The Wrong Side of the River
They do consume the thing that feeds their fury

The assembly hall felt extra unfriendly with only half its normal crowd. Dad had called a meeting so that people interested in the park could chat about its design. I’d agreed to go along because I thought there was a chance Romy might be there, but it turned out the only people concerned about park were Southsiders.
Dad stood in front of the room and addressed the crowd. He explained that we would list all of the things we most wanted in our park and then vote which were the best ideas. Then he and the city council would look over the finances and determine which projects to do. “This is your park,” he’d said, with his arms raised high. “I want to make sure we include the amenities you want most.”
“I want a sand volleyball court!” one girl shouted.
Dad nodded to Romy’s dad who wrote “sand volleyball court” on a chalkboard.
“Of course,” piped in a mother with four tiny children. “We’ll need a nice playground with that spongy padding so that kids don’t break bones.”
“How about a swimming pool?” Ben shouted as he bounced in his seat. His mom nodded enthusiastically.
“A skate park!” another voice shouted.
“A fishing pond!”
“A zip line!”
“A carousel!”
“A sledding hill!”
The ideas kept coming, faster than Mr. Madison could write.
I knew we wouldn’t get most of these things. Mr. Goodwin had a lot of money for someone in Montague, but he wasn’t movie-star-rich or anything.
But to see Dad you’d never believe it wasn’t all possible. He beamed with each new suggestion and said things like, “Oh that would be fantastic, wouldn’t it?” and “I can picture that going on the northeast corner near those wonderful old elms.”
If the park really did have all these things, would that be enough to make the Northsiders like it and even come over the bridge to play? Maybe an awesome swimming pool or skate park could bring us together.
I heard the door creak open and saw Romy slip in and sit in the back. She was wearing a short navy jacket with gold buttons instead of the blue sweater she’d had on at school. She’d also tied her hair back in a fancy knot. She looked professional, sophisticated, beautiful. Of course she always looked beautiful.
She caught me looking at her and smiled and waved. The fact that she was actually smiling and waving to me this time made my insides feel warm. Romy Madison knew me and liked me. Who cared what happened with the park.
Romy stood up and raised her hand. “I have an idea.”
My dad nodded for her to share it and she cleared her throat. “I think we should have an outdoor bandstand for concerts and dance shows and...staging community theater productions.”
Everyone was quiet. No one clapped or yelled “Totally!” like they had for other ideas, so I stood up too and looked straight at Dad.
“That’s a great idea. It’s the sort of thing that might really bring people together.”
Dad twisted his face in a way that either meant, “this is a stupid idea” or meant, “I told you not to monopolize this meeting, what will people think if I let my son do all the talking.” But he nodded to Mr. Madison who scribbled, “bandstand” on the board.
Romy gave me a half smile and, looking defeated, headed back out the double doors and onto the street.
I stood to follow her, but Dad gave me a warning look and I sat back in my seat, sure once again that this park would only bring more division to our town.
Several other people shouted out ideas until finally the list completely covered the chalkboard.
Dad stood in front of the crowd and gestured to the printed ideas like a proud parent. “This park will be spectacular,” he began. “It will be a place where people come from all around to visit. It will make our town great!”
Cheers rose up from around the room as the door creaked open once again. I looked back, hoping to see Romy, but instead there was a different Madison at the door. One who was definitely less friendly.
“Excuse me,” said Mrs. Mary Rose Madison. “I have here a signed injunction ordering a halt to all park building activities, pending a lawsuit brought by concerned citizens of Montague.”
Her words sucked the air out of the room. Dad’s giddy smile turned into a frown in seconds as the room erupted in whispers.
“She can’t do that, can she?” a woman near me asked.
“What’s an injustion—or whatever she said?” a kid whispered.
“By concerned citizens she means cranky Northsiders,” an older man shouted.
“This is ridiculous, Mary Rose!” My father boomed. “We had a fair vote and everything is set. You’re just going to waste the good people of Montague’s time and money.”
Mrs. Madison walked to the front of the room, the heels of her shoes tapping as she walked, sounding a little like nails in the coffin that had swallowed up the park. She smiled smugly as she handed dad a pile of papers.
“I think you’ll find the law is on my side.”

Keep Reading

Chapter 12

There’s no trust, no faith, no honesty in men Romy

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