“It’s a simple question, Derrick. Is Sondra your child or not?”
Derrick’s face turned red and his top lip began to sweat. He only did that when he was worried or lying. That was all I needed to see.
“Amya, let’s talk about this upstairs.”
“It’s a yes or no question, Derrick.” I growled. “IS SHE, OR IS SHE NOT, YOUR CHILD!?”
Derrick lowered his eyes while the room fell silent – even Merline seemed to be taken by surprise.
“Mmmm…” I sucked my teeth. His avoidance was a yes. If she weren’t, Derrick Michael would have denied the charge to the ends of the earth – especially in front of the good Reverend and his First Lady.
“Dear God, what is going on with this family?” My father grabbed his chest and leaned against the wall.
“Oh, Derrick Michael how could you!” Merline’s voice was full of indignation.
Derrick’s face filled with panic; his flaws were showing and he needed a scapegoat. “I was only weak because she’s refused my advances for the past two years! It was better Lisa than some ma—” Derrick Michael caught himself as his eyes fell on our daughters.
“You can stop the façade Derrick. They know more than you know. TRUST.”
“Listen…I didn’t mean to come over in the middle of whatever this is…so I’ll just come back another time. Aite?” Ameya interrupted.
“No, Ameya. It’s fine. I’m done here anyway. Timaya and Catina, go upstairs and pack an overnight bag, we’ll come back for more things in the morning.”
“Amya, if you think you’re leaving this house….”
“Don’t you dare try to tell me what to do. Your concern is upstairs, drugged out of her battered ass mind, in my bed. You can move the bitch in for all I care….I’m done.” I noticed the girls still standing by the stairs. “What the hell are y’all still standing there for? I said go pack a bag! Now!”
Timaya and Catina exchanged awkward looks but still didn’t bother to excuse themselves from the room. A look of hesitation rested on both their faces.
“You’re not dragging my daughters to some god awful hotel when they are perfectly safe, right here!”
“PERFECTLY SAFE?” I gasped and pointed at Timaya, “….you allowing a grown ass man to rape and impregnate your child is keeping her SAFE?”
“…AND WHAT ABOUT YOUUU?! WHERE WERE YOU!!”
“This is not about ME!” I screamed, hoping to change the subject. “It doesn’t matter. I said let’s go. I mean it. Now!”
I quickly moved to grab Timaya by the arms and instructed Ameya to grab Carmen. Ameya, clearly unnerved, attempted to appease my request but was met with hostile force by Derrick Michael who purposely pushed her to the floor. As they began to argue, Timaya slipped from my grasp and ran toward the “safety” of her grandfather.
“I didn’t come here for this shit! This nigga putting his hands on me….he don’t fucking know me like that.. I will bash his fuckin skull in, QUICK FASHION!” My twin raged on one side of the room while Merline tried to subdue her.
Derrick Michael argued he’d call the police if she didn’t leave the property; while my father reassured Timaya, who was whaling about not wanting to go with me, they’d ensure she could stay.
“She’s going to call the police and make a big deal about this. I don’t want everyone to know…please…do something!” Timaya tugged on her grandfather’s heartstrings.
“It’s alright, honey. You’re not going anywhere.” My dad insisted as if I had no rights in this.
“HE is not your father, he cannot dictate whether you go or stay!”
“NO, BUT I AM AND I SAY SHE STAYS….”
“Mom….please. You’re the only one making a big deal about this…..” Catina begged from behind her father. I could see the angst in her face, but I couldn’t understand.
“NO…..” I shook my head, “Nooooo!” I yelled back incredulously.
“Wait a minute…..are you telling me your daughter is pregnant because someone raped her? And here I was thinking the child was just hot in the ass….” Ameya finally started to grasped the fullness of the situation.
“Exactly!” I confirmed, “…and they won’t let me call the police…”
Ameya made a fake choking sound, “Excuse me, what?….they won’t LET you call the police? Who stopping you?” She looked around the room as if searching for something.
“These people!” I jerked my neck and twisted my face in a sassy manor, a bit annoyed at what she was trying to insinuate.
“AGAIN, WHO STOPPING YOU?” Ameya pursed her lips and furrowed her brow like an old Black momma who just proved a point after your “hard headed ass” refused listen. She pulled a phone out of her purse and handed it to me. I hesitated, remembering Timaya’s threat. I looked around the room at the people who were supposed to be my family and felt like I was an alien among humans.
“Well…” Ameya urged, pushing the phone in my face. I could feel the eyes of the room on me. No one said a word. It was as if we were all holding our breath. I looked over at Derrick Michael who slowly shook his head from side to side, encouraging me to keep quiet.
“Listen….Amya….whatever has happened, we can work this out. We can compromise. Just please, don’t throw away what we’ve built out of spite for something that cannot be undone!”
“Yes, please…think about this child’s future…the stigma….it will follow her around like the mark of Cain!” Merline forewarned.
“It doesn’t matter what she says. I’m not going anywhere….she can’t make me…” Timaya folded her arms in rebellion, “…right, CATINA?” She cut her eyes at her sister, then Derrick Michael, then back at me.
WHO IS THIS CHILD? I wondered silently. She’s you. I answered myself. I became angry.
“Fine, you don’t wanna go?” I growled at my youngest child. “Then stay here and let him rape your ass to oblivion, I don’t care anymore!” I turned on Catina, “You wanna stay too?”
It wasn’t me responding anymore, it was the Bipolar. Rejection, abandonment, feeling betrayed – no matter how small – were all triggers that left me reeling with pain, pain that showed up as indifference, selfishness, and unresolved rage. I could hear talking going on around my head. Timaya said something about loving me and hoping it doesn’t change things. Catina squeezed my arm and gave me a sympathetic look. Then, they both disappeared back up the stairs.
Derrick and the individuals responsible for my upbringing tried to persuade me into conversation, but I refused. I needed to get out of this house, but I had no idea where I’d go. I’d never developed strong relationships with other women as it relates to friends, at least not close enough that I’d be comfortable enough running to them in the midst of a crises.
That’s not what I needed anyway. I didn’t need to sit and sulk at someone’s house about shit I couldn’t change. What I needed was someone who could help me forget about all this…someone who knew exactly what I needed, even when I didn’t say.
SORRY ABOUT THE OTHER DAY. SERIOUS FAM DRAMA. I NEED YOU. CAN YOU CLEAR YOUR NIGHT? I text frantically as I walked out the door.
THE DOOR IS UNLOCKED. Immediate response. I smiled.
“Look, if she don’t care enough to want to protect herself why should I? Then she had the nerve to blackmail me and choose to rock with them? Fuck em all, the bastard child too.” I spoke from an emotional space while riding down the highway towards my destination.
“This is some crazy shit…” Ameya said in response. “She’s your child…how are you just going to let this go?”
“What am I supposed to do? How do I fix this? Even if I tell the police they’ll swear I’m lying and I’m just having a mental break. How can I go up against the entire family?”
“For one… you have me. I can attest to everything you’ve said at least based on what I heard….that’s something. But most of all, you have the smoking gun, a whole baby!”
“….yea…and?” I rolled my neck, why did everyone keep reminding about this damn child.
Ameya peered at me like I was the dumbest person she’d ever seen. “AND? OMG! Do I need to spell it out for you? THE BABY IS YOUR PROOF!”
Well damn. In all the chaos the thought hadn’t even crossed my mind. I was so busy worrying about Timaya spilling the beans about Catina’s DNA I hadn’t even considered I could do the same to her.
“I hadn’t considered that….” I confessed with embarrassment. I was ashamed to admit I was so concerned with protecting my secrets that I hadn’t given a second thought overcoming Timaya’s blackmail.
“Clearly.” She observed.
We rode to sounds of the wind for a moment, then pulled up to red light where I became lost in a million thoughts competing for room in my head. “Why is all this happening. Damn I miss Carmen. Who killed her. What the fuck was wrong with Lisa. And Deacon Tompkins! I can’t believe they want to sweep it under the rug…I hope this doesn’t damage her for life. Lord, fix it Jesus…seriously…fix it…”
“Amyaaaaaaaaaa” Ameya snapped her fingers in front of my face to gain my attention.
“Oh…sorry…” I stuttered. “I was…was just thinking…”
“….well I hope you’re thinking about heading to the police station.”
“No…” Ameya frowned, “….I mean yes, just…just not…now.”
“Not now?” She turned at a red light and passed a group of kids waving signs for a car wash. We made our way into a tiny gated community with rows of identical townhouses and lofts.
BE THERE IN A FEW. I sent an update via text.
“Yes, not now. Ok. Not until after the divorce.”
“Why would yo—”
I held my hand up as she arrived at my safe haven. “Listen,” I unbuckled my seatbelt eager to escape. “….I just need a minute. Ok. I need a minute.”
She eyed me with concern, but agreed to back off. “Well…at least agree to stay with me until you sort this out….you look like you could use the support.” I appreciated the offer. While I’d stormed out of the home as if I had a plan, I didn’t know where I’d stay beyond tonight and I certainly didn’t have money to waste on monthly hotel bills.
“Thanks….” I mumbled, opening the door to the car. “…I’ll take you up on that, tomorrow. Tonight, I need to do the only thing I know to do to help me deal with this kind of trauma….”
“And what exactly is that?” I could tell her interest was peaked.
“Fuck.” I shrugged.
“Mph.” She smirked, but didn’t raise a brow. “I guess we do have something in common.”