Diary of an American Girl

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"I want to make a good impression"

Her father was frying eggs on a skillet as she walked downstairs in a wrinkled t-shirt and shorts. He winked at her as she walked into the dining room. “Somebody slept in today,” he said.

“No,” she said.

“I made eggs the way you like them,” he said. “Over easy and no pepper.”

She sat down at the table and hung her head. Her father walked over to her. He scraped the eggs onto her plate with a fork. “I hope you’ve got your appetite back,” he said.

“I’ll throw these up later,” she said.

Her father raised an eyebrow at her. “I can tell there’s something bothering you,” he said.

“Not really,” she said.

He walked back to the stove. “I’ve noticed changes,” he said.

“What kind of changes?” she asked.

“Well,” he said, “you don’t talk to me anymore.”

“I’m too busy to talk,” she said.

“I see,” he said, his back to her. He cracked another two eggs and dropped them onto a greased skillet. The egg whites began spattering. “Your mom’s worried about you too.”

“I doubt it,” she said, and sneered.

Her father turned around and faced her, his eyes widening. “You may not realize it, but your mom loves you,” he said.

“Mom loves her legacy,” she said.

Her father picked bacon off the skillet with tongs and placed it on a plate on the counter. “You’ve been spending a lot of time in your room lately,” he said. “A father notices these things.”

“What things?” she asked.

He picked up the plate from the counter. “It’s pretty obvious, I think,” he said, walking over to the table. “All this time in your room. Locking the door. Not talking to anyone. Not eating.”

Madison gulped.

“Baldwin’s not working out,” he said, taking a seat at the table.

She sighed.

“Look,” he said, leaning toward her. “I’ll talk with your mother about it.”

“Really?” she asked, smiling.

“Of course, Kitten,” he said.

She ran over to him, and hugged him. He hugged her back, and then he brushed her hair out of her eyes. “Now promise me you’ll do something,” he said. She nodded. “Promise me you’ll start talking again.”

“I will,” she said. “I promise.”

“Good,” he said.

She took her plate to the kitchen and washed it off in the sink. As she walked back to the dining room she said, “Dad, I need to tell you something too.”

“I’m all ears, Kitten,” he said.

“I’ve been thinking about something for a long time,” she said, “but I don’t know if I can tell you.”

“I’m your father,” he said. “You can tell me anything.”

She sat down on his lap. “How did you know Mom was the right one?” she asked.

Her father grinned and leaned back in his chair. “Are you sure you want to hear about that now?” he asked.

“Yes, I do,” she said. “Did you know right away?”

“I don’t know if there was an exact time,” he said. “It happened little by little. One day we were walking through the park, holding hands. I glanced at your mother, and that’s when I knew.”

“That’s it?” she asked. “That’s boring.”

“Madi,” he said, “you’re going to learn that a lot of things in life take time. Love isn’t all fireworks and happily ever after. It’s something you have to work on every day.”

“Dad?” she asked.

“What is it, Kitten?” he asked.

“I need a ride to the park today,” she said.

He smiled. “I’m happy to hear you’re getting out again,” he said. “Will you need a ride home?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “I’ll text you if I do.”

Madison spent the morning in the bathroom. For an hour, she straightened her hair and put on makeup. She put on her favorite clothes, dark-washed blue jeans, a black v-neck, and a white cardigan. When she was done, she looked at herself in the mirror. Her bright blue eyes were outlined with a fine black eyeliner. She touched her reflection in the mirror.

“You’re really dressing up for these friends,” said her father, as Madison and he walked out to the minivan. It was a cool day, but Madison’s brow was damp.

“I want to make a good impression,” she said, as she climbed into the minivan. She checked her cellphone as her father backed the minivan out of the driveway. She had no new messages from Brian. She looked out the window and watched the house as it shrank into the distance.

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