“Bitch! You lyin!” Catina flew across the room towards her sister with such aggression that I almost hesitated to intervene. I’d never seen her this mad, and I certainly hadn’t heard her use that kind of language before, but I wasn’t surprised – Catina had always been a daddy’s girl.
“Catina!” I scrambled to throw myself between my offspring hoping to ward off the attack.
“No, mom! No! She’s not going to lie lik—”
“Catina, go to your room!” I rotated her shoulders and pointed her towards the door, “NOW!” I yelled as she hesitated, eyeing her sister, before she finally left the room. I closed my eyes and sucked in a deep breath before closing the door and turning to face my child.
I cocked my head to the side and clasped my fingers together in front of me, trying to maintain some sense of calm.
“Timaya.” I spoke calmly, curling my lips into one of those sympathy smiles you receive from strangers who don’t really want to smile at you, but do so as if they’re doing you a favor. “I may not know a lot of shit, but one thing I know are my children. I know when you’re telling the truth, and I know when you’re telling me a lie. And this….is a lie.”
Timaya darted her eyes around the room in a poor attempt to avoid my gaze. She chose to insist in her lies.
“When did it start?”
“…a…a few months ago…”
“…but earlier you said it started when you were ten…”
“I know, but …dad started when…”
“So, there are more?”
“I mean…yes,” she shook her head and closed her eyes. “I mean, it wasn’t umm…”
“ummmm?” I folded my arms across my chest and waited for the truth.
If I thought this were even a little possible, I would’ve called 911 and launched a detailed investigation of my own into every aspect of Derrick Michael’s life; but, I knew she was lying because of the way she averted her eyes when she “confessed”. She couldn’t even sell the damn story.
“I….” she looked around the room for help, “…I don’t know what you want me to say.”
“THE TRUUUUUUUUUUUTHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!” I yelled at the top of my lungs.
“I AM!!!” She screamed back.
Before I knew it, I’d slapped the poor child out of the chair she was sitting in and onto the floor. She screamed and clumsily attempted to drag herself into the closet, but I grabbed her leg and dragged her back towards me.
“Mooooooommm—-aaaaaacccckkkk—-” I interrupted her scream as I grabbed her by the neck. My actions were violent as was the rage I’d built up, but I no longer saw my child. I saw deceit…I saw betrayal…I saw disobedience…. I saw a person who was willfully choosing to hold on to her lies despite them crumbling all around her…I saw…. MYSELF.
Timaya lashed and kicked trying to get away but her efforts were futile. Even with a child growing inside she still no more than 110 pounds soaking wet. She had no defense against me – and we both knew it.
“MOM! MOM!!! STOP!!! YOU’RE GOING TO KILL HER! MOM!!” Catina’s voice attempted to break through my rage. “MOM!!!” I could feel her tugging at my arms, beating on my back, but I wasn’t there – I mean, I was…but I wasn’t.
The me that I knew was standing on the sidelines watching it all unfold, willing myself off my child, encouraging me to talk it out – think it through, have compassion. She wanted to intervene, to react rationally and be there for her child, but she couldn’t. She was overwhelmed. She was unable to cope. Therefore, she was pushed out, and the ‘other self’ showed up.
The ‘other-self’ was the opposite of everything I willed myself to be. She was irrational, impulsive, selfish, inconsiderate, unkind. She was a response to all the wrongs I endured in the world; she was the protector, the ride or die, the one who showed up when my usual self was ready to crawl in a corner and wail with tears of defeat.
“TELL ME THE TRUTH OR I’LL KILL YOUR LITTLE LYING ASS!” I snapped, just in time to feel large hands wrap around my waist and pull me off the child.
“WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU!” Lisa dragged me off Timaya and basically slung me against the wall.
“Aunt Lisa!” Timaya sounded relieved as if Aunt Lisa’s presence could somehow save her, “I told her…I told her just like you said, and she didn’t…she didn’t believe me.”
“What YOU said? What the hell is she talking about?” Lisa’s name had come up one too many times. She was much more involved in this than she initially let on. What kind of sister would keep something like this to herself?
“Shut up, Timaya.” Lisa snapped, cutting her eyes.
“No, you keep talking!” I snapped moving in Timaya’s direction. Lisa stepped in my way, using her wide hips – and even wider breasts – to block my path.
“She told you all that needs to be said. Why aren’t you calling the police.”
“She’s lying, Lisa!”
“She’s not. I know because I saw it with my own eyes.”
I felt as if someone had gut punched me and followed up with a chop in the throat.
“What the fuck is wrong with you, Lisa?”
“Yea…what is wrong with you? My dad didn’t do that!” Catina chimed in from the background where she hovered – with a scowl.
“No! What’s wrong with YOU? Your daughter is telling you what happened and you’re completely ignoring her…”
“Lisa….” I threw her a look of damnation, “…if you caught them…why didn’t you say something then?”
Lisa shrugged like I’d asked why she hadn’t saved me a plate, “I didn’t want to believe it. Until the other night when I put two and three together…”
“Then why didn’t you say something the other night!?”
“Because! It wasn’t my place!”
“….and yet it IS your place to take my child to doctor’s appointments?”
“YOU should be glad I did that…did you want CPS all in your house? All in your business? Snatching your kids? You should be thanking me!”
“THANKING YOU? You’re telling me you caught my husband raping his own child and you did nothing?!? YOU ENCOURAGED MY CHILD TO KEEP SECRETS FROM ME?! YOU TOOK MY CHILD TO GET MEDICAL HELP FOR A PREGNANT WITHOUT MY CONSENT…THANKING YOU?!? I SHOULD BE STOMPING YOU INTO THE GRAVE RIGHT NOW!”
“Listen…” Lisa threw her hands up in surrender and began to back away, “…you’re making a much bigger deal of this than need be. It’s not like Timaya is completely innocent. She is a developing young woman…it’s only normal that she tries out her passions on those closest t-”
“Don’t you dare! Don’t you DARE try to spin this shit and make this child out to be the seducer! Whatever the hell she did, said, wore, touched, insinuated, or even allowed should not have been enough to coax a grown ass man out of his pants! She’s a child!”
“She ain’t much of a child laying up here pregnant….”
“Lisa!” I rolled my neck around slowly, trying to collect myself, “…. she’s lying about Derrick. You and I both know it.”
“You just don’t want to admit you married a homosexual pedophile… you know all your kind are alike…”
I finally gave into my instincts and mushed her head into the wall. She stumbled over an end table before returning with a blow of her own. It landed right in my jaw. SHIT! I flinched, Lisa could hit, but that didn’t deter me. I lunged for Lisa’s neck like an angry cat, digging my unkempt nails into her skin. She retaliated by locking her fingers into my hair and yanking my head back with all her might. We were still locked in this painful position when Timaya interrupted us with her screams.
“OHMYGODSTOPITTTT!!!! I LIEDDDD! IT’S A LIE!!!”
Lisa released her grip and we both spun towards Timaya, our eyes wide with surprise.
“Timaya, shut up…” Lisa tried to mumble – poorly
“I lied, OKAY?!? I’m sorry! I’m sorry, Aunt Lisa, but this is too much! It’s all too much!”
“SHUT UP!’ Lisa hissed, threatening Timaya with her eyes.
“No, you shut up! You got me into this mess in the first place. Why didn’t you just let me tell her?”
“Tell me what, Timaya?”
“It was her idea to blame dad…I didn’t want to do it. She just didn’t want me to tell the truth because she’s trying to protect him.”
“She’s trying to protect who?”
“TIMAYA I SAID SHUT UP!” Lisa screamed at my child.
“NO, YOU SHUT UP AUNT LISA! I’m sick of you controlling me…you and him! Mom!” Timaya burst into tears and began to confess her soul. “I wasn’t lying when I said it started when I was ten. Except for the first couple of years it wasn’t any actual sex, because she…” Timaya pointed to her Aunt Lisa, “…told him he couldn’t touch me until I got my period.”
“Told…who…” I listened in horror, slowly turning my head to look at my sister who was inching toward the window, away from me.
“Deacon WHO?” Catina screamed. I burned within.
“Mya…Mya listen…she’s lying. You don’t know this child like you think you do—” Lisa began to stutter in the background.
“What are you talking about…?”
“Mom, I…I know I should have said something, but I was so scared…I didn’t know what to do.”
“She’s lying! You know how little girls are… Mya…I was once her, remember?”
I winced as I tried to separate the voices swirling around the room. Timaya’s truth, Lisa’s lies, Catina’s reactions to both – their voices whirled around in my head like a tornado, but I heard enough to know that my sister was a sick daughter-of-a-bitch: Lisa would invite my child to her house under the guise of having a “girl’s night” – and in the beginning they were – until she was around ten years old; that’s when Deacon Tompkins started joining them.
At first, she said, Lisa called it a game. The “rules” were she could only wear t-shirts and underwear around the house, along with lipstick and perfume. She’d force her to sit on Deacon Tompkins’ lap – in her underwear – and would tell her to “massage it” by gyrating her hips and grinding her pelvis into his “Make the magic stick appear!” she cheered my child to encourage the sick game along.
Then, one night, after she’d confided into her Aunt that she’d started menstruating, Deacon Tompkins climbed into the sofa bed with my child. Mid-way through the ordeal, Lisa chastised Timaya for crying and trying to fight back, before ordering her to put her face in the pillow if she contain herself. The next morning, Deacon Tompkins told her if she said anything, he’d make sure she’d regret it…and at eleven, I could see how big ass Deacon Tompkins could put enough fear in her heart to keep her afraid.
“I didn’t even know I was pregnant. Deacon Tompkins told me. He tried to find somewhere to have an abortion, but no one would do it without calling the police because I was so young. So Aunt Lisa came up with the plan for me to get drunk and sleep with the some boys at the church so we could blame the baby on them. When that fell apart, she came up with the plan to blame it on dad….”
“Timaya, I warned you! I warned you to keep your damn mouth closed. Didn’t I?” Lisa interrupted Timaya’s story and handed me her phone. “But since you didn’t…”
Lisa hit play on the screen and there before me was a video of Timaya, performing oral sex – with a smile – on Deacon Tompkin’s youngest son. Lisa swiped left and there was a photo of her posing topless, again with Deacon Tompkin’s youngest son plus two other boys I recognized from church. She swiped left once more and revealed a video of Timaya talking about her sexual escapades – clearly unaware that a camera was there.
“My mom’s completely oblivious. Sex is the best thing I was ever introduced to. People might say I’m young, but I am advanced in everything else I do, why wouldn’t I be advanced sexually too?” Timaya laughed and took a swig form a cigarette. She smoked?!?
“She thinks I’m still her little baby, if she knew I’ve been having sex since last year she’d die; the only thing my mom cares about is appearances, as long as I make her look good, I could be sleeping with the entire pulpit and she wouldn’t notice.”
Lisa snatched the phone back. “…and there’s plenty more where that came from. So, go ahead, call the police, tell the laws, do whatever you’re going to do – but understand you do so at your daughter’s expense. Deacon Tompkins only goes after the girls he knows are open – and believe me – Timaya was wide open well before Deacon Tompkins ever went inside. IF YOU WANT SOMEONE TO BLAME. LOOK IN THE MIRROR BABY GIRL.”
“You can threaten to do whatever you want with those tapes, distribute them and you’ll be hit with a child pornography charge so fast….in fact, just owning that video puts you at risk, so tell me again how you’re going to harm us with that….”
Check mate! I knew I’d backed Lisa into a corner, “Catina, call 9-1-1, then your father, then your grandparents – tell them all to get over here, ASAP!”
Catina moved quickly to grab her phone.
“I don’t think you want to do thatttt….” Lisa sang, she still had something up her sleeve. She was too calm for the situation.
“If I were you I’d shut up, it’s taking everything in me not to murder you as-is…and I mean that with all sincerity. Just shut up, Lisa.”
“No…you’re going to want to hear what I have to say…well, maybe you won’t; but, Derrick Michael…and your parents…and the church…and even, Barnard, would certainly love to hear about Catina’s true paternity.”
My mouth gaped. It’d been so long since anyone had brought that up that I’d almost forgotten about it myself.
“That’s alright, I’d almost forgotten too. Until I came across that letter you wrote all those years ago…. I was supposed to throw that away, huh? I always knew it would come in handy…. I just didn’t realize how handy.”
She grinned at me like she’d hit the Powerball. “Now if you’ll excuse me.” She brushed past me like we were strangers passing on the train, heading towards the door. Shame filled my soul at the release of a secret I’d thought I’d tucked carefully away. I fumed, silently, as I watched my monster-of-a-sibling slither away without so much as a crumb of remorse in her spirit ….
The last thing I remember was running behind Lisa, grabbing a lamp from the nightstand next to Timaya’s bed, and bringing it down as hard as I could on Lisa’s skull.
She can’t remember shit if she’s dead.