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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Drama · #2041123
This is a short piece I had to write for a class.
Carolyn saw it peeking out from under her daughter's lizard pillow. The last time she laid eyes on the diary was when Sarah had unwrapped it at her last birthday party. It was a gift from that new girl down the street, who was always so well turned out. Marisa, was that her name? Carolyn had run into the girl's mother at the store, and it was the neighborly thing to do, inviting her daughter to Sarah's party. It was still baffling how angry Sarah had been about it.

Standing beside the bed, Carolyn stared down at the exposed corner of the book, a basket of laundry held against a hip. Her fingers tingled, wanting so badly to leaf through the pink confessional. But doing so would be a breach of trust her daughter would never forgive. Or forget.

Not long ago, Carolyn wouldn't have needed to raid her daughter's diary to find out what was going on with her. Sarah would have told her everything, of her own free will. But that was before she met Ender, her new best friend. Getting her to divulge even the smallest details of her day now was like interrogating a Delta Force soldier.

Placing the basket on the bed, she scooped up a stack of Sarah's folded, clean clothes and set it down on her comforter . Of course, she could never fold clothes to the exacting standards of her daughter, who would use a ruler to whip Carolyn's ragged attempts into precise squares of crease-less fabric when she got home from school.

High school. Carolyn's friends warned her about it. How their gregarious, affectionate children turned into monosyllabic, hormonal buttheads overnight. Of course, it wasn't the school, it was the age. She'd smiled and nodded at their admonitions, but inwardly thought, "Not my Sarah."

Then came Ender. When Carolyn asked Sarah about her unusual nickname, she explained that Ender was a character from some weird sci-fi book who wiped out an entire species. Charming!
And what about that nasty tatt behind her left ear? Not to mention her atrocious fuschia hair and dandruff-laden shoulders. The girl was a mess!

Carolyn let out a long sigh. She pulled out her cell phone from her back pocket: 12:17. This was a perfect opportunity to get some answers. What was the harm in it, really? Sarah was at school and would remain there for the next two hours. She'd never know.

She took a step closer and leaned over to finger the edge of the diary. She straightened up and took in a deep breath, letting it out through her mouth. Rubbing her palms together, Carolyn pressed her prayer-hands against her lips. It would be so easy.

Almost too easy.

Her eyes opened wide. Could this be a setup? Could Sarah be that sly?

An image of her daughter sprang into her head, red-faced and stormy-eyed. If Sarah found out she had read her diary, she would be one furious and indignant teenager. And she would be right. Was there anything worse?

No, she wouldn't do it. It wasn't worth the risk. She scooped up the empty basket in one hand and walked out of the room, shutting the door behind her. Carolyn descended the stairs and was about to return the basket to its home on top of the dryer. There, staring up at her, was the strange item she pulled out of a pocket of Sarah's jeans before washing them. The laundry basket slipped from her fingers and plopped to the floor by her feet.

"Huh." Carolyn picked up the tiny ziploc bag. The clear pouch was easy to explain; it was one of Carolyn's baggies she used to store the handcrafted earrings she sold at local fairs. What was inside the bag was another matter. It looked like a full set of toenail clippings, with #11:8 written in black sharpie on the plastic. What in the world was Sarah up to? Or more likely: What in the world was Ender getting Sarah into?

All it took was one wrong friend. She would be damned before she let her daughter be poisoned by that flake head.

Running up the stairs two at a time to her daughter's room, she flung open the door and stood on the threshold. Not for the first time, this room gave her the chills. Other parents complained about how messy their teenagers were. But not Sarah. She was immaculate. Bed made to within an inch of its life. Nothing on top of any furniture except the bureau, where a hair brush sat in the exact middle, plucked clean of any loose strands. Closet organized by type of clothing, sorted by color, shoes lined up to perfection. No mementos, pictures, or posters.

Far be it for Carolyn to grumble about her daughter's military-like adherence to cleanliness and order. Lord knows she hated clutter herself. She knew a few people who could stand to spend more time cleaning their houses, her own mother for one. But what was once a cute fussiness in her daughter for organizing her toys has turned into something more like, well, an obsession. She watched enough CSI episodes to know this was a trait of some severely demented serial killers. Chills rode her spine like a roller coaster at the thought.

And then there was Ender. She strode into the room and threw the lizard pillow aside, exposing the diary in all its pink butterfly glory. Carolyn picked it up and held it in her hands. The book was well worn and bulky, no doubt overflowing with secrets.

Carolyn opened the book to a random page somewhere in the middle. She recognized her daughter's neat cursive, all the letters of equal size, the loops perfect ovals. Taped to the corner of the page was a zippered bag like the one she found earlier. It contained a blood-stained band-aid.

"What the hell?" Carolyn flipped the clear bag off the page and started to read the entry.

March 17th (and #4!). Hey, D. Had a fab day with E. and P. Mom wasn't home...had to work. Boo for her, yeah for us. We hung out and watched Texas Chainsaw Massacre. What a hoot! P. and I made out during human-bone furniture scene, so I missed that part. Then E. and P. tongue danced. Not the best kisser ever, but not bad. I said 6, but E. said definitely a 5. Enclosed memento was from his left middle finger.

She flipped the baggie back. Was this the memento? Written on the front, in black sharpie, was #4:5.

There were other bags taped to other pages in the journal. She flipped to another page adorned with another bag. This one harbored a tissue folded up as neat as the shirts at Brooks Brothers, with #5:2 written on it. Her eyes scanned the entry, resting on, "...like kissing a moray eel."

Carolyn flipped the pages this way and that. A baggie here filled with what looked like a scab. This one had a lock of hair. What in the world was going on here?

Was her daughter a...a...serial kisser?



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