Momma wielded the blusher, and dabbed it into the loose rose powder. “Be still, Madison, while I give your cheeks some color.”
Madison tilted her head just slightly backward and gritted her teeth through the ticklish strokes of the brush. She couldn't figure out why Momma was being so nice. As long as she could remember, Momma’s single interest had been seeing how many men she could have fawning over her at one time. She'd always been disinterested in her motherly duties, rarely acknowledging her presence, and never spending time with her. So, why the interest now? Because Jack Moore died?
She’d insisted on taking Madison shopping for a new outfit for Jack’s funeral. They’d purchased a dark gray dress, with a V’d neckline, which fell to the middle of her thighs. Madison felt way over exposed in the garment, but her mother insisted it looked stunning on her. Not having the energy to argue, she relented to her mother’s expertise.
Momma also bought a new dress for herself, but she was a shopaholic, any ole’ excuse would suffice to purchase something new, so no big surprise there. Momma’s skintight “noir” dress—she couldn’t call the color “black” because that color was out-of-date according to Momma— dipped low, displaying a shameful amount of cleavage. The colorless material enhanced Momma’s features to the point you’d think the color was inspired just for her.
Momma’s niceness didn’t stop there. She’d defended Madison against Daddy, insisting her absences from school were part of the healing process. The school called and she’d lied, telling them Madison was sick and hopefully she’d be well enough to return soon.
Madison didn’t know what to make of the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde routine. This was the Momma she could like and that scared her. She didn’t want to put too much stock into Momma’s new attitude for fear of her heart getting trampled when she resorted to her old ways again.
"Why are you being nice, Momma?"
Momma’s hand paused mid-air with the brush suspended over Madison’s cheekbone. Their gazes met. "You mean dolling you up for the funeral?"
That and more, but she just nodded.
Momma considered her handiwork. She set the blusher aside and instructed Madison to close her eyes while she applied a coat of mascara. "Open your eyes,” Momma said as she stood straight and projected a very casual shrug that smacked of underlying intent. "I don't know. I regret not being more involved in your life. There are things I could’ve taught you to be more prepared for your future. And you never know who'll take notice of you while at the funeral."
Prepared for what exactly? With her straight A’s and unusual talent for foreign languages, Ivy league schools were already showing interest in her. Unsure why, but she got the notion Momma wasn’t talking about preparing her for college degrees.
"If this is what punishment is like for ‘no-account boys’ that take notice of me, then I'd prefer no one take notice, thank you very much," Madison said with more attitude than she knew was necessary.
A humorous smile arched Momma's lips and she plucked her fingers through Madison's hair. She arranged a couple of strands and pinned them to her liking as she said, "That boy wasn't—"
"That boy has a name, Momma."
A delicate blonde eyebrow arched high on Momma's forehead. "Fair enough." She conceded with a nod. Finished with Madison's hair, she stepped back to study her. "Jack was not your knight and shining armor intended to rescue you. You’ll find your knight and shining armor soon, sweetheart. Just be patient."
Madison snorted. She didn't need a knight to come to her rescue. She just wanted a little less criticism on Daddy's part and Momma’s friendship was nice too. And when she graduated High School, she planned to accept the scholarship the farthest from Alabama. She had her own plans to get away from Daddy and she didn’t need any preparation for that.
"You’re stunning, Madison. Take a look." Momma indicated the mirror with a graceful swoop of her hand.
Madison swiveled on the bench seat to look at herself and her mouth parted in shock. The dark gray eye shadow, black eye-liner and mascara complimented her ice blue eyes, their color vivid against her porcelain smooth skin. Wow! With Momma’s handiwork, she didn’t look like the same person. And maybe she came across a little seductive like Momma too. Uncomfortable with that level of eroticism, she had to fight the internal war to bolt to the shower and scrub herself free of the “devil’s accoutrements”—as Daddy called them. But if Daddy really felt that way, why didn’t he complain over Momma’s usage of make-up?
“Push that insecurity I see in your eyes aside. Embrace the woman you know resides within you. Claim your destiny and enslave men to do your bidding. That gives you the key to your future and freedom from Daddy.” Madison met her mother’s gaze in the mirror’s reflection, confused by her comment. What made Momma think she wanted to enslave men? She had no desire to be like Momma. “No one should make you ashamed of being a beautiful woman. Not even your Daddy gets that right.” Momma squeezed her shoulders. “Put your high-heels on, sweetheart; I’ll meet you in the car and we’ll face your future together.”
In the mirror, she watched Momma’s curvy reflection retreat from her bedroom. Madison continued to stare over her shoulder in the mirror until Momma’s heels ceased to clack against the marbled hallway floor. Slowly, she stood, checked her appearance. Her new dress displayed her figure as proudly as Momma showcased hers. She looked as sexy as Momma, too. Inside she felt like an insecure schoolgirl and other students would probably make fun of her for her bold attire.
Madison squared her shoulders. She had as much right to be at this funeral as any of them. Maybe Momma was right and it was time for her take control of her own destiny. Certainly nothing bad could come of that decision.
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