Maya slammed the door behind her fell backwards against it, sliding to the floor after rushing to the safety of her room. Her vision blurred and then focused again with every beat of her heart. She wanted to throw all of her things into a bag and start over somewhere else. She wanted to collapse against the door and never face the outside world again. She could do neither. She couldn’t bring herself to day anything. There was just too much going through her head right now. It was taking all of her energy just to process all of her thoughts. Everything quickly came back into focus when she heard the front door open.
“Maya?” Alice called. “You here?”
“Her door’s shut.” She heard Kyle say. Not him too. Not now.
“Her door’s always shut but where else would she go?”
“Too many people.” Abby finally said, slowly approaching the door to Maya’s room. “Hey, Maya?” A certain sweetness added to her voice as she tapped on the door. It was one Maya heard often, Abby’s comforting voice, but never directed towards her. Even though they have been best friends for so long Maya still didn’t open up too much to her. “You okay?”
What was she supposed to do? She had never imagined this day would come. Her plan had always been to keep her secrets and bury the fear deep inside of her so her normal life could go on despite whatever was wrong with her. But she had been wrong. It was always just a distraction. Everything she had ever done had just been to give herself the illusion of a normal life. But she wasn’t normal and maybe now that everything was out in the open she would finally accept that. Well, almost everything. Her eyes were focused on the still unemptied trash can next to her desk cursing herself for not emptying it before now. Gathering her remaining courage she stood up and backed away from the door, opening it to face her friends. And Kyle.
“Are… are you all right?” Abby asked.
Alice immediately hugged her. Maya wasn’t the hugging type but Alice didn’t care. She knew her friend needed her and nothing would get in the way of that. Not even Maya’s protests. But, for once, Maya did not try to wriggle her way out of the hug. She could see them clearly now faces red, tears in their eyes. Her friends.
“I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be dismissive here but seriously, you were hit by a bus. A bus, Maya. And instead of letting us help you. Your friends. You ran. From us, Maya. You ran from us. We’re the power duo, remember?”
“Trio.” Chimed in Alice, still embracing Maya. “But seriously.”
Maya moved her gaze from Abby to the trash can once more and broke Alice’s embrace as she began digging past discarded scraps of paper until finding what she was looking for. The bullet. She placed it in Abby’s hand and took a step back, avoiding everyone’s gaze. Worried. Anxious. She just wanted all of this to be over. Abby opened her hand and looked as the crumpled bullet Maya had handed her.
“Maya what is this?”
“It’s me.” She began, unable to come up with a better explanation. “From the video. I’m the bulletproof girl.”
There was a long silence. Her words were still hanging in the air and her eyes were on the ground. She was not yet ready to see the reaction on her friend’s faces. Maya didn’t know what else to say. She was afraid of any questions they might ask her. Questions she did not have the answers to.
“Uh, maybe I should leave.” Kyle said finally, breaking the silence in the room.
“Yea, that would probably be for the best.” Abby’s voice made Maya look up. She had never seen Abby’s face look so cold. “I’ll show you out.”
“I think I can man—“
“I’ll show you out.” Abby insisted. “Let’s go.” She said as she grabbed Kyle by the arm and led him out of the apartment.
Alice, on the other hand, didn’t look shocked at all. She had on her sad, teary eyed face on and Maya just knew she was in for another hug. She was right. Once the door closed behind Abby and Kyle Alice wrapped her arms around Maya even tighter than before. This time Maya hugged her back. Not as tight but more than she would when she was only being polite. This time she meant it.
“I think Abby is mad at me.” Maya choked out between the tears. She hadn’t realized that she had started to cry but it didn’t come as too much of a surprise. She knows that she needs her friends and the fear that Abby and Alice learning about her would push them away was more present than ever.
Abby did not let go of Kyle’s arm as she led him out of the apartment. She did not let go of his arm as she led him down the stairs. And she didn’t let go of his arm as they approached the door to the building. Just before Kyle made it outside Abby turned him around, pushed him up against the wall, and looked him dead in the eyes.
“You DO NOT talk about this with anyone.”
“I won’t I prom–“
“You don’t walk about this with Lottie. You don’t talk about this with Zena. You don’t talk about this with your wonderful little grandmother.”
“Look I –“
“I don’t want you to talk about this with ANYONE. Do you understand?”
“I understand.” Kyle finally said, eyes lowered to the floor. Abby was almost a head shorter than Kyle but she was in absolute control of this conversation.
“And you definitely do not talk to Maya without talking to me first, you got that?”
“Yea, I got it.” Kyle knew Abby was only trying to protect her friend but he thought he was their friend too. He knew that there were probably personal things he should not be involved with and maybe this was one of them but being told that he can’t even talk to Maya without someone else’s permission, that hurt.
“Alright, I’ll see you around Kyle.”
“See ya.” He said as he left, still avoiding eye contact with Abby. His day could not get any crazier but he knew his brain was not going to let this go.