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Something for everyone to enjoy







Maya by Pauline Hansen

pg-13-language/ intense content/wonderful story


It was close to the end of the day, just one more class left. For most kids, hearing that bell was a wave of relief. "You're all going to have to bring your text books home tonight. You can't keep leaving them all over the shelves." Maya, fifteen, hesitantly got up out of her seat to talk to the teacher. "Sir?" she said. "Yes?" replied Mr. Samson. "I...I can't take that home. Can I please leave it here?"

"Why?" asked Mr. Samson. Maya mumbled. "I can't hear you. You have to speak up!" "I can't lift anymore things in my bag!" "Why not??", "I just can't, okay?”

"Then how about this? You start going to a gym, then maybe you could actually pass my class!"

Maya had it. "How about you get to a gym you scrawny little prick?!" Screaming and throwing the book at the brick wall, she stormed out of the room.

Jason Shepherd, sixteen, heard a door slam and glass clatter in the frame. He wasn't a very popular guy; average height, dark rimmed glasses. Not a loser, he got along well with his classmates. He approaches a girl just outside of Mr. Samson's classroom, obviously troubled. Her head was buried in her hands, her dark brown hair tangling between her fingers. Her knuckles were turning white, her fists clenching. "Miss?" said Jason "Everything okay?"

Maya looked at him, her eyes just piercing though him, the look on her face saying, "Stay the hell away from me or I'll slit your fucking throat!" Jason was haunted by the warm little welcome this girl gave off, then walks away and proceeds to math class.

But while waiting for the bus, he couldn't help thinking about her. Her dark, long wavy hair, bluish grey eyes, slight tan... When the bus showed up, Jason was first on. One by one the bus crowded. All but the space next to him was filled. The last one to get on was Maya, slowly at that. She simply looked at him questioningly, and sat down next to him

"Long day, huh?” he said, breaking the silence. "Mmhm", she responded. The bus started moving finally.

Jason: "So...what happened before I showed up?"

Maya: "...It was nothing..."Jason: "Are you sure? You looked pissed about something?"

Maya: "I WASN'T PISSED!" Jason: " then...are you always that hostile or whatever?"

Maya then grabbed the flap of his jacket, getting in his face. "Listen jerk off! I don't know what the hell your deal is, but dammit you hadn't SEEN hostile!!!" She hissed with pure hatred in her angry grin. The bus stopped. She grabbed her stuff and bolted off the bus. "HEY! This is NOT your stop! Get back on here!" The driver yelled. By the time he said that, she was long gone and headed home.

The weekend passed like all other, and it was second hour English class. Jason and Maya were in the same class. They were all warned last week about the writing project for the next few days. It was time to pick partners. Sure enough, they were the only two left without a partner. Jason didn't mind at all.

"There are not enough books for everybody, so you have to share with your partner," said Mr. Osbourn.

Maya was on the quiet side, but cooperated. For the next half hour Jason was flying by page to page with notes. That's what it seemed like to Maya anyway. She couldn't keep up, even when he slowed down and waited until she finished the page. She barely finished two paragraphs. That's about as fast as she could go. With an IQ of about 80, she barely gets through school.

The girl behind her whispered in her ear. "Dur hur hur, idiot retard!" Maya didn't look up at her, just stopped what she was doing, looking down from her papers. "Everything okay...?" asked Jason. Maya nodded.

They continued, same pace. A few minutes later, out of nowhere, Maya said "Jason I'm sorry."

"Whoa, didn't see that coming", Jason thought to himself. "It's fine, don't worry about it..." he told her

"'s not fine", she said, finally looking him in the eye. "Nothing about that day was about you. I'm just not good to be around. You were trying to help, and I blew it. I'm just really sorry."

"Why are you saying that?"

"It's true..."

"Hey, it's in the past, okay? So if you don't mind me asking, where are your friends? I never see you around anybody whenever I pass you. Just wondering is all..." asked Jason.

"I don't have friends" Maya answered.

"Gee, wonder why", the girl behind them said under her breath.

Jason gave her a look. "Hey, if I ask you a question, you promise not to get mad?"

Maya nodded suspiciously.

"What happened to your lip? That wasn't there on Friday", said Jason; noticing her split lip.

Maya looked down again, and became very quiet. After a few more minutes, she ripped a little piece of notebook paper out and covered it with her hand, and wrote on it. After about five minutes, she proof-read it, then handed it to Jason.

Jason looked at her, unsure of what she wanted, and then read her note. Which said: "I was pooshed doun the stares."

The rest of the day came and went, and it was time to go home. After Maya got an earful from the bus driver about Friday afternoon, she sat down, finally getting a window seat. Jason following close behind took the aisle seat. "Hey" said Maya with a slight smile. "Hello there, you doing any better?" Maya nodded. "It's just... I just don't understand the project at all. Do you... know any way a teacher could excuse the assignment? It's just too much!"

"Why are you giving up already? It's only the first day."

Maya shrugged.

At the third stop, the bus came to a stop. Jason was off to a friend's house. As he stood up, he handed Maya something. Maya looked up at him, in half shock. "Really?” she thought to herself. Jason smiled at her and walked off. Maya looked down at the little bag. She looked inside it, and found a note.

It read:

No matter what is going on in your life, keep your head high and stay strong. Always do what makes you happy. If you ever need somebody to turn to, I'm here. If you like, you could hang out with my group at lunch time. They'll love you.

- Jason

Also in the bag, was a keychain shaped like a heart. On it read: "Life is a Journey, God is my Guide. We travel safely together, side by side"

A tear rolled down her cheek. She carefully placed her note and gift in her back pack and wiped her eyes. When she got home, she hid the note in her bed-side table drawer. And hooked the keychain to the zipper of her backpack.

The next morning, she decided to walk to school. She felt too shy to talk to Jason again just yet.

It took quite a bit longer than usual to get there, but she made it with about three minutes to spare.

Through the crowds of people she made her way through to the lockers. She spots Jason. "Oh my gosh", she thought. She pulls down her sleeves to hide any marks, and makes her way towards him. Instead of thanking him like she planned, she didn't say a word. She walked up to him, and wrapped her arms around her new friend, truly smiling for the first time in a long time. Giving him a quick kiss on the shoulder, she hurries to class.

Jason's friends looked at him funny. "Hey, who was that?!"

Jason said not a word. He Just blushed and smiled.

When it came lunch time, while finding a seat, she spots Jason waving to her. She smiles to him and finds her way towards where he's sitting. With him were students from the special needs class, and a student teacher, Ms. Neal. "Hey Maya!" said Jason. "I saved a spot for you!"

She hesitated; feeling really scared of all the people around. "Come on Maya, its okay"

"Okay..." she said quietly, and took the spot. She sat as close to him as possible, avoiding the other people. One of the students kept thrashing his head side to side, barely able to hold his fork. Maya was really tense. "Calm down, Maya. This is Juan" He pointed to a girl with Down's syndrome. "That's Kelsy right there. I think you and her would get along great once you get to know her. She's shy."

Just about every day after that, Maya sat with Jason's group of friends, becoming close friends with Kelsy.

The teacher, Ms. Neal noticed something was different about Maya.

Evening one day, a few weeks after, Maya was reading in her room; out of nowhere she heard her mother and sister fighting.

"I really don't give a rat's ass; it's your own fault!" she heard her mother say to her sister, Carrie.

"Fuck you!" Carrie sobbed. Suddenly, Carrie came into the bedroom and slammed the door, starting to break everything in sight.

"CARRIE! STOP!" Yelled Maya,” What happened??" Carrie stopped and looked at her young sister, with tears in her eyes. "I had too much to drink, and some guy offered to take me home. He never took me home. Instead he pulled over, He took out a knife and said if I told anybody what he was about to do, he'd kill me. And he fucking raped me! Mom doesn't care!"

"What?! Did you call the police?"

"Yea, they'll never find him though." said Carrie.

Maya hugged her sister. "You'll be okay. I love you, Carrie."

She stayed with Carrie and hugged and talked to her for hours.

That day, Carrie's life would change forever.

A month later, Maya was sitting outside, avoiding everybody. Carrie walked up to her and sat down next to her and put her arms around her, sounding like she's been crying. "What's the matter, Carrie?" Maya asked.?

"Remember weeks ago when I was raped by the bar?"


"I'm pregnant, and I don't know what I'm gonna do! I got no job, Mom won't help me. I won't get rid of it, though..."

"Carrie, you can't raise a kid!"

"What about my real dad? He molested me and left when I was four. Then mom met our dad! She did fine until our brother died! I'll do just fine!"

Months later, Maya was at her boyfriend Jason's house, lying across his lap on the couch watching TV as he held her hand. She felt relaxed and safe with him. Sometimes, when her mother, Michelle, was high on meth, Maya would sneak in through Jason's window, and she'd stay with him until things cooled down, but she was caught making out with him a few times by his Mom. She knew Laurie never liked or trusted her. Just as Maya was dozing off, Laurie spoke up loudly, saying "Okay, you gotta leave. Now!" Still holding Jason's hand, she sits up and says "What? Why? What'd I do?" Laurie says "I don't need a reason, just get out of here!" Jason spoke up. "No Mom! She didn't do anything!" Laurie snapped back. "Jason, don't question me! Get on up to your room NOW! And YOU, girl!" Pointing at Maya "Get out of my house! I don't want you coming around her anymore! Understand?!" Laurie led her outside and started yelling again. "Don't you listen?! Are you that stupid?! Get outta here you little cutting stoner! “

Maya couldn't believe it. She wasn't a stoner, and she never cut herself. Her clothes would sometimes smell like pot from her mom and sister smoking it. No matter how much she showered and wore perfume, she couldn't get rid of it completely. The cuts all across her arms and all over her body was from her mom's abuse. She agreed with the stupid part though. Ever since that first time she got knocked out at four years old, the head trauma left her with severe migraines. Every time she thought too hard or read a lot, her head would throb.

She fought back. "You don't know shit about me!" Then Laurie said "Oh, is that what you think? I know all about you and that skank you call your sister! You're just like her! And now you're trying to seduce my boy!" Maya then yells back "Back off! I get it from my mom, I get it from everybody else! And I sure as hell don't need it from YOU!" Laurie points a finger at her. "Listen here you sorry little Tart! You better get outta here before I call the police. And by the way, you smell like pot. I doubt the police would like that very much!" Maya screamed out of anger and walked home.

One day during lunch, Ms. Neal noticed Maya sitting alone with her face buried in her hands, not joining the group like she normally does. She walks over and joins her. "Hey Hun, is everything alright?" she asked. Maya looked up at her. Her eyes were red and puffy, like she's been crying.

"Yea, I'm fine..." she replied, hiding her face again. Ms. Neal hears her sniffing "Are you sure? If there's anything you need to talk about, I'll listen," she said softly. "You wouldn't understand..." Said Maya. Ms. Neal put her hand on Maya's arm. "Hey, of course I'll understand. If you need me to leave you alone, I will. We all need time to ourselves. But if you need to talk to somebody, I'm here"

Maya nods a bit. "Me and Jason... we were so close. Before him, I had no friends and nobody who cared about me. He'd tell me that he loved me and I kept all the notes he wrote me. He treated me better than anybody has...I love him so much”

"He's a nice guy, isn't he?" Ms. Neal replied with a smile

"Yea...But last night... Mom found his notes I hid..." Maya burst into tears "She ripped them up! And she kept hitting me until I dropped the pieces down the sink!" Maya buried her face again. Ms. Neal held her while she cried. "Even after I threw them, she still kept hitting me."

"How long has this been going on?" asked Ms. Neal.


"Your mother hitting you?"

"Since I was a kid" said Maya."...And his mom hates me. She said to stay away from him or she'd call the police.... I got nobody. Everybody would be happier if I was dead..."

"That's not true, Maya! There's a lot of people who would be devastated if we lost you. Kelsy? She thinks the world of you! Every time you're gone, she asks 'Where's Maya?' When she was born, her parents gave her up for adoption once they found out she was handicapped. Before you, the only ones who treated her decent were Jason and myself. Kids at school would bully her constantly. Maya, she loves you."

"...Why is all this happening?"

"I don't know, Maya. You're a sweet girl and don't deserve to be treated the way you do. Hey, how about this weekend, we go get lunch somewhere, just you and me?"

Maya's face lit up. "Ye...Yea! Are you sure?"

"Of course."

A few weeks later: It was about one in the morning. Dad was away working a nightshift, and mom was deeply passed out from having too much to drink. Maya's 21 year-old sister, Carrie, was almost asleep. About 15 minutes earlier, the sound of her sister Maya getting up for something, then going back to bed woke her up. As she was just about to doze off, she heard her sister groaning, as if in great pain. She thought about ignoring it, but decided not to. She turned on the light to see what was up. She saw Maya in bed, clutching her stomach in pain, and she was shaking. Carrie thought to herself, "Crap, what's wrong with her?" She looked down at the floor by her bed finding an empty pill bottle. "Shit!" she yelled. In a panic, she shook her, screaming "GET UP! Maya wouldn't budge. Again, Carrie shook her. "Get up goddamnit!" Carrie literally pulled her out of bed and onto her feet. Carrie put Maya's arm around her shoulder so she wouldn't fall over, and started leading her to the bathroom. Maya dragged her feet, she didn't wanna go. But she didn't have the strength to stop her. Carrie finally got her to the bathroom and onto her knees over the toilet. Carrie reached over to the sink and grabbed a toothbrush. Maya clamped her mouth shut and tried to free herself from Carries grip, but she was weak from the pills starting to take effect, and she was shaking even worse now. Carrie held her still and pried her mouth open. She shoved the handle of the toothbrush down Maya's throat. Maya tried to fight it.

"Come on! Work with me, goddamnit!" Carrie yelled as she punched her sister in the stomach. After a few attempts, she finally got her to heave the pills out of her system. Carrie was relieved, knowing her sis was gonna make it. She pulled her up on her feet again and backed her into the wall. She grabbed her by the arms and shook her screaming "What the hell were you thinking, you DUMBASS?! Maya looked away. Carrie pushed her into the wall again. "No, YOU listen to ME! How on Earth could you be so stupid? Did you honestly think that you'd just slip away painlessly in your sleep and all you problems would be solved? Right! You'd go straight to hell!" Maya fought back. "I already am! This is LIVING HELL!!" she roared. Carrie then yelled "And you think downing those pills would've fixed it?! Damn, that's about the stupidest thing I've ever seen you do. Now get to bed...NOW!!!" She roared. After Carrie left, Maya started sobbing, thinking, "Will this ever end?" She rinsed out her mouth and dried her tear; then went back to the room and climbed in bed. Still crying, she faced the wall. She then felt Carrie's hand on her shoulder. "Okay look, I didn't do that to be mean. I just didn't wanna lose you. You're not stupid, okay?" said Carrie. Then Maya quietly said "I was so close. Why'd you have to stop me?" Carrie started softly combing her fingers through Maya's hair. She reassured her "It'll be better tomorrow, okay? Just take it easy and sleep it off. I love you..." Carrie stayed by her side until she fell asleep.

Two days later: It was a couple months after Laurie told Maya to stay away from her house and son. She thought she finally gotten rid of her. But, she found out that she's been sneaking through Jason's bedroom window. She's caught her sleeping cuddled up to him in his bed one rainy night. When she found out, she wanted to do something about that real quick. So she decided to go to her house. She knocked on the glass porch door. Maya's mother Michelle answered it, with a polite smile. "Can I help you?" she asked. Laurie glanced around the living room, seeing Maya sitting on the couch, staring at her. Laurie answered "Yea, I'm here about that daughter of yours. Maya." Michelle's eyes squinted with confusion. She asked "What'd that damned girl do this time?" 

Maya caught a glance from Laurie, and looked her in the eyes with fear. Mouthing the words "Please don't. I beg of you no. I'm so sorry" Laurie looked back at Michelle.

Laurie: "She's been sneaking in my house. I caught her sleeping with Jason"

Maya's eyes went wide, her face went pale. Biting her quivering lip.

Michelle: "WHAT?! What the fuck were they doing?!"

Laurie: "I don't even know." 

Maya caught another glance from Laurie, giving her a nasty look. Thinking to herself "Thanks a lot, Do you even realize what you've done?!" Michelle looked at her with hate. Then looked at Laurie. "Well, thanks for telling me. Lord knows what else she's been doing. Have a great night" Laurie smiled back. "Thanks. You too" she replied. Then stepped out the door, walking off. But suddenly, she looked back through the big glass door. She saw Michelle storm over to Maya, yanking her off the couch. The door was closed, but she could still see and hear everything. Michelle slapped Maya across the face, nearly tipping her over. Laurie didn't even hear her cry or anything, like she's used to it. Michelle then grabbed the front of her shirt and pulled her up to her face, screaming.

Michelle: "What were you doing with him?!"

Maya: "I'm sorry! Nothing happened, we never did nothing! I only went there to stay out of your way!"

Michelle: "You lying little slut! I know damn well what you were doing!"

Maya: "No! I swear nothing happened!"

Michelle grabbed a handful of Maya's hair and yanked her head back. Pulling her to the kitchen. Then grabbed her by the arms and shook her so violently, that it felt like she was flying with every jerk of her body. Suddenly she felt the countertop slam her in the back. "Get your ass down on the floor!” screamed Michelle. Maya just froze. Then Michelle reached for the knives on the counter. Maya gasped and dropped to the floor against the counter cupboards as she was told. Michelle walked to the other side of the kitchen, grabbing a detached mop handle. Storming back to where she was, just looking down at her on the floor; her heart went cold. She swung the long wooden handle, nailing Maya across the side of her face. She put her hands over her stinging face, letting out a muffled scream of pain. "Oh shut your mouth you pathetic,  f*cking cry baby!" Michelle bellowed. She swung again, this time nailing her in the ribs. Maya gasped, but didn't scream. She just huddled up, trying to block her mom's attacks. After what seemed like forever, Michelle raged out of the kitchen and went to bed.

After a long time, Laurie finally saw Maya slowly and weakly limping out of the kitchen into the living room, supporting herself on any furniture she could grab onto. She grabbed a loose napkin off the TV stand and covered her nose that was gushing blood. She walked to the staircase, holding onto the hand rail, and looked out the door behind her. She caught glance of Laurie again, with a surprised, yet pleading look. She knew she saw everything. A tear rolled down her cheek, and she loses grip on the rail and falls over on the floor. Pressing against the bottom stair, she passes out. 

Laurie couldn't believe what she just watched. She was horrified. And seeing Maya huddled against the stairs, reminded her of the way she was cuddling with Jason. Looking for any kind of comfort and protection she could find. Laurie realized she's been prejudice against this girl. She finally turns around and heads across the street to her own house.

The next day, Sunday, Laurie was at the church. She was still thinking about what she witnessed the night before, still wondering if she was right or wrong to tell on her like that. "Is she okay?" She thought to herself. "Did that girl die because of me?" She looked around at all the empty seats, not too many people were there yet. She came across a seat towards the middle with more quiet people. And in one of the seats in the center of the row, was somebody she wasn't sure was still alive after last time she saw her. The one she saw almost beat to death for lousy reasons. She took the seat left of her. Laurie couldn't see her face. Her head was down and she was sitting on her hands. Her breathing was shallow and shaky, possibly a broken rib. "Hey there" Laurie finally said. Maya looked, up and smiled a little bit. "Hi." she replied.
"How're you this morning?"
Maya shrugged, "Okay"
When Laurie saw her face, she was shocked. Right away, she saw the deep purple lash mark on her cheekbone below her eye to the back of her jaw line, a black eye, and her face swollen. Also long oval shaped marks were on her arms. Grab marks, she guessed...
But Laurie found herself asking the worst question to ask at the moment.
"What happened?"
That did it.
"You know EXACTLY what happened!" She snarled through her teeth. "I saw you out there! Why'd you have to do that to me?" 
"How the heck was I supposed to know she'd attack you like that? How would I know whether or not you didn't wanna try anything with him?"
"Of course I wanted to, don't you think I have ANY morals AT ALL?! I'm sure you just enjoyed seeing me scream and cry like a damn infant, didn't you?!" Shouted Maya. She gets up out've her seat towards the front row. Laurie noticed she still had a bad limp in her step. As soon as she sat down, she hugs her knees. Her head falls back down in tears, making Laurie feel terrible for what happened.
Maya only sat up when the pastor started the service. This was her safety zone, her light of the week. These are the days she never puts on make-up; not keeping anything from her God, the man she trusts and keeps no secrets from. The pastor looked at her tear filled eyes and pain. He knew her secret and knew her well, and never judged her or forced her to say anything. He gave her a warm and understanding smile; a returning smile crept up on her face.

Laurie could still see her from this distance. She noticed that behind her battered face, Maya had a kind and down to Earth expression. Laurie never wanted to hurt this girl again... 

After the service, Maya stayed and talked to the pastor, who listened and helped her feel okay.

The next evening, it was dinnertime after a long and hard day at school for Maya. She smelt her dad's cooking and her mouth watered. She was starving! When she filled her plate, she smiled at her dad, who nodded at her approvingly. Once they were all at the table, Maya started eating what was on her plate, Carrie next to her, her parents across from them. Maya felt her mother's chilling stare, the hair on her neck standing up on end. "A little much, don't you think?" Michelle asked her, smirking at her. Maya ignored her. "If you keep stuffing yourself like that, the whole school's gonna laugh at you". Maya felt a pain in her throat, biting her lip. She looked down at her own body. She didn't look the least bit chubby. Maya was underweight, even. "You know, I raised plenty of horses in my life, but never once have I owned a fat heifer," said Michelle. Maya started clenching her fists, her nails piercing into her palms as she tries not to cry. Carrie held Maya's hand underneath the table. "It's okay. Don't listen," she whispered to her. "God, it's no wonder Jason left you," said Michelle. "Mom, shut up..." Carrie mumbled. "No. You know, that boy deserves so much better..." Maya slaps her drink off the table screaming. She leaves the room and goes to her bedroom.

Michelle got up and followed her into the room. "Where do you think you're going?!" She shouted, picking up the stand-up fan in the room, smacking her daughter in the mid-back with it. Carrie and their father heard Maya shriek from upstairs... She kneeled down on the floor against her bed. "Get up!"

"I can't!" Maya sobbed.

"Oh, you being a whiny little bitch?” mocked Michelle.

"Leave me alone!"

Michelle yanked at her hair and got in her face. "Yea, I'll leave you alone! You go and start this shit with me and break my stuff, then you wanna be left ALONE?! You're the one who pushed my son in front of a car and you don't even miss him!" Michelle starts crying. "You never cared! You just go around like it never happened, fucking around with boys, fighting your teachers! Yea, I'll leave you the fuck alone!"

Michelle left her down on the floor. Maya eventually gets herself up onto her bed, blacking out from the pain shooting up her spine.

A week and a half later: It was about eleven at night, Maya was on the phone talking to Jason. She was crying, holding something in her pajama pocket. 

Maya:” I don't know if I can do this anymore Jason, I just can't take it."

Jason:” Maya please, don't let it get to you. You know people love you."

Maya:” I just want it all to stop."

Jason:” Trust me, things will get better. Just hang in there."

Maya:” I miss you so much"

Jason:” I miss you too. I gotta go, okay?"

Maya:” Okay..."

Jason: "I love you girl."

Maya: “Love you too. Bye, Jason"

Jason:” Bye"

When Maya hung up the phone, she wiped her tears. She then reaches into her pocket and pulls out Dad's loaded gun, and points it to her own head. The cold metal touching her temple gave her a chill up her spine. She pulled the safety lever back, putting her finger on the trigger and takes a deep breath.

"I love you girl, Things will get better", said Jason's voice in her head. "NO!!" she screams in her head.

There's a lot of people who would be devastated if we lost you", said Mrs. Neal's voice. She slowly pulled the gun away. "FUCK!" Maya screams into her hands. She didn't know why thinking of them stopped her. She wasn't allowed to see Jason, but she loved him with everything inside her. Sitting there for a few minutes before getting up, she approached the glass angels in the china case and slowly walked upstairs to bed.  She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and smiled a bit. She went to the other side of the room, whispered, "Sorry bro. I can't do it. I'll see you soon though, okay?" She put the gun back into the safe; four days later Maya and her mom were fighting again. "You ugly worthless little snake!" screamed Michelle, smacking her repeatedly. Screamed so loudly that Maya's ears were ringing. Michelle was just about to hit her again, when dad stepped in. He broke them up and grabbed Michelle by the shirt. He says, "If you strike that girl one more time, I swear to God I'll call the cops!" He let go, and Michelle backed off. Then he turned to Maya and yells "Why do you always have to piss her off?! Can't you just behave?!" Maya was stunned; she knew that he would never hurt her. "What did I do?” she said as she put her head on his chest, hoping he would hold her. He pushed her off of him, and put his hands on her shoulders. "I didn't do anything."Maya said sobbing, not making eye contact, "Yes you did. You ruined her life, and now you're screwin' it up for the rest of us" He put her head between his hands, looking right at her, and said "Just try to be good," Maya looks up at him and says again, "I didn't do anything" . Her dad said, "You know what? Don't even talk to me", then he left for his night shift. Maya was crushed. When his car was gone, Michelle walked towards her. Maya tried to make a break for it, but Michelle yanked her back. "You heard him. Do everything I say!" Suddenly, she took her cup of hot coffee and splashed it in Maya's face. Instantly screaming from the burning pain, she started to wipe it off on her shirt, but Michelle grabbed her and yells, "Here, cool off outside!" pulling her. Maya refuses, seeing that's it's pouring rain out. She swung her arm back, hitting Michelle right in the kidney, Michelle bellered and let go a minute. Grabbed her by the throat and saying, "You little snot! I'll kill you, you rotten bitch!" Slamming Maya's head against the wall, knocking her out cold; she fell to the floor unconscious. Michelle sighed and put her hands under her daughter’s arms and started dragging her to the door.
About two hours later, it was still pouring rain out. Jason's mom Laurie was grabbing something out of the car. She looked over at the Saunders' house, seeing something on the porch. It was hard to see in the rain and darkness, but she finally realized it was a person. She walked a little closer and realized it was her son's ex, Maya. She seems to have fallen asleep. It was cold, and her hands were between her knees to stay warm; she was shivering. She didn't look as threatening as she always thought. To see if she was okay, Laurie called her name. Maya woke up, looked up at a face that suddenly appeared in the lightning flash. She gasped and screamed, about to attack the scary thing. "Whoa whoa! It's okay, it's just me" said Laurie. Maya calmed down a tiny bit and answered... 
Maya: "What do you want?! I left your precious son alone!"
Laurie: "What in the world are you doing out here in this time and weather?"
Maya: "Why the heck do YOU care? Because I know you don't. Just leave me the hell alone!"
Laurie looked at Maya, there was rain running down her face, soaking her hair. The rain washed her make-up off, so Laurie could see what Maya's been hiding. She moved her hair out of the way and noticed severe bruising on her neck, face, and shoulders. She looked thinner than when she last saw her. Laurie was shocked, but she continued.
Laurie: "Look, it wasn't anything against you personally. I just don't want him exposed to that"

Maya: "Exposed to what?! I didn't do anything to him! Just get away from me, please"

Laurie: "Not until you tell me why you're out here."

Maya was starting to get a headache and was so tired. She finally answered "It was momma"
Laurie: "What do you mean?” sitting next to her.

Maya: She was almost crying as she mumbled....."She locked me out" 

Laurie: "What for?

Maya: "...I don't know..." 

Laurie: "Do you really want me to leave you alone?"

After a pause, Maya shook her head no, tears running down her face. Exhausted, she felt herself doze off on Laurie's shoulder. Laurie woke her up again and let her inside their house to dry off and sleep on the couch until morning. 

The next night, Maya slept in her sister’s bed, and was having one of her nightmares. Her mother was holding her at knife-point, restraining her and covering her mouth. "You make one move, you're gone", said Michelle. Maya was paralyzed with fear. "You promise not to move?" Maya nodded her head, trying to hold back the tears. "Good, then this should be easy", said Michelle, raising a handgun to her daughter's head. *BANG!!*
Maya screamed herself awake in tears. "What in Hell?!" said Carrie, just being woken up by loud screaming. She saw her sister with her face all pale; she was crying. "Shhhh! Maya, just relax", said Carrie as she held her close. Maya was terrified, but calmed down when she felt Carrie's arm around her. She snuggled up next to her and buried her face under her arm sobbing.

The next day, at school, Maya was at her locker when a girl named Sabrina started talking to her. She looked at Maya's scars and asks "Are you a cutter or something?" feeling insulted and embarrassed, she calmly answers "". "Isn't your sister a Bastard?" asked Sabrina. Maya glared at her. "Not that it's any of your business, but technically yes, she is! Anymore questions?!" With a smug look, the girl asks "Is it true that you killed your brother? That's pretty messed up, you should be locked up!"

Just then Maya had a flashback of her pushing him into the road and seeing him getting hit; seeing mom's arms, knowing it's her fault. Maya's face turned bright red, she lost it. She clenched her fist and gave a hard punch to the girls face;  bashing Sabrina's head against the wall, and put her hands around her throat screaming with pure hatred. "Come on! Fight back you pathetic whore bitch! I'll fucking kill you!"

Sabrina tried pushing her off, not able to breathe. Sabrina started to feel light headed, and was just about to pass out. Maya couldn't control herself. All those years of her mom's harassment and violence, had finally gotten to her. Suddenly, somebody yanked her backwards by her shirt. She hit the tile floor, knocking the wind out of her. Before she knew what happened, she found herself being held down by the SRO and the principal. She was mad and freaking out at the same time. She tried to push them off, but they held her arms to the floor over her head. Her heart starts racing and she screams out of anger and fear, trying to free her hands; she's been held down like this before. Seeing a teacher leading Sabrina to the nurses office, Maya roars "Go to Hell, snake! I HOPE YOU CHOKE!!!!" Baring her teeth, still not able to break free, she couldn't help freaking out over the hand gun attached to Jeff's (the SRO's) belt. She started to shake her head from side to side. Suddenly in the corner of her eye, she saw Jason hovering over them. Suddenly, she felt a strange feeling of relief. To her, it was a pleasant sight; she didn't feel so scared anymore. Maya let out a sigh, and relaxed her arms, letting them control her. Understanding that she just surrendered, Jeff released her arms and helped her up. The principal lead her to her office. When they got there, Mrs. Lance made her sit across from her. Pointing a finger in Maya's face, she yells "What were you thinking?! Did you think you could just randomly attack another student? You know what? We could have you expelled for violence here!! You better start talking right now!" Maya just sat there looking down and away, with her hair covering her face. "Do you hear me girl?! Are you Deaf?! Look at me!" Mrs. Lance yelled. Trying not to show her fear, Maya mumbled "She said I was a cutter and that I killed my brother". ““Did you kill him?" asked Mrs. Lance, not too worried. Maya nodded yes. "What do you mean? Look at me!" yelled the principal, lifting up Maya's chin. 

Maya got scared. "DON'T TOUCH ME!" she snapped, swatting her hand away. She kicked her chair back and hurried for the door. Mrs. Lance grabbed her arm and blocked the door, backing Maya into the wall. She looked directly into her eyes, and said, "Listen here! I don't care who you think you are! That was completely uncalled for! Look at this, not so big and tough now, huh?! I don't know what you're trying to pull, but you better speak up before I expel you!" 

Breathing hard, Maya went into panic mode. With Mrs. Lance pointing her finger up in her face, Maya couldn't help but envision her mom cornering her screaming and beating her. Instinct had her grab onto Mrs. Lances’ hands to block them. Her face turned pale, her pupils dilated, and she cries. Her back slid down the wall. When her bottom hit the floor, she closes her eyes tight, and protects her 
face shaking and whimpering. Finally realizing that she wasn't faking, Mrs. Lance kneels down in front of her. "Oh my gosh...What's going on??" she said in a calmer voice. She carefully pulled Maya's hands off of her sweaty and tear streaked face. "Everything’s gonna be fine, okay? There's nothing to be afraid of in this room," she said. The foundation on Maya's face was rubbed off, exposing a dark blue ring of bruise below her left eye. "What happened to your eye?!" she asked. "Maya please. I need you to calm down..." Mrs. Lance turned off the loud fan and shut the door. "Now what's going on with you?" Maya froze; she didn't wanna talk to her. "Come on now. Just tell me what's going on. It's just you and me here." Maya looked around the room, and started to speak up. "Momma and I don't get along", she mumbled. Mrs. Lance swallowed and closed her eyes for a second, and said "I see. Do you two fight often?" Maya nodded yes. Mrs. Lance asks "Has she ever physically hurt you in any way?" Maya looked nervous again, looking down. "Do you want me to get Ms. Neal here? 

Would you feel comfortable talking to her?" asked Mrs. Lance. Maya nodded; agreeing.

She called Ms. Neal up to the Office. They whispered to each other for a minute.

Ms. Neal approached Maya, "Honey, why don't you come over here and take a chair?" "Mmkay..." Maya said quietly. Still looking down, she spoke up again. "Am I gonna get expelled?" she asked. "Well, not this time, but if it happens again, I'm afraid we'll have to take further action. I know you can do better than this. But we'll let this go. It's in the past... Now on to other matters...Tell me about what's going on at home"

"Mrs. Neal..." Maya started staying. "She beats me so bad, that...I don't even think I'm conscious half the time..."

Mrs. Neal Gradually gained her trust, and was told everything. "One time, Mom thought Jason and I were having sex...She beat me 'till I passed out. I mean, we WANTED to, but we didn't. There were times I've tried to kill myself... I tried drowning in a bathtub, I tried overdosing, and I was gonna use dad's gun on myself, but I chickened out..." she buried her face in her teacher's arms, crying. "I don't wanna die any more. People hear my screams at night when she's on a rage, Nobody gives a shit! WHYYYYYY??!!!!

Mrs. Neal was completely shocked and almost crying at this point. "Maya, no matter what she told you, It's not your fault. It's a terrible thing, but it's not your fault", she said. "Then why does she do this?!" Maya shouted. As Mrs. Neal was covering Maya's bad eye with make-up, she said "I'm gonna tell you a secret, okay? When I was a little younger than you, my parents would beat me, just like what you go through"...

Before Maya left for class, Mrs. Neal said, "Hey, if you ever need anything, or just need someone to talk to, I'll always be here", Maya nodded her head and gave her a hug, not knowing if she would live to see her again. "Bye Mrs. Neal", she said. Mrs. Neal felt her shaking. She answered, "Bye sweetie. Take care, okay? Everything’s gonna be alright"

Later that day, somehow Michelle found out about Maya's fight.

Michelle: "So what the fuck happened today?"

Maya: "Uhh, I...what do you mean?"

Michelle: You know damn well! That bullshit you pulled with that girl!"

Maya:"...She was making fun of me, Momma. She said I belonged in prison”, said Maya, tensing up.

Michelle: "I don't give a shit!” she punches Maya in the face, knocking her to the ground. "See how you like it, you little bitch!" Michelle screams, beating the hell out of her. "STOP! Momma please!" cried Maya. Michelle's rage intensifies, as she starts stomping and kicking Maya in the stomach

Suddenly, Maya lets out an awful scream of pain and wouldn't stop. It was the worst thing she felt in her whole life. Sweat was pouring down her face.

Michelle kicks her in the head. "SHUT UP!!!" she screams.

Maya remains on the floor in fetal position, sobbing, until her father got home, and made her get up. He didn't ask what happened or why she spent the rest of the day on the couch. When the throbbing stopped, Maya left the house as soon as everybody went to bed, afraid of what might happen when her mom woke up

She quickly walks across the street, and knocks on Jason's door. His mom answers.

Laurie: "Maya? What are you doing? It's ten o'clock at night and you should be in bed!"

Maya: "I'm sorry. I just...Um...Do you think I can stay with you guys tonight? It's really bad at home"

Laurie: "Maya, I know what you go through is hard. but I can't have you hanging around here everytime you and your mother fight."

Maya: “I know...But...I promise I won't bother Jason and I'll go right to sleep."

Laurie: "Don't you have school in the morning?"

Maya: “Yea...but I can run home and grab my stuff in the morning"

Laurie: *sigh* Okay, come in and sit on the couch, I'll get you some blankets. But I really can't keep doing this. Alright?"

"Okay, thank you," Maya replied. "You're welcome", said Laurie. As soon as she came back with the bedding, she sat on the couch next to Maya. Would you mind if I ask you something?" "Ummm no, go ahead..." answered Maya.

"What makes your mother so aggressive? What I saw last week... I never had seen anybody treat their child like that. I also heard the two of you screaming earlier today"

"It's really complicated," replied Maya. "But it really started because she blames me for killing my brother. When I was four and he was six, He was hit by a car and broke his neck. He died instantly...There was so much blood... "

Eleven years earlier:

[Maya and Kevin were playing in the streets, and Kevin playfully pushed her. She turned around and pushed him back into the street, not seeing the oncoming car...

Little Maya walked up to her mom, who was hovering over Kevin's lifeless body. "Momma, is he okay?" Michelle felt a sudden intense rage. "You rotten... little...SHIT!" screamed Michelle as she hit Maya backhand across the face, knocking her unconscious.]

Present day

"She thought I pushed him into the street on purpose. She started drinking more and more, she started using all sorts of drugs, which made her crazy. Some days she'd ignore me all day, and other days she'd beat me unconscious. I still hear her cry sometimes in the middle of the night..."

"I'm so sorry, Maya. I can't imagine what you must be going through. I'd get you out of there if I could..." said Laurie.

"It's okay...I've mostly become numb too it. Jason's really helped me through it"

Maya started to feel sore again and went to lie down.

"Will you be okay getting to sleep?" asked Laurie. "I think so..." Maya replied. "Just... Do you think you can stay for a little longer? I'm scared"

Laurie sighed, feeling tired herself, but remembered the feeling of raising a kid, reminding herself that Maya probably hasn't had this luxury as a kid. "What're you scared about?" Laurie asks. "I dunno. Just the things that happen today...and... What if she finds me? She might kill me."

"Why don't you ever call the police when she hurts you?” responded Laurie.

"Because...if she got charged with abuse, it'd cause so much drama in the family. Everybody would hate me if I ratted her out... When I was a little kid, somebody called CPS because of all the screaming. Mom locked me in the closet when they inspected. She wouldn't let me out for two days as a punishment for getting her into trouble... I remember being in the dark, thirsty, with no way out. I couldn't get to a bathroom, so I'd have accidents. When she finally let me out, she rubbed my face in it and made me scrub the stains out of the carpet. I wish I could live with you guys. Jason has a mom that loves and cares about him. My mom wouldn't care if I dropped dead. I wish I WERE dead."

Not long after, Maya went to sleep.

The next morning, while Jason was getting ready for school, Laurie decided to wake Maya up as well.

She shakes her shoulder "Maya? It's time to wake up. Come on Hun, you still have to get your things from home."

"Okay..." Maya answered, eyes still closed. She turns over to face Laurie, who notices she's lethargic and pale.

"Maya! Are you okay?" Maya quietly answers. "No...I feel sick" "Sick how?" asks Laurie. "Like I'll throw up," Laurie feels the side of her face. "You feel really cold......"

Maya groans loudly. "It hurts!" "What hurts? Laurie asks.

"It's my stomach", said Maya, starting to cry. "It hurts when I press on it, and it feels really bloated,” she said. "Here, feel...please," she gently takes Laurie's hand and places it on her abdomen. Maya winces from the pressure.

"Oh my gosh, Maya. You're right!" says Laurie.

"What's wrong with me?” Maya asks.

"I don't know". Laurie replies. "Do you need me to take you to the hospital?"

"I don't think so...Mom wouldn't pay for the bill. Last time she said she'd kill me if she had to pay anymore."

"Last time?” asked Laurie.

"She stabbed me during summer break," answered Maya, showing Laurie the scars; her hands shaking.

"Why?" asked Laurie

"So I couldn't be a mom," Maya replied.

Laurie softly rubs her on the back a little bit, to take some of her pain away. Jason comes downstairs. "Jason?" says Laurie. "I think you may need to help her get to school..."

Getting to and from classes wasn't easy; she felt worse and worse by the hour. By the time she got to fifth period, she could barely stand up without passing out. The teacher, Mrs. Neal noticed something was wrong. She approached Maya, who was at her desk with her head resting on her hands. Mrs. Neal put her hand on her shoulder. "Maya, are you feeling okay?" she asked her. Maya weakly shook her head no.

"Jason? Do you think you can help me take her to the nurse's office?"

"Yea", said Jason. Mrs. Neal had her assistant watch the class. They helped her stand up, and led her down the hall. "Jason!” I gotta throw up!" "Okay, here's the bathroom, I'll wait out here for you."

Mrs. Neal helped her into the bathroom, holding Maya's hair back as she heaved bright red blood into the porcelain bowl. She remained on her knees for awhile longer, trying to catch her breath. Slowly Mrs. Neal helped her up and met Jason outside the bathroom, feeling worse than before.

She started following them again, holding onto Jason, resting her face against him. Traces of blood on her mouth stained his shirt. Her face was ghost white and her lips were an ashy blue. "Maya? Take some deep breaths. Do you need to sit down?" asked Mrs. Neal. Maya's vision got blurry, and she heard a loud ringing in her ears. She collapsed onto the floor, hitting her head. She heard faint voices shouting "Oh my god! Jason, stay with her while I call 911!" She was surrounded by teachers and curious students. "Do you know her parents' phone number?"

Later, one of the paramedics looked at Jason. "Has she had complaints of any pain?"

"...Yea. Most of the day her stomach's been bothering her and it's been getting worse."

"Has she had any concussions, or hurt her neck or spine in any way?"

"I don't think so. She hit her head when she went down though"

"Maya! I need you to squeeze my hand as hard as you can."

She did as she was told, barely able to keep a grip on his warm hand.

"Can you tell us your last name?" he asked

"...Saunders”, she whispered; her breathing shallow. They put an oxygen mask over her mouth

Not long after, she felt herself being lifted onto a gurney. She struggled against them, with the stench of latex gloves filling her mind. "Maya! You're going to have to let us help you! Everything's gonna be just fine."

Jason gently puts his hand on her arm. "Maya? It's Jason. No need to be scared, I'm right here with you" Maya weakly looked up at him. They were finally able to put the IV into her arm. Her world went black. Jason broke down in tears; his friend was dying right in front of him.

She was rushed to the ER, Mrs. Neal riding in the ambulance with her, holding onto her hand.

When Jason got home, Laurie came up to him asking, "What happened? Was she okay?"

Jason shook his head, tears starting to run down his face. "They took her in an ambulance. She didn't look good at all"

Laurie hugged him. "Oh my god, I'm so sorry... they know what they're doing. They'll take good care of her"

"Yea, well things like this don't always happen like that..." Jason answered.

After a couple weeks, Jason was finally able to spend time with her in the hospital, his mother with him.

When he approached her room at the ICU, he saw her father there, who forced a little smile at him, not really interested in seeing anybody.

Jason saw the nurse coming in. "Is it okay if I visit awhile? I'm a close friend of hers"

"That'll be fine", said the nurse. Jason walked into the room. First thing he saw was his beloved friend lying in the bed, motionless. A breathing tube surgically implanted into her throat, and an IV in her arm. The smell of the hospital room sent shivers down his spine.

"Will she be able to hear me?" he asked.

"She can understand you. She'll be able to respond, in small ways. Like facial movement, or change in heart rate. "

"Tell me she'll be okay..." said Jason.

"There's a chance. Just keep talking to her, keep watching for positive reactions and improvement; she may come out of it. There's also a good chance she won't, and permanently remain in a vegetative state. Then there's not much else we can do. We have a long way to go."

Jason kneeled down next to Maya. "Hey, do you know who this is? It's Jason. I just had to come and see you. I'm sorry it took so long, but I'm here now. I'm gonna hold your right hand, okay?" said Jason, gently grabbing her hand, holding it as he spoke to her. He felt her fingers move slightly. "The day you collapsed in school, I about lost it. I thought I lost you right then and there. It made me realize how much you mean to me. The nurse told me you might not make it. Maybe she's right. Maybe this is it. There's things you need to hear. You've been a good friend to me. There were times you've made me angry. Those days where you tried killing yourself, I wasn't sure I'd be able to forgive you. But almost every day, I'd see you with new bruises or even broken bones, and you'd still find the strength to smile at me, or spend time with the kids in Mrs. Neal's class. How could somebody stay angry at somebody like that? I know what happened in your life was horrible and you never deserved it... But please don't give up like this. When you make it out of this, you're gonna move somewhere so much better... where you feel happy, and nobody can beat you anymore...You're my best friend. I need you to know how much I love you. Not just as a girlfriend...But as a part of my family. If I had the chance to spend the rest of my life with you, I think I'd be the luckiest guy in the world"

From outside the room, Maya's Dad and Jason's mom were watching Jason putting his head on Maya, he was crying

She spent in a coma.

"Jason,” whispered Laurie, waking up her son early one morning. "Hmm..." he replied. Jason" she said louder. "What's going on...?" he mumbled.

"Your friend woke up, early this morning"

That morning while watching the TV, feeling lonely, Maya heard a knocking on the door. "Do you mind visitors?" "No, not at all! Come in!" Laurie steps in.

"Hi there! How're ya feelin'?" she asked

"Better now," Maya answered.

Laurie smiled, "I can see that. You had us worried there for awhile"

"Yea... My doctor said my spleen and stomach were ruptured pretty badly, and if it had been any longer before getting treatment, I would've died shortly. I guess what happened was I lost so much blood that I went into shock. I went without treatment for so long, that it caused some brain damage. They said I'm lucky to be alive."

"I believe that. You looked pretty sick," said Laurie. "Wanna see the scar?" Maya asked, smiling. Laurie laughed a bit, "No thank you!"

Maya laughed as well, "Yea, didn't think so....Hey ummm... Thank you...for letting me stay with you that night. Mom most likely wouldn't have waken me up that morning, and that would've been it. In a way, you kind of saved my life."

Laurie takes hold of Maya's hand and smiles "It was my pleasure."

"Can you tell Jason I'm okay?"

"No, Maya."

"Oh...." said Maya, disappointed.

"Why can't you tell him yourself?" said Laurie, waving her finger towards the door.

Jason walks in.

"Jay!" said Maya, excitedly. She wanted to get up and run to him, but she realized she was too weak. Instead, Jason walks up to her and hugs her, warmly. Laurie saw Maya with the biggest smile on her face as she held onto Jason, breathing in the scent of his shirt.

Laurie thought this was pretty cute.

Maya, Jason and Laurie visited for awhile longer until they had to leave. "Take care", she says. "Thanks", replies Maya.

Three days later, she hears another knock on the door. Wondering who it is, Maya turns off the TV. "Yes?"

Michelle walks in. Maya gasps and tenses up.

"Hi there Maya..."

"Ummm... Hey mom...How've things been?"

"Been okay. Kinda quiet without you around...Guess you'll be getting out soon, huh?"

Maya smiled. "Yea. The doctor says I can come home in just a few more days and..."

*Smack!* Michelle backhanded Maya across the face, leaving her stunned, silently sobbing.

"You stupid bitch! Who said I wanted you to come back?! Look at you. Thinking people actually care what happens to you... Think it would've been cheaper if they just let you die. I wouldn't pay for your cremation, let alone your medical bills." Michelle got in her face, her fist digging into Maya's incision. "You're nothing to me! I don't give a shit what happens to you! I'm not paying a damn cent!"

Michelle left, slamming the door behind her. In a rage, Maya took her plastic lunch tray and threw it at the door. "FUCK YOU!!!" she screamed.

A nurse came in to check on her. "Stay away! Just stay away from me!" she screamed at the nurse, bursting into tears.

An hour later the same nurse returned.

"Maya? It's Roger. I don't know what that was all about, but I'm here to check your bandage."

Maya: "You guys are gonna have to let me out early..."

Roger:"Why do you say that?"

Maya: "I can't pay the bill. There's no way I can get the money. I got nowhere to go..."

Roger: "Isn't your mother coming to get you on Sunday?"

Maya: "......No. She no longer wants me in her life. She said that an hour ago right before you showed up."

Roger: "Now I don't think she truly meant that.."

Maya: "Of course she did!"

Roger: "Well, Let me call her so I can get this worked out, I'm sure it's just a misunderstanding"

"Yea, we'll just get it worked out", Maya muttered mockingly under her breath.

Roger left the room to make the call. "They never listen," Maya thought to herself.

Five minutes later he comes back. "Your father answered. He said he's coming to get you Sunday morning. It was all a misunderstanding is all. Things are gonna be just fine"

"Yea sure... It'll ALL be JUST FINE ...” Maya mutters.

Three days later, her father came just as he said. Feeling sad about leaving, she waves goodbye to her nurses. They returned her wave with a smile.

In the car with her dad, they both were real quiet until she realized he wasn't headed towards home. It dawned on her that they still didn't want her. "Dad?" she said. "Yes?" he replied.

Maya: "You're not taking me back home... are you?"

Dad: "...No"

Maya: "Mom really does hate me, doesn't she?

Dad: "I don't know, Maya. There's no telling with her."

Maya: "Where are we going?"

Dad: "I'm taking you to your Aunt Linda's house in Cheyenne. You're going to live with her for awhile."

Maya: "You don't want me...?"

Dad: "Not saying I don't want you. Do you really want to continue living with the chaos? Next time she goes crazy, you might not be so lucky; especially what she did to you back in June, during summer break."

Maya: "But Dad... she didn't mean to do that to me.... Did you tell the nurse about me not going back home?"

Dad: "No."

Maya: "You lied to him???"

Dad: "We don't need the police bugging your mother. We'll get things worked out soon. She'll take you to a resale shop tomorrow and get you some clothes"

Maya sighed, leaning against the car window.

When they arrived at the house, they were both greeted by Aunt Linda with a big smile on her face. "Hi! You finally made it! Maya, how're you feelin'?! You look so grown up!"

"I'm Okay..." Maya shyly answered, who hasn't seen her aunt since she was ten.

Her dad and Linda talked for awhile longer until her dad decided to leave. As he made his way towards the car, "Daddy wait!!!!" Maya ran to him, wrapping her arms around him. "Please stay with me!" Her dad hugged back, and pulled her off of him. "You know I can't. Be good to Aunt Linda," He ruffled her hair a bit, and left.

Maya just stood there, watching his car speed down the road...

Linda put her hand on Maya's shoulder. "You'll have fun here, you'll see."

Maya bit her lip, fighting back tears. She sat outside, thinking things out until it got dark. The girl felt like a stray dog just dumped on the side of the road.

She heard her aunt walk up to her. "It's getting late. You should come on inside before you freeze." She led her inside, neither saying a word.

"Would you like me to make you some soup, or some hot chocolate?" Linda asked her. "I'll be okay... thanks though. Sorry I'm just really tired," Maya replied. "Okay," Linda replies. "Would you like to go to bed?"

"Yea..." says Maya.

Her aunt showed her to her room. "It used to be the guest room. Hope it’s okay for you."

"No it's great!" says Maya. The bed was full-sized with thick feather blankets. There were framed pictures of trees and deer on the wood paneled walls.

Maya: "Were these taken in Wyoming?"

Linda: "Some are. But a few of them I got when visiting Colorado Springs. Don't they blend in with the room?"

Maya: she smiled, "They sure do."

Linda: "I'm not sure if your dad brought you anything to sleep in, but I found a few large shirts you could use"

Maya: "Okay, thank you". She picked the one with Minnie Mouse on it.

"See you in the morning..." said Linda, giving Maya a kiss on the forehead goodnight. Maya smiled. Her mother hasn't done that since she was a small child.

"Thank you...for everything,” Maya says. "You're welcome," Linda says. "Goodnight now. I love you"

"Night...Love you too."

Two weeks went by, and Maya was slowly getting used to the idea of her new home, slowly starting to trust Aunt Linda. One day she came into the kitchen, finding her aunt working on getting lunch done. "Hi..." said Maya. "Good morning honey! You doing okay?"


"That's good. You okay, you know, being away from your parents?"

Maya: "I miss my Momma...and Dad, and Carrie...Where's she been? Why hasn't she visited me at the hospital, or here? I really miss her..."

"Maya, I miss her too. But Carrie's going through a lot in her mind right now and there's no telling what she'll do next. Last I heard she had her baby and moved in with her new boyfriend. Hadn't heard from her since," explained Linda, ripping apart lettuce for the salad. She sighed in frustration, the arthritis in her hands flaring up. She grabs a knife from the block to make it easier.

Maya gasped and quickly backed away.

"Maya? What's the matter? I'm not gonna hurt you. You should know that!” she said.

Maya screamed, throwing her arms in front of her face, landing to the floor huddling against the counters.

"Maya!  Settle down! What happened?!” shouted Linda.  "Honey?" she said in a calmer voice. "Maya, I'd never hurt you. Here, I want you to take this. I promise I'm not going to cut you."

"NOOOOO!!!!" screamed Maya, crying. She dashed into her bedroom, huddling in the corner.

Linda waited a couple hours before approaching her again.

.She knocks on the door saying, "Maya? Please open up. I need to talk to you"

"It's open..." said Maya, in a worn out voice.

Linda came in and sat next to her on the floor. "Now I'm sorry I scared you, why in the world would you think I'd cut you?"

"You won't tell anybody?" asked Maya.

"I can't promise you that if it's something serious."

"Mmkay...” said Maya "Well...When I lived with mom... She'd cut me sometimes."

"WHAT?! Are you telling the truth?!"

Maya nods yes. "Once when I was six or seven, I walked up to her while she was in the kitchen making dinner..."

"Mommy!  I wanna try it! Please mommy!" "You wait!! Get out of here! "but momm-" Michelle swung her hand back at Maya's face with a knife in her hand, leaving a deep gash across her throat and jaw line.

Maya started screaming and crying, the wound gushing blood down her shirt.

"Oh my god”, Linda said. “See what you get when you don't listen?! Let me see!" shouted Michelle. Maya pulled away, pushing her mom's hands away, scared of letting her touch it.

"FINE!! Take care of it yourself!  You little brat!"

"Carrie helped bandage it up that night," Maya said to Linda.

"See the scar?" asked Maya, lifting her chin.

"Yep, I see it... I was wondering what happened there..."

"She did this one three years ago...” Maya said, pulling her hair aside, showing Linda the back of her neck. There were knife cuts there spelling "bitch".

"Oh my god!"  Linda cried. "Did she do this?!"

Maya nodded, ashamed.

"My sister or not, this should've been reported to the police! What about the black eye when you came here?"

"She punched me at the hospital, she said I'm not worth the money it would take to cremate me...Which is why I don't know why you want me around...My medical bills are way more than that...I'll never be able to pay it off."

Maya starts crying again, “I almost died, Linda! And hardly anybody came to see me. Dad, Jason, and his mom. And of course Carrie never showed up! What does that tell you?"

Oh my god Maya! I don't know what her problem was! But she's wrong! And stop worrying about the money; I'm taking care of it, okay?" Linda hugs her tight. "You're worth EVERY PENNY. Understand? You're my girl"

Four years later, Maya decided to visit her sister at her apartment.

Carrie was drinking one after another nonstop, at one point doing a hit of heroine. Carrie's daughter Kailyn was sleeping in the room down the tiny hallway.

"Come on, why don't you have a drink or whatever? Don't be boring!" said Carrie.

"I just don't want any, thanks..."

Carrie giggled. "Hey Maya! Remember when we got high together?"

Maya nodded, thinking back on the bad memory of letting Carrie inject the toxin into her arm at age ten, the scary feeling she never wanted to feel again.

"Man, when mom found out...God she REALLY beat the shit outta you that day..." Carrie started laughing hysterically..."God I fucking love you, sissy...Ha! Sissy, that's so funny!" Carrie clumsily put her arm around her younger sister and started giggling again.

Maya fought to stay awake to make sure her sister was okay through the night.

Without realizing she fell asleep, Maya woke up in Carrie's bed, right next to her. Maya let out a huge yawn, never feeling so tired in her life.

"Carrie, you okay?" she says, bumping her shoulder to wake her up. "Carrie come on, you really need to get up" Maya could tell she got sick again in the middle of the night. "Carrie!! Wake up! Kailyn needs you!"

Early morning, Linda was wakening up from the phone ringing.  When she answered to a panicked voice on the other line, "You need to come over, please!"

"Why honey? What's wrong?"

"It's Carrie, I can't get her up and she's not breathing!"

"Maya, calm down! I can barely hear what you're saying..."

"I'm at her apartment and she's not waking up!"

Linda heard Maya slapping and screaming at Carrie in the background, sobbing. "CARRIE! COME ON!!!!!"

"Maya!" shouted Linda.


Linda heard Maya hang up the phone. She called 911 for her.

Kailyn comes into the room. "Auntie Maya? Why were you yelling?"

"Kailyn, I need you to stay in the living room"

"What's wrong with mommy?"

"Kailyn, now!"

Maya felt bad for yelling at her niece, but she didn't want her to see the awful site. It wasn't like in the movies where the dead princess lies there peacefully with a full colored face. Maya couldn't unbend her sister's limbs, her body was lying in her own vomit, and she reeked of urine and booze.

She moved Carrie’s hair out of her face. "God what have you done to yourself?" Maya whispered. Carrie had dark circles under her sunken in eyes, her figure was close to skeletal and her once beautiful golden blonde hair was now matted and dead looking.

Maya was completely numb watching the ambulance taking her sister away in a black bag.

When they were gone, out of sight, Maya bowed her head down and cried.

Kailyn came outside and tugged on Maya's sleeve, "Auntie Maya?"

"Hmm?” Maya replied

"Where's mommy?"

Maya wiped her eyes. "I'll tell you tonight...Okay? We're gonna go to your great-aunt Linda's house. I'll tell you there."

Maya thought to herself, ("How can I possibly raise her? What if I turn out like MY mom? I did always want kids though..."

When they got to Linda's house, Linda ran to Maya, hugging her, "Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry! What happened?"

"The doctors are thinking alcohol poisoning..."

"Did you tell Kailyn?"

Maya shook her head no. "I'm not sure if she'll understand yet. She's only four..."

"She'll need to know though. She was her mother..." said Linda.

"Yea, I know..." said Maya.”Just not sure how to tell her..."

Later that night, Maya found Kailyn awake in bed. "Kailyn? There's something we need to talk about. And it's serious, so I need you to be a big girl about this, okay?"

"Is it about mommy?" asked Kailyn.

"Yes, it's about mommy...

"Is she okay?"

"No Honey. She died early this morning..."

Kailyn looked at her, confused.

"Do you know what it means to die?" asked Maya. Kailyn shook her head no.

"Well, you know how when you sleep, you wake up in the morning? When somebody dies, they don't wake up."

"You mean they're asleep forever? Where do they go?"

Maya's eyes started filling up. "I don't know, honey."

"Don't cry auntie, I'm still here”, said Kailyn, Wiping her aunt's tears away, "You can sleep here with me."

Three nights later, Maya was sitting in the living room of her apartment by herself in the recliner chair. The shock of her sister's death was wearing off;  the inner hurt still burned inside of her; so badly she wished she were dead, to be with her again. She quietly cried as she started thinking of ways to end her own life, petting the pit-bull dog Carrie left behind, who was named Dolly.

When Carrie adopted her as a 6 month old 3 years ago, she had all sorts of attack scars from being mauled by other dogs in the home she was taken away from. She reminded Maya of her home growing up

She heard little feet scuff across the carpet down the hall into the living room. "Auntie?" said Kailyn in a tired voice. "Yea? What do you need, Kailyn?"

"Can I be with you? I can't sleep."

"Need me to open the window, or tuck you in?"

"No, I wanna be with you"

Maya sighed, "Here, come and sit on my lap. Bring the blanket over there on the couch."

Kailyn climbed into Maya's lap," Auntie?" she said. "Yes?" Maya replied, holding the little girl in her arms... "If I sleep, will I wake up?"

"Oh my gosh, Kailyn. Or course. Why do you ask that?"

"You said when people go to sleep, sometimes they never wake up"

"Ohhhhh...Yes honey sometimes that does happen. But only if somebody is very sick or old. I promise you that you'll wake up tomorrow safe and healthy."

"How do you know?"

"Kailyn, when your mother died, she was really sick at the time. Her heart and brain stopped working, and she died. People who die aren't just asleep. They're just not there anymore."

"Will I die?"

"Someday, yes. Everybody will die someday. It's part of life"


"A long time from now. You're young and healthy"

"Where did she go?"

"I honestly don't know, Kailyn. But I promise you'll be fine in the morning..."

"Can you make sure?"

"...Okay honey. I'll make sure. Just go to sleep and I'll watch you."

"Can you sing? They always do on TV. Mommy never did that"

"Aww Kailyn, You don't really want me to sing," Maya giggled.


"Okay then... I'll sing you something my grandma used to sing to me when she'd babysit"

"Okay..." Said Kailyn

"I'll walk in the rain by your side. I'll cling to the warmth of your hand. I'll do anything to keep you satisfied. I'll love you more than anybody can"

Maya softly stroked her niece’s hair. Kailyn sat there quietly, her head resting on Maya's chest.

"And the wind will whisper your name to me, little birds will sing along in time. Leaves will bow down when you walk by, and morning bells will chime..."

Kailyn's eyes started getting heavy.

"I'll be there when you're feeling down, to kiss away the tears when you cry. I'll share with you all the happiness I found, a reflection of the love in your eyes..."

Maya looked down at her niece, who was fast asleep. Dolly sniffed and whimpered at Kailyn, her cold nose brushing against her face. "Shhhh", said Maya, rubbing her ears.

One day, a year later, Maya was walking Kailyn to her daycare on her way to work. As of three months ago, she was now legally placed into her custody. Things were rushed and traffic was busy as they were walking along the sidewalk. For a split second, Maya looked away from Kailyn. She heard breaks screeching and somebody honking their horn. Maya looked back to see Kailyn in the street. "Kailyn!!", she screamed. Scared for her niece's life, having a flashback of her brother dying on the street, his body mangled and hair matted in blood. She yanks her back onto the sidewalk by her arm, the car barely missing Kailyn.  The driver flipped them both off and drove away. "Cock sucker!" she screamed to the driver, feeling the cold rush of air as he speed off. Maya picked Kailyn up in her arms, holding her close and kissed her. "Oh, thank god!" she cried. She put her back down on the ground, pointing a finger at her. "Don't you ever do that again! You hear me?!" she hollered. "Do you have any clue what could have happened if I hadn't pulled you out of there?! Look on the ground! See that bug there?" Maya points to a beetle crawling on the sidewalk. She crushes it with her shoe. "That'll be you if you wonder into oncoming traffic! NEVER leave my side in a place like this! Understand?!"

Kailyn looked up at her, crying, then looking down at the dead bug.

"Kailyn? I'm sorry I had to do that. But I don't wanna see you get hurt or killed. You really scared me. Come here..." said Maya, hugging her niece. "I love you, okay? Let's go, we're gonna be late," she took Kailyn by her hand and kept walking, bystanders giving her looks.

Her hand was shaking as she squeezed Kailyn's hand, the weight of the incident finally sinking in. "I could've lost my baby...I'll never let go of her again!" she thought to herself. After losing her brother and sister, she couldn't bear to lose her niece.

The next day, Maya went to visit her old high school, bringing Kailyn along. She stopped at the front desk. "Can I help you, ma'am?" said the lady.

“Umm yea. Do you know if Mr. Samson still teaches here?" asked Maya.

"Yes he does. Would you like to see him?"

"Yes please"

“Okay. His last class should end in about ten minutes. Would you mind waiting?”

"No I don't mind"

When the class was over, Mr. Samson was called to the front desk. "Everything okay?" he asked the lady. "Yes there's somebody who wants to see you."

"Hey, weren't you one of my students? Ha-ha", h e said to Maya. "Yes Sir. I'm the one who threw a textbook at you." Maya answered, smiling. Mr. Samson laughed.

Mr. Samson: "Oh yes! Maya, right?"

Maya: "Yup, that's me."

Mr. Samson: "Well, good to see you! You been behaving?"

Maya: "Well I'm trying", she laughed.

Mr. Samson: "Is this your daughter?"

Maya: "No, actually she's my niece. She came to live with me after my sister died last year."

Mr. Samson: "Wow, I'm so sorry..."

Maya: "It's hard...We really miss her. Not a day goes by without crying for her...The main reason I came here, is to apologize to you..."

Mr. Samson: "Apologize for what?"

Maya: "Well, one for acting up in class all the time, especially that day I threw that book. I said it was too heavy to fit into my bag. Well...At the time, I just went through an operation and I couldn't lift more than twenty pounds for awhile, so..."

Mr. Samson: "Oh my gosh...What kind of operation?"

Maya: "Umm...A Hysterectomy..."

Mr. Samson: "Why so young?"

Maya: "Not a lot of people know this. So please keep this to yourself. Okay? Well I had it done, because my mom hurt me there so I couldn't ever get pregnant and out-parent her."

Mr. Samson: "What...? How'd she hurt you?"

Maya: "she held me down and cut me. Actually, it was going on for a long time. Many times I ended up in the ER because of her. Would you mind if I showed you a couple pictures?"

Mr. Samson: "Wow...Yea sure..."

Maya pulled out two pictures taken at the hospital.

Maya: "This first one was after the surgery I told you about."

Mr. Samson quietly scanned the photo. "My gosh..." he said, noticing the bruised areas.

"And this other one, was when I was in that coma. Remember that?” she asked. "Yes, I think I do. Damn..."

Maya: "After I made it through, though, I moved in with my aunt. It's been a rough road, but I'm okay now. I got Kailyn, I got my own life...I just wanna say how sorry I am for being an asshole in school. I really am."

Mr. Samson: I apreciate you coming to apologize, it really wasn't a problem. I've had students threaten to bring a gun to school.... So are you and your mother still keeping in contact?"

Maya: "I've seen her once in five years. That was at my sister's funeral, but I'm gonna stop by today to see her..."

Mr. Samson: "Well, I wish you the best in life. You're a remarkable girl. You'll go far in life."

Maya: "Thank you. It was good seeing you again."

Mr. Samson: "You too! Take care of yourself". He shook Maya's hand.

Afterwards, Maya dropped Kailyn off at her Aunt Linda's house for a few hours before heading to her mother's house. The closer she got to the house, the more nervous she became. By the time she reached the front door, her stomach felt like somebody beat it with a hammer. The yard's been cleaned up since she left, and flowers were planted along the side of the house. She never saw her mother do anything with the yard before.

Her hand shook as she nervously knocks on the door. She heard footsteps coming closer and closer to the door, her heart starts racing, and she screams in her head "Why're you doing this?! Get out NOW!"

When the door opened, she relaxed. The person answering the door was completely different than the woman who left her at the hospital. Her hair was combed and washed. Her clothes matched, and her eyes were no longer bloodshot and filled with hatred.

"Mom..." said Maya, a smile creeping up on her face.

Michelle looked away, looking to be on the verge of tears.

"Mom, don't you know who I am?"

"Yes I do. Come in if you want to..."

They both went and sat at the kitchen table. "So why'd you come back?" asked Michelle.

"'s just been so long, and you're my mom. I can't just lose contact with you...."

"You've gotten so pretty..." randomly said Michelle. Maya was surprised. She weighed more than what she did when her mother made fat jokes at her. "And your face...Not all bruised up...I can see it now."

"Thanks, Mom..."

Maya noticed the sadness in her mother's eyes. "Have you been okay?" Maya asked. "No, I haven't. After you addictions got even worse. I ended up in the ER and they forced me into rehab. Two years later, I found out that your father left me. I have no idea where he is. Then Carrie...Oh my god, Carrie!" Michelle hid her face, crying. "I'm losing my babies! Maya come here!” she sobbed, hugging her only surviving child. "I'm sorry! I love you Baby!"

Maya hugged back. She didn't imagine the visit would end up like this. Her mother has changed, for the better. "Love you too, Mom"

"What're we gonna do?" Michelle cried.

"We gotta pray, Momma", said Maya. Michelle looked up at her.

Maya held both of her mother's hands. They both bowed their heads. "Dear God," Maya began. "Times have been tough. A lot of mistakes have been made. Tonight we pray that you help my mother find her peace in life. Losing Kevin and Carrie was tough for everybody. We do not ask you to bring them back. We have accepted what has happened, and we're ready to let them go and move forward. We love and miss them terribly, and they'll always be in our hearts, but we ask that you keep them safe with you, give them the love we were not able to give them. And we also ask that you help little Kailyn experience the best life possible in a time like this. We may be a broken family in other people's definition, but we're still a family, and nothing will ever split us again." Maya and Michelle looked at each other, smiling. "Amen", they said.

For hours they spent together, watching a movie, talking about what they missed. For the first time, Maya didn't feel alone, as with Michelle. Together, they had the chance to heal and mend old wounds.