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Teen Publishing/60k words
mother’s talk about arranged marriage. As a hijab-wearing Pakistani-American,
she wants to find love on her own. Her judgmental Muslim clique has protected
her from racist taunts, although the leader is turning on her as Maysa strays from
the group because of her attraction to Haydee.
Gomez is a former gang member and juvenile detention student. Now living with a
clean-cut aunt, she wants to turn her life around, even though one person will
never let her forget her roots—Rafe, her abusive pimp. Haydee attempts to pull
away from a life of prostitution when she develops feelings for Maysa, although
Rafe isn’t willing to give her up too easily.
themselves in danger from Maysa’s friends and Haydee’s pimp, it’s apparent
their love disturbs everyone around them as they fight to stay together.
bother her for a few hours. He knew it was her first day in a new school.
Haydee blew her nose, wiped her eyes, and left the bathroom. She walked into
first period English and handed the teacher the pass. Students stared. A few
had tattoos peeking from the edges of sleeves and shorts, but nothing like what
she had. She felt like The Tattooed Woman and avoided staring back at them. She
wasn’t in alternative school anymore, where most students had a nasty attitude
about anything related to academics. The students in front of her had their
books open and had been reading and writing before she walked in. They weren’t
looking to fight her and she wasn’t going to fight them.
down,” the teacher said. “I’ll make a folder for your work. How do you say your
corrected Ms. Tookes. “Haydee Gomez.”
name on a notepad and nodded toward an empty desk, so Haydee sat down in a seat
in the back with a textbook. The assignment was on the board, but Haydee had
trouble seeing. She had lost or broken so many of her eyeglasses in the past
that she stopped wearing them. She was slightly nearsighted and lived with her
blurry vision just fine. Tomorrow she’d come to class on time and get a seat in
receive some stares, but then students went back to work.
display, Haydee twirled the drawstrings of her hoodie, chewed the inside of her
mouth, and smoothed down the baby hairs on her forehead. The door opened and
she was grateful for another distraction. It was Maysa, her pink-and-green silk
scarf glistening under the fluorescent lights. Haydee’s vision sharpened, as if
she could see Maysa clearly, while everything around her was fuzzy. Maysa
caught Haydee’s gaze and smiled before turning to Ms. Tookes. “May I take a few
pictures of the students working?”
back. “Take all the pictures you want.”
innocent demeanor. Haydee wondered what it would be like to have her life. She
must have two parents taking care of her. She probably had brothers and sisters
who were as nice as she was. Her parents were strict, if she had to cover her
head like that, but they most likely were loving. Haydee’s curiosity
intensified. She needed to know more about Maysa, who was walking to the back
of the room where she was.
of you reading the textbook?” Maysa asked.
Anything. She wanted to please this girl. Haydee opened to a random page. It
was a Shakespearean sonnet, which was like another language to her. Haydee
liked to read, but not classic works. She enjoyed romance books and read any
that she could get her hands on. They helped her escape from her own reality by
taking her someplace else for a few hours.
Maysa took a few shots of Haydee. “You’re very photogenic.”
up. “Let me see.”
held the back of the camera to Haydee’s face. Looking at the screen, Haydee saw
she didn’t look too bad. Her bun was messy in a stylish way, and her head was
tilted down to her book. Her cheekbones were sharp, and her right side was on
display—not the left one with the black eye. “It’s a nice shot.”
Haydee blinked, not knowing what else to say or do. She wanted to keep Maysa
talking so that she wouldn’t leave right away. Because of the picture taking, a
few other students had started talking and sneaked looks at the two of them.
Haydee knew they must seem like an odd pair interacting with each other. Maysa
showed her the next few pictures, at different angles. “I have to go now and
get to the next classroom,” she said.
gaze was riveted to Maysa’s slender form as she walked out the door.
again. When the teacher wasn’t looking, she slid it out of her pocket.
so you can try it on
moment was ruined. She shoved her phone back into her pocket. Like she needed
another reminder of everything that was wrong in her life. She gritted her
teeth and made fists, then forced herself to loosen her hands. She didn’t want
to think about Rafe anymore, but how could she not? He was like a virus in her
system and she couldn’t get rid of him. She admitted that he took care of her:
he beat up johns who mistreated her, handed over any money he promised her, and
challenged anyone who bothered her on the rough streets of Miami.
Rafe, she might have been dead at one point, because one of the johns locked
her in a bathroom, threatening to kill her later, and he took care of the
situation. There were the existing issues of earning money and a degree of
safety, but surely she could find another line of work. How would she tell Rafe
that she wanted out without having his temper explode? She had seen him cut a
man’s face with a razor. Would he do the same to her?
Medeia Sharif was born
in New York City and presently calls Miami her home. She received her master’s
degree in psychology from Florida Atlantic University. Published through
various presses, she writes middle grade and young adult short stories and
novels. In addition to being a writer, she’s a public school teacher.