Monday, March 28, 2011


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 Momma’s skintight “noir” dress—she couldn’t call the color “black” because that color was out-of-date according to Momma— dipped low, displaying a shameful amount of cleavage.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.

© Gracen Miller 2011 ~ No part of this site may be reproduced in anyway whatsoever without express written consent by Gracen Miller.

Friday, March 25, 2011


At breakfast the next morning, Madison spooned cereal from her bowl. Not hungry, she tipped the spoon and watched the milk and Cheery-M’s splatter back into the bowl. Daddy ate buttered toast, while Momma sipped on her typical morning fare of coffee. The newscaster on the television droned on and on about local events, the weather, a cat that stole various items from the neighborhood on a nightly basis and…

"In tragic news, seventeen year old local football hero, Jack Moore, has died of complications from a gunshot wound."

Madison whipped her head about and stared at the TV. A larger than life picture of Jack Moore was iconed in the corner of the screen next to the reporter.

"His family reports that yesterday afternoon around four-thirty Jack and an unidentified friend went into the woods to flush out game." It wasn't even hunting season yet and at four-thirty in the afternoon, Jack Moore had just been dropping her off a block down the street from her house. "Officials are unsure how exactly the accident occurred, but the local football star suffered a gunshot wound to his abdomen. After undergoing four hours of surgery, he died on the operating table. Jack Moore was on the fast track to a football scholarship to the University of Alabama and even higher aspirations of one day being drafted by the NFL."

The spoon fell from Madison's numb fingers, binged off the edge of her cereal bowl and clattered to the table.

"Madison!" Daddy berated, swishing his paper in half, to stare at her over the top of his bi-focals. "Watch what you're do—" he stopped mid-sentence.

Jack Moore was dead. She couldn't believe it. He'd kissed her a little over twelve hours ago and now—she breathed in a hard, ragged breath—now he was dead. Had apparently died shortly after her conversation with Momma... And Momma said he'd be punished for that kiss.

Madison shot Momma a hard glance. Momma watched her vigilantly, her coffee mug held breast high, steam misting her face. She arched a brow as if to say 'I told ya he'd be made to pay'.

"Such a shame. The Moores aren't of the Christian viewpoint. Just goes to show what happens to sinners that worship fake gods," her father said and dismissed the TV for his newspaper. "He sees to their punishment."

Madison sucked in a shaken breath. "That doesn't mean he deserved to die, Daddy!" She slammed to her feet as Daddy lowered his paper once again. By his tight-lipped expression and wide eyes, she could tell he was irritated and surprised by her outburst. "Just because he wasn't one of your pious church members doesn't mean he deserved to die!" she screamed. "Dear God—"

"Don't take the Lord's name in vain, Madison Grace Wescott!"

"—what type of heartless, insensitive man says things like that?" Daddy glared as she knocked her cereal bowl off the table. Cereal and milk spewed like it'd been spit from the bowl. The eruption was followed by shattering glass. From the corner of her eye, she caught Momma's lopsided smile. "I'll tell you what type of man says things like that, Daddy," she said in a low, controlled tone. "Not a man of God." She wasn't so sure Momma was a woman of God either.

Daddy wheezed in a hard breath. They stared at one another and Madison felt liberated by her outburst.

"Take that back," he said, his voice gruff, promising severe reprimand if she disobeyed.

"Or what? You’ll have me on my knees, praying like always?" Not again, not ever again would she pray to her daddy’s god. Madison stamped her hands on the table, leaned forward, stared him straight in the eye and said, "Screw you and screw your God."

Daddy went red in the face and his mouth moved, made smacking noises, but nothing else came out. If he didn’t get his temper under control, he’d have a stroke or heart attack and she felt not the least little bit of worry.

Madison shoved her chair back and ran from the kitchen.

© Gracen Miller 2011 ~ No part of this site may be reproduced in anyway whatsoever without express written consent by Gracen Miller.