Someday soon chapter 8
In the weeks after Katys death Maya had been spending a lot of time wearing headphones. She couldn't stand the silence, but she also could hardly bare to speak to anyone. Her ear buds were in nearly all hours of the day. She would walk around listening to the same music that her mother used to sing around the house, or listening to podcasts of people talking almost mindlessly.
Maya and Shawn were still staying at the Matthews apartment, so every night as Maya and Riley climbed into Riley's bed, Maya would press play on a podcast and turn the volume on her phone up high enough that she couldn't hear herself think. Maya and Riley would lay in bed beside each other each night, not talkinging. Riley knew how much her friend was struggling and hurting. She wanted nothing more than to help Maya, but she knew that she wasn't really ready to face her feelings yet. So rather than talking, the girls laid side by side in silence. Without saying a word Riley would reach out and take her best friends hand. Maya, without saying anything, would take it.
Maya was walking on the streets several miles away from the high school, her headphones in her ears and music blasting. It was just past noon on a thursday and the sun was beating down on Maya's shoulders as she wandered mindlessly around the city. Her school bag was slung over her shoulder, but it wasn't weighing her down as she had put nothing in it that morning. She hadn't been to school since Katy had passed, but she had had to get out of the Matthews, in an attempt to help, had suggested that Maya return to school, two weeks after the funeral. Maya played along with the charade of heading to school, but felt no need to actually attend class.
Cory and Topanga assumed that Maya was heading off to school with Riley every morning but in reality Maya was staying on the subway long after Riley got off. Maya managed to get away with this as Mr. Matthews was not her teacher that semester, and the school was too large for him to expect to see her around the hallways all that often.
Riley could have easily sold her out, but she adamantly protected her friend. Riley knew that Maya was only going through the motions to please Cory and Topanga.
Maya continued to wander the city not really paying attention to her surroundings when she felt someone's hand on her shoulder. Maya whipped her head around, pulling out her headphones at the same time.
The sound of the city around her hit her at the same time that she saw the face of the person who had stopped her.
"Hey" Josh said, slightly shocked to see Maya there. Maya's eyes widened slightly and she felt the usual flip in her stomach that came with seeing Josh. But while she was usually thrilled to see Josh no matter the circumstance, today ( like most days recently, she had just wanted to be alone). It was just her luck that in a city of over 8 million people, she would bump into someone she knew on the street.
" Hey" Maya responded, winding her headphones around her phone and stuffing the whole thing in her pocket while she continued to walk forward. Josh fell into step beside her as they continued to walk down the street.
" Shouldn't you be in school?" Josh asked jokingly gesturing down to the time on his watch.
" Shouldn't you?" Maya said straight faced as she continued to face forward and walk ahead. Josh rolled his eyes at her and smiled in slight exasperation.
" What does Shawn think about you skipping out on class?" Josh asked, trying his best not to sound like a naggy older brother. This time it was Maya's turn to roll her eyes.
" Are you kidding? Shawn can't even look at me. But i mean, i don't blame him. I can't even look at myself in the mirror. I'm too much like her." Maya said in a matter of fact tone and continued to walk forward. Josh caught onto her arm. He spoke softly. His concern evident.
" Hey… really are you okay?" Maya let out an extended breath, rolled her lips and close her eyes as she responded.
" You know that's a really stupid question." Without another word she turned around and walked back down the street, leaving Josh behind her.
Josh hadn't heard from Maya in a few weeks. He had texted her after they had run into each other on the street to apologize, and she had typed out a quick response, but after that it had been radio silence. Josh knew that Shawn and Maya were still staying with his aunt and uncle, but every time he dropped by the apartment Maya was either out or locked away in Riley's room. Josh had been busy with finals that week and hadn't actually had the chance to drop by.
That friday Josh was heading to a house party a few blocks from his dorm. He was nearly done his finals, he only had one left at the end of the following week. His roommate had convinced him to go out that night and let loose before he started his summer courses.
The party was loud and crowded, spread across several levels of a town house split into apartments. Josh had been upstairs, chatting with some people he knew from one of his classes. He had just finished his drink and decided to head down to the kitchen to get another drink. He was walking down the creaky wooden stairs when he noticed someone familiar standing in the open living room before him.
He could barely see her. Her body was crowded in against a wall by a big burly guy. His hand was on the wall beside her head and he had his face leaned in close to her face. Josh was down the stairs in a flash and striding towards the scene he had seen on the stairs.
"Maya?" Josh said finally reaching the spot where Maya was leaning against the wall and the mystery guy was boxing her in. Maya who had been looking down at the ground as if her head was too heavy to hold up. She didn't respond to him, but she did raise her head slightly as if she was just registering that someone had said her name.
The guy who had been leaning in close to speak to Maya, turned his head to look at Josh, and removed his hand from the wall beside her head.
" Can i help you?" The guy asked, giving Josh an appraising look and seemingly coming up unimpressed. Josh stepped between Maya and the guy, who was several inches taller than him.
" Yeah actually. This is my girlfriend so i'd appreciate it if you'd back the hell off." Josh said, trying to put a lot of authority and confidence into his voice.
The other guy probably could have crushed Josh in a single swoop, but after a moment he backed off. Grumbling an apology and stalking off into the party. It was sad that Josh knew that it was better to lie to the man about his relationship with Maya then to tell him the truth. That she was an 11th grade girl who a grown guy had no right to be hitting on.
Josh turned back to Maya, who was once again looking at the ground, a cup clutched to her chest.
"What are you doing here?" Josh asked incredulously appraising Maya.
" It's a party." Maya mumbled, still looking at the ground. Josh wasn't even sure Maya was aware who she was talking to.
" I know that. But what are YOU doing here?" Josh asked again, growing more and more concerned.
" Some guy on the subway invite me." Maya mumbled again, and raised the cup she was holding to her lips. Josh snatched it from her hand.
" What are you drinking?" he asked, looking at the cup and raising it to his nose to sniff. Maya shrugged. Maya raised her head and looked at Josh finally realizing who she was talking to. A goofy smile spread across her face that Josh hadn't seen since before Katys diagnosis.
"Jesus Maya is this Jungle juice?" Josh asked, recoiling at the smell of the concoction in Maya's glass.
" I don't know." Maya murmured, her head bullying towards the floor again.
"Lesson one. Never drink something that was made in a trash can." Josh said half joking and half serious.
Even as she was standing still Maya began to sway on the spot. Josh was growing more and more concerned.
" hey, hey." Josh said, grabbing onto the tops of Maya's arms to steady her.
" Look at me." Josh said, waiting for Maya to raise her head up again. Maya met his gaze and Josh was startled to see the glossiness over her eyes. Josh was realizing just how spaced out maya was.
" Did you take something?" Josh asked seriously, looking into Maya's eyes and trying to gage the situation. Maya shook her head, but from the way she was acting Josh didn't believe her. There was a good chance that someone had mixed something extra special into the party jungle juice.
" Alright." Josh said, straightening up.
" Time to get you home." Josh said matter of factly. Maya's head snapped up and her eyes went wide.
" No. I can't go home. They don't know i'm here. I'm not supposed to be here. I cant-" Josh cut her off, shushing her gently, seeing that she was about get very worked up.
" Okay okay, but you can't stay here." Josh said, wrapping one of his arms around Maya's waist and pulling her towards the front door.
To be completely honest Josh sort of felt like a creep walking down the street supporting a underage drunken or drugged up girl. He prayed that no one saw him half carrying her into his dorm room.
" Here we are." Josh said in relief as he flicked on the lights in his dorm room. Maya was only semi responsive as she leaned against Josh. Josh lead her across the tiny room and towards his bed. He gently set her down and watched as she flopped backwards onto his mattress.
" Remember the last time i was in this room?" Maya asked, her voice just above a mumble. Josh stayed silent, remembering how awful he had felt about the kind of pain Maya was experiencing.
" So much fun." Maya muttered, feeling as if she was about to fall asleep right there on top of the covers of Josh's single bed.
"Alright. Time for bed." Josh said striding back over to the bed and leaning down to Maya's level. He pulled off her shoes as Maya struggled to get out of the leather jacket she was wearing and throwing it across the room. Josh pulled his blankets up around Maya.
"Goodnight." Josh said quietly, but it didn't matter. Maya was already out cold.
Maya woke up the next morning feeling as if she had been hit by a truck, and then that same truck had revered and back over her again. She groaned as she rolled over in bed. She was struggling to remember what had happened the night before, or even where she was.
A voice came from somewhere nearby, making Maya start.
" Drink this." Maya looked over and tried to sit up slightly. Josh was extending a bottle of water to her. Maya took it gratefully and muttered a thanks. Josh sat down on the side of the bed as Maya tried to get down the whole bottle of water. A bolt of fright strike through Maya's body.
" What time is it? Oh my god i'm going to be in so much shit." Maya muttered, feeling around in the sheets for her phone.
" I already texted Riley. She's covering for you." Josh stated, reassuring her. Maya fell backwards in bed, her head pounding.
" Thank you." Maya said, letting out a breath and then speaking again.
" I'm sorry." She took another breath.
" You shouldn't have to deal with this." Josh gave her a half hearted smile, and then got serious.
" Maya…. You have to promise me this isn't going to happen again. You can't go to those parties alone, you can't… If things had gone differently last night, i mean something really bad could have happened, and i wouldn't have been able to live with myself. "
" I'm sorry" Maya muttered again.
" Don't be sorry, just…" Josh took Maya's hand.
" I know that things are hard right now and that they're going to be hard for a really long time, but this isn't the way to deal with it."
" I was never the person who needed help." Maya whispered.
" I was never the one to fall apart. But now i'm in more than pieces. I feel like i'm in sharded, and nobody knows what to say to me."
Josh squeezed Maya's hand.
" When i was 13 my dad had a heart attack." Josh said looking down at Maya's hand in his.
" and for a minute there we thought the we were going to lose him. Those few hours are the closest i ever came to what you are feeling, and that was some of the worst time of my life. You are allowed to be in pieces, and no matter how long it takes, the rest of us will always be there to pick you up."
Maya too was looking down at her hand in Josh's, and smiled sadly.
" How do you always know what to say?" she asked quietly, looking up at him, with half formed tears in her eyes. Josh let out a small laugh and smiled at her.
" I just wish i had all the answers for you." Maya half smiled and leaned her head forward to lean her forehead onto Josh's shoulder.
" Maybe someday."