Making a Change

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She brushed her long, wavy, light brown hair and carefully applied makeup on her bronze skin. She ran into her bathroom and started to brush her teeth as she held a Pre-Calculus book in her hand. She had a huge test and wanted to do some last minute cramming because the night before she ended up sneaking out. Madison usually dedicated her life to school and was constantly studying. School had always been important to her and since it was her senior year, it was even more important. But, things changed after she started spending more time with Carter.

“Maddie! Are you almost ready? You should be heading to school soon!” Yelled her dad, Rick from downstairs. Her dad was her best friend. He was pretty laid back and looked very young for his age. He was also very overprotective of her. They became very close when Madison’s mom passed away from breast cancer nine years ago.

Madison grabbed her bag, her keys, and her jacket and headed downstairs. Her twelve year old brother, Hunter, was sitting at the table eating cereal and her dad was leaning on the counter, reading the newspaper. She messed up Hunter’s hair and kissed him on the cheek. She glanced at the clock 7:30. Her first class started at 7:45. She gave her dad a kiss on the cheek and kissed the top of Hunter’s head. She walked out the door and jumped into her jeep. All day at school she thought about how different she acted at school compared to work. She was really confused about who she was. The night before, when she was with Carter, Madison told him how she was the quiet girl in class and didn’t really have any true friends at school. Carter had a hard time believing her because at work she was outgoing and friends with everyone. To her, school was like a second job.

The school day flew by even though she had to stay after to finish her Pre-Cal test. She ran home, changed for work, and left the house in a hurry…practically knocking over mailboxes down the road. Soon, she pulled into work and ran to the employee entrance of T.G.I. Fridays. She had been working there for a little more than a year and absolutely loved it because of the people. She hurried over to the computer and clocked in. She had a heavy feeling in her stomach because she knew that she didn’t do so well on the test.

“Running a little late I see.” said James. He was the general manager.

Madison, who was never late, replied “I’m sorry. I stayed after school.”

She put on her apron and got everything ready. It was a Friday night and only the bar was busy. Her best friend from work, Kiley, ran up to her and gave her a huge hug.

“Where have you been?” she pleaded. Kiley was very loud and always energetic.

Then someone came up from behind Madison and hugged her. It was Carter, the twenty-one year-old guy that she had been crushing on since the first day of work. Madison never had time for guys and never really paid attention to them. But, Carter was a lot more different than the guys she went to high school with. Since last weekend, they started hanging out with people from work. The night before, the two of them just hung out alone.

“Hello Maddie. Where have you been all of my life?” said Carter.

Madison just smiled and felt her face grow hot. Kiley winked at her and walked away. Madison thought he was the cutest guy she had ever met. He was tall, tan and had the brightest, bluest eyes she had ever seen.

After work, Madison said goodbye to everyone and headed outside to her car.

“Madison! Wait up!” Carter yelled running after her. Madison stopped and turned around.

“What are your plans for tonight?” he asked as he finally caught up to her.

“I’m just going to go home.” She said.

“No you’re not.” Carter said smiling.

“What do you mean? Yes I am. I already had to lie to my dad and sneak back into my house last night. I think it would be best if I just went home Carter.”

At this point they were standing at Madison’s car.

“I’m having people over tonight. You really should come over.” He said.

“I don’t know Carter.”

“I want you there. Just think about it and call me. I challenge you to come out and have fun!” He yelled as he headed back inside the restaurant.

Madison got into her car, started it and waited while it warmed up. She replayed last night in her head. Madison never let a guy distract her from her studies, but all of that changed when it came to Carter. She ended up sneaking out with him the night before. They got coffee and talked for hours. Carter talked about college and becoming a surgeon. Madison talked about how her senior year was hard and that she never had time for fun due to all of the AP classes she took. She didn’t get home until two in the morning, but had no regrets except for the fact that her dad had no idea.

When Madison got home from work she found her dad and Hunter sitting on the couch watching TV. “There she is.” said her dad. “How was your night sweetie?”

“Good. I made a lot of money. It is Friday, our busiest night of the week. But, dad…?” Madison became very hesitant.

“Yes?” he responded with a curious tone.

“You know Carter from work? He is having people over tonight. Can I go with Kiley?” There was a long pause.

“Sure why not. Just try and be home at a decent hour. No later than one.” Said her dad.

Madison looked at the clock, it was only ten. She smiled and headed upstairs. She fixed her hair and put on some makeup. She changed her clothes and sprayed some perfume on to hide the smell of French fries and burgers. She ran downstairs and said bye to her dad and Hunter. Her dad reminded her what time to be home as she walked out the door. She called Carter as she got into her jeep.

“Surprise, surprise…look who’s calling me.” answered Carter.

“Hey Carter I’m on my way.” She could feel herself blushing.

“I’m sorry. I couldn’t quite hear you, but it sounded like you, Madison, are coming over to my house for a party?” There was a hint of sarcasm in his tone.

Madison laughed. “You know I like a good challenge.” She hung up and continued driving. She couldn’t stop thinking about everything. She wasn’t use to liking a boy this much. She started talking out loud in her car, “Mom, is this normal? I mean isn’t it about time I let go and actually experience life outside of school books?” she was at a red light and looked up. She did this all the time when she was alone.

Soon, she was driving down Carter’s street. She remembered where he lived because she drove him home one night from work. His house was small and he lived with his best friend. There were plenty of cars parked around the house, but she found a spot down the street and walked to his house. After knocking three times with no response, she let herself in. There were people all over the house, some she didn’t even recognize. She wandered into the kitchen where everyone from work seemed to be. Carter was leaning against the counter talking to Kiley. When he saw Madison, he pointed at her with a grin on his face.

“Madison Chase.” He said. “Welcome to your first party.” He walked over and gave her a hug. Madison spent most of her night with everyone from work. She was completely out of her comfort zone. She walked into the kitchen, got a beer and sat on the counter. Carter walked into the kitchen and watched her as she held the beer in her hand. He cleared his throat and took it out of her hand.

“You don’t need that.” He said handing her a bottle of water.

“Why not? Every other teenager in the world does it.” She hopped off of the counter.

“Well, you are not like every other teenager. You are this sweet, innocent, smart girl. I mean, yeah, I think you should break out of your shell a little, but stay true to who you are.” He spoke with a genuine tone. He walked closer to Madison and put his hand on her face. “Don’t change for anyone.”

At that moment, Madison realized that she was falling for Carter. Before she knew it, they kissed. Over the next couple of months they became a lot closer and started spending a lot more time with each other. Studying wasn’t her first priority anymore; she started sneaking out, and found herself lying to her dad.

One night she met Carter outside of her house after he called her and told her he had something important to tell her. They stood in the driveway and stared at each other.

“I’m in love with you.” He stated to her caressing her face. “I don’t know if that’s okay, but I can’t help it.” Madison’s heart stopped beating for a second and she smiled. She was about to respond when the front door of her house opened. Her dad was standing on the front porch.

“Madison get in the house! Carter you need to go home, now!.” He demanded.

Madison rushed inside of her house and Carter stood outside in disbelief as Mr. Chase shut the door. Madison started to go upstairs, but her dad insisted on talking. Madison ended up telling her dad about everything.

“So, all this time you have been lying to me?” he asked.

“Dad, I didn’t want to tell you. All of my life you have pushed me to be this person that constantly studies and doesn’t have time for anything else. Did you know that Carter is the first guy that I actually like and likes me back? It’s time for me to have fun and figure out my life, Dad. I don’t want to be shoved behind books for the majority of my life.” She protested.

“That explains the drop in your grades. Madison, I don’t want you to see Carter again. This is your senior year and you need to concentrate on school so you can graduate.” After saying that, he walked upstairs. That night, Madison didn’t get any sleep. She wondered about her future and Carter. The next morning she called work and told them she couldn’t work there anymore. She went back to being her old self and spent all of her time studying. Whenever Carter called, she never picked up. He eventually stopped calling.


Months later, it was the night before graduation. Madison’s dad woke her up.

“What’s wrong?” she asked him, sitting up in her bed.

“I’m sorry.” He said and buried his face in his hands. “After losing your mother, I just wanted to protect the two of you from the world, but I want you to experience life.”

“Dad, if anything you kept me in line. High school is over anyway. I’ve got plenty of years to experience life ahead of me.” She hugged him.

“I never wanted to stop you from falling in love. I just didn’t want you to have any distractions. But, falling in love is a huge part of life. Especially, when it’s your first love.” She rested her head on his shoulder and felt the burning sensation of tears in her eyes. She realized that it wasn’t her dad who was holding her back, it was herself.

The next morning she got up early and got dressed. She headed downstairs with her car keys in her hand.

“Where are you going honey?” asked her dad who was reading the newspaper.

“I’m going to experience real life dad.” She said and left. She drove to T.G.I. Fridays and went inside. Carter was cleaning behind the bar. Madison sat down at the bar and waited for him to turn around. Once he did, he didn’t say anything.

“Hi Carter.” She said quietly. “I’m sorry about everything. But, I needed to do what I thought was right. I’ve never experienced falling in love because I never had the time for it and the minute it’s right in front of me I run away. That’s how I am. I just run away from everything that scares me. But, I hope you can forgive me for that.” There was a long pause that seemed like it lasted forever. Madison sighed and got up from the bar. “Well, I graduate today and I would really like it if you came.” She slid the ticket across the bar and started to head out.

“You can’t just run away from everything that you are scared of. You have to stand up to this. Challenge yourself Madison.” He said walking over to her.

Madison turned around to face him with a huge smile on her face. “You know I like a good challenge.”

Carter’s eyes lit up as she said that. He let out a sigh of relief and smiled. They both knew that this was what falling in love felt like.





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