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The problem of over-population is not something I made up. I read this in an article about the extreme population density in China and from there, my imagination took over.
I hope people will understand that over-population is a serious issue, however more importantly, I hope they gather the importance of family and love.
The waiting room is small with only several chairs lined up around the perimeter. Many women have to stand with their husband until someone else is called into the room. Luckily, Tyrone and I came early and managed to find a comfy chair to wait. The hour has been long and strenuous and my nerves have built up an army. My baby kicks violently so I caress my stomach, rubbing in small circles in hopes to settle down. Tyrone sits by my side massaging my back. His gentle hands ease the tension and anxiety that have been building up the whole wait.
I take a deep breath and rest my head on his chest. He runs his fingers through my hair, saying no words. I relax in the warmth of his body, as my mind calms like a peaceful lake. But every kick of my baby sends a wave of stress filtering back, disrupting my peace. I wince in pain and look to Tyrone for advice. He stares at me and smiles. His pearls shine, like the ocean in his eyes.
One by one, woman and their spouse are called into the room. After a brief meeting, they return to the lobby area with expressions revealing relief, excitement and joy. Eager to welcome a new soul into this wonderful world.
“Trinity and Tyrone Devlin. This way,” a middle-aged man with an expressionless face carries a digital screen showing out names and information. He directs us through a series of halls into a room.
The walls are white, almost as if we had walked into a giant blizzard. The tiles are also white with flecks of grey and black. In the corner a small wooden desk stands, with a pile of glass screens all stacked on each other like papers. In the opposite corner, there is a thin glass screen covered in fingerprints. A metal scanner hangs off the side with only a small red flashing button to interrupt the scheme of whites and greys.
“My name is Dr. Axel. I will be taking your scans and giving your results.” His monotonous voice shows just how many times he has repeated that line in one hour. My mind races, as I look around the blank room. The scanner, the digital screens, the bareness of the room, it all feels so tight. I am trapped in a blizzard like the ones across the globe in Canada. I hate it. I want to leave. Tyrone doesn’t reflect one ounce of surprise because since he works for the government, this technology is very familiar to him.
Like a robot, Dr. Axel grabs the scanner and waves in over my stomach then places it back on the side of the screen. I reach for Tyrone’s hand. For some reason, feeling the warmth of his touch calms me. He takes my shaking hands and kisses my cheek. I nod and let the smile escape my trembling lips. Dr. Axel ignores us and clicks a button on the screen. A few seconds later images flash across the glass then settle to fill it.
The picture reveals a beautiful, crisp image of my baby. The head, almost fully rounded with small, almond shaped eyes and a peanut sized nose. I sigh of relief as I stare into the baby’s closed eyes.
“So precious,” I say then look to see Tyrone’s reaction. But out of nowhere he gasps and rips his hand out of our hold.
“What’s wrong?” I watch Tyrone as his face slowly turns horror-stricken. In the corner, Dr. Axel does not avert his eyes from the screens on the desk as he goes through them moving each into separate piles.
“Excuse me, Dr. Axel. Is that . . .” he pauses, searching for words. “Is that another head? Are there two heads in that picture?” Now my attention is fully on the screen. My heart sinks as I make out exactly what Tyrone sees. I see the two heads. The two bodies. The four arms. Four legs.
“No,” I say to myself, unaware of how loud it came out.
“This can not be right. Scan again,” Tyrone demands. Dr. Axel finally looks up from the screens realizing he’s been requested. “Did you hear me? Scan again, I said!”
“Let me take a look,” Dr. Axel says calmly. He stands from his spot in the corner and walks to the glass. As if he just saw his whole life flash before his eyes, his jaw drops. He raises his black bushy brows and stares. His face remains in that position until Tyrone walks straight in front, blocking his view of the screen.
“Speak,” Tyrone’s face is about the color of a ripe tomato. All I can do is stare. Unable to move. Unable to speak.
“Mr. and Mrs. Devlin,” his voice is cracking and he fidgets with anything his hands come in contact with. “It appears as though you are expecting twins.”
He says it. He said the word. The word no mom wants to hear.
“Twins.” Tyrone and I say simultaneously.
“What does that mean,” Tyrone stutters.
“Due to restraints and government laws, you are only allowed to. . . how do I put this–– you can only keep one.”
As if my two babies are toys that I received as a gift and could only keep one. As if they aren’t two, perfectly healthy, breathing babies.
“Keep one? You’re saying I have to chose between my two babies which one I like better? Well I am deeply sorry, doctor I will not do that.” Tyrone crosses his arms and begins to pace around the room. “I work for the government, there should be some exception.”
“I am sorry but this is beyond my control. Each family is allowed one child. You happen to be one in one-thousand chance to expect twins. I wish there was more I could do but my job is to inform you. After you give birth, you will be expected to chose one of the babies. The other one––”
“The other one what?” I erupt in a crying mess. My vision fogs with tears and I can no longer see Tyrone or the screen. The kicking of my babies increase and I double over. Tyrone rushes over to me and helps me into a lounge chair in the back of the room. But as I sit the pain increases. I slap his arm away in anguish.
“The other one will be exterminated,” Dr. Axel finishes his sentence and looks away.
“Exterminated like an insect? You have the guts to lay all this down on my wife and me then compare my babies to pests. Go to hell.” Tyrone grabs my hand and waste and helps me to the door.
“Please stay. I have more information protocol calls for me to say.” We ignore him and rush through the halls back to the lobby. My face is striped in tears and I cannot contain my cries. Tyrone says nothing but continues walking me out.
Anxious wives and husbands stare at us due to the scene we’ve created. Tyrone picks me up and carries me like a baby so we can escape the glares. He gently places me in the car and types in “3273 B. Street Apt. No. 334” and we sit back as the car kicks into gear.
The ride home is silent, with only my constant sobbing to fill the emptiness. As soon as the car parks, I step onto the platform. Tyrone quickly follows then the cylinder shuts behind him and shoots up to our apartment.
I race onto the balcony and look over into the city. Cars fill every gap in the roads. Buildings sprout from every corner of every road. Between the crowded sidewalks and traffic lanes, there is no room for trees. No room for a single flower. The only breaks in crowds are where the little robots roam around eating up electro-cigarettes and other trash people dump.
I sigh. The weight of everything is too much for me to handle. I hear the glass door sink into the floor and look back to see Tyrone holding a glass of wine and a cup of water for me.
“I could use some of that right now,” I say and point to the wine. Tyrone laughs as he hands me the glass jokingly.
“Well, Trin,” he takes a sip of wine. “We have to do what is right.” I nod, not wanting to say anything. “I wish we could change this. I really do. But unfortunately, this is not America––”
“Oh my gosh,” I interrupt and jump out of my seat. “That is perfect, Tyrone!” Clearly confused, Tyrone just stares blankly. “What if we went to America?”
“Oh yes, that is simple,” it takes me a minute to catch up on his sarcasm. “The Union would love for us to leave but forget about it. America does not want anyone from the outside going in. If they let people in, they would eventually run into the same problem we face, here in the Union.”
“True,” I sit back down and gaze into the horizon. We sit in silence for a few minutes. Tyrone sips his wine and watches the drones fly by- The Union’s way of constantly watching. “Did you grab the tablet with our pictures?”
“Yes, I will go get it.” Tyrone leaves and I take his wine glass. One sip wouldn’t hurt. Would it? It is a 50/50 chance which baby it’ll affect since I have to give one up anyway. I put the glass to my lips but Tyrone rips it away, “Trinity!” He yells as it smashes to the ground.
“I’m sorry.” Nothing I can say could vouch for what I just did so I leave it at that. He ignores me and pulls up the pictures of our babies.
“Okay. I am not exactly sure how else to put this but, on the count of three, point to the baby you want to keep.”
“Wait, look at the words above. She is a girl. He is a guy. How can we choose? Tyrone, how?” Tears escape my eyes. And suddenly I am crying the Nile.
“Trinity, we do not have to do this now,” Tyrone begins to rub my back in a soothing motion.
“Yes we do. If not, we will keep pushing it off until it is too late. We must choose now.” He nods then starts to count. When he says three we both point at the screen. Our fingers touch and we look at each other. His eyes are glossed over and a single tear drips down his cheek.
Just then, a drone making its daily circles pauses in front of us. A red flash goes off then it begins to beep. The tablet falls out of Tyrone’s hand and smashes on the ground. We are too focused on the drone to pay attention to the shards which scatter the patio.
A screen pops up from the drone and a white face appears. “Trinity and Tyrone Devlin. Hello,” the man snarls. His voice is raspy and his white hair covers most of his face in dreads, leaving only small openings for his eyes, nose and mouth. “You are expecting twins, I hear. And from looking at the tape from the drone, it looks as though you have decided on the keeper.”
I look at Tyrone and can see the steam rushing out of his ears. His hands are clenched in fists so tight his knuckles are turning as white as the man’s hair. “The boy. Why the boy? I always wanted a little girl I could spoil rotten. Which, as a matter of fact, I did. My wife and I raised our little girl. Denise her name. Gorgeous girl. She is twenty-three now––”
“Okay, sir,” Tyrone’s lips shake and he grinds his teeth. I know if one more thing gets on his nerves he will break.
“Sorry, I tend to get off topic. . .” the screen fuzzes and his words are mushed into one electronic buzz. It returns to normal in a few seconds and he regains his position. “I am here to just let you know, I heard your conversation.” He pauses leaving Tyrone and I in deep thought. “Let me give you a hint, America? That ring a bell?” We nod our heads in sync. “Yes, there we go. You see, the issue with that is quite simple. We would love if you would leave. If you leave and we let anyone leave, our population would go way down and our issues would be miniscule. No overcrowdedness, no food rations, no over expensiveness. However, if you did flee to America, the government would catch you. That, my fellow citizens, is not such a good thing for the Union. We are at peace with America. And just two people could ruin that. You understand what I am saying? Don’t let me hear you even say the word ‘America’ again. Things would not be so great on your side.”
Once again, Tyrone and I nod. “Alright, good talk.” The screen closes in and before the drone flies away, it hovers over our heads for a few seconds.
Without another word, Tyrone and I go inside. The glass slides out of the floor to meet the ceiling and the click of a lock snaps. Tyrone escorts me to the couch and lets me rest my head in his chest. He brushes his fingers through my hair and gently works out any knots. His other hand holds mine in a tight grasp. The kind that makes me feel safe. Like no one can get in our way. The kind that shows his true love for me.
The day has arrived. The car drives us in a smooth journey to the hospital. I am placed on the foam bed. Tyrone stands off to the side. “I love you, Trin, do not ever forget that,” his soft eyes relax me. I have lost my strength to say anything back. I let my lids close.
I hear piercing cries. Shrieking so high pitched the glass windows could shatter. As my eyes open, I see my babies. I see the beautiful boy. A little tuft of dark hair rests on his head. Dull blue eyes and a beaked nose, like Tyrone. In the nurses other hand lays my little girl. Little wisps of light brown hair cover her small head like a blanket. Dull grey eyes reveal a full moon. Her lips are shaped in an O.
I feel a tear drop drip down my cheek and I reach my hands out to hold my boy and girl. The nurse rests each one in my arms and leaves the room. A doctor comes in just as the door shuts.
“Trinity Devlin, I am Dr. Axel. . . you must remember me?” His tone has changed and he wears a sympathetic look. “Have you thought of any names for your beautiful babies?”
I suddenly remember our decision and tears stream down my face. Through sniffles and coughs I manage to tell Dr. Axel which baby to take away. He doesn’t take my baby girl away, instead he runs to the door, rips out his earpiece and locks it.
“Trinity, listen to me right now. Outside the window in 47 seconds will be a transporter. Go into that immediately. Okay? Do not hesitate. Both your babies are safe,” his raspy whisper swarms my head. “Okay, now. Go!” He helps me out of bed and I stumble as I walk.
“Tyrone?” I spit out his name.
“You have enough food and clothes to get by for a while. You’ll be good. Now go before it is too late and you blow your chance.” Dr. Axel opens the window and helps me climb into the transporter. It is a metal cylinder with only a small half moon window on the side. “Good luck, Trinity. It has been a pleasure.”
“What about Tyrone?” I yell but the doors close and I can no longer hear anything. The transporter begins to lift off and I look through the small window. I see Dr. Axel unlock the office door. As soon as he twists the key, the door flies open and more than 20 Union Troops in their black uniforms tackle him to the floor and taze him to death. I see his lifeless body get dragged out of the room. Before I can see anything more, the cylinder blasts away so fast everything around me becomes a blur.
My heart races as if I just finished a marathon. My vision blurs in and out of focus. I make out two cradles in the corner with a little bedsheet. One pink, one blue. I stumble to put my babies in the cradle then slump to the floor.
I awake to the cries of my twins. Their loud shrieks pierce my eardrums as I quickly pick them up and cradle them in my arms. Immediately, their wails turn to quiet whispers then silence. As I look into their grey eyes, names come to mind. Ebony and Talin. I kiss their soft foreheads one by one then lay with them tucked close to my chest for several minutes.
The ride is smooth. No bumps or shakes. My babies have fallen asleep so I gently lay them back in their cradles. I walk to the pile of cans neatly stacked in the corner. Sitting on top is a crumpled up note.
Everything is going to be okay. I will meet up with you in America. When you arrive, hopefully you will be in Oakland, California. From there, it is an 8 mile walk to San Francisco. Maybe you can get a ride rather than put yourself through such a journey. I will be there in a month. Meet me by the Golden Gate Bridge. You can’t miss it, it is a mile long and a vibrant orangey-red color. In exactly a month, bring our twins to the very middle of that bridge. If everything works out I will be there by 5:30pm.
I love you don’t ever forget that.
“‘If everything works out’, what works out?” I say aloud to myself. Only silence follows. I lay on the cold ground with the note crumbled in my hand. I stare at his writing. His soft cursive reminds me of his voice. The sweet voice that used to wish me goodnight before I went to bed. The voice that filled me with joy and laughter. Made me happy every day I woke.
San Francisco Palm trees dance in the wind like ballerinas. The sun bakes down on my skin. I lay on the sand with Ebony and Talin sitting beside me scooping grains of sand that pour through the spaces in between their small fingers. I check my watch every five minutes waiting for 5:00 to come so I can meet Tyrone by the bridge.
“You guys get to see Daddy soon,” I say in a high pitched voice. Toothless smiles return and I hug them and snap a picture with my phone. “Daddy is going to love these pictures.”
The time has come at last. Every inch of me shakes in excitement. All I want is to be in his arms. Sitting on the couch together while Ebony and Talin sit next to us. Our perfect family finally becoming a reality.
I push the stroller over the bridge and stop in the middle. The ocean below looks vicious, like it’s waiting to claim a victim in its depths. The breeze is light, just strong enough to lift strands of my hair and let them soar.
My watch reads 5:30. A smile erupts across my face. I rock the stroller back and forth and pace in circles on the sidewalk. 5:31. My stomach twist in knots. I need Tyrone. I need to hold his hand and feel safe in his comfort. Only a minute has gone by but I am stressing. 5:32. My eyes switch between my watch and both sides of the bridge. Waiting to see his tall frame walking towards me. Arms outstretched ready to give me a warm hug.
I begin to walk to cover all parts of the bridge but my walk becomes a jog and quickly evolves to a sprint. Ebony and Talin begin to cry from the stroller but all I can think about is Tyrone.
A fire is beginning to ignite in the sky and my watch reads 7:26. My stomach aches with hunger and my screaming babies won’t give in. My legs burn like sparks have been searing through the blood in them. Beads of sweat cover my forehead. My eyes have watered over, blurring my vision but I am determined. Tyrone is here. He is waiting on this bridge for me, just like his note said. I have waited a month to see his smiling face. A month of raising our twins. I need him, now. I need someone to help me raise them. They need to see their father.
The moon is full and reflects it’s brilliant light over the raging ocean below. I sit on the sidewalk and feed Ebony and Talin. They swallow everything within seconds. I take the granola bar I brought and try to savor each bite but end up eating within seconds, as well. My watch says 9:46. The traffic which used to cover every inch of the bridge is gone leaving only me and my twins with the moon.
Tyrone isn’t here. It’s been over four hours since he said he would meet me in his note. I make my way back to the apartment. Each foot drags on the pavement. Each step takes more effort than the last. I burst in tears. Every part of me hurts. I can’t do this. I can not raise my twins without him. I need Tyrone. I need him like the moon needs its stars to keep company.
My alarm beeps and I jump right out of bed. Having not changed into pajamas three hours ago, I rush to grab my twins and run to the bridge. I know he’ll be there. Sitting on the sidewalk holding two wine glasses and celebrating since I can finally drink again. Ebony and Talin laying in their cradles besides us. He’ll be on the bridge, laying on a beach blanket, waving anxiously at me when I am in his view. We will meet again.
The sun has barely risen. Remnants of the night are still present, the moon too stubborn to leave for the day. I get to the middle of the bridge and see no man. No signs of anyone. No note. No nothing.
I want to cry but I have cried out all of the liquid in my body. My puffy eyes could not be any bigger. I lean over the railing and look down into the vicious ocean. I begin to dry heave. I try to throw up but I have not eaten since that granola bar. My body is completely empty. I am helpless.
Days go by and each day I go to the bridge after four hours of sleep expecting to see him. Every journey from my apartment to the bridge gets slower. More solemn, more lonely. My twins are growing with each passing week. Teeth pop in. Hair grows longer. My little girl has retained Tyrone’s bright blue eyes. Every time I look into her soul, I see the Caribbean Sea, the same sea I used to see every morning I woke with Tyrone. Talin has the same facial structure as him. I see Tyrone every time I see my little boy. They are growing up. I am raising them alone. With no father.
“Mom, see you after school,” Ebony says as she runs out the door.
“Love you both,” I yell as they sprint to the bus. “More than you could know,” I say to myself. From the window I watch them step onto the bus. My children are beautiful. They are perfect. I know wherever Tyrone is, he knows they are wonderful children. I still go to the bridge every night at 5:30 but I come home at 5:45 because after ten years, he has not shown up. The only thing keeping me voyaging to the bridge is an ounce of hope deep in my heart that wishes he’ll show up.
An envelope slides through the door and I pick it up. The return address says nothing but “The Union” and the name on the front is Trinity. No last name, no address. Only a scribbled writing that looks as though it was written in 30 seconds. But I recognize those scribbles. Those are Tyrone’s scribbles. I tear open the envelope and a messily scratched letter falls out.
Trinity, my lovely wife,
I hope life has been treating you swell and I hope our children have been living in this wonderful world in grace and peace. Your undeniable strength is something I need you to keep as you progress the following years and raise our children into wonderful adults––
I toss the note on the ground as tears well up in my eyes. I can not read anything more. Tyrone is never coming. The note has made it clear. I will never be reunited with the love of my life. My children will never meet their father. They will never have a father to look up to as a role model. I am alone. Alone is this world.
I run to the balcony and look down the ledge below. Palm trees are solemn as they stutter in the wind. There is no dancing. Clouds have covered the sun like they know there is no light left in my life. A drop sprinkles my forehead and drips down my face. It combines with tears that flow down my cheeks like a mad river. More drops fall on my head soaking me to the bone. I look like I just jumped into the raging ocean under the bridge, but that doesn’t bother me. I want nothing to do with anything. The rain has no effect. I shiver but feel no coldness. I shake but feel no emotion. I am alone.
The rain has passed and I find myself still standing on the balcony. Not one muscle has moved. I gain the energy to walk back inside, dragging puddles over the marble floors. My apartment has turned into a swimming pool but all I want to do is finish the note. These are Tyrone’s last words. I must finish what he intended me to read.
I love you, Trin. More than you can imagine.
As you know, I work for the government and having that job had many benefits for our family. I was able to steal one of their hidden transports and program it to fly you and our children from the hospital to America. Everything went as planned. The transporter sent the signal that you had successfully landed in Oakland. But, unfortunately, I was not the one who received the signal. Another man saw it, reported it, and an investigation followed, where every single worker was interviewed. I have been keeping quiet, although I am your husband, who else would have done this? They know it was me, Trin. I am writing this note with the only time I have. They are interviewing me in five minutes and I am turning myself in. What I have done- letting you leave The Union for America, is a crime. Now, I must serve the consequences. Just know, I love you. You will always be my special woman. I will watch you and our children from above with great pride and joy. I must go. I am out of time. Stay positive. I am always with you.
My legs give out. I fall to the floor in a mess of tears and dry heaves. Hours go by and I remain frozen in the puddle. Screaming and crying. My throat burns but nothing can make me move or settle down.
Ebony and Talin arrive home but I remain stuck in shock.
“Mom!” They both yell simultaneously as they see someone who resembles their mother but looks like a crying zombie. The note is still in my hand but Talin rips it away and reads it silently. Ebony reads over his shoulder. I want to tell them not to read it. I want to rip it out of their hands. But I can’t. I have cried out all of my strength. When they finish the note, their eyes become coated in a sheet of gloss and they slump to the floor next to me. I wrap my arms around both of them and we lay there, all together. We cry for hours, all together, not saying a word. I hug them so tightly they squirm out of my grip.
“I love you,” I manage to say through trembling breaths.
“I love you, mom,” Ebony wheezes.
“I love you, forever,” Talin says strongly. And we lay there. We lay there, together, as a family.