"Em, isn't that Maya?"
Emily whipped her head to see where Hanna was staring. Her and Hanna always took the long way home from school when they walked together. There wasn't any particular reason why, or at least not that they would say out loud. The truth was that they just didn't feel like taking the same path that they took with Alison those many walks home from school. Neither girl ever admitted that was the reason. It had just become an unwritten rule among two friends. But the trouble with the long way was that they crossed pass Jenna Marshall's house. Even though Jenna couldn't see them, the idea that they could see Jenna sent chills up their spine; it was, of course, their fault Jenna was blind and Jenna was terrifying all in her own right. Emily's mouth dropped as her eyes zeroed in where Hanna's were pinned; Maya St. Germaine, Emily's first real girlfriend, was sitting on Jenna's porch with a coffee mug in one hand and her other resting comfortably on Jenna's.
Gaping, Emily backed up and stumbled behind the fattest tree she could find. Hanna casually joined her, a bit more casually than Emily would have liked, and together the girls squatted behind the tree and looked up towards Jenna's porch. "What is Maya doing back?" hissed Hanna.
"She never called," muttered Emily, a twinge of anger twisting on her tongue. "It was like she didn't exist anymore. She literally vanished."
"And she comes back and becomes best friends with Jenna? What the fu-"
"Hanna." scolded Emily, her eyes not moving from Maya. She didn't look any different than when Emily last saw her. Maya's hair was a natural chocolate brown with ringlet curls. She was wearing jeans she cut up at the knee cap with a dark green tank top. It was a very Maya outfit, Emily thought. Her eyes trailed down Maya's arm to where her hand was holding Jenna's. "It looks like they're more than best friends."
"No." scoffed Hanna. "Jenna? Come on. She slept with her step-brother."
"There is a thing called bi-sexual."
"Well duh, I'm perfectly well aware-"
"Are you perfectly well aware?" Emily raised an eyebrow and smirked at Hanna. Blushing, Hanna brushed some hair out of her eyes.
"Not like," she began stuttering. "Not from personal experience,"
"Mmm," hummed Emily, returning her looks at Maya.
"Maybe you should go over there."
"Maybe you should go make-out with Spencer or Aria to prove how perfectly well-aware you are of bi-sexuality." Emily snapped. "Because there is a better chance of you doing that than me walking up Jenna Marshall's porch to say hello to my ex-girlfriend that my mom got sent away for drugs." Hanna, who had been crouched down low to the ground with Emily, pushed herself up and brushed off her skinny jeans.
"Maybe I will," she teased, sticking her tongue out at Emily. "But I think I'll wait for college. That's when experimentation is supposed to happen, right?"
Emily rolled her eyes. "Maybe I'll call her tonight," she mumbled. "Yeah. I'll call her."
"Good idea. Can we go home now? I've got homework."
"Since when are you in a rush to start your homework?" asked Emily, picking up her bag and sliding back onto the sidewalk from behind the tree. Emily and Hanna turned around and began walking in the direction they came from to avoid Maya noticing them.
"By homework I mean Caleb."
"Yeah, thought so." sighed Emily, knowing she wouldn't get any homework done any time soon.
Emily put the last dish away in the cupboard and wiped her hands on a towel. Moving in with the Marin's was the most difficult thing she had ever done and also the easiest. Ms. Marin was far more easy-going than her own mom. In fact, Emily rarely saw her. Most nights she spent long hours at work and when she was home her time focused on Hanna or catching up on whatever television show she missed. Emily helped with dinner but it wasn't that often that her services were needed; Ms. Marin brought home dinner almost every night whether it be chinese, pizza or take-out from the local restaurant. So Emily spent most of her time flittering about the house picking new spots to read or work on homework but Hanna never made it very easy. There was always music playing and Hanna wasn't ashamed to sing even if she didn't know the words. It made concentration difficult. Sometimes Emily had to resist going over to her empty house and studying there.
Her phone had been sitting on the counter most of the day, but it was never out of eyesight for very long. Some part of Emily was hoping that it would ring and Maya would be the one to call her and tell her that she was home. The later it got the heavier Emily's heart fell into her stomach. By nine o'clock, Emily had done every dish in the house, finished homework that wasn't due for three days and cleaned Hanna's room (with no objections). Emily climbed the stairs to Hanna's bedroom with a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach.
"Did you call?" Hanna asked immediately. She was sprawled out on her bed with an assortment of nail polish bottles in front of her.
Emily bit her lip. "No,"
"She could know something."
"Uh, about Jenna." Hanna said matter-of-factly. "About Garret. You heard Aria. Mike broke into creepy cops house and he had Jenna's...whatever it was. Even if Maya knows nothing about Jenna being A or being weird and scary she should know she's being cheated on by blind girl with Garret. He's not even that attractive. Not like Jenna would notice..."
"You get my point."
Emily sank down onto the bed next to Hanna and played with the cap of the nail polish. Right, left, right left; she kept unscrewing it and tightening it back up. Maya was the first girl that Emily truly loved. Alison didn't count, she told herself. Emily loved Alison, but Emily loved Maya. Tossing the nail polish at Hanna, Emily rolled off the bed and tugged on her socks and shoes.
"Where do you think you're going?"
"What?" she snapped impatiently.
"Where is Maya even staying? Jason moved back into the house."
Emily paused. "Oh."
"Besides, it's like, ten o'clock."
"Just call her."
"No." Emily yanked on her jacket. "Don't let your mom know I'm gone."
"You say that as if she'd notice."
Emily didn't wait to see Hanna roll her eyes. She turned around and bolted down the stairs, down the driveway and up the street towards Alison's memorial. Her stomach did flips as she rounded the corner and could see the shadows of benches and flowers that were just beginning to bloom for spring. The last time she had been here the memorial had been vandalized the very next day. She hadn't come back sense. The bench was cool and slightly damp when she sat down but, being that her mind was elsewhere, she didn't much care. Emily pulled her phone from her pocket and flipped through contacts until Maya's name came up. She didn't even know if the number was still valid, but taking a stab at a possibility Emily texted Maya.
I know you're home. We need to talk. Can I see you?
Maya was always a quick texter. It didn't take long before Emily's phone lit up again with Maya's name. Emily's heart skipped a beat as she read the three words.
When and where?
Emily hadn't wanted to seem desperate. She told Maya to meet her at the park around ten o'clock. That gave Emily a few minutes to walk around and lose herself in her thoughts. What would she even say to Maya? That she saw her with Jenna? That Jenna was bad news? Maya herself was bad news. Maybe not in the way Jenna was but she certainly wasn't innocent. But Maya was beautiful. Not just her long, curly hair or those chocolatey brown eyes, but her soul. She was artistic and graceful but not in the way Aria was; Aria was edgy, but Maya was rough. It was good though. Not a bad rough, a good rough. Playful, almost.
Playful, Emily thought. Yes.
"Emily." Whisking around at the voice, Emily found herself face to face with Maya. She didn't even have time to respond before Maya's strong arms were wrapping her in a very tight, more than friendly hug. A minute longer and Emily was quite sure she would have melted into a puddle. It's been months and she still has this effect on me, she thought. Her mind was racing and Emily couldn't seem to keep up with her thoughts. She and Maya stared at each other for a few moments and finally settled on a bench overlooking the deserted playground that was usually filled with screaming Rosewood children.
"So you're home." It came out a bit colder than Emily had intended. Consciously, at least. Subconsciously was a different story entirely.
"I was going to visit."
"Did you try calling me at all?" snapped Emily. "I mean, honestly. We talked on the phone once."
"It was hard calling from there. We had limited phone time."
"So when did you get back?"
"About a week ago."
"And it took you this long to talk to me? And, might I add, I talked to you first."
"And when exactly did you get so chummy with Jenna?"
"Chummy? People still use that word?"
Heat rose up Emily's cheeks. "Yes."
"Jenna and I are friends. We got pen pals at the camp I was at. They tried to coordinate pen pals with the towns that we are from so when we get out we have a friend. Jenna was a pen pal through the program and we started talking a lot. Our pen pals were the only people we were really allowed communication with. When I got back to Rosewood, I wanted a friend and she was there still. We have a lot in common."
"And again, you didn't come to me-"
"-because I didn't know what to say to you-"
"-and what on earth do you have in common with Jenna?"
"Music, for one thing." Maya was beginning to get angry as well. She folded her arms across her stomach and folded her legs. "And we're both into art."
"Can you like, talk to Aria or something?"
"What is this thing with Jenna? Did you guys have a bitch fight in middle school or something?"
Other than the faint sound of a cricket chirping, the night was very quiet. Emily let her eyes drop down to the ground and she shuffled her feet to create a tiny cloud of dust. "It's complicated," Emily muttered. "But I need you to tell me something. Has Jenna ever mentioned someone named Garret?"
Maya chewed on her bottom lip and shook her head. "Why?" she asked slowly.
"It's important, Maya. Has she said anything to you about a police officer? Someone she's friends with?"
"You want me to gossip about Jenna?" she deadpanned. "Really? That's why you brought me here at ten o'clock at night? You want gossip?"
"No." Emily insisted, then backtracked. "Well, yes." Pause. "No." Pause. "Yes."
"I'm good at puzzles."
"You really want to know?"
In one swift, deep breath, Emily spat out the entire story of the past two years of her life beginning with Alison's death and ending with Aria telling Hanna, Spencer and her about the vase of Jenna's that Mike had stolen out of Garret's apartment. The entire time Maya sat there politely, her face no contorting into horror or disbelief at the idea that someone was stalking and threatening Emily and her friends on a daily basis. In fact, her face was much like stone throughout the entire story. The only sign that she was even alive was her slow, even breathing. "And you might hate me now," Emily finished. "For what we did to Jenna. It was an accident, though. Alison..."
"-was a complete and utter bitch?"
"You have no idea."
"I'm beginning to realize."
"So you dated a monster, basically." Emily whispered. "We're the reason Jenna is blind. We're the reason she hates us so much. But Jenna, she did something bad. Horrible. And I'm not the one to tell you and it's not reason for what happened to her even if it was an accident. Jenna hates us and would do anything to hurt us. If she and Garrett are in on this together then I need to know. We all need to know. And if you have information-" Emily stopped abruptly when Maya's index finger touched her lips.
"Please, breathe." she smiled. "You haven't since you began talking." Emily took a deep breath but it felt insanely forced. The feel of Maya touching her, even the smallest touch, drove her just a little bit crazy. "I didn't date a monster. You were a kid. Things happen."
Emily laughed sarcastically. "Yeah, people blind people every day."
"It was an accident."
"I know that." Emily insisted. "I know it was an accident. It was an accident I didn't even want to be involved in. But looking back at that area in my life, I'm so ashamed. Not just for what I did but for who I was."
"Who were you?"
Emily thought for a moment before answering. "Alison."
"And who are you now?"
It was the most difficult question Emily had ever been asked and she shook her head in response.
"I don't know." she said honestly. "But I'm not Alison, and at this point, I'll take that as an improvement." Maya scooted closer to Emily. She was so close that Emily could smell the tangy remnants of whatever perfume Maya had been wearing earlier that day. She took Emily's hand and played with her fingers, not intertwining them but just tracing the lines and shadows. For a brief moment Emily found herself lost in a web of memories she had Maya shared in previous months; their first kiss, the way it felt as their hands brushed as they walked, the sound of Maya's breath against her ear...
The darkness around Emily reminded her of the theater where they sat for their first and last date. She could almost smell the popcorn and hear the movie playing in the background. The street lights reflected in the puddles left on the ground from the drizzle of rain Rosewood had earlier. To Emily the tiny specks of light looked like candles in the water. Emily let Maya's hand travel up her arm to cup her face and though her brain wildly objected, when Maya leaned in and placed a soft kiss on her lips Emily didn't pull away. It ended almost as quickly as it started.
"I think that was a mistake," Emily said earnestly. Maya frowned.
"I thought that was what you wanted."
"You're dating Jenna."
"I'm what?" laughed Maya.
"I saw you," said Emily quickly. "On the porch. You were holding her hand..."
"You asked me about Garrett. That must be her boyfriend's name. When we were on the porch she was telling me about her boy troubles." Emily sat straight up. "I was comforting her not hitting on her."
"What did she say?" Emily spoke in a quick, hushed tone. "About Garrett? About this boy?"
"Just that he was angry about his apartment being broken into. Some stuff was taken that was important to him and I guess he really needed it back."
"She wouldn't say."
"Mike said he took a camera, a gps, and Jenna's art."
"That's nothing too strange."
Maya was right. There was nothing strange or so important about any of the items taken. Emily huffed and leaned back onto the bench again.
"That's all she said? I mean, unless Mike lied and he took something else-" Emily paused, sudden lightening striking her brain. "Wait. The camera. Camera's have internal memories. They have memory cards. Oh my God," Emily reached down and grabbed her bag, stood up, and began walking backwards, silently praying that she wouldn't run into anything as she was looking at Maya. "You're brilliant. Thank you so much. I have to go, but I'll call you tomorrow?"
"Wait. Emily?" shouted Maya.
"You're funny, smart, talented and beautiful. You are a kick ass swimmer and you are a better friend to your friends than any person I know. Your heart is pure gold. You have amazing legs." Maya smiled. "I don't know who you were back then, but I know who you are now. You're Emily. That's all you have to be."
Hesitating only briefly, Emily stepped forward and placed a simple kiss on Maya's cheek. "Thank you."
"So? What happened with Maya? You saw Maya right? That's where you went?"
Emily smiled. "I saw Maya."
"She didn't know much. I told her everything though," Hanna gave Emily a look. "I know it was dangerous but what else was I supposed to do? We need information on Garrett. And Jenna and Maya aren't dating by the way. Maya was comforting Jenna because Jenna was fighting with her boyfriend who I'm presuming is Garrett. He's really upset that his camera was taken from his apartment."
"It's just a camera. God, buy a new one."
"I think it's what's on the camera."
A lightbulb seemed to light up above Hanna's head.
"Aria needs to get that camera."
Emily pulled on her pajamas and climbed onto Hanna's bed. They pulled the covers up over them and let the light go off. The room was dark and quiet other than the sound of Hanna sighing every now and then.
"Han? You awake?"
"Mmm," Hanna mumbled.
"Can I ask you something?"
"Do I have nice legs?"
This was a request from Chelsie1991. Hope you enjoyed it. Review and let me know.