My name is Maya Dionne and I’m seventeen and a junior at Lincoln High. My grades are good, great even but people always seemed surprised by that. My family isn’t exactly known for its academic achievement, more for flunking out and going to jail. That’s not the way I want to be, I want to get the fuck out of the Plaines and maybe even out of Ashwick in general. So my thinking is I need to go to college but to go to college I need to earn a full ride so yeah, I am working my ass to get myself there. I don’t want to be known for just my surname. My family isn’t actually as bad as people think. Yes they drink and smoke too much and probably get into more trouble than most but we’re not bad people, we were just raised different. We fight for every little thing we have and it’s not a lot, believe me. We’re rambunctious, loud and quite offensive but there’s a lot of us so God have mercy if you hurt one of us because we’re family, for better and worse and we have each other’s back.
I’m the youngest of four and the only girl. We were five and I wasn’t always the youngest. I had a younger brother, Robert or Bobby as we used to call him. He was so cute and real sweet but you know, I’m not sure what I remember of him is actually him. He died when I was eleven so I do remember him, I do but I think I’ve embellished the memories a little. He contracted meningitis and it felt like he was alive one minute and gone the next. It was so quick. It seemed like he had the flu, the symptoms are really similar and I don’t blame my parents for waiting to take him to the hospital, I don’t. They weren’t educated people, the illness had probably never even crossed their mind before. By the time they did take him, it was too late and he died within hours. Life changed then, it really changed.
Within twelves months of Bobby passing, my mom was dead. She had always been a really happy woman, she had this smile that could light up a room but the moment he died, a part of her did too. She’d grown up with nothing so marrying into the Dionnes was no real change for her but with the little she had, the little we had she had a way of making it seem like enough. We’d come home from school and she’d sit down, help us as much as she could with homework, make dinner… she was a great mom. Like with my memories of Bobby, I’m not sure whether I’ve made things seem better in my mind but I think it was good, I think we were happy. After he died, she just disappeared. Physically, she was there but her spirit, whatever it was that made her, her was completely checked out. She didn’t greet us after school anymore, didn’t cook, didn’t clean, we were lucky if she even got out of bed. I remember the day she died, I remember it so clearly I don’t think I’ll ever forget. It still gives me nightmares, even now years later. She killed herself, cut her wrists in the bathtub in the house I still live in. She must’ve know it was inevitable that one of her kids was going to find her. It really annoys me that she’d do that. Not only did I lose my mom but I had to see her like that and I’ll never get that image out of my head, it will always be the most profound memory of her and that’s really hard to deal with. I can remember the entire scene, it is literally a picture perfect memory. Even down to the sickly sweet metallic smell in the room, I can remember it all. I can’t forgive her. I know I should and I try but I can’t. We were all still alive, the rest of her kids were there and we were struggling too. I just don’t get how she could be so selfish.
My dad was always a drinker and I guess the death of his son and his wife just gave him the excuse he needed to take it to a new level. I know I said earlier that Dionnes are not bad people but he became a bad person. He drank so much he couldn’t keep a job which put pressure on my older siblings and myself too when I was old enough to get jobs to pay the bills. He was a very mean drunk. He’d lash out, verbally and physically over nothing at all. Eventually all my siblings were either kicked out or left until it was just him and I. It was hard. I hated him, life, everything really with every fibre of my being. There was definitely a time or two I thought about killing myself. I don’t think I ever would’ve gone through with it though. Death doesn’t really happen to you, I mean obviously it does but you’re not around to deal with it, the people around you are. I think my family has been through enough tragedy for a life time. All that doesn’t really matter anyway because nearly a year ago he died. He’d been on a real bender, drunk and as mean as ever. He accused me of hiding his whiskey and slammed my head into the plaster wall. I hadn’t he’d just drunk it all and forgotten he had. I went to bed, terrified of sleeping in case I had concussion but I did eventually fall asleep. I woke up and found him sitting in his favourite armchair, dead. It was natural causes, his heart just gave out after the years of abuse he put his body through and it was probably the best moment of my life. I can’t describe the sense of relief I felt. I would never really admit that out loud. I don’t think anybody could really understand what it was like growing up in the house with him, they couldn’t understand the daily stress and fear I had to endure so I think they’d think badly of me saying that about my own father. Honestly though, it really was the best thing to ever happen to me.
Once he passed we had a few visits from the social but it’s all good. We’re all used to dealing with them, we’d had visits all my life and probably before I was even born. My eldest brother is technically my guardian but he’s never around. Most of the time I live alone and it suits me great. I work most days after school and the weekend. I tutor younger kids which I kinda hate but it pays okay and I work at the Elizabethan on the weekends. Actually, I hate them both but it’s a means to an end. I just need to stay above water to finish school and then I’ll figure out how to survive college. I know I complained a lot about my childhood and things but if my life hadn’t happened exactly like it has, there’s no way I’d be so determined to make something of myself. I would’ve settled for mediocre, I wouldn’t have tried in school and probably would be looking forward to a future of poverty and a soccer team worth of kids. Am I thankful? I’m not sure I’d go that far but I acknowledge where I come from. I don’t factor it into my life, that’s an old chapter and I’m into a new one.
I’m pretty happy with my life right now. I do my own thing, try to stay out of trouble but still attempt to enjoy being a teen. I don’t want to look back when I’m forty or something and regret things, you know? I just have to survive high school first, ha.