Cash sleeps peacefully in his car seat in the back. I can’t avoid looking in the review mirror to watch him sleep. His mop of maroon red hair reminds me of Patrick, dear old dad. For a second, I wonder how he holds up in prison.
Arnie talks just above a whisper not to wake Cash Moneymaker up. That name, right? I’m surprised the hospital let them walk out of with an infant named CASH MONEYMAKER.
“Thanks for coming to dinner with us tonight. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen my favorite little sister-cousin.”
I hate it when he calls me that… An abhorrent reminder of our terrible family tree.
“Yeah. It was nice. It’s a bummer Jessica couldn’t join us.”
Arnie sighs as he slowly rolls to a stop at a red light. “You know why she couldn’t join us?” He questions with hand gesture air quotes. I’m not sure if he’s really asking or being rhetorical… He continues without my response. “She’s out with her girls… enjoying her youth while she’s young! She don’t cook, clean, or take care of Cash. I do all that. She never picks up her phone. She gets in late at night. If I didn’t work overtime, we wouldn’t be making ends meet because she doesn’t chip in with her check at all… Jessica couldn’t join us because she’s a ghost!”
That sounds rough.
The light turns green and he looks back at Cash through the review mirror as he drives forward.
“I was going to break up with Jessica the night she told me she was pregnant; did you know that?”
I quietly shake my head no and moan subtly, “Nah-ah.”
“You know I only married her thinking about what my mom might of wanted… did you know dad didn’t marry my mom until after I was born? Netty was the only one born in wedlock…” He chuckles. “They of course told everyone they were married when they moved in together, but they weren’t yet.” He adds.
It’s weird. Our father had children with a set of sisters… Aunt Betty got breast cancer, fought it for three years, and died right before Arnie’s 16th birthday. Arnie and Netty went to go live with dad’s mom- Grandma Patricia. Aunt Betty never kept Arnie and Netty away from Grandma Pat, but Jewel never lets me see her. Maybe if I ask, I could go see her.
“Not to change the subject,” and by not trying to I totally am trying to, “how is Grandma Pat?”
“Good. Really good. She asked about you last week, I told her all the cool things you have going on and I left out all the drama- like the baby, D, and Aunt Jewel dying.”
“I get I disappointed everyone by getting pregnant as a teen too, but ironically, they baby, D, and my mom are the three main things giving me hope.”
“You really gonna marry D? Just because he knocked you up?”
“No… I mean sort of… I mean, D and I are going to get married one day any way, but due to this, we’re moving up our timeline.”
“You should put the baby up for adoption.” He says bluntly as he turns onto the street that leads to Bobby’s house.
“Well, tonight was great up until right now! Not everyone is like you, okay? D, is not you. D and I are nothing like you and Jess. I’ve been in love with D since we first met as kids. My love for him only gets stronger over the years. I love him more now than I did before I was pregnant. You have no idea the lengths he would go for me, how much he has already sacrificed for me, and how much more he is giving up for my sake. Sometimes, I think he’s too good for me, but I’m wired to love him, and if I don’t have to live without him, I won’t. Marriage wasn’t even on my mind, but he proposed to me. He got his parents blessing, he got my mom’s okay, and our families are surprisingly behind us. Life is always going to be hard, much of it will suck, but its not so much about where you’re going in life, but who is on the bus with you, bussing it through life with you. Derek is with me. Only death will separate us.”
The minute Arnie stops in front of Bobby’s house. I get out and slam the car door. Cash wakes up crying. As much as it sucks to disturb Cash from a peaceful slumber, I get satisfaction in charging away from Arnie with the final say in my court.
“Going Once, Going Twice… Sold?”
I stand amazed. I marvel at the beautiful, jungle styled nursey at Netty’s and Deshaun’s that used to be the office, across from the room I stayed in…
“We want you and the baby to stay with us.” Deshaun says.
“For as long as you need. We want school to come first to you.” Netty adds.
“You can focus on school and motherhood…” Deshaun falls silent.
“And if motherhood proves to be too challenging, we would be willing to take custody for you.” Netty shares the true motive of the baby room. They want my baby.
I take a deep breath in. I exhale as I count backwards from ten in my head. For some reason, this sweet offer pisses me off. Why do people think I can’t handle school and motherhood? Doing homework and raising kids isn’t a challenge for me. I did that with my sisters. They came out of my mother’s womb with me as their full-time caretaker. I was seven, went I was putting bottles of baby formula together and changing Albany’s diapers. When Jewel and Bobby were busy partying all weekend, I took care of the three of us.
And as a kid, even though I missed a lot of school, I never fell behind making honor roll every year until high school, where my grade went down for a lack of attendance. One teacher accused me of cheating, saying I couldn’t pass my tests if I wasn’t in class learning the material. Well, that one teacher was wrong! Obviously. Therefore, I left and I went to Brink.
“Thank you… this is really sweet… but I have to decline your offer.”
“We’re not going to offer something like this later.” Deshaun says firmly.
“That’s okay. D and I got this.” I say, proudly holding my bulging belly.
They chime in about how were too young to get married. I laugh because Netty married Deshaun when she turned 18 and he’s five years older than her. They started courting when she was 17 and half, but they were friends since she was 11 and he was 16. He was her youth leader in middle school and in high school. Granted, they didn’t kiss until their wedding day, but he groomed her to be his wife. And they are lecturing me about getting married too young… I can’t!
My phone pings with a fresh incoming text. It’s from Kaylie. She’s here to pick me up.
“I really appreciate this offer. I feel super loved, but I don’t need to take it. I can handle D, school, and the baby. I have to go, my ride is here.”
“The Darkness Gets Exposed”
Sliding into her car like a whale balloon, I sort of forgot we had a nasty fight. Remembering the last thing I said to her makes me want to climb right out. Why is she picking me up?
“Thanks for coming…” I say.
“I’m sorry.” Kaylie says turning off her ignition and pulling out her keys. “I had no business trying to force a huge life decision on you like that… I was wrong about that dream anyhow.”
Now I’m curious. As I struggle to put my seat belt on, I ask her what the dream did mean.
“Well… I think I know what the dream was about…” Kaylie admits nervously.
“I’m sorry too.”
“I get why you said what you said though… if I’m right about the dream…”
“What do you mean?”
She proceeds to tell me about her dream. She sees a dark figure looming over me at night while I sleep. She seems me crying in Derek’s arms. I’m without clothes but he isn’t. She saw me give birth to a girl. She knows what I name the baby, but she won’t tell me.
She sees me place my baby girl in the arms of a light skin black man, he could be mixed. He has a maroon red afro, a matching goatee, and he dresses like he’s stuck in the 70s- paisley patterns and orange and yellow colors. He stood next to a woman with porcelain white skin and bright red hair. She had the most gorgeous aqua eyes. She wore clothes like she was in the 80s.
Then she sees the dark figure follow me as I age. Derek tries to help me, but I never let him. Before Kaylie saw anything else, she woke up.
“So based on that you think I give the baby to a couple that looks like my Grandpa Marion and Grandma Pat? How do you know I’m having a girl?”
“I know you’re having a girl because my dream from God said so… and yeah, I thought you were supposed to give your baby to a biracial couple, but I got it all wrong. The man is your dad, and the woman is your grandma, and after your daughter is born, you’re going to reconnect with them. But the dark figure… Kurt hurt you, didn’t he… he’s really the baby’s father, not D, isn’t he?”
I break down and cry. The burden of keeping that secret from everyone I love and care about hurts. Holding in such a filthy, dirty secret weighs on my heart. The more I cry… the lighter I feel. Like somehow, I’m letting go of all the darkness that shackles me.
Kaylie rubs my back… It’s soothing… Kaylie leans over and hugs me as she cries with me. Sometimes, it’s a relief to have someone sit with you, hold you, and grieve with you. Nothing needs to be said. No one needs to tell what to do to get past your pain. People who do that aren’t strong enough to bear the pain with you. But the person daring enough to empathize with you, and to labor in sorrow with you… that’s a true friend…
But how could she know the sex of the baby? I haven’t told anyone. Not even my sister. How could she know about the jerk? Just my mom and Derek know and neither of them would tell a soul. I’m a fool to ask when I know her answer. She’ll say that God told her through the dream…
I pat her on the back for I’m all cried out. She pulls back and sits back in her driver’s seat. We wipe our wet faces with our fingers. I rub my snot on my forearm like a little kid… not the most sanitary thing to do. Taking in a deep breath, I try to get back to normal… Finally, I ask something that really bothers me about God, “Why does God let awful things happen to good people?”
“Because He loves everyone.” She says…
We start laughing hysterically. I don’t know why, but the laughter perks up my downcast soul like a shot of a pure high straight through my whole body and mind. I seriously feel like we smoked some seriously good weed, but better! It’s like it’s a sunny, warm summer day, and I’m being hugged by everyone I love at once, while staring at the night sky. Those are my three most wonderful types of things in the world and this moment feels like all three of those things are happening right now. There’s a literal warmth coursing through my body. There is this energy, this presence all around us.
“I love you Savannah.”
“I love you Kaylie.”
Kaylie stops laughing, “I didn’t say anything.”
I stop laughing. I look at Kaylie and she looks back at me.
“I love you Savannah.” I hear softly but I don’t see Kaylie’s mouth move.
I check the backseat to see if Derek is with us, but he’s not. I want to freak out and panic, but I can’t. I have too much joy.
“A warm sunny, summer day… A starry night… Hugs from your favorite people like Genie and Albany, and Derek, and Arnie, and Cash, and Netty and me…” I hear and see Kaylie say. She adds, “God loves you very much Savannah. He has a plan for you and for your baby. The final days with your mother will be the best of times you’ve ever had with Jewel. Your father is getting out of prison soon and you’re going to get a letter in the mail from him, Netty will deliver it to you. Write him back. And don’t be afraid of the truth, expose the darkness and you will get justice. Turn Kurt in. Don’t wait any longer…”
There’s no doubt in my mind anymore. God is real.
All my life I didn’t understand
Who I was and especially the Great I Am
It didn’t matter how much everybody talked
I didn’t see what they saw that gave them their faith walk
So many times, I wanted to believe
But with all my terrible garbage I couldn’t perceive
Then something crazy happened to set me free
God audibly spoke to me
Now all I got on my mind is that God is real
He is real. He is real. He is real.
I feel like I’m falling in love all over again, but it’s stronger
I feel like I’m worth it, like life is worth living much longer
Jesus- died for me
Holy Spirit- sealed me with this revelation
Now I know G-O-D as FATHER
I don’t know much about dads because I never really had one
There’s this peace I have that somehow, I got this
God, I love you
Thank you for loving me
The poem doesn’t have a solid meter or rhyme
But it’s what’s in my heart this time (SMH-blah!)
+Positively Unexpected – 9
…Out with the Old, In with the New…
Ratings went through the roof from New Year’s Eve when Bryan James and Tasha Turner-Rourke hosted for the Deets App. Bryan James rose to fame in high school from his online vlog about being an openly gay basketball player. In college, he got an injury that blew out his knee and there was no coming back from it. But he landed a job as a commentator after he graduated. He continued his online vlog, which gained a huge following into the millions. While Tasha was on paid leave, the Deets hired him to take her seat.
Bryan was married to Todd Prague, Manhattan’s leading fashion designer. They had two children, both through surrogacy.
Now, Rodeheaver planned on Bryan and Tasha to co-host the Deets regularly, since New Year’s Eve went well with the public. Tasha had been working the desk since she returned to work. She’d grown used to it and was hoping to slide into more of a producer roll like in the hay day of her career, before she lied for ratings and hoped not to get caught but did anyway.
Bryan begged Dax that their first guest together had to be Kingston Rourke. Tasha said her husband served as a guest on New Year’sEve, but Bryan argued the world was curious how a man goes straight after being gay for so many years. Tasha said the show could end up offending a lot of patrons and viewers if the truth was properly displayed. Bryan won and Kingston was going to be their first official guest hosting the show together.
…You’re Watching Bryan and Tash with the Deets…
“Welcome America, I’m Bryan,” he smiled.
“And I’m Tash,” she grinned.
“…with the Deets…” they said in sync.
They sat at opposite ends of a glass top panel desk, with their guest dead center in between them. Tasha stretched out her hand and took Kingston’s hand.
“Today, my wonderful husband, Kingston Rourke joins us to talk about his return to the sports world, but in a more demanding role than the world has seen him before.”
“Yeah, it’s a BIG minor deal.” Bryan snickered bugging out his eyes only to roll his eyes.
Tasha giggled, “Yeah, it’s huge and hardly heard of, you’re looking at the Manhattan Maniacs’ newest short stop.”
“YES,” Bryan sighed with a smile. “You’re a Minor League Baseball Player now, tell us how that happened.”
“Ah…” Kingston breathed, squirming his hand free from his wife’s grasp. He put his elbows on the tabletop as he rubbed his hands together and spoke as if he was thinking out loud, “Well… I was visiting a friend at a game last September. He plays for the Maniacs, we played college football together as a matter of fact. And um… He’s the pitcher and so for fun, I said I could hit his curve ball. We went out to the field. He was pitching and I was batting… we were just messing around and the GM came out onto the field with the coach and offered me a spot on the team. Raven Pippen, the GM asked what spot I played in high school, I said short-stop and she said that was what I’d play… I really thought it was a joke until a contract showed up at my door a few days later.”
“You did this before the game?” Bryan questioned.
“After.” Kingston said resting his hands on the tabletop.
“The Manhattan Maniacs’ Pitcher Bentley Zeigler wouldn’t be the same college football player you were rumored to have an affair with before dating Giles Bordner and coming out of the closet, is he?”
Flushed red in the face, Kingston scratched his head, “Um, yes, Bentley is my ex.”
“You have a thing for baseball players, well… had a thing…” Bryan retorted.
“Share why you were there honey…” Tasha encouraged Kingston as she rubbed his back.
“Probably when Tasha was about four months pregnant, I ran into Bentley at the mall of all places, in a baby store. He was shopping for the child he was expecting through a surrogate. He was single at the time and was ready to become a father. Um, anyhow, we just connected and at the time I hadn’t changed my lifestyle so we exchanged numbers and agreed to meet up for drinks…”
Kingston went on to explain they had horrible chemistry yet had a lot of common ground, therefore, they agreed to stay friends. After the season started, Kingston rededicated his life to Christ, and day by day made the decision to walk away from the homosexual lifestyle.
At the game, in September, when Kingston got offered a job as a player, Bentley asked Kingston to come. At this point, Kingston and Tasha were engaged. Bentley wanted an explanation face to face why Kingston was proving conservative-religious-groups right and claiming not to be gay anymore.
“I just shared my personal story with him. I said as I grew closer to this personal God, I felt so free to be me and I didn’t care what anyone thought. And the me I discovered loved my daughter, loved the mother of my daughter, and wanted to create a home like my family had for me… He gave me a hug, congratulated me, and then I asked him to be my best man.”
Pictures of the wedding party, at the altar, in the cathedral where Tasha and Kingston got married, appeared on a holo-screen behind them. Bentley, all suited up in a tux, stood right by Kingston’s side amongst the rest of the groomsmen. All athletes and the biggest shocker was the fifth man at the end, Giles Bordner.
Genuinely shocked, Bryan cleared the image with the flick of his hand, and fumbling for the right question he finally asked Kingston, “How… DID… that… HAPpen?”
“You’re going to have to pay me for an exclusive for that…” Kingston and Tasha laughed.
“Actually, everyone will get all the Deets later in the show, when we stream my one on one interview with him from his lovely apartment in Chelsea.” Tasha smiled at Bryan hoping he felt pain on the inside. Tasha managed to convince Dax, if Kingston had to be hers and Bryan’s first guest, Giles got to be her last solo interview. She filmed the interview early this morning before coming in to the studio.
“Right…” Bryan played along, “We don’t want any spoiler alerts… Let’s talk about family now, Kingston… What is fatherhood like?”
“Amazing…” Kingston smiled looking at Tasha.
A recent picture of Hadassah from Rourke’s latest Squeaker post popped up on the holo-screen behind them. The post read, ‘So blessed to wake this angel from above every morning. She’s got her mother’s smile.’ Bryan flicked the photo away making the screen pixelate as it dissolved.
“That beautiful baby does have her mother’s smile… There were rumors, when Tasha was first pregnant, that you weren’t the father… did you ever get a paternity test in case the rumors ever needed to be silenced?”
Kingston and Tasha shared a nervous gaze. Tasha gave Kingston the nod and Kingston bravely looked to Bryan. “We did a paternity test… and biologically, I’m not Hadassah’s father…”
“What?! Who is?”
“We promised her father not to disclose his identity publicly. He signed away all his parental rights and Kingston legally adopted her, and one day, when she’s ready we’ll reveal the identity of her birth father to her…”
“So you’re going to lie to her and tell her she isn’t adopted? That isn’t very Christian, now is it?”
“No, she’ll know, but to respect the man that sired her, she won’t get to know him until she’s an adult and that’s only if she really wants to get to know him.”
“So are you sterile, can you not have kids?”
“Um,” he gulped, looking at Tasha, “Actually, not true because…”
“We’re expecting again,” Tasha said. “I’m due in August.”
“That’s incredible…” Bryan said looking down, not sure what else to say…
The floor director gave the cue to wrap the interview segment and throw to a break.
Tasha kissed Kingston on the cheek, and said, “Thank you honey for stopping by today. I love you.”
“WE love you.” Bryan added.
“And after these messages from our supporters we’ll bring you the latest Hot Fire Deets. We’ll be right back.”
As soon as their mics were muted, Bryan stood up, walked behind Kingston, and got in Tasha’s face, “I know what you’re trying to do and we’ll see in a few weeks who the world will catch the Deets with. THIS… MEANS… WAR…” he hissed. Then he walked away.
“Boy, is he catty,” Kingston said adjusting the lapels of his blazer as he got off his stool.
Tasha fixed his tie to center it more. “Curiosity does kill the cat and I’m banking on it. After he digs too deep about Hadassah’s father, he’s out and back on the independent market.”
“You’re not worried about that blowing up in your face?” Kingston asked embracing his wife.
“We never signed a non-disclosure agreement to keep his identity secret, we just agreed she would inherit nothing but the name if he never has kids, and to leave his assets alone… We gave our word we would never tell the world, if Bryan tells the world, it isn’t our fault.”
Tasha gave her husband a kiss goodbye and agreed to meet at their favorite restaurant for dinner. Bryan came back to the desk very agitated. He took his seat ignoring Tasha off stream, but on stream they were brand new besties and the whole world knew it was a sham and loved it!
…So What Happened…?
How did Kingston end up married to a woman? How did Giles forgive Kingston?
Kingston reconciled the faith he was raised to follow and chose to live his life as a heterosexual. He went on talk show after talk show sharing his story and expressing that because of a relationship with a personal, living God he was no longer attracted to the same gender or had the urge to engage in multiple relationships. He now lived his life in alignment with the Word of God, and was focused on making more disciples of the God he credits for saving him from the prison he lived in. Some of those disciples eventually became both of Kingston’s exes, Bentley and Giles.
In the TELL ALL INTERVIEW Giles Bordner gave Tasha, he explained when he saw the announcement of Hadassah’s birth on social media, he couldn’t stop thinking about Kingston. He was still deeply in love Kingston. He sent a bouquet of lilies to Kingston to congratulate the man on fatherhood. Giles admitted that was the first step in forgiving Kingston. When Giles received a thank you card back from Kingston, along with photos of little Hadassah and a request to be Hadassah’s godfather… Giles broke down in tears with conflicted feelings. He still hated the man who tore out his heart so many times, yet he loved the man still.
Giles was going to turn down the offer to be a godparent. He agreed to meet Kingston for coffee at their favorite spot down the block, and would tell him in person, but that coffee went differently than Giles expected.
Kingston explained why he requested Giles to be Hadassah’s godfather, because Giles was the most loving, trustworthy, protective man he knew and he couldn’t think of anyone more perfect to be a guardian angel for his little princess.
Giles gave all the logical excuses why he couldn’t be her godparent. He and Kingston were exes. He was a non-religious gay man. He was a proud socialist. He traveled all the time for work. Not to forget to mention there was a huge part of him that grudgingly loathed Kingston’s guts.
Then Giles got really offended by what Kingston said next…
‘To be perfectly honest, I wanted to ask my brother-in-law over you, but God laid it on my heart to ask you… I know you don’t believe in God… Too many religious people have burned you… I know you must loath me, but nothing will fill that void you have in your heart. No great romance. No amount of World Series wins. Not marriage. Not kids. Not kindness and tolerance… Nothing but an encounter with God.’
Then Kingston said Giles needed to forgive Father Tope for what he did to Giles as a boy. Giles never told anyone but his therapist what happened to him as a kid. Not his parents, not his friends, and especially never his lovers…
Giles confessed on worldwide stream he was molested as a child by a priest. It was so stereotypical coming from the least stereotypical guy, it had to be true. And if Kingston knew that about Giles because of a God who sees everything, then maybe God wasn’t a creation of brainwashers.
Giles accepted being Hadassah’s godfather… Then he accepted being a groomsman in the wedding… He wasn’t really sure about God and Christianity but he did believe there had to be some great force in the universe that threaded everyone together. The interview concluded with Giles thinking about joining the Rourkes’ for Bible Study and Board Games in the suburbs.
By the time Kingston and Tasha welcomed their son, Prince, Bentley was engaged to his best friend since high school, who was also the surrogate for his first born, Heath. A few years later, Giles married a female model from France.
Tasha did not become the solo host for the Deets ever again, but she did get her own spin off called the Real, where she let celebrities tell their side after Bryan tarnished their reputation. It was the show every defamed celebrity went to win back their reputation. She also got to share heartwarming stories about philanthropy around the world and encouraging testimonies of people who received miracles.
Kingston’s life was transformed by the God attributed as love and by that love that saved his life, he lived daily worthy of a calling as a child of God.
See the original note from me below:
Today was the final section of Tasha’s story. I am a Christian and I do not agree with the reconciled church. I did not write this story to stir trouble. As someone who undoubtedly believes in the redemptive work of the blood Christ poured out on the cross, I believe Christ paid a heavy price for us to have a direct connection to the Father. Sin separates us from God. Sin is missing the mark and any part of our thoughts, attitude, nature, and actions that miss the marks that God designed humanity to live within, places a great divide between us and our Creator.
It is my prayer, that anyone who reads this story, believer or non-believer, unhappy in life or fulfilled, that you know your true purpose, and have a profound sense of meaning in the world, and life more abundantly, and the only way to have that is to believe in Jesus the Messiah. The Messiah foretold in the Hebrew Bible and proclaimed in the Gospels and Letters of the Christian Bible.
And I am confidant, any atheist, any agnostic, any member of the LBGTQ community, who read this story today, will encounter the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and will have an encounter that will secure your eternity in Paradise with our King, when this life passes away.
I dare you to pray and ask Joshua Jehovah Messiah if He is who the Bible says He is!
Thank you for re-reading +Positively Unexpected with me!
“Surprise, Surprise. Promises, Promises.”
Right now, I should be in the middle of Botany, confused out of my mind, instead Kim is and jotting notes for the two of us. I wait with Alexis at the airport for Derek.
I can’t believe we’re still together. All day I’ve felt like I’m in daze. Maybe, I’m in a coma and Derek isn’t coming in real life, just in my dreamscape… Then again, if I was dreaming I sure as heck wouldn’t be pregnant with the Jerk’s child, it would be Derek’s baby.
Alexis flips through a celebrity gossip magazine she has with her as I just sit rubbing my baby bump. I feel like the baby finds it soothing, but I do it mostly because it makes me feel calm.
“Poor Gina…” Alexis sighs referring to the famous Broadway Starlet.
“I don’t think she’s that bad off… I think it’s good she asked for help after a mental breakdown… That takes courage.” I say.
“Oh I agree, but the media just won’t stop talking about it. She doesn’t owe the public any explanations. She has every right to keep her life private.” Holding up the article about Gina, “They interviewed a friend of a friend of her cousin about her breakdown… the person wasn’t even there when it happened.”
“But yet, you’re reading the GUIDE TO THE STARS and supporting their exploitation of celebrities.”
Defensively, Alexis says, “I didn’t buy this, a co-worker gave it to me. I don’t buy stuff like this.”
I just let silence make things awkward between us. I scroll through my social media, which I haven’t done in a while, and notice about 75 comments on my post announcing my pregnancy. A lot of love from people with some drama from people who say I’m trapped in poverty now. I wonder how people would react if I confessed I would have rather aborted my baby… And the weird part is, it’s not because I don’t love my baby, but every night when I go to sleep I’m reminded of what that monster did. In my sleep, I’m haunted by what he did to me, some nights I can’t stay asleep. What will it be like, when the baby is here?
“I thought you both would be more excited to see me…” I hear Derek say as I sense his presence approach me.
I leap up as fast as I can and I spring into his reaching arms for me. I hug him tightly like my life depends on holding onto him. He smells a lot different. Instead of teenage male body spray that borderline mimics the fragrance of teenage girl body spray, he smells like he wears a grown man’s cologne.
Marveling at how his man mane is gone and he now sports a crew cut fade, I just stare at him. He even stands up straight with a posture like a soldier and his biceps actually have some muscle tone. He sort of reminds me of the jerk, I hate it more than I love it, but I love him.
I go to kiss him on the lips and he turns his head and makes me kiss his cheek. He takes my hand and intertwines our fingers. Then he gives me a soft peck on the back of a held hand.
“I missed you so much baby!” Derek says rubbing the back of my hand.
Did we enter the Twilight Zone and cross over into the 50s of America… How come he won’t kiss me like a normal teenage boy? If this has to do with Jesus, I’m gonna curse and I don’t swear.
Without asking, he cups the outside of my womb. The baby does move and then he retracts his hand a little freaked out.
“That feels weird…” He retorts.
“Imagine how it feels for me.” I say.
Alexis stands looking at us. I’m curious why we’re not leaving. I watch Derek give his mother a look and she slightly tilts her head forward, giving him a similar look back. Derek lets go of my hand and reaches into his blue, straight jean pants. I still can get over how he’s dressed. His red T-shirt is tucked in and he’s wearing a belt. Out his pocket, he holds a red ring box in his hand. As she opens the box as he gets down on one knee.
What is happening right now?! Is he proposing and Alexis knew about this? OMG, why is he proposing? Can we even get married? We’re teenagers!
“Savannah Lorene Moneymaker, will you marry me?”
Everyone in the waiting area stares at us, waiting to see what I’m going to do. If I say yes, and we get married, financially it will be a little easier, won’t it? Or will I get more money from the state being single? I really need to look into that… I know I want to marry Derek one day. I cannot picture my life without him. I don’t want to live life without him…
“Yes… I’ll marry you…” I say crying. I don’t like that I’m in tears, but I can’t help it.
He gently slides the modest diamond ring onto the proper finger and stands up to embrace me. He kisses me on the forehead and he shouts excitedly that I said yes. The crowd happily applauds for us.
This is definitely a surprise.
“Light and Dark Don’t Mix, Spiritually”
Kaylie’s silence worries me. I thought she would be happy for me and Derek. I hold my hand out so she can look at the ring, but she ignores it as she gets off her bed and crosses over to her closet on the other side. She slides her shutter closet doors open and the upper half of her body disappear behind a wall of her hanging clothes. She backs up and turns around holding a worn out shoe box. She comes back and sits down up against her cherry wood headboard. She pulls the lid off and the inside is cluttered with note cards, flooded pieces of paper, and pictures- polaroid pics, 4 x 6s, and a few wallet size pics too. Before she opens her mouth I know its her Trevor Box… I have an ALL-THINGS-DEREK-BOX too.
“Trevor will forever be my first love… but he’s not saved… he’s no good for me. Light and Dark don’t mix, and as hard as it was, I had to break it off with him for good.” Kaylie whines from her self-righteous soapbox.
I don’t need to hear this preachy stuff from her. I rock back for momentum and then I slowing roll off her bed. “You know,” I say, turning to put my tude in her direction. “I thought you would appreciate how Derek called my mom and got her blessing before he popped the question. That he secured a job through one of his dad’s friends before he came back. How Alexis and him are going to convert the garage into an apartment for us until we finish school… But no, your religion has to come before me… Moses wasn’t married to a Jew… she was from Media- not even his own kin. And Hosea married an unclean prostitute!” I pause for a second not sure why I brought the Bible into this… That’s what happens living with Netty and being forced to attend church twice a week. Plus, her and Dashuan talk about the Bible and their faith all the time at dinner- it consumes the conversation.
“I expected this from my sister, but not from you. And I don’t care if Jesus is a better friend to you than me right now… Knowing Him doesn’t give you license to tell people what to do with their life!” I yell.
Wow, I rarely yell, but hitting the 2nd trimester my emotions stay on high, in every single mode… And I can’t control it…
“It’s just I had a dream and I think it was about placing the baby in adoption…” She blurts.
“SO WHAT! I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care! I don’t have to follow God like you. I wish I could be as lucky as you and have this kid die in my WOMB!” And now I shut up.
Kaylie hangs her head as she trembles crying. Everything in me just wants to hold her and apologize until I really do die.
Not even looking at me, “Just get out…” Kaylie manages to say.
“The South Side-Again”
I like moving homes while being pregnant. I’m not really expected to do anything. Mom and I sit on the couch and we tell Bobby, Derek, the girls, and Bobby’s friends where to put things.
I guess Jewel and Bobby started talking right when she found out she was sick. He’s been seeing the girls every Sunday, since I moved back, and taking them to church. He no longer denies Genie is his. He can’t really, she looks like he spit her out.
The plan as of right now is that all of us live together until I marry Derek. Then I’ll go live with him and Alexis. Bobby has an extra truck that he’s letting Derek use, therefore, he can pick me up and take me to and from school.
I don’t remember a lot about Bobby, but I really hope living with him will be pleasant and as drama free as possible.
+Positively Unexpected – 8
Tasha held her breath. Waiting for Kingston to burst out in rage, to cuss her out, and to toss her out of the house into the cold because she just told him he wasn’t the father of the baby.
“Joseph wasn’t the father either…” Kingston whispered back. He winked at Tasha and told her, “I’d like to be the father, if you’ll let me.”
Stunned, Tasha just stood there. He wanted to pretend to be the father of her baby? Why???
Hope and John walked into the kitchen. John rushed to the stove as Hope went to the cabinets by the dishwasher. He got the food out of the oven as she got the plates and silverware.
“We weren’t sure when you’d be here.” Hope said.
“Good thing ham and all the fixings keep well in the stove on warm.” John said as he set a foil covered deep dish baking pan on the stove top.
Looking over his shoulder at Tasha, “Do you eat ham?”
Tasha was Jewish because of her mother, but her mother’s family was very reformed… and liberated from the law. Her maternal grandparents would be kosher for the holidays, but her mother loved bacon…
“Yes, I eat ham.”
Kingston took Tasha’s hand, “While the table is being set, I’m going to show Tasha something upstairs.”
John looked at Hope and they stared at each other wondering if that was okay for them to do.
“Okay,” Hope said keeping her eyes locked with her husband.
With a sprint in his gait, Kingston pulled Tasha along as he led her up the nearest staircase. Gently, he whisked her down the hall to a room on the very end. The room appeared to belong to a teenage boy.
“My parents want to turn my old room into the nursery. This would be their first grandchild, so they want the baby to have somewhere to sleep when we need a break. And this room over time will just become the child’s room.”
“Your sister doesn’t have children?” Tasha wondered.
“Ah… no…” He said releasing her hand as he walked to the center of his room. He explained Genesis had ovarian cancer when she was in college. She survived without being able to keep her ovaries. Due to her medical history of cancer she wasn’t eligible to adopt from the state or from anywhere overseas.
So Tasha still didn’t understand his logic. Logos was still single and had plenty of time to become a father one day… And as sad as it was Genesis would never be a mother, why did Kingston want to pretend to be the father to Tasha’s unborn kid?
“I don’t know if I’ll ever be the son my parents pray for me to be…” He went on to say, after the day they went to the clinic together, he started to do the math. He knew women were two weeks pregnant at conception, due to his mother’s work with NYSAPP. When the nurse practitioner said Tasha was eight weeks and the fact they were together about five weeks prior to that point, the nurse would have said Tasha was seven weeks along not eight if he was the father.
The night before Thanksgiving Day, Giles was delivered the photos by currier. Giles wasn’t so much upset with Kingston for being with a woman, but the continued infidelity. Giles wanted commitment, marriage, kids, and a life together. Kingston couldn’t do that no matter how hard he tried. He loved Giles but he wasn’t at peace marrying him.
“I know it’s crazy to think like this… but I’m just afraid if I marry the man I love I’ll officially be alone…” Kingston made a paradoxical statement, but Tasha suspected his reason was religious. She waited in the stale silence for his explanation.
He cleared his throat and took Tasha’s hands as he led her to sit down on the edge of his twin bed with superhero bedding.
“As a boy, no one could tell me God wasn’t real. But then I started getting dreams about kissing boys… My first crush was on a boy…” Nervously, he began to pick at the loose skin around his thumb cuticle. “I wasn’t ever molested which is what most Christians think cause homosexuality… And my dad was the best dad ever…” Pausing, he ran his fingers through his hair, then rested his drooping forehead into the palm of his hand, as the elbow to that hand rested on his knee. “I did everything I could as a teenager. I kissed girl after girl. I went on dates. I lost my virginity to an older girl. Though it bothered me to sin, I thought having sex before I was married wasn’t as bad as being gay…”
Kingston said the Bible was clear. Sin was sin to God, but in the church, Christians considered some sins more forgivable than others. Homosexuality was a sin a person had to be totally delivered from to be totally forgiven, and total deliverance meant getting married in the one-man-one-woman-way.
When he came out in college, his church friends deserted him, and his home church excommunicated him. He had to find a reconciled church, which didn’t have the same teachings he grew up with. The sermons always made him feel good about himself and encouraged him to do good things, but the way the messages portrayed God presented a God that didn’t make any sense to Kingston. He stopped going to church because he couldn’t handle the inner turmoil. If God was the God he was raised to believe in, Kingston wasn’t getting into heaven, and if God was the God that the reconciled church preached about, Kingston would be better off following the devil.
At first, he felt free being away from the church, but then he just got depressed. His battle with anxiety got far worse than it was in high school and he needed to be on medication for it. When Giles went pro and asked for Kingston to move in with him, Kingston decided to live like there really wasn’t One God, and it worked.
But after six months of living together, Giles asked Kingston to marry him and immediately Kingston felt grieved by the thought and he didn’t know why. He asked if he could wait to give his answer. That’s when Kingston became unfaithful, and it was with a woman. He started telling himself he wasn’t really gay. That he had what it took to be with a woman. But then Kingston would suffer anxiety attack after anxiety attack with awful thoughts of suicide, and every time Giles pulled him out from the darkness, even forgiving him after Kingston’s adultery came to light.
And even this last time with cheating on Giles with Tasha, Giles had a plan… Giles was going to pay the photographer a bunch of money not to leak the photos. Giles wanted to pay Tasha off to say she was their surrogate and take custody of the child. All Kingston had to do was run away and elope with Giles.
With his face flushed red and tears dripping from his eyes, Kingston confessed to Tasha, “I told him I didn’t want to go to hell if God was real and that if I married him, there’d be no going back…” Kingston used his knuckles to wipe the tears from his eyes.
Tasha put her hand on his knee hoping to comfort him.
“He turned into a maniac. He called me awful things. He said horrible things about my family saying I listened to their organized-religion-brain-washing. He got so angry I thought he was going to kick me out, but he packed his things and left…”
That was the first time Giles left him. It was always Kingston breaking up with Giles because of the burden of guilt from his infidelity. But that was the first time Kingston was honest with Giles. In the past, he just told Giles he wasn’t ready to settle down yet.
“I didn’t want to live without him… I didn’t think I could…” He sniffled as he wiped his nose with his fingers. “I found every prescription pill in the place, poured them in a pile, and popped them one by one.”
Softly, he cupped Tasha’s face and caressed her cheeks with his thumbs, brushing them down and up continuously, “Then I thought of you and the baby and what the world would be thinking when those photos got out… And I didn’t want to leave you in a world of mess…”
“Your mom said you called 911 because of the baby.” Tasha said moving her head back out his hands’ embrace.
“I can’t remember why I really called 911.” He said standing up, “I just know that I want to have this baby with you and I know I can’t tell you what to do…”
“Look, I grew up in a divorced home, being split between two households… And I wouldn’t wish that on any kid.”
“We could live together. We don’t have to get married or ever be together like that.”
“What would happen if I do enter a relationship or you do?” Tasha questioned.
“Change happens, we’ll deal with it as that comes…”
“And I don’t follow any religion and I don’t believe imposing religion on any child.”
“Everyone believes in something and in the end, we’re all free to choose. Everyone in my family believes in God.”
“And because of that you lost the love of your life and nearly killed yourself…”
“If my family is wrong, it won’t matter when they die, but if I’m wrong, it will matter…”
Tasha never thought of it like that… She didn’t believe in a god. She didn’t believe in reincarnation. She was convinced nothing happened when everyone died. But what if hell was real and her failure to believe in God would put her there. She didn’t understand how a loving God could put someone in hell, an eternal furnace of torment, but maybe Kingston’s family could explain that.
“I don’t think I want to be a mom… I don’t know how to be one…” Tasha said with tears in her eyes.
Kingston kneeled at her feet, “I have no idea how to be a dad…”
The spirit of laughter hit both of them simultaneously and they laughed ridiculously.
Logos came into the room without asking, “Dinner is served,” he said. “What’s so funny?” He wondered.
Kingston took Tasha’s hand as he rose. He helped Tasha onto her feet. The two kept laughing as Kingston led Tasha out of his room.
Following behind them, Logos asked again, “What’s so funny?”
…New Year’s Eve… About a Year Later…
Tasha stood outdoors on the studio platform, bundled up in the freezing cold. The ball was about to drop in Time Square and she had to kill air time with her co-host until the next musical guest was ready to sing, down below, on the stage set up for the crowd in the square.
“Hadassah… That’s such a unique name…” Bryan, Tasha’s co-host, said.
“Yeah, Bible names aren’t so popular anymore.”
“How did you and Kingston decide on that name?”
Tasha smiled really big thinking about how to state the truth in the least offensive way. “We prayed about it and that’s the name we got afterwards.”
“Oh… I didn’t know you were spiritual. That’s beautiful… Well, um do you think Hadassah is fast asleep at home while you’re here to usher in the new year?”
“No… she never sleeps, but she’s not my problem tonight. She’s with her grandparents.”
“Your parents or Kingston’s?”
The floor director holds up his tablet which reads: Throw to the musical act: SLOPE.
“They love it too though, she is their first grandchild. Bryan, I don’t know about you, but I love our next musical guest!”
“Yes! Here’s Slope everyone!!!” Bryan shouted flamboyantly.
The minute the floor director cleared them, Tasha checked her microphone was off, and then she got in Bryan’s face.
“Stop putting all of my personal business out there. How would you like someone to do that to you?”
“I’m not the one who turned a gay man straight by having a baby with him. You must be some miracle-worker. How about we take five in the outhouse? I think I might want my third baby with you.”
“You need to really work on your insults…”
“I know you have poor gay-dar but in case you didn’t know, Kingston was never gay completely. He couldn’t have been if he left Giles Bordner for you.”
“We’re back in two,” the floor director said.
Both Tasha and Bryan got quiet quick knowing their mics were hot and could pick up every slight sound. They waited and read the directions on prompter. Tasha was to speak first. She was cued to mention Kingston. Views went up when things got tense talking about Tasha’s home life.
“We’re just about to usher in the New Year, and I’m little sad I’m other half isn’t here to share a kiss. Kingston, if you’re watching, I love you.”
“Awe… how cute? Todd, my boo, I love you too.” Bryan added.
The crew suddenly parted like the Red Sea and Kingston appeared holding sixth-month-old, Hadassah. Tasha wanted to gasp outraged but with the cameras were recording live around the world she made sure she was excited as she could possibly be.
“O my goodness!”
“O my Buddha!” Bryan gasped mimicking Tasha’s surprised expression.
Kingston stood in between the co-hosts. Tasha didn’t hesitate to take control of her daughter and place Hadassah within her own arms. Swaying side to side, which was the best way to keep the baby calm, Tasha mentally prepared to handle the line of questioning about Kingston’s sexuality.
“Kingston, not to put your business out there… but what is it like being married… to a woman…?”
“Well, I’ve never been married before Tasha,” he put his arm around her and reeled her closer to him, “I’ve never been in love with someone as much as I am in love with this woman. Being married is wonderful.”
“How come you never settled down with Giles? Didn’t he propose like three times?” Bryan badgered on.
“I wasn’t ready… and I never planned on ever marrying Tasha… but after Hadassah was born we grew closer spending so much time together, and in this positively unexpected way, I fell in love with her. And due to our newfound faith, we knew the best way to be together was through marriage.”
“Wow…” Bryan didn’t know what to say. If he said anything offensive about Tasha’s and Kingston’s faith, they could sue him for persecution. “BEAUTIFUL!”
“IT’S TIME FOR THE COUNTDOWN,” Tasha and Bryan said in unison as cued by the prompter.
They counted down from 10, when the 0 appeared, the ball dropped. Kingston kissed his bride of two months and their kiss had that same spark it did on their wedding day. The kiss was not the same as their first time. Simply because Kingston wasn’t the same man, because of his restored faith in God, he was a truly changed man.
Note from the Author:
Believe it or not, I always planned on putting Kingston with Tasha, but I originally wanted to take more time so you could see how they fell in love, how believing in God slowly transformed them into new creatures as scripture talks about.
I believe homosexuality is a bondage. Just like a liar, a fornicator, or anyone that is sinning is an enemy of God and will not make into eternity to dwell with God. I do believe Jesus delivers and saves and in Him freedom can be found. I say give Jesus the Messiah a chance and pray to God in His name, and I believe you will encounter the liberating love of the Father and comfort of the Holy Spirit, but you have to choose to do that.
Only one more repost left! Catch it next week!
I’m an idiot. Roger, my case manager at school, advised me to take only one college course this spring. When have I ever listened to such sage advice? I signed up for three: Botany, Psychology, and Photography 1. The Psych and the Photography class were like made for me, but the Botany class happened to be other worldly… like info from another world with a language barrier I can’t crack!
Biology… why didn’t I take Biology? Well, for my third quarter in high school I’m taking it. Now, maybe taking high school and college Biology together would have enriching but at the time it seemed like getting put on a skewer and roasted over an open fire to me… In other words, just no. That wasn’t happening for me. I’m three weeks in, just past the point of the ability to drop the class without affecting my GPA and I’m in a sinking ship I need to make sure it gets to shore with a passing high C. If I flunk, I get my privileges to take college course for free revoked.
My two and half hour, twice a week class just ended and I’m frozen in my seat… looking over the notes I took during the lecture don’t have any fluidity page to page. I AM ON A SKEWER ROASTING OVER THE FLAMES OF HELL!
“Baby Brain got you bewildered too?” Kim asks standing next to me as I remain seated. She’s 28 weeks pregnant like me. We keep joking that our babies will be born on the same day. She’s half White and half Korean and her husband, Miguel, is half Mexican-American and half Japanese. She’s 36 and this is her fourth child. She’s been a stay at home mom, but not she’s going back to school to follow her passion and to become a teacher… She took Botany over Biology because she’s squeamish. I love the fact she pretends to be lost with me, but she totally understands this stuff more than me, and that’s why I sit next to her in class.
Pulling out her phone, Kim displays the latest 3D sonogram of her little one and hands me her phone so I can gawk over her growing miracle.
“Awe…” I say… Not really sure what to say.
“We finally decide on a name for her, it just came to us.”
“What is it?” I say handing the phone back to her. I close my notebook and pack up my things.
“Sonya Lucia Mary Soo Yun Tanaka… hopefully they count Soo Yun as one name or else we’ll be charged for a sixth name.”
Waddling out of class with Kim, I have to know, “Why so many names?”
“Well, my father is of Russian descendant and none of the other kids have a name to honor that… Then I’m really proud of my mother’s heritage. Of course, Miguel would die if we didn’t have a name that paid tribute to his family and Catholicism.”
That didn’t exactly explain why, but what more can I ask…
Right as we hit the parking lot, the gloomy rain clouds fulfill their purpose and release a steady rainfall. Kim whips open her hot pink umbrella with white pokadots and shares with me since all I got is Derek’s hoodie of his favorite baseball team.
“You’re not stuck taking the bus tonight are you?” Kim wonders with genuine concern in her voice.
“Yep, I’m bussing it.” I sigh.
“The last think you want to catch is the flu or a bug. I got the flu with Junior and it’s the worse illness you’ll ever experience. You want a lift home. You live on the east side right?”
“Um, I’ll take my chances… thanks though…” I sneak out of the covering of her umbrella. The cold, thick rain quickly drenching the hoodie
Locking elbows with me and reeling me back under the shelter of her umbrella, she makes it clear, “Oh nonsense. I live on the east too. I’ll take you home. Do you live on your own or with your boyfriend?”
“With my mom…”
“Your boyfriend isn’t in the picture anymore?”
We stop in front of a white SUV. “He’s in military…”
“I never pictured you to be the military man type?” Kim as she unlocks her vehicle. She walks me to the passenger door and makes sure I get inside.
Once she takes the driver seat, she tosses the umbrella in the back, that clearly looks like it belongs to young children. Two car seats sat in the back, food crumbs, a musty, moldy aroma, and toys of all kinds from actions figures and hot wheels to baby dolls and teddy bears.
Now would be good to clarify and spill the truth about me… but people assume a lot, and when I talk about my life, I just want to disappear…
“That’s sweet you’re staying with your mom while your man is away, will he be back in time of the birth?”
“Hopefully…” I say surprising myself. Do I have a clinical lying problem? Am I a pathological liar?
“You know what we should do together?”
“A mommy and me class when the babies are old enough, we could be Baby Buddies?” Kim says excitedly turning on the ignition.
“Can you explain something to me? If the war is over, why do we still send soldiers over there? And is your man a marine, an army man, an airman?”
“Um… I’m in high school. I get to take college courses for free. My boyfriend got shipped off to military school before I found out I was pregnant, and after I told him about the baby on FaceTime, we haven’t spoken since… I’m 16… I turned 16 two weeks ago.” The truth feels good to say.
We sit in a loud silence for a moment. The rain comes down harder. Finally, Kim speaks, “You’re so mature for your age! You could have fooled me the whole semester and I wouldn’t have known… If you want to fake being older the rest of the semester, I will totally go along with it.”
As she backs up erratically, she babbles on and on about how great Mommy-and-Me-Classes can be. We zip through the parking lot and through the rain way too fast for two pregnant women inside an SUV.
“Remembering Jewel is Mom”
Jewel made Saturday mandatory family day. We all get up by 9, we leave by 10, and go out to eat for breakfast. Then we go see a movie. After the movie we go to the park, if it is too cold, we go to the library. We go out for lunner (lunch/dinner). Then we spend the night playing board games as we over indulge with ice cream sundaes.
I barely remember this side of Jewel. She was a lot like this when I was super little, when she was married to my dad.
Even though she’s dying, and she can smoke as much as she wants to, she doesn’t have a single cigarette in the apartment. She drinks sometimes, and she’s not supposed to, but instead of being an angry drunk, she’s a crying drunk.
I sit at the kitchen table, organizing the movie tickets and printed pictures for the past three weeks. Scrapbooking is the art of memorializing life moments in a photo album, an art form Jewel will teach me tonight. We have color paper with quirky patterns, scissors, glue sticks, sticker letters, and a blank scrapbook album my mom’s had for eons.
Mom takes her seat beside me, at the head of the table, and looks through the paper… “I’m thinking pink?”
“Eww… just because were girls doesn’t mean we need to make it girly… how about red?”
“The male version of pink… okay…”
I laugh. I never looked at red that way.
“So… uh… what do you want to do for your baby shower?”
“What do you mean?” I ask.
“Well, do you want people to know the gender or not?”
I get what she’s doing… she wants me to tell her the baby’s gender…
“I think I’d rather get gift cards to buy baby clothes… so the guests don’t need to know, but who am I going to invite who can afford to bring anything? Do I have to have a baby shower?”
I watch mom cut and glue pink paper that looks like strokes of paint into the first page of the album. She takes the movie tickets and our pics outside the movie theater and arranges them in a manner pleasing to the eye.
“I never really asked you, I just assumed, but… do you fluffing want to raise the baby? Have you thought about adoption?”
She’s the third person to mention adoption to me. Last week, at work, I went to a grand opening to La Vie downtown to take pictures for Troy’s food critique, and he suggested Derek and I look into adoption. Then Kaylie brought it up yesterday saying that she felt led to bring that up to me. Now, my mom.
“Sniff, there was this sweet couple from church that wanted to adopt you… sometimes I think I should have let them…”
I hate it when she brings that up. It makes me loathe myself more. It makes me feel like she hates me and thinks I ruined her life.
“O fluff, are you crying, what for?” Jewel asks as she gets up. Coughing, she rips a piece of paper towel from the roll, hanging above the sink and comes back over to me. She hands the paper towel to me use as a tissue.
“I feel like you don’t love me when you bring that up…”
“If I didn’t fluffing love you, I would have aborted you.” She erupts into a long coughing fit as she covers her mouth with her fist.
Like on code blue alert, I shoot up from my seat, and worry, “Do you need your inhaler? Where is it?” I go to the bathroom to check the medicine cabinet. It’s not in there. I scan the bathroom counter and don’t see anything. I barge into her room and look on the dresser, the night stands, and then I remember she probably brought it with us… It must be in her purse. I think her purse is in the living room.
Before I can get to her purse, and I’m back in the kitchen, her coughing stops.
“I fluffing fine… You panic too easily.”
“How can I not panic? You’re dying… you’ve chosen to die and that can happen at any moment… how cannot freak out about that?”
“Oh Savannah…” Mom says embracing me. She squeezes me tight and kisses me on the forehead. “I love you…” She says with a shakiness to her voice like she’s about to cry. “I know I’ve been the world fluffing worst mother… A real mother fluffer mommy dearest and you don’t need to forgive me for the sniff I’ve done, the blick I’ve been, but please, do me a favor… don’t panic… everything is gonna be okay, okay?”
There’s something about being held by your mother. Listening to her heart beat in her chest. The scent of her, her shampoo, her perfume, her clothes, her sweat… and the peace that hits you and makes you feel safe… If I could stay like this with her forever, it would erase all the terrible things she’s done, and it would stop any future of her not being there. To not panic, I have to remember Jewel is a mom, she is my mother.
Alexis Fabry… she took back her maiden name when she divorced Derek’s dad. She’s a nurse at the hospital right down the street from my mom’s apartment. When Netty wanted to cart me around and look at hospitals to see which is the best one to have the baby, I was actually praying we wouldn’t go to Alexis’s hospital. Dr. Varejao can makes to four hospitals within the city, and its up to us which hospital we want.
We nearly make it out unseen, when Alexis enters the elevator before we can make it to the lobby.
“Savvy…” The tall, skinny aging blonde can’t say anything beyond my name.
“Ms. Shay?” Netty double checks she’s Derek’s mother.
“Yes, you’re Netty, right?” Alexis questions shaking my sister’s hand.
“The one and only… how’s Derek?”
“He’s doing much better… Um…” Alexis gulps as she nervously pulls on her ear lobe. “How, are you Savvy? Other than pregnant, I didn’t know you were pregnant… does… did… you tell… Derek?”
“That’s a good question, Savvy, have you told the father of you baby about his child?”
The doors to the lobby open up and I choose to escape. I barge in between them and book it for the exit. I’m not ready to tell Netty the truth… I will but do I have to on this day?
They both catch up with me outside the sliding entrance doors. Those similar blue eyes to Derek, gaze at me with a fused look of confusion and concern. I’m sure she sent Derek away to prevent becoming a young grandma. Good news, she’s not going to be a grandma any time soon. Bad news, I can’t go over that.
“Since Christmas, Derek’s been begging to come back home and to stay with me. He said you needed him, you told him, didn’t you?” Alexis wonders.
I nod yes.
“I don’t get it… If you told him about the baby, why didn’t he say anything to you Alexis?”
Alexis shrugs her shoulders… She suddenly grabs my hand and caresses my backhand with her thumb. “I’d love to have you and your family over for dinner tomorrow night, your sisters, your mom, and whoever else, and we can talk about what needs to happen from here… does that sound like a plan?”
Netty agrees to dinner without my consent. She never declines dinner. But if Alexis didn’t work all the time, she would be a perfect mom. She’s thoughtful and caring. She does all the house work even though she works over 50 hours a week. I used to wish all the time Alexis was my mom. I looked forward to her being my mother-in-law. Who knows what she is to me anymore? I don’t even know if Derek is still my boyfriend.
Savvy: Derek… I still love you…
Derek: SAVVY! I love you. I thought you were done with me. I just want you to know, I’m still here. You and me, always.
Savvy: What about the baby?
Derek: You, me… and the little bambino too😊
Derek: Yes, who else have you told… everything to?
Savvy: Just you… and my mom… no one else…
Derek: Did your mom believe you?
Savvy: I think. IDK.
Derek: I got a plan, but it won’t work if my parents learn the truth… How did dinner with my mom go?
Savvy: I’m alive… the baby is fine…
Derek: LMBO. My mom called me and reamed in to me for not telling her that you’re having my baby.
Savvy: But I’m not.
Derek: For my plan to work, you are…
Savvy: Is Jesus okay with you lying?
Derek: Probably not, but I don’t care. I’m never living without you.
Savvy: COME HOME!
Derek: I will be, Monday night? Will you come with my mom to pick me up from the airport?
Savvy: I’d love to but I have Botany at West Campus.
Derek: I’m getting in super late… like 9pm.
Savvy: I get out at 8:30.
Derek: Okay… Will Jewel be at work, maybe I can drop by?
Savvy: She works day shifts now, she’ll be home. Sorry.
Derek: When will I see you then?
Savvy: I guess whenever.
Derek: Can’t you skip one class? We haven’t seen each other in MONTHS!
Savvy: I’ll think about it.
+Positively Unexpected Part 7
Tasha told herself she would tell Kingston the truth. When he could handle the truth. If he only called 911 for the sake of the child she carried, she did not want to give him an excuse to end his life for good.
Tasha’s mother sent an old fashion postcard from Cancoon. She and Pat enjoyed riding horses on the beach, eating shrimp cocktails by the pool, and getting massages from their room balcony whenever they requested one. Her mother made no mention of the scandal Tasha recently found herself in, and for some reason, Tasha was relieved her mother ignored the drama, but at the same time, felt like her mother didn’t care enough by ignoring the subject all together.
Jenny had been helpful… For the past three weeks, she had been Tasha’s best friend all over again. The paparazzi wouldn’t leave Tasha alone and bombarded the front doors of her apartment building. Jenny delivered groceries, pre-natal vitamins, and most helpful of all, Jenny and Humphrey had delivered comforting company. Tasha wanted to spend Christmas with Jenny, but Jenny suggested Christmas with the Rourkes was best, since Hope graciously offered. Granted, Jenny made the suggestion thinking Kingston was the father of the baby, not Dax.
On several occasions, Tasha nearly broke down and told Jenny the truth, but she partly feared Jenny would support her notion to lie and help Tasha perpetuate the lie of paternity. Jenny growing up was the one that said a good lie never hurt anyone. Tasha in her innocence said truth and transparency was the only way to live. Tasha wondered where that sweet, honesty hungry girl went, because she was a total stranger to her and the world now.
Kingston would text Tasha here and there. He would ask her how she was and if she needed anything, but with Jenny taking such good care of her, she didn’t need anything from him.
Hope stopped by last week and brought Tasha some paperback books on pregnancy. The gift was significant because Hope selected the best literature from all that she read through all three of her pregnancies. Tasha felt worse about her looming lie on that day, but the fear of Hope going public with Tasha’s lie fueled Tasha’s silence.
Hope extended an invite to come a few days before Christmas and spend a few nights, but Tasha only agreed to Christmas Day and that was all she was going to do.
Tasha spent Christmas Eve with her father, Jenny, and Humphrey. After dinner, they sat in the living room and allowed Humphrey to open one gift. He selected the one from Tasha and was blessed with a dinosaur toy Jenny swore he wanted more than anything. By his reaction of sheer joy and enthusiasm when he tore the paper to reveal what the toy was, Jenny didn’t lie about that. The plastic raptor was the only thing Tasha could afford.
While Humphrey ran around the living room with his new toy from his sister, and Jenny went to get dessert ready, Tanner handed Tasha an envelope. Inside was a transaction slip for a large sum of money and the code to get the amount released to any account she wanted. It was enough to pay off her fines and legal fees. Accepting those funds would cancel her debt.
“Dad, you don’t need to do–,” Tasha tried to hand him back his offer.
But he walked away from her.
Humphrey sped toward Tanner making raptor noises as he led with the raptor toy out before him like a sword. Tanner crouched low and pretended to be a dinosaur whisperer and the two cautiously danced in a circle, waiting for the other to make a move first. Impatiently, Humphrey lunged first and Tanner rapidly picked the boy up as they spun in a circle. He held Humphrey by the legs holding him upside down. Humphrey giggled and begged to be put down.
“Please daddy! I have to go pee!” Humphrey squealed as his father tickled his stomach and he dangled by his father’s clutches. “DADDY!” Humphrey screamed.
Chuckling Tanner finally listened to his son’s request. Humphrey sprung toward the first floor restroom, dropping his toy on the rug by the tree.
“Children are expensive. Your money should be invested in your child, not spent paying for one mistake you happened to get caught doing.”
“What if I place the child in adoption?”
“Pay off your debt anyway… in case you ever want a child one day…”
“You’re so good with him…” Tasha said, safely placing the envelope in her purse.
“I wish I was better with you… I remember the day you were born as clear as day. When I held you I never loved anyone as much as I loved you then and still do… Every fiber of my being and molecule of my body loved you so much… I was so freaked out I was going to destroy your whole life… I was glad you were a girl… I figured you had a better chance of being sweet and innocent, I prayed to God that you would be…”
“You’re not religious…” Tasha wondered if Jenny finally convinced her father to attend mass regularly. Jenny’s entire family were devote Roman Catholics. Dean was always open about his faith, even in the workplace, that was part of the reason Dean and Tanner would clash in business decisions, when actions necessary to take would violate something about Dean’s religion.
“No, not really, but if you were to ask me with all the years I lived if there was a God, I would say there has to be one… For if humanity had the power we think we did, we would have already destroyed each other eons ago. There must be some power in the universe that loves us too much to let us do away with each other like that…”
That evening Tasha left her father’s house feeling loved. The words that he said about her. That he loved her with every fiber of his being and every molecule in his body. For a second, she imagined having a daughter and loving her the same way or maybe even more. Tasha couldn’t remember the last time she truly loved anyone or anything. Did she ever love someone? And the sad reality that she had never been in love made her realize she would fail as a mother.
After the Happy Holidays, Tasha was going back to the clinic to enter NYSAPP: New York State Adoption Placement Program. The greatest act of love she was ever going to do was find a family that functioned normally and knew how to love properly.
Tasha arrived to a happy, cozy home in the suburbs outside Manhattan. The finest suburb upper-middle class had to offer. The two story home was modern age, with a flat top roof as sections of the home stacked like skewed blocks.
Blue, yellow, and purple icicle lights hung from the first and second stories. The walk way to the door flashed with strobe lighting with each step Tasha took. From the front door, Tasha heard Christmas music and laughter. She rung the door bell and the H.A.I. (House Artificial Intelligence) asked her to state who she was, without hesitation, the door popped open and announced her arrival.
“Tasha Turner has arrived…” said the H.A.I. with a soothing, female voice.
Kingston’s whole family stopped their fun in the living room, playing a virtual game on a holo-sphere and stared at Tasha, holding a tin of fruit cake. Normally, as a guest at dinner she usually brought wine, but as a pregnant woman, she thought wine would send a negative message. Plus, with how religious Hope was at the hospital, Tasha took a bold guess to assume the family didn’t drink wine.
Everyone in the room were adults. Only two people were familiar to Tasha. Kingston sat in a recliner smiling at Tasha. Hope stood near the foyer, closest to Tasha, standing by a man that had Kingston’s jawline and dimpled cheeks. He was too young to be his father, therefore, that must be his brother, Logos.
Looking over their shoulders to gaze at Tasha, sitting at the couch, were two men on each side and a woman in the middle. The man on Tasha’s left was black with long dreads. He had his arm on the back of the couch around the woman’s back. The woman had Kingston’s hair and Hope’s eyes and nose. She had to be Kingston’s sister, Genesis aka Gen. The other man with a bald head and a long gray beard was clearly the man where Kingston and his brothers got their eyes, Mr. John Luke Rourke.
“Welcome Tasha,” Hope said.
Kingston rushed over to Tasha. Logos took her coat and hung it up as Hope took the tin of fruit cake gratefully. Kingston greeted Tasha with a sincerely warm hug, which brought Tasha a great deal of comfort. Not just because he was a great hugger, but a hug like that meant the man had hope, and could bare to hear the truth. The truth she craved to get off her chest.
Immediately, everyone broke the awkward tension and sat her down on another recliner in the living room. Hope laid gifts at her feet and on her lap. Gen made small talk. Logos brought her fresh hot chocolate. John Luke introduced the black man. He was Gen’s husband, Cress.
Overwhelmed, Tasha asked where the nearest bathroom was. Kingston jumped to her rescue to show her the way. Through the kitchen and toward the garage. The door to a half bath was in the nook to a second staircase that led upstairs.
“I don’t need to go to the bathroom…” Tasha confessed.
“I figured…” Kingston laughed. He looked into her eyes with intrigue like he wanted to kiss her. “They just want you to feel welcomed.”
“Yeah…” Tasha averted her eyes, and began to pick at her thumbnail nervously. “I may not be welcomed here much longer, when everyone finds out…”
He took her by the shoulders and bent his head to catch her gaze with his, “Just take a deep breath and don’t worry about anything. You’ll learn nothing stops this family from loving anyone… That’s what make them pretty great.”
Tasha was about to blurt it all out, when a framed newspaper clipping caught her eye with the title: Wayd v. Rowe. Pointing at the frame of history, she asked, “You’re mother was alive during this case?”
Wayd v. Rowe was the very case that helped shape modern abortion law and led way to the adoption placement program across the country. A man sued the woman pregnant with his unborn child, and by some miracle won. The judge ruled for the woman to carry until the fetus was viable outside the womb.
The man’s lawyer was a genius. Arguing the fetus was not part of the woman’s body but was a life temporarily a resident in the woman’s womb. And that if the abortion was carried out, it should count as murder, since in Manhattan, if a pregnant woman was murdered, the murderer was prosecuted for two murders.
By the time the case made it to supreme court, the baby was born, placed in the NICU, where the child miraculously survived and was 9 months old when the Supreme Court finally ruled.
“Um… sort of…” Kingston huffed, coming behind Tasha. Standing so close behind her she could feel his breath against her neck. “My grandfather was the man who sued for the right to have a choice, whether his child should live or die.”
Shocked but not shocked, Tasha turned to Kingston, “Your mother is the fetus that reversed Roe v. Wade?
Tasha felt closed in a box. She walked toward the kitchen, needing the relief a spacious area brought. Hope’s passion for Tasha’s child to live wasn’t just for religious reasons but for heritage reasons too.
The urge to blurt out the truth ate away at Tasha’s soul. She was able to fight it off around Jenny and at home, but in this house it was like being placed in a furnace and the heat begged her to scream the truth. For the lie alone tormented her. Lies usually were easy for her to keep, but this lie was too heavy. Tasha no longer cared if her career died or survived, she wanted out from the weighty burden of her child’s false paternity.
Tasha rested her hands on Kingston’s shoulders as she stood on her toes to whisper loudly in his ear, “You’re not the father…”
A Quick Note from the Author
This section is short but sweet. Turns out there’s a law in Arkansas that gives father’s the right to slap an injunction to stop a woman from getting an abortion. The article I read on it was really biased and left-wing. A little interesting how my story may not be that far fetched after all.
“Can Death You Be an Angel?”
Death can you deliver me?
Can you set me free?
Will you come from for her?
Cancer. Incurable, just compressible.
The worst woman in the world,
Finally got what she deserved.
Cancer. Stage 3. Deadly.
I thought I’d be happy to see her go.
But I’m sort of sad about it.
Death can you be an angel,
And promise everything will be okay,
When my mother has gone away?
My job is the best, but working minimum wage for five hours, five days a week will not pay for bills and taking care of a baby. I haven’t physically gone into the office down town since I started showing. I’ve been emailing all my work, but I’m stuck going in today because Esmeralda refused to accept my photos for February’s Magazine without seeing me.
The jerk left his old camo jacket behind, which is super warm and majorly baggy to hide my baby bump.
I started working for Mottoes last year. I forged Jewel’s signature, so I could start working at 15. Only my counselor at school knows I work there. The job fits well with going to college classes at night.
Mottoes is a media group where young voices provide the content. Ages 15-26 either write for Mottoes magazine or take pictures or do both like I do. Then we have a radio show and a few podcasts. It’s amazing. But for all the work we do, we do workshops and get paid for it. Actual professional journalists and media moguls come and share their methods to their craft. We also do fun activities and hang out together.
As usual we circle up in the center of the meeting room, which just has boring white tiles and boring cream ceiling tiles, and we’re in a basement room so there’s no natural lighting. We’re going to spend the next 30 minutes sharing one blessing and one curse. This time gives us all some peace in our very messed up lives, and this circle time also makes us like family to each other.
Troy Eldridge, his entire left arm is burnt up like a crisp, and he has severe nerve damage in all four of his left fingers. Somehow his thumb is normal. His parents were cooking meth when he was four and their meth lab blew up. He caught fire while he was running out of the house and he was too little to stop, drop and roll. Part of his body is burnt too, but no one can see it. He went to go live with his aunt who was married to an alcoholic. For years he was his uncles punching bag when he was drunk. In middle school, Troy was the bully, beating the snot out his victims. He got kicked out of nearly every public middle school on the Eastside. CPS finally figured out he was being abused and but him with his paternal grandparents his freshman year of high school. He grandpa was a retired minister and his grandma turned out to be a sweetheart saint. It took a couple years, a lot of counseling, and Mottoes for a few months, but now Troy is a creature he likes to call human. If I wasn’t in love with Derek, or pregnant, I would totally date him. He’s not the cutest guy, but he has a warm charm and kind, soulful sage green eyes. Nah, I would not date him… His scars are really cool though… maybe I would…
Alice is a recovering anorexic.
Blaine suffers with severe depression.
Misha’s a former drug addict: painkillers. She used to be like a soccer prodigy, but a year ago she got in a car accident with her mom and they both survived, but due to injuries to Misha’s pelvis and left leg, she’ll never play sports again. She can’t even run and needs a cane to walk. After she got out of rehab, she was referred to this place and host’s a sports radio show, she surprising loves it.
Kyler doesn’t talk, and no one, but Esmeralda knows why… he’s the magazine’s current co-editor. He’ll write on notepads, send texts, and send emails, so he’s literate, but he simply doesn’t talk.
Fiona is a hot-head, she gets pissed off super quickly.
Then there’s me… I seem like the fairly, normal one. I’m honest about Jewel’s verbal abuse. I’m honest about being more of a mom to my sisters than Jewel. I’m honest about me and Derek, but everything else I sweep under the rug.
Mottoes has more meeting rooms with more groups similar to ours, but we meet in a small setting, with one leader. Esmeralda Ranaldi is our fearless leader. She has a gold nose ring in her left nostril. Her long, dark drown dreads are held back by head scarfs. Long flowy dresses with wild designs are her style. Bold and big gaudy, sparkly jewelry in her ears, around her neck, and on her wrists. And rain or shine, hot or cold, she only wears some form of sandals. Inside, she walks around barefoot as frequently as possible.
Trying to sit down on the ground without looking 20 weeks pregnant is a challenge. Troy notices I’m wincing as I squat low.
“Are you okay?”
He reaches out to help me, but I smack his hand away. “Don’t help. I’m good.”
I realized kneeling on the floor and then slowly adjusting to sit down made it possible.
Esmeralda smiles ear to ear not taking her eyes off me, which means she wants me to go first.
“Savannah! It’s too good to have you back! In honor of your return, please, go first.”
I’m totally embarrassed. I wish I could curl into a ball and disappear. “Can I go last?”
Esmeralda cautiously nods her head yes agreeing. “Sure…” she mutters. “Troy, you’re up!”
“Curse: I’m flunking Algebra 2. Blessing: I’m getting A’s in every other class. This is my best semester academically in the history of my school career… so I guess I need to find a tutor so I can end the semester well?”
“Sav should tutor you. She’s a math genius.” Misha says. She’s lucky and gets to sit in a chair. I guess I could have faked a leg injury to get a chair… but then I would have to create a lie how I got hurt. Less lying this way, maybe no lying.
“I don’t know… I have like zero free time…” I say, which is true now that I’m living with Jewel and my sisters again.
One by one, everyone shared their blessing and their curse for the day. I zoned out after Troy, trying to figure out what I’m going to say. I think I have to go big. I can’t hide a baby from everyone.
“Okay Savvy, you’re up…”
“Did Kyler go? I hadn’t noticed.” I admit.
Everyone squeals yes in various ways as Kyler holds his little whiteboard aggressively. The top reads: BLESSING: I tried coffee and liked it. The bottom reads: CURSE: I PEE A LOT FROM TOO MANY CUPS.
“Peeing a lot sucks dude… but at least you can stop it by not drinking coffee… me however, I have like a little person growing inside of me that kicks my bladder a lot and makes me pee all the time. That’s my curse: teen pregnancy. Blessing: impending motherhood… I think.”
Misha, Blaine, and Alice think I’m joking. They laugh hysterically.
“Good one!” Blaine blurts out.
“I don’t think she’s joking. It may be winter, but you don’t need a military winter jacket for Tucson.” Fiona states.
I unveil the bump by opening the jacket, the laughing stops, and all eyes bug out except for Fiona.
Reluctantly, Esmeralda asks, “Do you…want to… share more with… us?”
“No, I’m good.”
Getting up from the floor, I let Troy help me up. He’s sweet. Everyone disperses to their battle stations, except, I join Esmeralda at her desk.
She leans back in her swivel chair, nervously clicking the top of her retractable pen without stopping. I struggle to find comfort in the modern, egg-shaped plastic chair.
“This is why you haven’t come in,” leaning forward and resting her arms on the desk, “You were ashamed of your pregnancy?”
“No… not totally… my mom has stage 3 lung cancer. She doesn’t want traditional chemo, and she doesn’t want surgery to try and live. She wants to die… So we maybe have a year with her. I just thought my time has been more important to spend with her and my sisters than coming here.”
Okay, so I tell a little white lie… but it would be true if I knew sooner. It’s more of an excuse than a lie, right?