“Do whatever you can to make this go away, even if that boy is telling the truth she was coerced into it.” I spoke in a firm voice, arms folded across my chest.
“You know I will, Amya; but I need you to be prepared. The young man’s story sounds credible. Attempted murder is a serious charge, regardless of her age or condition…” I flinched at the reference of Timaya’s pregnancy. “I can’t promise anything.”
I nodded and curled my lips into a weak smile while I waved good-bye. It took everything in me not to run in the house and drag Timaya by her hair until she gave me the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
“I didn’t even know she had a boyfriend….” I thought aloud re-entering the house.
“…maybe you’ve been too distracted with your own secrets.” Derrick brushed past me, heading for the living room. I sighed and closed my eyes.
I could feel a serious depressive episode lingering in the distance. The last thing I needed right now was a severe mental break to render me incapable of living.
“Everything alright in here, sis?” Ameya appeared, a genuine look of concern on her face.
“Dumb question.” I stared. “What do you think?”
She smiled like an uncomfortable White woman in an elevator of bulky Black men.
I headed to the living room where Derrick Michael sat with my older sister, Lisa, who was nursing her newborn without a cover. I stopped in my tracks, disgust filled my face.
“…any other time you’d have a covering over you to feed her….” I pursed my lips and shot her a dirty look.
“Any other time, I’d have prepared in advance to leave my home, but since we didn’t have time to do that. Here we are.”
“I have bathrooms and guest rooms, pick one.”
“I’m not feeding my child in a bathroom. Disgusting.”
“GO TO A GUEST ROOM THEN.”
“It’s BREASTFEEDING, it’s natural. I’m not going to inconvenience myself or my child because you’re uncomfortable with a natural part of life.”
“BLEEDING EVERY MONTH IS A NATURAL FUCKING PART OF LIFE, SHALL I CHANGE MY GOT-DAMNED TAMPON IN YOUR FACE?” I snapped, my patience on fumes.
“AMYA!” Lisa cringed. “Since when did you become so crass….”
“Since I found out my twelve-year-old is pregnant and allegedly trying to kill me!” I ranted. “Go to another room.”
Lisa smirked and continued cradling my niece in her arms as she breastfed.
“She’s almost done. I’m not going to interrupt her. You don’t like it, you can leave the room. No one else seems to have a problem with it. Right, Derrick?”
It wasn’t the breastfeeding I had a problem with. She knew this. I had a problem with her passive aggressive flirting with Derrick Michael. She was always doing something to get his attention and he was constantly oblivious. While it was true I didn’t want him, I also didn’t want her throwing herself at my husband, in my house, in my face, in front of my stranger of a twin sister. It made me look…. weak.
“Yea, it’s fine.” Derrick ignored her and continued tapping on his phone. He wasn’t even paying attention.
“You’re right, it’s fine.” Lisa said, detaching the child from her breast. “She’s done.” She took her time covering her nudity.
“Don’t you have somewhere to be?” I asked, wondering why she was here.
“No, I’m concerned about Timaya.”
“You’re here to be nosey and report back to your mother.”
“That too.” She shrugged, patting her daughter’s back in hopes of releasing a burp. “…and I wanted to get the tea on your body double here.” Her eyes moved behind me to Ameya.
“Right now, the only thing I’m concerned with clearing up this mess with Timaya. If you’re not here to help with that, you need to leave.” I folded my arms pacing the floor.
“What the hell do you mean “taking care” of her situation?” Derrick Michael chimed in just as Lisa was about to respond.
“You know what I mean.”
“I know you’re not talking about forcing an abortion….”
“I am talking about saving my baby from a huge mistake…” I raised my voice to bring my point home. She was twelve. TWELVE. She wasn’t even old enough for teen mom. TWELVE! I wasn’t having it.
“You’re talking about committing murder….” Lisa backed Derrick’s opinion, not that anyone asked.
“She’s twelve years old, she can’t carry a got damned child! I declared. I wasn’t having a discussion on this. I carried that body for nine months and went through twenty-three hours of hell to push her out. I deserved a say whatever she did with her body more than anyone.
“She made a mistake, you can’t pile sin on top of sin…” Derrick preached with persuasion.
“She piled sin on top of sin when she had sex, lied, and tried to have me killed. We’re a bit late on that part.”
“Amya you are not thinking clearly.”
“CLEARLY I’m the only person in this room thinking clearly if you’re seriously thinking about allowing her to go through with having this child. You will destroy her life if she has this child!”
“She will never get over it if you force her to abort that child!”
“This isn’t about YOU, Lisa. This is about my child. Back off.”
Lisa’s face filled with angst.
“Maybe you would know your child was pregnant if your nose wasn’t so far up Carmen’s ass before she died…or is that a gay man thing…nose up asses? I’m not really sure how it works.”
“Fuck you, Lisa.”
“No thanks. I’m not into dykes…that’s you.”
“LISA!” Derrick Michael grumbled. He hated when anyone reminded him of my love of women – and Lisa did it often.
“Yea….LISA….you might wanna chill out…” Ameya attempted playing peacemaker, but this offended Lisa and made things worse.
“…AND YOU ARE?”
“I’M MORE OF HER SISTER TO HER THAN YOU ARE….”
“YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW HER…AND SHE DON’T KNOW YOU. THIS IS FAMILY BUSINESS. WHY ARE YOU EVEN IN HERE?”
“I’M THE CLOSEST THING TO FAMILY SHE HAS IN THIS DAMN ROOM…”
Lisa smacked her lips, “Girl, gone head before I put this baby down. Get your stunt double sis…”
“PUT THE BABY DOWN THEN!” Ameya laughed and clapped her hands.
“DON’T TEST ME BITCH, BECAUSE I’LL BEAT THE —” Lisa cradled her child and continued talking shit.
“PUT THE BABY DOWN SISSSSSSSSSS,” Ameya clapped to enunciate each word, continuing in her laughter. She seemed to enjoy provoking people.
They went on like this for a good two minutes before Timaya appeared at the top of the stairs.
“I DID’NT DO IT!!!!” Her tiny voice struggled above the screams of her elders. “You’re all talking as if I did it and I didn’t do it. It’s all a big misunderstanding.”
Timaya ambled down the steps and stood in the middle of the room. For the first time in months she wore form fitting clothes; I was able to see the fullness of her belly. She had to be at least four months along. How hadn’t I noticed?
“No…baby…no one is saying you did anything.” Derrick Michael quickly moved to grab our daughter’s hand. His eyes were warm and understanding. Me on the other hand…
“Derrick, did you call Deacon Tompkins?”
“Yes, five times. He’s not returning my calls.”
“Why are you calling him” Lisa became concerned.
“It is his son.” I was annoyed with her presence. “I’m sure he must know about it. I think it’s odd he hasn’t called by now.”
“Maybe he’s dealing with his own legal stuff. Antony is probably facing a slew of charges, including statutory rape ….”
I shuddered at the thought of it. My child having the child of this eighteen-year-old man-child. It didn’t make any sense. Antony didn’t seem like the type. Of course, they don’t wear signs that say “HEY I’LL RAPE YOUR KID” but…him? I was surprised. Mya was several years younger than him and I’d barely seen him say two words to her anytime he was around. If anything, he had a crush on Catina, who had made it clear she was uninterested. If this were Catina standing before me with a gut full of Tompkins baking in her belly, I’d maybe consider the tale – but Timaya? The whole story didn’t sit right with me.
“How long have you known you were pregnant.” I asked my child, my eyes cold and hard.
“About two months.” She shuffled side to side, her hands in her pockets.
“…and you said nothing?”
“I…I didn’t think I would have it…”
“You didn’t think you’d have it?”
“I was going… trying to …” She cowered like a shamed puppy.
“You were trying to what….” I was unmoved.
“…to kil—get rid of it.”
“The hell you were.” Derrick interjected, his tone much harsher than before. “You think you can just commit a sin and cover it up? Don’t you remember what happened when King David tried that?”
I rolled my eyes and sighed. “Derrick, no….” Now was not the time for one of his sermons on the consequences of lust. She was now a living witness. “How were you going to get rid of it?”
“Antony was going to take me to a place…”
I looked at Catina who looked off into the ceiling as if she had something to hide. This wasn’t the entire story.
“I’ve never seen you and Antony so much as wave at one another at church…you expect me to believe you lost your virginity and got pregnant by this boy” I reasoned.
“When did it start? Does Deacon Tompkins know?” Derrick demanded.
“Do you know how far along you are?” Lisa queried.
“Have you been to the doctor?” Derrick again.
“Why didn’t you come to us…?” We all spoke at once.
We grilled her with questions one after the other. Instead of answers, we got tears and incoherent talk. I grew so annoyed that I ended up striking her across the face, sending her falling into the chair behind her. This sent Lisa and Derick into an uproar and Ameya eventually pulling me from the room.
“You’ve got to calm down.”
“I don’t have to do shit.”
“Yes, you do. She’s still a child and she’s carrying a child.”
“THAT’S THE GOT DAMNED PROBLEM! SHE’S A DAMN CHILD!”
“Look, I know you’re upset…”
“Do you? How many kids you have again?” Sarcasm hung from my face like loose sin.
“Okaaaaayyyyyy…..” Ameya flicked her tongue in her cheek. “…you’re upset. I’m going to let that go.”
“Gee, thanks.” My tone was tepid.
“Just…. let’s talk to your daughter. She’s pregnant. She’s not the first child to get pregnant and she won’t be the last. It’s not the end of the world.”
“She’s not some sixteen-year-old in love with her boyfriend who made a mistake, SHE’S TWELVE….AND SHE HAD THE NERVE TO TRY TO COVER IT UP! I don’t know what I’m more pissed at – the fact that she’s pregnant, the fact that she lied, or the fact that because of all this someone tried to kill me to cover it up – and she may have been involved! OOOOOOHHHHHHHHHH”
The rage building up inside me was enough to blow up a building. I hadn’t felt this level of anger in a very long while. I kicked a hole into the wall and smashed a vase. This wasn’t normal anger, I could tell this was bipolar rage – an entirely different level of anger that was dangerous for all involved.
“I can’t do this…. I can’t keep taking these hits. I’m struggling…” I admitted, clasping my head. “Shit, I wish I could just…UGHHHHH!!!!”
Ameya allowed me the privilege of wallowing in uninterrupted pity for several moments. I appreciated the silent support. I dug my nails into my skin, trying to release some of the pain. I thought about cutting, there was a box of blades in the bathroom upstairs.
“NO!” I denied myself and physically shook my head.
“Huh?” Ameya looked at me, confused.
“I’m sorry.” I spoke in a calmer tone. “It’s just all so…overwhelming. I don’t know where to start emotionally. All this shit is hitting me at once.”
My sister came and sat next to me, taking my hand into hers. She gave it a soft squeeze. It felt genuine. I needed genuine.
“I don’t know how you feel; but I am concerned about you.”
“What can I do to help?”
“Can you take me away from all this shit? Can you reverse time and help me stop my daughter from drastically altering her life?”
“If you want to get away, I can help you with that.”
“How?” I looked at her like she’d grew another nose.
“How? Just say when.”
“When?” I called her bluff.
“You’re seriously talking about running away in the middle of a family crisis…”
“I’m talking about saving myself from a bipolar breakdown thanks to all this stress…”
“mmm….” Ameya pondered for a moment, then opened her mouth to speak, “…well, there is a wa—”
“Amya, Deacon Tompkins is pulling up…in case you can compose yourself enough to join us.”
A lump formed in my throat. “Put a pin in that and STAY HERE. PLEASE. I DO NOT need this man seeing you.” I begged Ameya who promised to remain out of site.
I hurried to catch up with my other sister who lead me to the front porch where we waited for the Deacon to join us. After a few minutes he arrived with a disheveled Antony in tow.
“Why is he here? Why is he not in jail?” I challenged, glaring at his son.
“Now, now, Amya…calm down. I know you’re upset, but it’s not what you think. Antony came to explain himself.” Deacon Tompkins exited his car looking like a presidential candidate.
“He can explain whatever he needs to the police, sleeping with a twelve-year-old is rape!”
“I didn’t sleep with Timaya though!” Antony spoke up, conviction in his voice. “I wasn’t even there. She may have thought it was me, but it wasn’t. I just brought her home. That’s how I got her house key.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Timaya wasn’t out with me. She was with Jermel…well she was with a bunch of people, but Jermel was there. That’s how I got involved.”
That made much more sense. Jermel was fourteen and it was no secret in our home that Timaya had a huge crush on him. Still, she hadn’t hung out with him anywhere that I’d known.
“What are you talking about? You’re the one down at the police station claiming she asked you to help her kill me!” I spoke loudly, forgetting we were still outside.
His eyes widened, “That’s not what I said! They asked me if I knew of any reason Timaya would want to harm you and I mentioned she’d talked to me about the pregnancy; but only because Jermel came to me when he found out. Ask Catina. She knows. She’s the one who helped me get her in the house that night.”
“CATINA!” Derrick Michael rushed through the door like a madman with everyone in tow. We ended up back in the living room where the baby was sleeping in a portable crib. That nap was about to end.
“Why is Antony saying you knew about your sister’s pregnancy?”
“I ….I…. didn’t know, I mean I did but….”
“…and you didn’t say anything?”
“I mean I told Aunt Carmen… and she said…she…”
“Yes.” Timaya chimed in from the couch. I hadn’t even noticed her sitting there. “I knew she wouldn’t blow up, so I went to her first. She took me to the clinic, that’s how I know I’m almost five months.”
“FIVE MONTHS?!” I wanted to slap her ass again.
“Next week.” She admitted.
“This is just disgraceful.” Lisa judged from the background.
“…so, this is Jermel’s child?”
“…could be…” Antony shrugged.
“…or it could not be…” Deacon Tompkins scowled at his eldest son and rocked back and forth on his heels. “Timaya. Tell your mother what you told Ms. Carmen.”
Timaya nodded like a trained puppy and begin to speak, “I’m not sure who the father is….” She looked up at her father, then at Deacon Tompkins. “… because I was with more than one person.”
“EXCUSE ME?!” I balked.
“That’s right.” Deacon Tompkins was clearly patronizing us. “Unfortunately, your daughter has been quite busy, its not just my son she’s enticed.”
“Enticed?! You make her sound like some sort of…”
“Jezebel? Well…what else do you call three different boys in a single night?”
Typical church folk. Blame the girl. Excuse the boy. Even if my daughter had invited three different boys to sleep with her in one night, why is judging the boys for their lack of morality? Despite my feelings regarding the double standard, I taught my girls they were ultimately responsible for their own bodies and actions at all times!
“What is he talking about Timaya?”
“I….” She began to cry again, “…I don’t know what happened…I just….”
“You better recall that shit and recall it quickly!” I yelled grabbing my head to keep from grabbing her.
“Stand up and speak child!” Lisa was now cradling the baby on her hip. The commotion woke her up as expected.
“Just tell them what happened, Ty, mom will understand. Just tell the truth.” Catina pleaded.
Timaya continued crying while the last bit of patience I had ran out. Derrick Michael paced across the floor mumbling what sounded like a prayer, while Lisa mentally recorded the entire situation to report back to our parents. Meanwhile, Deacon Tompkins stood stoically with a look of condemnation on his face while Antony fidgeted nervously… like he had something to hide. Catina stood next to her sister, rubbing her back in an act of support as she wept in repentance; shame clouded her delicate baby-like features. I almost to feel sorry for her. ALMOST.
“Timaya! Speak!” Derrick Michael yelped, causing Timaya to jump. Still, she didn’t speak. I was two seconds from grabbing her by the collar when she finally found the courage to open her mouth.
“I was drinking at the lock-in. It was a group of us – Me, Jessica, Catina, Lauren, Terrence, Brandon, Traneka, Rachel, Jermel, Moses and Prince….” She hesitated and looked at her sister, who urged her on.
“I guess I had too much or something… because some things happened next that I …I …well, there’s a video.”
“A WHAT?” Derrick Michael’s eyes grew wide, but he was looking at Deacon Tompkins. His neck was strained, fists balled, he appeared to be restraining himself.
“Yes, according to my son it was circulating around the youth department. I’ve already asked the youth leaders to address it.” Deacon Tompkins puffed his chest like he’d done something special.
“What?” Lisa squealed behind him, “Harold why would you ask them to do that? We could’ve handled that privately!”
Harold? Since when did we start calling Deacon Tompkins by his first name? Deacon Tompkins noticed too because he shot her a cross look. Lisa shrank back and quickly corrected herself.
“I mean…I’m sorry, Deacon. I didn’t mean to disrespect, I just think something of this magnitude should’ve been handled as discreetly as possible.”
“As do I.” The Deacon’s face relaxed. “That’s why I moved quickly. It’s already been shared among some of the kids in the church…”
I damn near fell into the wall. The woman who raised me would have a field day with this.
“I sent it to my lawyer before we came here, and he passed it on to the police. You should receive a call about it from your lawyer soon.” Deacon Tompkins’ tone was formal, as if dealing with a general business matter.
“Look…we came to give you the heads up before you get the call. The tapes are good for us, but …damning for her. The tape shows Timaya was completely awake and consenting during her …encounters…. so, whatever happened that night, it wasn’t a crime.” Antony spoke to me with genuine concern in his voice and gripped my arm. “At least not one you can see on that tape. I’ll leave it for her to tell you the rest…”
Antony’s eyes locked into mine as if he was trying to pass along a coded message, but I wasn’t deciphering the code. I made a face that told him I didn’t understand. He squeezed my arm again. Deacon Tompkins clenched his jaw.
“Let’s go, Antony.” He commanded Antony to the door. Wait…no!
“…that doesn’t clear your son from coming into my home and trying to strangle me.” I failed attempt at stalling, I was trying to think of a way to get Antony away from his father; he clearly had more to say, he just couldn’t say it in front of his father.
“That was a simple ah…misunderstanding…but our lawyers will explain all of that in the coming weeks. “
“A simple misunderstanding? Your son possibly had sex with my child and came into my house and tried to strangle me and you want us to call it a “misunderstanding”? With all due respect Deacon…”
“No, with all due respect to you, because I’m in your house and out of respect for your parents I’m not going to tell you what I really think about all of this…or your daughter. Now this isn’t going to become some witch hunt to ruin the lives of young men all because some little girl couldn’t hold her liquor and tried to sloppily cover her tracks.”
He spoke about Timaya as if she wasn’t even in the room.
“You want to blame someone for your daughter’s condition? Start by looking in the damn mirror and ask yourself why it took you literally being hit over the got damned head for either of you to recognize your child was pregnant – and even then, you only found out because the police told you. I can see how I wouldn’t know a boy was having sex, but girls? A pregnant girl? You didn’t notice? What kind of mother are you? My condolences on your daughter’s promiscuity…” He tipped his head. “Derrick Michael, please see us out.”
He was right. A father is just as much responsible for child’s life as a mother; but a daughter being pregnant right under her mother’s nose – for five months – and the mother doesn’t notice? What was I doing?
Growing up, if my period was more than two days late my mo—stepmom – was up my ass. Hell, if I gained weight in my hips I had to go through several rounds of questioning to prove I was just gaining weight and not “growing life”.
Meanwhile, my child made it through an entire first trimester by hiding under baggy clothes; which I noticed, but purposely failed to address because I figured it some “teenage insecurity she’d get over, eventually” – translation, I didn’t feel like being bothered with the teenage drama. Now, I desperately wish I had.