Authors: Earl Sewell
To my readers who have fallen in love with the Keysha's Drama series. It is my hope that you will find an equally meaningful relationship with Maya, Keysha's best friend, whom you've previously met in my prior book,
Myself and I.
This is the first installment of the Keysha and Friends series, and it holds a proud position in my heart.
I want to say thank you to the following people for all of their help with my endless questions about Mexican culture: Maria Velasquez of Orozco Community Academy, Esperanza Gonzalez and Adrianna Galvin. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to provide me with invaluable insight.
To Glenda Howard, who has stood with me and been a champion of my career and this new series from the beginning. Thank you so much for your belief in my work and talent.
To Linda Wilson, who has been my right arm during the production phase of my last several novels. Thank you for always being available and for never complaining, even when I come to you with my hair on fire.
To my family, Annette and Candice, as always. Thanks for putting up with me and my madness during the production of this novel.
I have to send out an extra-special thank-you to Kim Boyd, Kimberly Cox, Lisa Walsh, Renee Simms, Andrea Nixon, Antoinette McClellan-Brown, Michelle Van Allen and Joy Lewis. All of you have been champions of my teen titles. Without your help and support I know my series would not have become as popular as it has.
To all who have discovered my teen titles and have either shared or recommended them to young readers, thank you so much for helping me spread the word.
Please feel free to drop me a line at [email protected] and please put the title of my book in the subject line so that I know your message to me is not spam. Make sure you check out www.earlsewell.net and www.myspace.com/earlsewell. You can also hit me up on Facebook and Twitter. Just type in my name and you should be able to find me with little difficulty.
For my Aunt Mini Sewell-Franklin
“You've always understood
the power and importance of our family history.”
just sat down in front of the television in the basement and was about to watch
when I glanced at my leg and the orthopedic boot I was wearing and remembered that I'd left some new sandals that I'd picked up from the mall in the trunk of my mother's car. The patent leather yellow sandals were a bit out of my price range, but I had promised them to myself as a reward once my leg healed. I rose to my feet, strapped my foot into my shoe boot and made my way toward the garage door. Thankfully, I wouldn't have to hobble around in the boot for much longer, because soon it would be coming off for good. I walked into the laundry room and opened a side door that led outside, then made my way to the garage. As I opened the garage door, I thought about the day my cast was removed.
I was sitting in the doctor's office with my dad, who'd taken the day off so that he could take me to my appointment. The television in the waiting room was tuned into the
Wendy Williams Show
. Wendy was in a good mood, dishing out all of the celebrity gossip on everyone from Charlie
Sheen to Tiger Woods. As my dad watched the show with me, he began shaking his head.
“What's wrong?” I asked.
“I'm trying to figure out who this Snooki lady is,” he said, focusing all of his attention on Wendy, who was holding up an enlarged picture of Snooki.
“She's one of the stars on a reality TV show called
” I informed him.
“Well, Snooki is wearing the same type of hair pouf your mom used to wear back in the 1980s. It's funny how fashion and hairstyles come and go.” My dad spoke confidently, as though he was down on all teenage trends.
Other people in the waiting room began snickering at his silly comment. When I rolled my eyes, my dad cracked a smile.
A nurse appeared from behind a door and called my name. “Maya Rogers.”
“Yes, that's me,” I answered as I prepared to stand. My dad and I made our way back to the examination room and waited for the doctor.
“Hello, Mr. Rogers. Maya, how are you doing?” Dr. Barrios asked when she walked into the room. She was a woman in her mid-fifties with black shoulder-length hair, tanned skin and a warm smile. My dad gave a nod in greeting before taking a seat in the guest chair.
“I'd be doing much better if I didn't have this dang cast on,” I said with blunt honesty. “My leg itches all of the time and it's really annoying.”
“Well, today we're going to cut the cast off, take an X-ray and see how you're healing,” she said as she sat down on a
stool and rolled over to my leg. She removed the sock that I had covering my toes.
“I like that color you've painted your toes,” she complimented me.
“Oh, thank you,” I said as I thought about my best friend, Keysha, who had painted them neon-pink.
Dr. Barrios then said, “Wiggle your toes for me.” I moved my toes as she'd requested.
“Good. Okay. Let me cut you out of that thing.”
Dr. Barrios used a saw to remove the cast from my leg. I was so freaking happy to have that thing taken off. When I saw my leg it was ashy-white and very dry. There was a nasty-looking blister that had formed at my heel where my foot would sweat and rub against the cast. My leg also looked smaller than the other one and was very sensitive to touch. It also smelled musty from being confined to the cast and was rather hairy.
“Ewww,” I said, touching my leg and wanting to shave right away.
“I know what you're thinking, and if I were you I'd wait for the skin to become a little less sensitive before attempting to shave or use hair remover.”
“My leg is as hairy as a man's,” I griped, but had no intention to irritate it more than it already was.
“Well, let's go and get that X-ray to see how the bone has healed up.” I hobbled over to a nearby wheelchair and sat down. I told my dad that I'd be back soon as I was being wheeled away.
After taking a look at the X-ray Dr. Barrios came back into the room where my father and I were waiting.
“Well, Maya, you're certainly an amazing young woman who has the ability to heal up very quickly,” she said, smiling as she placed the X-ray on a light box where my father and I could see it.
“That's such good news,” my father said. “But what exactly does that mean?”
“It means that your daughter is a resilient young lady. She doesn't need the cast anymore.” Dr. Barrios looked directly at me. “I'm going to have you fitted for an orthopedic boot and sign you up for some physical therapy so that you can get the strength back in your leg.”
“Can I stand up?” I asked.
“Yes, but don't be surprised if your leg feels a little funny, and don't put your weight on it.” Totally excited, I didn't even let her finish her sentence. I rose up out of the wheelchair and placed most of the pressure on my good leg before slowly balancing my weight on my other leg. It was a little disappointing to realize that my leg wasn't strong enough to support me just yet.
I grabbed the bag I was searching for out of the trunk of the car and headed back inside the house. I made my way back toward the television and saw that my younger sister, Anna, held the remote control and was about to sit down in the La-Z-Boy chair. As nicely as I could I told her that I was actually there first and was about to watch
before she had come in. Anna, without so much as giving it a second thought, offered up an explosive response.
“I don't care what you say. When I came in you were nowhere near the televisionâso, too bad. I'm about to watch
America's Best Dance Crew
.” Anna held the television remote, aimed it and flipped the channel to her show.
“I only went to the garage for a few minutes and planned on watching television down here. Besides, you know it takes me a little longer to do everything with this orthopedic boot on,” I said, speaking calmly.
“Do I look like a Maya mind reader? Am I supposed to know your every thought? Am I supposed to know where you are every second of the day? I don't think so,” she said unapologetically before plopping down on the La-Z-Boy and turning up the volume. I released an aggravated sigh as I tried to keep my temper in check. Anna and I would get along so much better if she were to just drop off the face of the earth. I'm sure my parents would be the only two people on the planet who'd miss her, because I certainly wouldn't. Anna was stubborn, hardheaded and, most of all, annoying. Unfortunately for me, Anna had the unique ability to get under my skin by just breathing.
“Why don't you just go watch it in another room? Why do you have to be down here?” I tried to reason with her as I braced myself against the back of the sofa.
“For the same reason you want to watch your show in hereâbecause this is the biggest television in the house.” Anna folded her arms and repositioned herself in the seat as if she were a boulder that would not be moved easily.
“Anna, if you don't change back the channel I'm going to make you regret it.” I raised my voice, hoping to frighten her.
“Please! What are you going to do, broke-leg mountain?
Hop over here and try to beat me down? All I'd have to do is push you and you'd fall faster than rain.”
“I bet I won't. Come on. Try it. I dare you!” I encouraged Anna to try her luck. She'd never won a fight against me and, even with a leg that was still healing up, I wasn't going to allow her to win. I was more than willing to fight dirty and draw blood with my teeth, if it came to that.
“Don't think that I won't get up and do it,” Anna snapped at me. It was clear, at least in my mind, that she had become overconfident by my somewhat hindered mobility. A part of me was willing to drop the conversation and watch the show in another room, but when Anna stuck her tongue out at me I immediately changed my mind. It was about respect now, and I had to place her in check. I tucked my crutches beneath my armpits and swung myself around the sofa so I could snatch the remote from her hand.
“Why are you two in here shouting at each other?” My mother, Raven, walked into the room carrying a laundry hamper filled with dirty clothes. She was a beautiful Mexican woman with round cheeks, a perfect smile and brown hair. She was meticulous about the care of her skin, which always appeared absolutely flawless, even without makeup. She was tall, about five-eight and, for a woman in her forties with three children, she was in excellent shape. My friend Keysha once told me that my mom reminded her of the actress Eva Longoria. My mom kept in shape through a combination of dieting and teaching Zumba classes on the weekend at a nearby health club.
“Because I was in here first andâ¦” Anna suddenly rose
to her feet and stood directly in front of me, slightly bumping me before I could finish what I was saying.
“No, she wasn't, Mom. When I came in, she was nowhere to be found. When I turned on the television she showed up, acting all bossy for no reason at all.” Anna heatedly presented her version of events.
“That's not true. I asked you nicely.”
“Girls. I don't want to hear it. Can there be at least one full day where I don't have to get a phone call at work or come home and listen to you two bickering? You two fight more than I did with your aunt.”
I hobbled from behind Anna and pleaded my case. “Mom, she knows how hard it is for me to get around. She could at least be considerate and let me watch my program in here. She's only doing this to annoy me.”
“That's a lie. My time is too valuable to be wasting it on you,” Anna blurted out.
“You know what, keep interrupting me and I'm going to kill you just like Cain killed Abel,” I threatened my sister.
“Maya!” My mother raised her voice at me. “You're older and supposed to be more mature. You can't go around letting every little thing irritate you.”
“Butâ¦” I wasn't about to give up.
“Who has the remote now?” my mother asked.
“I do.” Anna held it up to show her.
“Then you get to watch what you want. Maya, go watch your show in another room.” My mom resolved our conflict before continuing on to the laundry room.
“I hate you!” I turned and snarled at Anna.
“The feeling is mutual,” she immediately responded back.
“I still hear bickering. It had better end now, or else!” Mom shouted out from the laundry room.
“This isn't over,” I whispered through clenched teeth.
“Talk to the hand.” Anna placed her palm in front of my face.
“That line is so old and played out. You're lucky, because if I wasn't in this boot I'd twist your fingers off,” I said brazenly. As I was about to move away from her, Anna rotated her wrist and flipped up her middle finger. I lowered my eyelids to slits, wishing I had the ability of a superhero to shoot deadly flames from my eyes and burn her to a crisp.
“If you keep standing there you'll miss your show,” Anna said.
As best as I could I made my way back to the living room, where there was a smaller television. As I watched the show, for some reason I can't fully explain I began to feel sorry for myself and started crying. My emotions seemed to overtake me without warning. I thought about how my leg had gotten broken at a house party that had gotten out of control and turned into a stampede. I thought about how my boyfriend, Misalo, had rescued me from getting trampled and how my parents now forbade me to see him. If that wasn't bad enough, with a broken leg I had automatically lost my job as a lifeguard, which I truly loved. I sighed, wiped away my tears and tried to force myself to stop sobbing.
“What's wrong with you?” My father, Herman, walked into the house through the garage door. He was casually dressed in denim shorts, brown summer sandals and a black polo shirt that my mother had recently picked up for him. My father stood about six-three, had smooth, brown skin like
the actor Idris Elba and low-cut black hair that was turning gray. My father liked to work out and was stout with muscular arms, a broad chest and a little bit of a bloated belly. My mother would immediately get on his case if she felt his stomach was beginning to look too much like a Buddha belly. Lately he'd been trying to break his habit of eating at his two favorite fast-food restaurants, Sharks fried fish and Popeyes fried chicken, but he hadn't been that successful.
“Nothing,” I answered as I tried to hide my tears. My father sat next to me and placed a bag filled with fried catfish from Sharks on an end table.
“Man, that smells good,” I said.
“Do you want some? I got enough for everyone.”
“You know Mom isn't going to eat that,” I said with a smile.
“Well, that just means there will be more for you and me. I got a family-size side order of coleslaw and French fries, too.” He picked up the bag and headed toward the kitchen. A few moments later he returned with a plate for me resting atop a food tray.
“How does your leg feel?” he asked before stepping away to grab his own plate.
“It itches like crazy.” I placed a morsel of the fried fish in my mouth. “This tastes so good.”
“Well, in two days you'll have another doctor's appointment, and hopefully you've completely healed up.”
“I can't wait. I'm dying to get out of this boot and I'm tired of going to physical therapy,” I said.
“Well, I hope this experience has taught you a lesson about the type of people you've been hanging around. Especially
that boy, Misalo. He's no good for you, Maya. He's nothing but trouble.”
“Dad, how can you say that? Misalo took me to prom and nothing happened. You've got it all twisted. Misalo saved me,” I said, trying to once again convince him that he should be thanking my boyfriend and not condemning him.
“True. He did take you to prom, but while you were still getting dressed he and I had a little conversation. I made sure that from then on forward, if he wanted to continue dating you, he'd better bring you back home in the same condition that you left in. He promised me that he would, but that promise has been broken.”