Blue Excerpt: Blue And Maya
In this excerpt, Blue and Maya are in their first afterschool detention with the school counselor, Mrs. Ramsey, and it’s not going smoothly. Blue is determined to get through this and avoid confrontation, but she has no idea what kind of pressure Maya has being a scholarship student at a wealthy, white private school.
“Nobody ever treats her or her family like they don’t belong.” Maya grumbles.
“So give her an example,” Mrs. Ramsey encourages. “When did you have to deal with someone treating you badly?”
“I’ve been called names. People have asked me if we live with all my grandparents and aunts and cousins in the same house. One of the teachers tried to give me a big bag of her daughter’s clothes. She told me she knew I’d appreciate nice things.”
“How about another time?” Mrs. Ramsey asks. “It doesn’t have to be at school.”
Maya does not want to talk about this anymore. She just shrugs, twirling a pencil in her fingers, back and forth.
“Last week,” she finally says. “At work.”
“In your family’s coffee shop?”
Maya nods, still twirling the pencil. Her eyes tighten with the memory. “I was on my break, sitting at one of the tables. It was my Tia’s birthday so I called her and we were talking in Spanish. Some lady came in and she tells me to speak English because I’m in America. I started to say something but my mom gave me this look like she’d kill me if I did, so I just went outside to finish talking. My mom told me after to just ignore that stuff because we need every customer. Like we have to put up with that shit for her five-dollar latte.” She tosses the pencil down, then picks it back up and twirls some more. “Stuff like that.”
Mrs. Ramsey leans forward. “So your mother was afraid to let you defend yourself?”
Maya shrugs. “She’s always up in my face reminding me I have to always be better, do better, prove I’m as good as the rest of you.” She sucks in a breath, pauses for a moment. Her voice gets softer. “My dad was different. He just let me be me.”
My throat feels tight, and my eyes fill up. I blink hard a few times. My mom is like that too. I think. But instead I say, “At least your dad was involved in your life.”
“And that’s supposed to make me grateful?” She snaps. “That I had a great dad while he was alive?”
Silence hangs between us and I feel her words like the sting of a slap.
“I’m saying I don’t have your kind of father.” I don’t know why this is coming out, but it is. It needs to come out. “I can count on one hand the number of family dinners I’ve had with my dad in the last year. He works all the time. He’s got a pretty high level position at his company, and that’s why we make lots of money. But it’s kind of useless if you barely know each other. It’s like we’re all roommates. Not like we’re family.”
“At least you have a chance to tell him that,” she says.
“I’ll have to email his assistant and see if I can get on his calendar,” I say bitterly. “And I’ll have to get my mother to stop giving orders long enough to let me get a word in.”
Maya just rolls her eyes, like I’m trying to make this a contest. It isn’t a contest. I can’t even begin to imagine what her life is like right now. My dad may be a distant figure, but he’s still my dad. I love him. I wouldn’t want to spend more time with him if I didn’t love him. And if he were gone tomorrow? A shaft of pain hits me in the chest at just the thought. That would be a hundred, a thousand times worse if it was reality.
I don’t have anything else to say. Nothing that would make a difference anyway. So I keep my mouth shut.
Find out more about Blue’s journey and Maya’s secrets when BLUE hits the shelves on Tuesday, October 26th!