INT: SCHOOL HALLWAY — DAY
Maya Peters, a 13-year-old girl, stands uncomfortably, shifting her feet.
Someone wrote something in the girl's bathroom about me, but I don't what it says. I mean, it made me cry when I found out, because if your name is scratched into one of the stalls, it's not for anything good. It's never like, "Maya is a great friend" or "Maya makes really good cookies." I do. Make good cookies, I mean. But not, like, good enough for someone to carve it into part of the school.
Unfortunately for me and my feelings, though, I can't read the whole thing, because someone scratched part of it out. I don't go into the second-floor bathroom ever because it's right by the eighth grader's hall and sometimes they're really mean. One girl likes to ask me if my dad can score her pot every time I see her. Mostly, though, they just call me Junkie, or Juvie, or Jailbird, and laugh, even though it's my dad in jail and not me. I don't even drink coffee. Although one time, Cass Erickson offered me a cigarette after gym class and I had three puffs, which made me want to throw up a little but also made me light-headed in a nice way.
Anyway, I was in the second-floor bathroom because I really had to go after algebra, and there it was, carved, like, really deep into the stall door: "Maya Peters is a-"
A something, I guess. That was all I could read.
Somebody else must've used a screwdriver or something to gouge out the last word. It was kind of awful because I could think of a lot of things that would fit into that crisscross patch of scraped-up metal. Most of the words had four letters, but some of them had five or six. Not knowing what it said was worse than knowing. I felt like it said every word I've ever been called instead of just one.
I told Cass about it when I saw him at lunch. I'm not supposed to hang out with him because he's a stoner and my mom says I have to work twice as hard to be good as other kids because of my dad. But I like Cass because he doesn't call me names and because his hair is bright blue and he has an earring and he doesn't care what people say about him.
"Look at it this way," he said. He was smoking but he was doing it really carefully, so the teachers couldn't see. He'd blow the smoke into his hand and then wave it behind him. "Someone was nice enough to cross it out. Besides, it could've said anything."
I thought about that. About how it could say anything, anything I want. How it's just a big blank spot for me to fill in. It doesn't have to say "Maya Peters is a stoner" or "Maya Peters is an alky." It could say, "Maya Peters is a"-I don't know. A dancer? Teacher? CEO? I dunno.
Anyway, when Cass handed me his cigarette I took a drag, but I didn't inhale the smoke. I just let it roll around in my mouth and thought for a while-about my dad in jail, and that big blank space after my name, and all the things I might still do.