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A family of twenty four. A disappeared mother. Snippet.
A young man of about seventeen steps up behind the microphone podium, blinking quietly at the cameras and reporters standing by, waiting for him to speak. He clears his throat, looks back behind the large house before sighing and turning back to the task at hand.
My mother was either one of two things. A whore, or a very smart woman who knew how to make good use of how the government worked. I say was because we don’t know where she is anymore. Up until a week ago, she was in her bed, on bed rest and taking care of that last birth. She was a pretty damned strong woman, at least to carry all of us as she has. Something of a world enigma, so many in so few years, but I guess it can’t be helped. Now that she’s gone we’ll all be split apart. Who the hell could house twenty four children, all under eighteen?
Let’s get all the important facts down, first.
There the young man pauses, gazing over those eyes as they stare at him. They remind him of vultures, he’s not sure why. Shrugging to himself, he continues.
My name is Archelaos, I am the eldest and first born of twenty four children, yes, twenty four. My mother was a very cunning woman, if that is the proper word for it. She both was very smart and very… active. As far as I remember, my mother has never once worked in her life. When I was born, she was under the care of her parents, being a teenage mother at the time. My presence alone didn’t seem to be such a bad thing, but on my first birthday, it came out in the open that my mother was pregnant again. By the time I was twenty one months old, nearly two years old, three months short if you would, she had twins. Same man who fathered me, who fathered all of us we believe but he never really was around, he was there when it was convenient for him to have fun but that was it.
What my mother learned then, I suppose — it wasn’t something she discussed with us, but being the eldest, when I was old enough to know better and help her with her money, I learned the truth — was that starting from three children, the government gave her a monthly amount. Barely enough to get us by since her parents had refused to care for her any longer when the twins had come — that much she told me when I was about six — but with additional children came additional money. I know what you’re thinking. Sure additional money is nice, but is it really enough to feed twenty five mouths? Yes, yes it was. With how many of us there was, we had become something of an attraction for the city and mom received tips and gifts from a lot of people.
Somehow mother had something of a schedule set out, and almost miraculously so, by the time the latest born was a year old, she was conveniently pregnant again. So here I am, the eldest, I’m seventeen and a half, I’ll be eighteen in about six months. I have twin sisters who are currently fifteen, will be sixteen in three months. Two boys after that, they’re now fourteen. Another set of twins, twelve and three months… do you see the pattern? I’ll go on, I guess. Triplets, ten and a half, quadruplets, yes, you’ve heard me correctly, quads, now eight years old and nine months. Two sets of twins, one at seven, one at five and three months. Triplets at three and a half, twins, just one year and nine months and the last born, just a week old. I mentioned him before?
We are all more or less born on the same days in the same months, through the years. January, April, July, October. But yes, with each child, the government paid an extra where mother had enough money to hire a nanny or three. She did love us, to a point. There were so many of us that it was as if she didn’t have much time for any of us extensively. The youngest spent more time with the nannies and the older ones saw to teaching what little we knew to the rest. Even though mother had plenty of money with all of us children born and about, she didn’t bother to send us to school or to hire a tutor, so we learned to read and write mostly on our own, and we sought to teach the younger ones.
Now, as I said earlier, a week ago, mother gave birth to another youth, spending yet another shared birthday between the lot of us, away from us. Locked in her room since she didn’t like hospitals. We expected her out of that room yesterday or at least today, from past experience it usually took her a week, give or take a day or so, before she was out of her room again. As I went to check her room, I noticed Aaron, that would be our latest sibling, was crying. The door was open and there was no one in that room. That was yesterday, as most of you know.
Now, this isn’t just to ramble and tell you all things you already know. This is a plea out to the public, to anyone watching this, to anyone out there. We’re twenty four children, all under eighteen and one new born. We’re a loving family, we adapt really quickly and this place has more bedrooms than we can even fill if we were to sleep all in separate places. If the government starts taking care of us, we’ll be split apart and the chances of being able to get back together at any point in our lives will be slim. We can’t stand the thought of that and hope that maybe someone out there would be willing to take care of us. We know there’s a lot of us, but we’re well behaved. We’re not as much a handful as some would be led to believe.
Again the young man looks back to the house, sighs, looks back to the reporters, the cameras and journalists. He smiles somewhat, nods his head in a form of thank you and steps off and away from the microphone, turning and heading back to the door. If they had questions, he didn’t want to answer them, he had to take care of his siblings he still had three in diapers that needed to be tended to.
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