Nestor, Lester and Esther


  I’m Lester. 34, 5’11, always a bit shabby but always funny and smart:  that’s what they say at work, to my face, during afternoon tea.  No holds barred. I’m with the Printers Union striving for equality in their policy unit. I’m not a communist but I am a solo dad fighting for my own freedom.

  My twin girls are Nestor and Esther. They are identical.  Nestor is a boy’s name.  He was an Argonaut. Esther is the older one. She was born at the turn of the century half an hour before midnight. Nestor came out easily in this century.  They are nine going on thirteen.  Girls are different from boys growing up.  Easier to control and give advice to when young.  More difficult, so I’m told by anxious parents, when they get into their teens. We’ll see.

I do have a favourite.  It’s Nestor.  She has the best attitude (and name). She’s a combo of me with olive skin and her mum Sally:  brainy and verbal.

Sally didn’t stick around to see them grow.  Cervical cancer has no friends.  That is a crappy way for a family to start again.   32 years on this earth: an eternity elsewhere.

Best intentions by friends and family following the trauma but now we are on our own coping as well as we can. One grandparent on either side.  Mother on mine.  Father on Sally’s.  They put in some effort  when  they can but  both were never fans of how we parent their only grandchildren. I’ll let that one lie.

Esther is also olive skinned and very funny.  She has ample time for me if she sees a drop in my enthusiasm for loving and living.

That is what families are for.

No family group is perfect but holding together through their own method of living is what counts.

Parent-teacher interviews are the next event on the school calendar.  We live close enough for the girls to walk.  They originally went on the walking bus  at 8.10am but the old man, Desmond, who ran it, was grumpy and shouted all the time.  The girls said he should give it up and die.  I said tell that to the principal.  They didn’t. He stayed the same.  They left comfortable in their own skin.


My living situation, well known around the school, has provided me a fair share of opportunities. They have come from both teachers and mothers.  Some solo, some married, some I don’t know which way they swing but I am not over the death of Sally.  I don’t think I ever will be.  The girls are protective of our own family situation and emotionally equipped to stay as we are.  I am happy with that. 

Walking slowly to the interviews Nestor is on my right, Esther my left. I’m nervous..

“Dad,” said Nestor while squeezing my hand. “Cheer up.”

“He’s alright,” came back Esther’s quick reply.

“You’ll like my new teacher, Mrs Irving,” added Nestor.

“She’s funny and a bit fat like you.”


Writing order: Ken Burns (NZ), Hemali Ajmera (India), Donna McTavish (NZ), Rosemary Wakelin (Aus), Ken Burns (NZ), Diana Labrum (USA),  Abhimanyu Jamwal (India), Sameer Nagarajan (Dubai), Suraya Dewing (NZ), Ken Burns (NZ).




What a refreshing starter Ken. Loved your play on words and the twisted sense of humour. You charted out Lester's life in just 500 words so beautifully.
Thanks Hemali. This was fun to write but it has humanity in the story of this family. There is drama in everyones life but there is humour too. That is my style.
Yes, I liked it too. I wonder what people say behind his back. Often quite different to what they say to his face. These are clever characters and writers will have fun with them, I'm sure. Good on you Ken.
I agree with Suraya. The characters are wonderful and so real. I also loved the humour mixed with the sense of sadness and loss. Great starter, Ken.