Strange Candy

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

No good ever came from reading someone else's diary.

No good ever came from reading someone else's diary. Of course, I know that now – but six months ago I was nowhere near as wise.

I found it in the bottom drawer of an old dressing table in the attic. I'd been sent up by my parents to put away box after box of garish Christmas decorations, and noticed for the first time how much junk the previous tenants had left behind when they moved. Not just the dressing table, but also countless football programmes, dust-covered board games, and a large antique chest full of creepy-looking dolls. Seriously disturbing china creations, they were; the stuff of horror films. And then, of course, there was the diary.

According to the scribbled signature on the inside cover, it had belonged to a girl called Lucia, and it recorded her every action from January to December in 1999. The first entry that I flipped to at random made me smirk: Mr Roberts tried to feel me up again today, but I'm already passing French so there's no need to let him. Here's a girl I could be friends with, I thought. When I went back to 1st January and started from the beginning, I got more of the same. Risqué, frank comments about this young woman's private life and peers.

I told nobody about what I'd found in the attic. Looking back, I'm not sure what made me want to keep this small discovery to myself. Maybe it was something about the innately private nature of a diary, although I myself was breaking the golden rule, reading another girl's most intimate thoughts.

I soon got into a reading routine, although it might be more accurate to call it a ritual. I'd read one diary entry per day, living life through Lucia in real time, so to speak. And it became something of an addiction; I would wait all day until I could be alone with the diary. Her words were electrifying and gorgeous: steely, but sweet in a way too. Lucia's life was my own personal drug.

14th February

No Valentine cards, but I caught Davie looking at me. Not even just looking – it was like he has X-ray vision. Felt like he could see under my clothes, under my skin. Can't describe how much I liked it. Okay, so maybe my sister's boyfriend isn't the ideal suitor, but I've still found myself wishing I had some X-ray specs of my own.

I began to dream about her. Well, actually, I would dream that I was her. I even started unconsciously using her unique turn of phrase, like somebody impersonating their favourite fictional character. I became bolder and more selfish at home, and nurtured ambitions of staging teenage rebellions as shameless as Lucia's. When she wrote about seducing her sister's boyfriend Davie, I felt a pang of something that was half guilt and half pride, as if her acts and mine were one and the same.

On 16th March, she confessed in the medium of ink that she loved Davie. I wanted to reach into the pages somehow and embrace her. A small part of me loved him too, but the rest belonged to Lucia.

1st April

April Fools Day did not go unobserved in my house. My period finally came like a punchline delivered three days late. I've never been so happy at the sight of blood. I guess the puking was just a hangover thing. I never told Davie, and now I'm glad I didn't.

It was as the diary entries entered the month of May that the events in Lucia's life became even further removed from anything I'd ever experienced. Her sister, Delia, announced to the family that she was pregnant with Davie's child. With her being older than Lucia, this news was received with joy from their mother and a quiet look of consternation from their father. Evidently, Lucia wrote, he did not care much at all for Davie.

In herself, Lucia was heartbroken. Davie was now the father of her unborn niece or nephew, forever bound to Delia. She'd always felt as if he were cheating on her with Delia, not the other way around. I read the following diary entry with a hollow, queasy sensation in the pit of my belly:

17th May

He said he's liked the fun we've been having but he loves Delia and he wants to be with her. I said I'd tell everyone that we've been sleeping together, and he laughed in my face. He told me he's not worried, because nobody would believe me. When I heard that, I went crazy. I hit him, again and again, until he grabbed me by the wrists and threw me down on the bed. He called me horrible names, said this was why he had to end it, I was unstable. He walked out of the room, and I followed him. I shoved him, to get his attention, to let him know he couldn't just walk away from me. I didn't even push him that hard, but he lost his footing. He fell down the stairs.

Davie is dead, and I'm not sorry.

This couldn't be real, I thought. It must have been a teenage girl's lurid fantasy, or some kind of coping mechanism – she was dishing out punishment on the pages of her diary to appease her rage at reality. Surely she wasn't truly capable of murder... But over the past few months I had come to feel as if I knew Lucia, and so I knew she was capable of almost anything.

Her subsequent callousness shocked me. She went about her daily routine as normal. Davie's death was ruled an accident, Delia became an emotional wreck, and through it all Lucia said nothing. Yes, she offered empty words of comfort to her sister, but she never once mentioned her affair with Davie or her involvement in his demise. There wasn't even any dubious self-justification to be found in the diary; no arguments that it was for the best, that to tell anyone now would only stir up more trouble and cause more grief... Nothing. The more I doubted that Lucia possessed anything in the way of a conscience, the more it dawned on me that the reason for her silence was simple. She didn't care. Not about Davie, nor Delia. All that Lucia cared for was Lucia. In the weeks that followed, she found another male companion named Billy. He introduced her to more vices and pleasures than Davie could have ever struggled to imagine (her words, not mine).

I began to think that I wouldn't bother reading the diary to the end. I felt betrayed, sickened by the coldness of this girl who played with fire. I decided that I would finish the month I was on, and then I'd say goodbye to Lucia. But I didn't even make it to the end of July. I couldn't, not after the passage that I came across. The words that hit me like a punch in the stomach and made me regret the day I picked up the diary. Words that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

21st July

I took a new pill last night. God only knows what it was, but Billy said it would do the trick, and it certainly did. After I put it in my mouth, it sat there fizzing on my tongue as it dissolved, like some strange kind of sweet. A minute or two later, and I was high as a kite. Felt like life had never been as good as it was in those moments, and I would never be that happy again. Which might not be too far from the truth. After all, I turn thirteen next month; unlucky for some, as they say...

Out of the mouths of babes, the most detestable things are uttered. I burned Lucia's book that same day, never reading a word further. Just a child, I kept saying to myself, shaking my head and wiping tears from my eyes.

I still feel a connection with her, but it is no longer one of love. Now it is like the chains that hold Prometheus to the rocks as his body is ravaged by birds. I am filled with pain, regret, disgust; but they are a secret burden, kept hidden from the rest of the world, and this makes them mine and nobody else's. I hold onto them just as much as they hold onto me, like yet another strange drug.


Submitted: May 14, 2010

© Copyright 2021 Philip Ellis. All rights reserved.

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