Side Quest: The Old Diary

By Ava Casab (‘23)

Image courtesy of elein-me on Deviantart

*Game: (Old diary. Press 2 to read.)

Game: (You open the diary.)*

Dear Diary, 

I awoke this morning on the couch to silence. In all my years I’ve never felt a silence as loud as it. Nobody was around me to hum making breakfast or sing off-key in the shower or to toss the morning laundry in. There were no laundry machine melodies. Only the husks were left.

I went to the bathroom and decided to brush my teeth. But it made no noise that I could discern, and so eventually I stopped and rinsed my mouth out. The water tasted like nothing at all, not even minerals. It was a bad start to the morning. Then again they’ve never been good. I keep expecting change without changing anything. Some would call me insane. I say I am optimistic.

So then, dear diary, I went downstairs, and to the kitchen, where my friends used to sit as we played poker late into the night as young adults. They’re all gone now. I don’t know where. But in any case I started making breakfast. And it was a fabulous breakfast. I found some maple syrup in the fridge and took the butter out to soften as I cooked pancakes and waffles and bacon and eggs and sliced up some berries to serve as a side, and then I found some sausages as well, and as I finished up everything and put it all on some serving platters, I realized there was nobody else to eat it with. That made me sad. So I set it all out on the table and grabbed an egg from the fridge, fried it, and ate it standing at the countertop. It was a delicious egg, even if all I could taste was the blankness of air on my palate.

After that I decided a morning walk would be nice. I grabbed my light jacket and went out the side door and headed out to the sidewalk. Then I realized I was still in my pyjamas, so I zipped my jacket up and crossed my fingers that nobody would say anything about my bottoms. I took my usual route, you probably know it by heart with how many times I’ve written it here, but I’ll write it again for old times’ sake. I start on my home street, Forrest Avenue, turn right on Gladia Lane. Take another right on Boral Avenue. Walk five minutes. Left on Sororia Street, right on Wilebrough Street. Continue for a while. Turn right on either Croswell Street or Sandy Avenue. Ten minute walk. Right on Forrest Avenue again. Eight to ten minutes later, arrive at home again. It’s a very nice route. Took me years to perfect.

While I was walking I realized that I didn’t stop by the nice old woman’s house on Sororia Street yesterday. Normally I wave as I walk by. She’s on the porch every day, rain or shine or snow. I’ve heard rumors that she’s been out there in nothing but an old grandma nightgown in twenty seven degree weather before. I’m not surprised. If anything I admire her for not giving in to the air. How it goes is that I wave and she waves back and asks “How do?” like she’s meeting me at a fancy work party for the first time and I reply “Well, and you?” because really there is no better response. Then we talk, much more casually, about whatever comes to mind. The crossword we’ve been working on. The situation in Europe. Whether the neighbor should have painted their door bright fire-engine red. These are just some examples. But when I turned onto Sororia Street there was nobody on the porch. There hasn’t been anyone on the porch for a while now. I guess I forgot. I finished the walk in forty-two minutes, record time. 

Once I was back from my walk I was rather tired and a little hungry. I went inside and opened the pantry. I looked up and down and left and right and sideways and backwards and considered punching a hole in the wall behind the pantry using a hammer so I could look in the opposite direction too, but that seemed a bit too destructive for my tastes. The only things in there were a loaf of bread and some saltine crackers. Clearly my daily walks had brought an appetite with them. I would have to go to the grocery store. Tomorrow, though. It was already late afternoon. No doubt the parking lot would be chaotic as ever. 

It was then that it started to rain.  A bleak chill set throughout the house and I went to get my winter coat. I sat in the kitchen (it always was warmer than the rest of the house) and read some old novels lying around. Can’t remember the titles now, of course, but the clouds must have been sopping since when I finished the third, it was both still raining and pitch dark outside. I lost track of time again. That seems to happen more nowadays. 

I didn’t feel tired, though. I was still hungry. I took some bread from the pantry and a bit of leftover butter I had on the counter and made myself buttered bread. When I was younger my mother would put sprinkles on buttered bread like this and call it fairy bread (she was Australian, as I’ve told you before, so she had her words for things that the kids at school never understood.) I found one last bottle at the very back of the medicine cabinet. I used it all. The breakfast I made that morning sat on the counter untouched. A shame. Thought I’d told Hannah to drop by and have some. She’s my eldest daughter of three. But you know that already. 

At this point I was starting to fade out, exhausted from all today’s activities. I grabbed my books and went back to the couch. I usually sleep here, nowadays, since my room is always so frigid. It was then that I saw you, dear diary, on the coffee table, unused, an old gift from Hannah before the… the… the whatever it’s called. Before they all left. On vacation, she called it. Yes. Vacation. And they will be gone two months, she said, and I said that it was a very long vacation, and she said they had lots to do. And the old lady on Sororia Street said, last I saw her, that she was off as well on vacation. What a coincidence!

Yes, I saw you, diary, and I picked you up and wrote my first entry because Hannah brought you to me and it would be a waste of good paper to leave you to rot here. 

Well. It’s been a day, yes? And yet it seems like weeks since Hannah went on vacation with her husband and two little midgets, my grandchildren, and her sisters and their families went too, you know. Maybe that’s why it was such a  long vacation, since they have to visit every other family member too. Hannah said something like that. Or she didn’t. I’ll ask her when she gets back. 

Time for bed. I enjoyed our first night together, diary. I hope you did, as well. Tomorrow is grocery day. I will arrive early so there is no traffic to worry about. They open at eight AM, sharp. Best sleep now so I have the energy. Good night!

Signed, 

*Game: (The page is torn. You cannot read any farther.)

Game: (Close book? YES/NO)

Game: (You close the book.)*

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