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Life Passages XVIII-Pensive

Devon scratched the edge of his dark wooly hairline nervously. He used his hip to prop himself up against his grandfather’s quaint store’s wooden checkout counter. A few faint lines drew across his forehead and his stomach fluttered slightly. There was no mistaking his discomfort.

“What’s up with you?” Solomon stood observing his grandson from the doorway of the storeroom, behind the checkout counter. Devon didn’t even realize that Solomon was nearby.

“Um…Huh?” Devon was awaken up from his deep introspection. “What do you mean Grandpa?” Devon’s eyes filled with confusion. Solomon took pity on him. A soft smile shaped on the elderly gentleman’s lips. “You look like you’ve got a load on your mind young man.” Solomon carefully placed his clipboard and pen on the counter. “Care to share what’s going on?”

Devon scratched at his hairline again for a few seconds then straightened up and faced his grandfather. “Um…I…I don’t…” A small cloud of despondency formed a shadow over his shoulder and he bowed his head, staring at his shoes. “I don’t really know grandpa.”

“Hmmm” Solomon studied Devon’s face just a little longer.



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Life Passages XV – The Fruit of Patience

“Sshh” Mrs. Walcott, the High School Librarian walks by and hushes Madeleine and Devon. They are seated in the back of the fiction section. They thought that they were properly hidden, at the end of the last row of book shelves. Clearly that is not the case.

Devon found Madeleine. She had made up her mind that she was going to experience the remainder of high school her way-alone. However, Devon is also determined. He is convinced that she needs a friend-and soon. He can identify with being a loner. To add to that, the words of his grandfather, and the faith teaching his parents instilled in him, from a small child, has led him to be tuned in to Madeleine. He knows that her behavior is only a symtom of something deeper. Directly after his last class, he jogged off to the school library hoping he would find her there, and he did.

“You’re going to get us kicked out” Madeleine teases Devon.

“Me? You’re the one with the big mouth.” Devon chuckles.

Madeleine shoots him a meancing look. “Excuse me?”

“I’m just teasing Mads…just teasing.” Devon smiles sweetly, and pats her awakardly on the shoulder. Madeleine slowly looks down at Devon’s hand on her shoulder, and then up in to his sparkling brown eyes. She feels a slight twinge in her stomach. Gulp! Madeline looks down in to the book on her lap. The one she and Devon had been poring over. The novel provided them with much entertainment as they read in tandem.

“Want to keep reading?” Devon stares at Madeleine. He is extraordinarly upbeat. Madeleine is silent. She ponders the question. Hmmm. She soon slides her back pack closer, and extracts her cell phone from the outter pocket, and checks the time.

“I have to go. Um, my mother wanted me to help her with something, or the other.” Madeleine begins to stand. Devon mimicks her motion.

“Ok. Cool. I will walk with you.” Devon smiles broadly as he stands. Madeleine freezes. She looks up at Devon, and studies his face. Why? Why is he so darn friendly? Madeleine studies Devon’s face a moment longer. “It’s okay. I’m sure you have stuff to do with your b-ball buddies.” Madeleine spits out, and slings her bag over her right shoulder. Devon bows, then shakes his head.

“That again? Really Mads, you really need to come up with something original.” Devon keeps in step with Madeleine. They exit the library, and enter the hall way. A few students are wondering through the halls, going to and fro to extra-curricular activities.  Madeleine and Devon weave in and out of the students on the way out of the main doorway. Devon is on Madeleine’s heels.

On the steps of the school, Madeleine stops abruptly. “Okay. Really? You’re really going to walk with me?” Madeleine is genuinely surprised. “Yeah! I don’t have anything better to do.” Devon is playful. He laughs at his own attempt at a joke.

“Figures! You’re conveniently hanging out with me cause there’s no practice today. I don’t need your charity, you know?” Madeleine is a bit frustrated. Her patience with people attempting to be her friend is very short. Madeleine and her family have moved four times in the last five years due to her father’s high profile job. Each time she tried hard to fit in, she attracted less than authentic school mates. The troublemakers she attached herself to at her current school, before meeting Devon, even  caused her a few hours in jail. Now Madeleine figures the best way to remain out of trouble is to walk through life alone. Besides, who knows when her father will be re-assigned again.

“What’s up with you Mads? You hang out alone-like all the time-and you’re bent on turning me away. What’s the deal?” Devon is prepared to get to the crux of the matter.

“What’s my deal? What’s your’s Devon? You don’t need to hang around me. What’s your agenda?” Madeleine refuses to back down.

“Ok. That’s fair. Well, I think you can use a friend. Besides, I like hanging out with you. In case you didn’t know, you’re pretty cool!” Devon is brutally honest. He’s come to really enjoy his time with Madeleine, even when she is being a little snippy. He finds it entertaining.

Madeleine’s face is warm. She raises her left hand to her cheek. Oh God, please don’t let my cheek be noticeably red! She is somewhat affected by Devon’s words although she has not quite grasped why yet. She looks straight ahead. Madeleine does not dare look at Devon.

“Whatever Devon! All  ‘words'”. Madeleine raises her hands, gesturing quotes.

Stay focused Mads, stay focused! You don’t need any more trouble from people pretending to be your friend. Oh so she thought. Madeleine increases her pace. She hopes to be rid of Devon, but his long legs remain in pace with hers. After about a minute of trying to outwalk Devon, Madeleine takes a deep breath, and slows her pace, then eventually stops. She turns slowly to face Devon, contemplating her next words.

“What do you really want, Devon? I don’t need any friends. The books, and the comics are cool but I do better alone.” Although Madeleine speaks slowly and thoughtfully, her tone is sprinkled with agression.

“Aw com’on, everyone needs friends. If even just one.” Devon remains upbeat. He hopes to be a source of encouragement. He understands a bit about her ‘inner torture’.

“I don’t!” Madeleine is emphatic. “Been there, done that. It’s not worth it. Everyone wants something from you, and it ain’t all good.” Madeleine’s mind reaches back, and almost like someone pressed play on a stored video in her brain, the memories coming flooding back. The memories of her moving from one city to another. The memories of beginning friendships that were pleasant and having to be torn away from them, to just plain falling into the wrong crowd and getting into trouble, all for the sake of  being accepted, and feeling important. It was all too much. Madeleine shakes her head and blinks, trying to shake the bad memories away.

Madeleine’s eyes meet Devon’s. Kindness is radiating from his. Madeleine is slightly embarassed. She is also curious. What’s his deal-I mean really? The more I push him away, the closer he gets. “Like, I said. What do you really want Devon?” She is blunt, almost harsh.

“To hang out. What’s the big deal?” Devon continues to flash a wide grin. He is determined to be patient with Madeleine. My fatih in action. Patience is the fruit that needs to bloosom right here, right now. He gives himself a pep talk. Madeleine studies Devon’s face. She is trying to find some fault in him. A chink in his armor. Just before she gets lost in the brilliance of his brown eyes, and the curls of his wooly-like hair, her wall goes up again.

“Um, I have to get home. It’s like a thing with my parents. See ya, when I see ya.” Madeleine adjusts the strap of her school bag on her shoulder, and begins walking again, at a normal pace. Devon walks alongside her.

“So see you tomorrow at the library then?” Devon’s tone is still chipper. Madeleine shakes her head. A smile begins to curl around the edges of her mouth.

“I don’t quite get your persistence. What are you up to?” Madeleine is still looking straight ahead. She doesn’t want Devon to notice that she is amused at this point.

“I am just being friendly. You know, to make a friend. Duh!” Devon’s delivery is comical, and they both erupt in to laughter. Madeleine, and Devon laugh heartily for close to one minute. Devon tries to talk in between laughs. “It’s like this Mads. Everyone needs a friend, and I know that you do too. High School can be rough. It isn’t safe to go through it alone.”

No comedy now. This time Devon’s tone is kind, almost compassionate. For the first time Madeleine wonders whether God had placed Devon in her life. Every friend she tried to make before either hurt her, or she was prematurely seperated from them. Things seemed to be going well for her father at the International firm he worked at. He was shaking things up, from the ground up, and it appeared that he would be needed for the long haul to make things thrive. Perhaps God had heard her heart’s cries.

She was content with going through the remainder of high school alone. Still, she hadn’t been truly happy in quite some time. Beyond her parents, she hadn’t been able to really trust anyone in a while. Madeleine stares at Devon, almost trying to read the notes of his soul. “Alone saves me from a whole lot of junk. It works.” Madeleine is not ready to let her walls down.

“Does it Madeleine? Does ‘alone’ really work? Look, whatever you’ve had to deal with in the past, everyone is not the same.” Devon’s compassionate tone begins to take anchor. It is almost as though he can read her mind. “I know a group of young people who are quite different. We work to bring out the best in one another. We meet every other Saturday night at the Pizzeria downtown. Want to join this week?”

Madeline’s lips part, and her mouth drops open. She stands staring at Devon amazed. Is Devon…is he different like me? Her eyes widen. They grow as big as saucers, fixed on Devon. God, is this You? Is this my answer?

….To be continued.


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Life Passages XIII – Everyone’s The Same

“OMG! Mr. Solomon these novels, and comics are outrageous!” Madeleine told the store owner, and Grandfather of her new friend, Devon.  Solomon laughed out loud. “Well I think they’re decent Madeleine.” Solomon eventually said once he was able to catch his breath.

“I can’t thank you enough for letting me hang out here and…and just read. I promise I will buy something. I just can’t decide what.” Madeleine was ecstatic. Laughter shook Solomon’s body and one hand rubbed the round of his belly.

“Please, take your time Madeleine. My payoff is seeing young people enjoying themselves with the books. So, don’t fret. Just enjoy!” Solomon returned to the cash register with a spring in his step and continued sorting new, and second-hand inventory.

About thirty minutes later-an hour after Madeleine’s arrival at Solomon’s bookstore that afternoon-she was planted in a corner with her head buried in a juicy graphic novel. This is as good as watching a movie…or better. A smile formed on Madeleine’s face in tandem with her thoughts.

All of a sudden the store’s front door bursted open. Madeleine was immediately distracted. The store’s threshold was cluttered with near rambunctious teenagers. Devon was leading a pack of what looked like a few of his basketball teammates, and—wait a minute— Girls? Urgh! Thought I was free of catty girls! Madeleine’s mind was racing. She expected Devon to be alone. So much for believing I’d met someone just as ‘weird’ as me. He’s just like everyone else!

Madeleine jumped up from her cozy spot and walked hastily over to Solomon at the cash register. “I’ll take this one…” She pushed the book gently but quickly toward Solomon and offered him a nervous smile.

“Hey, Mads! There you are.” Devon sauntered up behind Madeleine with a huge grin. Madeleine didn’t respond, or change her focus. She remained face to face with Solomon, waiting for him to complete the transaction. “Hey Madeleine…what’s up?” Devon made a second attempt at getting Madeleine’s attention but she continued to ignore him.

“Thank you Solomon. You have an amazing store. I am really glad I met you. Goodbye.” Madeleine reached out and clasped the top of the brown paper bag containing the book she had begun to enjoy. “You’re very welcomed dear. Goodbye Madeleine.”  Solomon’s lips curled into a warm smile. Madeleine returned one of her own, nodded at the affable grandfather then turned to leave the store. However, her exit was a little tricky

“You’re leaving?” Devon moved quickly and planted his feet, blocking Madeleine. Surprise was evident in his expression. Especially now that he had arrived. He was there. Meeting up at the bookstore was the plan. Right? That’s what Devon thought anyway. Seemed like the plan changed. “I just got here!” Devon’s face wore a mix of frustration and confusion. Madeleine tip-toed to look over Devon’s shoulder at the other six teenagers in the quaint space. “I see.” She eventually said nonchalantly. “Well, I’m leaving. Goodbye Devon.” Madeleine walked around Devon’s other shoulder, cut through one of the book shelf aisles, and out the store.

Devon’s jaw dropped, almost to the floor. “What was that?” He turned to face his grandfather. Solomon slowly shook his head then walked toward the back room office, through an entry way behind the register. “I don’t get it!” Devon wasn’t done yet-Grandfather or not. “You don’t get what, man?” Sean, one of Devon’s basketball buddies, shouted back at him. “I thought you wanted to show us some cool comics, man. Let’s go.” Sean was more concerned with his needs.

Devon didn’t truly hear Sean. His thoughts were with Madeleine. I thought…we agreed…Weren’t we meeting here? Devon struggled to comprehend what had just happened between him and Madeleine. Why would Madeleine leave?…We said we’d meet… Devon’s thoughts were beginning to whirl out of control. Eventually he gave up. Trying to understand Madeleine and the way her brain worked just about wore him out. Devon joined his friends. He half-heartedly talked, joked, and showed the group the cool comics he promised. Still his mind drifted off to Madeleine, replaying her behavior over and over again. He couldn’t help it.

Meanwhile Madeleine walked home clutching her precious brown paper bag under her arms. It would absolutely be more convenient to place it in her book bag, but somehow holding on to it soothed her right then. Why am I so unlucky when it comes to making friends. God, am I destined to be alone for the rest of my life? Madeleine pondered, prayed, then pondered again-all the way home.

Once at home, Madeleine headed directly to her room, saying no more than a faint  “hello” to her parents as she walked past them in the front sitting room. She dropped heavily on to her bed like a massive log. She was still clutching the brown paper bag, and she held on to it firmly until she drifted off to sleep.


To Be Continued…



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