“How are you 25 weeks pregnant if you got pregnant at the lock-in that happened four months ago!” I slammed my hand into the steering wheel, slightly swerving the car.
“Mom, calm down. You’re going to wreck the car!” Catina warned, nervously from the passenger’s seat.
“Timaya!” I yelled looking through the rearview mirror, “Answer me!”
Timaya put her hands on her head and sobbed from the backseat. Sitting back there was the smartest decision she’d made in the past few months, because if she were within arm’s reach right now….
“Mom, please…just chill out. We can talk about this when we get home…” I was doing well over 75 down the freeway without a single concern for officers or accidents.
“You know what?” I turned my attention to my eldest child, “…since you have so much to say, why don’t you explain how your sister ended up in this predicament when she’s supposed to be under your supervision?”
“Wha…” Catina spat as if surprised, “…I didn’t…I….”
“Where were you that you didn’t even know your sister was having sex? And why didn’t you tell me when you found out? I thought I could trust you, Catina? What kind of incompetent, irresponsible foolishness is this!?” I raised my voice to an obscene level.
“…this isn’t my fault….” Catina folded her arms, mumbling in her seat.
I exited the freeway, still speeding, and barreled through a red light – almost hitting a car. I flew over the train tracks near the church, but quickly had to slam on the breaks when encountered heavy traffic two blocks from our home.
“Come onnnn!!!” I screamed and blared my horn in frustration. It was no use. Traffic was at a stand-still, there must be an accident ahead.
I took the opportunity to practice the deep breathing exercises lower my counter my stress. I rested my head against the seat and closed my eyes, inhaling deeply as I counted to five, then exhaling fully counting to five again. This act of mindfulness usually served to calm me down – not this time.
“Answer me!” I snapped, turning my anger back to Catina. Timaya sat silently in the backseat, cradling her belly. I made a mental note to schedule her for an abortion the following day.
“Why are you turning this on me? I didn’t do anything wrong….”
“You didn’t?” I balked, “Didn’t Antony say you helped him get her home that night? Hell…did “that night” even happen?”
“I mean….I….” Catina bowed her head and shook it back and forth before turning to look back at her sister.
“Don’t look at her, I’m talking to you…did it happen or didn’t it?”
“Well, I mean yes…unfortunately, it did…”
“…and you didn’t say anything?”
“…. because she swore me to secrecy!”
“SHE SWORE YOU? So, you’re more concerned with keeping her trust than the trust of your parents?”
“…YOUR SISTER WAS VIOLATED, AND YOU’D RATHER KEEP A SECRET AND HELP HER COVER IT UP?” I spoke faster than she could keep up.
“Mom…I told her to stay with me, but she went off wi-”
“Your father was there, why didn’t you go get your father if she wasn’t listening to you?” I pressed my foot on the gas; traffic was moving again – slowly.
“Mom, you really need to talk to TIMAYAAAA….” Catina’s threw an ugly look over her shoulder, but Timaya avoided her glare.
“I’m ASKING YOU!”
“I DON’T KNOWWWW DAMMIT! I’m NOT HER MOM! WHY DON’T YOU KNOW!”
Catina snapped under the pressure – clearly without thinking. Likewise, the back of my hand landed across her face before I realized what I’d done. Catina yelped and cradled her face in her palm; tears welled up in her eyes. Timaya fidgeted uncomfortably in the backseat. Awkward silence.
I’d never confess this, but Catina was right. She wasn’t a mom. She didn’t have any responsibilities to protect anyone’s child- or keep tabs on their chastity – sibling or not. This was my – NO, OUR – mistake; but my flesh wasn’t ready to carry that blame.
“I need to know what happened. Either you tell me the truth, or the police will drudge it up.” I looked in the mirror at Timaya, “…and you better believe once they get done, everyone’s secrets will be out.”
We made a left and drove a few moments along the tree lined street heading toward our home. I drove the speed limit past several brick and mortar family homes, children biking, and boys playing an intense game of flag football in the front yard of our neighbor’s home. I pulled all the way to the end of the driveway to keep anyone from catching a glimpse of Timaya’s belly.
“Here, take this.” I slipped out of my blazer and handed it Timaya, “You’ve been hiding it this long, no need to advertise to the world now.” I shamed her, intentionally. “Get inside. I’ll be in in a minute and I expect to continue the conversation you tried to avoid in the car.”
I had no purpose for staying in the car, I just wanted a moment to breath. I’d missed my massage thanks to my detour to meet Ameya, and as selfish as it seemed; I seriously considered sneaking away. If only I could explain it away…maybe tomorrow.
I forced myself out the vehicle and into my home to continue the interrogation, after I poured myself a drink in the kitchen. I could hear the girl’s muffled voices upstairs, it almost sounded like they were going back and forth. Probably trying to get their story together…
I went into the living room where I kicked off my shoes and sat for a moment reading the mail I’d grabbed from the bar. Student loans. Light Bill. Medical Bills. Donation request. Everybody was asking for money. I sighed and tossed the debts aside.
“Aite, girl. Stop stallin’,” I chided myself up the stairwell towards my daughter’s room. There voices met me at the top of the stairs.
“….I’m not going to keep covering for you. The shit has hit the fan, everybody covered, everybody stank – just tell the damn truth!”
“I already told you everything I can!”
“OHMIGAWD! You better be lucky your ass is pregnant, or I’d beat your ass myself How the hell can someone be so intellectually smart and so damn dumb at the same time?!”
I slowed my steps to a tiptoe as I neared Catina’s room where they were.
“I am sorry, I thought my plan would work I had no idea I was already pregnant!”
“You should have come to me when you found out you were pregnant in the first place and why won’t you tell anyone who the father is? Even me?!?!”
“You know mom is going to find out, whoever you’re protecting won’t be covered for long.” Catina forewarned. She was right.
“SHUT UP! JUST SHUT UP! SHUP UP!” Timaya began to sob. “I know, I knowwww! It was supposed to work; Aunt Lisa said the doctor said I was five months this week! That’s why we went with that plan.”
Lisa? I thought she said Carmen took her to the doctor…what does Lisa have to do with this?
“Aunt Lisa can’t help you anymore. Listening to her advice got you AND ME into this mess! Now there’s police involved, everybody going off, Antony and Jermel in trouble, and you’re pregnant and not even thirteen. This is baddddd, sis. BADDDDDD!” Catina sure has a lot to say about lying now, if only she’d felt this way when she first learned of her sister’s sins.
“I can’t say anything…” Timaya insisted.
“You got drunk and allowed three different boys to do things to you that you can’t even remember…and neither one of them are the father of your child – and you have NOTHING to say? NOTHING??”
“Just leave it alone, Catina!” I could hear the strain in Timaya’s voice.
Press Catina. Press! I begged silently. I pressed my ear against the wall near her door, not that it was necessary as loud as they spoke. They must’ve thought I was still in the car.
“I am NOT going to leave it alone. You’re going to tell me, or I’m going to tell mom everything I DO know….and I know enough…”
“YOU ARE NOT GONNA TELL MOM ANYTHING!”
“…well, tell me the truth!”
“FINE!” I heard feet stomp across the room; then a loud thump against the wall.
“I SAID NO!” Timaya’s voice was rigid…intense. I’d never heard her speak that way.
“WHAT THE HELL, MYA! THAT ALMOST HIT MY HEAD!”
“THAT WAS THE POINT!”
“OH, I’M REALLY TELLING MOM NOW!” I could hear Catina hasten her step towards the door.
“GO AHEAD… TELL MOM…AND I’LL TELL EVERYBODY HOW YOU AND JESSICA HUMP EACH OTHER NAKED AND KISS ALL THE TIME WHEN SHE COMES OVER AND THEY’RE NOT AROUND!”
WHATTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT???!?!?! I uttered silently, in surprise, from the other side of the door.
“I’M SORRY….” Timaya lowered her voice, “I won’t say anything if you leave it alone, but I have no choice if you tel-”
“Na, you’re trying to throw me under the bus to protect some idiot who won’t even come over to see if you or the baby is okay! What is it? Do you not know who the father is? Is that why you won’t say?”
Oh, dear God please no, please don’t tell me this child has had so many partners that she doesn’t know who the father is.
“Just…go….” Timaya was crying now.
“TELL THE TRUTHHHHH TIMAYA!” Catina made one last passionate plea.
Timaya responded with silence.
Before I had a chance to react, Catina snatched open the door to the room, revealing me eavesdropping outside the door. Horror filled Catina’s eyes, while Timaya let out an audible gasp and immediately picked up her phone.
“Unless you’re calling the donor of that thing in your belly, hang that damn phone up…NOW.” I pushed Catina back into the room and closed and locked the door behind me. “Ain’t nobody coming out or in, until you BOTH tell me the truth….”