When I was little I used to watch the men flocking around my mother and wonder if any of them were my father. I sure as hell hoped not. It seemed unlikely that any of them were. Once I tried to ask mother about him. She wrinkled her perfect nose for a moment as if recalling something she had hoped to forget. A pained smile formed on her scarlet lips as she bent down to kiss my forehead.
"Now, Maddie, why would you worry your darling little head about such a trivial topic?"
I didn't think questions of my father should be considered trivial but I was so happy to be spending the little time I had with my mother that I did not bother to push the subject. The rest of the day she showered me with clothes and toys and ice cream. Being eight, I did not object.
Now that I'm fifteen I wish I had.
My grandmother did not allow me to attend my mother's funeral today. She says it is unbecoming to cry in public but I don't think I will cry. I'm too tired to cry. I sit and watch on the television as my own mother is laid to rest; surrounded by a thousand strangers come to pay their respects. I listen as a news reporter described the death of my mother one more time. I watch as she is lowered into the ground with the secret of my father buried with her.
Thousands have come to mourn the tragic passing of music icon Vira Sole. The singer passed away one week prior in a car accident. The driver of the vehicle, Miller Haunt, is charged with driving while intoxicated and possible manslaughter. Also in the vehicle was Vira's fifteen year-old daughter, Madison Solomon. At this time we would like to take a moment of silence for the loss of one of the most talented singers to have graced the music industry.
After the commercial break we will—
"Dinner is on the table," my grandma said distantly. I broke my gaze from the television to look at her. It certainly did not look like she just lost her only daughter. Not a grey hair was out of place and the make-up around her eyes was neat and untouched by tears. I returned to watching the news reporter describe my mother like he knew her personally.
"They're reading your mother's will at six, young lady," she said sharply to recapture my attention, "so I suggest you eat quickly and change into something more appropriate."
I look down and grimace at the t-shirt and sweatpants I had been wearing for a week. Maybe if I stay in them I won't have to go. I won't have to listen to my mother's lawyer confirm I was now under the guardianship of my grandmother and watch her sadistic smile as she became officially in control of my life. Of course, I had lived with her most of my life due to my mother touring the world, but now I no longer had my mother to shield me from the coldness and criticism of Grandma.
"Put this on quickly, Madison." Grandma said as she quickly walked past, her mind preoccupied with something else. I looked at the black dress she had tossed to me. She must have just bought it because I never owned anything black—mother wouldn't let me. Without caring, I slipped out of my shirt and sweatpants and pulled on the black dress. I didn't bother to look in a mirror. I didn't care what I looked like.
"Good Lord, girl," my grandma sighed, walking back into the living room, "Your hair is a rat's nest. Put a comb through it and let's go. I don't want to be late."
We were late anyways. Grandma had failed to take into account the persistence of the press. As I followed her path through the flashing lights and deafening shouts I lowered my head unable to stand the thought of being on camera. I could already hear the news caster's voice. And today we got a shot of Vira Sole's daughter leaving her grandmother's. Looking at her one cannot help but wonder how such a beautiful swan could have produced such an ugly duckling.
Somehow Grandma managed to pull out of the driveway without hitting any of the reporters. As we drove away I was a little disappointed. Crazy Grandma Driver Flattens Reporter sounded like a pretty good headline. The car ride to the city was spent in silence, giving me an hour just to think. I unconsciously began to think about Mom. We use to drive up to the city every time she was in town. I tried to remember what she sounded like, the memory already fading. I remembered her soft soulful singing but when I tried to picture my mother talking her lips formed mute words. I became so focused that I did not even remember leaving the car and walking up to the attorney's office.
The lawyer's name was Mr. Sauer. I'm not sure if he took his name too seriously or if he was just a naturally unpleasant person, but Mr. Sauer was certainly not the kind of person one wished to have in control of your future. He was too lean and hungry looking. His eyes were shifty and he wheezed when he talked. When he shook my hand he looked ready to wipe it with a disinfectant but then restrained himself. After taking a seat, I had to watch impatiently as Mr. Sauer shuffled his papers and cleared his throat and took a sip of water. The third time he tried to shuffle his papers I was close to hopping over the desk and kicking him out of his twenty-third story window.
"Mrs. Sole—"He began.
"Solomon actually," Grandma said stiffly, "Sole was my daughter's stage name."
Mr. Sauer gave a tight-lipped smile and then began again. "Mrs. Solomon, your daughter left me in charge of her affairs and instructed me to give you this letter before I proceeded with the reading of her will."
He pulled a small manila envelope out of a file and handed it to my grandmother. I tried to lean over to read it but she carefully angled it away from my view. I watched as her grey eyes read over the letter quickly, and as she read further her mouth began to slowly drop.
"But this is ridiculous!" she cried looking up at the lawyer in disbelief.
"I am afraid it was Ms. Sole's wish," Mr. Sauer said, his facial features never changing. I looked back and forth between the two, desperate for someone to tell me what exactly was in the letter.
"But surely something can be done?" She protested, glaring at the man like he, personally, would be taking me away. "I've been in charge of Madison her entire life and I'll be cold in my grave before I let some stranger have guardianship of her."
My head shot up at this. Stranger? What stranger?
"You are perfectly welcome to contest the guardianship. However, I would highly advise against it. This is not a man you want to take to court."
"But he doesn't even know about her," grandma hissed. "And a man like that has no business raising a child."
"I'm not a child," I said abruptly. The adults paused for a moment. But only a moment.
"Don't be silly, Madison, of course you are still a child," she sniffed before returning to glare at the lawyer. I felt my face turn red with embarrassment and anger. All she did was belittle me! It brought me to the point where I'd rather have some stranger off the street take care of me then her.
"To be honest Mrs. Solomon, the easiest way for you to have legal guardianship of your granddaughter is for him to sign over his guardianship to you. However, this process takes about a month to complete and during that time Madison would have to stay with him."
"And this is the best you can do?" Grandma asked tightly. The lawyer nodded.
"I'm afraid so."
"Very well." My grandmother stood, eyeing the lawyer murderously. "Come along Madison. We have other things to do today."
"One moment please," Mr. Sauer stood, holding another letter in his hand. "This one is meant for Madison."
Shakily, I reached out a hand for the flimsy letter with my breath caught in my throat. I did not open it. I was too zoned out to. For the rest of the meeting, I was a vegetable, seeing but not hearing.
I was like this all the way to my bedroom, with the paper crunched tightly in my fist. Possibilities of its contents flickered through my head until I was dizzy. Slowly, I sat down on the edge of my bed waiting for the room to stop spinning.
The first thing to move was my thumb, glossing over the sharp edges of the letter. Next, my eyes began to blink again and then moisture returned to mouth. Finally, my heart began to beat again. Slowly, I ripped away the envelope to find a letter neatly folded with Maddie scrawled across the top. A tear dropped on my cheek from the realization that there was no one to call me Maddie anymore. With shaky fingers I unfolded the letter to read over my mother's messy handwriting.
If you're reading this, it must mean something has happened to me. It also means that I have not been given the chance to tell you everything that I wanted you to know. I need you to know that you are the best thing that could have ever happened to me and that I did not know what it meant to truly live until I had you. I know that I have not been the best mother I could be to you and that you deserved the kind of mom who could tuck you in every night and tell you how wonderful you are every morning. The only regret I have is that I left you alone with only your grandmother and I know that it was never easy on you. I do not know the decision I am making now will be any easier for you but it is the best that I am able to do for you, darling.
When I was nineteen, I met someone and fell so madly in love with him that I felt like I wouldn't be able to breathe without him. I was young and naïve and just as quickly as he came into my life, he left it. However, it was the greatest mistake of my life because out of it, I got you. Recently, I saw him again. I wanted to tell him about the wonderful, amazing daughter that we had but I was selfish and unwilling to share you with him. But as I think more and more about it, I feel that it's not fair to you to keep you away from each other. I don't why I am granting him guardianship, it is sad to think that he is my only other option. But the thought of leaving you alone with my mother was never appealing. I know you think I never noticed your dislike of grandma but I swear I did. That is why I am granting guardianship to your father, Windsor Horne Lockwood III.Thank God I'm dead because I'm sure when your grandmother finds out she'll want to kill me.
I hope you will never have to read this letter but if you do, know just how much I love you, and that when you are thinking of me I am thinking of you.
All my love,
As I read the words, her voice slowly came back to me and unconsciously I smiled. It was too ironic not to. By losing one parent, I gained another.
Well after months of thinking about it and weeks writing it I finally posted it! Don't worry the characters that you know and love will appear in the next chapter. I hope this will encourage some of you out there to write more fanfics (..) in the Myron Bolitar category.
Special thanks to my beta, Absolutely Fabulous who could not have picked a more appropriate penname.