The good thing about choices is that we have them. Unfortunately, it’s also the worst thing about them.
“So, whose life will you save? Your mother’s or your father’s?
When my siblings showed up unannounced, I knew it wasn’t the help me unpack. Something instantly told me I’d hate this visit. What kind of question was that, anyway? It was so unfair that I even had to consider choosing between my parents. I shouldn’t be surprised though because unlike normal parents, mine have always chosen to do life in a more unusual way.
“Angel?” Erica, my younger sister sat on the sofa next to her twin brother Eric, both staring at me waiting for an answer.
“Give her a minute. That’s a touch question.” Morgan, my youngest sister said the bricks surrounding the fireplace, scrolling through her phone. “Okay, time’s up. Who’s it going to be?” She glanced at me before returning to her phone.
Truth is, I had no idea. Both of my parents needed a kidney and as luck would have it, I’m the only perfect match… for both of them.
“Well, you’re gonna have to choose eventually or they’ll both die,” Eric reminded me as if I needed him to. How could I forget? It’s literally the only thing I’ve thought about since the doctor told me the news a week ago.
“Why are we having this conversation? You said yourself that you told dad you’d donate your kidney to him first.” Erica crossed her arms and narrowed her eyes on me.
“That was before she found out about our mother.” Morgan shot an evil stare at Erica, pointing her finger back and forth between the two of us.
“Why can’t you give her yours because Angel’s is already spoken for.”
They both make me sound like an object instead of a human being.
“Don’t you think I would if I could?”
“Actually, no I don’t think you would. I don’t think the princess would damage her body for anyone. Not even her own mother.” Erica’s right brow rose.
Erica was wrong. Morgan got tested before me, but she’s not a match for either of them. Not that we were surprised when it came to Dad, but we were hoping she’d be a good match for Mom. That wish wasn’t granted.
The twins were also tested, and like Morgan, they weren’t a match. My mom’s an only child so there are no siblings to test and my dad’s brother, Uncle Louis, is nearly five hundred pounds with more health conditions than one body should be allowed to hold. Our only hope would be an unknown donor.
“Say it to my face.” Morgan flew from her seat and headed towards Erica.
“Stop it.” I stood and pulled Morgan back.
“Y’all aren’t helping at all.” Eric added. “We all have our opinions, but the final decision is Angel’s.”
He was right. It was my decision and I was nowhere near prepared to make it. Only the people who know my family would understand how it’s so easy for my siblings to choose between my mom and dad. I’m the only child of Cynthia and Brian Morgan; however, I’m not Cynthia’s nor Brian’s only child.
My mother got pregnant with me at the tender age of sixteen. Her parents, being very old-fashioned, gave them two alternatives which was really only one if you really thought about it. My parents were told they could get married and both their parents would help them out or they could move out and raise a kid on their own. They knew at sixteen and seventeen, moving out and pretending they could do it alone wasn’t really a choice. So, they got married and pretended to be happy for as long as they could.
My mom said the only time they didn’t have to put on a show was the year they were a part. My dad graduated from high school and went off to the military. Mom once told me that was the first time, she felt joy and pain all at once. She didn’t expect to miss my dad so much, but she loved that she didn’t have to be a wife, just a mother. Once my dad returned the happily married charades continued. No one, including me, knew the secret lives they both led.
My mom met and fell in love with Richard Phillips, a family friend who worked at my grandfather’s construction company. At least I thought he was just a family friend. I didn’t know he was my mom’s lover and the father of my youngest sister, Morgan.
My dad, being no saint himself, was in love with Victoria Bailey, a lady who attended our church. He and Victoria were the proud parents of the twins, Erin and Erica. I often heard rumors of the twins looking just like my dad, but I dismissed it as nonsense. Turns out the rumors were indeed true.
Like I said, my parents pretended for me, my grandparents and the rest of the world that all was well, which is why I was devastated when they sat me down and announced their divorce. I was eighteen and about to leave for college when I learned the news. I would’ve loved a new car, but instead I got divorced parents, twin siblings, a half-sister, and a future stepmom and stepdad. Out of all of that, I think finding out Morgan and I had different fathers was the most hurtful news. It didn’t change anything between us, but I still felt betrayed. The knife in my heart dug a little deeper when my mom and Richard decided to change Morgan’s last name from Brooks to Bailey. That made it feel more real. I hated it.
Anyway, my parents divorced and went on to live with their true loves… or so they thought. Turns out the thrill of being with other people was more exciting when it was forbidden. One weekend, I came home to surprise my mom and walked in on her and my father doing things divorced parents shouldn’t do. Actually, things no parents should do…ever. I’ve known people who parents cheated on each other. Mine, on the other hand, cheated with each other.
After being together a little over a year, my mom and Richard divorced. She realized she wasn’t the only side family he’d created. There were three more women with five children between them. Richard’s departure left my mom alone and available, but my dad was still married to Victoria. Unfortunately, that ended as well. Victoria was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer. During one of my dad’s “visits” I overheard him telling my mom that he’d be a monster to leave Victoria while she was already dealing with so much. I guess my mom understood because the “visits” continued, and he’d go back home to Victoria and the twins.
Approximately six months after that conversation, Victoria passed away. My parents got back together but refused to remarry. They were happy and in love and didn’t need a piece of paper to define who they were to each other.
After Victoria died and my parents reunited, my dad tried to blend the two families as best he could. Needless to say, my mother isn’t the twin’s favorite person. They knew the love our father had for my mother far outweighed the love he had for theirs. That knowledge made my mom public enemy number one. In their eyes, she was a homewrecker even though it as their mother who started a family with a married man. Still, she was their mother.
The twins were in high school and refused to move in with mom and dad. Instead, Dad allowed them to live with their grandparents, Victoria’s parents, under the condition that they’d spend holidays and weekends with him. Family gatherings were always interesting and often ended with shouting and slander. Mainly between Morgan and Erica. Hate is a strong word but it’s the only accurate description of my sister’s relationship. My relationship with the twins was pretty much nonexistent. I’d graduated and moved by the time the family blending fiasco began. I only got them on holidays. Not a lot of time to form a true bond.
“Angel, come on. You have to tell us something? Have you really changed your mind about giving Dad your kidney?” Eric stood in the middle of my living room, his six-foot seven frame towering over all of us. Eric was a perfect replica of our father, unlike his twin Erica who was a miniature version of their mother. It was hard for people to believe they were twins. Some days I didn’t believe it either.
Eric’s tall and caramel with jet black wavy hair that he kept cut low, and Erica’s fair skinned with her mother’s green eyes and brown hair. Eric clearly took after our father’s Africa heritage, whereas Erica leaned more towards their mother Caucasian side.
Eric, being my father’s only son, followed in our dad’s footsteps and joined him in running the construction company my maternal grandfather started. When Grandpa died twenty-three years ago, a year before my parents divorced, he’d left the business to them. Mom, of course, had no interest so that left all the responsibility to Dad. He didn’t seem to mind. Can’t say the same for Richard. He worked for my grandfather and wasn’t too happy to have to answer to his lover’s husband.
“I can’t give you an answer because I don’t know.” I finally told them. “These are my parents. It’s easy for you to say mom,” I pointed to Morgan, “and you all to say Dad.” I pointed to the twins, but they’re both my parents. I love them equally. How am I supposed to choose?”
There was hurt in each of their eyes because no matter who I choose, I’ll still lose. One of my parents could die and it would be my fault.
“I know this situation sucks but this is where we are.” Erica, the shrewd attorney, stated the obvious. “The only other alternative is to choose no one and they’d both die. Are you ready for that? Are you ready to lose both of your parents because only Eric and me know how it feels to go through that pain.”
“And if you don’t choose Dad that’ll leave Erica and me without parents.” Eric retuned to his spot on the sofa.
The pain in Eric’s eyes was clear, whereas Erica sat emotionless. She said what she had to say and she was done. That was her. Is anything ever bothered her, she never showed it.
“You wasted your time if you’re expecting an answer.” I left them sitting there while I escaped to my bedroom and locked the door. I knew it was a childish move, especially since I’m the oldest and supposed to be the wisest out of the bunch, but I didn’t feel very wise and I didn’t want to continue that conversation. I fell onto my white comforter and could hear my mom scolding me about getting it dirty.
“We’re gone.” Morgan announced from the other side of the door. She didn’t even bother turning the knob. She knew me well enough to know it was locked.
Out of all my siblings, I was closet to Morgan. Not a shocker being that she’s the one I lived with. The time between Rick moving out and my dad moving back in, was reserved for Morgan, Mom and me. We bonded and it almost felt like I was living in a sorority house with two unruly adolescents. Mom was often worse than Morgan. Becoming a wife and mother at sixteen left a lot of fun left to be had and my mom loved making up for lost times, especially with us girls.
“Did you hear me?” Morgan asked. I knew she was hurting and that crushed me even more. I’d always assumed the role of caretaker when it came to Morgan. Growing up I threatened to hurt anyone who so much as looked at her wrong and now I’m the cause of her pain. My pain, on the other hand, was created by the two people who took care of me, but couldn’t seem to do the same for themselves. My parents. Because of their negligence I’m in this position. I can’t help but feel anger in the midst of my turmoil.