“I told you officers…” I said, sitting on the couch holding an ice pack to my head. “I’m pretty sure it was my mother. We were fighting earlier. I had to restrain her; she pretended to be gone, and attacked me.”
“I DID NO SUCH THING!” I heard my mother’s voice boom from behind me. I hadn’t realized she’d returned. One of the girls likely called her once they found me.
“Well who else did it then, mother?” I snapped, rubbing the back of my head.
“Probably one of your little friends.” She smirked and eyed my girls.
“But it wasn’t me.” She continued, “I have no reason to murder my daughter. The burdens that come with it certainly outweigh the benefits.”
“Seriously?” She did not know when to quit.
“Trust me, honey. I wouldn’t have been so sloppy and you wouldn’t have been so lucky; but if you put your hands on me again….”
“Excuse me ma’am.” One of the investigating officers interrupted my mother. “We’re kinda in the middle of something serious here, could you all hold off on your family issues until we’ve had a chance to speak to everyone?”
“You all couldn’t possibly believe I had something to do with this…?” My mother’s mouth gaped and she literally clutched the pearls around her neck. I rolled my eyes.
“Oh, Mrs. Tibideaux, it’s just routine questioning, standard procedure to rule out those who’ve been in the home.”
My mother was well-known by the police force in our community thanks to her #ThankAnOfficer campaign. It was a big hit among the conservatives and law enforcement, which made my mother proud. My mother, a staunch supporter of “family values”, was a hard nose conservative who believed police brutality was an answer to what she called, “the brutality of the thug mind”.
Of course, I didn’t agree.
“We’ll still need a statement from you regarding anything you saw, maybe before you left, even if you think it not important…an odd car outside, a stranger on the street, anything is helpful.”
“That’s fine.” She took a seat in a chair nearby and crossed her legs. “As you can see I have nothing to hide.”
I turned to get a good look at her. She didn’t look disheveled, as if she’d tried to clean up after an attack. She still had on the same clothes with every hair in its respective place. Maybe she was telling the truth.
“Is anything missing?” I asked, looking around. There had been a few break-ins in the area a few months back. This could’ve had something to do with that, “Did anyone check?”
Both of my daughters shrugged and continued typing in their phones. You’d think they I’d just fallen and bust a knee as cool as they were.
“AHEM!” I loudly cleared my throat and slammed my free hand on a table. My girls jumped to attention. “I SAID DID ANYONE CHECK?” Translation: GET YOUR ASS UP AND GO CHECK MY HOUSE. They understood.
The girls went off to search the house, each with an officer in tow. My mother went outside to speak with some of the officers, while I continued receiving treatment for my injuries.
“Ma’am we highly recommend you allow us to take you to ensure there’s no internal damage.”
“I highly recommend you just let me be. I’m fine.” I said, moving the ice pack to the front of my head. There was a huge knot forming from where I’d hit the floor after I was hit from behind.
“No one knows how long you were unconscious. We want to run more tests to ensure you didn’t….”
“I SAID I’M OKAY. You act like I’ve been shot. Damn.”
“AMAYA! OMIGODAREYOUOKAYWHATHAPPENED!” Derrick Michael arrived right on time, dramatic as usual.
“I’m fineeee….I’m fineeee.” I insisted. He bypassed me and went straight to the EMT to ask how I was. He agreed I needed to go to the hospital, despite my objections, and by the time he involved my mother I found myself on the back of an ambulance heading to the damn ER.
After several hours of “tests” I was cleared to go home with minimal damage and a hefty insurance bill.
“You’ll be sore for a while, but overall you’re very lucky. Whatever they hit you with could’ve caused serious damage had they hit just a few inches lower. You must have friends in high places.” The doctor smiled and moved her eyes toward the ceiling.
“You can get back to your regular life as soon as your body is up to it, but I do recommend staying in bed for at least 48 hours to allow your body time to rest and heal.”
“Whatever, you say. Just please let me go home.” I was exhausted, frustrated, and violated.
I’d since learned nothing of value was taken from the home, leading the police to believe it may have been targeted. I was passed out for three hours before my daughters found me; if theft was the reason, they had plenty of time to get all they wanted – yet the things they took were…dumb. We had jewels, large electronics, expensive art, flat screens, even cash laying around — yet those things were untouched. Missing, were things from my daughter’s rooms: a digital camera, two backup cellphones, an apple watch and an iPad.
“Seems staged.” Derrick Michel said as we were heading home, my daughters rode with my mother, so I could stretch out in the back of Derrick’s SUV.
“Why would anyone need to stage something and attack me?”
“I don’t know…I’m just trying to figure it out….”
“Well…don’t. I don’t need you playing detective. Thanks.”
I wanted to ride the rest of the way in silence. Give my mind a chance to think. But of course, he didn’t get it.
“Maybe we should stay at your parents tonight, until the police have a chance to sort this thing out.”
Was he fucking serious?
“Are you telling me you’re scared to go home?”
“Then why would we need to go stay at my parents?”
“What if someone comes back –”
“You’ll defend us.”
“Isn’t that what MEN do? You’re the one who wants to play the role so bad. PLAY IT.”
“I am playing the role, but that don’t mean I wanna get my head bust either. Hell. What good will that do either of us?”
“You really want me to answer that?”
He knew enough to say nothing.
The following evening, my daughters returned to business as usual, while my mother had come over to prepare dinner since I was on orders to rest.
“I have no idea, but I wonder if it could be related to Carmen’s situation?” I was on the phone with my lawyer trying to explain what I could remember about the day’s attack. On the ride home Derrick mentioned how bazaar it was that Carmen was murdered and I attacked, in such short time. Our usual crimes are graffiti and a spike in car break-ins around the holidays, but a murder and an assault of two women in the community? Unheard of!
“We won’t know until we investigate, but I will check my sources to see if the police are able to make a connection. Sorry to say it, but your being attacked might save your ass in this case. Let’s hope.”
“If it helps solve Carmen’s case, it’s a small price to pay.” I smiled weakly, looking at Carmen’s photo sitting next to my bed. I still hadn’t had time to grieve with all the shit going on.
“I’ll give you a call tomorrow once I know something. You get some rest for now and don’t worry about a thing, you know I got you, girl.”
I hung up just as my mother entered the room. I still wasn’t speaking to her.
“I made some oxtail stew, are you ready to eat?”
I said nothing.
“Fine.” She slammed a bowl down next to the table and proceeded to storm out of the room, before doubling back.
“Mother…I’m not in the mood for your…”
“Amaya, if I didn’t kill you when I found out about your relationship with Carmen and Barnard, why would I try to kill you now?”
I knew she hadn’t tried to kill me. My mother was many things, but a murder, she was not. Still, I wasn’t livid at the way she’d disrespected my home by nearly destroying my damn room. I was a grown ass woman with damn near grown ass daughters, and still treated me like a child.
“Is this really what you think of me? That’d I’d try to murder you? What kind of mother do you think I am?”
“The controlling kind.” I retorted sarcastically.
“I knew things were bad between us, but not this bad.”
“Well…here we are. Thanks for the food.” I confess, I was hungry, and my mother could cook her ass off. I struggled to sit up, but I refused to ask for help.
My mother shook her head. “After all we’ve done –hell all we still do—you really think so little of me?”
“Look, I thought I heard something that led me to believe it was you.”
“What could you have possibly heard that would make you think…”
“It doesn’t matter. It wasn’t you. I know this now, and I’m sorry for that. But I will not apologize for restraining you. You cannot continue to put your hands on me. I don’t care how angry you are.”
My mother took a deep breath and nodded her head.
“You’re right.” She mumbled.
“What?” I responded, surprised. I’d never had the pleasure of hearing those words from her.
“You’re right.” She spoke louder.
“O..oh…” was all I could muster.
“I was harsh when I arrived on the scene, I know. But you have no idea how afraid I was, hearing someone had attacked you…how quickly I flew here to be with you…”
I swore I saw water in her eyes…was she about to…cry?
“…and when I walked in and heard you saying I’d attacked you…I was…was…I don’t know. Hurt, stunned, angry…I lashed out when I should’ve been a mother, and I’m sorry.”
I filled my mouth with a spoonful of the savory soup while avoiding her gaze.
“Thanks.” I didn’t really know what else to say.
“…and don’t worry.” She continued, “I haven’t said anything to your father. You’ll get your monthly deposit as usual.” That was a relief.
Ever Derrick Michael concluded God had “called him” to the pulpit, he’d given up working to pursue said ministry full time. Except, ministry didn’t pay much – unless you were the likes of a mega-pastor, which he wasn’t. I made a lucrative living as a marketing executive, but the strain of maintaining an upper middle-class lifestyle on one income was a burden that I sometimes fought to bear. My parents helped us out – A LOT: the girl’s schooling, mortgage, car notes, student loans…
Once, things got so bad that I had to borrow money for groceries – at which point my father decided to give me a monthly stipend to spare me the embarrassment of having to ask. It was supposed to be a temporary thing, but three years later I was still dependent on that check. Thanks to Derrick Michael’s decision to work for pennies full time, my pay increase only served to cover the income we lost when he stopped earning a regular paycheck.
If my parents cut us off, my lifestyle would change – drastically. I refused to accept that.
“…and I just want us to be alright….” I realized my mother was still talking as I’d drifted off in thought. “Amya…Did you hear me?”
“I have something to tell you…”
“Oh….” Her face was serious. She seemed concerned.
“I’m sorry, I got stuck in my mind for a minute…”
“Mmmph.” She nodded slightly and pursed her lips. For a moment, she appeared much older than normal. I noticed the lines invading her once wrinkle-free skin and a significant amount filled her head. She looked at me; her eyes loitered for a moment as if gazing upon my face for the last time.
“Oh god…mom…please don’t tell me you’re dying!” My eyes widened, and I gripped the blanket with my left hand. True, we had our problems, but what kind of psychopath would want to see their mother dead?
“Oh dear God no…” She brought her hand to her chest, but with less drama than usual. “But…you might wish that were the case when you hear this.” She sighed heavily, placing her face in her hands, and taking a deep breath.
“Just spit it out mother….my best friend was just brutally murdered, and someone just bust my ass over the head in my own home. I don’t think anything else can hurt me right now.”
She let out a melancholy laugh and fidgeted with her hands a moment more. I cleared my throat in impatience.
“I don’t really know how to tell you this. Just understand, I love you very much.”
Aww hell. Whenever someone started some shit with “I love you very much” it was usually followed by some bullshit that makes you question the hell out of said love.
“What is it, mom?” I said with an annoyed tone. I didn’t mean to go from such a tender moment back into bitch mode, but her dragging this out was only making things worse. Just spit it out already.
She got up and quietly peeked out the door, then close and locked it. She then proceeded to turn on the TV and turn the volume up just loud enough to keep us from potential eavesdroppers. Once satisfied, she knelt on the side of the bed, right in front of me, and took my hands into her own.
“Shortly after your older sister was born, your father and I separated. We were talking divorce. This was before we knew the Lord as we do today. We both had dalliances with other people whenever we were separated, which I’m not proud of — him more so than me.” She clenched her jaw waiting for me to speak, but I said nothing. She continued.
“Your father had a lover who became pregnant with twins.” She stopped speaking and stared at me. I stared back. “One of them was you, Amya….”
Huh? My brain spoke, but my mouth remained still.
“…. I could only handle one.” Her voice continued in my ears…
“Are you telling me…” I thought I was thinking, but I was actually speaking…
“Yes…Amya.” She lowered her eyes in shame. “I lied. Ameya is your twin sister.”
“You had twins?” I’d heard her say my father had a mistress who got pregnant with twins, but my brain wasn’t able to accept that. Not my father. No way. If my mother had twins and one was given up, it was because she did something. There was no way in hell my father would ever…
“You’re not my biological child, Amya.”
“I’m not WHAT?” I raised my voice in outrage and snatched my hand from hers.
“SHHHHHH” She cautioned, her eyes on the door. I could hear someone in the hallway. Likely Derrick Micheal’s nosy ass.
“Wha….how? But Ameya said our dad is her fa–” I lowered my voice to a whisper, eager to obtain the rest of the story.
“Ameya doesn’t know what she’s talking about. She can’t tell you a truth she doesn’t know.” She peered towards the door again, then leaned in and lowered her voice. “I’d suffered a miscarriage a few weeks before we learned his lover was pregnant. She was also married, it was too late to get an abortion, and her husband had just come home from a lengthy deployment. There was no way she could pass off the pregnancy as his.
“So, they confessed; and I agreed to raise the child because she didn’t want kids nor did her husband. I’d wear a fake belly and claim I was in a high-risk pregnancy and had to go into hibernation. Once the child was born, I’d return home with the new baby, and I’d raise the child as my own. Only immediate family would know the truth. I only had two stipulations: your dad could have nothing to do with your birth mother, and once the child was born, we’d forever ceased contact.
“We didn’t find out there were two of you in there until she was mid-way through the pregnancy.” She paused and narrowed her eyes, “Daryl was your birth mother’s husband – not your father. When we learned she was having twins, they wanted us to take you both, but I knew I could only handle one of you. It was hard enough agreeing to allow one reminder of your father’s weakness living in my home, I certainly didn’t need two.”
“If this is true,” I said between shaky breaths, “…why are we hiding it from dad?”
“Because…” She averted her eyes, “your father doesn’t know about your sister. I told you he only knows what I told him. Which is, she gave birth to one beautiful baby girl – YOU. Had he known about Ameya, he’d have demanded I accept her too…or give him up. And I couldn’t take that risk.”
“WHAT?” I was appalled at her selfishness!
My mother seriously confessed to intentionally keeping a daughter and father apart their entire lives because SHE couldn’t deal with it? I knew my mom was cold, but I had no idea she was capable of this level of heartlessness. I opened my mouth to speak and choked on the air. I was so horrified by the grandness of her deceit, that I couldn’t even think of anything to say.
She sensed my judgement and reached for my hands. I cringed and pulled away. In a matter of minutes, she’d told me she wasn’t my mother, confessed to lying to my father, and to ripping a father and daughter apart to protect herself. I don’t want to hold your damn hand woman…
“Amya, I had to make a choice. I could save my marriage and give one of you the life you deserved or walk away and start over. I made my choice, and I chose you and me…over her. I chose you, Amya. I chose us!”
I frowned at the site of her. Everything she’d groomed me to be…honest, compassionate, selfless, pure…she wasn’t! In fact, I didn’t know anything about this woman except that she wasn’t who she claimed to be – my mother. I wanted nothing to do with her…in fact, I wanted – no needed- her out of my space, stat.
“No…you didn’t choose me. You chose yourself. You chose yourself over me, over Ameya, over dad…everyone; then you lied! And you carried those lies year after year, decade after decade… what kind of woman does that?”
“I know…I know, it sounds so bad, but I really didn’t mean to—Amya, please understand.”
“Just go!” I put my hand up and pointed towards the door.
“I don’t want any more secrets between us.
“Get out…” I pointed my finger and looked over her head.
“…this is why I didn’t want to tell you. I knew you’d take it all wrong and overreact…” she carried on, each word making me more upset.
“Overreact? I raised my voice. Get out.” My voice was firm, but calm. I needed her gone and gone, now! How dare she try to minimize my feelings after decades of lies.
“Amya, if you would just listen to me….”
“GET OUTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!!!’ I yelled and smashed the bowl of soup against the wall in anguish. “Get OUT!!!”
Derrick Michael ran into the room to see what was happening, but there was nothing he could do.
“Get her out of this house and don’t let her return. Get her out.” I said trying to get up off the couch. Derrick Michael rushed to try and restrain me, ME! I wanted to spit in his face.
“I asked you to get her out of my house and you’re over here restraining me?!?”
“What in the hell is wrong with you, Amya? This is your mother!”
“Is it?” I asked, incredulously. “Are you sure about that?”
Fearing her secrets would be exposed, my mother threw her hands in the air finally exited the room. Derrick Michael followed, hopefully to see her lying ass out the door, but threatened he’d be back shortly to discuss my actions and clean up my mess. As soon as they exited the room, I grabbed my phone and dialed in a rush.
He answered on the third ring, “Hey baby…how are you.”
“Hi Dad, none of that matters. Are you somewhere you can talk right now? It’s really important.”
“Ahhhh…well…I was in the middle of a meeting with –”
“Never mind that Dad, are you alone?”
“Hold on now, hold on…” I could hear him tell someone he’d be back in a few minutes before the background noise subsided, and he returned to the phone, “Okay, baby…you okay? Your momma told me about someone breaking into your home. You know we all here praying for you at the conference…”
“Yes, Dad. And I appreciate that.” I didn’t bother to hide the urgency in my voice. “Look, I’m sorry but your wife just told me something that I think you need to know.”
“My wife? Oh Lord, what are you and your mother fighting about now?” I could hear him breath heavily through the phone.
“You can cut the bullshit dad, I know she’s not my mother; I know all about your little affair.”
My father nearly choked on the other end of the phone, “Girl, what?!”
“Yes, your wife told me everything. About your lover and her husband and the pregnancy and how you made her accept me…”
“…about how she’s not my biological mother….”
“Is this some kind of joke—”
“…or the fact that I have a twin sister that even you know nothing about…”
THAT got his attention. The thickness of the silence on the line nearly convinced me he’d hung up, until he cleared his throat.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about…”
“She just left here, Dad. She told me everything. She also told me that she didn’t tell you about my twin sister Ameya, because she knew you’d want to keep us both, and she didn’t need “two reminders” of your “weakness” in her home. – her words.”
My father’s tone was strained, “I will not allow you to assassinate my character in this way. Especially when you have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Why do people do this? Why do people lie when they can clearly hear you already know the truth? It’s like asking if it’s raining while standing outside in a damn thunderstorm. Dumb.
“That’s your concern? I just told you, you have a child out there you’ve never laid eyes on and you’re first thought is about your reputation? Dad? Seriously?”
“You do not know what you are talking about Amya. Have I ever lied to you…don’t you trust me…?”
“This morning I did, before I found out you’ve been lying to me along with that woman you married, my entire life.
“You better watch your mouth, Amya.”
“What? It’s true isn’t it?”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about…”
“Well tell me the damn truth!” I snapped out of frustration. I was tired of going back and forth and getting nowhere.
“GOT DAMMIT AMYA! YOU JUST CAN’T LEAVE WELL ENOUGH ALONE CAN YOU?!? I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT! I’ve never had an affair!”
“Why would lie?”
“I have no idea, honey. Have you spoken to your doctor—”
“DO NOT patronize me dad. Mom confessed, she told me everything why would she need to lie on you?”
“Amya, I’ll take care of this when I get home this evening. Can we just drop it for now?”
“Drop it? I just told you your wife told me she’s not my mother and that you have an entire daughter you’ve never even met because your wife purposely, kept you apart!”
“I already told you, I didn’t have an affair with anyone! Now, we can talk about this later. I have to go.” He stressed the “go” part before hanging up the phone.