When Maya opened her eyes, the pain was not nearly as bad. She had cried until she was exhausted and, at some point, fell asleep without strength. Still, she felt a slight pain from the previous day, but at least she could now move a little more.
Carefully, she got off the bed and crept to the door to push down the handle. There was a click, and the door came off its frame, which meant it was no longer locked. For Maya, this was always the sure sign that her father had already disappeared to work again. Only at the last moment, before he left the house, did he unlock her room door again so that she could get ready for school.
The first thing she did was to see if she would be late, because she didn't have an alarm clock and couldn't tell what time it was until she looked at the clock in the kitchen. The clock just showed half past seven, which meant she had to hurry or would be slightly late. However, she also had to get ready properly and conceal the reddened areas on her face.
Since she had been cooped up all day, the very first thing Maya did was hop in the shower. Now that she had stripped off all her clothes, she could see the bruises her father had given her. Especially her upper body had been badly hit because he had thrown her to the ground twice. But the marks on her face were also still clearly visible.
Her whole body trembled under the cold water, but for her cheeks, it felt simply wonderful. How that heat escaped from her skin and took away some of the lingering pain. But it couldn't remove the visible signs. So next it was on to hiding the bruises. For the marks on her upper body, she didn't have to do anything except put something back on. For the marks on her face, she used make-up.
It was far from the first time her father had treated her like this and given her such injuries. But he threatened to kill her and her mother if Maya told anyone, or it became known otherwise. When he was sober, it was hard to imagine, but under the influence of alcohol, she thought of him as a monster capable of murdering. What could she do? Unlike her other students, or other children in general, she didn't have such a great family to look up to.
As if the others deserved a better life than she did. Surely she, who has been suffering for so long, deserved happiness the most? Instead, it was she who was beaten by her father and abandoned by her mother! As if that was fair! So why should the others deserve a better life?
'If I have to suffer, then the others should too!'
Because of her practised use of make-up, it didn't take long for her to hide the marks of the altercation. As long as it didn't smudge, no one would even notice.
So at least the most important things were settled for the time being. However, she didn't have time for breakfast and, as usual, her mother had prepared nothing either. While Maya got ready for school, her mother sat on the couch again. Only as soon as Maya left the house would she start to tidy up a bit.
Maya opened the front door and stepped out into the frosty autumn morning. Winter was coming, and morning after morning, it was getting colder and darker again. Because she had no money for the bus and no bicycle, she walked to school.
As she had expected, she was a little late. While she was just entering the school grounds, the bell rang for the second time at the beginning of the lesson. Since she was already late, there was no point in rushing and she entered the classroom about 5 minutes late.
Just like the day before, all her classmates were looking at her and Mr. Mayers was also looking at her.
"You are late Maya. Is everything all right?" he asked.
It was almost unusual for her to disappoint a person and for them not to get angry in response. Unfortunately, they were persons who were not a significant part of her life, anyway.
"Yes, I overslept," she replied, nodding.
Again, Maya let her gaze wander around the class and caught sight of Maite, who was also back in class. Their eyes met, but Maite turned away. There would no longer be a good relationship between them, but as long as she was no happier than Maya, that shouldn't be a problem.
Maya also turned away without a word and walked towards Kira, Annabelle and Laurey. With a nod, she greeted the three and then sat down in her seat next to Laurey, whereupon Mr. Mayers continued the lesson.
"So, as explained earlier, we will be..."
His words were like background scenery to Maya, and she paid little attention to them as she stared forward at the blackboard.
"Maya?" whispered Laurey.
"Huh? Did you say something?"
"I asked if everything was all right with you, Maya. You seem.... So different."
"Yeah... I was just thinking. I'm sorry..."
"It's no big deal. But if something is, you can tell us, okay?"
Maya nodded it off. As if she could tell anyone in the class about her suffering. What could they do? Nothing. If anything, it needed an adult to deal with her father. But there was no one she would trust with something like this. Would anyone even understand her?
The school hours flew by and were relatively uneventful. Compared to her life at home, it was already more pleasant. And yet, it bothered her. It bothered her that the others led this happy life and also had a happy, or at least better, life at home.
At noon, the clock gave the signal announcing the lunch break. Maya joined Kira's group for the time being and together they headed towards the canteen. But while still in the corridor outside the classroom, Maya heard her name called.
"Maya! Maya wait please!"
The voice was very familiar, and it surprised her. I wonder what Maite wanted from her? No matter how the conversation went, Maya had Kira, Annabelle and Laurey behind her. So she turned and watched as Maite walked towards the group.
"What's up?" asked Maya.
Her question reflected all the whimsies of the previous day and morning. It was people like Maite who were incapable of recognising the suffering of those who were worse off!
"I wanted to talk to you. Can we talk in private?"
"So you can frame her again?" interjected Kira.
The class president had stood up next to Maya and clasped a hand over her shoulder as she gave Maite a grim look.
"Don't you think you've done enough already to Maya?"
Maya merely shook her head.
"I don't think we have anything to talk about," she countered, turning back around.
Along with the others, she headed back to the canteen, leaving Maite in the corridor.