“Sshh” Mrs. Walcott, the High School Librarian walks by and hushes Madeleine and Devon. They are seated in the back of the fiction section. They thought that they were properly hidden, at the end of the last row of book shelves. Clearly that is not the case.
Devon found Madeleine. She had made up her mind that she was going to experience the remainder of high school her way-alone. However, Devon is also determined. He is convinced that she needs a friend-and soon. He can identify with being a loner. To add to that, the words of his grandfather, and the faith teaching his parents instilled in him, from a small child, has led him to be tuned in to Madeleine. He knows that her behavior is only a symtom of something deeper. Directly after his last class, he jogged off to the school library hoping he would find her there, and he did.
“You’re going to get us kicked out” Madeleine teases Devon.
“Me? You’re the one with the big mouth.” Devon chuckles.
Madeleine shoots him a meancing look. “Excuse me?”
“I’m just teasing Mads…just teasing.” Devon smiles sweetly, and pats her awakardly on the shoulder. Madeleine slowly looks down at Devon’s hand on her shoulder, and then up in to his sparkling brown eyes. She feels a slight twinge in her stomach. Gulp! Madeline looks down in to the book on her lap. The one she and Devon had been poring over. The novel provided them with much entertainment as they read in tandem.
“Want to keep reading?” Devon stares at Madeleine. He is extraordinarly upbeat. Madeleine is silent. She ponders the question. Hmmm. She soon slides her back pack closer, and extracts her cell phone from the outter pocket, and checks the time.
“I have to go. Um, my mother wanted me to help her with something, or the other.” Madeleine begins to stand. Devon mimicks her motion.
“Ok. Cool. I will walk with you.” Devon smiles broadly as he stands. Madeleine freezes. She looks up at Devon, and studies his face. Why? Why is he so darn friendly? Madeleine studies Devon’s face a moment longer. “It’s okay. I’m sure you have stuff to do with your b-ball buddies.” Madeleine spits out, and slings her bag over her right shoulder. Devon bows, then shakes his head.
“That again? Really Mads, you really need to come up with something original.” Devon keeps in step with Madeleine. They exit the library, and enter the hall way. A few students are wondering through the halls, going to and fro to extra-curricular activities. Madeleine and Devon weave in and out of the students on the way out of the main doorway. Devon is on Madeleine’s heels.
On the steps of the school, Madeleine stops abruptly. “Okay. Really? You’re really going to walk with me?” Madeleine is genuinely surprised. “Yeah! I don’t have anything better to do.” Devon is playful. He laughs at his own attempt at a joke.
“Figures! You’re conveniently hanging out with me cause there’s no practice today. I don’t need your charity, you know?” Madeleine is a bit frustrated. Her patience with people attempting to be her friend is very short. Madeleine and her family have moved four times in the last five years due to her father’s high profile job. Each time she tried hard to fit in, she attracted less than authentic school mates. The troublemakers she attached herself to at her current school, before meeting Devon, even caused her a few hours in jail. Now Madeleine figures the best way to remain out of trouble is to walk through life alone. Besides, who knows when her father will be re-assigned again.
“What’s up with you Mads? You hang out alone-like all the time-and you’re bent on turning me away. What’s the deal?” Devon is prepared to get to the crux of the matter.
“What’s my deal? What’s your’s Devon? You don’t need to hang around me. What’s your agenda?” Madeleine refuses to back down.
“Ok. That’s fair. Well, I think you can use a friend. Besides, I like hanging out with you. In case you didn’t know, you’re pretty cool!” Devon is brutally honest. He’s come to really enjoy his time with Madeleine, even when she is being a little snippy. He finds it entertaining.
Madeleine’s face is warm. She raises her left hand to her cheek. Oh God, please don’t let my cheek be noticeably red! She is somewhat affected by Devon’s words although she has not quite grasped why yet. She looks straight ahead. Madeleine does not dare look at Devon.
“Whatever Devon! All ‘words'”. Madeleine raises her hands, gesturing quotes.
Stay focused Mads, stay focused! You don’t need any more trouble from people pretending to be your friend. Oh so she thought. Madeleine increases her pace. She hopes to be rid of Devon, but his long legs remain in pace with hers. After about a minute of trying to outwalk Devon, Madeleine takes a deep breath, and slows her pace, then eventually stops. She turns slowly to face Devon, contemplating her next words.
“What do you really want, Devon? I don’t need any friends. The books, and the comics are cool but I do better alone.” Although Madeleine speaks slowly and thoughtfully, her tone is sprinkled with agression.
“Aw com’on, everyone needs friends. If even just one.” Devon remains upbeat. He hopes to be a source of encouragement. He understands a bit about her ‘inner torture’.
“I don’t!” Madeleine is emphatic. “Been there, done that. It’s not worth it. Everyone wants something from you, and it ain’t all good.” Madeleine’s mind reaches back, and almost like someone pressed play on a stored video in her brain, the memories coming flooding back. The memories of her moving from one city to another. The memories of beginning friendships that were pleasant and having to be torn away from them, to just plain falling into the wrong crowd and getting into trouble, all for the sake of being accepted, and feeling important. It was all too much. Madeleine shakes her head and blinks, trying to shake the bad memories away.
Madeleine’s eyes meet Devon’s. Kindness is radiating from his. Madeleine is slightly embarassed. She is also curious. What’s his deal-I mean really? The more I push him away, the closer he gets. “Like, I said. What do you really want Devon?” She is blunt, almost harsh.
“To hang out. What’s the big deal?” Devon continues to flash a wide grin. He is determined to be patient with Madeleine. My fatih in action. Patience is the fruit that needs to bloosom right here, right now. He gives himself a pep talk. Madeleine studies Devon’s face. She is trying to find some fault in him. A chink in his armor. Just before she gets lost in the brilliance of his brown eyes, and the curls of his wooly-like hair, her wall goes up again.
“Um, I have to get home. It’s like a thing with my parents. See ya, when I see ya.” Madeleine adjusts the strap of her school bag on her shoulder, and begins walking again, at a normal pace. Devon walks alongside her.
“So see you tomorrow at the library then?” Devon’s tone is still chipper. Madeleine shakes her head. A smile begins to curl around the edges of her mouth.
“I don’t quite get your persistence. What are you up to?” Madeleine is still looking straight ahead. She doesn’t want Devon to notice that she is amused at this point.
“I am just being friendly. You know, to make a friend. Duh!” Devon’s delivery is comical, and they both erupt in to laughter. Madeleine, and Devon laugh heartily for close to one minute. Devon tries to talk in between laughs. “It’s like this Mads. Everyone needs a friend, and I know that you do too. High School can be rough. It isn’t safe to go through it alone.”
No comedy now. This time Devon’s tone is kind, almost compassionate. For the first time Madeleine wonders whether God had placed Devon in her life. Every friend she tried to make before either hurt her, or she was prematurely seperated from them. Things seemed to be going well for her father at the International firm he worked at. He was shaking things up, from the ground up, and it appeared that he would be needed for the long haul to make things thrive. Perhaps God had heard her heart’s cries.
She was content with going through the remainder of high school alone. Still, she hadn’t been truly happy in quite some time. Beyond her parents, she hadn’t been able to really trust anyone in a while. Madeleine stares at Devon, almost trying to read the notes of his soul. “Alone saves me from a whole lot of junk. It works.” Madeleine is not ready to let her walls down.
“Does it Madeleine? Does ‘alone’ really work? Look, whatever you’ve had to deal with in the past, everyone is not the same.” Devon’s compassionate tone begins to take anchor. It is almost as though he can read her mind. “I know a group of young people who are quite different. We work to bring out the best in one another. We meet every other Saturday night at the Pizzeria downtown. Want to join this week?”
Madeline’s lips part, and her mouth drops open. She stands staring at Devon amazed. Is Devon…is he different like me? Her eyes widen. They grow as big as saucers, fixed on Devon. God, is this You? Is this my answer?
….To be continued.