Dana L. Davis
Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now
“Whatever. Shiz is stupid. You sound moronic.”
“Do you see the resemblance?” Nevaeh asks Heaven, sizing me up once again as I stand awkwardly in front of them.
“Totes,” Heaven replies, matter-of-fact. “The height. Thin like all of us. An air of awesome. I totally see it.”
Nevaeh nods. “Yeah, yeah. I see it now!”
They stare at me with matching smiles and a glorious moment of silence passes. I seize my opportunity to get a word in. “Just curious but...where is, um...?”
“Dad?” Heaven saves my lips from having to form the word on their own.
“Yes. Where is he?”
“Emergency C-section.” Heaven tosses out the words like it’s as normal as a walk in the park. “He’ll be home soon. Hopefully. Maybe.” She rolls her eyes.
“She ate In-N-Out,” Nevaeh whispers.
“Don’t tell my mom that. She’d die. She’s been cooking since 5:00 a.m.”
My phone buzzes in my back pocket. I grab it and check the caller ID. “It’s my grandma. Sorry, could you guys give me a second?”
Heaven pulls Nevaeh by the arm. “Take your time. We’ll see you inside, okay? Then we can show you your room. And you can change. And meet Pumpkin.”
“Yeah. Our sister.” Nevaeh smiles.
“Oh, right. Gotcha. Our...sister.”
I wait until the girls have disappeared inside the house and take a few steps toward the street as I swipe across the screen. “Did you know Anthony has other kids?” I whisper angrily into the phone. “He has kids!”
“So I’m assuming you made it safely?”
“Grams, did you hear me? I have sisters!”
“Sisters? I only knew about one, Tiffany. I swear. I only knew about London.”
“London? Who is that?”
“That’s the sister I knew about. London. She should be about your age.”
Then who the hell is Pumpkin? It hits me. “Oh, my gosh! Grams, there must be four!” I contemplate slamming my phone down onto the cobblestone driveway and watching the glass screen shatter into a hundred pieces, but that would only tame my rage for a few seconds and then, of course, leave me with a broken phone. Maybe there’s not four. Maybe London’s nickname is Pumpkin. But why would London’s nickname be Pumpkin? Maybe she looks like a Pumpkin?
“Tiffany, you have to believe me. I only knew about the one.”
“So why didn’t you tell me that? Would’ve been a nice heads-up!”
“It wasn’t my place to tell you.”
“Yes, it was!” My eyes burn as hot tears form. “You had no right to keep this from me. I feel totally blindsided.” I wipe a tear. What did I expect? That Anthony Stone would be sitting in a giant empty house waiting for me all by himself, feeling the way I’ve felt for all these years—incomplete? How could he possibly feel incomplete with a wife and four daughters? And how will he feel when he discovers I may not be his? With four daughters and a wife, my guess is...relieved.
As I’m pacing, the door to the house across the cul-de-sac swings open and a teenage boy steps out onto the neighboring driveway. He’s wearing a sweatshirt with the hood pulled low, concealing his face.
“Tiffany,” Grams says with a tired sigh. “Get to know your father. It’s his job to tell you the truth. The whole truth. You deserve it.”
“Grams—” I’m distracted as the boy looks up and our eyes meet. The sight of his face literally takes my breath away. It’s covered in some sort of heavy white makeup, pasty and drawn, his green eyes almost glowing under the light of the full moon.
“Yes, Tiffany? What’s going on? You all right?”
“Look... I’m here. I made it safely.”
“Please don’t be mad at me. I’m already hurting so much. I can’t have you mad at me.”
“I’m not mad. I’ll talk to you later.” I hang up before she has a chance to respond, my heart pounding, my mind a jumble of confusion.
The boy with the white face is still standing there, staring. He smiles and raises a gloved hand to wave at me. More than a bit spooked, I timidly wave back, then spin around and run inside the house.
Something’s attached itself to me.
I look down to see tiny hands wrapped around my leg and enough wild, curly hair to open up an exclusive wig store. “Um, excuse me? Hi.”
An adorable face emerges from the mass of auburn-tinted curls. She’s got pouty full lips, light brown skin and the same pale blue eyes as Heaven and Nevaeh.
“I Pumpkin. I two! Birthday, December 19.”
“Hi there, Pumpkin,” I say weakly as I realize Pumpkin wasn’t a nickname for London and there actually are four sisters. “I’m Tiffany.” Pumpkin’s wearing a pretty pink dress with lots of ruffles. She looks like a porcelain doll. Like she should be on sale at Toys R Us.
“I Pumpkin. I two years old.”
“Oh. Okay. I’m Tiffany. Again. I’m sixteen.”
“I Pumpkin! I two!”
“I’m sorry. She’ll do that all night.” A woman has emerged from around the corner. She quickly peels the little tyke from my leg and scoops her up. “Tiffany. Oh, it’s so nice you’re here!” she gushes. “I’m Margaret Stone. Anthony’s wife.” She leans forward to embrace me warmly and when she pulls away Pumpkin is attached to my hair, her tiny fingers gripping a handful of braids gleefully.
“Pumpkin! Let go! Sweetie, it’s not nice to pull hair,” Margaret scolds, and Pumpkin releases my hair. “Say sorry.”
“It’s okay. Didn’t hurt.” I fold my arms under my chest and hunch over, wishing for a moment I could be swallowed up by the shiny white marble floor of this massive foyer. I look around in awe, taking in the splendor of the mansion. There is a curved staircase, a stunning, three-tiered crystal chandelier as big as me and ceilings so high not even a long ladder on top of another long ladder could help you get anywhere close to the top.
“Pumpkin, say sorry,” Margaret says again, this time more sternly.
“I sorry!” Pumpkin shouts with a smile.
“Inside voice, Pumpkin.” Margaret gives me an apologetic tilt of the head. “I’m sorry, too.”
“No worries. It’s very nice to meet you, ma’am.”