“I need to go to Indianapolis,” Madison said, once her mother had settled at the dinner table.
“What for?” Jenny asked.
“School thing. I need to interview someone there and I have to do it in person. It looks like it’s about a four-hour drive, so I was thinking I’d do it over school break.”
“I can’t get that much time off right now,” Jenny said. “Everyone has their W-2s now, so we’re starting to get busy.”
“I don’t need you to drive me,” Madison said. “I was just letting you know.”
Jenny looked up from her plate and made eye contact with Madison. “Excuse me?”
“I said I don’t need you to drive me.”
“You most certainly do,” Jenny replied. “You think I’ll just let you drive that old car of yours to another state by yourself? Are you serious right now?”
Madison rolled her eyes, “It’ll be fine, mom. You want me to ask Bryce? Maybe he can go with me. Or Cindy.”
“Two seventeen-year-olds traveling together is probably more dangerous than one traveling alone. Can you take her?” Jenny asked Phil.
“Not a chance,” he said. “I’m slammed at work right now. I can’t take a whole day off for that.”
“Mom! You’re being ridiculous!” Madison protested. “I really have to go.”
“What class is it for?” Jenny asked. “How can the school give you an assignment that requires you to drive out of state? That doesn’t seem right. I’ll call the teacher.”
“It’s for the newspaper,” Madison said.
“Madison.” Jenny took a deep breath and put her fork down. “Don’t tell me this is for that warehouse story. I thought you were going to drop that.”
“I never said I was going to drop it. This is important mom. You’re being ridiculous.”
Jenny stared at her. Madison could feel the fury in her look, but she resisted the temptation to poke the bear. Phil looked from one of them to the other.
“Never mind,” Madison said. “I’ll ask dad.”
Jenny laughed a mean-sounding, almost evil laugh. “Funny,” she said.
“What’s funny?” Madison asked.
“You’re going to call Lucas in jail and ask him for permission to drive by yourself to Indianapolis? What part of that isn’t funny? What has gotten into you?” Jenny asked.
“Lucas isn’t in jail. He’s sober and living in a cabin near the lake.”
Jenny stared, apparently speechless.
“I visited with him over Christmas break. His house is simple but nice. He bought me a cool book. I gave him socks.”
“Hang on,” Phil said. “You’ve been secretly seeing Lucas? And you didn’t tell your mom?”
“I’ll handle this, Phil,” Jenny said coldly. Then she turned to Madison. “I forbid it. I forbid you seeing him or talking to him. That man is dead to us.”
“Like hell,” Madison said. “My relationship with my birth father is my own business. I’ll see him if I want to. And if you don’t want me driving by myself to fucking Indianapolis, I’ll ask Lucas whether he can take a day off to drive with me there. Then there will be an adult. Two adults, really, since I’m practically one myself.”
“Go to your room,” Jenny said.
Madison stared at her a moment. “Fine,” she said, and stormed away from the table. She wasn’t hungry anyway.