I was panic-stricken when I first found it missing.
My tenth grade English teacher had required us to keep a journal. Not necessarily a journal for all things personal, though we were certainly free to use it as such. Instead, it was a journal for our class-time free-writing (which ended up being personal for me nearly all of the time) and random assignments based on various books we were reading throughout the year.
Writing on this level was new to me. I eventually came to use the journal for both a classroom utility and a slightly fogged conveyor belt for all of the personal baggage I carried with me every day. I had never known that simply allowing these words to flow from me and onto paper could comfort me. Even if sometimes only temporary, it was a release, and one I desperately needed.
What if I had lost it on the walk home from the bus stop and some stranger found it? Or, worse yet, at school?
It was overflowing with entries filled with personal information; spilled lines of poetry over which I had agonized were on those pages.
I spent nearly two weeks in a gut-wrenching panic, nauseous at the possibilities.
Who was reading my words? Were they laughing? God, like they didn’t think I was pathetic enough already.
All I had to do now was wait. Wait for whomever had it to come forward and announce to the whole world what a fuck-up I was and just how much I deserved the ridicule that I’d always gotten and that would be handed out as a result.
I cried myself to sleep several times during those two weeks, if I even slept at all.
Lying in bed one night, my eyes focused only on the blackness around me, I finally admitted defeat. Until that moment, I had been hoping it would turn up. But now I simply knew that it was a lost cause. No one would turn something like that in for its owner to claim.
I sighed and rolled out of bed, heading for the stairs from my basement bedroom to the restroom on the main floor. I needed to rinse my face and try to clear my mind before I would be able to fall asleep.
I stopped at the base of the stairs when I heard the voice of serious discussion drifting down, what bits and pieces I could make out causing me pause.
I sat there quietly, listening to my mother’s hushed voice as she spoke from our living room above. Her words were so familiar and her voice carried the unmistakable hint of disgust and disappointment as she finished.
They weren’t her words coming from her lips. They were mine.
Read to her husband, by her, from my journal.
It had been missing just long enough to give her time to peruse, to select the entries most pertaining to her; the ones that separated me from her.
I shook with anger, shocked at this blatant disregard for my privacy, my life, my thoughts.
I wanted to charge up the stairs and snatch my journal from her grasp. I wanted to yell and scream and demand answers.
Instead, I stood there while they degraded the words held in their hands.
I don’t know for how long; I stopped hearing them long before they were done speaking.
As their conversation dwindled to nothing more than what was on the television, I headed back to my bedroom, ashamed of my weakness at reclaiming it, yet thankful, at least, that it had been here all along.
This post is a non-fiction response to a prompt from The Red Dress Club.
Write a post – fiction or non-fiction. Word limit is 600.