Eve had this distant look when she came home that evening from work. At the door, she kicked off her shoes and literally dragged her feet across the living room, past Clair who was watching TV, past her mum who was hand-sewing a sweater and past her dad who was dozing off on the couch. She only cast them this look and walked to her room without saying a word.
Clair and her mum followed her with their eyes until she disappeared into the hallway leading to her room before turning to each other, “What’s wrong with her?” Clair asked.
“How would I know?” her mum replied before shifting her attention back to the sweater.
Clair waited for a few minutes before following Eve in her room. She found her in bed, sunk between her sheets, facing the wall. Though Eve heard her coming in, she neither turned around nor made any movement to show she had registered Clair’s presence in her room. Not even when she asked if something was wrong with her.
“Go away Clair, I don’t wanna talk to you,” she mumbled under the sheets.
“You know I am not leaving until you tell me what’s wrong, don’t you?”
“please, just go away.”
Clair held her waist, shook her head, and then proceeded to probe Eve, totally ignoring her dismissal, “Since when did we start keeping things from each other?”
There was a moment of silence from Eve before she slowly sat up straight in bed. And when she turned to look at Clair, it was apparent from the trail of tears in her cheeks that she had been crying.
“You tell me, Clair,” Eve said with a trembling voice, “Since when did we start keeping things from each other?”
“First, I do not know what you are talking about. And second, who hurt you?”
“Just leave my room, Clair. I neither want to speak nor talk to you.” She then rolled her eyes up and down her, “I never thought I would ever say this about you, but you make me sick!” She stressed that last part like she suspected Clair would miss it. And No, Clair did not miss it. It was the first time her big sister talked to her like that so she was shocked. At the same, she couldn’t help but suspect Tony had told her the truth.
“Eve, what did I do to you?” She tried to control her tone and voice so as not to sound hurt but she failed terribly at it.
“Quit pretending, you will simply make me hate you more than I already do.” Eve was now speaking with a raised voice.
Clair who was afraid their parents in the living room would overhear them— and the last thing she wanted was for them to get involved—mumbled a faint ‘okay’ before slowly turning to leave. She could feel Eve’s fiery eyes on her back as she made for the door but she did not turn around to meet them. She stepped out and closed the door behind her.
“What was that all about?
Clair jumped and gasped as she came face to face with her mother’s probing eyes. She was standing right outside Eve’s door, her arms folded behind her back.
“Mum, you scared me!”
“I can see that, but that doesn’t answer my question. What were you girls arguing about that?”
“Look, mum, it’s nothing serious,” Clair said and quickly tried to walk past her mum but she barely made her first step before her mum gripped her by the upper arm, making it impossible for her to move.
“Young lady…” now her mum was pissed. When she started referring to either her or Eve like that, she was pissed. And pissing her mother was the last thing either of them ever wanted to do.” The next time you try walking away while I am talking to you, you will tell me between me and you, who gave birth to the other, am I clear?”
“I am sorry, mum, won’t happen again.”
“Good,” she then pulled her along as she pushed open Eve’s door and made her way in. Eve who overheard them talking outside, tried to force a smile, “Hey mum, what’s going on?”
“If you wanted to know what’s going on, you would have asked when you came in. But did you say a word? No.”
“I am sorry, I wasn’t even thinking.”
“Never mind. Now, I overheard you telling your small sister here that she makes you sick, do you care to explain why?”
Eve turned to look at Clair and then looked away. Her eyes darkened and it felt as if tears were going to roll down her eyes at that moment. Fighting them (the tears, not Clair and her mum) she mumbled, “I do not want to talk about it.”
“I am sorry,” her mum said, “Did I mention that it’s optional? You better start talking now!”
Eve knew her mum. She had a way of telling if something was terribly wrong. And today was one of those days. She looked at her sister again, and every time she did, bile moved up to her throat. Her eyes turned blood red and before she could stop to think, she said, “Clair is pregnant?”
“No, I am not!”
“Stop lying, will you?”
Clair turned to her mum, “Don’t listen to her, mum, she is obviously lying.”
Up to that moment, their mum was very calm. She repeatedly shifted her gaze from Clair to Eve before asking, “And how did you know that your sister is pregnant?”
“Because the man who impregnated her happens to be my boyfriend!”
“What?” Her mum recoiled and turned to Clair. Her eyes looked like they were about to pop out of their sockets. Her look was terrifying and not sure what was the best thing to do, Clair took her heels. She disappeared from that room like a ghost, leaving a wave of confusion behind.
Their mum turned to Eve with a soft and caring voice this time. She knew something was wrong but not even in her wildest imaginations would she have thought about what she just heard. And though she had so many questions to ask, she could not bring herself to, not when Eve looked like she had just been hit with a tsunami. She had broken down completely and tears were flowing freely. So she chose to seat next to her and tried to reassure her.
After the frantic knocks on the door, Tony rushed from his bedroom and swung the door open. He was surprised to find the restless Clair standing there. She did not wait for him to welcome her in, she pushed her way to the inside.
“Is your mum still around?”
“No, she travelled this morning. Why?”
“Because we need to talk.”
“This does not sound good.”
“Because it’s not,” Clair said, “Why did you have to tell Eve that I am pregnant for you even after I promised to take care of this mess?”
Tony went and sat down, “And how were you planning to take care of this mess?”
“I don’t know, I am sure I would have figured something out.” Clair was panting up and down the room.
“You no longer have to figure anything out, my dear,” Tony stood up and walked to her. He held her by her arms and she stopped moving, “For the first time in my life, I don’t want shortcuts. That baby is mine so henceforth, both you and my unborn baby are my responsibility.”
“What do you mean?”
He leant in to kiss her on the lips and though she wanted to resist and maybe push her away, Clair found herself kissing him back. Her nerves calmed down and the whole world collapsed beside her. His kiss was so intense it made her weak on the knees. A wave of disappointment brushed through her face when he suddenly broke away from the kiss but not for long. For a few seconds later, she was smiling when he said, “This is super crazy, I know, But what I mean is I am ready to do anything on earth to carry my own cross. And right now…” he leant in and kissed her again before whispering, “You are my cross.”
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