Authors: Alivia Anderson
Tags: #Coming of Age, #mormon, #LDS, #lds romance, #inspiration and romance, #lds teen
The screen to the side door slid open then
slammed shut. Grandpa tromped up the stairs and turned into the
kitchen. He had always been up before dawn to do the morning
chores. Our eyes met and both of us seemed to measure the mood of
Here we go. But, I didn’t care. I wouldn’t be
here to be a burden to him anymore.
He went straight for the cereal and filled a
bowl on the counter. “Mornin’.”
I’d been bracing myself for something else
entirely. Not this. “Mornin’.”
He pulled the milk out and threw me a frown.
“You tryin’ to break the bowl?”
The spoon in my fingers clanked to the
Grandpa stared at me.
I picked it up and tried to stare back
casually. I couldn’t look out of sorts.
Grandpa picked up his bowl and sat across
from me. “Chance coming to get you?”
He took a bite and slurped the spoon.
Shouldn’t there be some kind of yelling match
right now? I stood and took my bowl to the sink and rinsed it
“Maddie!” Grandma called out from the front
room. “Chance just pulled up.”
I quickly dried the bowl and spoon and put it
“Hey, you two—come out and let’s have family
Prayer. A strange surge of anger went through
me. I paused. I’d grown up saying prayers with my parents every
morning and night. But—it had been a long time since I’d
“What’s wrong, Madds?” Grandpa waited next to
the kitchen door.
I shook my head. “Nothing.”
Grandpa caught my arm. “Remember, I’ll see
you after your work program, young lady. Be prepared for the
beginning of your
I didn’t know how every word out of someone’s
mouth could grate on my nerves, but it did. He didn’t care about
me. He never
me here anyway. It no longer mattered,
but I couldn’t stop myself. I wrenched my arm away. “I will
do farm work for you.”
Grandpa straightened and squished his face
into a challenging pose. “You listen here, young lady—”
“Maddie?” Grandma stood behind us.
Both of us turned to her.
Her face held a warning look, her voice
quiet. “Let’s go have prayer.”
We followed her into the front room. She
knelt and then put both of her hands out.
I plunked my hands into theirs. I needed to
get this over with and get out of here.
Grandpa pulled off his hat and nodded to
“Dear Father in Heaven, thank you for this
day. Thank you for our blessings. Thank you for Maddie coming home
to us. Lord, please help her to know she is loved. And, please help
her to get her voice back.” She quickly ended the prayer.
I ripped my hands from them causing Grandpa
to fall back.
“My heck, where are your manners?”
“Let her be.” Grandma stood and helped
Grandpa gave me a hard look then stalked back
to the kitchen.
Grandma smiled at me and began to fold a pile
of towels on the couch.
My heart clutched inside my chest and I
suddenly realized this was it. I would never see her again. I tried
to memorize every part of her.
“Sweetie, I’m going into town today to get my
hair done. Could I give you a ride home after. . .” She cleared her
throat. “. . . after your work program?”
I didn’t know what to say. Stiffly, I opened
the front door. “What?” I wouldn’t be there and I’d planned on her
not finding out for a few hours.
“I need to go talk with Principal Schmidt,
Chance’s horn blared out.
I jumped a little. “Hmm . . .”
His horn blew again, scrambling my thoughts
like Yatzee dice thrown before coming up with the next answer.
“What’s that knuckle head doing? My word!
Waking up the neighbors.” Grandpa yelled from the kitchen.
“It’ll be fun.” Grandma swooshed toward me,
the smell of her Japanese Blossom Avon perfume touched my senses. I
remembered sitting in front of her vanity and dabbing it all over
my neck as I waited for her to dress for church. She hugged me.
I leaned into her and gave her a goodbye hug.
“Okay.” I would leave a letter for her. I would write it during
class and give it to Chance before going to the bus stop.
She put her hands together in fluttered
claps. “Perfect, I’ll see you then.” She tilted her head to the
side and studied me. “Do you want to talk about something,
The horn blew again.
“That little—” Grandpa flew into the room and
pushed past me at the door. “Knock it off, boy!”
I shoved away from them and down the steps to
Chance rolled down the window. The music got
louder. “Sorry, Grandpa!”
I gave the handle a good yank and threw it
Chance turned to me with a mischievous glint
in his eyes and started to back up.
I watched Grandpa go back inside the
Chance chuckled and gave the horn one more
I jumped a little.
Chance erupted into a barking laugh and
peeled down the lane. “Sup, Madds?”
Normally, I would have found this highly
amusing. Chance could be the master at getting Grandpa all hyped
up. And it was funny. But I could only think that this would be the
last ride I ever took with Chance.
Chance looked at my face. “What?”
A cop car pulled out from under the shade
trees at the end of the lane next to the stop sign.
“Yeah.” Chance frowned. “I was told about the
escort.” He pointed at me fiercely. “You’re lucky you’re not out on
the side of the road begging the cop for a ride.”
I rolled my eyes. He wouldn’t have to worry
much longer. “Whatever.”
Chance rolled his window up and turned down
his music. “What? Insulting my girlfriend and trying to burn down
the school didn’t put you in a good mood?”
I turned to him in disbelief. He was annoyed
Chance shook his head. “Dang, Madds.”
I stared at him for a few seconds, but had to
work at keeping my voice even when I spoke. “What does it matter?
You can just chalk it up to the crazy cousin that was lucky to be
out of the looney bin, right?” I looked away from him and decided
that I wouldn’t miss him at all.
Chance let out a puff of air. “Hey, no! Nooo!
pin this whole thing on me. You were the one
hanging out with the smokers. And then you started the fire. You
know what they say? When you start with smoking, next thing you’re
His tone had a Grandpa-eskeness to it.
Granted, a Chance spin on Granpa self-righteousness, but still. The
idea that Chance would even say that I would do drugs, made the
usual filter inside of me when it came to him, break. He’d chosen
war! All panicky feelings fled. “Telling the whole school about my
? And then your—” I flapped my head back and forth
in my best dumb blonde impersonation, “‘Ohmygosh—like, why don’t
you join cheerleading and make posters,’ wasn’t fun for me,
Chance’s nostrils flared, a giant rhino come
out to play. “Don’t ever insult Bonnie again.”
I almost insulted his cologne, but then
decided not to.
We rode in silence. All the anger went out of
me like a deflated balloon. Chance did
deserve the blame
for things that had happened yesterday. I knew he’d only been
trying to help me. “I shouldn’t be here.” I said it more to myself
than to him.
“What?” He yelled over the music.
“Nothing!” I yelled back.
Chance didn’t respond and both of us stared
Finally, he leaned over and turned up the
music. The lyrics blared out, ‘Ain’t No Love! Ain’t No Love!”The
message he clearly wanted to scream at me.
I smiled. I needed one person in my life that
still loved me, and this would most-likely be the last time I’d see
him for a really long time. Maybe ever. I took a gamble and did the
only thing that I knew would make him happy.
He whipped his head around to me.
I waited then looked forward.
He turned back.
I let out another pig snort. And another. And
another. Pig snorting competitions for Chance were like Nascar
championships for race car drivers. Well. Kind of. Maybe not at all
in the same league, but we had rules of the snort. Down to how much
spit one could evoke, etc.
Pig snort. Pig snort.
Chance’s lip started to turn up.
He would break.
Pig snort. Pig snort.
His grin widened, like taffy stretching.
“You’re gonna lose, but you always do.”
I continued snorting at, what I would admit,
a very unladylike pace—if there were a pace of pig snorting that
any lady would even do. My head actually started to hurt from
thrusting it up and down every time I snorted.
Chance turned to me with dizzying happiness
in his eyes, and then he cracked, letting out the loudest snort I’d
had ever heard. It was long and impressive.
I erupted into laughter and fell forward over
“In your face!” He pointed at me and did one
of his tongue sticking out crazy looks.
This made me laugh even harder. “That was
He pulled into the school parking lot and
rolled into his spot. He jerked his foot into the brake and I
wrenched back into my seat.
I held my knuckles up in the air at him. “You
still got it.”
Chance returned the knuckle bump. “Never,
ever, ever think you will ever, ever, ever beat my snort!”
I accepted the forgiveness in his banter.
He looked past me and avoided eye
It dawned on me that this was about Bonnie.
“Look, I’m sorry about Bonnie.” I offered it before Chance had to
say some drawn out thing that would make him feel completely
The side of Chance’s face dimpled. “Madds, I
just want my two best girls to be friends.”
I thought of Bonnie’s Barbie smile and tried
not to roll my eyes.
“Fine. We’ll be friends.” It didn’t matter
“And, I think you need to help Grandma and
Grandpa out more.”
This particular topic I did not want to
discuss. I took a deep breath and let it out in one burst of air.
Chance folded my backpack in his hands.
“They’re old. You’re here. Take the pressure off them.”
I fixed a patronizing look on my face and
turned to face him. “What if I wasn’t here?”
Chance kept his face serious. “You
here. You know the saying, ‘If you want the world to change, it
starts in a small town.”
I didn’t like the smug way he looked or his
annoying made up quote. “I’ll try to be nice to Bonnie, I’ll really
Chance slugged me playfully. “And help out
I just stared at him.
His lips turned into his puppy smile. “I knew
I could count on my
cousin. You know what they
say?” He paused.
I shook my head. “No, what do they say?”
He leaned over me, obnoxiously, and shoved
his face into my personal space. “Blood is thick between
I unlatched the door and leaned into it.
“It’s blood is thicker than water, you goof.”
Chance hopped out his side of the truck and
sped around to my side. “Bonnie never corrects me.
thinks I’m a genius.” He stuck his chin into the air. “She
For a millisecond, I thought about telling
him that I would be leaving. But, I looked at his blond curls and
his Sugar Valley Football t-shirt and knew I couldn’t. This was his
home. And he should be happy here. I was glad Bonnie made him
happy. “She should appreciate you.”
Chance squinted then smiled. “
“What?” I asked it more from a gut
Chance’s dimple intensified, but his eyes
were sober. “It feels right to have you here, this is home.”
I stared at him and tried not to let his
words reach into my heart.
“Excuse me.” A police officer pushed between
Chance and I. He took me by the back of the arm.
This must be Officer Justice.
He tapped his chest like Superman would if
Superman were completely cheesy and full of himself. “Maddie
Haven,” he leaned in and whispered, “I’ve been waiting to meet you.
And, just so you know, I know you’re not innocent.”
I searched the hall in front of the
cafeteria. I needed to find Chance and get him the letter. Then I
could take off. I hadn’t seen Officer Justice yet. He told me he’d
be checking in on me.
Unexpectedly, Antone appeared beside me. “You
I didn’t know why seeing him put me a little
off beat. Maybe because it reminded me of the way the whole
dumpster had erupted into flames. He was a reminder that I’d
actually started a fire. I stepped away from him and plunged into
“Maadie.” He still pronounced it like a sheep
I took a tray and looked for Chance.
He grabbed a tray and piled utensils onto it.
“Antone wondered about you the whole night. Antone told Principal
Schmidt that, while you had intents of smoking, that you are
troubled, that you were only trying to use cigarettes to mask your
Stunned, I stopped moving forward. The third
person thing was far less appealing today. “You told him
“I told him you are tragically sad, but
Antone can help make you better. Antone can help show you the
beauty in life. In my country, once a man finds a woman that moves
them, they always stand by them. They would
Okay. I wasn’t sure how we had gotten to this
point. “Wait a minute—”