Richard washed the last of the breakfast dishes and placed it on the draining board. Rachel was absentmindedly cramming a kitchen towel into a cup and twisting it. He turned and leaned against the counter, watching her.
“Hey, did mom ever tell you how Harriet and I were adopted,” Richard asked hopefully.
“No, she never really talked about it…or if she did, I didn’t pay much attention. Hate to admit it, but I was pretty self-centered I was back then,” Rachel replied sheepishly.
“Oh, well maybe if I get a look at our birth certificates, I could do a little research. Where do you think she put them?”
“I have no idea. Let’s go ask Joshua. I’ll bet mama told him everything.”
They made their way up to his room. Richard started to knock, but Rachel brushed past him and opened the door. Sitting at his desk facing the wall, Joshua threw a startled look over his shoulder and hurriedly concealed something in his desk drawer. He turned on them angrily.
“Since when do we just walk in on people without knocking?”
“Oh, don’t get your panties in a bunch. It’s not nighttime, so we figured you wouldn’t be in her jerking off,” Rachel said dismissively.
“Very funny. I’m going to just barge in your room without knocking and see how you like it,” Joshua threatened.
“Go right ahead little brother. I’ve got nothing to hide,” Rachel said pointedly looking at his desk.
“What about all those bottles of booze hidden in your closet,” he retorted.
“Alright, alright you two. Give it a rest. This is not what we came in here for. Joshua, I wanted to ask what mom told you about Harriet’s and my adoptions.”
“You mean you never asked her about it? Why are you suddenly curious about that now?
“It’s a long story. I really don’t want to get into it right now. Did mom tell you about our adoptions or not?”
“Not really, all I know is that they were closed adoptions.”
“What does that mean?”
“As far as I know, the records of the biological parents are kept sealed. Look, what’s this all about Richard? I thought you had a great life here, as part of our family.”
“So, where’s this coming from? Has Harriet been asking about her adoption?”
“No, I was just wondering…”
“You don’t have to explain anything to him. Stop trying to make him feel guilty for wanting to know where he came from! It doesn’t mean he hasn’t been happy here with us. Wouldn’t you want to know about your birth parents? I would be. I’m sure Harriet is curious too,” interjected Rachel.
As if on cue, the front door opened and closed downstairs. The three of them fell silent, waiting for Harriet to come up the stairs. She walked past the doorway and Richard called out to her.
“What? Okay…why is everybody staring at me like I have two heads?”
“Uh sorry, we were just wondering how you’re feeling,” he asked awkwardly.
“Well, I’m still really broken up about mom…”
“Yeah, we’re all very broken up too. Listen, what we actually want to know is about your mental stability” blurted Rachel.
“Have you been having a nervous breakdown, cracking up, losing your marbles? You’ve been acting real strange.”
“I’m upset about mom,” began Harriet.
“We’re all upset, but what we haven’t been doing is running around speaking with weird accents or pretending to be other people.”
“If this is some kind of joke, then I don’t think it’s funny,” said Harriet looking from one to the other of her siblings.
“We were beginning to think that you might be pranking us,” retorted Rachel.
“Richard, what’s going on here,” asked Harriet.
“Do you remember how you were acting last night, when you and Joshua came into my room?”
“I was pretty shaken up about mom yesterday. To tell you the truth, I don’t really recall much after we left the nursing home.”
“Why are you two interrogating her about the way she’s been acting? It’s not like she’s the only one around here with issues. Have you both forgotten some of the weird things you’ve done? Give the girl a break. Mom literally just died!”
The doorbell rang and they fell silent again, listening to the ominous sound. No one moved. The sound slowly faded, and the house was quiet again. For a few fleeting moments, they silently wished that Officer Foster would go away. The idea of being subjected, on top of everything else going wrong in their lives, to a police interrogation was too much to even contemplate. Maybe if they stayed quiet, then he would just go away. The doorbell rang again.