Most of the class shook their heads. “Okay, you guys have fifteen more minutes I suggest you use the time wisely. Remember the highest grade doesn’t have to take the final exam next week.” That got their attention. They dropped their eyes back to their exams.

She turned her attention to her computer screen, trying to look busy. Her stomach rolled uncomfortably. Four days, four longs days of this. She was vomiting morning, noon and night. This all started when Ephraim left to go to Concord for a conference and training with the State Police.

Madison couldn’t believe she could miss one person, a man for that matter, so much. Her appetite was gone and she couldn’t sleep. She was love sick. There was no getting around it. She loved Ephraim.

Love. For the first time in her life she was in love with a man. Ephraim was everything she never thought a man could be, thoughtful, kind, generous, funny and sweet. He was also calm and patient. For the past three months he’d told her he loved her without any resistance or expectations and he never once became upset or distant when she didn’t say it back. Ephraim never even brought up how she felt. He seemed content with just telling and showing her what he felt.

He was so unselfish that he made her feel like the biggest bitch. God, she didn’t deserve him. She rubbed her hands over her face. Tonight when he got home she would tell him and show him just how much she loved him. Perhaps dancing and a drive somewhere romantic followed by five or six hours under the sheets. Maybe she should make a romantic meal.

Maybe not.

Her stomach flipped over at the idea. She clutched her stomach and sighed with relief when the bell dismissed her class. Exams were dropped off on her desk as they made their way noisily out of the room.

“Free period, thank god,” she murmured, pushing back her chair. She was going to hunt down a can of ginger ale and crash on the couch in the teacher’s lounge for the next forty-five minutes.

“Madison!” Chris hissed from the doorway.

She could cry. She really could. “What?”

He ignored the irritation in her voice and took it as invitation and walked in, shutting the door behind him. “Has Dad called you?”

“No, I told you last night that he called in the morning.”

Chris looked upset. Actually now that she took the time to really look he didn’t look good at all. His hair, which was short and usually swept forward was mussed, dark bags under his eyes, he forgot to shave and he was wearing the same clothes he wore yesterday for his date with Amber.

“Fuck!” He shoved his hand through his hair. “Is he still coming home tonight?”
“Yeah. Chris, what’s going on? You’ve been acting funny since you came home last night. Did you and Amber have a fight?” She was a sweet girl even though she had a bit of a reputation.

His eyes widened. “What do you mean?”

“I mean you don’t have to wait for Ephraim to get home. You can talk to me you know.”

He crossed his arms over his chest and looked around. “With you?” He looked surprised.

“Yes, me. You used to confide in me you know. I may not be a guy but I can answer questions about girls, probably better than Ephraim.”

His face paled. “I can’t talk to you about this.”

She didn’t have the patience for this today. “Don’t you have a class to go to?” she snapped a little harsher than she planned. Her head was spinning almost as fast as her stomach.

Chris put his hands up in surrender. “Holy shit, I didn’t know it was that time of the month, Madison.”

Her temper erupted. “Chris, we are in school right now. You know you are supposed to call me Miss. Soloman not Madison. And for your knowledge I’m sick. It’s not my time of the month.” Something clicked, something not good. She sat back down and tore her desk apart looking for her date book.

“Whoa, calm down, Madison! What’s wrong?” Chris moved around the desk ready to help.

“Aha!” She found it in her bottom drawer and practically ripped it apart opening it up.

Chris’s finger blocked her view. “What’s that sad face mean?”

Madison pushed his finger away and looked. She swallowed loud. “That means I’m…” She counted from that date to today’s. “Shit.”

“What?” He looked worried.

“I gotta go.”

“Where?” He watched as she grabbed her purse, nearly knocking her computer off the desk with an elbow.

“I have something I really have to do,” the words rushed out of her mouth. She stumbled out into the hall.

“Madison, are you okay?” Chris asked, catching up to her.

“Yes, no, yes, I don’t know. I have to go.”

“You’re leaving school?”

“Yes, sick going home, good idea,” she rambled.

She wasn't aware that he was still with her until she was in the front office. Mrs. Adams, the secretary waddled over to them. “Good heavens, Miss. Soloman, you’re pale as a ghost. Is everything okay?”

“Going home sick,” the words rushed out.

“Oh, I guess so. I hope you feel better, sweetie.”

“That’s not very likely anytime soon,” she mumbled.

“What’s that?” Mrs. Adams asked. “I didn’t quite catch that.”

Chris did. His brows pulled together as he looked her over.

“Nothing. I’ll be back tomorrow.” She gave her a weak smile.

“And you, Chris, what can I do for you?” Mrs. Adams asked, looking him over and not happy with what she saw.

“I’m sick, too. I’m going home,” he said.

“Not without permission from a parent or guardian.”

He gestured to Madison. “You have it from her. She’s my dad’s girlfriend.”


“I’ll see you tomorrow, Mrs. Adams,” Chris said cheerfully. He had to run to catch up with Madison who was talking to herself.

“Just sick. Just sick. Just sick. Nothing to worry about. Just sick.” She pulled her keys out with shaky hands.

“Oh no you don’t. You’re not driving.” Chris took the keys from her hands.

“What?” She looked lost.

“Get in. Tell me where you need to go and I’ll take you.” He unlocked her door and helped her in. When he climbed behind the wheel her brain started functioning.

“Wait, you don’t have a license. You can’t drive.”

He turned the car on and threw it into drive. “Hmm, look at that it seems I can.” She was shocked to see that he could and well.

“It’s probably for the best if I don’t know the how’s or the why’s behind your driving abilities.” She held a hand over her eyes and tried to relax.

“Yeah, that’s probably for the best. Now where to?”

She bit her lip, thinking. That was a good question. She needed to know badly, but didn’t want anyone to know she needed to know. It was a small town after all. She didn’t need this particular bit of news spreading.

“I need to go to a pharmacy,” she said slowly. Yes, a pharmacy would do. She looked over at Chris. He seemed at ease behind the wheel. Hmmm, perhaps having him coming along would work out. “Chris, I need you to run into the store and grab something for me.”