The City Girl

A Different Point of View

Riley's POV

It was Halloween night. My brother was off at some Halloween party with Ava and my parents took the opportunity to go out. But luckily, I'm not spending the holiday alone tonight: Maya and I decided to have a sleepover at her apartment. I wasn't busy and Maya was getting bored of spending every Halloween with a crowd of boys. She says, and I quote, 'I just wonder what it's like to have a girls' night.' So here I am, knocking on the Harts' door.

Maya opens the door and greets me with a smile. "Hey Riley," she says. "Don't mind my grandmother; she gets a little excited when she meets my friends. It makes her feel young."

Maya's grandmother was sitting on a ratty couch in the living room. I didn't expect Maya to live in a place like this. The walls were cracked and stained, the kitchen was overflowing with trash, and the whole place reeked of mildew and old paint. Maya never told me her family had money problems.

"Maya, you actually brought over a girl this time!" Maya's grandmother exclaims. "I am sick of all her guy friends trashing this place!"

"Gammy," Maya sighs while slapping her forehead.

"It's nice to meet you, Mrs. Hart," I say, trying not to gawk at the number of cockroaches in the kitchen.

"Call me Angela," Maya's grandmother says and she turns on the TV. A horror movie came on.

"Gammy," Maya scolds. "Aren't you supposed to take your medication?"

"You sound like your mother," Angela whines and she hobbles off to the kitchen while Maya and I trot off to her room.

Maya's room wasn't what I expected either. I thought it would be all black with emo band posters on the wall. But instead, it was an explosion of art. One half of the room was a makeshift art studio consisting of cheap supplies from garage sales while the other half was filled with junkyard furniture and antique pawn shop collectibles. Maya's bed was piled high with raggedy purple sheets and decrepit pillows. A small shelf stood next to it, stuffed with vinyl records with a little silver record player on top. I guess she likes listening to music. She was messy alright, with clothes and paintbrushes littering the floor, but what surprised me the most was that the walls were actually PINK.

"I begged my mom to paint my room pink when I was eleven," Maya explains. "It's one of my biggest regrets. But I learned to live with it once I started an art wall."

There was indeed, a wall covered with painted designs. The room looked as if Maya used to be girly but then attempted to shower it with grungy rebel stuff. I notice a little vanity table in the corner but it was used as a place to hold her laptop and cell phone (most likely gifts since those were the only new things in the room). A gold heart-shaped locket was on top of it however.

"What's this?" I ask, holding it up.

"Don't touch that!" Maya scolds and she snatched it away from me. How rude!

"I just want to know what it is!" I say, taking it back and opening it. Inside was a photo of a young blond woman in her early twenties, holding a chubby-cheeked baby and standing next to dark-haired man with wide blue eyes like Maya's.

"Who is this family?" I whisper.

Maya's eyes watered a little bit before saying, "It's my family. This was taken before everything came crashing down. Back when my mom was happy."

"Tell me more," I say, genuinely curious. There was so much I didn't know about Maya, it was intriguing to talk to her face-to-face. No wonder Farkle was in love with her.

"You don't want to know," Maya says and she stuffs her necklace in her pocket.

"Please," I beg. "I thought we were friends."

Maya's heart changed once I said those words. "Fine, but's not a happy story."

She sits down on her bed and I sat on a swivel chair, holding an antique, admiring Maya's collection of antique knickknacks.

"So," Maya begins. "It kinda all started when my mom moved to LA to follow her dreams of being an actress after graduating high school. Her life started out great; she got an internship at some Hollywood studio and she was learning the ropes of theater. But then she met my father, Kermit Clutterbucket."

I couldn't help it, I laughed at her dad's ridiculous name. Maya scolds me with a look and she continues.

"They fell in love and began a whirlwind romance that lasted for two years until I came along," Maya says. "My mom gave birth to me at twenty and that started to strain my parents' relationship. My mom wanted to get married right away in order for me to have a stable childhood while my dad wanted to give me away for adoption. They eventually worked out a compromise that soon fell apart when I was three. My dad had gotten sick of me ruining his chances of having a free life and was even sicker of my mom's constant failure of finding a steady job. No one wanted to hire my mom. So he left with another woman and broke my mom's heart. Eventually, Mom was forced to move back home with her mother and started working at a waitress at a dead-end diner. Long story short, I ruined my mom's life."

I was honestly shocked. I didn't think that Maya would have such a sad backstory. I didn't want to believe her but judging by her tears, it was all true.

"You didn't ruin your mom's life," I say with my voice quaking from the sadness of it all.

"Yes, I did," Maya spits back stubbornly. "Because if she never had me, maybe she would've became an actress like she wanted to and my father would've never left. Do you know what he said when my mom told him she was pregnant? He wanted her to get an ABORTION! He wanted to get rid of me before I came into this world and my mother made the big mistake of not listening to him. She made sacrifice after sacrifice for me but I keep disappointing her. I'm not worth those sacrifices. And guess what? My dad got married to another woman and had two other kids, two kids that didn't ruin his life. So the problem's not him, IT'S ME!"

That's when I saw a completely different Maya, one that was vulnerable and full of self-hatred. It was like looking into a cracked mirror and seeing a distorted reflection of yourself. I don't what it's like to see myself that way but Maya did. She saw herself as damaged and unworthy of her mother's love. I put my arm around her as she started tearing up. We didn't say anything more after that tragic story.

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