Chapter 1- Madison’s POV - The Plan
The alarm starts blasting music at 7:10 am. This has been the third time I have hit snooze already. Time to drag my lazy ass out of bed and get my pathetic life started.
I’m only seventeen years old, yet as I have been reminded by my mom and dad every day since I entered high school; I need a life plan. That plan must include high honors in school, multiple college degrees and a high paying job.
You will notice, in that life plan set by my parents nowhere in it has happiness, love or following any of my own dreams or desires.
Well, I did it, I was able to graduate high school early with honors. Making them ever so proud of their only daughter and that is where the pride stopped.
I, Madison Levy could not take it anymore. I put myself through hell for three years and was done. Done pleasing everyone else, done living up to this perfection status that I never had a desire to pursue in the first place.
So, after early graduation I made no plans for myself. No college applications filled out, no college tours were had, nothing. It was amazing, or so I thought.
It had been a month since I graduated, summer break. I thought I would use the time to explore, find myself and figure out what I wanted to do for myself, do for my future.
My parents as always had other plans for me. As most parents would take their child’s independence as a sign of maturity, mine took it as an act of aggression that needed to be disciplined. I had no graduation party. No friends were allowed over, not that I had any thanks to my strict study schedule and lack of ability to connect with most people.
I was put on a tight leash, curfew of 9:00pm in the summer and no dating. In addition I had to find a job within two month of summer starting or I was kicked out of the house with no financial support. That made graduating early and throwing away my youth 100% not worth it. I was already old for my grade, so graduatuing early worked in my favor.
I know my parents love me, I think, but man do they have a shitty way of showing it.
I get up and jump in the shower, do the usual shower rituals and finally feel alive. I am starting the job search this morning.
Going old school, instead of online applications I am going in person to businesses around neighboring towns in my job search. I can’t bear to get a job with any classmates from my high school in town.
I was what the popular jerks would call a nerd. I was “teacher’s pet” or “perfect little Madison” that would set the curve for the class or turn in the assignments before the teacher asked for them. To say I was tormented for three years would be an understatement. So, working with anyone from that school would be a living nightmare.
I get dressed in a pair of tight black dress pants and a cuffed button down black and white polka dot shirt. I think I look professional yet attractive with just the right amount of makeup to highlight my green eyes and high cheekbones. I try to straight my crazy ass curly hair and just can’t tame the beast today, so I put product in it and let it go curly.
I make my way to the kitchen and sit down at the table where my dad is sitting reading another article online about his alma mater. My dad graduated from Madison, Wisconsin college with a doctorate. He loves that school, I guess you could say he is a true Badger Fan. So much so, that’s how I got my name!
My future was already written for me from the time my name was picked out.
“Madison, hello?” My dad blares in my ear.
"What? You don’t have to shout!”
“Why are you all dressed up and did you hear me about UW Madison? They just had the highest number of honor students graduating from Medical School since my class! Isn’t that amazing! If only you would have put in a little effort and applied yourself, you could have gotten into Madison.”
Is he fricken kidding me? Why would I want to torture myself even longer following in his footsteps, by going to his beloved college? Madison is a great city and all and I do love science, but I just can’t keep doing this to myself.
“Yeah, dad that’s great for those Cheeseheads, making you proud as usual.”
Good lord makes this shit stop, I try to give a half smile and start to get up.
“So, you didn’t answer me, why are you dressed up?” He asks.
“I am going to look for a job per your and moms demand.” I tell him with a confident smile as I stand up from the table. “I’m doing this in person, old school style.”
“Why would you go and do a thing like that? They are just going to tell you to go online and fill out the application. You’re wasting your time and gas. But as you have clearly been doing the past few months, you’re going to do whatever you want so just go.” My dad says as I am being waved off by him.
I could not get out of the house fast enough.
I grab my portfolio with my resume, high school transcripts and letters of recommendation from three of my teachers that I actually admire and respect.
Thank God my parents didn’t take away my only freedom I had, my car. Although it is a piece of shit, no longer made 2009 Saturn Outlook, I love her. I named her Fiona, she gets terrible gas mileage, rusty as hell and only starts about half the time. But she’s mine.
I live in Galena, IL. My dad and mom opened a clinic here after they graduated college. It’s a small town, everyone knows everything about each other. Highly touristy and all the young people work in the same places. So that is why I am going out of town to look for a job.
I start to head to Hanover, it’s about a 20-minute drive from Galena. I am hoping to find a job that doesn’t require a lot of stress or interaction with a lot of people. Therefore, hostess positions are out, waitressing is out, banking out the window and childcare, well you might as well lock me up now for child neglect. I know I sound morbid and difficult, and you may be siding with my parents right about now. Honestly, I just want my freedom and to use this summer to figure what I want. I didn’t take advanced classes, summer school, and test out of 3 classes not to finally have some fun.
But most of all, I want to find love. The kind of love you only dream of. The kind of love that you only read about in raunchy novels and roll your eyes over the intimate parts thinking ‘yeah, that’s a bunch of BS, nice try, in your wildest dreams that would ever happen’. I want it to happen to me. I feel like I have been alone for most of my life, and I want that loneliness to go away.
As I daydream about finding my first love, I pull into the public library of Hanover. It’s a cute, small building with two planters, one on each side of the main entrance with daisies potted inside.
I step into the library and smell the musk in the air and that aroma of old books. Reminds me of my endless hours in the school library studying for all my exams, yuck!
I see a sweet looking older woman standing behind the front desk checking books back into their computer system. She’s cute, little sloppy librarian bun, pencil behind her ear, little lipstick stuck to her teeth and a soft flower print dress that I’m pretty sure my grandma had as the fabric to her loveseat when I was about three. I knew it was her that must have planted the flowers. She gives off this perfect librarian vibe, I knew I could definitely work with her and get over my PTSD of the library smells.
I walk over to the sweet women and say hello.
“Oh, hello sweetheart. How may I help you? Are you looking for an ACT prep book?” Vivian asks. Her cracked name tag read.
“Oh no but thank you. I was actually wondering if you are hiring for the summer. I have brought my resume and-"
And then I was cut off by a voice I have heard a million times in school, a voice I loathed, Christian Fay. “No!”
He is the worst human on the planet. He was one of the ones that tormented me endlessly, he would sit behind me in class and flick my ears calling me dumbo, he would trip me in the halls, he would somehow get my locker open and put fish heads in between my textbooks. He was one of the snobby popular jerks that has the hottest girlfriend, Chloe.
They both graduated this year with me. All our worst nightmare.
But what the hell was he doing here? As far as I knew the kid could hardly read and only graduated because his dad was the governor of our town and he was a pretty boy.
“Christian, what are you doing here?” I try to say with a forced smile as I look at sweet Vivian who is giving me a sympathetic smile.
“No, the question is what are you doing here? And to answer your other question, no, we are not hiring.” Christian states as he smugly asserts himself, pushing my sweet Vive out of the way.
“We? I didn’t realize you worked here. I thought you would be sticking around town this summer before college.” I tell him more matter of fact versus as a question.
“My parents are on the town board for Hanover. So, we basically run the library, well I do. You see Mad, we basically run this town too.”
Mad, I hate that nickname he called me. It wasn’t out of endearment; he was just being a dick. His family ran our hometown so clearly, they ran this town too, damnit!
My little Vivian reaches her hand out to me and said “But sir, I thought just last week your mom said we could use an extra hand now with summer here. I know I could use the help.” Vivian looked at me so kindly, I knew Christian was over working her taking no responsibility for his duties here.
I mean come on, why would he even want to work here regardless of his parents being on the city board?
“I said no, I hired someone this morning. Her name is Chloe, and she will be here any minute.” Christian said as he casually walked away grabbing a stack of books and randomly shelving them as he walked. Idiot.
“I’m so sorry dear if I had a say I would hire you on the spot. You seem responsible, sweet and you have a good heart. I can tell. Now I have to work all summer with this spoiled brat and some dumb fan of his I’m guessing.” Vivian kindly said as she was rubbing the top of my hand on the counter.
I don’t know why but I was really touched by her kind words and really sad that I wouldn’t get to spend more time with her here. I laughed at her comment and told her thank you so much and to enjoy her summer. I told her I agreed with her statement about them and explained that we all went to high school together. I knew that Chloe was going to be here any moment, so I needed to leave.
As I walked away Vivian stopped me. “We have a lovely coffee and book shop about 15 minutes from here. The Fey family never goes to it, so you are safe. My daughter runs it, I could give her a call and let her know you are coming if you are interested.”
I had only known this woman a short time and she was being so kind to me. I could for sure check it out and see what the vibe was.
“I would love to, thank you so much Vive. You truly are the best. What is the shop called?”
Vivian looks at me with shocked eyes, have I done something wrong?
“Only my family calls me Vive. It’s funny to hear someone else call me that.”
Oh shit, I had said her nickname in my head, and it came out.
“Oh, Vivian I am so sorry, I didn’t mean to assert myself or presume anything.” I plead with her.
“Oh no dear, it’s perfectly fine, you and I we have a connection. I can feel it. Now the shop is called ‘Bean and Book’ just take the road you came in on, keep going til you hit a T in the road. Take a left for about 10 miles and you will hit a small town, it will be on your right.”
I thank her again and walk out of the library as I hear her say “See you soon dear”. Not sure what that means but I wave and start to my car.
Bean and Book, how fun is that. Even though I had a run in with idiot boy, I feel better, confident and rejuvenated.
I am almost to my car when I see her pull up, Chloe. All that goodness I just felt went out of my body and replaced with fear, anxiety, and the desire to flee.
“Well, well what do we have here?” Chloe asks as she gets out of her white Mercedes.
I mean really why are these people even pretending to work this summer, they’re spoiled little rich kids.
“Hi Chloe, I was just leaving.” I tell her as I unlock my car.
“Not so fast. Thanks to you I have to take summer school, thanks to you I have to work this summer before I go off to college with Christian, thanks to you myself and half of Christian’s hockey team had to sign some stupid contract stating we would complete community service just so we could walk at graduation.” Chloe states as she gets closer and closer to me.
I had heard something about all of this, but I thought it was just gossip. Some of the seniors ditched too much school throughout the year, didn’t have the grades to walk with the class and somehow put my car on top of the school for the senior prank. Yet this is all My Fault?
“Sorry to hear that Chloe, at least you will be with your boyfriend all summer and make some money.” I tell her as I turn to get in my car.
She rushes over to me spins me around and punches me right in the eye and then again in the nose.
“That’s payback, bitch.” Chloe laughs as she walks into the library.