Rite of Passage

by Melissa Treglia

Her mother towered over her, face registering an expression of fury. Lourdes backed up into the wall quickly. Her mother got angry for the slightest things, often taking them out on herself and her brother Rocco. Currently Mum was infuriated because Lourdes had stridently insisted that she did not want to go to that boring premiere or whatever it was. "You WILL go," Madonna seethed. "Even if it means I have to drag you! And you will make sure to behave yourself there!"

Lourdes shuddered. There would be photographers there. For the most part, she didn't mind the attention - so long as they kept their distance. But more frequently, she found that the paparazzi often made a beeline for her, and the blindingly bright lights of the flashes would hit her eyes. Mum dragged her everywhere, knowing that the lenses would be on the Ciccone-Ritchie clan. Quite often, just a snap of herself with Mum served to back up the press's belief that Mum was a good, devoted parent.

If only they knew.

Lourdes' gaze lifted from the floor into her mother's pale green eyes. "I hate you," she said softly, the phrase being less a note of defiance than a truism. "Why can't you be more like Debbie's mum?" she added mournfully. Her schoolmate's mother was always pleasant to be around, and didn't try desperately to cling to her youth. Simply put, Debbie's mother had class.

The thundercloud that was Madonna's facial expression grew even darker. "I would not say such things if I were you!" she hissed, just before latching a gnarled hand around her daughter's arm and dragging the girl into the hall closet. The door was then locked, leaving the preteen alone in the claustrophobic darkness.

Lourdes bit down on her lower lip to fight back the whimper that rose to her throat. It never failed. The moment she showed any signs of recalcitrance, her mother would punish her by locking her in the closet. Surely other mothers didn't lock their children in closets? It was simply dreadful!

Mum cared for her only as long as the cameras were trained on them. Once they were in the privacy of their home, Madonna only cared about herself. The children were a means to an end, and nothing more. Lourdes had figured that out roughly around the time she learned to read.

Curling up in the lotus position on the closet floor, Lourdes leaned back against the wall and closed her eyes. She imagined herself back at Debbie's house. She and Debbie would both be poring over their schoolwork as Debbie's mum would be fixing some sort of snack for them both. Debbie's father would be getting ready for work at his office, and Debbie's little sister would be energetically scribbling in a colouring book. Debbie's dad would drop a kiss on his daughters' heads, lay another kiss upon his wife's cheek and then exit the house whistling a jaunty tune.

Perhaps the lives of Debbie's family were not perfect in other ways, but there was no doubt in Lola's mind that they had love for one another. Lourdes would have given just about anything to be loved by her mother. Right now, Mum only seemed to love David, and even that was specious at best.

Lourdes mentally ticked off the number of months till her 11th birthday; there were five. Beyond that, it would be seven more years till she reached the age of majority. Seven more long years till she could be a grown up, on her own and with nobody to tell her what to do. Seven more years till she could be free of Mum's stifling control, and begin to live as she wanted to live.

Seven more years. She could wait. She was young, after all. She had all the time in the world.

*Fin*