Grace stares at her summer assignment that her creative writing teacher gave her. Ms. Gladdis does it every year with her classes and makes sure it’s the first grade the second-year teacher gives. The assignment is just a simple journal or a diary that is written throughout the summer. It doesn’t have to be long, just that it contains the truth. Gladdis has never read any but she keeps every single one and gives them back to her students after they graduate or move away. Grace stares at the empty notebook, she doesn’t have a clue what to write about.
Grace texts Emily to see what she wrote about. Emily doesn’t remember but goes to her room to pull out the journal and have a trip down memory lane.
June 5th, 2010
I’m writing this because I’m forced to. I have no real business sharing anything. I think it’s stupid. If you’re reading this, Gladdis, I hope you know that this idea is stupid. I’m supposed to write about my day and feel right? Well, today Cody and I hung out all day at his house and play on his Playstation. That’s pretty much it. It’s what I do every day. Cody is my best friend y’ know? I love him.
I’ll wait for him and he’ll wait for me.
June 10th, 2010
So Cody went to work with his mom today. With the money he got from his mom, Cody took me out to eat. It was Burger King, but it’s a start. We’re barely 14. Normal day though, but Cody did promise me something. He said he’ll never mean to hurt me.
June 21st, 2010
I met a weird girl today. It was at Hot Topic. Usually, I wouldn’t go into that store but it had the coolest looking sweater. This girl, I think she said her name was Sarah, was looking at the exact same top. Well, there was only one so I tried to talk her out of it. Luckily for me, she told me that she only stopped to look at it because some blogger has the exact same. This Sarah girl was just an eighth-grader too and already looked like she belongs with the goth kids at school.
July 30th, 2010
I’ve been looking at this blogger that one girl showed me. She’s pretty cute and her style is the same. I asked Dad if I could get a raise in my allowance so I can buy some of her clothes. Cody thinks it’s stupid, but I don’t need him to tell me what I like.
I’m anxious about the school year starting. I mean, freshman year was nice but hard, but they say Sophomore year is the hardest. But I know I’ll be able to get through it because I have Cody and Chris to pull me through. Cody says It’s nothing to worry about, he’s always right.
Emily closes the journal because she can’t bear to read anymore. She wrote much more than she wanted. Emily gets distracted when her sister Jerrica walks by the hall laughing. She’s on the phone with Andrew. Jerrica is still wrapping her head around having sex with Andrew. She doesn’t even think about telling Emily about it.
Emily looks back down at her journal and reads another page. It talks about the brief friendship she had with me at the beginning of the year. She wished for it to stick around. Emily frowns and thinks that it would be better if I stuck around.
She gets a text from Cody. “What time we meeting up?”
“Do u remember the homework for Ms. Gladdis? It’s a trip.”
Cody reads the text and remembers the assignment as well. He pulls out the notebook out of his drawer but his dad stops him before Cody can open it.
“Got a sec?” his dad knocks on the wall. Cody’s dad resembles Travis more than his youngest son. Unlike Cody, his dad has a very thick and gray beard that adds more age than it takes away. He’s gruff and sharp and has thick skin, almost like wood. Cody sometimes wishes he was older so he could look like him.
“Yeah, what’s up?”
Cody’s dad, Jesus sits next to his son in his bed. Jesus wishes he could have stuck around for the last three years of Cody’s life but some things are more important. The past few weeks he’s spent with his family has been a blessing so he wants to talk to his son one last time just in case. “I know I haven’t been around, but I just want to let you know I thought about you, your mom and your brother every day.”
Cody knows about what his Dad does, the sacrifices he makes. Cody has never really minded but always worried he would never see his dad again. The thought crosses his mind again. It’s coincidental maybe, but the pieces were already in place regardless of what Andrew asked.
“I love you, Cody,” Jesus says grabbing Cody’s shoulder and then take his leave.
Cody looks back at the notebook and opens it up.
May 22th, 2010
They say that high school is the first four years of our lives that we get to have so much fun. I’m done with the first and nothing changed from the usual. I did watch my best friend get curious about drugs and go overboard with them. He assured me he has enough mental strength to not let it consume his mind and I had no choice but to believe him. It feels like I’m watching a brightly burning fire pouring liquid flames onto itself.
I also watched Emily try to identify who she is this year. I watched her go through as many personalities and style changes as Taylor Swift has had boyfriends. I have a feeling that joke will blow up in a few years. I bet on it.
It is weird growing up. A lot of things I liked a year ago or even two years ago feel stupid to me now. I wonder if this is going to go on for the rest of my life. I’m sure it will. Watching Emily struggling with her first year makes me wonder how much of an outlier I was to the whole popular scene. I don’t care for it but a human can’t help but ponder on the ideas.
I just feel so different from everyone else. I don’t like to listen to popular music everyone listens to. Mainstream music just doesn’t dig it for me. Sure I don’t mind listening to it at parties because it’s pop and everyone recognizes it and can dance to it. I just don’t get why everyone would listen to it during their free time. Underground intellectual indie hip-hop and rock are where it’s all at. But hey, to each their own.
Chris, earlier today convinced me to take up rapping since I’m so interested in it. I think he and Emily are the only ones to hear me freestyle. Emily loves it while Chris always says I could do better. It’s not a bad idea of his. I’m buying a few things so I could record myself and see if I can get anywhere. It might be fun, who knows. I want to learn how to play guitar and play rock more than anything else. I think when I’m done writing this I’m going to ask my brother Travis to teach me. It’ll be cool to start my grunge rock band and be a rapper like my idol. I don’t want to stick to one genre.
Another thing I’m doing is hanging out with Andrew a lot. I don’t like the little eight-grader a lot. That asshole is too reckless for a middle schooler. I didn’t even want to meet him in the first place. I feel sorry for Mickle Ray High next year. In three months they get a brilliant but dangerous mind. Kind of makes me feel like they’re getting another Chris.
August 27th, 2010
Sometimes I wonder what kind of house Emily and I are going to move into. Sometimes I wonder how our kids will look like. I wonder if she doesn’t love me anymore after what happened yesterday. I swear this is the second time it happened.
Cody gets up and takes out some clothes to get showered.
August 16th, 2010
Death is the Road to Awe.
Chris closes his notebook and gets up from his chair. Marina Lightyear looks up and watches as Chris walks over to the printer in his bedroom. Her heart starts to pound as the last steps of her disappearance are finishing up. She’ll soon be free.
Sara finishes Melancholia for the third time. This time Grace watched entirely with her. Grace thinks it's a cool, but weird movie. Sara holds back the tears that this movie brings to her. There’s something about the way the movie was shot, the colors, the story, it captivates her.
And like always, she takes a shower and when she’s done she stares at herself in the mirror. This is her way of suppressing her emotions. No, I’m sorry. Sara doesn’t suppress her emotions. She learned that it doesn’t work. Instead, she soaks every little thing and feels it instead. Sara keeps herself in a positive place as she stares at her naked body, happy that things have changed for the better. But as always, her nose bleeds. And like always the dread of a monster wraps around her body, slowly consuming her.
It’s 6 pm and she finds herself alone at the diner. It’s the only thing open for the fourth of July. All of her friends are spending time with each other either at the town’s fair or the various parties people are throwing. She was invited to all of these but Sara chose nothing. Things haven’t been the same since she has been freed from her chains.
It’s numbing, she’s supposed to be happy but instead, she feels nothing but vacuity. Each day it gets better but to Sara, it all just feels like a dream. Things have been so hard that she doesn’t think that it’s all over.
Sara enters the diner to avoid the incoming rain. There’s only a handful of people here. In the corner, she spots Jana Kramer. Somewhere deep inside her slow beating heart, tells her to sit down with her. Jana looks up and takes the hair out of her eyes. Sara looks at them and sees nothing but desolation.
“Yeah?” Jana says so softly it could be a whisper.
Sara smiles and says, “Hi.”
Sara thinks, maybe I need to stop worrying about trying to be happy and just live. I’ve been so concerned thinking about Dad, Andrew, and everything that I see now that things aren’t so bad.
Sara looks at Jana Kramer, my old friend. She sees nothing but a lost soul who hasn’t recovered from my death. Jana was the best of us, the only one from my group of friends that I liked at the very end. There was a facade that Jana kept up just to be my friend. She was afraid that I wouldn’t be friends with a church girl. Jana wanted to be cool so she would throw parties in her house. She would hide all her religion paraphernalia and we were none the wiser.
Now she likes to pretend that I’m a ghost and she talks to me whenever she’s feeling lonely.
Which is all the time.
“Do you know what she wants?” Jana asks the ghost, a non-real version of myself in her head.
I want to tell her. I want to tell her that everything will be fine and that she needs to stop fantasizing that I’ll always be there for her. Jana is broken and needs to heal.
“I don’t know,” the ghost version of me says.
Maybe I should have been kinder to her while we were friends. I shouldn’t have pushed her to take my place after I graduated. Our entire friendship was so superficial to me that I failed to see how kind and good Jana is. I’m the one who gave her, her name in the first place. It’s such a stupid name that just stuck around because she would sing Jana Kramer’s whiskey song a lot.
But that’s not her name. It’s Freyja Elledge.
Andrew wonders why he’s throwing everything away. He can’t get Jerrica out of his head. He had this whole plan in his head. Andrew was going to ruin Lyle’s drug deal. Andrew knew Cody’s dad worked for the DEA and wanted to be sure to use his knowledge to get the fucker arrested. He was supposed to there right now, ready to give up his freedom just to watch Lyle loses his. This was the only play after Andrew realized that Lyle had been lying to him and wanted to groom his sister into one of his drug dealers. Now he met Jerrica and instead of being where he’s supposed to be, he instead sits down with Virginia.
“You do realize that just because I’m letting you stay here doesn’t mean you’re allowed to do whatever you want,” Virginia says, sitting down and passing Andrew some tea.
“Yeah, sure, whatever. Thanks for the tea, sis.”
“What made you change your mind?”
Andrew thinks back to Jerrica, how she gets under his skin. He’s still in disbelief that he made a landing. He’s even more surprised that it was her that initiated everything in the first place. She’s confident in herself and doesn’t let Andrew push her around. She excites him.
He hasn’t felt anything like it. It’s the only reason why he’s here. All Andrew wants is a chance to be normal. All this time he was chasing this desire to have power over everyone and now he wants nothing to do with it all. Andrew doesn’t know what's wrong with him.
“Who knows,” Andrew shrugs. “I just want to be close to my sister.”
It’s not a complete lie. Ever since their father has been arrested, Andrew hasn’t talked to Sara much. He knows now how weak she can be and that he has to be there to hold her up when she’s unable to stand. Andrew wants to make sure that she’ll be able to stand on her own one day.
“Okay,” Virginia sips on her tea. “No alcohol, no drugs. You have to be in bed by 10 and everything off by 11, is that clear?”
“Pm or Am?”
Virginia chuckles, “And don’t even think about being a smart ass about everything.”
“So what made you think this is a good idea?”
“It’s not, but I’ve grown fond of Sara. I think having you around will help her out better and it’ll help you too.”
Andrew wants to call Virginia out for being too selfless. Sara has told him how tight money has become since she started living with them. Virginia couldn't even handle him anyways, still, a few days with Sara would be good even though he’ll end up getting kicked out.
I wonder if it’ll be safe, Andrew thinks. Lyle wouldn't be so deranged than to go after me just because I didn’t show up to the deal. Even so, it should be ending tonight.
Andrew looks at the clock hanging from the living of Virginia’s house. It’s seven pm and everything is coming to a close. Sara walks in the front door and stops dead once she sees her brother.