"Can you keep a secret"
After school, Madison’s mother asked her to set the table for supper. Madison took the plates and silverware out of the dishwasher. She placed napkins, plates, and silverware at each placemat, and then she plopped herself into a chair. Her father walked into the dining room, a tall man with thin gray hair and kind hazel eyes. He kissed Madison on the cheek, and then he pulled up a chair at the table.
Her mother passed a plate of grilled salmon to her father. “So,” she said, glancing at Madison, “let’s talk about our day.”
Madison sectioned off a tiny piece of salmon with a fork and knife. She held the fork over her plate, staring at it. “Kitten,” her father asked, “how was your first day?”
“You should’ve seen her when I picked her up after school,” said her mother. She glanced at Madison and said, “Mrs. Bellevue thinks she’ll make a splendid Baldwin girl.”
Madison rolled her eyes. Her father pointed at Madison with his fork. “So, Kitten, what do you think of Baldwin?” he asked.
Madison put her fork and knife on her plate. “I hate it,” she said. “The girls are mean. The teachers are stuck up. The hallways smell like peanut butter.”
“It’s only her first day,” said her mother to her father. Madison stared at her mother, her mouth gaping. “We never said it’d be easy,” said her mother.
“I miss my friends,” said Madison. “I don’t want to go back. I won’t go back.”
“Give it a chance,” said her mother. “You’ll make new friends there.”
“I don’t want to make new friends,” said Madison. “I want my old friends back. I want my school back. I want my life back.” A tear fell on her cheek. Madison slid her chair out, scraping the wooden legs against the hardwood. Her father glanced at her mother as Madison ran upstairs.
Madison slammed her bedroom door and locked it. It was dark in her room except for the mermaid nightlight by the desk. She grabbed her laptop out of her backpack and set it up on her bed. Lying on her stomach, she logged on to Chatspace and began to scroll through her newsfeed.
Her mother knocked on her door. “Madi, do you want to come down and talk about it?” she asked.
“No,” shouted Madison.
“Are you sure?” asked her mother.
“Go away,” said Madison.
Madison stared at the door and listened to her mother’s footsteps on the carpet as she walked off. She turned back to the glow of the laptop screen. Brian had come online. Madison opened a chat window with him. “Where do you live?” she asked. She scrolled through his newsfeed, which had been updated with dozens of posts about European destinations and English literature.
“Can you keep a secret?” he asked.
“I won’t tell anyone,” she said.
“‘Far in a wild, unknown to public view’,” he said. “‘From youth to age a reverend hermit grew; the moss his bed, the cave his humble cell, his food the fruits, his drink the crystal well.’”
“Is that a riddle?” she asked.
“Parnell,” he said.
“What do you do,” she asked, “when you’re not writing?”
“I find work where I can,” he said. “I play guitar and sing at venues. I sell a poem now and then.”
“You’re a musician too,” she said. “You’re so mysterious.”
“A great poet must be a great mystery,” he said.
She blushed. “Will you be upset,” she said, “if I say that I like you?”
“Not in the least,” he said, “but the heart is a serious matter. If you desire my affection in return, you must promise me that you are mine, your body, your spirit, your soul, your heart, forever.”
“I promise,” she said. “I do.”
“Then I am yours always,” he said.
She pulled on her hair. “Do you have a cellphone?” she asked.
“Madi,” he said, “I must ask a very special question before we continue our conversation. I do not say it to shock, only to know you better. May I ask this question?”
“You may,” she said.
“Have you been intimate with a boy?” he asked.
She bit her lip. “Are you asking if I’ve had sex?” she asked.
“I must know you are willing to share the greatest secrets of your heart with me,” he said. “I will do the same for you.”
“I’m a virgin,” she typed, and then she deleted it. She typed it again, and then clicked send.
He sent her his cellphone number. She closed the laptop and placed it on the floor. She sent a text message to him from her cellphone. “Hi?” she asked.
She rolled onto her side and covered herself with her blanket. As she closed her eyes, the cellphone vibrated in her hand. “I’m here, my princess,” the text from Brian said.
She smiled. “Goodnight, my handsome gentleman,” she replied.
“Goodnight, my beautiful princess,” he replied.
Today I threw a paper airplane at my English teacher, Mr. Aldus. I hit him right in the bald spot on the top of his head. Suits him right. He confiscated my cellphone, again. He said if he had to do it one more time, he will call Mother. Argh!
Brian is thinking of visiting Pennsylvania soon. He says it’s not that far. I hope he does come!