Gale was writing in her diary:
It starts with me thinking about school. Then I start praying and I say please don’t let them mention that I’m ugly, please don’t let them mention that I don’t talk much. The list goes on. Then I stop praying and I lie there in bed for two hours stressing over the fact that I have to go to school tomorrow. Something that’s probably so ordinary to them is so frightening to me. And…
I’m sorry Gale.
She didn’t write that. Did someone else just write in her diary? Gale was puzzled.
When Gale went to school the next day, she was paranoid about the person who had written in her diary. She was sitting alone in the front of the school eating an apple when Arnold approached her, a boy who had called her ugly countless of times. He was a giant at 6’3 and very scary to her.
He sat next to her and confessed, “I wrote in your diary.”
She was silent. He continued.
“I’ve been hacking into diaries for sometime now. It’s interesting. It’s really changed my perspective.”
“How can you hack into mine? Mine is not even on the computer.”
“I’m not going to tell you how I do I it. But I’ve been doing it for the past month. I’ve learned that I shouldn’t have bullied you. I’ve read your diary and in the end you’re just a shy sweet girl. Really harmless.”
She didn’t know what to say, certainly not thank you.
“I guess I did it at first just cause I could get away with it. But reading other people’s diaries I’ve learned that everybody has value.”
“It’s an invasion of privacy…you really shouldn’t do it,” she stammered.
“Anyway, I’m not going to hang around my friends anymore. All they do is pick on people which is not me any longer. So I’m sitting here now.”
Arnold continued, “Do you want to know about what people say in their diaries?”
“You should. That’s not to say that I haven’t read some frivolous diaries. A lot of girls gossip. Nothing interesting either. I wonder how many people actually look over what they’ve written. Not everyone is a writer, that’s for sure. A lot of entries that try to be serious come across as funny. Like poems about death and stuff. Some of it is excruciating.”
“Everyone in this school.”
How could he hack into diaries? Gale knew he wasn’t some sort of genius, not that she was either.
Later on that day, Gale heard someone say, “Someone wrote in my diary yesterday. They said that I gossiped too much.”
A month later Arnold was still sitting by Gale during lunch. It felt nice to have someone to talk to.
She knew he was still a bully. He just was nice to her now. That was all.
She heard people talk about this diary fiend, that he was a degenerate.
He really wasn’t nice.
She heard about the things that he did. Like he would write in someone’s diaries that someone liked them. He wouldn’t lie either. He would make sure that they meant it in their diary.
Gale saw a boy come to a girl and say, “Gross I’m not interested in you.”
There were rumors about who this diary menace must be.
Most said it was simply a ghost who had the power to read through diaries and write back.
Gale no longer wrote in her diary in her usual way. She wrote in code and she made sure not to even write a key for it. As a result it took her a long time to read it and understand her diary. But she was sure that Arnold couldn’t read it.
He mustn’t be able to read it.
For she saw how he made fun of people who liked other people romantically. And she had fallen for him.
No person had taken the time to get to know her. It was so nice to have someone to share lunch with. He was a good person somewhere inside. After all he had apologized to her.
She wrote in code:
Arnold came over tonight and we watched The Lady Eve. He made fun of me and said, “Why do we always have to watch old movies? Can’t we watch something normal?”
So we ended up watching Back to the Future.
I was going to make microwave popcorn. But he insisted that it was awful stuff. So he made it on the stove. He burnt half of it. I lied and said it was better.
Arnold sat by her in school the next day, “Do you think that people have any clue that it’s me that’s doing it?”
“No. They think it’s a ghost.”
Gale was going to say a mean ghost but she held back her words.
“I think I make people realize their weaknesses.”
“No you’re just invading their privacy. Most people know their weaknesses anyway. Do you keep a diary?”
“No. It’s too vulnerable. People can read all about your inner secrets and stuff like that. Why would you want that hanging around?”
“My mother died and wrote all this negative stuff about my father and me. That’s a bad lasting impression. You might be right.”
“I’ve noticed that you’ve stop writing normally in your diary.”
“I don’t want you to read it.”
“Why? You have secrets?”
“Yes. We all do.”
I came over to Arnold’s house today.
He confessed to me his secret tonight.
He said he can travel through ordinary day objects.
I asked what he meant.
He said he had been my pen a few times.
I didn’t get it.
“I can travel through computers, pens, whatever. That’s how I’m able to read people’s diaries.”
Of all the things to become in the world why would you want to be a pen?
I asked him if he could possess people and he said that he could. But he wasn’t interested in that. He was interested in becoming ordinary objects. The idea struck him one day that he could get more dirt on people in school if he read their diaries.
If he’s doing it for social status then it hasn’t worked, I mean he’s sitting by me at school. It must be something to spook people? Maybe that’s the point?
But I’ve been to his house and he treats his parents well. That’s says something.
We made brownies together last night. He helped me with my homework. I flunked the last test. Hopefully he can help me.
Arnold told me that he’s going to break the code in my diary.
The next day Gale felt that her diary was heavier.
When she opened it she saw a message written inside:
Help Gale. I’m trapped.
As you know Arnold is now part of you. I guess that he finally messed up and got stuck.
He’s figured out the code and he thinks it’s cute I like him.
We write each other so much now.
Don’t we Gale?
And when I run out of diary pages?
Just keep on attaching more paper.
Bio: Beth J. Whiting was born in 1983 to a large family of brainy eccentrics. At eight years old she developed a love of books through the works of Roald Dahl and C.S. Lewis. Beth has struggled with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder since her teenage years, and uses writing to express, imagine, and create. She currently lives with her artistic twin sister in a tiny apartment in Mesa, Arizona.
Three further shorts by Beth appear in DM 69 PRAVDA … http://www.dansemacabreonline.com