from The Essential Paradise, series sourcebook
Kissing Cousins, by Jonnie Comet, is a story arc within the Paradise Two domain of the Two Paradises fantasy/fiction realm. Edit
The series is also known as Mirror Beach, after the community in which it takes place, on Sugar Island in the British Paradise Islands. It is the first BPI-related story arc by author Comet to feature Sugar Island, and only the second to not feature Eden Island, as a principal setting. The series timeline is from December 2002 till early 2006 and is partially concurrent with that of Noemi’s Wold, which features some common characters.
The series was begun in 2012 and is inspired by the premise of the successful manga KissXSis, about a boy living with twin stepsisters. Much of the political and natural geography of Sugar Island was established or revised by the author in the course of developing the series.
Plot premise Edit
The plot of Kissing Cousins begins with the Flagg sisters, Melissa and Carissa, of Picton, New Zealand, in the care of a court-appointed minder, aboard a commercial airliner en route to the Paradise Islands. Flashbacks convey that they have just attended the sentencing hearing of their mother, Daphne, at which she is sentenced to thirty months in prison for having permitted her live-in lover to sexually abuse her children. Daphne’s elder sister, Doris, a shopkeeper in Mirror Beach, Sugar Island, is the only other relative available and has been granted temporary custody of the two girls. Daphne lives with her son Anthony, a clean-cut and properly-motivated boy, on whom both his cousins have admitted having romantic crushes. The story unfolds with Daphne, Anthony, and the two girls settling into a pleasant but somewhat awkward living arrangement together.
Flagg family background Edit
The Flagg family grew up at The Falls, the house at the bottom of the Omega Run freshwater stream on the southern shore of Sugar Island. Doris Flagg had her son, Anthony, out of wedlock and never established any further relationship with his father, who remains unknown throughout the series. She raised him alone at The Falls after her parents died in a motoring accident during a holiday in Canada in about 1994. Daphne is about 2-1/2 years younger and was, apparently, somewhat wilder than her sister, leaving home early and taking up with a succession of unfit men, one of whom, a seaman from Picton, New Zealand, is the estranged father of her two daughters.
It is later revealed that Doris’ birth mother died as a result of childhood and that her father promptly remarried so as to provide a mother for his infant child. The true degree of relationship between the two sisters, and, consequently, between the girls and Anthony, remains a secret throughout much of the characters’ lives.
The Falls, Flagg family home Edit
The Falls is located in about the middle of the long block of Drainage, the lowest tier of the municipality, and just where the Omega Run creek turns to go down, between two properties, to the bay, so its course forms a particularly scenic western frontier of the Flaggs’ land section. The house comprises a garage and service entrance at street level, connected by an annexe to the main block, about 2-1/2 metres lower, wherein lie the sitting room, dining room and kitchen. Doris’ bedroom with en suite bathroom comprises the upper level. A television room, with toilet and shower, is in the basement, which looks out onto a foreshortened rear garden with a low wall overlooking the bay beach, with stairs to a gate in the wall for access to the public promenade. The annexe contains the two additional bedrooms. This division between Doris’ quarters and those of the younger generation provides that the girls and Anthony share neighbouring bedchambers and a bathroom and enables awkwardness, independence, and opportunity, of which the stories' characters make ample use.
All of the central characters have the same surname, none of them having been married. The patriarchal line includes Austrian and English heritage, accounting for the blondish hair and bluish eyes they all have in common. Daphne, Doris and Anthony tend to be slender, appearing though not actually being somewhat tall for their ages. The girls tend to be shorter and slightly bustier than either their mother or their aunt.
Doris Flagg is a competent mother and shopkeeper who inspires teamwork both with her son, in the care of the household, and with her staff at Florentine, the busy gift shop she co-owns and manages in the tourist area of Sunset Beach. She is pretty and youthful, often using slang and references more often associated with teenagers, but despite her casual, easygoing manner she is sensible and conservative, well-respected in the business and social community, and an affectionate parent.
Daphne does not appear till the end of the series and is present mainly in flashbacks and in the memories of the others, especially the girls and Doris, given in the course of events. At her conviction the judge chastised her for placing her own needs ahead of the best interests of her own children; apparently her history has been of leaving one place for another repeatedly, taking advantage of some new lover’s interest in providing a home for herself and the girls. In the last situation, the live-in lover took advantage of the two young adolescent girls as well as their mother; but it is implied that Daphne had allowed certain liberties with the girls with others before.
A fifth-former at the start of the series, Anthony is a cheerful and sentimental boy who works at Freddie’s Emporium, a general-goods shop up in town, and intends to study accounting. At the time of his cousins’ arrival in Mirror Beach he has not seen them for three years, though up till about a year ago they had exchanged letters and photos often. He has many friends at West Islands High School but does not participate in sports due to his work schedule. As well as contributing to household expenses, he puts money aside for himself and just before his 16th birthday buys himself a Mite Merry drophead coupé, promising to teach the girls how to drive when each of them reaches 14. Anthony is somewhat lanky, is fond of wearing bikini swimsuits, and has shaggy blondish hair; both girls consider him extremely attractive and, with Doris, make frequently compliments on how he looks, which always embarrasses him.
Melissa and Carissa Edit
The girls have naturally developed a very close attachment to each other as a result of their shared abuse. Melissa, being 14 months older, takes a kind of motherly role over her sister, who tends to enjoy being a little babied. The girls tend to share clothes, even swimsuits, and look so much alike that they are often mistaken for being twins. Both are blue-eyed and blonde, with thick, bushy hair past their shoulders, pleasant rounded faces and sun-blessed complexions.
Both tend to be short and busty for their age, doubtless an effect of estrogen supplements in the birth-control pills their mother made them use even before full puberty. When they arrive at Mirror Beach, Melissa quickly discovers that girls aged 13 are permitted access to birth-control prescriptions and eventually applies at two separate clinics in order to augment the supplies they have brought with them until Carissa turns 13 herself. This sort of too-adult cleverness is characteristic of both girls, due to their experience, but perhaps more typical of Melissa.
Melissa is taller than Carissa, slightly further developed, and has greener eyes. Both girls readily adopt the Paradisian practice of private attire, enjoying sunning naked in the back garden and wearing just knickers or the bottom of a bikini about the house. Romantically and physically, Melissa is less clingy with Anthony than is Carissa, though she is more intelligent and more affectionate and of the two might seem the better match for him.
Being younger, Carissa alternatively resents feeling underestimated and enjoys being pampered. Her favourite pastimes seem to be reading novels, sleeping, bathing, and brushing her hair, all of which she does often. With Melissa she is happy to embrace the more relaxed Paradisian dress codes. Her flirting is more childish than Melissa’s, as though she is playing at a game; but Carissa is also capable of great loyalty and, even in spite of sharing him with her sister, regards Anthony as her own first and greatest love, an attitude that will carry her through the end of the series.
In the past, Melissa and Carissa were often obliged to be sexually active together, both with and without Daphne’s boyfriends’ participation. Once comfortably established at The Falls they continue such involvement for their own purposes.
Both girls are constrained to wear the school uniform for WIHS; Melissa remarks that the pale-grey skirt and white blouse, with silver-and-gold necktie, is ‘pretty cute’. Doris assists with tailoring the girls’ skirts, hemming both to a shorter, more chic length, which pleases both girls.
Features of the series Edit
The series is told in the present, though numerous flashbacks, typically only of narrative, are provided to illustrate the girls’ unpleasant history. The series relies upon the trope of the closeted hussy (though not the often-attendant masterful mother trope) and, later, that of the prodigal maiden.
Fan service Edit
The series contains numerous and significant elements of fan service, especially scenes of the girls and Anthony, nude or in revealing states of dress. Finished editions bear a notice warning of ‘mature content’, referring to sexual activity depicted between consenting adolescents.
Cousin incest Edit
The series is notable for the household-incest theme which is a staple of many manga and anime stories. Here the participants actually are blood relatives; but the perceived degree of consanguinity is significantly mitigated when Doris reveals that she and her sister are only half-siblings. Thus the girls are only 12.5% consanguineous with Anthony, making the relationship only half as close as with a true first cousin.
As in Wuthering Heights, all the principals have suffered deaths or abandonment by all other living relatives, so that full particulars of their ancestors and of their relationships with each other are kept from them till a pivotal revellation.
A paperback and Kindle version of the first volume, titled Mirror Beach, is slated for release some time in 2016.
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