When Life Hands You Lymes #44

People. There are only 8 Fridays left in 2014. I hope you weren’t expecting Madalyn’s story to be done in 2014, because that’s just not going to happen. I have been doing almost twice as many words recently in each of these posts, though, so hopefully that makes y’all happy. 
As always I would really enjoy hearing some feedback from y’all! So, with that being said, please sit back and enjoy the 44th installment of my fiction story, When Life Hands You Lymes

For the first time in my life, I was dreading the beginning of school. The very thought made make my chest squeeze into a fist that hurt like someone crushing me and made my breathing come with painful intakes. 
Julia’s “Ok, you need to just snap out of this funk” when I tried to explain to her how I felt one time sealed up my willingness to share with anyone and I could tell from Katie’s half-hidden exasperated glances that she was getting fed up. Dad seemed mildly confused, Mom perturbed, Darrick excited about starting classes in a nearby college. 
The last weeks of summer were generally chocked-full of last minute get-togethers, sleep-overs, ice cream dates (although I rarely actually ate ice cream, a health-conscious Mom drilled that into me at an early age), and all-around fun. 
This year though, the mere thought of having to ward off all the invitations or risk going and hanging out and feeling worse than miserable made me seek a way of escape.
“You want to do what?” Dad put down his phone and gave me his full attention. 
I grimaced. I had kinda sprung it on him, with not even a Can we talk? like I normally would have done. “Go stay with Grandma until school starts.” I could feel a twitch coming on somewhere around my mouth and knew that if I wasn’t careful I’d be crying. Again. I’d already cried enough to last me until my 98th birthday, so I wasn’t really eager to have those stupid tears running down my face again. Tears are wet, make my face feel soggy and taste horrible when they get in my mouth. Not to mention they make me look like I’ve just run a marathon after not being able to sleep for a week. 
“You’ve had several sleepovers at Grandma’s already this summer. Why do you suddenly want to spend the next-” Dad glanced at his phone “eleven days with her?” 
“Quality time?” I knew the answer wouldn’t suffice. 
“With what? The bedroom walls?” Dad raised an eyebrow at me in such a comical expression that I started laughing. Dad’s good at making me laugh. 
“People stress me out.” All laughter was gone. I pulled both my lips in and bit down on them, willing my eyes to not spill over.  
“Do you know why they stress you out?” Dad had the look like now we’re getting somewhere
I plopped down on the couch next to him and hugged a pillow. Hard. “They talk.” 
Dad gave a nod. 
“They make noise.” 
“I guess they do.” 
“They ask questions.” 
“That’s so.” 
“They, they look at me.” 
Dad’s eyes widened. 
“I’m pretty sure they’re judging me, too.” 
Dad opened his mouth, as if he had something to say, then closed it.
“They make me feel guilty.” 
“Yeah. Because I’m not fun like I was.” 
“They smell.” 
“As in?” 
“Perfume, cologne, body odor.” 
Dad still looked puzzled. 
“Smells give me a stomachache and make my head hurt.” 
“Even thinking about hanging out with people makes all my energy disappear as if some alien’s come and stolen it.” 
“Yeah. And speaking of aliens, I’m pretty sure there’s one that’s come and invaded my body. I look back at who I was several months ago and I can hardly recognize the girl any more.”  I wrinkled my nose then took a huge breath and clenched my jaw until my teeth hurt. “I think-” my mind went blank. 
After a full minute, Dad gently prodded, “You think…?” 
I gave him a blank stare. “That’s the problem. I don’t.” 
“You don’t…?”
“Think. I’m not even sure how to think any more. I try to play a piece of music that I mastered as a pre-teen, and my brain laughs at me, mocking my lame efforts.” I gave a half-shrug. “I’m pretty sure I’m going to fail in school this year because there’s no way I can stay awake until school gets out every afternoon and there is absolutely no way in the entire world that I’ll be able to focus on what the teachers are saying.” I clenched my teeth and squeeze my hand until I feel my short fingernails digging into my palm. “And yeah, I know you’ve taught us to look at the positive and that I’m going with a negative attitude right now, but pretty much, I’m so non-me and so non-Emerson right now that I don’t know what to think.” 
“Yeah. I know the rest of you are successful and know just how to think and act and be perfect and all that kind of good stuff, but I can’t keep up any more. It’s too tiring.” 
For the first time in the conversation, I saw a crack that showed worry, not just concern on Dad’s face. “What are you saying, Maddie?” 
Swell. What was I even saying? I put both hands up in the air, one eyebrow cocked. “I don’t know.” 
Dad reached out and took one of my hands, giving it a squeeze. “Listen to me, Madalyn Marie Emerson. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to live up to the expectations of everyone you know or meet. You don’t have to try and conform yourself into who you think we want you to be. You’re an Emerson because you’re my daughter. I love you for who you are. None of my children, you included, have to follow in my footsteps or work with Emerson Airlines in order for me to love and accept them.” Dad gave my nose a light tap. “I’m proud of you, Madalyn. I love you, Madalyn. You’re my daughter and I want the world to know that. I accept you for who you are.”
Well. So much for not crying. 
“And instead of you going to stay at Grandma’s for the week, why don’t you think about coming along with Mom and me to our conference. We’ll be staying in a little fishing village in Maine and you’re welcome to hang out there, where you don’t know anyone so you can be totally by yourself, while Mom and I are in the meetings.” Dad let go of my hand after giving it a final pat. “Of course if you want to go to Grandma’s that’s perfectly fine, too. Salt air, sand and the rolling of the ocean waves might do you good though.” 

2 thoughts on “When Life Hands You Lymes #44

  1. amanda kauffman says:

    wow, wow. i was feeling a little down and out, and that third-to-last paragraph inspired and encouraged me so much. because that is how i feel sometimes, and i know that is how my family views me. thank you so much for your inspiration.


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