Monthly Archives: April 2016

Life Passages XXII – It Runs Deep

“What about this one?” Samantha pointed to a bright fuchsia dress with thick straps that wrapped over the front, with an uneven hem.  1-2-3-4—15 seconds later, Samantha still  heard no response. She turned her head in the opposite direction to face Madeleine and noted her gapped mouth, matching her wide-set stare. “What. What is it? You don’t like it?” rolled off Samantha’s tongue in rapid succession. She was fearful that she hadn’t gotten Madeleine’s approval.

Madeleine’s lips slowly came together and clasped close. Why does she even care what I think? She would look stunning in a paper bag. And why…why did she even ask me to come shopping with her? Madeleine eventually managed to forge a smile. “Ah…ah it’s pretty. I’m sure you…” Madeleine scratched the left edge of her forehead. “I’m sorry. Why do you even care what I think again?”

Madeleine’s honesty near toppled Samantha over and it shone through her eyes. “Wha…what do you mean why do I care?” Samantha swung the dress over her arm and slammed her hand against her hip. “Mads…” Madeleine’s eyes grew as large as dinner plates. No one other than Devon had called her that before. Well her parents on occasion but no one outside her home, and certainly not Samantha. Um, what did she call me?

Samantha broke into Madeleine’s thoughts. “Look Mads, are we cool? I thought we were cool.” Madeleine nodded. She actually appreciated Samantha being candid with her. “We’re cool. I mean, I am cool…being here is cool but…” Samantha was ready to get down to the crux of the matter. “Well what is it then?” she discharged anxiously. Madeleine swallowed so hard her larynx almost slid down into her stomach.  “Samantha, why exactly did you ask me to come shopping with you?” Madeleine took a half step back and with both hands pointed to her jeans, graphic t-shirt and generic grey and white running shoes. “I mean, I’m not exactly a fashionista.” Samantha began to chuckle then released a full belly laugh. What the heck? Madeleine looked around embarrassed about the commotion she was partly responsible for.

“What’s so funny Samantha?” Madeleine tried her best to whisper under the circumstances but it was a pure waste of time. Samantha couldn’t hear a thing over her own outpour of cackles. Madeleine’s face felt warm and began to turn a light shade of red. “I don’t think it’s very ‘Christian’ of you to laugh at the way I dress!” Samantha almost choked on her last snicker. “Ahem.” Samantha smiled, grabbed hold of Madeleine’s wrist and pulled her back toward the changing rooms. She frantically found one and hurriedly ushered Madeleine into it. Once they were in, Madeleine turned and looked at Samantha as though she was captured by a crazed serial killer. “What on God’s green earth is going on with you Sam…” Samantha put her both arms up in the air. “Hang on, hang on. I’m not crazy.” Samantha lit up the room with a wide grin. “Crazy fun, yes! But not just crazy.”

Madeleine didn’t see the humor in any of it. Instead, she was part angry and part scared “So what’s this all about?” Samantha allowed her face to settle into a sweet smile for a short moment then she took a deep breath. “Madeleine, I asked you to come shopping with me cause I ah, I mean, I like your style. I like your personality. I just like you.” Madeleine wasn’t won over just yet. More like a little weirded out instead. She scanned Samantha carefully. Every possible inch of her. Then she focused her attention on her eyes, trying to read them for any clues about Samantha’s authenicity…or not.

Soon enough Madeleine began to share her thoughts with Samantha. Thoughtfully and slowly “Look Samantha…” She did not dare call her Sam. Not today. “…I’m just going to be straight with you. Since I moved here with my family, I’ve met girls who’ve wanted to ‘chill'” Madeleine grew very animated with air quotation marks and all. “But I got burned. I’ve even been to jail.” Samantha’s mouth fell open. Madeleine continued. “Yes. Jail. Me.” Samantha lowered her head briefly, then leaned back against the dressing room partition and gave Madeleine her undivided attention again. “I was desperate to fit in then, but not anymore. Even my friendship with Devon has had major ups and downs.” Samantha slung a gigantic smile in Madeleine’s direction. “What. What’s that face for?” Madeleine became antsy. Samantha just continued to smile, but no words came from her end. “What Samantha? I mention Devon, and you light up like a Christmas tree. What’s that about?”

Samantha leaned off of the dressing room partition, stepped toward Madeleine and placed her hands gently on her shoulders. “Mads it’s nothing. Really. I mean no harm. Any friend of Devon’s is a friend of mine. I just wanted to shop.”

Madeleine stepped back until she bumped into the closed dressing room door behind her. She glared at Samantha for what appeared to be thirty minutes, to an hour but was closer to a minute in reality. “Trust is hard for me to cough up these days. So if you’re not going to be honest with me, I can’t trust you. I never will. Goodbye Samantha!” Madeleine flung open the dressing room door and stomped out like a thoroughbred out of the starting gates at the Kentucky Derby.

Samantha looked on, amazed at what she had just witnessed. “Sweet Jesus!” She breathed a loud whisper. “Her wounds run deep.” She dropped her head, defeated.

LPBreakdown4B

 

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Life Passages XXI – The Inevitable

“Um, thanks Mads…ah,thanks for agreeing to move the conversation outside the coffe shop. You know with Sam dropping in like that and all.” Devon displayed a wide, but nervous grin as he looked across at Madeleine sitting next to him on the bench at their familiar spot in the park. “This way, no more distractions, right?” His smile managed the impossible and widened even more.He nodded, expecting a response but Madeleine looked straight ahead. She didn’t smile. She couldn’t. Her stomach was a ball of knots. She knew the impending dialogue was inevitable but that didn’t make it any easier.

“O-kay-ay Mads. This can’t be good. You don’t want your face to get stuck like that do you?” Devon was partly joking and partly concerned. Madeleine finally broke free from her worrisome bubble. She turned to face Devon. “Huh…what? I missed something didn’t I? What?” Laughter came bubbling out of Devon. “You are one of the funniest…and ah…by that I mean one of the most interesting people I know Mads.” Devon pressed on his stomach with one hand and folded, almost all the way, over laughing. A puzzled look formed over Madeleine’s face. “I don’t get what’s so funny.” Madeleine watched Devon’s body energetically rock and shake for a moment. “Nope. Still don’t get it.”

Devon straightened up and worked to control his outburst. “Okay, okay. I guess I’ll just keep it to myself.” He sat still long enough to look into Madeleine’s eyes, searching them for some inkling of what was stirring in her mind. “Okay, so let’s talk. Really talk Mads.” Madeleine turned toward Devon and her eyes locked on to his. She sucked in a long, deep breath then released it slowly. “Okay Devon, let’s talk.” Devon nodded, not taking his eyes off of Madeleine.

“Ahem. Okay, let’s see. Where do I start?” Madeleine fidgeted with her clothes and sat up straight like a pin. ” You asked why I cut you off…or was avoiding you.” Madeleine fidgeted once more. “Ahem. Well, you see…um, the thing is…” Madeleine shook her head vigorously attempting to reset her thought pattern. “Breathe Mads. Breathe.” Devon leaned toward her. Madeleine looked up at the lean but muscularly built young man who sat slightly higher than she did. “I’m breathing. Really, I am.” She forced a smile. “You see the thing is, meeting you in our school library was a…well a blessing. I see that now. You were a lot nicer to me than the other kids I met when I started that school.” She looked down at her legs briefly and crossed them in an “X”. “Then all of a sudden I hang out with you, Samantha and your friends and I begin to feel all kinds of…ah, strange.”

Devon’s forehead wrinkled and his eyes drew closer together. “Strange? There’s that word again. Strange how?” Madeleine cleared her throat elaborately, delaying the rest of the talk. “Ahem, ahem, ahem. Well…well, I began to think that…that just maybe I was jealous of Sam…” Devon sat straight up. “Jealous? What ever the heck for? Samantha likes you…” Madeleine turned her entire body toward Devon and leaned slightly toward him. “I know! That’s the thing, she’s great! Friendly. And I can tell genuine. All your friends were  really.” Devon’s arms flap around as he becomes very animated. “So why are you jealous Mads?” Madeleine didn’t respond right away. She settled back into her side of the bench and looked straight ahead in silence for what seemed like an eternity. Devon stared at her from his end the entire time. Eventually he broke the silence. “Mads? The truth will set you free, you know.” He tried to joke.

“Are you and Samantha like…like a couple Devon?” Madeleine spitted it out then covered her mouth with one hand. Devon’s eyes widened and filled with trepidation. “Is that why you’re jealous? You think Samantha is my girlfriend?” Devon swiveled his upper body to sit straight ahead too. Both Madeleine and Devon sat in silence, staring straight ahead for a few moments. Devon decided to disturb the silence. “Um so…um, what do we do now? I mean…” Madeleine’s neck whipped around and her mouth dropped open. “What do you mean, what do we do now?” Devon turned slowly toward Madeleine again. “You’re jealous, you think Sam’s my girl…” Madeleine leaned in toward Devon and hurled the burning question. “So is she?”

Devon began to laugh so loudly that it’s guaranteed the occupants of all the neighboring homes around the park heard it. A large eyed Madeleine looked at Devon in horror. The more she looked, the more he laughed. Soon she bounced to her feet. “Great! Laugh on but I’m not going to stick around and be embarrased.” Devon’s laughter was immediately cut short. He jumped to his feet and tugged on Madeleine’s wrist, as gently as was possible, to prevent her from walking away. “Mads. Mads, come on. Sam is not my girlfriend. Old friends since almost birth. That’s all.” Madeleine slowly pulled her wrist out through Devon’s grasp and looked down at her beige ballet shoes. “Oh.”

Devon made one step forward but remained a polite distance from Madeleine. He looked down at his new friend who was still staring down at her shoes.” Mads believe me, if I ever have a girlfriend you will be the very first to know. Deal?” Madeleine allowed her head to rise slowly with a smile. “Deal.”

LPTheInevitable1 (2)

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Life Passages XX – Meeting Of The Minds

The coffee shop door squeaked opened. Sunshine filled the room and ushered Madeleine in. She was adorned in a knee-length blue and white horizontally stripped sun dress. Her hands visibly trembled but she managed a half-smile. Devon jumped to his feet with an enormous grin. Madeleine spoke first with a bashful smile. “Hello”. Devon extended his arms straight into the air. “Hi Mads. You’re here…finally.” He stepped forward and placed his hands on Madeleine’s shoulders. She stiffened.  Devon examined Madeleine’s face closely. “Are you alright?”

Madeleine worked hard to mask her anxiety. “Yeah…oh yeah. I’m good.” She pointed to the table. “Shall we?” Devon’s focus shifted again. “Yeah, yeah.” He sat, leaned forward and propped his face up with the palms of his hands. “So let’s have it. What’s going with you Mads?” Madeleine looked down at her hands resting softly on the edge of the rectangular table. Soon she was interrupted by a noise from the opposite side of the table. “Ahem. Uh-oh hear it comes. I can already tell it’s going to be deep.” Devon taunted. Madeleine tossed him a crooked half-smile. “It really is okay to really smile you know.” Devon continued. She reclined back into her chair and allowed herself to giggle. “Always the joker, huh?”

“What can I say, laughter is like good medicine. I’m trying to stay mighty fine.” Laughter erupted. Madeleine snorted then reached for the napkin holder. Devon leaned his head back and joined her in the merriment. After a long two minutes of belly laughs Devon sat up straight and reached across the table. He took Madeleine’s hands in his own. A surprised Madeleine retreated so far back that her chair audibly scratched the ply wood  floor. Her chest vividly expanded and contracted and she sat wide-eyed staring at Devon. Madeleine’s fingers squeezed the edge of her chair so tightly that her hands turned red. Oh no. Heck, I am so confused.

Devon stared back. The usually jovial young man was lost for words in that moment. God, I think I just blew it. What do I do now? Devon leaned against the table and tried to speak. “Mads, um. Um, are you okay?” Madeleine kept her gaze on Devon a while longer before she spoke. “What did you want to talk about Devon?” Devon swallowed hard. “I want to know why you cut me off?” Madeleine inhaled, held her breath for three seconds then exhaled. “I haven’t cut you off. I have been busy.” Devon immediately rolled his eyes. “That line again? Really? Come on Madeleine. Be straight with me.” Madeleine looked down at the stripes on her dress. Her eyes darted from one end of her lap to the other, as though searching for the words to appear. She felt defeated. Eventually she found some words but didn’t look up at Devon. “Devon, um I don’t know. I didn’t mean to…I haven’t cut you…” She looked up at him. “Devon I feel strange.”

“Huh? Strange?” Devon hung on to every word. “Strange how?” Just then a burst of light fell on Devon’s face and a familiar voice shot across the room from the door way. “Hey. Devon. Fancy meeting you here.” The tall, athletically built Samantha reached Devon and Madeleine’s table quickly. Her face was lit with a huge grin and she slapped Devon on the arm. He looked up at her and offered an awkward smile. “Ah Sam, what are you doing here?” Samantha watched him curiously. “What do you mean? I always come here. Especially Saturdays. We always used to.” Samantha’s neck swiveled quickly. She turned her attention to Madeleine. “Hi Madeleine. It’s been forever. We miss you at group. What’s been going on?” Madeleine’s  eyes displayed anxiety, even fear, while her lips curled into a smile.

Madeleine sprung to her feet. “Excuse me. I need to go to the Ladies’ Room.” Devon stood too. “Mads…” Madeleine put her hand up toward him. She kept her voice soft and steady. “Devon, it’s just the bathroom. I’ll be back.” Devon chuckled. “I hope so. You’re an escape expert.” Madeleine chuckled too and headed in the direction of the restrooms. Samantha’s eyes followed Madeleine for a fleeting moment then she dropped into her vacant chair. “Why do I get the feeling that I interrupted something here.” Devon pressed his lips together and shot Samantha an accusatory glance. He looked down at his hands resting on the table then back at Samantha. His tone was soft. “That’s because you did Sam. That’s because you did.” An astonished Samantha could barely speak. “Oh!”
LPMeetingMinds1 (2)

 

 

 

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Life Passages XIX – Settlement

Devon spotted Madeleine right away. He broke into a sprightly jog across the school front yard. He was oblivious to the people lounging on the grass. He skipped over them with ease and made a bee line to Madeleine. She didn’t see, nor hear him approaching. Madeleine wore huge pink and white headphones that sat on top of her head with a cord that ran into the side pocket of her contrasting red and black plaid backpack.  Devon reached Madeleine quickly and tapped on the arm nearest him firmly, with enthusiasm.  “Ow!” Madeleine immediately jumped back and instinctively slapped Devon on his arm. “What the…what is wrong with you?” She rubbed her aching arm and grimaced.

“Oh man. Mads I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…Shoot. I was just so excited to see you.” Madeleine glared at Devon. Her expression was frozen in displeasure.

“Is that how you greet someone you’re excited to see? Geez! I’m sure I’m bruised.” Madeleine’s face scrunched up even more from the pain. Devon drew close to her and attempted to examine her arm. “Don’t touch me!” Madeleine hopped backwards, one step away from Devon.  His lips formed a frown and his forehead wrinkled. Devon dropped his hands to his sides in defeat.

“Mads, I’m really sorry. I just…I just…Well, what’s being going on with you? Why have you been avoiding me? A silly grin took shape on Devon’s face. “You know it’s just plain rude to ignore texts and not return phone calls, right?” Madeleine looked into Devon’s face. There she found a sweet smile and immediately became entranced by the soft pool of big bright brown eyes. After a long five seconds Madeleine shaked her head quickly and returned to the here and now.

“I…um…I have…I have been busy.” Madeleine found her voice, straightened her crooked posture and adjusted her headphones to fit firmly on her head again. “Look, I have to go.” Madeleine put one foot forward . She attempted to get away. Devon carefully touched her arm.

“Wait. You’re doing it again. You’re running off…” Devon leaped forward and stood in front of Madeleine, facing her. He searched her face quickly, sighed and dropped his shoulders. “Madeleine, what’s really going on?” Madeleine looked past Devon. She gazed at students going in and out the building.

“Devon, I have to go. I have a meeting with my counselor now.” She forced herself to be free of emotion and appear matter-of-fact but her body trembled a little from the effort. Devon slid over slightly to his left blocking Madeleine’s line of vision. He began to form a stooping position and looked up into her face. Madeleine felt Devon’s breath on her face. He’s so close. She looked down at him. Her face appeared stern but only barely camouflaged a smile, struggling to stay hidden. “I do…I do really have to go.” Her tone was soft and a smile began to peek out from behind her tough exterior.

“There it is! I see the Mads I know. I knew my pal was still in there.” Devon flashed a wide grin. Madeleine’s stomach flipped at the sight of it. She advanced forward again. Devon quickly grabbed her wrist, but with the utmost careful dexterity so not to hurt her again. “Can we talk…please. Can we settle this Mads? Whatever it is.” Madeleine sighed loudly as she dropped her head. She knew this day would come, but was she ready for it? Was she ready to confront the person who was responsible for so many frightening and unexplained emotions that were at war within her? She slowly raised her head again.

“Okay Devon. Okay. Let’s settle this.”

LPSettlement1 (2)

 

 

 

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