I sat on the edge of the chair, the cold wood was digging into the tops of my thighs, but I didn't move. I knew that it wouldn't have been a good idea. I
felt dizzy, my head was spinning, my stomach was lurching and I was struggling to catch my breath. My elbows were beginning to get sore from leaning on the table with my head cupped in my hands. I
couldn't stop the tears from falling as I squeezed my eyes shut. The darkness made me feel claustrophobic but I wasn't ready to face reality yet. I hoped that when I was, this would all be a bad
dream and then I could carry on with the day like it was any other. I massaged the top of my throbbing head in hope to ease the ache and inhaled the same air I had done for the past 34 years of my
life. Somehow this time it was different, I felt as if I was choking, like someone had their hands clamped tight around my throat. I gulped; this was all too much.
I listened as the two people who accompanied me in the room had a discussion. Their voices both so different. One was loud and confident while the other was quiet and broken. I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't the only one facing this pain. I wasn't alone. I felt a hand rest on my knee which made me realize I wasn't as numb as I had thought. The hand gave me a tight squeeze and I opened my eyes to find it was my husband, Luke's, hand. Through my blurred vision and squints I could make out his face - red and blotchy with tears - just how I had imagined mine to be. I shivered, although, I wasn't cold, I was the complete opposite, hot and sweaty from all the crying. My hair clung to my face and my make-up dripped down from my chin, I didn't mind though, I couldn't think straight. Words echoed, getting louder in my head giving me difficulties in concentrating.
It was silent and the room stood still and when the Officer opposite me spoke it made me jump.
'Mr and Mrs Branson, you may want to consider reading this, it could help give you an understanding as to why your daughter has done this, it could also be the start of moving on and be a good help to you both.'
It startled me, I watched his face, mesmerized, his voice was now different, unlike the last time he spoke, it was soft and gentle. I gazed curiously as he reached down to the small, navy satchel at his feet and pulled out what looked like a plain, black notebook. The Officer waited for an answer and then placed the book down carefully and pushed it towards me when he was satisfied that he wouldn't be getting an acknowledgement from either me or Luke. I cringed away as the book made an unbearable screech on the wood. I was unsure what to do or even what to say, it felt as if I had no control over my body and I couldn't bring myself to pick up or even look down at the book.
Retaining my original position, I turned my attention to the Officer's face. His eyes were full of guilt, but he was just doing his job, he didn't feel our agony or misery. He looked at me and blushed when he realized I had been staring. He looked in a different direction; I guessed out of the window. He was young, mid-thirties, but the permanent dimples on his cheeks could easily knock a few years from his estimated age. He had a mature look about him, I figured it was either his prominent jaw line or his dark eyebrows which were consistently raised. He gave me the impression that he had grown over confident of his enduring power and had become vain. I thought this because his hair was perfectly groomed and gelled with no more than one stand out of it's seat.
I had to rupture my stare and look away from him, forcing myself to look down at the book. I gasped in horror and looked towards my husband for help. I found him, too, staring at the book, his mouth hanging open and tears streaming down his face. Everything happened quickly after that. The scenery around me etiolated until all I could distinguish was a dark blanket of black hanging over me. There was no way for me to stop it from happening.
I woke on the couch situated in the living room, Luke sat on a chair next to me, stoking my head, his hands tangled in my knotted hair. He smiled at me when I opened my eyes, confused and then embarrassed of what had just happened. I had nothing to be ashamed of and the Police Officer standing over me gave a reassuring smile and held out a glass of water for me. I took the glass from his grip and pressed it to my forehead, it was cold and I immediately felt better than I had done - this surprised me. I twisted round and sat up right, Luke's hand rested on my back, supporting me.
'The book, but, how did-,' I stuttered quietly.
'We found it in Ashley's room when we had to do some investigating,' the Officer explained to me, already guessing my question.
'I want to read it.' I said louder this time. I was taking control. I got up from my seat slowly and walked to the kitchen table, the book laid, untouched where I had last seen it. My hands shook as I seized the book, it was cool on my clammy hands and I felt myself shudder. My eyes scanned the book cautiously, in hope not to faint like I had the first time. Scratched into it's leather cover with a sharp object was the word: "PRIVATE", this was soon followed by her name, my darling daughters' name, 'Ashley Bronson'. The tears cascaded down my face and padded softly onto the cover of the book. This wasn't any old notebook, this was my daughters' diary.
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