As the young teenage girl sat at her desk staring out the large window, she felt confident that she was ready to take her final exams. Tomorrow were the two big ones, which she had studied night and day for months so she would get a qualifying GPA and have a chance a good college. She had plans for her life and she wasn’t going to let anything get in the way from achieving them. She couldn’t wait to get out on her own and start seeing her dreams become a reality. But first, she had to have good enough scores on her tests to keep her grade point where it needed to be. She had done everything she knew to do, and she was ready. Her mom would be happy she was going out. She always reminded Madison that no one liked a reclusive nerd. That hurt, but not enough for Madison to change her plan. To get out of this town, go to college and make something of herself. She knew there had to be more to life than this.
“Mad’s, the phone is for you,” her little brother yelled outside her door. “It’s Winston,” he added a goofy tone, which he knew would irritate her. “Two little lovers, sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G…” he sang down the hall.
“Shut up, you little twerp. You’ll wake mom up,” Madison said as she walked down the staircase and grabbed the old fashioned wall phone from her little brother, “Hello? Who’s this?” Madison still wasn’t comfortable talking to boys on the phone. Her friends couldn’t believe that she was a senior in High School and still had never gone out on a date, much less had the time to. Her world was centered around her studies and her PLAN. Everything else would have to wait.
“It’s Winston, but you already knew that. Hey, there’s a bunch of us going ice skating tonight. Just wondered if you could take a break away from the books and have a few hours of fun. Lord knows you deserve it. We’re meeting at 7:00 p.m. If you can get a ride here, Victoria said she’d give you a ride home,” the young man paused, waiting for a response.
“Okay. I suppose I could use some relaxation before the testing tomorrow, but I can’t stay late. I need to get my sleep so I’m rested and ready,” Madison cringed when she heard herself talk. She felt awkward because she had never really been a part of the social scene at school. Winston and Madison had been in every single class together since 2nd grade. She never really thought about him one way or another. He had just always been there. Spelling bee competitions in elementary and junior high, then the debate team in high school. He was one of the smartest boys she knew. They were both high achievers and more competitors than anything else. Madison felt comfortable around him, and that was saying a lot. Madison had been playing the flute in school since 4th grad and Winston was right there at every concert playing his clarinet.
“Cool, I’ll see you there,” Winston said with an unusual amount of excitement in his voice and Madison hung the gold colored phone back on the wall. Staring at that phone, Madison was pretty certain they were the only family in town that still had the old land-line wall phone with an actual cord. She smiled and headed for the kitchen.
Madison knew her mom would still be passed out on the couch, so she started fixing her little brother some macaroni and cheese. The celery sticks were cut, washed and set on a plate, along with carrots, sliced apples, and grapes. Two glasses of milk topped off the simple dinner. Todd lifted the lid on the pot and took a whiff. “Yummy, that smells good. When can we eat?”
“Just as soon as you wash your hands and face and set the table. Bowls, silverware and napkins, okay? I cooked, so you set it up and clean it up like dad always says.”
Madison stirred the mac and cheese one more time and turned the burner off. As a last minute thought, she grabbed a couple slices of bread and butter. Todd was a growing boy and hungry all the time. She hoped this would hold him until breakfast. Madison loved her little brother. At times she felt more like a mom than a sister, but that was okay. The only thing that worried her about her great PLAN, was leaving Todd here alone. She wondered who would help him with his school work, and get him to soccer practice. Make certain he showered and ate balanced meals. Her dad worked so much and was rarely home. When he was, he did a good job at being the best he could be to his little family. Her mom loved them, she just battled depression, and after she got home from work, she drank, watched tv and fell asleep every night on the couch. Madison didn’t hate her for it, but she felt sad for her. After her mom’s sister died the year before, she had never fully recovered. Then she had a miscarriage and that seemed to push her over the edge. Madison had watched as her dad took her mom to counseling for months afterward. Finally, her mom just said, “no more.”
“Okay, Todster…I’m going to the ice rink tonight with some of the kids from school. I’ll be gone just a couple hours. You did really well on your homework so you can watch one show on tv after you brush your teeth and put your pj’s on. You need to have lights out no later than 8:30. Got it? I’ll come in and pray with you after I get home. Now get these dishes cleaned up and don’t forget to wipe down the table. You good?” Madison asked the brown-eyed, sandy blonde headed 8-year-old standing in front of her. “And NO computer games. It’s a school night and you know how dad feels about that. Trust me, I’ll know if you do or not. So don’t.” She ruffled his hair and kissed his forehead. “Love you.”
Madison left a note on the refrigerator for her dad in case he got home before she did.
“Went to the ice rink with some friends. Be back early. Big exams tomorrow. Love M.”
Chapter Two – The Ice Rink
“Come on, just one more lap around the ice. Please?” Winston grabbed her hand and pulled her away from the edge where she was getting ready to get off the ice.
“I’ll race you. I’ll make it interesting and bet a cup of hot chocolate. Loser pays. Come on Einstein…I know you’re always up for a challenge,” Winston wouldn’t let go until she agreed, so she did. He could be very stubborn. Plus, she was freezing, so the quicker she agreed to the race, the sooner she could get home.
“Ha, you owe me a hot chocolate,” Winston huffed as they came to a skidding stop. As far as Madison could tell it was a tie, but she didn’t have the energy to argue.
“Fine, here’s $5. Go get your hot chocolate. I’m going to find Victoria and let her know I’m ready to go,” Madison sat down to pull off her skates.
“Oh no, you don’t. You have to at least sit with me while I drink it. I’m not doing this alone, Madison Raine Torrance. It won’t take long. What’s the rush?” Winston said as he bent over to untie his laces.
“I need my sleep. That’s what the rush is. I want to be at my best when I take my exams tomorrow. You know how important they are to me,” Madison said.
“Yes, I do. You’ve been planning this since you were 7 years old. How could I forget? It’s still early and I promise you’ll get your 8 hours of sleep,” Winston said with a wink.
“You are the most stubborn guy, Winston Campbell. Fine. 5 minutes.”
As they sat on the bench sipping their hot chocolate, Madison realized she didn’t know very much about this guy sitting next to her. She found him slightly interesting and someone she might enjoy getting to know better, but now wasn’t the time. She had to stay focused. They made small talk, then stood and threw their paper cups in the trash.
“Have you seen Victoria?” Madison asked.
“Nope. I saw her with Gabe making out in the back, but that was an hour ago,” Winston said.
“Ewww, that’s not a pleasant picture. Well, I need to find her. She said she’d give me a ride home. If you see her, tell her I’m waiting by the front door.”
Twenty minutes later, Madison came to the conclusion that Victoria was nowhere to be found. Neither was her boyfriend, Gabe. One of the girls who worked the skate-rental counter said that she had seen Victoria leave with Gabe in his pickup truck. Standing in the dirt parking lot, Madison saw Victoria’s car still parked. Now what? Most of the kids were heading out or going to the local diner for milkshakes, which was in the opposite direction of home.
“Can I borrow your phone to make a quick call,” Madison asked Ben, the manager of the rink.
“Sure, just dial 9 first,” he shouted over the loud music booming through the stereo system.
“Come on mom, pick up the phone!” she mumbled under her breath as she let the phone ring at least 20 times. Leaving a message, she tried her dad next.
“Hi honey, everything okay?” he answered on the third ring.
“I’m in a bit of a pickle dad. I’m at the ice skating rink, and I want to get home and my ride is nowhere to be found. She’s out with Gabe somewhere. Everyone else is either gone or headed over to Lucy’s Diner, which is out of the way. Can you come to get me?” Madison asked. “Sweetheart, I’m still at the wedding reception. It got started late and my catering team is just now getting the second course out. I can’t leave. Two guys called off sick tonight, so we’re short. Did you try your mom?” he asked.
“Of course. What do you think happened? She’s passed out on the couch and I can’t get her to answer the phone. Todd is already asleep, and we all know he can sleep through a freight train. Don’t worry about it, I’ll figure it out. It’s only about 3-4 miles. I can walk.” Madison spoke more confidently than she felt.
“Are you sure that’s your only option? Let me see what I can do. I can’t make any promises, but I’ll try. If I can’t come to get you, I’ll try to see if someone else can. Keep your phone on,” he said.
“I don’t have my cell with me. It was dead so I just left it at home. I didn’t think I’d need it. I had a plan, dad!” Madison felt tendrils of panic start to creep up her neck.
“Of course you did sweetheart. Listen to me, you are one of the smartest, most level headed girls I know. You know what they say about the best-laid plans? They often go awry. Stay focused Madison. Adjust to the situation. You’ll figure it out. Just be safe and call me when you get home. I love you girl. Got to get back to the reception.”
“Love you too dad,” Madison said with a sigh. She had a bad feeling that things were not going to turn out the way she hoped.
Chapter Three – The Long Walk Home
Pushing the door open, she went back into the rink and looked for Winston. He found her before she found him.
“Hey, what are you still doing here? I thought you had already left, you okay?” Winston asked.
“No, I’m not okay. Victoria left with Gabe and hasn’t been back. Her car is still here, but who knows when she’ll show up. My options are finding a ride with someone else, catching the bus or walking,” Madison plopped down on the bench and sighed.
“Well, you know if I had a car, I’d be happy to take you home, but I walked,” Winston said as he sat down next to her.
“Of course you did. That makes perfect sense since you live an entire two blocks from here.” She snapped. “Sorry, I’m not mad at you. Just frustrated. I had a plan A and B. How could this happen?”
Winston looked at her with a grin on his face and raised an eyebrow and laughed. “Seriously? You’re laughing at me?” Madison punched him in the arm.
“Ow, that hurt. When did you get so strong? You been working out Torrance? I’m not laughing at you, just laughing because you are always planning everything down to the tee. For the most part, your plans work. But sometimes life doesn’t work exactly the way we want. You got to be flexible Mads,” Winston said with a grin.
“You sound like my dad. I need a solution Campbell, not a psychology lesson,” she looked him square in the eyes.
“Fair enough. We could walk to my house and I could drive you home. Simple, direct and problem solved. Just let me call home first to make sure the car is available. It’s Friday night and my sister may have borrowed it. It stinks to be a one-car family of 5,” Winston picked up his cell and dialed.
After hanging up, he shook his head and asked, “So it looks like we’re going to need a plan C.”
“I’ve been calculating how long it would take me to walk home. An average of 6000 steps equals around 3 miles. The average person walks about 1 mile in 15-20 minutes so it would take me an hour to walk home. That’s not bad. I should get going now,” Madison said more to herself than Winston.
“Hold on there, Einstein. You can’t walk home by yourself. It’s dark and you have to go right through a really scary part of town. I’ll walk with you. I have a flashlight and my phone is charged up 50%. Just let me call my dad and I’ll let him know the situation. He can come and pick me up when Marley gets home from her movie with her friends.”
“That actually sounds like a good plan, Winston, thanks. You call and I’m going to run to the restroom before we leave,” Madison grabbed her backpack and went down the hall towards the girl’s bathroom. She never liked this hall. Dark walls, low lighting, narrow walkway, and a weird smell. The door was locked and Madison knocked. “I’ll be right out, give me a minute,” a voice shouted.
“No problem,” Madison said as she switched her backpack to the other shoulder and leaned against the black painted wall. If she remembered correctly, at the end of the hall, there was a door that went out to where the Zamboni was kept. She always had a secret dream of running a Zamboni along the ice rink to clean up all the scratches and slush and make the ice clean and shiny again. It was a strange wish, but it was her wish.
Suddenly the Zamboni room door opened and the manager’s son Caleb, who had been away at college stepped out and headed down the hall. Madison hadn’t seen him in four years or more. She had heard rumors that he had to drop out of school in his last year to come home and help out when his mom got sick. He looked different. His hair was long and slicked back in a “man-bun.” His arms had tattoos and he had a strange looking ring that was pierced through his nostril. When his eyes caught Madison’s, he looked at her in a way that made her skin crawl. Madison was all too familiar with what it looked like to be drunk and this wasn’t the situation. Madison would be her last $5 bill on the fact that Caleb was high as a kite.
“Caleb? Is that you? Are you okay?” she asked, truly concerned.
“What do you care? Mind your own business, girly,” he wiped his nose and turned to continue walking.
“It’s Madison. Madison Torrance. Your sister babysat my little brother, Todd. My dad and I went to your football games at the high school. My dad always said you were gifted and would probably play pro one day. I knew you had been back for your mom when she got sick, but I didn’t realize you decided to stay. I’m sorry, by the way, for your mom’s passing. My mom and dad went to the funeral. I wanted to be there, but someone had to stay with Todd,” she asked.
“Madison Torrance! You still here in this dump of a town? You were just starting High School the last time I saw you. The girl with the big plans! How’s that working out for you? Mind your own business Torrance, you’re better off that way. Life doesn’t always turn out the way you plan, so just leave it at that.” He said as he walked past her and out the door into the parking lot. For some reason that made Madison sad. She wasn’t certain how one of the most up-and-coming young athletes, with scholarships from five different universities, could end up back here with none of his dreams fulfilled. That was never going to happen to her. More determined than ever, Madison walked out the front door and saw Winston ready for the long walk home.
Chapter Four – Plan C
The two determined young high school seniors had been walking in silence for almost thirty minutes before Madison spoke up. “What are you thinking about?”
“Just putting one foot in front of the other and keeping an eye out for any kidnappers,” Winston said cryptically. “Well, I’m perfectly at ease. You want to know why? I’ll tell you anyway. I’m practicing my SAT and ACT questions in my head. I wish I had my flash cards with me,” Madison said as her tennis shoes slapped the pavement.
“You are one very unique person, Madison Torrance,” Winston chimed in. “I don’t know of a single 17 ½-year-old girl who is as excited of taking these exams, as you are. You act as if it’s the only thing that’s going to help you achieve your dream. I think you’re putting all your eggs in one basket. Don’t you worry that you’re setting yourself up for failure? And before you bite my head off for saying that, I’m just stating that there is so much more in you than I think you realize. There’s not just ONE plan, Madison.” Winston glanced at her in hopes that she wouldn’t punch him again.
“Well for me, there is. This is it, Winston. If I don’t get into a good college, I will be stuck here forever. My family isn’t rich and can’t pay for me to go to any college I want. It’s always been my grades that were going to open those doors. I just want something better, so I can make them proud and then I can help my dad open that restaurant that he’s been dreaming of since he was a teenager at his first job-making pizzas. If I’m making good money in a career I love, then I can buy mom and dad a nicer home, better car, and Todd will have a childhood and opportunities that he normally wouldn’t have. My mom could get the help she needs. The cost of doctors and medicine wouldn’t be a problem. Don’t you see? It’s up to me. They need me, and I can’t do that if I stay here working at the local coffee shop,” Madison felt like she was going to burst into tears, but she got a hold of herself because she knew that wouldn’t be productive.
“Hey there, it’s okay. I had no idea you were putting so much pressure on yourself about accomplishing this huge task. Madison, trust me on this. You are smart. You can and I believe you will accomplish something great. Whatever it is, you’ll do well. I just don’t think your family is expecting any of that from you. From everything I have learned about you and your family over the years, is that they love you. Just like you are. They’re proud of you right now. Right, where you’re at, here and now. This pressure you’re putting on yourself isn’t healthy. I know how much you want to go to college and get a good job. I know you want out of this “podunk” town, as you call it. And that’s fine. But also remember that if everyone left this town, there wouldn’t be any jobs, businesses, or any great diners where you can get the best homemade pies and burgers or our favorite milkshakes. We have a lot of great memories here. It hasn’t been all bad. Right?” Winston jabbed her with his elbow.
“I suppose. But now that I’m almost done with high school, I need to move on to the next phase of my plan. I at least have to try, Winston. Maybe by the time I graduate from college and become the top journalist for the Washington Post making awesome money, I’ll want to keep it all for myself and be selfish and snooty. Who knows? Maybe I’ll forget about everything and everybody here and start a brand new life.” It was silent between them for a good five minutes.
“Nothing to say about that, Campbell?” Madison asked.
“Hey, it’s your life Torrance. We all make choices. We all reap the consequences. Some good some bad. The older we get, the more serious the choices. I don’t believe for a second that you could ever turn snooty and selfish. Now rich? That’s a possibility. As far as forgetting everybody here, well, I really hope that never happens. I know I could never forget you,” there was a little awkward pause between them.
“I’m sorry, who are you and what are you doing walking down this dark street with me?” Madison stopped and looked at him with a serious face. Then she burst out laughing and punched him in the chest. “Oh wait, I remember now. You’re the guy who beat me in the debate contest in our Freshman year. And the same one who dumped kool-aide all over me in the 4th grade just before our school play, where I played sheep #3. Yes, I think it’s all coming back to me.” Madison had stopped walking and was standing with her hands on her hips looking up at Winston.
“Now look who’s making fun. I’m serious Mads. If anyone can get out of this town, it’s you. You’ll make us all proud. Just please don’t forget about us. That’s all I’m saying.”
Madison stood face to face with the young man that had been in every class with her since the third grade. She had never thought of him as anything other than a friend. Until now. She may have known him since they were children, and lived in the same town and went to the same church, but she had never really felt anything beyond that until now. Was he really saying he’d miss her? When he said not to forget him, was he really saying something else? Madison had never been a flirty type of girl. She never had a boyfriend, nor did she feel like she needed one. One thing she was sure about right now, is that she was feeling something she wasn’t very familiar with and it bothered her.
“Forget about US or forget about YOU?” Madison asked him.
“Both,” he said sincerely and without explanation.
“So…you know all about my plans, but what about yours? You’re smart too, and I know you’ve always wanted to design jets. I remember the hours you use to spend making model airplanes. Do you still do it?” Madison and Winston had started walking again.
“Not as much as I’d like. Not enough time, anymore. And yes, to answer your question. I have plans. I just wasn’t sure I was ready to talk to anyone about it yet. I haven’t even told my parents. You have to promise not to say anything to anyone,” Winston said with warning. “Why do I feel like you’re about to ask me to “pinky-swear”?” Madison chuckled.
“Of course, I won’t say anything. I feel honored that you’d share it with me. Must be pretty serious. Tell me. My lips are sealed,” Madison turned to face him as she walked backward across the grass in the dimly lit park.
“Like you, my parents can’t afford to pay for college. Even though my grades are good, and I could get into a good school, I was too late for applying for scholarships. That’s all on me. So, I was trying to think of another way I can get my college education, and I enlisted in the Army. I leave two weeks after graduation. Once I finish my four years, they’ll pay my entire tuition for college. You can close your mouth now,” Winston shoved his hands in his jeans pockets and waited.
“Wow! I didn’t see that coming. Your parents are going to freak out. Talk about a big decision, Winston. And I was just going to leave town and never come back! Listen…It’s just taking a minute for me to wrap my head around this. You have always been strong. Maybe not a super athlete, but I know you work out, and run every day. Do you think you’re up for this? Army boot camp isn’t easy. My uncle is a Marine and I remember hearing his stories. Scary stuff. But I will tell you, that every single person in my family knows now that it was the best decision he ever made. Look, I know you are level headed and not one to make rash decisions, so it’s obvious you’ve thought this through. I guess the next step is to tell your parents. They love you, and I am pretty positive they’ll support you. So you ship out two weeks after graduation? Will we see each other again after that? Just wondering, you know,” Madison was starting to feel that strange feeling again in the pit of her stomach.
“Thanks! So you think I’m going to die while being in the Army? You’re just a boatload of encouragement Torrance. I don’t know if we’ll see each other again, but maybe we could write or skype, if you wanted to that is,” Winston said. His voice tinged with hope.
“Yes, of course, I’d like that. Who knows where I’ll be, but let’s make a promise that over the next four years, we stay in contact. When your tour is up and I graduate from college, we’ll meet up somewhere. I’d like that,” Madison said with a feeling of relief in her voice.
“Careful there Mads. You really should turn around. Walking backward can get you hurt. Watch it!” Winston grabbed her arm and kept her from stepping into the small lake that was in the middle of the park.
“Oops, I guess you’re right, Superman! So, we have a plan! I am so excited. You know how I love plans. Take these exams tomorrow; graduate from high school in six months; go to college for four years; stay in contact with you and meet for coffee after graduating from college.”
“Wow…You’re not kidding you love plans! I got to say, Torrance, it sounds really nice. I’m just not sure I want coffee after not seeing you for four years. Maybe we could do something that actually included food? You really think you’ll stay in contact and want to take the time to meet somewhere in this world and eat a meal together? What’s to guarantee we won’t forget about each other the minute you get to college and I get to the Middle East?” Winston said with all teasing set aside.
“I don’t know, Campbell. If you come up with a good way for neither of us to forget each other, I’m all ears,” Madison said with a twinkle in her eye.
“Guess what Torrance, we’re here!”
“What? Already? That didn’t take long at all. Home sweet home. I’m thirsty, how about you?” Madison was trying to delay his leaving. Even just for a few extra minutes. She hadn’t realized how much she enjoyed his company and wasn’t quite ready for him to leave.
“Sure some water sounds great. I’m just going to call my dad and use your restroom if you don’t mind,”
“Down the hall to the left,” Madison pointed.
Checking in on her little brother, she picked up the blankets he had kicked off the bed and gently covered him. Kissing his forehead she carefully slid the comic book out of his hands and smiled as she closed his door.
“Dad, you’re home! How was the catering gig? You look tired,” Madison hugged his neck and looked into his tired eyes.
“I’m tired but good. The reception went very well, they were impressed with everything. I’m so happy you’re home safe. I was so worried,” he kissed her forehead.
“I’m safe and sound, dad. Winston ended up walking me home. He’s just cleaning up in the restroom. His dad is coming to pick him up,” Madison smiled.
“Winston Campbell? That was nice of him to do that. Did he offer on his own or did you have to beg and bribe?” he asked with a chuckle.
“Dad! No, I didn’t even have to ask. He offered on his own, and trust me, it made the long walk home, much more interesting and a lot less scary,” she reached in the refrigerator for two bottles of water.
“Really? Hmmm, interesting. Winston is a good guy. His dad raised him right,” her dad said.
“So I’m a good guy? Hi Mr. Torrance, how was your wedding reception?” Winston walked into the kitchen.
“Hi, Winston. Yes, you are a good guy. You protected my daughter without any bribery. That’s hard to find nowadays. This is one thankful father,” he stuck his hand out to shake the young man’s.
“It was my pleasure. It actually went by faster than we anticipated,” Winston said.
“Hmmm, that’s what she said. The good company tends to do that. Were you able to get ahold of your dad? If not, I’d be happy to drive you home. It’s the least I can do for walking Madison home,” Mr. Torrance said.
“That’s okay, my dad’s on his way. He’ll be here in a few minutes, but thanks,” Winston smiled. “Where did Madison go?” He asked.
“She’s checking on her mom, she’ll be right out. Take a seat,” the older man pointed to a chair. “So did Madison ply you with all of her plans she has? Lord knows she loves talking about “the Plan.”
“Madison has had plans since we were in Mrs. McClain’s third-grade class. She’s trying very hard to fulfill them too. If anyone can, she will. She’s smart and loves her family. You’re very blessed,” Winston was watching the other room waiting to see Madison again.
The older man noticed everything about this young man. Winston wasn’t going to leave until he saw Mads again. Jack Torrance smiled fondly.
“There she is! Everything okay on that end of the house?” Jack asked his daughter.
“Yep, all is well. How about you two? Do you guys want a sandwich or some chips and salsa? I can fix something,” she asked, hoping to delay when Winston would leave.
“No honey, but thanks. I’m exhausted. Winston’s dad is on his way, so I’m going to say goodnight and catch some much-needed sleep. Winston, thank you,” Jack shook Winston’s hand and left the room.
“Madison, come sit down. I don’t want anything to eat. Just sit for a minute before my dad gets here. I know your feet have to be tired,” Winston pushed out the chair for her to sit.
“Why do I feel like this is goodbye? I almost wish you hadn’t said anything about the Army. Now all I can think about is when you leave. I know we still have six months, but now that your plans have been put out there in the universe, six months isn’t very long,” Madison was surprised she verbalized all of that out loud.
“So are you admitting that you’re going to miss me and that you wish we had more time before going our separate ways? I just want to make sure I’m hearing you clearly?” Winston smiled at her with a quirky look.
“Don’t tease me, Winston Campbell. This is all new to me, and it’s taken me by surprise too. I just need to focus on my plan and the fact that we still have six months. I just got to get through tomorrow. Do you still pray?” she asked.
“What? Uh, yes. Why do you ask?” Winston looked at her strangely.
“Well, I see you pray before eating lunch every day at school, and of course I see you in church, but I just didn’t know if you prayed for other things besides food and ritual? Anyway, if you do, please pray for me tomorrow. You know how much I want to pass and do well on those exams,” Madison looked a bit embarrassed.
“Yes, I pray for other things besides food and to keep a ritual. And yes, I will pray for you tomorrow. It’s all going to work out, Madison.” Winston saw his dad’s car lights pull into the driveway and got up to take his glass to the sink.
“You don’t know that for sure, Winston,” Madison said.
“You’re right, I don’t know that for sure. But one thing I do know is that you’ve studied faithfully. You’ve prepared and you’ve done everything humanly possible. Now just relax. Do your best and trust that God has it all in control. And that is one thing I am sure of,” Winston walked towards the front door.
“Wait. Will I see you on Monday?” Madison asked.
“Of course. I’ve been there since third grade. I’m not going anywhere,” Winston placed his hands on her shoulders and looked her in the eyes. “You’ve got this, Madison. Here’s to Plan A.”
As he walked down the stone path to the car waiting for him, Madison realized how pleasantly surprised she was at how this night ended. The day had turned out nothing like she planned. As she thought about it, she sighed and smiled. Winston was right. Plans don’t always turn out the way you expect them to. Thank goodness there are 26 letters in the alphabet. Lord knows she would probably have need of all of them before this journey was done. Turning out the porch light she realized that making adjustments may not be as hard as she thought.