“I don’t even really love you! I don’t even really care about you! I don’t even really love you! I don’t even really care about you no more!” Rihanna’s “Woo” rang out from Tabitha’s Samsung Galaxy Note–her mom was calling – again.
Denied – again.
“I don’t even really love you! I don’t even really care about you! I don’t even really love you! I
don’t even really care about you no more!” Her mother’s recently updated ringtone sang again.
She’d been calling all morning and Tabitha ignored every single call. She wasn’t speaking to her mom; they got into a heated argument and her mom actually slapped her -hard. Really hard. So hard, that Tabitha fell backwards into a coffee table that broke under her back. She moved out the next day.
She wouldn’t admit it, but she missed her mother deeply. It was them against the world since she could remember, and not talking was taking an emotional toll. Normally, she’d apologize and quickly mend fences; but, this time her mom was wrong. As much as she wanted to wave the white flag, she needed to stand her ground. Call denied.
By the time Tabitha headed to lunch, she had five voice mails from her mom: “Tabitha, this is your mother, please, just call me back!”
She deleted the messages and dialed a colleague before spotting her cousin, Inez, impatiently pacing outside of her office.
“Excuse me,” Inez huffed towards Tabitha’s secretary, “would you tell her I have better things to do than stand around here and wait…you know…like EAT.” She glared through the glass windows at Tabitha who was still on a phone call.
“Of course,” Tabitha’s assistant gently tapped on her door before waiting for acknowledgement. Tabitha looked up and gave a quick wave, then went back to her call.
“She said she’ll be just a few more moments. You can go ahead if you like and she’ll catch up.”
“Please tell her WE will be at the Soul Café on Banks Street. I already have reservations and please…hurry!”
Inez made her way to the restaurant, hoping her guests hadn’t left yet. She hadn’t told Tabitha, but she’d set her up on a blind date with her fiancée’s best friend, Chris, who had recently moved to the city. Chris was a great catch – tall, full of melanin, handsome and he had a great career – in Inez’s mind he was the perfect catch for her sheltered little cousin.
“Baby!” Inez’s fiancée met her in the foyer, “where’s Tabitha?”
“She’s coming. I couldn’t drag her ears from the phone. You know how she is.”
“Well I hope she doesn’t keep us waiting too long. Chris is very excited to meet her.” Chris stood as she approached the table and Inez had to take a step back – he was much more striking in person!
“Hello Inez, very nice to meet you in person. You’re way too pretty for him!” They laughed and continued poking fun at one another as Inez settled into her seat and pulled out her phone.
“Where’s your friend?” Chris questioned looking around the restaurant.
“She’s coming. She was held up at work and I’m texting her now”
OUTGOING TEXT: HURRY UP! WE HAVE GUESTS!
INOMING TEXT: On my way….
INCOMING TEXT: …why do we have guests? Who are these guests?
OUTGOING TEXT: Hurry up and you’ll find out.
INCOMING TEXT: I am not in the mood for the foolishness today, Nez!
OUTGOING TEXT: YOU COULD BE HERE BY NOW!
INCOMING TEXT: Literally outside.
“Oh! She’s outside. I’ll be right back” Inez moved towards the door where she spotted Tabitha standing among the lunch crowd. She waved and motioned her over.
“It’s so packed here.”
“Yes, it is… and our table is packed as well,” Inez gave a sly little grin.
“…your blind date!” Inez spoke quickly, smiled and moved towards the table with lightning speed.
“INEZ! WHAT!? WAIT! I DID NOT SIGN UP FOR….”
“TABITHAAAAA….!” Inez practically screamed her name as she grabbed Tabitha’s hand and gave it a “you better go along with this” squeeze.
“…meet Chris!” Tabitha was about to protest when a firm, warm hand grabbed hers and their eyes locked. There was definitely a connection.
“Hello Tabitha, very nice to meet you.” He smiled a row of pearly whites. His breath was like springtime; he truly was a beautiful man…
“He…hello,” Tabitha smiled.
They hit it off. They chatted about their jobs, past relationships and relocating to the city throughout lunch, almost ignoring Inez and Xavier. By the end of the meal, they were both so smitten that Chris walked her back to work and invited her to dinner that night.
“I can’t help feeling there’s something very familiar about you…” Tabitha smiled at Chris as she went back into her office. He smiled and watched her walk away.
Two hours later, she received two-dozen long stem fire and ice roses sprinkled with gold dust. The enclosure read, “…there’s something very familiar about you too. I hope to become even more familiar – Chris”
She called Inez and told her the good news.
“We’re going to dinner after work….”
“Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!”
“No, I think you mean don’t do anything you WOULD do.”
“Ha…whatever! I got my man. You’re the one still looking.”
The workday dragged on and Tabitha’s mom called three more times and left a message with her assistant to call back because it was an emergency. She started to answer but thought better of killing her excellent mood. She’d call her tomorrow. Tonight, she was going to enjoy herself in peace.
***********************************************************************“I don’t usually do this, you know.” Tabitha smiled at Chris as she downed her forth cocktail and he grabbed the bill, “You know…date…”
“Seriously?” He smiled a charming smile. He’d had three cocktails and a shot of Patron but seemed to be holding it well, “I don’t see why not. You’re stunning.”
“Thank you,” She blushed. “Up until two weeks ago my life consisted of school, work and my mom but….” She trailed off and started thinking about her mother. She’d never gone this long without talking to her, more less not even seeing her.
“…but?” Chris asked, genuinely interested.
“Well, we got into a fight and I stopped talking to her.”
“Really? You don’t seem like the type to fight anyone.”
“Normally I’m not but…it’s just this issue,” she let out a heavy breath.
“May I ask what the fight was about?”
She hesitated and frowned. Tabitha never shared her business with others. Not even Inez, but in this moment, with the liquid courage driving her, she felt like she needed to let it all out. So she did.
Chris paid the bill and they spent another thirty minutes talking about the issues surrounding her relationship with her mother. She didn’t know who her father was and it remained a heavy point of contention between them.
At first, her mother lied and gave her random names, then she said her father was dead, then she said her father refused to have anything to do with her and she kept her away for protection. For years, Tabitha accepted these antics until her grandmother, Eva, – suffering from Alzheimer’s disease – spilled the beans during a rare moment of lucidness.
“Tabitha!” Her grandmother clasped her frail weathered hand around Tabitha’s own and smiled gently. “You should get dressed. Your father is coming to get you.”
“Grandmother, no, you’re confused. My father’s dead.”
“Oh bullshit! Your father’s been alive and well and living an hour from us for the past ten years.”
Thinking she was mistaken, Tabitha corrected her again.
“I know what I know, child! Let the truth be the truth and the lie be the lie!”
“…but…but my mom told me…she said…”
“…Oh chile, your momma been lying since she could talk. If your mom is breathing, she’s probably lying.”
“I’m just being honest – something your mother was NEVER good at.” She laughed a sweet laugh, the kind only a mother could give when pointing out their child’s flaws.
“…so… wait… my father’s NOT dead?!?”
“Good riddance child, keep up! If he’s dead, he JUST died… HAVE I EVER LIED TO YOU GIRL?”
Stunned and confused, Tabitha stopped her tracks. “MOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
They had a huge fight, so bad that Tabitha called her mother irresponsible, selfish
and a liar. The ultimate line was crossed when her mom told her to just “leave it alone” and Tabitha responded, “….no, you don’t want to tell me because you’re ashamed to admit you’ve slept with so many men you don’t know WHO my father is!”
Tabitha’s mom came forward with an open palm face slap and circled back with a backhand just to reinforce the point. She moved out the next day and they hadn’t seen or spoken to one another sense.
“Well,” Chris touched her hand and smiled warmly, “I understand how you feel. I’ve had a similar situation with my father. I have no idea who my mother is and my dad refuses to talk about her. We stopped speaking until dad was diagnosed with cancer last year. I wish I could get those years back. I only recently understood those people who hadn’t been in my life didn’t matter as much as those who had. You know?”
She did know. What Chris was saying made sense. If something happened to her mother she’d be devastated, she was all she’d had her entire life. Was finding her absentee father, who may or may not know and/or care about her, really worth losing a mother who had been there every step of the way? What if she was telling the truth and her lies were the only way she knew to protect her?
She made a note to call her mother first thing in the morning.
Chris paid the bill and they continued their chat outside while waiting for Ubers taxis.
“You know, Chris, thanks so much for listening. I feel a bit better after talking about it.”
“It was my pleasure. I’m glad you were comfortable enough to share this with me.”
“It’s good to be comfortable,” Tabitha smiled a seductive smile.
“Indeed,” Chris returned the favor.
“Are you sure you’re going to be fine?” Chris asked for the fifth time in ten minutes. Tabitha could tell he was hinting at coming home with her and, she wasn’t totally opposed to the idea.
“Ummm….yea…yes…I’ll be fine.”
“Yes, my place isn’t far from here and I’m not that tipsy. A good shower and bowl of ice cream will calm me right down.”
“A bowl of ice cream huh?”
“Yea…with nuts on top!”
“Is there any other way?!”
Tabitha let out a tipsy girlish giggle and Chris took the opportunity to pull her face close for a kiss. Her body became alive with passion. They kissed and kissed…and kissed. It got so hot and heavy they almost missed the Uber. They took one car and headed to her home.
There was no further discussion. Only brief statements from Chris asking if she was sure about this and reassurance from Tabitha that she was. Chris was perfect. Maybe too perfect?
“I don’t do one night stands, Chris”
“Neither do I.”
They melted into one another and allowed their desire to take control. Their bodies collided head on and they indulged their lusts well into the morning. By sunrise, they were snuggling in the aftermath of their bliss.
“I know this is really cliché, but I really haven’t done anything like this before…I’ve only had four boyfriends and I only slept with two – one of them only once.”
Chris smiled and pulled Tabitha closer, “You don’t have to explain anything to me. But for the record, I’ve only been with three women. I dated the same woman from middle school through high school and two others in college. My shortest relationship was a year-and-a-half.”
Tabitha smiled and nuzzled in closer to Chris, “You don’t have to explain anything to me either.” He was perfect. This was going to be grand.
***********************************************************************Tabitha pulled into her reserved parking space as her phone rang, it was her mom. She was in a much better mood today and decided to answer.
“Oh…. praise God! You answered.”
“Yes, mom, I’m sorry…I shouldn—“
“NO, baby. I’M SORRY! That’s all I wanted…was to tell you I was sorry and you were right.”
Tabitha was speechless. Her mother NEVER admitted when she was wrong. This day really was starting out great!
“I just wanted you to know how much I love you and I’m so sorry about all of this. You have a right to know the truth and if you come over for dinner tonight, I’ll tell you everything you want to know.”
“Of course I’ll come for dinner! I miss you….and I have news too! I met someone! But, I’ll tell you more later, I have to go. I’m just walking into the office. See you tonight around seven?”
“Seven is fine”
“Oh, darling, mommy loves you too. Promise me you’ll remember that tonight.”
“Just know that I love you Tabitha, see you at seven!”
That was odd, but Tabitha was on cloud nine and didn’t have time to dwell on the negative– or possible negatives.
“WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO YOU?!? We called you guys over twenty times last night!” She looked up just in time to see Inez strutting towards her. She wasn’t lying, between Inez and Xavier, Tabitha had eighteen missed calls, and Chris, ten.
Tabitha giggled, “we were…. busy.”
“You know…BUSYYYY”, Tabitha gave her the look and did a little hunching dance to get her point across.
“WHAT? No!!!! Not YOU!” Inez clasped her hand over her mouth as if Tabitha just told her she’d murdered the man.
“What’s the big deal?”
“…but you just…you just met him. You don’t know anything about him. You don’t do things like this…this is my M.O.!!!!”
“Well…looks like you’re not the only one having fun around here now!” Tabitha laughed and grabbed her messages from her secretary as Inez follow her into her office. She closed the door and lowered her voice.
“Tabitha. Tell me EVERYTHING. How was it? Did he spend the night? When are you seeing him again? Did you go to his place or did he come to yours?” Inez bombarded Tabitha with questions like a mother to a teenage daughter returning home from her first date.
“I won’t tell you everything – but I will tell you – THANK YOU!”
“Girllllllllllllllll that must’ve been an amazing night!”
“Amazing isn’t the word.”
“Ms. Toliver-Jones these came for you,” Tabitha’s assistant stood in the door balancing a large spa basket and a giant teddy bear.
“From someone named, Chris.” Tabitha smiled. She couldn’t wait to see Chris tonight.
Tabitha hesitated on the way to her mother’s home even though she was finally (hopefully) going to get the answers she always wanted. But she was having a good day, she’d met a great man and she really didn’t want to be pulled down with any negativity tonight. Besides, her mom had promised to tell the truth in the past, only to renege and tell another unnecessary lie when the time came. Part of her hoped tonight’s meeting would be the same.
She was supposed to meet Chris after dinner for another long nightcap and she was going to do everything possible to rush dinner so that part of her evening could begin.
Tabitha hadn’t even made it up the driveway when her mom threw open the front door and came running down the pavement towards Tabitha. Ten minutes and several momma bear hugs later, they settled into the living room and talked for another twenty minutes before Tabitha began to get restless.
“Mom? I don’t …. I’m not trying to be rude, but I’m really hungry and I came over here to eat and talk about my father. Are we doing this or not?”
Tabitha watched her mother’s face drop and the energy in the room changed.
“Yes…. Yes” her voice, strong and bold a moment ago, was suddenly passive and weak. It made Tabitha worry. “This is a bit of a touchy subject for all involved.”
“Mom, it’s fine…just say whatever it is, I’ll be fine”
“Baby, I think I need to wait until.…”
“MOM! JUST SPILL IT ALREADY! How bad can it be?”
“Well……” Her mom’s voice trailed….
“Um, let me get the door”
Evelyn, ‘Tabitha’s mom, headed towards the front door. Tabitha got up to follow but was firmly advised to wait. She heard her mom let someone in, muffled talking, silence and footsteps, then her mother appeared again – alone. She came close and sat down facing Tabitha, grabbing both her hands.
“You know I love you very much, right?”
Oh crap, Tabitha thought, whenever parents start off sentences with “you know I love you,” they’re about to tell you something that is surely going to piss you off.
“Of course mom,” Tabitha smiled sweetly, bracing herself for the truth.
“Well….” Evelyn swallowed hard, “please don’t hate me for this.”
“Mom…come on…you dragging this out like a Tyler Perry script…just tell me the truth already.”
“Jonathan, come here” Tabitha’s mom called over her shoulder, within a few moments a tall, striking older gentleman appeared from the foyer. “Tabitha, meet your father, Jonathan. Jonathan, THIS is our Tabitha”
Jonathan’s eyes were already filling with tears. He stared at Tabitha as if he’d seen a ghost. “You don’t know how long I’ve waited for this day” Jonathan said as he reached for a hug.
Tabitha moved away and folded her arms across her chest.
“NO! NO! NO! NOOOOO!” Tabitha screamed, “You said he was dead!”
“Damn Evelyn, you killed me off,” Jonathan gave Evelyn an appalled look.
Evelyn shrugged it off, “Well…I didn’t know what else to tell her.”
“Maybe the truth! You know that thing you always told me I HAD to tell or else I’d get in trouble, MOM” she said “mom” with every bit of disgust she could muster to ensure Evelyn felt the sting of the tone. She did.
“I can’t believe you’ve been LYING TO ME for twenty-six years!!!” Tabitha glared at her mother and the man now known as her “father”.
“Well…wait…Nez” Jonathan tried to step in,
“First of all, DON’T call me Nez, you don’t know me like that. You were DEAD or wherever the hell you were all these years not worrying about me. And SECOND, I’ve been WAITING for twenty-six YEARS, DON’T TELL ME TO WAIT ANYMORE!”
Tabitha was livid! If it was THAT easy to make her father appear why had her mom allowed her to suffer all these years?
“No…you don’t understand baby, there’s more to this story than you know….” Jonathan tried to explain.
“Much…much more….” Her mom chipped in.
“Please, Tabitha, listen….” Jonathan again.
“OK…EXPLAIN. PLEASE TELL ME WHAT IS SUCH A MAJOR ISSUE THAT YOU HAD TO LIE TO ME FOR TWENTY-SIX YEARS ABOUT MY FATHER?”
Tabitha stopped and started at them both.
Her mom looked at her father and tears started to fall from her eyes. “I can’t do it Jon, she’s never going to look at me the same. She’ll never understand. Hell…I don’t even
Jonathan’s voice boomed and startled them both, “It’s not the time to think about you. We need to think about our children.”
“ChildREN? As in plural? As in siblings?”
“Oh God Jonathan shut up!” Evelyn hadn’t gotten to that part yet. He was just pouring salt in the wound.
“What the hell have you told her?” Jonathan looked confused.
“Dammit Evelyn, no wonder the child’s so upset! I’d be pissed too…” He rubbed his salt and pepper beard and put his head down as if to say a prayer. “If you won’t tell her, I will.”
“NO! If anyone is going to tell her, it’s going to be me dammit. I know her best.” Evelyn moved back towards Tabitha and closed her eyes.
“I’m just going to say it. Okay? …your father and I…well…we…fell in love. We tried not to fall in love but we did. I don’t know why; I don’t know how. It’s not like we flirted and played with one another – it just happened and at first, we really didn’t know…but by the time we found out…we were already in love”
“Found out WHAT, mom? Stop beating around the bush and just tell me”
“Well…your father and I…we…umm….”
“Oh hell Evelyn,” Jonathan walked over to Tabitha, looked her in the eye and said the words that would change her life forever.
“Me and your momma are half-siblings. We have the same father…”
“Wait…. WHAT? I’m sorry…. WHA…You did not just say that… no…no way!?!!”
She replayed his words in her head, “Me and your momma are half-siblings. We have the same father…”
Tabitha was horrified…” hell no,” she shook her head, “not possible.” She was prepared for adoption, being the product of a rape, maybe even childhood abduction – but INCEST?!?! A product of incest?!?!
“Baby, listen. Please. It’s not what you think…” her mom’s voice trailed off as million thoughts popped into Tabitha’s head.
“NO! Mom! Evelyn! Woman! Whatever you are – this is
disgusting! I AM DISGUSTING! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME! OH MY GOD!” Tears of rage, betrayal, disgust and shame poured out of Tabitha like fountains. She sprung from the couch and attempted to make her way to the front door.
“Disgusting, MOM! …. or should I say Aunt Evelyn? YOU ARE BOTH DISGUSTING!”
“No…please…. don’t say that, please,” Evelyn stood up to try to block Tabitha’s way, they struggled briefly, but Tabitha succeeded by pushing her mom to the floor and storming through the kitchen to the foyer. Jonathan met her at the door.
“I can’t let you leave like this”
“You won’t LET me do anything – UNCLE FATHER DADDY DEAD BEAT – WHATEVER YOU ARE – GET OUT OF MY WAY! I don’t want to see either of you again – you’re lying! This is a lie.” She attempted to storm past Jonathan but he effectively blocked her path.
“LOOK YOUNG- LADY! LISTEN! I know you are upset but you can hear half the story and make up a bunch of bullshit or you can sit down, shut up and hear the truth. Which one do you want? Because we’re NOT going to chase you.”
He had a point. Tabitha was livid and her emotions made her want to storm out of the house and act like this conversation never happened; but, she’d fought long and hard to get the truth and now that it was here, was she really going to tuck her tail and run because she didn’t like what she heard? She’d opened the wound, she might as well clean it up and let it start to heal. She slid down wall and sat with her elbows on her knees and her face in her hands.
“Make it quick,” she mumbled between confused and angry tears.
Jonathan sat down next to her and began to explain, “Our father, your grandfather, was truly a rolling stone. He drove trucks between two cities and maintained a home with your mom’s mother, Eva in Houston, TX, while maintaining a home with my mom, Brenda, in Dallas. Dad was promoted and transferred to Dallas on a permanent basis so he and Eva picked up, still pregnant with your mom, and moved to Dallas about an hour away from my mom. We grew up on different sides of the tracks.”
Tabitha’s mother poked her head around the corner long enough for Tabitha to see her and roll her eyes. Jonathan continued,
“They honestly had no idea about one another. They didn’t run in the same circles, didn’t have the same interest, I mean he really did a great job of picking two women who would have probably never crossed paths and even if they had, the probably wouldn’t have spoken to each other. What he didn’t count on was our high schools playing one another for homecoming which set me and your mom on the path that led to you’
‘She was a rival cheerleader and I was on the football team. I bumped into her goofing around with the boys and made her skin her knee pretty bad. I’ll never forget how she looked in that cute little uniform…boy she was….” He grinned in a way that was not acceptable when thinking about a sister.’
“SHE WAS…IS…YOUR SISTER…” Tabitha shot back with disgust at the look of joyful nostalgia on her “father’s” face as he thought about her mother…his sibling…his SISTER…. in a sexual manner.
“Yes…right, sorry. I guess old habits die hard. But long story short, we hit it off. After several months of hanging out, we made it official and your grandmother, Eva, invited us to dinner so our families could approve our relationship (we had to do things like this back then). And that’s when we learned the tragic truth.”
“Rather…that’s when we learned of the lies.” Evelyn’s voice took over the story as she moved towards the wall where Tabitha was sitting and slid down next to her. Tabitha continued sitting in silence, tears streaming down her caramel colored skin.
“I need you to understand that we didn’t purposely go out and date one another, we didn’t know. We honestly didn’t. And by the time we had the dinner we’d already fallen in love. It was just so hard to let go and we were young, still led by emotions and impulse. We
wanted one another and didn’t know how to control our desire…so here you are,” her mother avoided her gaze, instead locking eyes with her father before continuing her confession.
“When they found out I was pregnant and Jonathan was the father, dad sent me away to live with my grandmother in North Carolina. I was never allowed to come back or see Jonathan again, that was to keep us apart.”
“Keep” you apart? Why did you need to be “kept”, what were you planning on doing – raising one big happy incestuous family?”
They stared at Tabitha and Tabitha stared back.
“I’m finished. I’m done.” Tabitha peeled herself off the floor, she had no idea how to process this or how she was going to explain it. She glared at her mother/aunt and father/uncle and asked, “Is there ANYTHING else I need to know?”
“Well…” Jonathan and Evelyn exchanged glances. Jonathan pulled out his phone and started typing as if he was texting someone. “…there is one more thing.”
“The siblings? You did mention children in the plural form.”
“Well…yes, you do have a sibling, but not just a sibling…a twin…a fraternal twin and he’s on the way here to meet you. He knows what happened, that me and your mom are siblings, he just doesn’t know who she is or where she is. And he doesn’t know about you” Jonathan explained with a bit of nervousness.
This was way too much to process at once. Tabitha just needed to get out of there. She really had no intention on trying to connect with some long lost fraternal incest twin….what the hell was this Game of Thrones?
The doorbell rang and snapped Tabitha out of her shock. She backed away from the door appalled and slipped into the kitchen to try to head out the patio door.
“AYEEEEEEEEEE!! Son!!!” Jonathan was quite chipper…he acted as if this were no big deal. Like producing offspring with your half-sister is just an every day thing in these streets…seriously?
“Pops!” Tabitha Froze.
“We gotta make this quick, I got a hot date tonight man. What’s this about?”
She dared not turn around, she didn’t need too. She knew it as soon as she’d heard his voice…but he confirmed it when he said her name.
“Tabitha?” her fraternal twin called out to her.
Mortified, she turned slowly praying she didn’t see the face she did…..
Tabitha’s heart dropped. She fell against the wall disgusted, enraged, heart broken….the man who’d given her the best night of her life turned out to not only be her brother, but her damn twin.
“Oh dear God. I’m going to be sick.”
Pt. II coming soon…..