Chapter 3: my life sucks
Maddie dropped her backpack and board in the entrance and with a sharp left and one step, she was in the kitchen. Hovering over the sauce pot she took in a deep breath. “Smells great!”
“Italian parsley?” she asked peering up at him. “That’s your secret ingredient – right?”
“Tell me!” she pleaded.
“No way! I’m the sole-holder of my girl’s favourite spaghetti-sauce,” he said, planting a kiss on her head.
“How was the beach party?”
“Fun. The boys are food processing machines. We survived on watermelon and cookies,” she replied opening the fridge door.
He pushed the fridge door closed with his foot. “Dinner’s almost ready. Go wash up; remember there will be picture taking.”
Maddie washed her face and attempted to tame her curls into something that looked less … mane like. If I were a lion, I’d be sure to get my way everyday and not afraid of having a boyfriend. She put some cream on her sun blushed face, noticing the spatter of freckles that crossed her nose and cheeks were now a blotch.
“Maddie!” her dad called. “Dinners on the table.”
Maddie slipped into her chair, gave her mom a guarded smile and hoped their dinner conversation would not be a lecture about her creative interests.
“Looks amazing Dad,” she said stabbing the hill of spaghetti and twirling a hearty mouthful.
Her mom cleared her throat. “Well graduate what was the best part of your day?” she asked.
“The beach,” she answered sucking in a wayward noodle that left a saucy skid mark behind.
Her mom’s bright green eyes were flashing. Maddie knew this ‘proceed with caution’ signal.
“What about your award?”
“Yeah, that too,” using her tongue to wipe the sauce off her chin.
“Why didn’t you tell us? Its not right we should hear about your achievements from your teachers or your friend’s parents. Jenna’s mom knows more about your fashion ambitions, than I do.”
“Well she likes to listen and she agrees we can’t keep throwing our clothes away. We need better ways and my ideas are going to change that,” said Maddie twirling up another forkful of spaghetti.
“Maddie, you aren’t going to change the fashion world, besides most fashion isn’t even made in North or even South America anymore.”
“That’s why you upcycle what is already here. It doesn’t matter where it was made, it matters what you buy and how you recycle it.”
“Well Maddie, dreamers need a lot of money and time to make them come true,” she said, passing Maddie a napkin.
“You’ll do better to find a job in science and technology. That’s where the good opportunities are,” motioning with her own napkin for Maddie to wipe her face.
Maddie gave her spaghetti hill an extra forceful stab. “Eco-Fashion is STEM plus ART, That’s the point I keep trying to make. Why can’t you hear me?”
“Your mom just wants you to have a good life Maddie. Some careers are easier to follow.
Speaking about careers, we have some good news about ours,” he said looking pleased with himself.
“Our next assignment has been confirmed.”
Mumbling through a mouthful of sauce, she asked, “Who are you going to leave me with this time?”
“We don’t leave you Maddie,” her mom replied in her agitated way.
“We go to work. Its what most parents do,” her mom added, probably as a swipe at Jenna’s mom Maddie thought.
“Well your work is weird.
You leave your kid so you can go study someone else. Too bad I’m not one of your subjects ─ you could study me.”
“On a more positive note,” her dad said sitting up a little straighter, “we’re not leaving you.”
Maddie dropped her loaded fork and stretched across the table to hug him.
Where are we going?
When are we going?”
“Maddie!” Her mom’s index finger wagged strenuously like her music teacher’s baton did when they sang out of harmony.
It’s in your dad’s spaghetti!
Dear child! What gets into you?” her mom asked.
Maddie flicked her hair out of the plate speckling the wall behind her with saucy dots.
“Well,” her dad said in a weird way.
“You’re coming with us but… you know Company policy – you have to be 12 to come on-site.”
Maddie slumped back into her chair. “But you said I was going.”
“You are. We’re moving to Peru! Now that grandpa has passed, GG needs us. Everything is set. Señor Edgar is doing some renos to convert Grandpa’s office to your bedroom. Mom and I will take the upstairs rooms, and …”, he said looking rather proud of himself, “GG’s making space for you in her studio.”
“Yes Maddie. That’s what your father said.”
“What about my friends … and school?”
“We’ve found you a new school,” her mom said sounding like this was good news.
“Its an international baccalaureate program. Their graduates are employed in prestigious jobs all around the world.”
“I don’t want a new school! I promised Mr. James I’d come back to help his SIXERS with next year’s play and costumes.
I can’t move,” she said shoving her plate away.
Her mom’s outstretched palm stopped the plate from leaving the table.
“Okay, you two … let’s all just take a deep breath.
Peru is perfect for all of us,” he said slowly placing his hands on the table and giving first her, then her mom, his ‘play fair look’.
“GG’s alone now, and there’s plenty of work for anthropologists in South America. It’ll be an adventure Maddie.”
Her heart was pounding. She looked at them – surely, they couldn’t be her real parents. Real parents don’t do this to their kid. She wondered if she was part of some secret cultural anthropology project.
The noodles in her belly had knitted themselves into a ball and were banging around looking for a way out.
“I don’t want to leave Vancouver!
Why would you do this to me?
Mika, Jenna and I planned the perfect summer, and …” Maddie hesitated, ‘what about Kevin?’ she thought silently.
“And what?” her mom asked.
“You always wanted a bigger room and a place to cut-up and put back together your clothing projects.”
Don’t cry Maddie. Not here. Not in front of her.
Her mom was always telling her there was no room for kids or criers on field assignments. She wrapped her arms around her trembling body, took a deep breath and tried to get a hold of her emotions; angry that her mom was right on some things.
They couldn’t abandon GG. She knew what it felt like to get left behind and besides her dad, GG was her best cheerleader. She was always there to help Maddie, show her how to jazz up the mini-mom clothes her mom bought.
When they weren’t working on a project, they loved to bake, mostly cakes and cupcakes. Once they made Grandpa Leo a cake with 36 cupcakes and 72 candles. They laughed so hard she snorted when he said he could cook a chicken over the flames.
Her mom’s huffy voice brought her attention back to the table. “I spent a lot of time finding this school for you!
Few schools in Peru can accommodate non-Spanish speakers. You should appreciate my efforts.”
“I suck at Spanish.”
“Don’t say suck ─ its rude,” her mother responded.
Her dad put his hand over hers. “Your Spanish is better than my French was when I came to Canada. Immersions a great way to learn … and the school has a theater program.”
Her mom’s lasers turned on him, “She’s there for the STEM curriculum Russell. Its time Maddie got serious about her future.”
“I am serious! I’m going to be an eco-fashion designer.”
“Destruction of clothes and making costumes is not a future. You need to prepare for a real job. Now, finish your dinner,” her mom said pushing the dinner plate back across the table, “and let’s get your grad pictures taken. My mom is expecting some this week.”
Maddie didn’t even try to stop the meatball that rolled ahead of the plate and hit the floor.
“I’m not hungry,” she said turning her piercing green eyes back at her mom.
Her mom’s hand flashed up like a stop sign. “No dinner. No dessert!”
“Maddie,” her dad called, “what about the cake – you always say yes to cake.”
“Cake sucks!” she said pushing her chair away from the table.
“My life sucks. Your work sucks.”
“Oh! Gross!” she moaned then hopped away with spaghetti sauce, noodles and meat mush oozing between her toes.
“Maddison Marie Leon.”
She didn’t turn back. She knew when her mom said her name like that, she was about to get a lecture or lesson. She didn’t want either.
“Let her go Sophie.” She heard her dad say before she slammed the bathroom door.
She sat on the edge of the tub. The running water rinsed the meaty sauce and noodles off her foot and hid her tears from them.
Table of Contents
Chapter 6 - 13
Who Are You? | Jojo Kofi Afram | Lima, Peru |
Grandpa's Map | Surquillo Market |
Wynn the Peruvian Dog | HBIPS | Taco Night |
Chapter 14 - 19
TGIF | La Niña | Stranded | The Carmelites |
Market Day | Maddily Modified Reconfigured |
Chapter 20 - 24
Meme and Victor | Yes! Things Can Get Worse |
On Assignment | Lost Again | Ties That Bind |
links / resources
Change Resilience |
Cultural Awareness |
Global Citizenship |
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