This is a regular column featuring original fiction by and for high school students, provided by Figment.com, an online community writing site for young people.
It was not until she was about to go to bed that Isabel realized that her diary was missing.
She had always known that it was a bad idea to take it to school, but there was a part of her that would never let it leave her side. In a way this was sensible –- her younger sister Lucy couldn’t get her hands on it – but if someone at school read any of what was in the diary, the consequences would be disastrous. It was full of every little detail of her life –- she was pretty sure that her opinion of every person that she knew was somewhere in that thick, tired-looking notebook. But she wasn’t certain, because she never looked back at previous entries. This was simply because the purpose of the notebook was to carry all the feelings that Isabel encountered on a daily basis so that her mind wouldn’t have to. If she read back, then everything would re-enter her crowded brain and render her incapable of doing anything remotely useful.
However, the panic over losing the diary was already bringing everything back. She had already tipped the contents of her schoolbag onto the carpet of her bedroom. It was immediately obvious that it was not there, but she was sifting through all the junk anyway. Mangled sweet wrappers were sent flying over her shoulder into the bin. Exercise books were battered as they were swept out the way of her flailing arms. Eventually she was forced to conclude that it wasn’t anywhere in her bag. She flung herself onto her bed, where she spent a sleepless night tormented by imagined scenarios of what would happen if certain unpleasant people that she knew found the diary and read what she had written about them.
Her alarm clock woke her up in the morning as normal and she mechanically got on with her morning routine as normal. But her mind kept returning to the diary. When the doorbell rang she temporarily stopped her mental search of the school to wonder who might be ringing the doorbell this early. It was only half past seven. She got up from her bowl of soggy cereal to go and answer the door.
She opened it to a boy about her age. He had floppy brown hair and his uniform identified him as coming from the school on the other side of town from hers. She wondered where she recognised him from –- people from the two schools did not often mix.
“Hello?” he said.
“Er, hi…” Isabel said slowly.
“You dropped this,” he said. He brought his hand out from behind his back. In it was her diary. She grabbed it out of his hand, too relieved to be polite.
“Thanks,” she said eventually. She realised now that he had been on the bus yesterday. She had noticed him because of his uniform. But how the diary had been dropped she had no idea. It generally resided somewhere in the depths of her bag where it was virtually untouchable. Another thought occurred to her.
“D-did you read it?” she asked, blushing slightly.
“No,” he said and looked as if he wanted to say more but stopped himself. “I should probably be getting to school now.”
“Yes,” Isabel said quickly. “What’s your name?” She wasn’t sure why she had asked that. Maybe just so that she could look him up on Facebook later.
“James Linden,” he said, smiling. “Anyway, bye.”
“Bye,” she said. He left very quickly, there one second and gone the next. Isabel went back inside.
It didn’t occur to her until she was on the bus to school half an hour later that James Linden had somehow found out where she lived in a day without knowing her name or anything about her. She was pretty sure her name was not in her diary. And he had said he hadn’t read it anyway. The whole event, she reflected to herself, had all been very strange.
Later she looked his name up on Facebook. She couldn’t find him. She even asked other people from his school about him. It appeared that James Linden had never existed. Eventually she gave up and forgot about him.
However, she never lost her diary again. He made sure of that.