friend, calling him Jacob who was double his size, double his strength and acted as a protector. James was convinced that nobody liked him or Jacob. People were suggesting that Cally take him to a psychiatrist his imagination was out of control. Cassandra and Natalie were continually tormenting him about his twin. Cally was unable to stop them. Mitchell constantly punished them by taking away privileges. Isobel and Travis tried to act as mediators telling the older twins to leave him alone. After nearly two years of this behaviour when James was nearing school age, the teacher requested that a psychiatric analysis be performed on James before he was allowed to enter school. She made the point that he may require special education. The grief this caused Cally, seemed to prove her point that something was missing. She and James sensed it acutely.

By this time Cally had become very withdrawn herself, seeking assistance from Isobel and Marjorie who had by this time discussed the mayhem at the hospital the night James was born. Both decided that James had been a twin, the other was stillborn, and they could not understand why nobody had been told. They made inquiries only to be told that they had no right to this information. Mitchell thought all three women were being paranoid.

After the initial examination by the Psychiatrist Cally and Mitchell were informed James had a deep seated problem, he fully believed he was a twin. The only time that he normally came across similar symptoms was when a twin was stillborn. He gave them a letter for the school expressing a wish that the boy be surrounded by peers who were not twins, seeing that it is normal to be the only child born at one time, his family situation was unusual. He wanted to assess him on a regular basis; the school was required to give James a regular education.

Cally sat in the doctors office sobbing uncontrollably, the last thing she needed was another pregnancy. Mitchell would feel the same way five children were plenty to care for, especially with James' unresolved problems. The doctor reassured her that this could be just what she needed; another single birth would make James feel less isolated. Cally was not so sure. As the pregnancy continued both Cally and Mitchell were scared that she would come home from a pre natal visit with the news that it was to be a multiple birth. As the months progressed this did not happen.

Cally felt fine until she overheard a conversation between nurses in the hospital, about a woman who had given birth to Siamese twins a few years back. They continued on about how the poor woman knew nothing of it, she did have a tiny little boy to compensate for the pregnancy. Cally found herself rooted to the spot, her blood ran cold, and she knew that they were discussing her.

That night she told Mitchell of the conversation, he told her she was being silly, there was no way that is was her, despite the fact that it would give James' imaginary friend some credibility. Cally contacted Isobel and Marjorie asking them about the night of James' birth, neededing to know if they could remember who was around then and still around now. They reminded her of their suspicions about a stillborn baby.

During her next pre natal visit Cally told the doctor about her suspicions, he became quite pale; however he told her that to his knowledge there had never been such a disgraceful event in this hospital. As she was leaving she saw one of the nurses that she had overheard on her last visit. As she approached her, the nurse looked a little nervous. When she asked if she could spare her some time for a little chat away from the hospital, she reluctantly agreed, she would meet her in the foyer in fifteen minutes.

After the longest fifteen minutes of her life, Cally and the nurse left the hospital grounds and went to a nearby coffee shop. Cally came straight to the point asking whether she had in fact given birth to a Siamese twin the night she gave birth to James. The nurse was silent for a long time, and then she just nodded. Cally felt overcome with emotion, all she could ask was why she wasn't told. She was then told that it was badly deformed, it had never taken a breath. Due to the fact that she already had a large family, the doctor decided it was best not to attempt to resuscitate the poor thing. Everyone was sworn to secrecy, then they noticed James, all their attention was then focused on him, the only people who were aware of the events of that night were the theatre team.

She went on to say she was aware the events of the night leaked into the community, as in most cases of gossip there were a few sensational facts involved, she could not elaborate except that she thought people think her family was totally aware and involved in the cover up.

A visibly shaken Cally strolled around the town for quite some time before she went to Mitchell informing him of the events of the day. Once he recovered from the shock, his first instinct was to inform the psychiatrist that James in fact was a child from a multiple birth. Cally at this stage needed some counselling herself; she did not know what to do with the information now she had it. It became obvious that they were amongst the last people around to know.

After a great deal of thought, many discussions with Cally and Mitchell's parents it was decided that the doctor should be prosecuted, making the decision not to attempt to give it life, and worse still whisk it away denying its existence was not his to make, not to mention illegal. As the news spread about the family taking the doctor to court people began to support them.

The stress was taking its toll on Cally, her pregnancy was not easy, at one stage she was frightened of a miscarriage, and she also found that she could not allow herself to trust the medical staff taking care of her pre natal treatment. Mitchell started accompanying her to all her appointments. Second opinions were sought on more than one occasion. The hospital although not pleased that it was happening, understood it was in Cally's best interest, a psychologist was also involved. There was relief all round when she finally gave birth to one healthy girl, who was named Amelia. James tried to ignore her existence as he thought she was a replacement for Jacob. Cassandra and Natalie were feeling embarrassed by the court case, therefore showing no interest in any other family members except themselves. Leaving, only Isobel and Travis to enjoy Amelia's birth.

As the court date grew nearer it was confirmed many people in the community believed that they knew the of the other babies existence, and acted as part of the cover up in its removal. As always the rumours spread quickly to all except the ones who could tell it like it was, and put the situation to rights.

Once in court Cally was on the stand for quite some time, she was emotionally drained, she felt like she was battling a giant who would not be made to pay. Isobel and Marjorie were also called to testify about their suspicions on the night of James' birth, and why they kept silent, they accepted the explanation given until James started acting strangely. The nurse came forth and testified willingly as did one other, the anesthetist, the remaining staff including the doctor had to be subpoenaed. After three long days the judge came to a decision. The doctor was found guilty, and was to go before a medical tribunal to whether charges were to be laid by them, with a demand that he be automatically struck off the medical register. He was also ordered to pay all costs associated with James past and future psychological treatment, as well as any similar treatment that other family members required.

After the hearing was settled, Mitchell and Cally decided that they needed to put the spirit of their baby to rest, at James' request they called him Jacob, psychologists suggested that it would help with the healing pattern. James spent the next two years talking to different psychologists who were extremely understanding. With Jacob's existence acknowledged James was able to work through his emotions, after miraculously surviving on very little nutrition after Jacob had his fill.

As the years passed the scandal died down, most of the town forgot about Jacob's existence. James although able to handle his solitude now, still spent much time alone. Amelia attempted to include him in her activities doting on her older brother. The older twins had very much developed their own lifestyles, having little to do with their younger siblings.

Cally and Mitchell watched with pride as each achieved the next step in their growth towards maturity. Cally was the first to help a mother who miscarried or had an unexpected multiple birth, Mitchell was now content to take the time to work on the land their parents had put them on, he had avoided doing this over the years while the children were young.

As the years passed by, each child left home to start their own life Cally kept busy working with pregnant women, it was no surprise to Mitchell when she came to him with the idea of having these women come and stay with them for a rest period, in order to get proper care and attention in a homely atmosphere.

Until the day she died neither Cally or Mitchell trusted hospitals. Isobel trained as a midwife, and on many occasions was summonsed to her mother's house to assist with a birth. James chose to remain alone; he studied Medicine, then Law, then Business Management, he continually felt the need to learn more, he still felt that his life was incomplete; he had long ago decided not to marry as he did not want to see a woman he loved go through the pain of a loss like his. He also offered his services free of charge to anyone who felt they had been mistreated by the medical system.

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