The Sins We Must Carry

Chapter 2

Madeline walks into school the next morning and notices the students staring at her. She’s not used to being the center of attention, so she instinctively starts to hold herself. As she walks to her locker, she can hear some kids talking about her.

“...Doyle’s loaded!”

“Are you sure?”

“Cassandra said she got in the same car as the Doyles.”

“Does she have proof?”

“Dude, why would she lie about Maddie being related to the Doyles of all people? That makes Maddie look better than her.”

“But it’s just hard to believe that Maddie is—”

“Shh! She’s right there!”

Madeline feels her face from embarrassment as she inputs her locker combination. The only thing she hates more than being the school loser is being the school celebrity. It’s her nightmare to be the center of the school’s attention, hundreds of students gossiping about her and judging her for the money her parents had. What must they think about her now?

No one speaks to her as she gathers her books for first period. She decides to be early for once and rushes into the room. The teacher’s already there and allows her to stay until the start of class. Madeline hides her face in her hands and sighs.

“Something bothering you?”

“No,” she answers, glancing at the teacher.

“Are you sure?”

“Why does it matter? It won’t affect my in-class behavior.”

“It may surprise you to hear this, but I do care about you outside the classroom too.”

“Good to know, but I’m fine.”

“Clearly you’re not.”

Madeline sighs and runs a hand through her hair.

“I just don’t want to talk about it, okay? I hate thinking about it anyway.”

“Is it serious?”

“No. You don’t need to be worried, alright? Knowing how people around here gossip all the damn time, you’ll find out soon enough.”

The first bell rings and students start to file in. Madeline keeps her focus on the front of the class, trying to ignore the whispers around her and stares the students shoot her way. The teacher seems to notice and nods in understanding. Luckily for Madeline, she didn’t bring any attention to it.

The period seems to drag on and on, and every time Maddie checks the clock it’s barely moved.

Why can’t this day just end already?

She turns back to her work and reluctantly goes back to working. Other people’s stares bore into the back of her head and she wants to escape. Just before she feels like she can’t take any more, the bell rings.

Madeline grabs her things and rushes to the next class. Things don’t get much better there.

The stares and whispers continue and the feeling of not being able to handle it all returns. Once more, something saves her from losing it. The phone rings, the teacher answers, and he calls her name.


She looks up.

“The principal wants you to come to the office. Bring your books with you.”

She nods and stands, making her way out the door, books in hand. Whatever Ms. Nakamoto wanted, she’d thank her for getting her away from everyone else. The gossip is starting to kill her. Madeline walks into the office and greets the receptionist.

“Ms. Nakamoto wanted to see me?”

“Just take a seat, she should be out in a couple minutes.”

She nods and sits across from the desk, by the window. There’s nothing for her to do, so she grabs her pencil and finishes up the classwork she’d been given.

It’s better than being bored, I guess.

A few minutes pass before the principal opens the door. A man and woman walk out and Ms. Nakamoto turns to Maddie.

“Ms. Doyle, please come in.”

Madeline stands and sets the books aside, walking into the office. She notices a boy sitting in one of the chairs in front of the desk and she takes the other available chair. The boy has short black hair, contrasting Maddie’s long red hair, and she sees he has dark eyes. A nice brown color.

She doesn’t realize she’s staring until he glances at her. With a flush on her cheeks she averts her gaze and a second later Ms. Nakamoto speaks.

“Madeline, this is Ethan. His family just moved to town and I’m asking you to show him around the school. Get him oriented with everything.”

Madeline nods. Nakamoto isn’t so much asking her, but telling her, and the teen knows it. She nods regardless.

“Great!” Nakamoto hands Ethan a piece of paper, which Maddie guesses is his class schedule. “I’ll let the two of you get acquainted with each other. And before I forget, Madeline, here.”

Nakamoto hands her a slip and she sees it excuses her from being late from her classes.

“I’ll leave you both to it,” Ms. Nakamoto tells them.

Without another word, the two teenagers stood and walked out of the office. Madeline slid the paper into her back pocket and grabbed her books. They step out into the hallway and Madeline starts walking to her locker.

“Don’t you need to look at my schedule?” Ethan asks.

“After I drop my stuff off at my locker,” she tells him.

He doesn’t say anything and follows behind her. He’s the one that breaks the silence.

“You don’t have to show me around. I’ll figure it out.”

Madeline looks over her shoulder at Ethan, giving him a quizzical look.

“What makes you say that?”

“You just seem like you don’t want to do this. I don’t want to be a burden or anything.”

“You’re not a burden, Ethan, I just need to drop my books off at my locker. I’m actually happy I get to get out of class to show you around.”

Her back is to the boy, so she doesn’t see the look of surprise that crosses over his face. They reach her locker after a few minutes and she opens it.

“So, you’re new to town, huh?”


“Well, welcome. The city’s pretty nice. This place, though, not so much.”

“What’s wrong with the school?”

“Nothing, if you don’t mind fake friends and vapid gossip.”

“How’s that different from any other place?”

Madeline looks over at him and smiles a bit.

“I guess that’s true.”

They become silent. She shuts her locker and leans against it, looking at Ethan. Now that the whole school knows who her parents are it’s refreshing to have someone that knows nothing about her.
“Is there something wrong?’

She shakes her head.

“No, no, I just—I don’t want to show you around just yet, I guess. I want to draw it out a bit.”

“Why’s that?”

“Because you’re new here. You don’t know anything about me. Or my parents.”

Now Ethan leans against a locker, just a few ones down from hers.

“Why’s that important?”

She pauses for a moment, certain he’ll be just like everyone else once she tells him.

“My parents are filthy rich.”

He looks at her.

“Okay. And?”

“People just found out, and now they’re treating me like I’m royalty, instead of a person. That’s not what I ever wanted.”

“Will it help if I tell you I don’t care that your parents are loaded?”

Madeline smiles.

“A little.”

She stands up and motions for him to give her his schedule. When she starts off in a direction, he follows.

“You don’t look rich,” he says.

She looks over at him.


He motions to what she’s wearing: a long sleeve white shirt and blue ripped jeans.

“You’re not dressed like a rich person.”

“And that’s coming from the emo kid. But thanks.”

He nudges her a bit.

“I’m not emo just because I’m dressed in black.”

“Really?” She laughs and looks back at him.

“Oh shut up,” he says, but he can’t hide the smile that makes its way across his face.

“Make me, emo kid.”

Ethan steps towards her and she speeds up her pace, the halls filling with their laughter.