“I need you to come home. Now.” The line disconnected, and I stared blankly at my cell phone for a few moments. Marta almost never took that kind of tone to with me. I fought back anger for a second before realizing something must be wrong, very wrong. I started to collect my things in a rush, apologizing to the girls I was playing games with, but my sister needed me. She’d been sick the past couple of days and I really should go check on her. They sent me off with best wishes for Marta, and I headed out trying to convince myself that whatever was wrong couldn’t be as bad as I thought. That didn’t stop me from being sure by the time that I pulled into the driveway that I would find my house ransacked and my sister bleeding out from a gunshot wound or two.
Of course, it was nothing like that. My parents weren’t home, so I checked the living room and the kitchen to make sure Marta wasn’t there before heading up to our room. I found Marta there, sitting on the end of my bed in her bathrobe, starting at the closed bathroom door as if it had managed to offend her. For a moment, I got angry again. If Marta had called me home in a panic because there was a spider in the bathtub or because the toothpaste cap had been put on unevenly, I was going to lose my mind. But then she looked up at me, and I knew it was worse. So much worse.
“I know why I’ve been sick.” She said simply. And then I did too. Maybe it was because we were twins. Maybe it was because we were best friends. Maybe it was because we both knew it was one of our biggest fears, not just because it would happen, but because of how we’d have to admit it to our parents. But I knew. My sister was pregnant.
I sat down next to her on the bed and took both her hands in mine. “I thought we agreed we’d be careful. Precautions, Protection, all that good stuff.”
“I thought I was being. I mean, I did everything we agreed to. Oh, Avery, I don’t know what happened.” Marta’s voice was amazingly still. I’m pretty sure I would have been in tears by that point.
“How do you know? I mean, are you sure?”
“I took an over the counter test.” She made a vague gesture towards the closed bathroom door, “I couldn’t go to the doctor, not without it getting back to Momma. Oh, Momma. Avery, what are we going to do?”
I stood up and paced back and forth a little bit in our bedroom, running through things in my head. I couldn’t meet Marta’s eyes. For the first time I could ever remember, I couldn’t look my sister in the eyes. If I did, if I saw that sadness in those eyes that so similarly reflected my own, then it would all be so very real, and I would actually have to face the mess that she had gotten us into.
A small little part of my brain, the one responsible for every scumbag move I had ever made in my entire life, piped up to say “the mess that she had gotten herself into.” Technically speaking, it was right. I could have thrown Marta to the dogs that were our parents. I could tell her “Well, sucks you be you, see you at the Christening.” And carry on with my life as planned. Because, after all, I wasn’t pregnant.
But I never could. Not really. Marta was my sister, my twin, my best friend, and to leave her in the lurch would not only hurt her but change me. Change who I am fundamentally, and then Marta and I would still both be neck deep in messes, but we wouldn’t even have each other to lean on. And as horrible and as clichéd as that makes us sound, I couldn’t imagine not having Marta to lean on, and I liked to think that she couldn’t imagine not having me.
When my brain finally clicked fully into gear, reinforced by the fact that I had to be there for my sister, I did manage to meet her eyes, and not for the first time, I felt for a moment that I was just looking at a reflection of my own. “Don’t worry, Mart. We’ll figure something out. We have to.”
The tension in the room lessened almost instantly. For a brief moment, I realized that Marta was very much aware that I ‘had a choice’ and she was, however unlikely, completely terrified that I was going to deny her. “We have to,” she repeated, and that’s when she started to cry.