Although Andy had planned it well beforehand, fear still found her, but she didn’t mind it, it made her sharper, stronger, or maybe it was the pure excitement for what’s to come that made her arms swell with strength, such sturdiness that when she carried Larissa’s pregnant dead body from the kitchen to the old barn close by, the body felt as light as a feather despite her heavy weight. She even found the strength to take a shovel and dig a grave, her body finally began to weaken halfway through the dig, she was damp with sweat and covered in soil and dirt by then and nearly choking with the stench of feces.
She measured the so-called-grave with her eyes and decided it was good enough for now, “It might’ve helped if that bitch wasn’t pregnant, right?” she panted to the cows that were watching every move she makes attentively, their eyes glistening with distress, “Oh, don’t worry, I won’t do no harm if you kept this one to yourself,” Andy winked, “Plus, I’m doing you a favor, wasn’t she the one touching, squeezing your tits and all that, you should be licking my feet or something.”
Andy’s knees were shaking but she felt as if 50 pounds of weight were shredded out of her and buried with Larissa. She sighed with relief and sped back to her home.
Mark, Larissa’s husband, reported her missing the next morning. All she kept thinking was how if she had gone missing, no one would’ve noticed me for months, I’d be dead and composed by the time they find me. Mark was angry and anxious to find his pregnant wife, she could be kidnapped, he said to the police, being tortured, with the baby, he gave quite the show as he covered his face with his palms and sobbed.
Their two kids asked about their mom every hour, “daddy, is mom back yet?”
“Where’s mom, daddy? I’m hungry.” Lucy, the youngest, grumbled.
“I don’t want cereal.” Paul said, “I want mommy to make me eggs.”
Lucy and Paul were everything a mother wanted in a child; didn’t fight that much, played quietly in the house and loudly in the backyard, went to bed on a regular time with no hassle, ate all the food in their plate, clingy only if people were around so the mother could show off the indestructible bond between them. They’re everything Andy wanted in her children, but of course, Larissa got the bigger slice.
Frankly, she had been taking it since both of them were in their mother’s womb, Andy came out much thinner than Larissa. “You were just the tiniest thing. Your sister, however, was a big one, the doctor said she took up all the oxygen and space.” Her mother once told her, laughing. “Even after birth, she’d finish her bottle quickly just to steal yours. We had to feed you in separate rooms, could you believe that?” And Andy could believe that, it was no stranger to her, that feeling of being lesser than someone. Larissa got the first goodnight kiss, and the more sincere. Larissa had food put on her plate first. Her parents couldn’t afford to buy two of each toy so Larissa got to play with the toys first and Andy after but only if she got bored with them. All the kindergarten teachers favored Larissa. Her parents were worried to death about Larissa all the time. Larissa got invited to play at recess with the girls and Andy got ignored and picked on by boys. Larissa’s laughed with her friends all day in school while Andy walked behind them, eyes on the floor. Larissa got all the cute haircuts, and howled “NO! Do her hair different than mine.” at their mom when it was Andy’s turn. All the girls wanted to be friends with Larissa. All the boys wanted to kiss Larissa. All the questions were directed to Larissa, she was the center of any gathering, the statue of presence. Even she got the pretty name and Andy got stuck with a boy’s name.
There was a time when Andy paid $60 a week for therapy, she struggled at first with Dr. Hawkins, she was an old women with glasses that made her eyes look two times bigger and more judgey, opening up to her felt like slicing open an old wound and scratching the pink flesh. Letting someone else peek into her ugly thoughts she had been having since childhood was bad enough, but to take a look at it with a wary observation to see what this person is made of?
Bloodstained silent tears welled up to harvest an appalling body with a taboo for a brain. “You have a bad relationship with food, and the first step into getting better is acknowledging that you have a problem and that problem needs to resolved.”
“Oh Please, the only healthy relationship in my life is with food. And you’re too quick to judge, since I’m not the only person who’s overweight in the room.” Andy rolled her eyes at her. “I have a problem with the people in my life, I have a problem with this fucked universe that me put in the same womb as my sister. Everything is always about her, since the beginning, I thought I was gonna grow out of it, maybe move on, once, you know, I got to live by myself. I tried living for myself, I swear I did, but God forbids that any day passes without me hearing about Larissa. ‘Oh look, Larissa got a job at Google.’ ‘Larissa is going out with this handsome doctor who has a body of a fucking swimmer.’ ‘Larissa is engaged. Larissa is married. Larissa is pregnant.’” Andy cried silently till the end of the session, she grabbed her purse and sped out. She blamed her sister for this pain. She knew she was a whole person, ten fingers, ten toes and a whole brain, but still wondered why was she still attached to Larissa, still a prisoner to her, locked in a chain. Her sister shared everything with her, sometimes too much, sometimes she took all of it. Larissa took all her luck, her love, her memories, the job, the good husband, the children.
The children is what hurts the most, Andy would give it all up for just one child, to give someone the wholesome love and the attention she never got, a family of her own. “You deserve children, Andy, you could turn all this pain from your past into a wonderful thing for your kids, because you’ve tasted the sour fruit and now it’s your time to give ‘em the sweet one. Give ‘em a taste of the real Andy.” Dr. Haley, who was much nicer than Hawkins and the sessions costed a lot less, said. “I really believe you’re gonna be a great mother. Such a wonderful mom that even your sister is gonna be jealous of how much your children love you.”
She had slept with the best men she could find, and nothing happened despite her following the doctor’s instructions and tips to a tee. Her attempts with the sperm bank failed horribly and was a complete waste of money.
“I think I’m infertile,” she said to Dr. Haley. “They said I could keep trying, or I might wanna look into adoption.”
“Do you want to look into adoption?”
“That bitch, she even took my good eggs and left me the dry ones.” She said, “why do I have to look into adoption, huh? Why does she get the perfectly functioning eggs that produce kids that look an awful lot like her? I want my kids to have the same hair texture as mine, eyes and a nose like mine. I wanna see myself in them. Just like she sees herself in her kids.”
Larissa sent at least three videos a day to Andy of Paul and Lucy, with a text that read, “Look, Andy, Lucy picks out the peas out of the rice just like I used to do, remember?” “Lucy loooooves strawberry milk as much as I did, remember how I couldn’t sleep without drinking some?” “Look at Paul’s hair! Reminds me so much of mine when it was shorter.”
Andy knew she did it out of spite, she thrived on attention and praise, she got a kick out of it, alluding briefly about her husband, kids, and job just to remind Andy how empty her life is compared to her, just to sense the disappointment in her exhale or the ache that cramps her heart whenever she saw one of Larissa’s texts, she knew she was hurting her, but did it anyway.
It didn’t take the police a long time to find the body after organizing the search party, they dug her out after a police dog sniffed his way to the barn, and as she suspected, they ruled a homicide and opened an investigation. It unnerved the whole town, the killer of a pregnant women with two kids was on the loose, and the police had no leads yet.
Shortly after, they called her in for questioning, it was time for Andy to put on a show.
“You two were close?” Detective Martin said, elbows on his desk. It was only the two of them at his office.
“Of course, we were. We saw each other almost everyday.”
He told her they had nothing, but were sure that she was killed in the house then moved to the barn. They were still waiting for an update from the forensics but it was most likely an overdose of something, he told her. “Like, drugs? How?” tears started to fall down her cheek.
“It’s a fairly common used method, actually. Morphine, MS contin, Mercury, she could’ve been injected or it was put into her food.” He took a deep breath. “But that’s not exactly why I brought you here, since we can hardly get anything useful out of the husband, I thought maybe the twin sister could tell us more about Larissa. Do you have any idea who might’ve done it? Did she have any rivals at work? Did she recently had a fight with someone? Did she mention any thing like that to you?”
And thus, they began talking about Larissa, which Andy hoped would be for the last time. “Well, she did tell me about two weeks ago that she and Mark had a ‘weird’ fight.”
It was true, Larissa had stormed in Andy’s house suddenly one afternoon when she was doing laundry in front of the TV. Andy was about to tell her how rude it was to enter someone’s house like that even though she had the keys but when she looked at her she knew right away that there was something wrong, her facial muscles were tight as she locked her jaw, exactly the same look she had whenever their mother told her if she got an ‘A’ in French like Andy, then she could go the Spring Dance with her boyfriend. “Ris, what are you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be at work?”
She had a paper in her hand, “Yes, I was at work, and this came to my desk.” She handed her the paper.
“What is this, anyway?”
“It’s a paternity test, Andy!” she shrieked. “Apparently, there’s this new thing called called DDC, it allows you to know the baby’s father at only 12 weeks.”
“I’m in trouble, Andy, big trouble.” She sat on the couch, “Mark sent this to me in an envelope, the baby didn’t match his DNA. He knows, Andy, he knows.”
“Whose baby is it, then?”
“This man from work.” Larissa said, sniveling. “Stephen.”
“And does Stephen know?”
“No, I think not,” she hesitated, “I mean, he asked, but I told him I was sure it was Mark’s.”
“How could you let this happen, Ris. How could you be this stupid? What’s gonna happen to the kids now?”
“I don’t know, I really don’t know.”
Detective Martin leaned back on his chair, “So, Mark knew about the affair?”
“Yes, after she went home that day, she called me at night and said Mark didn’t do anything, didn’t even say one word about it. She thought he was going to flip out, but he didn’t even tell her to stop seeing him. He just did nothing.”
She watched his face as he clicked everything together “Well, I guess that’s not entirely true.” He wrote something on his notepad and rushed out of the office.
And that’s how The State vs. Mark Harris started and ended with Mark being convicted with a first degree murder and 20 years for Child Destruction under the Fetal Protection Act.
Andy straightaway got custody of Paul and Lucy, she tried her hardest to take their minds of their parents, to fill the void. They moved to Miami, enrolled them in a new school and everyday they went on a new adventure, playing on the beach, shows, skating, bowling, play parties, and stayed out all day till they passed out as soon as they were on the backseat, she didn’t want to leave them with enough energy to think about their parents before bed.
Running around after the kids all day made Andy lose about 40 pounds, she felt an internal jolt whenever she passed a mirror, her figure was the spitting image of Larissa. She had to remind herself to calm down each time one of them mentioned their mother. After all, forgetting was a slow process, she just have to be patient with their needs, and that she did. “You look just like mom, Auntie.”
“Well, if you want, I could be your mom.”
And when Lucy nodded with smile, Andy hid her tears and couldn’t comprehend how this much happiness could possibly be inside her.