“Don’t be mad because he loves me more!”
Rico Daniels laughed as his youngest twin buried her face into his side. She hadn’t been feeling well the last few days, so today he allowed her to stay home from school. Their mother and his oldest twin weren’t too happy about it. Since his particular occupation allowed him to set his own hours, they’d spent the whole day together. All of his girls were easily jealous.
“Shut up, Bri,” Ava whined, her voice coming out muffled because of her position. Rico rubbed her back as she coughed a little.
“I’m going to burn your Angelica doll and take it to school!” Bri teased, running off. Ava attempted to sit up and chase her, but Rico held her down and laughed.
“You two always arguing,” he said. Ava huffed before trying to get back comfortable. The front door alarm sounded and a few moments later, Rico smiled to see his woman walk in. Ever since he’d met her they’d been inseparable. She was gorgeous and exotic and Rico knew he had to have her. She was a few years younger than him but his style and pockets spoke her language. Rico was never blind to her ways, but he knew he could tame her. Not soon after she was pregnant and birthing his twin baby girls. It amazed him that even after a decade he still couldn’t help but smile when she walked in the room.
“I told you to get in your bed!” Kita complained. “You want the whole house sick?” she asked, looking at Rico.
“Calm down, she just came down here,” he said, pulling Kita’s arm to kiss her. Once she leaned over, he tapped the side of her thigh and she blushed. “We’re hungry.”
Kita rolled her eyes but stalked off towards the kitchen. She looked back and winked after Rico cat whistled. Ava groaned.
“Shut up,” Rico said, roughing up her curls. She frowned but closed her eyes before leaning back on the couch. “She’s going to make you go upstairs soon.”
“She’ll have to carry me,” Ava said. “I’m sleep.”
Rico laughed and threw his arm back around Ava while watching television. He was flipping back and forth from the news and ESPN. There had been an unfamiliar knot in the pit of his stomach but he figured he was just getting sick with whatever Ava had. It never failed: when one got sick, they all got sick.
It was usually because the girls loved to lay under Rico whenever they could. He had two daddy’s girls for sure, although Bri usually stuck to him more than Ava did. They both responded to Kita’s lack of parenting skills differently. Rico often found Ava imitated some of Kita’s mannerisms; begging for acceptance, while Bri was content on being a daddy’s girl.
Kita had come a long way from the spoiled, selfish teenager he’d met all those years ago, but she still had her ways. Rico had three kids instead of two. His mom often argued that he needed to leave Kita alone but he couldn’t bare it. She was the love of his life; she understood his choice of employment and rarely badgered him about it. She didn’t have to work and all he asked was that she took care of the girls. For the most part, they worked out fine.
“What you want to eat, Daddy?” Kita yelled from the kitchen.
“Lasagna!” Rico said, slowly smiling. Ava, whose eyes were still closed, giggled.
“Nuh uh! Stop asking me to make lasagna!” Kita yelled in frustration.
“Well what do you want to eat, besides lasagna?”
“You didn’t say Daddy!”
“Rico!” Kita whined. Ava giggled again as Rico winked at her.
“Whatever you feel like making, Momma!”
Pots and pans began to clank as Kita turned on the radio that always aided her in the kitchen. With their conversation finally over, Ava could rest. The medicine they’d given her was making her woozy.
Their family dynamic had always been weird to those on the outside, but it worked for them. It was a little cliché in Rico’s eyes: he was the drug dealer who kept his family away from his drama while Kita was the glamorous model type who only Rico could tame. His girls were complete opposites. While both of them were outspoken, Ava came off rude at times while Bri came off as social. Even in their adolescent years, Rico could tell their personalities were very much set in stone, much like their mothers.
Only thing missing in Rico’s perfect urban fairy tale was a son. He’d admit that Kita’s pregnancy was a surprise to them both, but one he welcomed with everything he had. Kita took a while to warm up to the idea of being a mother, in fact, it wasn’t until they found out they were having twin girls that she actually showed her excitement. Once the twins were born, they’d had their hands full. Rico’s mother wasn’t fond of Kita, so her help was minimal. Kita hadn’t spoken to her own family in years.
It was them against the world, but Rico didn’t mind.
Once the twins started school, Rico started his mission to have a son. He thought it was only right that they have another baby. Kita argued that he had no way of making sure it was a boy and it wasn’t a risk she wanted to take. She was more than content with two, while Rico pushed for another chance. Of course, Kita won that argument.
They’d had their twins young, so Rico knew there was still time to make his request happen.
It couldn’t have been long after Ava closed her eyes that the couch made a whoosh sound, pushing her up before letting her down. She tried to ignore it, hoping that her twin would just be quiet and sit there. Bri was a loud mouth. Ava proclaimed that Bri was always trying to talk and always trying to be seen or heard. It irritated Ava at times but she loved her nonetheless. Ava could remember a time when she almost got embarrassed in a class they had together.
Since they were now in the sixth grade, everything was different. It was their first year having to switch classrooms for different subjects. The way their middle school was set up, each grade was put into teams by color. There was red, blue, green, yellow and purple. Ava and Bri were both on the blue team, which was average. Rico didn’t allow D’s or F’s in his house. While Ava had a little struggle maintaining her C+ average, Bri was content on making easy B’s and not trying.
English was Ava’s worst subject. It was so boring that she never paid attention. It didn’t help that she had the class right after lunch. Ava had to keep herself entertained so she wouldn’t go to sleep.
“Did you watch the show like I told you?” Ava asked. Amaru frowned and shook his head.
“I told you I wasn’t watching no Boy meets World, yo!”
“It’s a good show, better than Ren and Stimpy!” Ava said, laughing. She poked the side of his head and he swatted her hand away before making sure his short curls weren’t out of place. Amaru was such a pretty boy, even before puberty hit.
“Nothin’ is better than Ren and Stimpy!”
“Mrs. Daniels, can you tell me what a preposition is?”
Ava and Amaru stopped laughing as Ava glanced at the teacher, hoping her eyes were on Bri and not her. She wasn’t so lucky.
“What is a preposition?”
“It sounds like something we should learn in health class and not here.”
The class erupted in laughter as Ava glanced at Bri with questioning eyes. The teacher glared at Bri and told her to stop talking out of turn.
“My granny taught me a song about them,” Bri went on, ignoring the teacher. “You want to hear it?”
Bri started singing the song while the teacher protested. She sat back in her desk and Ava knew that Bri was about to get a detention. Ava had no choice but to sing the song with her.
“Above, about, across, after, along, among, around at. Before, beside, between, against, within, within, beneath through.”
The song was the same tune as “Yankee Doodle” and when the rest of the class began to clap to the beat, Ava smiled. She had remembered the song, but hadn’t remembered it was the preposition song.
By the time they were finished, the teacher was standing near the door with two pink slips in her hand. Bri and Ava walked with their things to her and grabbed them, heading out the door, while singing the song.
Ava groaned in irritation when she heard Bri ask Rico what he was watching.
“Shut up!” Ava said. Bri kept talking, ignoring her. Ava jumped off the couch and began walking towards the stairs.
“Baby girl, come back,” Rico said.
“Cry baby,” Bri said.
“Ay, leave her alone you don’t want her messing with you when you sick so stop!” Rico said, with base in his voice. Bri’s face broke before she attempted not to show she was hurt by his tone. Ava kept going anyway. Everyone was irritating when she was sick.
Once she was in her own bed, she sighed while sinking down into her mattress. The chill of it brought relief to her rising temperature, making her smile. It wasn’t long before she was finally able to sleep.
Ava groaned as her stomach woke her up from the sleep she’d finally been able to get. Her room was dark; she’d slept through dinner. She sat up and frowned when she heard the front door swinging open and Rico’s voice. His heavy footsteps passed her door in a hurry while she heard more footsteps downstairs. Whoever they were, they were calling his name, his full name.
When Ava heard Kita crying and running by her room, she quickly sat up and threw the covers from her body. She ran to her door and swung it open. The hallway was dark but small lights were bouncing off the stairs.
“No, you can’t take him!” Kita yelled. Ava’s body felt heavy as she took small steps to the stairs. She heard a door creak open before she could feel Bri grabbing onto the back of her shirt and walking behind her. The commotion downstairs wasn’t getting quieter. Rico was yelling for Kita to calm down and for them not to touch her.
“Who is them?” Bri whispered. Ava knew who they were, but didn’t respond. Once they got to the bottom of the stairs, the first thing they saw was Kita, hysterical and being pushed back by a male police officer.
“He hasn’t done anything!” she yelled. “He’s been home all night.”
“Ma’am, you need to calm down!” the officer demanded. Kita fought against him more. Ava’s heart began to race as she saw Rico on his knees near the couch, being held down by two police officers. He was gritting his teeth and telling them that they wouldn’t find anything in the house. Two other officers were tearing up the house, moving couches, throwing pillows on the floor. Drawers were opening and closing in the kitchen.
“Daddy!” Bri yelled out. Ava quickly clamped her hand down over Bri’s mouth. She cried into it, but Ava kept Bri behind her. They were thrown back into the wall when an officer raced passed them and up the stairs, as if they weren’t even there.
“Go to your room!”
They both jumped when Rico’s voice boomed towards them. Bri cried harder as Ava shook her head no. They were handcuffing him and pulling him up from the ground, one telling him that he was under arrest.
“I said go to your room!” Rico yelled louder. Kita slumped over on the floor crying. “Baby, get up and get them back upstairs!” Rico said, while trying to struggle to get closer to Kita. “I’ll be right back. Get up, Kita you can’t do this right now!”
Rico silently cussed as Kita ignored him as well. The officers pushed him out the door. Ava and Bri stood on the stairs, immobilized. They could hear him clearly, even from outside.
“I’ll be back!”