Coming Clean

Eleanor, Editor-in-Chief

“You’ll be fine, Madeline. Now, come eat something!” my mom barked down the empty hallway.

“Ugh. Fine!” I yelled back. I forced myself to go downstairs. It was my first day at The Westwood Preparatory Academy, and I was dreading it. It’s hard enough to go to a new school in 8th grade, but it’s even harder when you come half way into the school year. I ran down the stairs and grabbed a banana.

“Mom, Madeline! We need to leave in exactly four minutes. Hurry up!” my older brother, Wyatt, shouted. He needs to be exactly on time to absolutely everything.

I don’t know why Wyatt was so worried. He had never had any trouble meeting new people. At school he had a bunch of friends, at camp he had a bunch of friends, and even when we went on a vacation to Boston for a week, he had a bunch of friends. I spent a lot of time by myself on that trip. I wished I could use my connection to Wyatt to be cool at Westwood, but just my luck, Wyatt has to go to a high school all the way across town while I was stuck in middle school. This also meant that we had to leave at 7:15 in order to drop him off, which I never had to do back in Minnesota. Everything was different in Illinois.

“One minute. Come on!”

“I’m coming Wyatt!” I screamed back.


“Maddie Bennett?”

I opened my mouth to correct my new teacher, but then stopped. I had always gone by Madeline, not Maddie, because my grandma did too. But this time, I decided to be Maddie. I decided that I was going to recreate myself. I was going to be Maddie the Magnificent. Maddie the Marvelous. Maddie the-

“Ms. Bennett?”

“Yes, I’m here,” I responded. It’s was my very first class and the teacher was taking attendance.

“Hi, my name is Ms. Turner. Maddie, why don’t you tell the class a little about yourself?”

“Okay,” I said shyly. “I moved here from Minnesota, I have an older brother named Wyatt, and I’ll turn 14 in two weeks,  on Valentine’s Day.” The whole class stared at me blankly.  I wanted to be liked and not just some new girl, so I scrambled for something to say, even if it wasn’t quite true. “But before Minnesota, we lived in California where my dad worked as a producer for The Romers.” The Romers was the most popular show on TV. It’s about two brothers and two sisters whose parents get married, and they have to learn to live with each other. This comment got the class talking, so I decided to add, “And he even let me go on set sometimes.”

“That’s so cool!”


“Did you meet any of the actors?”

“Settle down class,” Ms. Turner said. “You can sit down, Maddie.”

I took my seat, happy that I thought of such good things to say. I thought, there’s no way this can go wrong. Right?


“Hi, Madeline.”

I turned around. It was the end of the day, and no one had called me Madeline up until now. I’d been Maddie, the girl with the producer dad.

“It’s Maddie. Always has been. Always will be,” I lied to the boy who called my name.

“No, it hasn’t. Remember me? Camp Greenlake? The past four summers?”

I looked at the boy’s face more closely. “Jonah?”

“Hi, Madeline.”

Jonah had gone to camp Greenlake as long as I have. It’s a super cool camp in Wisconsin. I’ve done some activities with Jonah, but I don’t know a lot about him. Oh no, I thought, he could know enough about to know that my dad is just a plumber.

“Jonah! How could I forget you? What a coincidence that you go here, too!”

“Madeline, I know that you’re dad isn’t the producer, but I won’t tell. That should be up to you,” he said, reading my mind.

“Thank you! Thank you so much!” I squealed ecstatically. One thing less to worry about.


“Happy Valentine’s Day class!” Ms. Turner said. “It’s time to pass out the valentines you made for everyone.” The students got up and started handing their cards out.

The past couple weeks had gone really well. I felt super cool, and everyone wanted to talk to me and hang out with me. Almost the whole class wished me a happy birthday.

After I was done passing out my valentines, I looked at the cards I got. There was the usual cartoon characters, puppy dogs, and paper hearts, but there was one that was different. It was just a white piece of paper with the words: you should be loved for who you are. I stopped and glanced across the room at Jonah. He saw the paper in my hand, smiled, and mouthed, it’s true. I looked around the room at my new classmates who had now become my friends. They shouldn’t care who my parents, I thought. Valentine’s Day is the perfect day for love and acceptance. It’s time to come clean.

“Hey guys,” I said to the whole class, “I have something I need to tell you.” I looked at Jonah, and his wide smile gave me the confidence boost I needed. I took a breath and began to tell my story:

I didn’t want to be here on the first day of class. In fact, I stayed in my room as long as I could before my mom hollered at me to grab breakfast and my brother harassed me about being on time…”  

When I finished telling my story, the class was silent for a while.

Then one girl, Josie, piped up, “Maddie, there’s no way we wouldn’t want to be friends with you. I’m so sorry you thought that!”

“Thanks,” I replied. I smiled, happy that I could find some new friends that would accept me for who I was.

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