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By Martha Bourke
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December 21, 2012 - Will that fateful day destroy our world, or did the Mayans have something else in mind? Maya Delaney knows. Unfortunately. Maya Delaney is just an average sixteen-year- old. She’s busy dealing with exams, her soon to be ex-boyfriend and fitting in. But Maya’s got bigger problems. She’s hiding a major secret from her dad and having strange visions she can’t control. In her struggle to figure out who she is, she learns that she is meant to fulfill an ancient Mayan Prophesy and bring forth a New Age on earth. Will the spirit magic Maya wields be enough to defeat Toltec, an evil society bent on keeping her from her destiny? Or will that destiny destroy her?
for millennia left untold;
in the moonlight, the panther waits,
fearsome to behold.
In its blood cold beauty, it creeps
till darkness stands aside;
when nightmare gives way to form
and reveals your spirit guide.
I was standing by my locker when it happened. I was listening to the twins standing next to me babbling in Spanish. Sadly, I didn’t speak a word. (Hopefully they were discussing how cute I looked in my new Diesels.) I managed to decipher the name Matt from their conversation and suddenly realized they weren’t talking about me, they were talking about my soon-to-be ex-boyfriend! Crap.
“Hey! We have a no-Spanish rule when it’s about guys!” I protested.
“Oh, Maya, it’s no big deal. Damian was just saying how hot he thinks Matt looked in AP English this morning,” Alyssa said. Right on cue, Damian flushed a delicate shade of pink. Seriously, he was the most adorable gay guy on the planet.
“All I’m saying,” I said, “is that if you expect me to take part in the conversation, use a language I can actually understand.”
I don’t know what I was getting all worked up about. It’s not like I didn’t experience this a hundred times a day. At El Desierto, my pointless high school in the New Mexico—yep, you guessed it—desert, you either hung with the Hispanics and spoke Spanish or you had white friends. Sadly, being a Hispanic with a freakish inability to speak Spanish did not help my already nonexistent status.
“I just think that maybe you should make more of an effort. It’s not like you’re not Hispanic,” Damian said.
“Yeah, well, my Hispanicness ditched me when my loser-mom did,” I reminded him.
We all shared knowing looks as I paused to think about my loser-mom, who’d abandoned me and my dad, and my friends tried to think of what to say. (I mean, what kind of mother takes off on you when you’re four? And goes to Las Vegas? I’m sorry, but could that be more cheesy? Cheesier? Whatever.)
Alyssa giggled. “‘Hispanicness?’ Is that even a word?”
“Yes and no. It’s not in the dictionary; however, it is used in daily conversation, which, as I’m sure you know, is often how a word is added to the dictionary anyway,” Damian explained.
Lyssa crossed her eyes. “Seriously, Maya, you should just have your grandma help you.”
I knew that they both had the sweetest intentions, as always. But I spent so little time with Grandma, I wasn’t about to waste it working on my foreign language skills. No. Way.
That’s when I saw it. A dark shadow was moving along the wall. It paused at the end of our row of lockers, crouching there as if it were hunting something. Hunting me? A chill ran down my back. I started shaking uncontrollably. That was when the nausea hit.
“Uh, you guys, I gotta make a run to the ladies’—girly issues. I’ll meet you in English!” I tore down the hallway and nearly knocked over Ashley Daniels, a member of the famed (and ho-ish) EDHS cheerleaders.
“Freak!” She yelled as her minions scrambled to pick up her books.
I hooked around the corner and into the girls’ bathroom. Thankfully, I was alone. For a moment, I just leaned against the wall, trying to catch my breath and get a handle on my stomach. What the hell was that thing? I walked over to the mirror and looked at my reflection. The dark, sad eyes of my grandmother’s people stared back at me. I looked at my long dark hair, olive skin, and high cheekbones. Locals often mistook me for some kind of American Indian. But I was from a different tribe. I was Mayan. It was Grandma’s idea to call me Maya.
The girl in the mirror now looked like a stranger. I was sweaty, pasty, and I had dark circles under my eyes from lack of sleep. Had I just imagined it? How could a shadow just move all by itself like that? And it looked like some kind of animal. Okay, I told myself, there is no way there is some large animal roaming the halls of the school. But I had seen it, hadn’t I? What was happening to me? I splashed some water on my face and attempted to pat it dry with a paper towel. (Why do school paper towels feel like you’re using an actual piece of paper to dry your face? Seriously, should I be able to take one back to class with me and use it to take notes on? I’m just sayin’.) I peeked out the door. The hallway was empty. Crap, crap, crap. I was late for English.
I couldn’t focus at all during morning classes. I replayed what had happened that morning over and over in my head. I kept expecting the shadow to appear again at any minute. By the time we all met at the cafeteria for lunch, I was a nervous wreck. As the twins and I sat down at our usual table, I was met by two very annoying sets of eyes.
“What?” I asked, opening a can of diet Coke (aka, my elixir of life).
“You look like crap, that’s what,” Lyssa said.
“What, are you scouting for Vogue? I just haven’t been sleeping well lately,” I said, as I checked out some moron walking by our table with his jeans hanging below his butt. (Speaking of fashion, should anyone really accessorize with underwear? I mean, besides like, Madonna?)
“Are you still having those weird animal dreams?” Damian asked.
All the time. “Yeah, sometimes,” I said. I carefully omitted that as of two hours ago, they were hunting me during waking hours as well.
“Is it the same animal every time?”
One thing about Damian, he was nothing if not persistent. And smart as hell. Absolutely nothing got by the kid. But I was not in the mood. I looked straight at my best friend’s beautiful almost-black eyes, and said, “Give it a rest, will ya?”
“Are you losing your damn mind? The boy is just trying to help,” Lyssa said, tucking one side of her brown, blond-streaked bob behind one ear. She was a very petite girl, just barely five feet tall, much shorter than me at five foot eight. I’d be surprised if she weighed a hundred pounds. But, man, she had enough attitude for someone twice her size!
“Yeah, I know,” I said. Jeez, I was a crappy friend. The Vasquez twins had been my best friends since the third grade, and here I was being a huge grump. Of course I had plenty to be grumpy about, but they didn’t know that. And I wasn’t so sure about talking to them about it. I mean, what would I say? Hey, guys, guess what? A shadow thingy is after me and I’m scared shitless. They would probably decide I was certifiable, immediately dial 911, and have me carted away. Sounds about right. One thing was sure; I was going to have to talk to someone about this or I really would lose my damn mind.
“Hello, earth to Maya.” Damian waved his hand in front of my face.
“Sorry, Damian,” I said.
“It’s okay, honey. We just don’t know what’s going on with you.”
They both looked concerned, and that made me more upset than I already was. I decided right then that, after last bell, I was driving to my Grandma Rosa’s. It was quite a hike. She lived in a cabin about an hour outside of town where she could work on her photography. Grandma’s beautiful nature photography was very well known. She said that living close to nature inspired her. She wanted to let people see the earth through the eyes of the Mayan people so that they would honor it. Go, Grandma!
As last bell rang, I stopped by my locker to pick up my things and noticed I had three new text messages. They were all from Matt. He wanted to know what our status was. Seriously, I felt like telling him that we had no status as long as he insisted on behaving like an ass. We’d been together “officially” for six months, but we’d been interested in each other long before that. And the truth was, I was still into him. He was Matt Caldwell—a six foot one sexy senior with light brown hair, beautiful brown eyes, a tanned, athletic body, and above average intelligence. Who wouldn’t be into him?
And we did have a lot in common. We both lived with single parents. But since he made the varsity football team, he was changing. We used to spend lots of quiet time alone. (Not for that. You know, for cuddling and whatnot.) Sadly, since he made varsity, we hadn’t spent any time alone. All he wanted to do when he wasn’t playing football was party. I mean, I was proud of him. He worked incredibly hard to make the team. And he had goals, like an athletic scholarship. I just wasn’t so sure I was cut out to be the star quarterback’s girlfriend. It just wasn’t what I’d signed up for. He was also a year older than me, so I wasn’t actually sure what we were doing, anyway. He was already eighteen and would graduate in the spring, leaving me deserted at El Desierto. (Ha! Deserted at “Deserted” High.)
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