While growing up her name was not spoken in their home, so Lisa was hesitant to suggest it, even to her own sister. “I have a thought,” she started carefully.
Karen was sitting silently on the sofa, periodically dabbing her eyes with a damp tissue. She let out a deep sigh and turned her head slowly to her sister. She’d been sitting there while Lisa paced nervously around the room since they returned from visiting their mother in the hospital. “What?”
“There’s someone else we could ask,” she said tentatively.
Karen wrinkled her forehead. “Who?”
Karen seemed puzzled. “We don’t have an au–,” she began then stopped abruptly as she understood what Lisa was suggesting. “Mom’s sister? Are you serious?”
“What other options do we have? Some stranger isn’t going to just give mom their kidney. ”
“A stranger may be more likely than Aunt Denise.”
Lisa hurriedly defended her idea. “They haven’t spoken during our lifetime. We don’t even know why they’re estranged. Maybe they’ve gotten over whatever happened.”
“For all we know she’s dead.”
“She’s not. She’s lives in Magnolia.”
Karen stared at her sister in disbelief. “How do you know?”
Lisa reached in her purse and pulled out a piece of paper. “Have you heard of the internet? When I learned mom needed a kidney, I knew there was a chance we weren’t matches, so I started searching for her only other blood relative.”
Karen looked thoughtfully at Lisa and then glanced at her watch. “What do we have lose? Let’s go. We can be there in an hour.”
As they drove, Karen and Lisa speculated about what could have come between the sisters.
“I bet Aunt Denise borrowed mom’s clothes and never gave them back,” Lisa teased.
Karen rolled her eyes at her older sister. “I told you, your dress is at the cleaners.”
“Maybe Aunt Denise stole mom’s boyfriend.”
“Why do we assume it’s Aunt Denise’s fault?” Karen wondered out loud.
“Because we know how great mom is and we don’t know anything about Aunt Denise. We should be prepared for anything.”
But they weren’t prepared for what they found. The dilapidated trailer that matched the address on Lisa’s paper appeared as if the next breeze would tear it to pieces. Karen stared at the beer cans scattered across the unkempt lawn. “I’m glad mom needs a kidney instead of a liver. Are you sure we’re at the right address?”
Lisa studied her notes. “According to this.”
Before they could get out of the car, a tall, thin lady in a floral housecoat opened the door and stepped onto the uneven wooden porch. “If your sellin’, I ain’t buyin’,” she yelled, her cigarette bouncing up and down with each word.
“Don’t worry, Aunt Denise. We just want your kidney.” Karen whispered sarcastically to Lisa.
“Behave. She looks like she could be hiding a rifle under that kimono.” The sisters giggled nervously and traded one last look for courage as they got out of the car.
“Denise Roberts?” Karen asked.
“Who wants to know?”
“Our names are Lisa and Karen Simmons. We’re your nieces.”
Denise’s eyes widened and she unconsciously took a step backwards. She reached out for the door jam to steady herself.
“Which one is Lisa?”
“I am,” Lisa answered.
Denise kept her eyes glued on the pretty brunette. “I guess my sister heard about my lavish lifestyle and sent you to beg for money?”
“Sarcasm must run in our family,” Karen said under her breath.
“No, no. Nothing like that,” Lisa assured her aunt. “Our mom is sick.”
“What? She need a body part?” Denise chuckled at her joke, but the sisters glanced nervously at each other.
There was no denying the truth now. “Well, actually, yes,” Lisa said hesitantly.
Denise dropped her cigarette and ground it out with her slippered foot. “Figures. Like I didn’t already give her enough.”
The confused sisters were silent, unsure how to continue.
“What from this glorious body does she want?” Denise asked dryly as if they were discussing condiment preferences for a hotdog.
“A kidney,” Karen answered.
Denise eyed Lisa. “Has she been a good mom?”
Denise turned away for a minute, then turned back. “I’ll do it.” The girls were shocked at her quick response. “But I’m not doing it for my thinks-she’s-better-than-me sister. I’m doing it for you.” She pointed directly at Lisa.
“Why?” Lisa asked uneasily.
“I’m not your aunt. I’m your mother.”
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