Madelyn

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-Prologue-

Madelyn ran. She headed down 18th to Douglass, where she turned right and continued running. The words of her attorney played ping pong in her head with the incident so long ago. The mental match fueled her to push harder until she stopped, out of breath, in Corona Heights Park, not far from her little city house. Collapsing on a park bench, she leaned forward, forearms on her knees, head in her hands, and sobbed quietly as the incident played out in her head again...

Madelyn stepped onto the elevator, not paying much attention to much of anything. She pressed the button and the doors began closing. Just before they snapped shut, a folder slipped between them and they slid back open again. Looking up, Madelyn let out at defeated sigh. The probate officer. Just the person she didn’t want to talk to...not alone in an elevator, anyway.

“Miss Randell,” he said in his cool voice.

“Mr. Price,” she responded, equally cool.

“Why, Miss Randell, aren’t we a chilly one today,” he retorted back in his annoying nasal tone.

“Wouldn’t you be, too?” she snapped back.

“Why, I --”

“No,” she said icily. “I don’t care to hear you prattling on any longer.” She didn’t care about having interrupted him. “You’ve denied me my home, Mr. Price. My home. I grew up there. It was there that I learned to walk, learned to talk, to ride a bike. It’s where my dog is buried.” She paused a moment for a breath.

“Miss --” he tried to speak again.

“I said no, Mr. Price,” she again interrupted. “I won’t listen to why you can NOT let me return home one moment longer. That property is my heart. My parents are DEAD, Mr. Price! Dead! What am I to do now? Where am I to go? I assure you, Mr. Price, I can look after myself. I’ve been well educated -- better, I’m sure, than your own children, who, by the looks of you, are probably at least 10 years my senior.”

The probate officer stood there, aghast, his face flushed slightly.

“Miss Randell, as I’ve stated many times, your case is a unique one. We have not had a situation quite like yours before,” he tried to soften his voice as he spoke, not quite achieving the goal, but the effort was there.

“Frankly, Mr. Price, I don’t give a rat’s ass about the ‘uniqueness’ of my case,” Madelyn fumed, yet was able to remain mostly eloquent with her words. “This is my life you’re playing with. Not a game of chess or Monopoly. My life. And it’s not a game, Mr. Price. You’re so damned enthralled with the ‘uniqueness’ of my ‘situation’ that you forget you’re dealing with a sixteen year old girl who has nobody left in the world except her attorney; a young girl who has lost the people who were her rock, her foundation: her parents. They were my world, Mr. Price! And now they’re gone!” Tears were flowing freely now.

“Dead, Mr. Price! Their bodies broken on that mountain, Mr. Price,” by now, she spat out his name as if it were poison. She paused and turned away, only now noticing the doors of the elevator were wide open and a crowd was gathered, watching in shock as she spoke.

She stood there staring at the crowd for only a few seconds before noticing Brian standing at the back of the crowd. She looked into his eyes then back at the probate officer.

“Good day, Mr. Price,” she ended their conversation without a question to its finality. With a flip of her golden curls, she rushed off the elevator, into her attorney’s arms, the people all around staring as she passed. He hugged her tight then ushered her out the door.

Together they left the probate officer standing alone on the elevator. When they exited the building, the people all turned to stare at him this time. Some faces were still clearly shocked by the scene they partially witnessed. Others bore clear disgust for the man who pushed his way past them to head home for the night.

***

Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months following that call. Her 19th birthday came. She celebrated with Brian, and he’d brought her a Swedish Princess cake from Schubert’s. It was a little bakery on Clement Street Brian frequented. It was one of his favorite bakeries and he would bring her pastries and breads from there from time to time, but this was the first cake she’d tasted of theirs.

The cake was composed of layers of white sponge separated by raspberry and kirsch custard filling, with a whipped cream icing and, as their website states, “enrobed in marzipan.” Madelyn was delighted by the delicate piping decorating the top of the cake and surprised by how good it tasted. It was so good she helped herself to a second slice that night.

It was a nice little birthday celebration, but it was shadowed by the fact she still couldn’t go home. Unfortunately, Brian hadn’t brought any news on how probate was faring when he stopped by.

She took a long bath that night after Brian left then went to bed and dreamt of home.

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