Chapter 14: Unexpected Guest
“You’ve got to be joking,” Amarea said into her cell phone.
“No,” Joey replied. “Totally serious.”
“Are you on something?” she asked, “and why are you calling me on the phone?”
“Maddie’s right here,” he said. “So it’s all right for her to spend the night.” It was a fact more than it was a question.
“No,” she said. “I don’t want Maddie in my house.”
“Great,” he said, ignoring her answer. “We’ll be over in a minute.”
Amarea heard Joey say, “See, I told you she’d say yes,” before he hung up the phone. She went downstairs and asked her mom if Maddie could spend the night. Her mother was, of course, overjoyed Amarea had made another friend.
Ha! Friend my butt, Amarea thought.
I heard that, Joey shot back.
How could you? Amarea asked. Where are you?
Out front, I called you from around the corner, he replied, through gritted teeth.
Why does she need to spend the night? Amarea asked, only slightly annoyed, what’s going on?
It’s someday Mar, I’m collecting, it’s someday, Joey said.
Amarea rolled her eyes in disgust, That’s not fair. She knew she owed him for the camping trip, but having Maddie spend the night was just too much.
It is what it is, Joey replied. Please, Mar.
Amarea sighed, What’s going on Joseph?
Her mom kind of can’t watch her, Joey said simply.
What’s that supposed to mean? Amarea asked, slightly more annoyed.
She’s in the hospital, Joey replied.
Is she sick? Amarea asked, her anger suddenly gone.
Not exactly, Joey replied.
Did she get in an accident? Amarea asked.
Not really, Joey said.
He was hiding something, Amarea could tell. What’s up? Why are you being so vague?
Let’s just say she’s pretty beat up, Joey said.
Seriously? She asked, her anger fleeing again.
Yeah, Joey said, her boyfriend beat the crap out of her.
Is she going to be all right? Amarea said, genuinely concerned.
Yeah, in a day or two, now come open the door, Joey commanded, it’s hot out here.
Ok. Is Maddie all right? Amarea asked.
She’s got some bruises, nothing major, Joey lied.
Holy crap, that’s awful. Amarea suddenly felt sorry for Maddie.
Just act like nothing’s up, ok? Joey pleaded. She doesn’t want anyone to know. Let’s just pretend her mom is out of town on business for a couple of days.
Ok, Amarea agreed.
“Hello, Maddie,” Amarea said when she opened the door.
“Hi,” she replied, looking at her feet, “Um, thanks.”
“Anytime,” Amarea said, “my mom goes out of town all the time,” she lied.
Maddie smiled. She pushed up her long sleeved shirt and quickly pulled it down again. Amarea saw the bruises. Maddie threaded her arm through Joey’s as she walked into the house. She looked like a scared, lost puppy.
“Marea,” her mother called, “Does your friend like silk or cotton?”
“Silk or cotton?” Maddie asked, totally confused.
“Sheets,” Amarea answered.
“I don’t know,” Maddie replied. “Does it really matter?”
“Well, one is silky and one isn’t,” Amarea answered.
“The silky sounds nice,” Maddie replied.
“Where’s your bag?” Amarea asked.
“My bag?” Maddie asked, once again confused.
“Your stuff to spend the night,” Amarea replied.
“Oh, I didn’t bring anything,” Maddie said.
“That’s ok,” Amarea said, “you can borrow some of mine. Silk or cotton?”
“Sheets?” Maddie asked.
Amarea smiled, “PJs.”
“Silk sounds great,” Maddie replied.
“Come on,” Amarea said, taking Maddie’s hand, “let’s go up to my room.”
“Hey,” Joey objected, “what about me?”
“Not allowed!” Amarea said.
Maddie giggled shyly, “See you tomorrow, Joey.”
Joey watched as they disappeared up the stairs.
“Where are the girls?” Mrs. Dustin asked, carrying a set of freshly laundered sheets.
“Upstairs,” Joey replied as he turned to leave.
Thanks, Mar. I owe you one, Joey said.
I thought we were even, she called back. She heard the front door close and didn’t listen for a reply.
Amarea and Maddie didn’t talk much. They spent most of the night watching cooking shows. Maddie seemed relieved to not have to think, not have to explain, not have to do anything but sit, nibble on popcorn, and be. The plate of homemade snickerdoodles sat uneaten on the plate. Maddie had smiled gratefully and accepted the plate, but quickly set it down and stared at the TV.
Maddie spent much of Friday sleeping in. Around 1:00 p.m., Amarea woke her up for lunch. Maddie said she wasn’t hungry, turned over and quickly fell back to sleep. At 6:00 p.m., Amarea took a tray up to her room. Her mom had made some chicken soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. It took several minutes to wake up Maddie. Amarea was positive she had never met anyone who could sleep so long.
Maddie picked at her sandwich and stirred her soup. “Thanks,” she mumbled.
“No problem,” Amarea replied. “Would you like to take a hot bath?”
Maddie looked at her with pure amazement. “Why are you being so nice to me?”
“Why not?” She asked. “Any friend of Joey’s is a friend of mine.”
“I know you don’t really like me,” Maddie said, still stirring her soup.
“That’s silly, of course I like you,” Amarea lied.
“I know you like him,” she said.
“Who?” Amarea asked innocently.
“Joey,” she replied.
“Oh,” Amarea blushed, “Of course I like him; he’s my best friend.”
“Uh, huh,” Maddie said as she pulled her hair back into a ponytail. Amarea saw what looked like hand prints around the sides of her neck.
“Seriously,” Amarea said, “he’s just my best friend, nothing more, nothing less.”
“I’d love a bath,” Maddie said, as she dropped her spoon into her soup and pushed the tray away.
“Wonderful,” Amarea replied, “I’ll go get it started.”
Maddie took an hour long bath, slipped back into Amarea’s PJs, and went back to sleep. Saturday and Sunday Maddie slept almost all of the time. She would wake up and eat the food Amarea had left for her, and then quickly fall back to sleep.
Amarea noticed the bruises. They covered her arms and legs. Some were a deep shade of purple and others various shades of yellow. Amarea shivered when she saw the marks on the sides of Maddie’s neck. The bruises really were a hand print. It was like someone had grabbed her by the neck and didn’t want to let go.
Monday morning Maddie put on her freshly laundered clothes, thanked Mrs. Dustin for the wonderful weekend, and left Amarea’s house. Amarea couldn’t have been more relieved. Maddie’s mom was released from the hospital after school on Monday. Even though Mrs. Dustin suggested that she invite that “nice Maddie girl” over again, Amarea had no plans to ever have her over again. Amarea spent a good deal of time wondering what Joey had gotten himself into and how she could help him get out of whatever it was.