“What about this one?” Samantha pointed to a bright fuchsia dress with thick straps that wrapped over the front, with an uneven hem. 1-2-3-4—15 seconds later, Samantha still heard no response. She turned her head in the opposite direction to face Madeleine and noted her gapped mouth, matching her wide-set stare. “What. What is it? You don’t like it?” rolled off Samantha’s tongue in rapid succession. She was fearful that she hadn’t gotten Madeleine’s approval.
Madeleine’s lips slowly came together and clasped close. Why does she even care what I think? She would look stunning in a paper bag. And why…why did she even ask me to come shopping with her? Madeleine eventually managed to forge a smile. “Ah…ah it’s pretty. I’m sure you…” Madeleine scratched the left edge of her forehead. “I’m sorry. Why do you even care what I think again?”
Madeleine’s honesty near toppled Samantha over and it shone through her eyes. “Wha…what do you mean why do I care?” Samantha swung the dress over her arm and slammed her hand against her hip. “Mads…” Madeleine’s eyes grew as large as dinner plates. No one other than Devon had called her that before. Well her parents on occasion but no one outside her home, and certainly not Samantha. Um, what did she call me?
Samantha broke into Madeleine’s thoughts. “Look Mads, are we cool? I thought we were cool.” Madeleine nodded. She actually appreciated Samantha being candid with her. “We’re cool. I mean, I am cool…being here is cool but…” Samantha was ready to get down to the crux of the matter. “Well what is it then?” she discharged anxiously. Madeleine swallowed so hard her larynx almost slid down into her stomach. “Samantha, why exactly did you ask me to come shopping with you?” Madeleine took a half step back and with both hands pointed to her jeans, graphic t-shirt and generic grey and white running shoes. “I mean, I’m not exactly a fashionista.” Samantha began to chuckle then released a full belly laugh. What the heck? Madeleine looked around embarrassed about the commotion she was partly responsible for.
“What’s so funny Samantha?” Madeleine tried her best to whisper under the circumstances but it was a pure waste of time. Samantha couldn’t hear a thing over her own outpour of cackles. Madeleine’s face felt warm and began to turn a light shade of red. “I don’t think it’s very ‘Christian’ of you to laugh at the way I dress!” Samantha almost choked on her last snicker. “Ahem.” Samantha smiled, grabbed hold of Madeleine’s wrist and pulled her back toward the changing rooms. She frantically found one and hurriedly ushered Madeleine into it. Once they were in, Madeleine turned and looked at Samantha as though she was captured by a crazed serial killer. “What on God’s green earth is going on with you Sam…” Samantha put her both arms up in the air. “Hang on, hang on. I’m not crazy.” Samantha lit up the room with a wide grin. “Crazy fun, yes! But not just crazy.”
Madeleine didn’t see the humor in any of it. Instead, she was part angry and part scared “So what’s this all about?” Samantha allowed her face to settle into a sweet smile for a short moment then she took a deep breath. “Madeleine, I asked you to come shopping with me cause I ah, I mean, I like your style. I like your personality. I just like you.” Madeleine wasn’t won over just yet. More like a little weirded out instead. She scanned Samantha carefully. Every possible inch of her. Then she focused her attention on her eyes, trying to read them for any clues about Samantha’s authenicity…or not.
Soon enough Madeleine began to share her thoughts with Samantha. Thoughtfully and slowly “Look Samantha…” She did not dare call her Sam. Not today. “…I’m just going to be straight with you. Since I moved here with my family, I’ve met girls who’ve wanted to ‘chill'” Madeleine grew very animated with air quotation marks and all. “But I got burned. I’ve even been to jail.” Samantha’s mouth fell open. Madeleine continued. “Yes. Jail. Me.” Samantha lowered her head briefly, then leaned back against the dressing room partition and gave Madeleine her undivided attention again. “I was desperate to fit in then, but not anymore. Even my friendship with Devon has had major ups and downs.” Samantha slung a gigantic smile in Madeleine’s direction. “What. What’s that face for?” Madeleine became antsy. Samantha just continued to smile, but no words came from her end. “What Samantha? I mention Devon, and you light up like a Christmas tree. What’s that about?”
Samantha leaned off of the dressing room partition, stepped toward Madeleine and placed her hands gently on her shoulders. “Mads it’s nothing. Really. I mean no harm. Any friend of Devon’s is a friend of mine. I just wanted to shop.”
Madeleine stepped back until she bumped into the closed dressing room door behind her. She glared at Samantha for what appeared to be thirty minutes, to an hour but was closer to a minute in reality. “Trust is hard for me to cough up these days. So if you’re not going to be honest with me, I can’t trust you. I never will. Goodbye Samantha!” Madeleine flung open the dressing room door and stomped out like a thoroughbred out of the starting gates at the Kentucky Derby.
Samantha looked on, amazed at what she had just witnessed. “Sweet Jesus!” She breathed a loud whisper. “Her wounds run deep.” She dropped her head, defeated.