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(A description of what I'm doing is here.)
20653 / 39127 words. 53% done!
As I seethed in the back seat, I did some calculations. I'd been gone for at least twenty minutes already. By the time Dan dropped me off at the club, it'd probably be twenty-five. Add to that the three to five minutes it would take to actually stay and listen to one of Miriam's songs, then another twenty minutes to walk home from the club since Dan would be abandoning me. I could only hope my mom didn't try to check on me during that time. And then on top of that, add the fact that I'd blown things so badly with Wake. He'd never put his arms around me again, that's for sure. And I didn't even think I wanted him to. At least I'd finally get to hear the new incarnation of Miriam's band. I tried to cling to that single ray of positivity from all this.
When we finally made it to La Musica Noche, I let myself out, even shooting Dan a "thank you". But as soon as I'd shut the door, he sped off. Colleen stuck her hand out the window, middle finger pointed straight up in the air.
I forced my way past the bodyguard, giving him a terse "I'm with the band." He let me go without comment. He'd seen me here with Miriam before.
Interrobang Widdershins was already on stage when I got inside. Miriam looked like a total goddess on that stage. She really, truly owned it. And everyone had been right about Brian's laptop adding a whole new dimension to the sound. I couldn't believe how much like actual music it sounded, although I wasn't going to give Miriam that exact review. I watched, transfixed, as she slung herself around the stage, wailing into the microphone. I couldn't even tell if she was speaking English or not, but it didn't matter. She was hypnotic.
"Hey, you made it!" Sheena yelled at me. She shoved her way through the crowd to get to me.
"Yeah, I did." And for the first time since I'd been woken up that night, I felt relief. I'd made it to Miriam's show. I could at least appease that bit of guilt.
"Doesn't it sound fantastic?" Sheena said, her eyes wide with intensity.
"Totally fantastic." I watched, my eyes glued to the band and Miriam as they finished up their song. Miriam stayed in the moment until the last note faded, when she finally looked up and out into the crowd. I caught her eye and waved. She smiled back at me. I gestured to the door, indicating I had to go, and mouthing "I'm sorry." She grinned and gave me the universal sign for "Ok," and mouthed back, "Thanks." I nodded, then turned to go, feeling grateful that I'd finally gotten the chance to make things right, really right, with Miriam.
"You're leaving already?" Sheena asked, surprised.
"I gotta. I'm actually under house arrest right now."
"Oh, that sucks. Take it easy, Maddy!"
I nodded at her and pushed my way back out the door.
I ran as much of the way home as I could before I just couldn't take it anymore, then did my best to speed walk the rest of the way. I could've killed Colleen for picking me up and then refusing to drive me back home. My legs ached with the effort of getting there quickly, and I hoped beyond hope I'd managed to avoid further grounding.
I snuck to the window and reached my hands down to pull it open, but they fell through empty space. Had I left it open when I took off?
Nope. Mom sat on my bed, something in her hands, waiting for me.
Shit. Fantastic. Perfect. I couldn't escape now. I climbed back through the window, not wanting to meet her eye.
"I don't suppose you want to tell me where you were."
"I'd prefer not to if I could get away with it," I admitted.
I sighed. "I was at Miriam's show."
"I thought you told her you couldn't go?"
"Yeah, but then Colleen showed up, and she was like, 'Come with me if you want to live,' and Wake was there and...I'm sorry, mom."
"Was it worth it?" she asked.
I thought about that. The drive with Dan had sucked. Yelling at Wake and having him yell back had sucked. Colleen flipping me off had sucked. But seeing the look on Miriam's face when she realized I'd come to the show anyway..."Yeah," I said. "It was worth it."
Mom nodded. "You're a good friend, Maddy. Unfortunately, you've earned yourself another week of lock down." She stood up from the bed and hugged me. "But if you insist on sneaking out again, at least leave a note next time." I hugged her back, feeling tears squeezing up to my eyes. I wanted to sit in her lap like I did when I was small enough and just cry, but then I'd have to explain everything, and I didn't feel like doing that right now.
Mom held the envelope in her hand out to me. "This got delivered in your absence, by the way."
"Delivered?" I took it and examined it.
"By a nice boy. One who came to the door, not the window." She smiled at me, and left the room.
I opened the envelope. It was a poem. From Alec.
"Hey, Madeline, I was sorry to find
You missed our meeting today, but I don't mind
I'm sure I'll catch you again the next time around
But for now I'm homeward bound
I've been thinking about you a lot, you see
I know you may not think much of me
But I like your smile and I think you're cool
If you'd give me a chance, I promise I'm no fool
So here's hoping I catch you on the flip side
Your invitation is still open wide, wide, wide
And until next time, I'll wait and be glad
That I got to talk to you at all, pretty Mad
I read it a couple of times, feeling kind of weird. No one had ever written me a poem before. Especially one that detailed how fondly the author thought of me. I'm not sure how I felt about it being from Alec. And okay, maybe it wasn't the greatest poem ever written. It was certainly no "rough winds do shake the darling buds of May", but it wasn't a limerick, either. I decided to be okay with it.
** ** **
Monday morning, I felt a sick sense of dread about getting up to go to school. School meant Colleen, and I wasn't in any mood to see her. I hadn't decided if I'd forgiven her yet.
Luckily, she wasn't waiting for me by my locker like she usually did. Nobody was. I felt perfectly okay with that, and gathered my books to start the day.
Classes were nice and uneventful, but I knew lunchtime drew nearer with every passing period. Every time the bell rang, my heart clenched up a bit, fearful I'd see Colleen in the hallway and have to deal with her. There were no sightings, however, until I walked to our lunch table. I'd taken as long as I could stand in the lunch line, I'd even been a little late to the cafeteria. But I couldn't spend the whole period in line, so eventually I had to deal with the carnage that would surely await me at our table.
As I sat down, Miriam and Colleen were already arguing.
"I already told you a thousand times, I didn't know about your stupid show, Miri."
"Okay, calling it 'stupid' isn't really earning you any brownie points, here," Miriam countered. "You've pretty well indicated you have no interest in coming."
"Wow, it's taken you this long to realize I'm not into your death music? I've only been telling you that for years."
"You aren't even willing to give the new sound a chance!"
"It's always a 'new sound', Miri. You say that every time, and every time, it sucks."
Miriam pursed her lips. "I'm glad to finally know what you think of me, I guess."
"The music is actually pretty good, Col, you should check it out," I said gently, hoping to bring some sort of calm back to the table.
"Oh, is it?" Colleen said. "And how would you know? Is it because I got you out of your house so you could go?"
"Yeah, I guess, but not before dragging me halfway across town."
"Mads had already talked to me about it, Col," Miriam interjected. "I didn't hear word one from you, however."
"Okay, so I'm still the bad guy? Even though I was just trying to get Mads out of the house to have some fun, to try to hook her up with Wake like she freaking wants, and then she goes and fucks that up by blabbing some shit about Janell? And excuse me, Miriam, for not going to a couple of your shows, when I've gone to every single other show you've ever done. Because I give a shit about making you feel good about your music. I'm so sorry." Colleen threw her fork down.
Nobody said anything. I certainly didn't have anything to say. I hated Colleen in that moment. I wanted her to just shut up and realize what a bitch she was being to both Miriam and me. I had no idea where all of this was coming from, either. It seemed to sneak up on us out of nowhere.
"I think I want to eat lunch at a different table," Miriam said, so softly it was nearly a whisper. "Care to join me, Maddy?"
I didn't know what to do. I wanted to get away from Colleen, more than anything, but I didn't want to make it look like I was leaving in protest, just so she could be even more mad at me later. I looked up at Miriam, who gave me a reassuring smile.
"Yeah," I said, hastily gathering up my bookbag and tray. "Yeah, I want to go with you."
Colleen laughed. "Fine," she shouted after us. "Fuck you guys, too."
I did my best to follow suit and ignore these words like Miriam did.