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Life Passages XXIV – Reality Check

“I’m not sure about this Devon. About being here.” Madeleine spoke in hush tones leaned in close to Devon’s ear. They warmed a couch at the edge of the room of Emmanuel’s parents basement. Emmanuel got the Agape youth group together for the monthly game night. Devon managed to convince Madeleine to join him and Samantha there, but he wasn’t as successful  with getting her to take part in any of the activities that was happening in the center of the room. Devon turned toward Madeleine only slightly. His eyes remained fixed on the intrigue encircling the friendly card game across the room. “Why not Mads? Don’t you like to have fun?” He whispered near her ear jokingly.

Madeleine’s eyes shot back and forth nervously “I do…I do like to have fun but…but this isn’t my…” Madeleine’s words were broken in to by the shadow of a medium built, tall Emmanuel, trimmed with perfectly groomed facial hair. “Madeleine, right?” Madeleine’s head rose slowly, her apprehensive eyes cast on Emmanuel’s olive face. “Um…me? Ahem…Yes…ah yes I’m Madeleine.” Emmanuel’s smile was close to igniting the basement. His left hand quickly rose to motion a wave. “Hey Madeleine. I’m Emmanuel. Finally a proper introduction.” He chuckled and shot Devon a playful look but Devon was not so playful in that moment. “So, there’s a game of Pictionary that’s about to get started and it has your name all over it Madeleine.” His grin was infectious and Madeleine was affected. Her lips slowly curled upward. “Pictionary? Me?” Her mouth grew a full smile now.

Devon looked on, guarded. His eyes closely mapped the evolution of the dialogue taking place next to him. A splash of agitation filled his eyes. “Mads you know…you know you don’t have to if you don’t want to.” If ever there was the award for the best poker face of the year, Devon would be nominated for trying terribly hard to wear one just then. Emmanuel on the other hand remained a beacon of joy. It shouldn’t be possible but it appeared that his grin became even larger. “He’s right Madeleine. It’s up to you. But I have a strange feeling this is your game.” Madeleine was blinded by Emmanuel’s smile and she couldn’t help but form a larger one herself. She took a break from absorbing Emmanuel’s light to look at Devon. She couldn’t find any true identifiable expression there so she took a few more moments to read his face more closely. Soon she gave up, drew a deep breath then returned her attention to Emmanuel. Is this guy always this happy? Always this…this…I guess, nice? She chuckled softly and glanced at Devon again. Well Devon wants me to have fun, so what the heck!

“I’m in.” Madeleine locked eyes with Emmanuel. He reached for her hand  “Partners then, Madeleine?” She allowed him to take it and stood. “Alright.” Madeleine walked away leaving Devon on his feet, dumbfounded. His wide eyes bounced from Madeleine’s hand in Emmanuel’s to them meeting up with the rest of the Pictionary players, and Emmanuel making the introductions. Suddenly Samantha appeared next to Devon. She slapped him on the shoulder. “See? I told you Devon. This is what she needed.” Devon’s head slowly swiveled toward Samantha. He gazed at her speechless, for a long thirty seconds – or so  – before responding. “Um…ah…I guess…I guess so?” His voice trailed off into a whisper before Devon turned again to fix his stare on Madeleine and Emmanuel. Okay Lord. We need to talk.

LPRealityCheck2 (4)

 

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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 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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