Madeline the Admired

by Isabell Serafin

Madeline. Madeline was unforgettable. Madeline the admired, Madeline the indulged, Madeline, the beloved, Madeline of the thick raven hair, Madeline of the green glass eyes, the Asiatic eyes, creaseless. Madeline who had tumbled through a series of New England boarding schools, with a talent so precocious she was beyond rejection despite the fits of temper, the displays of willfulness, the smoking, constant, the sex, impulsive. Madeline, who studied art history at the Sorbonne, Madeline who wore her black hair in a fringe cut across her forehead and like V bore a smattering of freckles across her back and shoulders, freckles which shown bronze in the sun on their vacations along Cote d'Azur. Madeline adored me, in part, due to the attentions we attracted. Once in Saint Tropez, a paparazzo followed us along the yachted pier, convinced he'd picked up on the scent of young Hollywood. On the beach I hid behind a tree, balked and fussed and re-arranged my bikini, while Madeline posed, threw her head up in the bright sun and showcased a brilliant post-orthodontia smile, framed by red-orange lips. This was the Madeline who tortured senior men and wore the young ones about her wrists. Madeline had been the first woman I had ever known to have an abortion. Madeline had been the first women I had ever seen breast feed. Madeline, whose areolas were the size of small tangerines, Madeline who'd ambled along with V and I across the Cape Town waterfront and loved to drink and get wild in the bawdiest of Coloured bars. Madeline who drunkenly confessed, she wished we'd been born sisters. Madeline who'd been the first to know that summer in South Africa that I had missed my period and in anticipation, looked down excitedly at my belly and placed her small warm hand there, then cupped my face and delivered a loud smack of a kiss. In celebration she pulled me onto the dance floor and as V took turns spinning us around, Madeline begged me to stay like this, with them, forever.