Sunday, May 6, 2018

FAMILY AFFAIR


Tiffany has known she’s not her father’s daughter for a long time now. If anyone can recollect their first memory, Tiffany’s would be of that time when she overheard her aunt say, “Zariah can say whatever she wants, but the more she denies it, the more Tiffany looks like Rocky. Shit, she’s the spitting image of Rocky Junior.”  At the moment, she didn’t know what it meant, but time has made it clear. Everyone else in the family, and even the family friends, have had their part in clarifying the fact.

As a nineteen-year-old stay-at-home mother of twins, Zariah lived a busy life while her high school sweetheart Thomas worked two jobs to support their growing family. It wasn’t a bad deal. They had a small two-bedroom apartment in lower Manhattan; they had proper meals and clothes, and bills were paid. Thomas provided the necessities and a little more. Even though he ended up dropping out of high school a few days before graduation for a promotion at his job, he’s managed to make ends meet and become an example to follow for his younger brother.

So they weren’t the smartest kids, as their parents told them, but they made the decision they thought fit for themselves and dealt with the consequences as they popped up. Zariah was able to finish high school and Thomas was very proud of her. Thomas was able to secure his full-time job in the morning and looked for a part time gig in the evening. Twins are no joke, Zariah kept saying, as they run in her family and grew up surrounded by a couple sets. She was prepared, and she was doing the best she could, but she was tired. The world around her was changing. It was no longer the late 90s. it was the expected crazy 2000s, and she felt casted away, not longer part of the world. “It’s so much more than diapers and drool, bottles and binkies…I just… I am drowning here!”. That’s when Richard, also known in the streets as Rocky, came along. He was a friend of a friend of a friend of Zariah that managed to cross the loophole and stick around. Rocky was always there when Zariah needed to vent about the boring days she has had. Rocky was the window for Zariah to the outside world, her touch of reality; he was fresh air to the monotonous routines he was living. Thomas knew she was feeling a little out of it, and tried to take her and out and enjoy of date nights, but it just seemed not enough for her. Thomas knew of Rocky’s existence, and he was okay with letting him orbiting Zariah.  It was a relief for him, he confessed some day to someone in a drunken night. “If I am not able to make her happy, maybe someone else will. Maybe she’ll leave me and I’ll be happy too. Maybe we will both be happy once she realizes that Rocky is just a confirmation that she and I are meant for each other.”

 There was no argument and no conversation about it when Thomas’s brother caught Rocky and Zariah kissing. There was no surprise and no questions when Zariah gave Thomas the news that she was pregnant. Rocky was no longer in the picture. Thomas and Zariah had come a long way, and the twins were getting to the age where they need both parents, so they stayed together. No one in Thomas’ family made any comments to his face or around his presence. He was being the man he was and raising his still growing family. His decision was respected and left alone. After all, the expected child was not at fault. They all knew he knew they knew, and Zariah knew they knew, but no one said a word.

Time is a bitch, and it always brings everything up at some point. Tiffany was six when she first heard the truth. It made no sense, and Thomas was still Daddy to her. Today at seventeen, Thomas is still Daddy for Tiffany, and she doesn’t mind what anyone else has to say. Not even now as she snaps a picture with her half-brother Rocky Jr, posts such picture to her social media captioned, “I found the man of my life. So happy to be her fiancĂ©e!”

Sunday, March 4, 2018

1.2 PERFECT ILLUSION.

“Jonathan,” I hear myself interrupt my friend as he continues to speak nonsense. “Listen. Oscar is dead. You have to let it go.”  
“I know.” Jonathan replies, sadness in the crack of his voice. “But what you call nonsense happens to be the only grasp of reality I have left. I’m not stupid, darling. I know I may say things that sound as such, but I know I am speaking about a dead person who was not, in the least minimum, interested in me. I know he loved me, you don’t have to remind me, but he wasn’t IN LOVE with me. I am aware of the difference. I am the difference. It is only a thought that kept me sane. I know, I’m crazy… whatever. You’re right.” 

Oscar, Jonathan, and I were the typical outcasts in our class. No shame. We ended up Top Ten and good colleges. Yes, we were a bunch of nerds. We had known each other since second grade, at least that’s the earliest memory we had of us three hanging out together; although Oscar swore we also went to the same preschool. My mother was an alcoholic hot mess my first ten years of existence so I doubt I went to preschool. I’m honestly shocked that I went to school at all. But once I started going, I did my darnest to stay there as long as possible. It was my safe haven. When I saw Jonathan at recess at some point in our young lives, being picked on by some fat bully, I ran to help him. ‘Hey, leave him alone!’ I remember screaming across the playground. Before I could reach them though, Oscar appeared from god knows where and he was already on top of the bully, about to hock a loogie on his face. From that moment on, I’m sure that Jonathan has always looked at Oscar the same way: in awe, mesmerized by Oscar’s mere presence. In his eyes, Oscar never did anything wrong. Oscar would overcome his financial situation by the time he graduated college. Oscar would always adore Jonathan unconditionally. Such wishful thinking, and our support for one another, helped Oscar meet every expectation created in that crazy head of Jonathan.  
For our senior prom, we didn’t bring dates. We were each other’s dates. Jonathan wore a corsage and a tiara, a little hesitant about what Oscar would say, but he didn’t even flinch. I mean, Jonathan came out to us in seventh grade and nothing changed since. It was just another day. We didn’t act any different, as he had feared, because we loved him exactly for who he’s been from day one. Sure, we had other friends and acquaintances, but we were the three amigos. No one or nothing could face us when we were together. A friendship of twenty years that only death would do us part, and just that happened too soon one tragic night after one of Oscar’s hopeful dates.  

Our high school years were a clichĂ© in a nutshell. We were nerds. We had classes together, we did homework together, we had sleepovers, we hung out on the weekends, we worked at McDonald’s together, we combined our savings to buy a car to share; we were always together so it wasn’t an issue there. Our lives didn’t intertwine, honestly, it was more like just one life in three different bodies; if that's not possible, we proved it wrong. Even after high school, we stayed in touch and gathered as often as our busy lives allowed us to.  

My mother died some time during my sixteenth birthday. I did not cry. I was actually surprised she made it that far. Alcohol had taken the best of her, and it was her decision to continue drinking. She knew it was coming, we all did, and she did not care. So why should I? Now, don't get me wrong, I loved my mother. The mother she was before she started drinking, before my father us for another woman. I guess I was angrier at the circumstances that led to her alcoholism. Both my father's infidelity and my mother's decision to drink her sorrows away instead of staying strong for her kids and herself. The rest is just sad foreseen consequential events. Just a matter of time.  
It wasn't long, nor hard to get the signature from my father, before I was emancipated. He didn’t want to have anything to do with me; nothing to remind him of my mother, I guess. Either way, as soon as I mentioned my wish to be on my own, he didn't budge. He did provide me with some cash to give me a headstart. I didn't want to take it, but what my mother had left wasn't worth much. And I gave most of it to my Grandma so she could look after my siblings. I was doing the best I could think of, under the circumstances, for everyone. No one put up a fight. No one really cared to begin with, I presumed. Either way, I was out from their lives, my siblings had a better chance being with Grandma, and Life would give me what I needed –eventually.  

Oscar and Jonathan were with me all along. From the funeral, the boxing up of belongings, to the court hearings to get my freedom. By graduation, I threw us a going away party of three at my studio apartment We drank till we puked. We ate junk food till we puked some more. We cried and laughed. We shared our fears and hopes for the future now that we were about to endure that road on our own. And we were scared shitless, but we left that day confident that we would do great and that we would always have a place to crash if anything went down south. We would always have each other's back no matter what. After all, we had no one else but each other. It was a fact by default.