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Sweet as Candy: A Novel in Verse

By @Madison

Secret

On June 30

Izzy makes a special meal and a huge white cake

To celebrate my seventeenth birthday.

Alex joins us for dinner after work

Bringing with him a small golden box

And an ear-to-ear smile.

“Happy birthday, kiddo,” he says.

“Sweet seventeen.”

Izzy laughs as she spoons the macaroni into a bowl.

“It’s sweet sixteen, Al,” she says.

He smiles, wrapping his arms around her waist.

“Ah, my love, I believe you are mistaken. Every year is as sweet as you make it.”

“You are so cheesy.”

She swats at him playfully, carrying the bowl of pasta over to the table.

She smiles at me

And I make the effort to give her a convincing smile back.

As much as I’ve tried to lead her to believe that nothing’s amiss

There are some changes I can’t seem to control

One being that I never feel much like talking.

I’m too wrapped up in my own thoughts

The voice in the back of my mind

Constantly screaming at me to do something

Before things get any worse.

I can tell that Izzy’s picked up on my near silence

But she has yet to say anything.

Though I’m mostly thankful for this

Some part of me feels guilty

Aching to tell her

Though I know that that’s a less than superb idea.

I’m not quite sure how Izzy would react if she knew

Though I doubt that she’d be particularly mad.

Izzy has never been given to anger

Not even blowing up at the worst of my shenanigans.

I suspect that this has less to do with her naturally gentle disposition

And more with my mother’s lack thereof.

From the first time we met

Izzy fit the image of the mild-mannered mother the foster system wanted me to have.

Not quick to raise her voice

Much less her hand.

With the way she immediately stepped up to raise the child of the stepsister that she resented

It’s clear that Izzy’s heart is her biggest virtue.

Though I doubt she’d explode

I’d be afraid she might crumble instead.

Even before my grandfather officially welcomed Izzy into his family

She and Vanessa were anything but sisterly.

Story goes that dear old mom was Izzy’s biggest antagonist in high school

Accusing her of taking her father’s love

And her mother of replacing Grandma Candace’s memory.

Of course Izzy was less than fond of my mother

Due both to how she treated her

And, later, the baby she ran away to have.

She would surely be heartbroken if she found out that the little girl she had grown to love so much

Was growing up to be her mother’s mirror image.

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