You're never sure when your life actually starts. One day you just wake up and everything looks different, there's a shift in the universe, or you feel all brand new but somehow, irritatingly, the exact same. For me, my world began to shift the last weekend of winter break before my last semester as a senior at the Quileute Tribal School. If only I'd have known what chaos was about to unfold, maybe I would have held on tighter to the old instead of rushing toward the new.
"You're going to freeze to death!" Rebecca was expertly applying her lip gloss in Maya's full length mirror when she saw her shimmying on the tightest dark wash jeans she had in her closet. The rips exposed just the right amount of thigh and Maya had paired it with a cropped dark green tank top with thin spaghetti straps. Her long, silky, black hair rippled down to her mid back and her almond shaped milk chocolate eyes were accentuated with just a hint of mascara.
Maya looked up laughing as she struggled to button her pants. "Chill Becks, I'm gonna wear my sheepskin coat. Plus this is an indoor party, no?"
"Fashion over warmth, take note!" Keye said from her place on Maya's bed, sprawled on her stomach and finishing her expert eye shadow.
"Don't come crying to me when your popsicle," Becks turned back to applying her mascara letting her mouth hang open.
"Oh!" Keye exclaimed as a new song shuffled on her phone. She pressed up the volume to the point where Maya and Becks had to shout over Khalid's song "Twenty One." Maya dug in her closet for her trusty pair of brown boots with red laces.
"Keye!" she shouted, snapping her fingers to get her attention over the music. She posed when she looked over.
"SHOW ME THE BUTT!" Keye shouted, clapping. Maya laughed and did a little twirl. "Yesss!" Becks nodded her approval from the mirror having moved on to applying lip gloss. Maya bounded over to her and Becks automatically handed her the wand. Maya had A-class best friends—they were all adept at anticipating each other's needs, hyping one another up, communicating with just a look, and being there at the drop of a hat. With a quick swipe of the sticky substance across her full, pouted lips, she handed the wand back to Becks who turned to peck her lightly on the lips with an exaggerated "Mwah!"
Keye dug under Maya's bed and swiftly pulled out the tall bottle of vodka they had swiped from her dad's liquor cabinet and flicked the lid off to take a swig. She grimaced and handed it out to Maya who eagerly took it and dunked it back dramatically, taking a larger glug than intended before sputtering and coughing. Keye burst into laughter and Beck's joined in, grabbing the bottle and taking a small swig, ever the responsible one.
As Maya ungracefully regained her composure and complained that she was going to need to reapply her lipgloss, her bedroom door swung open, revealing a tall, handsome man in his mid-forties, with long black swinging hair. He was covering his ears and looked annoyed.
"Can you turn it down? PLEASE?!" he shouted. Keye was quick to push the volume down. Becks had expertly stowed the bottle under her baggy black sweater and was pretending not to notice Maya's dad's intrusion.
"Sorry, dad," Maya said, still coughing and covering her mouth. "Swallowed wrong." She answered to his quirked eyebrow.
"Don't forget your curfew. Midnight, no later, understood?" He said firmly. Maya nodded agreeably.
"Yes, midnight, got it! Thank yooou!" she replied in a sing-songy voice.
"Behave yourselves," he said as he pulled the door shut behind him. Maya immediately turned on her heel and quickly collided with Becks who's eyes had gone wide. She fished under her shirt and produced the bottle of vodka and they each took another quick pull.
"Let's go, let's go, let's gooo!" Keye said as Maya reapplied her lip gloss in the mirror with only one arm through her jacket. And with that, the three inseparable friends, troubled down the wide staircase and out the front door, shouting their goodbye's to Maya's parents as they went. The cool night air ushered them in. They could taste the wet promise of snow on the tips of their tongues as they inhaled chilly breaths, their arms threaded into one another's as they charged down the lamp lit street toward their destination.
"Do you think Kai will be there?" Keye prompted, pulling the bottle out of Beck's hands as she took a drink, resulting in a squeal from her.
"Ugh, I hope not, he's such a douche. Are he and Sadie Guthrie still going at it?" Maya responded, pushing her breath out in huffs and making ghosts in the frosty air.
"So they say," Becks said waggling her eyebrows. Her short black hair was clipped back away from her beautiful round face. Her naturally ruby lips shone with the help of the gloss in the lamp light and her dark green eyes dazzled in the moonlight. Each of the girls was a varying shade of warm brown. Maya had the softest glow, with sunkissed russet skin that always looked like she had walked fresh off a warm beach even under the rainy overcast sky that plagued the rez. Becks was a shade warmer, the color of macadamia nut shell, and her bright vibrant smile was like a magnet whenever she laughed. Keye looked like her mother, with warm honey brown skin and red undertones that pooled warmth into her high cheekbones. Her dark brown eyes were swarmed by thick black lashes that always gave her a heavy lidded look. Her "come hither" eyes she always joked.
The threesome was a sight and heralded by their classmates as exceptionally beautiful, which translated, naturally, to being well liked.
"Are you still hung up on him?" Maya chided as she took a swig. The bottle was getting close to half empty.
"I'm not 'hung up' on anything!" she protested. "Just looking for a little eye candy tonight. God, he's good looking."
"Yeah well," Maya said.
"Oh pipe down, Virgin Maya," Becks poked at her side and Maya squealed. "No one at this school is ever good enough, admit it."
"I'm admitting nothing. Your girl's just got high standards is all." To this, Becks rolled her eyes.
"Yeah, yeah. Maybe that college dick will suit you better," she replied. Maya almost choked on the last sip of vodka amidst her laughter.
"Jesus, Becks!" Keye scolded playfully, "Give the girl a break, she aims high. Too high, but high nonetheless. You know what they say about aiming high?" Maya and Becks looked at her expectantly, "The farther and harder they fall."
"High standards, low morals, am I right ladies?" Maya yelled holding the bottle above her as they swayed off down the street together. The whole world opened up before them and they plunged headlong into the night, eager to see what awaited them on the other side.
The party was at a small house down by the beach. The air coming off the crashing waves nearly choked with cold, but the buzz of activity in the house was inviting and flowing with alcohol to keep everyone warm.
The girls made their rounds, checking in on some friends and being pulled into all too familiar hugs with some of the boys from school. Maya felt the finality of this evening upon them too quick. This was their last party before their final semester, before the crushing anxiety of college acceptance letters rolling in, the onslaught of finals, the inevitable change of life.
Maya scanned the room, looking for anything that would catch her interest, but as usual, there wasn't anyone she was truly interested in. Of course, she was attracted to plenty of the boys at school and a few of them over the years had even tried to take her out on dates, but she always lost interest a few weeks in, feeling that hollow pit in her stomach of something missing. Hilariously, this has earned her the moniker of the Tribal School's biggest prude. But she always laughed it off—she'd know who she wanted when she saw them, she was sure of it.
The night progressed while the girls drank the mystery mixture from their red solo cups and danced in the small living room with a throng of kids from school. At one put Keye disappeared and a few songs later, Maya was alerted when Becks squawked with delight and shock, pointing over Maya's shoulder toward the far wall. Kai Pierce was wrapped around Keye, their lips smashed unceremoniously together when just a few hours ago, he had been similarly wrapped around Sadie Guthrie in the opposite corner.
Maya, too drunk to feel disdain, barked out a laugh and tried to shout across the booming chorus of the music "Oh Jesus Keye! Com'ere!" But Keye was lost in the sweet forgetfulness of kissing your long time crush. Becks and Maya devolved into giggles, stumbling and splashing their drinks, when a loud crow of noise came from the front door. Two towering boys, one with their arm wrapped around a girl, walked in and let out a holler of joy to announce their presence.
"Oh...oh my god," Becks said surprised. Maya looked to her confused, her vision a little shaky now. She couldn't place the two boys, their faces clearly that of a highschool boys but their bodies were tall, hard and the muscular ones of men. It was kind of funny. "Is that….Is that Jeremy Treever and Mica Blackfoot?"
Maya did a double take. There was no way! Jeremy Treever had had a long time crush on Maya, that she knew very clearly, but when did he become so...enormous? Even by winter break standards, no one could bulk up that fast, let alone shoot up 8 inches. He towered over the heads of some of the others. Her eyes connected with his and he gave her a devilish grin before hollering over everyone's heads and the thumping music.
"Maya Sunriviere! Come here!"
She didn't really take kindly to being summoned so she dipped her head and took another drink from her cup, swinging her body behind Becks who looked pleasantly alarmed. Jeremy didn't seem too perturbed and wove his way through the crowd easily. It helped that people kind of stumbled out of the way of his massive frame.
"Oh god, he's coming over here," Maya said mortified to Becks. Becks returned Maya's sentiment with wide eyes, trying to stifle a smile as Jeremy appeared over Maya's shoulder. He tapped her on the shoulder and Maya, biting her lip, turned and gave the overly pleasant greeting of a woman taken off guard. "Oh my god! Jeremy, HI!"
Jeremy chuckled at this, "Hi. What are you drinking?" he pointed to her solo cup. Maya held it up, confused and then squinted her eyes in trying to remember.
"Mmmmm Quileute kid punch!" she said. "Everything a growing girl needs, you know?"
"Yeah, let me grab us some more drinks. I've been meaning to talk to you," he said, trying to retreat and solidify his night with her. Before he could get too far though, she shouted a retort.
"You know, metabolic steroids are really bad for you!" she yelled over the music. Was it getting incredibly hot in here? He laughed and Maya was momentarily transfixed by the sight of it. She recognized something familiar in there. Curious.
"I'm just filling out Maya!" he yelled back over the music, clearly taking note of her interest, "I'll be right back." Before she could stop him, he had deftly moved away to the punch bowl.
"We gotta go!" Maya said frantically.
"What?! Why?! They're hot." Becks said.
"Keye!" Maya swung around, looking back to the far wall. She was gone. "Keye!" Maya called out again looking around the room. She saw her just by the front door, being pulled by the hand out into the cold night. Maya saw an opportunity and took it. "Let's go!" she yelled to Becks as she threaded through the crowd, Becks arm gripped firmly in her hand as she stumbled and laughed wheezing, "Jeez Maya! Slow down!"
"Hey!" Jeremy called across the crowd, holding two cups in his hand and nearly stunned at the brush off.
"My friend!" Maya called back, ever the polite cover up, "She...I gotta…" she didn't finish as she snagged her coat from the rack by the door with her finger tips, delicately balanced the cup in her hand and grasping a stumbling Becks with the other. Before Jeremy could open his mouth to protest, they were out the door in the cool night air. "Where the fuck did she go?" Maya breathed. Becks had somewhat regained her feet under her, "Come on." she said to Becks as she scanned the beach ahead. There were several dark figures milling about. One of them had to be Keye.
Mostly, Maya was hoping to get out of sight of Jeremy, rather than crash Keye's chance at getting lucky with Kai. Something had set off in her when Jeremy got near her and she wasn't entirely sure what that was. Attraction? Couldn't be, she knew what that felt like, but Jeremy was...different than the other guys thrashing around at the party. And she didn't just mean his stature.
She could have sworn that just before they left for winter break, he stood at eye level with her, the pudginess of a young kid still hanging on his bones. But now, he was all muscle-hard and she was pretty sure she saw a tattoo peeking out from under the right sleeve of his black t-shirt. His once long hair was shorn short and the usual round face was cut with hard angular lines that pronounced a spectacular jaw.
As Maya and Becks made their way down the freezing beach, Maya tugged on her jacket and smooshed her side into Becks'.
"Jeremy Treever is looking pretty fine, no?" Becks said between chattering teeth. "And who was with Mica? I don't think I've seen her before."
"No clue," Maya said, trying not to give anything away. Becks, ever perceptive, nudged her shoulder into Maya's.
"Oh come on, he was nearly dripping onto you. That boy is a puddle when he's around you," she joked.
"Not a boy anymore," Maya was starting to get cold now too. She hated feeling cold and craved the warm summer sun. Her mom had always joked that Maya's most natural state was lying in the sun, usually clad in as little a bikini top as she was allowed with cuffed jean shorts. "Where the hell did she go?" Keye had the incredible ability to disappear and reappear at a moment's notice. As they trudged down the beach, Maya heard her name bellow out behind her.
"Hey Maya, wait up!" the ever persistent Jeremy was jogging up the beach toward her. Mica and his girlfriend were further down the beach taking their time. Maya sucked in a breath and tighted her grip on Becks.
"You're being dramatic. He's cute, what's the problem?!" Becks protested as Jeremy finally caught up with them, "Hey Jeremy. You sure do know where the gym is huh?"
"Yeah, I had some free time this break." He said nonchalantly, shrugging.
"You must be freezing," Maya said. Jeremy was only wearing a black and some dark jeans.
"I run hot," he said, meeting Maya's gaze with a warm grin.
"You sure do," Becks said. Maya jutted her elbow into her side and Becks let out a cry.
"What's up?" Maya said, folding her arms across her chest and trying to conserve what little warmth she had left.
"Uhh," Jeremy seemed lost for words now that he had her attention, "How was your break?" He put a hand behind his head, scratching it. Maya gave a gentle smile but looked around the beach and replied cheerfully.
"My break? Uhh, yeah it was good. Ready to knock this semester out and move on."
"Oh yeah, for sure," an awkward silence ensued and Becks was trying her best to hold it together next to Maya. Unfortunately, this was a common occurrence for their group. A lot of the boys in their class and even some lower classmen would try to talk to them sometimes. Maya was the best at it. She was always genuine and kind, and never tried to throw anyone off unless they were being an absolute ass for clout. That was usually easy to spot. Keye was a little more direct and brushed people off easily. Becks typically changed the conversation to something academic or community related and they often lost interest.
"Listen, uhh," Jeremy was shifting his weight from foot to foot, his hands now shoved deep in his jean pockets. "I was wondering, I mean once we get back into the swing of things at school if you maybe wanted to...I don't know, go—" It was about to happen. He was going to ask her on a date. Becks was green next to Maya and as Maya opened her mouth to respond accordingly to the invite she knew was coming, Becks doubled over and vomited on the sand at their feet.
"Oh fuck!" Maya said, immediately moving to grab Beck's short hair so it wouldn't drop into her face. Jeremy had jumped back in alarm but was now seemingly concerned.
"Jeez is she okay?" he said.
"Just drunk I think. Becks. BECKS! Blink twice if you're gonna puke again," Maya said. Becks gave an ungodly moan of despair and Jeremy looked at Maya in alarm.
"What does that mean?" He said.
"It means I need to get her home. Can you find Keye? She's making out with Kai somewhere," Maya muttered, not really looking up. Suddenly though, Keye appeared.
"Good god, Becks, not again." she said.
"Not helpful, Keye," Maya said as they both hoisted Becks up and started off toward Maya's house again.
"Impeccable timing Becks," Maya said somewhat relieved. Behind her, Jeremy shouted "I'll see you at school!" Becks continued to groan and they carried her away up the dark street stumbling as they went.