"I thought you loved me"
It was dark outside, but Madison’s lamp and mermaid nightlight were on. Brian’s letter lay on the desk. She was sitting at her desk with her diary, staring at the entry for the day: “Dear Diary.”
When she logged onto Chatspace, Brian was online. He sent her a chat message. “Where were you?” he asked. “I waited for you.”
“I know,” she said. “I couldn’t come. There was something I had to do instead. ”
“I’m starting to wonder if you’re serious about us,” he said.
“Don’t say that,” she said.
“I thought you loved me,” he said.
She checked her cellphone. Brian had left her fifteen text messages and three voicemails. “I’m sorry,” she said.
“Are you really?” he asked. “Should I look for another girlfriend?”
She opened her contacts on her cellphone and blocked his number. “I’m scared,” she said.
“What are you scared of?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” she said. “Something doesn’t feel right.”
“You’re scared of me,” he said.
“No,” she said. “I’m just scared.”
“I love you,” he said. “Isn’t that enough? I love you, Madi, my princess, my rose.”
“I know,” she said, “but I have homework to do.”
“You don’t have to do anything,” he said. “Run away with me tonight. I bought us plane tickets to Europe. We can fly there together. We’ll have our first kiss on a Venetian canal. We’ll make love in a Parisian loft.”
“I don’t know if I’m ready for all that,” she said.
“I love you,” he said. “Don’t you still love me?”
She navigated to her Chatspace contacts and brought up his profile. Her eyes narrowed on his profile picture. At the right border of the picture was a white glossy edge, not unlike the edge of a magazine page. Her cursor hovered over the delete friend button. “I think we shouldn’t be friends anymore,” she replied, and then she clicked the button.
Someone knocked on her door, and Madison flinched. She stood up slowly from the desk. “Who is it?” she asked.
“It’s me,” said her mother.
Madison walked to the door and unlocked it.
Her mother opened the door. “Can I talk with you?” she asked.
Madison crossed her arms over her chest.
“You’ve been avoiding me,” said her mother. “I know you’re upset with me.”
Madison rolled her eyes.
“I pushed you to go to Baldwin,” said her mother. “I wanted you to get the experiences I had. Maybe I pushed you too hard.” She sighed. “Your father and I talked.”
“You talked,” said Madison.
“We talked about you and Baldwin,” said her mother. “We want you to be happy no matter where you go to school. You can go back to Upper Darby.”
“Seriously?” asked Madison.
“Yes,” said her mother.
“What about your legacy?” asked Madison.
“You are my legacy,” said her mother.
Madison smiled and hugged her, and her mother hugged her back. Madison glanced at Brian’s letter on her desk. “Mom,” she said, “I want to tell you something.”
“What is it, honey?” asked her mother.
“I’m really sorry,” she said, “about everything.”
Her mother nodded. “I know,” she said. She stepped back into the hallway. “I want you to start sleeping again, young lady. No more late nights. Promise me.”
“I promise,” said Madison.
Her mother shut the door as Madison pulled up her chair at her desk. She pressed the point of a mechanical pencil into her cheek. She glanced at the letter. The breeze from the window ruffled the curtains. She stood up at her desk. She raised the screen on the window. She looked out the window at the neighbor’s. She looked at the letter, at its finely scripted closing line: “forever yours, my princess — Brian.” She took the letter and began creasing and folding it. When she was done, she held a paper airplane. She took it to the window, and then she threw it out. It glided over the road, over the neighbor’s, and landed somewhere out of sight.
She sat at the desk and stared at the laptop screen. Her last Chatspace post was the love poem She Walks in Beauty by Lord Byron. She had read it many times before and it had always made her smile, but this time as she read over the final lines, she did not smile.
“And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!”
Her cellphone vibrated, and she flinched. As it vibrated again, she glanced at the cellphone screen. It was Becky calling. She answered it.
“Do you want to go to the mall tomorrow?” asked Becky.
“That would be amazing,” said Madison.
“I’ve missed you,” said Becky.
The breeze shuffled the pages of Madison’s diary on her desk. “So have I,” said Madison. “We have so much to catch up on.”
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