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With a Wolfish Grin.
her eyes widened at him as comprehesion dawned.
he had imprinted.
he shot her his wolfish grin.
he had imprinted, and he and imprinted on her
Word Count 1224
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La Push was the stuff of legends in Madison Ateara’s mind. The sort of thing that was fun to think about, fun to remember, but not the sort of thing you wanted to live in day in, day out. Not by far. Summer long visits with her grandpa, uncles, and cousins were definitely good enough for her. But there was no escaping it now. La Push was home. She shivered involuntarily at the thought, clutching her baby brother closer to her. He was fast asleep, his face pressed firmly against her side, the arm rest between them up as they endured their flight.
Outside the window, the sky was spotless black. No stars tonight. Madison reached across the empty seat beside her, snapping the window cover shut. Beside her Judd murmured in his sleep. She sighed, wishing she could sleep as peacefully. Closing her eyes, Madison tried to construct what her new life in La Push would be like in her mind’s eye. All she could see was Quil and his friends chasing her across the beach with bugs and other creepy crawlies in their hands. They had been just like older brothers, she recalled with a smile, always taking the chance to tease her or taunt her appropriately.
“Back,” said Mrs. Davis, easing between the seats in front of the Ateara children and the children themselves to take her seat. She was their escort from Oklahoma City to Port Angeles where their uncle was picking them up.
Madison nodded in acknowledgement and Judd continued to snore on quietly. Staring down at him, at his face so close to their father’s, the grief hit her in a fresh wave. They were so gone now, so very long gone… it tore at Madison’s now frail heart. So much had happened now to demolish her confident streak.
Her parents were gone.
Gone. The word didn’t seem quite horrific enough to describe the way in which Sarah Ateara and Michael Saunders had disappeared. It was as if they had never existed, no trace of the car they had left in, no way to get in touch… so they had held a funeral. They had mourned and grieved. People understood dead. They didn’t understand gone.
Judd whimpered a little and Madison hugged him tight. He buried his little face deeper in her side, leaving little tear stains on her shirt. Closing her eyes one more time, flashes of the last times she saw her mother exploded behind her eyelids. They were bent over the table, finally planning Sarah and Michael’s long over-due wedding two children too late, they were walking the dogs, Miser and Penelope, they were laughing while trying their hand and actually cooking for once… Madison snapped her coal colored eyes back open. It was far too painful to think about.
“Madison,” said Mrs. Davis, “the seat belt sign just turned on. Do you mind waking up your brother?”
Yes, I do, thought Madison bitterly. “Wake up, Judd. Landing time.”
He lifted his head sleepily, rubbing his squinted eyes dutifully of sleep. Snuggling back into his seat, Madison fastened his belt for him before fastening her own. Beside her she faintly heard Mrs. Davis’s click. The sudden loss of altitude made Madison’s ears ache and pop. Groaning, she pulled a piece of gum from her little plaid tote and began chomping angrily. The popping in her ears immediately ceased, but the ache continued.
The plane touched down and the passengers began to shuffle themselves off the aircraft and into the terminal. Madison slung her tote over her shoulder, balancing Judd on her hip. Behind her Mrs. Davis carried both her own bag and Judd’s bag of toys they had brought to entertain him. They had been useless, since Judd had slept the whole time anyway.
Inside the airport it was ridiculously drafty, or at least it seemed that way to Madison. She realized why a moment later, looking around at those milling around her. All of them wore long sleeves and long pants, sweaters and jackets. Madison stared down at her own clothes, a flimsy white fitted t-shirt with quarter length sleeves and extremely short navy blue shorts and flip flops. The word underdressed came to her immediately. She was sure that some people had on more underwear than she had on clothes.
Madison’s head snapped in the direction of the deep voice that called her name. Her dull eyes met the bright gaze of her cousin, Quil, running straight for her with a lopsided grin firmly in place. Quil brought his cousins into a huge hug, Madison nearly reeling back at his heat. He felt like he was running the worst fever she had ever felt. Judd kicked and laughed, reaching for Quil almost anxiously. Madison passed him over to him.
“What’s up, little bud?” Quil said heartily, tossing Judd in the air.
Madison bit her lip, watching her cousin play with her brother. “Careful with him, Quil. He’s not exactly very durable.”
Quil grinned, “I have practice with this little kid stuff, Mad, believe me.”
He threw an arm around her slender shoulders, settling Judd on his hip. “So how’s my favorite cousin?”
“I’ve been better,” Madison whispered halfheartedly, earning a rough one armed hug from Quil.
He kissed the top of her head in a brotherly way, “It’ll be alright, Madi. I promise.”
“You must be Mrs. Davis.”
Madison and Quil turned around to see Mrs. Davis and Quil’s father, forever and always called Chip my his niece, shaking hands. He took Judd’s bag and thanked her again. Mrs. Davis cast a sideways glance at Madison and Quil, whispering something to Madison’s uncle urgently. Quil sensed that Madison was just a little uneasy with that particular exchange and quickly averted her attention.
“Let’s go see about getting your luggage,” said Quil, steering her to the conveyor belts where suitcase after suitcase was appearing.
Madison allowed herself to be steered away without a fuss. Wordlessly, Madison began to pick her brown and teal luggage and Judd’s Thomas Train luggage out from the swarm. Quil made himself useful by entertaining Judd, who was all smiles. Madison almost envied him; he was so unaware…
Uncle Chip lent his hand in pulling their luggage from the conveyor. After they hand pulled a seemingly endless pile of possessions, Quil took Judd to fetch a trolley to help them get all the luggage to the car. Uncle Chip slung an arm over Madison’s shoulder, giving her an awkward hug.
“I know that it’s not the best circumstances,” he said, “but we’re glad to have you here, kiddo.”
“Thanks,” I murmured, watching Quil carefully as he hoisted Judd up and onto his shoulders.
Madison’s mind was numb, flitting between broken images and the present. It was a confusing parade, the most painful flashes taking front and center. She shook her head, forcing her memories to the back of her mind where she locked them away to be forgotten. She wouldn’t dwell on her life in Oklahoma any longer. She wouldn’t spend her time wishing back what was gone. Madison had made up her mind to accept fate.
This was her life now.