These vignettes are from another, larger pre-To be Maria vignette–Notes on The Billboard–I wrote earlier this year. For the purpose of this blog, I have broken down Notes on The Billboard into a number of small vignettes.
So I present you with part 1: Smoking in The Washroom.
Maria leans nonchalantly against the back wall inside the washroom, puffing on a cigarette while chatting away with her two best friends, Alejandra and Maya. Alejandra also puffs on a cigarette while Maya pulls a red, felt marker from her purse.
They don’t care that the smoke from their cigarettes forms a thin, white cloud around them or that the washroom is inside of El Sid Secondary School, the three-story building that, most days, feels more like a prison than a place to learn and develop intellectually.
Smoking is taboo in almost every public restroom, but it’s especially so here. In the past, students have been expelled for doing this very thing, but Maria just doesn’t give a damn. She is not going to let a group of prissy, stuffy, know-it-all educators tell her what she can and cannot do.
The things Maria loves most about Alejandra and Maya is that they are just like her: they detest school, but love parties and boys, and they too wear tight jeans, high-heeled boots and extremely low-cut tops. But they don’t wear a lot of makeup. The last thing they want or need is for people to label them as prostitutes. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened yet.
“We’re going to have to make ourselves more elusive somehow,” Alejandra says, breaking the momentary silence.
Maria cocks one eyebrow. “Why? We’ve smoked in here, like, five times already, and we haven’t been caught yet.”
A troubled look clouds Alejandra’s face. “This morning, I heard Alice whisper to Tibby, something about girls smoking in the washroom. I was pretty sure she was talking about us because they both kept glaring at me.”
Maria’s jaw drops. “How the hell did she find out?”
“Yeah, how?” Maya echoes.
“I think she came in here after we left and smelt the smoke,” Alejandra says.
Maria’s jaw stiffens. “And of course she would accuse us. The perra.”
“Oh, mierda. This really sucks,” Maya says.
Maria balls her spare hand into a fist. “First, Alice steals my boyfriend–”
“Maria, we all know that Ricardo is a good-for-nothing player,” Maya says.
“Yeah, we’ve gone over this numerous times. He’s the scum of the earth; he’s lower than the lowest human being on this planet. You don’t deserve him, Maria. You deserve way better than that,” Alejandra says.
Tears prick Maria’s eyes. “But I did love him, and I still do. That’s the problem. He’s a lying, cheating, son-of-a-bitch, but I just can’t get over my feelings for him. The person I do hate is Alice.”