A Family of Lies
When Troy arrived back at the house I met him at the front door. I stood with my arms folded. My stomach churned as he walked past me and took a seat on the couch. The house was dead silent. The only noises that could be heard were the soft sounds of us breathing.
“Who the hell is Shanice?” I asked pacing back and forth in front of him.
He took a deep breath and then said, “I never meant to hurt you Devon. It was a stupid mistake and I didn’t know how to tell you.” His eyes were glued to the floor.
“Do you love her,” I asked stopping in front of him although his eyes remained glued to the floor.
“No,” he answered effortlessly. “It was a one night stand Dev, I swear. We slept together once and the condom broke. When she called me and told me that she was pregnant I told her to get an abortion. I gave her money for the abortion and she said she had it done, but then she called me back a few months ago and said that she changed her mind.”
“I can’t believe this is happening,” I said backing away from him. I grabbed my keys from the coffee table, “I gotta get out of here.” I threw my hands up in the air and headed straight for the front door. I felt as though I was being pranked or maybe in a bad dream. I couldn’t understand why God would do this to me, especially after I’d worked so hard to get where I was in life. Without knowing where I was going, I found myself in the car heading towards his mother’s house. By the time I rung Ms. Glenda’s door bell white lines had streaked my face from all of the crying. She opened the door and I quickly rushed inside and took a seat at the kitchen table.
“A letter came from child support for Troy today,” I shared hoping to find some compassion and some advice.
“That letter was supposed to come here,” Ms Glenda said looking down at her nails.
My eyes narrowed in her direction. “You knew about this?” I asked sitting on the edge of my seat and clenching at the arm rest.
“I hope you didn’t think I was supposed to tell you,” she said. “He don’t care about that girl anyway. Plus, she told me herself in this very kitchen that it was just a booty call.”
My eyes grew wide. “So she’s been here?” I asked, looking around the kitchen where I ate dinner in every Sunday afternoon.
“Ohh, Devon… they are the cutest little boys you ever seen in your life. She brought them here when you was in New York a few weeks ago for your book.”
My jaw dropped. “What?”
“Well, you can’t be that upset. Ya’ll weren’t married when it happened. His father did it to me; you’ll get over it.” She said it as if this was a small incident.
It all made sense now–that phone call I overheard between Troy and his mother while we were in Vegas. She knew all along. I gave her a blank stare and pushed myself away from the table without saying a word. I looked at Mr. Howard, Troy’s father and he shrugged and said, “Dev, I don’t get involved in this type of stuff, sorry.”
I stepped around him and went out of the front door in my quest to seek help for my heavy mind and more than ever, my heavy heart. I got back into the car and my eyes started to water again. I banged my hands against the steering wheel and decided to call Ron, a childhood friend who I always went to for advice when I was having relationship problems. He was always the voice of reason when I needed him.
“Hello,” Ron answered sleepily.
“Ron it’s Devon, I need to talk to you; it’s an emergency.”
“What’s up?” he asked yawning into the phone.
“I need to talk to you in person. Can I swing past your house for a few?”
“Sure,” he said. “Call me when you’re outside.”
My mind wondered even further as I drove to the other side of town to Ron’s house. I now knew that the relationship I had with Mrs. Glenda wasn’t as tight as I thought. I couldn’t believe that she would allow another woman in her home knowing that I come there all the time and especially under the circumstances; her son was now a married man. I was so deeply hurt that she would try to defend Troy for such disrespectful behavior.
When I arrived at Ron’s house, I was nearly hyperventilating. My eyes were blood shot red and my stomach was churning as if for food even though I had no apparent appetite. I bust through the door of his apartment like a mad woman with my bag in one hand and the car keys in the other. I dropped my things at the front door and took a seat on his newly installed oak floors.
“What’s up with you man?” he asked. “You look like shit.”
“Troy had kids on me,” I said starting to cry all over again. “The child support papers came in the mail today. He was twins; two little boys. They’re four months old.”
“Get the hell out of here,” Ron said taking a seat next to me. “Damn, that’s crazy. Did he tell you what happened?”
“He tried but I couldn’t take it. I needed to get out of the house. I can’t believe this shit. How could he have married me knowing he was in a situation like this? I have to get an annulment and sell the house. I can’t stay.”
“Now wait a minute Devon, you DID marry this man,” Ron started, “And in marriage you promise to be there through thick and thin.”
“Ron-lets be real here,” I said shaking my head. “He cheated and brought home not one baby but two-either way you look at it he was wrong and I would be stupid to even think about staying. You know damn well you wouldn’t stay if you were me.”
“Devon, it’s not that simple-he IS your husband and you shouldn’t care what I or anyone else would think of you. You promised God that you were going to stick by that man. I’m not telling you to stay-I’m not saying that. I’m saying that you need to find out the entire story before you leave.”
I wiped my face with the sleeve of my sweater, the same sweater I was wearing when we got married three months ago.
Ron placed his hand on my shoulder and then said, “Get yourself together and go back home. Find out what happened and decide what you want to do from there. Remember, you can’t worry about anything anyone says about you-people say they will do this or that, but they never really know what they are going to do until they are in your shoes.”
I shook my head up and down in agreement as I got up from the floor. I dusted my pants off and grabbed my pocket book and keys. “I’ll call you later once I get the entire story,” I said walking down the steps to where my car was parked. My stomach remained in knots the entire way home. Under the circumstances, I had no idea how I drove around the city without getting into an accident.
When I arrived home, Troy was still trapped in the same position he was when I left. I stood in front of him and a look of relief came over his face.
“I thought you wasn’t coming back,” he said mustering up enough courage to now look me in the eyes.
“Troy, I can’t promise you that I’m going to stay-I just want to know what happened.”
“I told you she meant nothing to me,” Troy began. “I was laid off and I was stressed out. I don’t know-I was going through something. I met her down town one afternoon and we exchanged numbers-she hit on me. I told her that I wasn’t looking for no relationship because I already had somebody. She said she was cool with it because she had a man. I SWEAR Devon, we only had sex once. The condom busted and she told me don’t worry about it-she was on the pill. A couple months later, I get a call from her saying she pregnant. I told her I didn’t want her or them kids.”
“So….why did you marry me knowing that you had those kids?” I asked. “You were trying to trap me weren’t you? You knew that if you married me without me knowing of your ready- made family, it would be harder for me to leave.”
“That’s not true!” he said raising his voice. “I MARRIED you because I LOVE you.”
“So why didn’t you tell me?” I screamed, fighting back tears.
“I-I-I didn’t know how,” he admitted sheepishly. “At first, I figured I would just treat you mean and disrespectful and you would leave me.”
“Why would you do that?” I asked mystified at his thought process.
“Because I couldn’t leave you. I cried every time I thought about what a stupid mistake I made. I don’t want those kids-I told her to give them up for adoption. I went to my mom for advice, but all she wanted to talk about was the kids.”
“Did you take a paternity test?”
“Yeah, she brought one of those at home DNA test-she said they was mine and that I can see the results on the computer if I want.”
“At home DNA test?” I repeated. “So you let her swab your mouth?”
“Yeah,” he answered looking at me as if I was asking stupid questions.
“Did you see her mail it off? I mean you did say she had a boyfriend right?”
He shook his head. “Naw, I didn’t see her mail it off.”
“Let me get this straight. You let a girl swab your mouth and didn’t see her mail off the package? That’s the stupidest shit I ever heard in my life,” I said not caring if I offended him or not.
He sat quietly as he thought about what I said. He then looked up at me and said, “So-are you going to leave me?” His voice trembled as he released the words from his mouth. At that second, the old Troy that I had first met was talking to me-his recent harshness and disrespect for me were no longer. He seemed somewhat relieved that he was finally able to tell me the truth.
“This is what we’re going to do,” I said placing all the hurt inside of me and dealing with the present. “You’re going to go to the Doctors and get a full battery of tests done including HIV and all the other STDs—and I want the results in my hands by Friday. Until then, you can stay at your mother’s.”
Troy nodded in agreement and got up from the couch and went upstairs. He returned ten minutes later carrying a duffle bag.
“See you Friday,” I said opening the front door for him.
“I love you,” he said standing outside on the front steps.
I closed the door and didn’t say a word. I peeked out the window and watched as he pulled away and drove up the street. I hadn’t spent a night alone in the house we both owned since we moved in. I guess it’s a first time for everything, I thought as I headed up stairs and tried to get some sleep.
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