My lungs burn from the crisp morning air, as my feet hit hard on the ground. Deciding to stop my running for a moment, I try to calm my breath. Noticing a strange vehicle in the neighbor’s driveway, I wonder who could be moving in.
Being vacant since the passing of the beloved elderly couple that originally owned it, my curiosity rises.
Heading back inside to wash off the sweet lingering on my skin, I keep my eyes on the house. Wanting just one glimpse of our new neighbor. ' I wonder who it could be?'
Humming aloud, I hope it will drain out the voices in my ear. Louder than usual, I refuse to pay them any mind.
Out of the shower, I grab something to eat and head out to the bus stop. Bagel in mouth, I ruffle through my bag. Trying to find my new schedule for this year. Being my last, I’m exited for it to end. Ready to be done with this dumb cycle of normality, I’m out of this town right after graduation.
Looking back up, I notice a stranger standing at the stop. 'Is that the new neighbor?' Heading up quiet, I am mixed with emotions. My curiosity wanting to find out everything about him. But another part of me, the one that always wins, doesn’t want to talk. Not wanting another person to reject me.
Always being someone friendly, others aren’t quite the same. Bullied all through elementary school for my delusions, I learned later what I needed to do. Be invisible, and block out the exact thing I was judged for.
It doesn’t take long for new neighbor to feel my presence behind him. Standing about five inches taller than me with medium brown hair brushing across his forehead, there is something about him. Having hazel eyes, there is something hidden behind them. With boyish charms, any girl could fall for him.
Never one to get tangled in with a guy, I pay his looks no mind. Giving him a friendly nod, I go back to thoughts. ' Or, more so try.'
Grabbing my phone and ear buds, I play my list on shuffle. Fall out boy ringing in my ears, they finally die down.
Feeling a hot gaze on me, I don’t look. 'You’re just paranoid.'
The bus shows up only a couple songs later, and I find the first available seat. Still feeling the gaze, I play my music louder.
School being the same boring every year, it's somehow worse with today being the first day. Taking my lunch period in the library, where I feel most normal. Eating, I’m cautious around the book I’m currently reading.
Coming here since freshman year, the librarians let me have special privileges. Not “officially”, as to not make the other students mad, but they do allow me in their office. Where I can eat without others complaining.
Looking over a book on old fables, something about this set brings on familiar feelings. My mom never reading them to me before, I still have a faint recollection of the tails. About fairy like creatures, and other worldly beings. The words make me want to believe in the unbelievable once more.
Whispers growing louder in my ears, I blare the music to play over them. 'They’re just in your head, block them out!'
Announcements claiming the end our last period, I grab my things. Waiting for the teacher to dismiss us.
Skipping the bus, I decide to just walk home. The distance long for most, a few miles doesn’t bother me. Out the exit, I’m on my way. That is until I feel a tap that stops me mid step.
Turning around, I notice the new neighbor from this morning. 'I wonder what he wants.' Probably hearing the rumors, he has come to see if they’re true.
Looking at me with curious eyes, he begins his interrogation of me. “Hey are you…” 'Oh here it goes.' “Madeline”
Not use to people actually knowing my name, It’s a refresher. “That would be me.” My response simple, I’m still not sure of his intentions.
Pacing his eyes over me for a moment, he continues. “You live next door, right? I was just wondering, don’t you normally ride the bus?” His questions quite odd, I still don’t mind them.
“In the mornings I do, yes. But, sometimes I find it refreshing to just walk home. Enjoy the life growing around.” Not expecting him to understand, most other don’t.
Smiling wide, “I understand that. Would you mind if I join?” his response is sweet. 'I wouldn’t mind his company.'
“Sure, that would be cool with me.” Finally feeling myself beginning to relax, it’s not something I do with most.
Leading the way, I notice the voices rising again. ' What is it with them today?' Normally having control over them, I’ve learned to bury the voices deep within.
Resisting the urge to grab my music, it’s the only solid way I have found to drown them out. Finding another way to hush them, I try to distract myself with conversation.
Turning to face him, I keep my pace in a backwards way. “So, what’s your name?”
“Mathew, but most call me Matt. How long have you lived here?” Backing his answer with a request of my history, I enjoy the friendliness of the exchange.
Meeting his gaze, and still keeping my surroundings in check, I do the same. “Since my adoptions at age six. Where did you live before here?”
“Florida with my aunt, she took me in when I was seven. Looks like we have something in common.” 'Wait.' A familiar name whispering through my ears, I don’t know of that being true. 'Just in your head, that’s all they are.' “My parents died in a car crash, what about yours’?” His voice interested in tone, brings me out of my current thoughts and into an old memory.
Thinking back, the earliest thing I can remember is my adoption.
A woman stands in front of me with long dark wavy locks, and sad eyes. Wanting to hug her, something about the presence she holds feels warm and home to me. Turning around I see the woman I will be soon calling mom. Red hair long and curly, she holds her hand out to me.
Hesitant I’m not sure what to do. Attention back on the woman who feels safe, I run to her. The act seeming to cause her more sadness, I feel bad. ‘Am I the reason she wants to cry?’
Pushing me to arm’s length, my heart breaks. ‘Does she not want me? What could I have done so bad for her to hate me?’
Kneeling down in front of me, she speaks in a soft tone. “This is your new mom. She’s going to take care of you now, protecting you from all things bad. Your name is Madeline. Now do you remember anything before today?” Her words scare me, because I can’t. No memory before a few minutes ago is in my ability to grasp.
If not for her telling me, I might not even know my own name. “Mad-i-line?” The label of myself sounding foreign in my own voice, like I have never said it before.
“Yes, and this is Marry.” Gesturing to the other woman, I look to her again.
Slowly, still unsure, I walk to her. Smiling warm to me, she looks like a mom. ‘But, is she really mine?’
Feeling alone, I need security. Someone who will never leave me, or lie to me.
Being jerked back into reality when sensing a car zooming passed, I almost jump from the fright.
Loosing myself within my own thoughts a lot, sometimes it feels like I am right there with them. In my head, away from everything else.
Remembering his question, I answer. “I don’t actually know for sure. I can’t remember anything before the day of my adoption, and every time I ask my mom. She just shuts down, not giving anything of an answer.”
Realizing that we are already halfway to our neighborhood, I actually don’t want to get home so soon.
My gaze brought to him, I watch as he balances his way across a newly fallen oak limb. “So, why don’t you have any friends. Not that I was stalking you or anything, just. Anytime saw you today, you were always alone.”
Jumping only a few inches to the ground, he walks close to me again. Trying to figure him out, I can’t. Something about him, it troughs me off.
“I do have friends, or more so one. For everyone else, I don’t care to keep them in my company.” My words true, I can’t help to feel pain with them.
Britney, the only one who has never judged me, or at least not harshly. Never one to keep her opinion to herself, at least she’s up front like that. Everyone else loves to spread things behind my back, whisper among themselves. But, not Britney.
The first time we met, was actually her defended me. New to the middle school, she didn’t know of my madness before. When hallucinations accompanied the voices in my head. Calling out a group of girls one day for picking fun at me, she has had my back ever since.
His eyes full of something sad, they change to warmth with his next claim. “Well, now you have two!” A sheepish grin upon his face, I can’t help but to feel something flutter for just a second in my gut.
The wall that I put up long ago gains a single crack. Unnoticeable, but still something.