“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.”