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Her Name Was Madi: The Sister
Her name was Madeleine Rourke, and she was victorious. She had beaten that which could not be beaten, and she had come out of it alive. She was victorious, but alone. She had defeated her enemy at the cost of what was most dear to her, and now she was on her own. She was back to her average life as an average girl, and back to being no one special. She had almost forgotten about the strange events of February, save for the fact that her giant cat still stuck around her. Her books were her escape, and music kept her sane...or as sane as she'd ever be.
Oh, Madi, please stop crying...
It was May 30th, 2009, and Madi was doing the same thing she'd done every day since she'd gone home. She reluctantly awoke from a painstaking dream about Tony, even though he was never really visible, just...there. It seemed to be the only place she could ever shed a tear. She sat in front of her easel for hours, simply staring at the white of a single canvas, motionless and silent. She hadn't spoken much since she had returned to her own time, and now that it was once again summer, she retreated even farther into her thick shield of indifference. She had taken up the hobby of painting quite suddenly when she'd returned, and she found herself to be quite good at it. However, she could only paint one thing: Tony. She would paint what others would see as a perfect likeness of him as far as they knew, but what she would see as not quite. She'd add little brush strokes here and there, until the tumultuous anger in her heart had her practically throwing paint across the canvas in angry slashes. Then, into the trash the painting would go, along with all the rest.
Oh, how the very mention of his name made her heart wither all the more in her empty chest and her fading scars burn like they were fresh. Her tears seemed to have stayed behind with Tony, as she could no longer shed even a single drop of salty water, even in joy. She'd searched and searched for his grave, thinking just maybe that would fix her, but it was nowhere to be found. She wondered if anyone had even noticed his disappearance once she'd left.
"Madi?" a familiar voice said questioningly. Her mindless gaze shifted to her large bedroom window, seeing a pair of yellow feline eyes, each as large as a golf ball, peering at her.
LT's eyes had abruptly and permanently changed in color when they had traveled back to her room, and somehow, she was glad of it. The absence of those glacier blue eyes made the trembling flashbacks and screaming nightmares easier on her. She raised her eyebrows in question and replied quietly, "Yeah, LT?" He went through his daily routine of asking her how she was feeling, if there was anything he could do, etc, etc. Her reply was always the same, as much as she appreciated his concern. He merely asked every day out of habit, and because her father had requested it of him for the time being. For a few moments, he made feeble attempts at conversation, and, seeing as her mood hadn't changed at all since they'd last talked, he went on his way. LT spent most of his time prowling through the woods behind Madi's house, climbing trees and chasing small animals (merely in fun, for he was too picky to eat anything but Madi's table scraps), knowing he wasn't exactly welcome in her town. Her hand raised ever so slightly in a silent goodbye as he disappeared from her line of sight. Seeing as she was getting absolutely nowhere with her painting, Madi rose from her small stool and headed for her kitchen.
The way Madi's house was set up made it so that she had to pass by both her mother and brother on the way to the fridge. Her mother had asked her about studying abroad when she'd returned, and once her mother noticed her change in attitude, the questions had shifted to the ever suspicious are you okay? and did anything happen to you over there in Europe? which basically meant she suspected that her daughter had taken only three months to plummet from her pedestal of angelic obedience into the fiery depths of hell and unhealthy addictions. In her mind, Madi had assured that she was unhealthily addicted, oh yes, but not to some illegal substance. The past was an unhealthy place to dwell, that was true, but she didn't care. It kept her functioning well enough, if that's what you could call it. Moving her hair from her eyes, Madi trudged through the living room to get to the kitchen.
"Geez, Madi, I don't remember you looking that bad since your junior prom," her brother taunted. She didn't bother even glancing in his direction, seeing as it would only encourage him, and so continued shuffling towards the fridge. Damien took this as an insult, watching her approach the icebox and waiting until she seemed deeply engrossed in searching for something edible before pitching a rather hard rubber ball at the back of her head. Swallowing a number of vulgar things she could have told the eleven-year-old, Madi grabbed a cup of jello and returned to her room, which she pretty much hadn't left since she'd come back.
Spooning bouncy orange jello into her mouth, Madi watched a “Friends” rerun, mouthing the characters' lines as if they were hers to memorize. As monotonous as her days had become, she honestly hadn't noticed, and honestly didn't care. Her routine gave her something to do, and her mother hardly noticed that the only thing her daughter ever asked for was more orange jello.
By the time she had finished her jello, her eyelids were drooping in exhaustion. A tired, half-asleep thought stopped her mid-bite. Glancing down at the quivering lump of orange gelatin, her face crumpled in sadness and her lower lip began to tremble as her features slowly contorted into a grimace of pain.
"Tuh-Tony wuh-would have luh-loved this jello....'cuh...'cause...HE LOVED THE COLOR ORANGEEEEEE," she wailed, still holding the spoonful of jello in front of her, suddenly unable to eat it. She gently sat the plastic cup of jello beside her bed and rested her head on her knees in frustration. Not one single tear. She was already a freak of nature; why not add that to the list of her increasing number of odd qualities?!
"Madi, do us both a favor, and stop freaking out over things that make no sense." Madi raised her eyes to meet LT's cynical gaze.
"Leave me alone. You'd be the same way and you know it." LT hopped through her window and copped a squat in front of her, sitting like a prim and proper oversized cat thing.
"No I wouldn't."
"That's because you have no heart."
"No, it's because I would try to move on, Madi. You should do the same." She glared at him coldly, making him sigh in exasperation.
"Madi, it's been three months. Although I know you shouldn't be prancing through the fields, chasing butterflies and screaming the lyrics of 'I'm Walking on Sunshine' just yet, this is still pretty terrible. You look like an albino vampire! Let's just go outside for a little while, okay? I can show you through the woods if you want..." Madi shook her head furiously.
"No way, LT. I'm staying right here." A strange expression passed over his furry face and suddenly his tail was brushing left and right over Madi's nose.
"Come on, Madi. You know you want to," he coaxed, taunting her with his tail.
"Stop it," Madi said curtly.
"I'll grab it."
Madi did as she said and clamped one hand around the end of his tail, much to his satisfaction. Immediately, he rose to his feet and started out the window. Seeing what he was trying to do, she clasped her other hand around his tail in panic.
"No! NO! YOU CAN'T GO IN MY FRONT YARD! People will see you!!! I LIVE IN A SUBURB!!!" she cried.
"Shut up! I've been planning this for weeks. You smell bad enough to make my whiskers curl, you look like a decaying zombie, and worst of all, the only thing you eat is orange jello!!! I AM SO SICK OF ORANGE JELLO!!!"
"But I don't wanna go outside!!!" Madi protested as he dragged her through her window frame. Just a step in front of the house, LT came to a halt. Madi glanced around him to see a long-eared jack-rabbit scrunching his nose at the strange creature glaring down at him in excitement.
LT cut her off by rocketing after the animal, yanking her along behind him.
"AAAAAAAAHH!!! LT!!! STOOOOOOP!!!" she cried, skidding along the grass in circles, feeling a little bit queasy. Stopping for a split second, LT rolled his eyes and whipped his tail out of her grasp, letting her slide to a halt underneath her tire swing. The tree this swing was attached too was nearly ancient, and had numerous small "scars" on its bark from her wild escapades as a small child. As she gazed at the tree, nostalgic memories floating to the front of her mind, she caught a glimpse of sunlight peeking over the horizon. The sight kept her on the ground to watch while LT ran in circles like a maniac. As the great ball of light came to rest completely in the blue sky over the grass, she suddenly discovered just how much she missed watching the sunrises and sunsets.
"Huh. I think I'll go outside this afternoon," she said to herself and LT...even though LT obviously wasn't listening.
"Well now, Madi, this isn't so bad. You only look like you've been in hibernation for three weeks instead of three months," Madi told herself reassuringly. She was standing in front of her bathroom mirror, inspecting her ten minute fixer. Her chocolate brown hair had been pulled back mostly, leaving some tresses in the front to frame her face and curl over her shoulders. A light layer of lilac eye-shadow and mascara made her seem almost alive, and her Elvis Presley collared shirt and jeans made her mostly presentable in the eyes of her neighbors. With a short fluff of her hair, she slipped into some flip flops and headed for the front door.
"Mom, I'm going out! Be back in a little while!" she called, closing her front door behind her. As she climbed into her Jetta, her fingers tapped thoughtfully on her steering wheel. Her little brother's thousand-dollar bike was laying on its side, carelessly tossed in the middle of her driveway. A sly grin crossed her face. She knew that if she just happened to accidentally put her car in drive instead of reverse, her brother would be blamed for the wreckage of his stupid bicycle! The evil idea formed in her mind and she found herself inching her car forward ever so slightly towards the undersized hunk of metal. A satisfied smile spread across her face as she felt the pleasing whine of metal and a slight bump beneath the wheels of her car. As much as she wished she could stay to see his reaction, she didn't, and so headed off to the city park.
The city park was a nice one, with plenty of shade provided by the great oak trees planted centuries ago. The initials of many a name were carved into the trunks of these trees, almost giving a history of the city's couples. It was rather cute, seeing as the tree trunks were nearly blanketed in writing, even though it probably wasn't so healthy for the tree. Madi was sure the trees didn't mind too much. They were pretty sturdy, having survived at least thirty major storms over the years.
Madi came to a stop in front of one of the trees, taking a couple of tries to get her car sitting straight in the "parking space". She'd never been the best at parking, especially parallel. Grabbing her new favorite book, Stephen King's Everything's Eventual, she stepped out of her car and strolled towards the biggest and most solitary tree. Letting her hair loose to fall over her left shoulder, she curled her knees up just enough to provide a surface to prop her book against and opened to the last page she'd dog-eared.
"Huh. 'All That You Love Will Be Carried Away'. Sounds familiar enough," she muttered, rolling her eyes. Although she knew for a fact that King was more into scaring people than hurting their feelings, she couldn't help but let out a small, indignant huff. Ah well, she thought, returning her gaze to the text.
About an hour and six short stories later, Madi placed one hand on her stomach to quiet its rumbling. She couldn't help but remember the orange jello she'd neglected to finish, and now wished she hadn't been such a baby and had just eaten it. A part of her just knew that LT was eating it, simply to destroy all evidence of her little fit. He was probably also eating it to make a nasty point about his recent lack of diversity in food. Madi made a mental note to be sure to actually eat something when she got home. For now, she really, really wanted a snack. Sighing, she shut her book abruptly and rose to her feet, telling herself she'd come back just as soon as she was sure she wouldn't starve.
"Hmm...let's see. Mickey D's, ew, Burger King...no-ooh! Chick-fil-A!!!" she exclaimed, swerving into the drive-thru of the fast food place. She absolutely adored their chicken, no lie. In fact, before her wild field trip, the way to her heart was with one of their chicken salad sandwiches...and a fruit cup.
"Hi, welcome to Chick-fil-A. How can I help you?" Geez man, don't sound so excited, she thought, rolling her eyes.
"Yeah, I wanna get a chicken salad sandwich with...a fruit cup on the side, thanks," she replied, feeling her stomach growl in approval. She drove around the side of the building to claim her food and, practically starving, she ate it on the way back to the park.
Once she arrived back at the park, she noticed that it was more crowded. A lot more crowded. Thankfully, the tree she'd been sitting under was still empty, so she returned to the small patch of flattened grass beneath it. A turn of the page and she was back in the midst of her world of daydreams.
The young man's left arm was cocked on the door; his right wrist was draped casually over the wheel. Behind him, the sky was a bruise-colored mass of yellows and grays...
...streaked with veins of pink. The young man had lank blond hair that spilled over his low forehead.
"Tony! Wait for me!"
Madi blinked herself out of the dark film playing in her mind, suddenly distracted.
I'm hearing things, aren't I? she wondered to herself.
"Tony!" a tiny voice giggled. Madi whipped her head up to catch a glimpse of who was obviously having such a good time. Her gaze fell on a little girl, maybe three or four years old, running towards someone as only a toddler could, with a wiggle in their step and an adorable waddling that made you want to take them home and feed them cookies. Madi couldn't help but grin as the little girl caught sight of her and passed the person up to run to her.
"Amy! Amy, where are you-" a voice called after the toddler. Madi didn't hear, for the little girl was crouched down in front of her, studying her with interest, like a scientist with a new specimen. The curious gaze reminded her of her friend Donnie, and her smile faltered for a split second.
"You look sad. Why?" the little girl asked her suddenly. The question caught her by surprise, but the girl's playmate appeared before she had a chance to answer.
"Amy! Don't run off like that! You know Mom will kill me if I lose you!" And to Madi, "Sorry, she doesn't...usually..." He cut himself off, probably taken aback by the look of pure shock slapped across Madi's face.
The boy crouching in front of her was unmistakably Tony Bourdain.