LXII. Maybe My Daughter
“She is your daughter.”
Lord. God. Satan. Anyone. Please, stop her from speaking.
Set this house on fire if you have to.
I won’t hate you.
“She’s not my daughter!” Dad screams from the top of his lungs.
Quietly, mom sat beside me and watched the situation in front of her. She didn’t utter a single word ever since the other woman arrived. I pat rub her back and avoid making eye contact with the woman.
Juliette sat beside the woman and inhaled a shaky breath. Her hands firmly clench together, and she stares at the ground. It must hurt to be rejected by the man you believe is your father. The man who may be your father.
The woman smiles, unaffected by dad’s rage. Instead, she turns her head and looks at me. My eyes skew away towards the painting. It was a naked photo. Oddly, mom is very fond of it. What are the chances that the woman’s dad used to be the same woman I semi-flirt with at the lakehouse? I’m never caving into peer pressure again. Who am I kidding? I may still fall victim.
The woman’s eyes flicker towards mom. This is not a good sign. “Hello, I’m Melanie.”
Mom gave her the nastiest glare in the world. I didn’t even think she is capable of providing such a look.
“I understand,” Melanie crosses her legs. “I wouldn’t greet the woman who is the mother of my husband’s illegitimate child, either.”
Mom didn’t respond. Thank goodness we have the helicopter in the back of the mansion. She looks like she is about to go into labor any second.
“I haven’t had the pleasure to congratulate you.” Melanie’s eyes went towards the door, and all the boys went into hiding before it went back towards mom. “I apologize for my inability to make it to the wedding. My invite seems to be misplaced.”
“It was a private wedding,” dad blandly said. He really isn’t taking any shit.
She clenches her jaw, “It seems that we aren’t particularly welcome here.”
“Your intuition isn’t inaccurate,” dad responds.
They enter a stare-off, and without a response from the two talkers in the room, everything went silent.
“What exactly do you want?” Dad was the first to break the silence.
Melanie places a hand on her chest. “Me? Nothing. I wasn’t the one who came here.” She turns her head towards Juliette. “Don’t be rude. Your dad asks you what you want.”
Juliette bit her lower lip, “I wanted to know what dad looks like.” She twists her shirt. “I wanted to know why dad left us.”
Dad exhales before his gaze cast towards mom.
She didn’t acknowledge him.
“Look,” dad said. “If...If you are my daughter. I apologize for leaving you. I didn’t know.”
Juliette bit her lower lip, “What about mom? Why did you leave her?”
He releases another breath, most likely trying to calm himself down. “I don’t love your mother.”
“But, mom said you love her.”
“I will be frank.” He licks his lips. “Your mother is a liar.”
Juliette looks at Melanie. “Mom?”
“Who are you going to believe? Your mom or the man who is making a futile attempt to look good in front of his wife.”
“You’re lying.” The atmosphere seems to become denser when mom speaks. She looks up from her lap. “Matthew is the type who is incapable of love, so he wouldn’t have told you that he loves you. He is the type of selfish prick of a man who enjoys a woman’s misery by pumping and dumping them.” Each word seems to raise the tension inside the room.
“Joshua, help mom get up.” I help mom get up from the couch. Then, we watch as she walks out of the room with Jada hot behind her trail. She will most likely go upstairs, and no one wants her to walk up those slippery steps alone.
Melanie giggles fill the room. “So, she can talk.”
“I need you two to leave.”
Juliette opens her mouth, but she doesn’t respond. Instead, she stood up and rushed out of the room. Melanie grasps the cup and sips on the same edge as her lipstick. She glances at me and smirks.
I couldn’t do it.
I can’t stay here.
I left the room and went upstairs.
I can hear cries from two different rooms.
I head towards mom’s room.
I feel bad for Juliette, but for all I know, this whole thing is staged. The life of the upper class is quite toxic. I don’t know who to trust half of the time.
I miss Hailey.
I can trust her.
She isn’t smart enough to act wickedly.
It may sound like an insult, but it really isn’t.
Mom sat beside the window, and I expected her to throw herself at me when I went inside, but she didn’t. I assume she would start slandering dad’s name, but she didn’t. Instead, she sat there and stared out the window with one hand rubbing her stomach.
I kneel in front of her. “Mom.” I held her hand. When I left for school, her hands were soft and plump, but now, it wasn’t.
She wipes off her tears and smiles. It wasn’t one of those happy ones, rather quite sad. “I shouldn’t even be upset. Juliette is obviously a child your dad had before we got together. It’s not like he cheated on me.” Her lips tremble. “But why do I still feel so upset? Why does it still hurt?”
I got up and sat beside her. “It’s okay, mom. It’s okay to be upset and feel hurt.”
At least she isn’t screaming about leaving the house anymore.
I say that’s an improvement.
I lean against the window and watch Juliette and Melanie leave the house. Juliette threw on her hood and got inside the car. Melanie steps inside the vehicle but stops. She turns around, and her head tilts upward until her eyes meet mine. I snarl in disgust when she winks at me.
“Jada,” I said, making my way towards the kitchen for some food.
“Did you find my cell phone?”
I exhale, “Can you order me a new one and somehow get all the memories back?”
She nods, “It probably won’t be done until tomorrow.”
“Okay.” I ran my fingers through my hair. “That’s fine.”
After I made a sandwich, I settled at the round table and sat it in complete silence. It’s nice to be at home, but at the same time. I dislike it. This isn’t the reason why I should be at home.
Right now, mom would’ve been in one of her crazy holiday decorations mood with everyone hovering around her. She likes to do stuff on her own, which concerns everyone.
Then, when I come home. I would see a massive tree with numerous colorful gifts underneath it. On that tree, there would be old decorations and pictures of my siblings and me. The fireplace would be overloaded with stockings, each with a personalized name knitted on it. There’s the scent of cookies, cakes, and brownies every day.
I used to think it was cringy.
But, now, I kind of miss it.
Mom’s pleasant voice singing to Christmas Carols, echoing throughout the mansion.
I exhale lightly, then place the sandwich down. My eyes were set on the snow outside. The only evidence that indicates it’s winter.
Then, it appeared.
“That’s it,” I whisper to myself. I got off my chair and rushed upstairs towards the gaming room. When I open the door, the lights streak into the room, and all the boys hiss. “Shut up, vampires, and come here.”
They all put their gaming console down and head towards me. I duck down, “I’m certain you know mom has been upset.”
They all nod.
“I have an idea that may make her happy. You all in?”
They all look at each other and nod eagerly.
Then, it starts...Christmas.
After mom fell asleep, the trucks arrived. We have so many Christmas decorations that we had to store them. They helped us carry in the boxes, and we started decorating the rooms.
“Now-” I look at all the butlers, maids, guards, and other people who take care of us. “As you know, things have been quite tense around here.”
They all stood in a straight line and continued to stare at me.
“And I’m certain you love the bonus plus paid vacation that Mrs.Greyson loves to give out at the end of the year.”
They don’t have to respond. I’m sure they love it. Unlike other wealthy wives, mom doesn’t spend a lot of money. She likes to save it up and give it to the workers around the house. She would provide them with a bonus, purchase plane tickets, and give them paid vacation at the end of the year.
“It may not happen this year unless Mrs.Greyson is happy. I know you know. If Mrs.Greyson is happy. Mr.Greyson is happy. In turn, everyone is happy.” I clap my hands. “So, we have one night to do this. Let’s do it right!”
“Sir, yes. Sir!”
Reindeer in the front yard.
Spiral garlands down the stairs.
Lights on the room.
Stockings by the fireplace.
Giant Santa on the roof.
My toes are fucking freezing from standing outside. I rush inside and help the boys decorate the tree. “How did mom make this...not ugly?” Mike asks.
I step back and tilt my head. It is ugly. My face scrunches. “Just tell her you all did it.”
“This ugly tree?” Mike question.
Lola skips past us. “It’s not the tree.”
Mike sticks out his tongue. “Blah!”
Lola turns around and sticks out her tongue. “Blah!”
I exhale sharply before grabbing an ornament. My eyes cast towards the picture. It was when I was younger when I was in elementary school with Hailey. Sometimes, I wish we were back in those times.
I look to my right.
Calvin smiles, “Oops.”
I exhale softly and mess up his hair. “Go get the broom.” His tiny legs scatter towards the closet. Then again, maybe it isn’t bad that time passes. Soon, I get to meet two more rascals who would break more stuff.
I’m thankful we’re rich.
The sun rises, beaming right into my sockets. I groaned and sat upward, only to feel a heavyweight press against my chest. I look downward to see Miles and roll him off. After some adjustment to reality, the realization arrives.
“Shit,” I whisper. I shook everyone. “Wake up! Wake up!” I need to get them ready and presented before mom wakes up. They all groaned and complained about how it’s too early. I look at the clock. It’s 10 am. Somehow, we manage to fall asleep in the middle of the decoration.
My actions took a halt when I realized that everything was up. The workers must have finished putting up the decorations while we were sleeping. When I heard a soft melody, I gave up my futile attempt to wake up the boys and head towards the kitchen.
Several workers were peeking through the door. I cleared my throat, and everyone got into a straight line before gazing downward. I made my way between them and looked into the kitchen.
Mom was baking.
I open the door, only to hear a sweet melody. She looks up; the flour scatters her cheeks. She smiles, “Good morning Josh,” she said.
The sight itself warms my heart. “Good morning, mom.”
After baking and sending the boys to their room, I settle down with mom and dad. Caleb was supposed to be here with me since he’s the second oldest, twelve going thirteen, but he couldn’t find it in himself to stay awake.
Mom exhales softly and cups her hands above the table. “I spent the last few days thinking,” she said. Dad and I stared at her, not uttering a single word. “I shouldn’t behave so irrationally and threaten to separate this family.”
Dad exhaled lightly but didn’t respond. He understands that a single wrong word can become a trigger in the discussion.
“The young woman is clearly in her twenties, which meant you had her before we got together.”
“We’re not sure if she’s my daughter yet,” dad said. “She could be Drake-” Mom and I raise a brow. “Or my father’s daughter.” Mom and I nod. It is possible that it could be grandpa’s daughter. “So, I suggest that we wait for the rigorous...extremely extensive background check before we conclude it.”
“And if she is your daughter?” Mom asks.
“If...I repeat, if she is my daughter, then-” he inhales a sharp breath, “I will be a good father and take her in.”
Mom nods, “That would be the right thing to do.”
Dad fidgets in his seat and looks at me.
“Mom, we are staying here?” I ask. “Right?”
Mom exhales, “Yes.”
Dad exhaled. He shot me another look.
“And the thought of...separation?” I didn’t dare say divorce.
“No. None of that,” she looks at dad, “Unless-”
“No,” he quickly responds.
Mom exhale, “I realize I was behaving irrational, and I shouldn’t try to leave all because of your daughter-”
"Maybe my daughter,” dad interjected.
Mom gave Dad a side glance, ”Maybe your daughter,” she said in a bland voice. “But, whether we want it or not, Juliette will be in our lives. Whether it is your daughter, niece, or aunt.”
That sounds like a mess up family tree.
“So, what should we do now?” I ask. If I don’t throw out questions, mom and dad will continue to stare at each other until one breaks down.
I’m young, but I don’t have that much time on my hands. I got to resolve this, somehow, and go back to school. I may be the only idiot who is eager to go back to school. Then again, Hailey is there.
Shit! When will my cell phone be fixed? Wait. Can’t I just use someone else’s phone? Idiot! I’ve been too occupied with the potential half-sister, mom’s constant rage and sorrow, dad’s lack of motivation to work, and my little brothers’ endless talk about separations. My brain feels like it will explode any second.
Mom exhales lightly, “We need to go get Juliette.”