Just Maddy

by Martha Hubbard

Everyone called her Maddy. Anyone who thought about it, and there were not many, assumed it was short for Madeline. In fact, the name on her birth certificate read Margaret (for her grandmother), Denise (her mother), Keller (her father, Bill). However, it had been a long time since she had had a mother, a grandmother or any name but Maddy.  

After her mother died, trying unsuccessfully to give birth to the brother her father had so insisted on, seven year old Maddy had been sent to Bill Keller’s sister, Mary Teresa, to be just another mouth in a large unruly nest of siblings and cousins. By age twelve, she had grown into a skinny, awkward, mostly silent young girl. Preternaturally shy, when spoken to, she ducked her head, causing long, strait, brown hair to cover her face. She earned her keep, what there was of it, by acting as chief babysitter, cook and dog’s body for Mary Teresa and Pierre’s brood, that had run to six before Mary Teresa told her husband, “If you don’t have the snip, I’ll cut the damn thing off myself. 

Her own father, Bill, seldom bothered with her. He never remarried, but a rotating carousel of girlfriends kept him sexually sated. Few lasted more than a few months once they understood that their main task, outside of warming his bed, was to shoulder the work of running a traditional hunting lodge fleshed out by a collection of rustic wood cabins. Popular with nature lovers, it attracted campers and hikers in the summer and hunters in the winter. In season, it was one long, hard grind. It was on one of his rare visits to his sister, that Bill noticed a very busy and useful young girl who was in fact his own daughter. 

“Why do I have to go and live with him?” Maddy demanded while Mary Teresa was trying to explain what had been decided. “I thought you were my family.”

“He’s your father,” her aunt replied through clenched lips.

“After all this time, he suddenly decides he wants me to live with him. It’s not right!”

“It may not be right, but it’s his right. So I have to let you go.”

“Don’t you care at all?”

“Of course I care. The kids’ll be devastated. They think of you as their big sister.”

“Right! And now you’ll have to pay somebody to babysit.” Maddy threw the words at her aunt as she ran out of the room. There was no way any of them were going to see her cry.

Read the next part of Just Maddy, here,

and keep surfing through for more “Just Maddy”, every Sunday until May 19th.


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