One Saturday, Maya and Juliana made plans to go to the San Myshuno flea market. It had been a while since they hung out, and they needed to catch up. Jonathan decided to make it a family event and invited himself, Skyla, Aubrey, and his sisters. Maya didn’t mind so much. As long as he didn’t hover near them. The rest of the family wasn’t interested in the flea market much and hung out at the karaoke bar across the street. It was perfect. Maya and Juliana got the alone time they wanted.
As Maya approached her cousin, she noticed the nervous smile she had on her face and wondered what she had to share with her. She looked different too–like she picked up a few pounds. Problem was she had the same slender face. However, when she was close enough, she knew what the deal was.
“OH SWEET WATCHER YOU’RE PREGNANT!”
Maya wasn’t sure if she should be happy or mad. She thought for sure she would have been the first to woohoo. It wasn’t a slight against Juliana, but Maya knew she was prettier and certainly bolder and more flirtatious. She wondered if her goody-two-shoes personality was an act and she had been an evil temptress this whole time.
“What happened? And why didn’t I know??”
Poor Juliana looked uncomfortable but tried to maintain her smile. “Ummm…I went to a party and hooked up with a drunk guy…”
“You went to a party? Without me? What kind of best friend are you?”
Juliana winced at the accusation. “You haven’t been around! And…every time we go out, the guys are always all over you! They don’t even look at me.”
Maya felt horrible. All their teen life, she had implied that Juliana was plain. She never meant for plain to mean unattractive. Hearing that her words affected her best friend seriously hurt, and she wished she could take it all back.
“I’m sorry, Juliana. I didn’t know you felt that way. Why didn’t you say anything?”
She shrugged. “I dunno. What was I supposed to say? Hey, cuz, stop being gorgeous and charming because I want to bang guys too?”
Maya’s face wrinkled, but then she realized what was going on. “You thought…oh no…”
Juliana’s face fell. “What?”
She leaned in closer. “I haven’t done it,” she whispered.
Juliana’s eyes narrowed and nostrils flared. “But…you’re always flirting! And, in school, you couldn’t keep your hands off Anthony!”
Maya was embarrassed. “I’m a tease.” She shrugged. “That’s all I am.” She lowered her eyes.
Juliana simply wanted to be like Maya and did what Maya did, but now she had a baby to take care of because she didn’t understand what Maya did.
“I’m sorry,” Maya said.
Juliana sighed and was clearly bothered. “It’s not your fault.”
Maya tried to lighten the mood. “So…what was it like?” She flashed a grin hoping the new topic would be agreeable.
Juliana’s face scrunched up. “Ummm…not what I thought. Maybe if both of us were drunk it would have been better, but…I dunno. Maybe next time I’ll wait for a guy I’m in love with.”
That was definitely not the story she was hoping for, but it gave her things to think about. After an awkward silence, she tried once more to dry the damp mood.
“Was he at least cute?”
The corners of Juliana’s mouth rose ever so slightly. “He was gorgeous. He had a cute name too. It was, uhhh…” she snapped her fingers as she tried to jog her memory. “It was…something Asian…uhhh…oh! Akira!
“What’s the matter?” she asked.
Maya felt like she was going to be sick. “Akira? An Asian guy? Long hair, dark eyes, perfect lips?”
Juliana gasped and cupped her mouth. “You know him?”
“We went out a few days ago.”
Maya wasn’t sure what to do. She couldn’t be mad at her cousin because what happened between them was before she and Akira met. And, it’s not like they were together anyway.
“Are you still gonna date him?” Juliana asked.
She sighed. “Not anymore, I guess.” This sucked.
“You liked him?”
Maya shrugged. “He was ok. I don’t know him that well yet, but…”
There was nothing stopping her from pursuing a relationship with him. It’s not like they were getting married or anything. But, she simply couldn’t continue seeing him knowing that he had been with her cousin. And, what if she decided to tell him about the baby and he wanted to step up? She needed to leave him alone so she wouldn’t further complicate matters for them.
“I’m sorry if I messed things up for you,” Juliana said sheepishly.
“Forget about it. Let’s go back inside.”
Thinking about never touching his lips again totally bummed her out.
On the walk back to the bar, Maya thought about Akira. Was she just another girl on his list to bang? Or, did he seriously want to explore a real relationship with her? If he would have put the moves on her the other night, would she have gone for it? Would she and Juliana be in the same position? She didn’t have those answers either, but she had more things to consider.
She found her dad at the bar and asked for her sister. “She’s in one of these rooms,” he said. Maya went to the doors and listened for her sister’s voice until she found her. The Pruetts weren’t known for their singing talents, and it seemed Skyla did not contribute a dormant gene from her side either. Aubrey was attempting to simply have fun crooning in sharps and flats, but her audience was not nice. Pain filled their faces, and one woman was actually trashing her. Maya did not appreciate that at all, but there was one member of the audience who seemed to be trying to help boost Aubrey’s confidence. There was a man at the back of the room singing along with her at the top of his lungs. He wasn’t the best singer either, but Maya appreciated what he was trying to do.
He looked like he was having the time of his life. It also helped that he was cute. Maya decided to join him in singing along with her sister. Juliana did too. Eventually, the critics left, and Aubrey sang her little heart out for her adoring fans. It was so fun, she did another song, and they all danced and sang at the top of their lungs. Maya loved the feeling of organic fun with people she loved. She hadn’t felt that way since the last time she and her cousins hung out in high school. Partying and going to clubs was fun, but not in the same way.
When the concert was over, the ladies were giggling and squealing about how fun it was. Maya turned around to find the man, but he was gone. She was bummed once again. She went to the bar and ordered something. Her heart leapt when she noticed the guy walking toward the restrooms.
When he came back, she got his attention.
“Hey.” She waved.
“Oh! Hello.” He had a pleasant smile.
“Thank you for helping my sister.”
“Ahh, I thought you two looked an awful lot alike! Good genes.
“There’s our little songstress now! Come on over here, little lady!”
Somehow Maya liked his personality. He seemed playful and fun loving…kind of like her dad.
“Hey,” Aubrey said.
“Now, listen,” the man said, “don’t worry about those old hags. Some people get a little karaoke fame and think they have the right to judge everyone. Karaoke is for FUN! You had fun, right?”
Aubrey chuckled. “I did! Thank you! I wanted to stop singing, but I didn’t want to look like a baby.”
He swatted at her. “You did the right thing. Oh! We’re all sitting here chewing the fat and don’t even know each other’s names!”
Maya heard Jonathan chuckling at the other end of the bar. She did her best to ignore him.
“You can call me Vik. Yes, it’s short for something, but don’t worry about it.”
“Beautiful names to go with those pretty faces. Now that we all know each other, Maya…how about doing a song with me?”
She smiled nervously. “Uhhh…I’m afraid I’m not as brave as my sister.”
He swatted at her. “I don’t believe that for a second. But, I guess I’ll let it slide…this time.”
“Maya! Go on! Do it,” Aubrey yelled. “It’s so fun.”
It was funny. When it came down to charming some guy she was interested in, she was so brazen and up to the task. But, with everything else, she was rather sheepish.
Vik put his hand in Aubrey’s face. “It’s ok. Next time I run into her…it’s going down. Bet!”
Aubrey seemed pleased. Maya wanted to disappear.
“It was lovely to meet you ladies.”
“Nice meeting you too, Vik,” Aubrey said.
“I hope to run into you soon, Maya. And don’t be hiding!”