Madeline hitched a ride with Sam and her unpleasant stepmother, Cammie, after band practice. Dropped off at the edge of the driveway Madeline shuffled to the front door with her shoulders slumped forward, hair in her eyes.
As she unlocked the door Madeline was blasted with the deafening volume of the television. Another cheesy mystery on A&E filled the empty family room along with the smell of Chicken Surprise. The door slammed shut and Madeline tossed her school bag over the arm of the love seat.
“Madeline, please double lock the door!”, shouted her mother from the kitchen. With a roll of the eyes Madeline complied, grabbed her journal from her bag and walked into the kitchen.
On a typical school evening, dinner was ready sometime after seven, Madeline’s younger brother managed to annoy her at least once and their father didn’t stroll in until sometime after eight-thirty. Madeline would retire to her room around nine where she assumed her usual routine, but tonight would be different.
“How was school?” her mother, uninterested, asked. “I made chicken something. You hungry?”
“School was okay,” as Madeline painfully reflected on the day’s events. “I’m not hungry. Cammie took me and Sam to get something after practice,” she said as her stomach growled.
Madeline observed the disappointed look on her mom’s face and took the silence as an opportunity to head right to her room for the rest of the night. She bolted up the stairs, two-by-two, swung open her door and carefully closed it right behind her. With the click of the door and a sigh of relief Madeline tossed her journal on the bed and kicked off her shoes.
The phone rang before Madeline had the opportunity to turn on her stereo. The fragile girl grabbed the receiver near the end of the first ring. It was Sam. Madeline already knew this. They briefly discussed their plan for the evening and within five minutes the girls said their goodbyes.
Madeline unwound the phone cord from her arm and reached for her journal. The black and white checked cover, worn around it’s edges, provided comfort to her. These pages captured her deepest thoughts; thoughts she did not share with her closest friends; thoughts that sometimes made her uncomfortable to write. She opened the journal to the next blank page, set her pen in the binding and pressed play on her stereo remote.
The base from the speakers vibrated the room as the words vibrated the soul. Madeline brushed a salty tear from her cheek and picked up the pen. She violently wrote of her day: continued verbal harassment from Warren, a botched flirting attempt with Steve and another encounter with Steph. Steph’s a bitch anyway, Madeline thought, she deserved it.
Just then, the flow of the pen was disrupted by the faint sound of the garage door opening. The hum of her father’s car grew louder as he pulled into the garage. Madeline immediately hid her journal under the mattress and proceeded to get into her pajamas. She opened her bedroom door to head to the bathroom for the usual post-bedtime hygiene regimen.
Madeline tied her dark locks back before splashing cold water on her face. Eyes closed, the water shocked her skin. She took another palm full and threw it over her face. Her head lifted as her eyes opened, immediately fixating them on her reflection in the mirror. She studied the contours of her face while the water continued to run down the drain. After drying her face, she turned off the faucet only to shift her gaze back to the mirror.
“Oh my God!” she exclaimed. Her father was standing right behind her.
“Hi, little girl,” he said through a smile as he leaned in to kiss her cheek.
“Geeze, Dad, you scared me. Hi.” Madeline angled her cheek to his lips and accepted the kiss. She quickly remarked at how tired she was and headed back to her room. She needed to get in a little nap before the evening started.