Worthy, Genevieve and Leah

Genevieve is talking to Alyssa in the living room of the Caine’s residence.

“Do you know if you’re having a boy or a girl?”

“No,” Alyssa says. “The doctor knows, but we’ve insisted on not being told. We’d like to be surprised.”

“Is it tough on you and Tim being an interracial couple?”

“Not really. We sometimes get stares when we’re out in public together, but Atlanta’s a progressive city. Plus, we’re a formidable team.”

They focus on Steven and Abigail talking across the room.

“Steven seems enamored with your cousin.”

“He’s not going to get very far.”

“Am I correct in assuming you’re relieved?”

Genevieve raises her free hand. “I plead the fifth.”

Leah enters with a wine glass and bottle and heads toward the couch.

Alyssa suddenly grabs her stomach. “Oh!”

Leah stops and Genevieve touches Alyssa’s shoulder. “Are you okay?”

Alyssa laughs. “I’m fine. The baby kicked.”

“Perfect.” Leah continues to the couch. “Now another generation is weighing in on this.”

Leah sits on the sofa. Genevieve moves in that direction but doesn’t join Leah. Alyssa signals to Abigail and Steven and motions toward the kitchen.

“Why don’t we go see what Tim has cooking up outside?”

Abigail and Steven exit. Alyssa goes to Genevieve and hugs her. “Welcome to the family, Genevieve.”

Alyssa exits.

Leah looks after her. “Could that have been any more obvious?”

“Guess it’s up to us to finish this,” Genevieve says.

“Finish? I don’t even know where to start. Suddenly, I find this decision from my past dropping by for a visit.”

“What about me? How do you think it feels to wake up one morning and learn that everything you thought you knew about yourself was wrong?”

“My life’s been turned upside down, too, and I’ve had a lot longer to get settled than you have. A teenager was not part of the plan.”

“At least you knew I was out there somewhere. Me? I had no idea you even existed before April.”

“Explain something to me,” Leah says. “Why didn’t MIT send out an announcement about Rosie?”

“I didn’t tell anyone there.”

“Why not? Ten years isn’t that long in academia. There are still a lot of faculty members there who’d want to know. Not to mention alumni. I would have liked to have known.”

“I’m sorry about that. Mom didn’t talk about MIT.”

“Really? Did she still have her wall of stars?”

“Her what?”

“Her wall of stars. Pictures of students who had really impressed her she hung on her office wall. Mostly women. I thought it was a bit corny, but I confess I cried a little when she put me up there after I successfully defended my thesis.”

“No. Nothing like that. When Mom left, she left. No memorabilia, no contact, nothing.”

“Why did she leave?”

“A lot changed after my father died. She changed. When we first went to Seattle, Mom said it was just for a visit. Then we ended up staying more than a month. Then Mom put our house in Cambridge on the market, rented an apartment and enrolled me in a new school. She told me it was just too hard living in Cambridge without Dad there.”

“I never got along with Jean-Claude,” Leah says. “I guess we just rubbed each other the wrong way. But I could never deny how much he cared for Rosie or you. He was a good man, even if we weren’t friends. Maybe I just have a hang up about fathers.”

“Is that why you never got married?”

“No. I’m happy with my life the way it is. I don’t need someone else around to validate that. I have friends. I have lovers. At the end of the day, they go their way, and I go mine. I prefer sleeping in my own bed, alone.”

“And you’ve never wanted kids?”

“Never. It’s not even something I imagined as a kid, and it’s good for you that I didn’t.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because, if I’d wanted kids, I never would have donated my eggs and if I’d had children of my own, none of them would have been you. Rosie brought you about by pure force of will. She assembled her team; told each of us only what we needed to know — being her usual obsessive/compulsive self. Sometimes she drove me right up the wall with her meticulousness, but she taught me more than any single individual besides my mother, and I will always be grateful to have had her as a friend and a mentor. I just wish I could have said goodbye.” She recalls something. “Lucky 13.”

“Lucky 13?”

“Everything was Lucky 13 to Rosie. She even called me that after I became the thirteenth picture on her Wall of Stars.”

“Mom called me Lucky 13 when I was a kid. She always told me it was a riddle and when I solved it, I wouldn’t have any more secrets.”

“Did you figure out what she meant by that?”

“In Genesis Jacob has twelve sons and one daughter. She makes thirteen.”

“Right. Dinah.”

“The only daughter of Leah. Dinah Genevieve Duchard.”

“Rosie had an ironic sense of humor. You say she had a falling out with your cousin?”

“Mom lied to Barbara about being the egg donor.”

“Yeah, I didn’t find that out until much later. Poor Barbara. If she hadn’t gone into labor by the 13th, Rosie was prepared to perform a cesarean on her with or without the doctor there.”

“You were there the night I was born?”

“My friend and I were there when Barbara arrived. I almost gave the game away.”

“Really.”

“I just assumed Rosie told her. I watched them roll Barbara down the hall and thought how ironic it was. I have never in my life wanted to be pregnant and here’s this woman perfectly happy to carry someone else’s kid. I admired her. I would not have traded places with her for all the gold in Fort Knox, but dammit, in that moment, I admired her.”

“Did Mom ever calm down?”

“Rosie was a mess until you were born. Sometime around sunup, they came out and told us you had arrived.”

“You stayed the whole time?”

“Yes. Despite several not-so-subtle entreaties from Jean-Claude that I didn’t need to stick around.”

“Why did you?”

“I can’t tell you why I was there. I just knew I had to be. It seemed important. For me — for Mom.”

“Maybe you did care just a little. Okay, look, you and I have a long time to hammer out the details of our relationship, but right now, we are bound by a common cause.”

“The embryos? Why is that our cause? I’m not planning to use them for anything. Are you?”

“Well. No. But—”

“If all we’re going to do is keep them in deep freeze, what’s the point?”

“The point is, we have them. She doesn’t.”

“I gave them to Rosie to do with as she pleased. She got you out of the bargain. That’s a net gain. If Rosie had wanted other kids, she’d have arranged for more.”

“I think Mom probably wanted more, but when Dad died, she may have lost her enthusiasm for it.”

“We don’t really know, do we? This is all turning into the law of unintended consequences. At least Barbara has some sort of plan for the embryos.”

“You want unintended consequences? Let Barbara get them and twenty years from now, you could have who knows how many people knocking on your door.”

“Ah, yes. Good point. What we need to figure out is Barbara’s angle. Why does she want them?”

“She just wants to cause trouble.”

“And you’re basing this assumption on?”

“Abby says she’s a religious freak.”

“Oh, well, if Abby says.”

“Barbara posts some pretty extreme stuff on Facebook.”

“Never judge anyone based solely on how he or she behaves on social media. It’s about a thousand steps disconnected from reality. People can seem very different depending on the angle from which you view them. Rosie didn’t have a very high opinion of Barbara either, but I liked her in the one and a half to two minutes we interacted eighteen years ago.”

“Well, she’s definitely far-right religious.”

“People turn to religion for a variety of reasons,” Leah says, “stress, personal tragedy, connection to loved ones — usually for comfort. I stopped believing a long time ago, but sometimes, when I really start missing Mom, I’ll recite the Shema — a bedtime prayer she taught me when I was little. Religion alone doesn’t explain why Barbara wants the embryos.”

“Abby thinks Barbara’s a right-to-lifer. You know, life begins at conception.”

“Some form of life begins, but there’s a vast difference between an embryo and a third-trimester fetus. Back to the point, other than lie about being the donor, what did Rosie do to get Barbara so angry?”

“I only met Barbara once when I was just a kid. I barely remember her.”

“Then I guess we’re just going to have to go talk to her. Abby’s leaving on Wednesday, isn’t she?”

“Yes.”

“I’m free end of next week. How about Thursday?”

“I think I can clear my schedule.”

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