Madeleine sits on a wooden bench, under a humungous tree. It has foliage so thick that it provides ample shade for reading. Madeleine has taken her favorite past time-actually obsession, to the park two blocks away from home. She throws herself into the graphic novel she purchased at Solomon’s bookstore. It is her third go at the book, since she purchased it two days ago.
She looked forward to escaping school, and sitting at the park all day. It has been quite a feat to avoid Devon though. Aside from several text messages, and a few missed calls, he near followed her around the school halls-besides during classes-today. The evening following Madeliene’s odd departure from his grandfather’s store, the day before yesterday, Devon spent a great deal of time processing what occurred. He eventually gave up working things out on his own, and had a talk with Solomon the next evening.
“I get the impression Madeleine was startled Devon.” Solomon begins to offer his opinion.
“Startled at what Grandpa? I told her I would meet her here after basketball practice. She knew I would show up.” Devon interjects.
“Yes, but did she expect your posse?” Solomon says with a smile.
It’s as though a light comes on in Devon’s 17 year old brian. He pauses. He ponders. “No…no she didn’t.” Devon hangs his head, almost ashamed that he wasn’t more in tune to that. “I forget…Mads likes to get lost in books. She’s not big on crowds.” Devon sums up. He begins to recall how he met Madeleine. It was while he, himself escaped to the school library to parttake in his love of reading, in private. Devon works hard to live in between two worlds-and keep them seperate. He took great lengths to not let his basketball buddies into his “book sphere”, but that infamous day, when they scared Madeleine away, they had pestered him about where he was running off to, where he goes when he suddenly disappears, and some more taunts. He couldn’t shake them.
Devon eventually gave in. He thought, Well it’s only the comic books, and they’re cool, so why not. Still, he forgot that the Madeleine he met, that day in the library, was more like the book nerd side of him. As a matter of fact, while speaking with his grandfather, he realizes that he had not really seen Madeleine hanging out with anyone else at school. “I guess my first thought to keep my ‘two worlds’ separate was the right one.” He concludes. Solomon chuckles.
“Don’t worry too much, son. Give Madeleine a call…straighten everything out. I’m sure she’d understand.” Solomon begun to advise. “But Devon, I sense Madeleine had a reason, bigger than you, for walking out. Be patient.” Devon nodded.
Today, Devon tries his very best to catch up with Madeleine, to explain his side of things to her. She eludes him so well, you would think she’s had expert training in covert ops. Devon doesn’t give up. He’s quite crafty himself. He foregoes one afternoon of practice, and manages to follow Madeleine’s seemingly evasive trail to the park.
“Hey!” Devon says apprehensively to Madeleine, looking down at her sitting on the park bench.
Madeleine lifts her head slowly. “What are you doing here?” She says surprised that Devon was able to catch up with her.
“Um, I…What’s up? You left Grandpa’s store in hurry the other day.” Devon answers, working to regain his confidence.
Madeleine rolls her eyes, and shakes her head. She just wants to be left alone. She hasn’t known Devon that long, and severing whatever friendship they were building now, is for the best, as far as she is concerned.
“Just forget about it, alright?” Madeleine insists.
Devon grows impatient. “What do you mean, forget about it!”
Devon’s tone startles Madeleine. She looks up at him to find a genuinely confused expression on his face. She looks down at her book again. Then makes a second attempt to shake Devon off. “I needed to leave. I had somewhere to be. It’s not a big deal, so don’t make it one, okay?” Madeleine tells him. Then before Devon can utter one other word Madeleine quips, “Besides you had tons of company, so what difference does it make?”
“There it is! I knew it!” Devon stands directly in front of Madeleine now. He is still looking down at her. “You had a problem with my friends.” Devon delivers.
Madeleine looks up at Devon. She is upset, but refuses to invest any more emotion in to the situation. Well, at least not demonstrate any for Devon’s benefit. She slowly stands to her feet. Still not quite eye to eye with Devon, she looks into his radiant brown eyes. “You’re interrupting me. I’m trying to read. So, I’m going to leave.” Madeleine says nonchalantly, and begins to step away from Devon.
“So that’s it? I’m interrupting your reading? That’s all?” Devon says with a chuckle, then leaps forward toward Madeleine, and begins to walk alongside her. “What’s really going on Mads?” Devon recalls his Grandfather’s intuitive suspicion.
“What’s really going on is that you’re bothering me.” Madeline says firmly. For some reason, Devon thinks Madeleine’s attitude is hilarious.
“Ok. Well, since I am already bothering you…For the record, I couldn’t shake those guys the other day. They were hot on my heels, and all up in my business.” Devon explains.
Desperate to be left alone, Madeline softens her tone. “It’s cool, okay? You have friends. It’s done. See you at school.” Madeline speeds up. However, Devon stops in his tracks bewildered.
“So, wait! That’s it? We’re cool?” Devon shouts after Madeleine. She doesn’t respond, or look back at him. She keeps walking, and fast. As a result, Devon jogs a bit to catch up with her. He doesn’t speak right away. He looks down at Madeleine’s hands clutching her book.
“That book is dope! I’ve read it like five times myself.” Madeleine looks down at her hand, grabbing firmly on to the book. She swallows hard. She remembers that books are what brought her and Devon together in the first place. She stops abruptly, and turns to him. Devon halts, turns toward Madeleine, and smiles. He observes a few strands of her reddish brunette, blunt hair blowing into her greenish brown eyes. He smiles. He assesses that just like her personality, she also possesses a unique appearance. “So do you like it?” He eventually asks about the book.
“Yep!” Madeleine says quickly. “Again, thanks for introducing me to your Grandfather’s book store. I guess I’ll see you whenever you ‘escape’ to the library again.” Madeline says politely, and resumes walking home. Devon takes a large step, with his long legs and catches up again. “Aw, C’mon! You have to visit Solomon again. He’s going to miss you.” Devon says playfully.
Madeleine can’t help but laugh. For some reason, Devon knows how to make her do just that, even when she doesn’t want to. “It wouldn’t happen again! We can meet there on the days I don’t have practice, and you can go on the days I do, and I wouldn’t come.” Devon says, determined to regain the friendship. Madeleine thinks for a few seconds.
“It’s not a big deal Devon. Really! I’m glad for the reading material, but the library is fine.” Madeleine says thoughtfully. Devon gives Madeleine’s words some thought as well. “What are you so afraid of Mads?” Madeleine stops walking again. She turns to look at the young man, who has now turned around to face her. Her face becomes warm, and noticeably red. “I am not afraid of anything! I just want to be left alone!” Madeleine says, and stomps off. Devon shakes his head. “Here we go again.” He mutters to himself “Well, it’s obvious something’s got you spooked.” He shouts after Madeleine. She doesn’t look back. Madeleine walks on for a few more paces. Suddenly, Madeleine turns around. She is surprised to see Devon still standing there, just looking at her. “What are you doing?” She hurls at him. Devon shrugs his shoulders. He’s convinced now that his grandfather was right. To add to that, he fully understands the life of a loner. The life of an introvert. However, his love for sports is what drew him out of it.
Devon slowly walks toward Madeline. She doesn’t move. When he almost reaches her, about three feet away, he slows, and stops. “I didn’t always have friends at school. My grandfather was my only friend for a long time. Loving sports broke that but…” Madeleine interrupts Devon’s speech. “I don’t need friends. I’m happier alone.” She tells him passionately, and stares at him with wide eyes. “Are you really?” Devon replies, trying to stifle a laugh.
“Yep! Uh-Huh!” Madeleine retorts then continues on her way home.
“I don’t believe that for one-second Madeleine! You’re not going to shake me that easily! See you in the Library tomorrow!” Devon shouts after Madeleine as she exits the park and walks on to the neighborhood streets toward home
To Be Continued…