Home: Chapters 4 & 5
“‘What if I told you I will always be a stranger to you unless you read my words? Would you believe me?’” I read my mom’s words aloud. We’d gotten out of the hospital, and there was no sign of tiredness whatsoever on Chloe’s face. She was jovial and cheerful, so eager to keep listening.
“I would believe you, Brianna. I most definitely would.” Chloe mouthed the words very carefully, maybe so that they could reach my mom correctly.
“So, you fought because you misunderstood each other,” Thalia stated. I looked at her questioningly when Chloe nodded.
“How do you know?” I asked.
“I think the words you read from the diary are indirectly directed to Chloe,” she stated simply. I laughed at the ‘indirectly directed’ part. She pushed me teasingly.
“I think so, too,” Chloe agreed.
"What if I told you I will always be a stranger to you unless you read my words? Would you believe me?"
“How about you let me read your notebook, Tamara?” Thalia questioned. When I looked at her with a frown, she explained. “You know, so that I can truly know who you are. No misunderstandings.” Without hesitation, I pulled out my notebook and handed it to her.
“I thought about doing this before, and I wanted to give it to you soon. Keep it for a while and tell me what you think of me once you get to ‘truly know who I am’,” I said with a wink.
“Can I…” she hesitated. “Can I read from it now?”
“It’s currently in your possession as far as I know. You do what you want.” I said, leaving the choice to her, although I really wanted to know what she thought of my writing. She satiated my curiosity and opened to the first few pages.
“Let’s see,” she said with a smirk. “‘I’m on a quest to find a way to be significant enough so that oblivion doesn’t hit as soon as it normally would, to represent a little more than a microscopic creature in a world of giants.’ That’s pretty awesome for a start.” You could tell she meant it, and I was so glad.
“Thank you, Thalia,” I said, squeezing her hand.
“But I’m really sorry to tell you that…” she paused and stared at me with a wide smirk.
“…oblivion is inevitable!” we both said together. Laughing at this reference of John Green was inevitable for the both of us. Even Chloe joined our wild laughter.
Later in the night I asked Thalia to let me write something in the notebook. It was a crazy day, and with crazy days come crazy thoughts, and I just had to put it on paper so that it could come to life. And so, I wrote:
‘There was no way I would have predicted any of this to happen to me. Maybe my mom was right when she wrote ‘everything is connected, else it would fall apart.’ And maybe the only reason why things sometimes seem like they’re falling apart is because we fail to see the connections—or if they’re missing, to make them ourselves.’ I considered finishing there, but I felt more words flowing. I flipped the page. ‘Essentially, I am searching for a home. Permanent, adaptable and empowering.’
"Essentially, I am searching for a home. Permanent, adaptable and empowering."
Thalia and I spent our time at home the next day. Chloe agreed to come have dinner with us, so we were alternating roles between cooking and reading and analyzing pages of the diary together.
I hadn’t realized that letting Thalia read my notebook would bring us closer, but it wonderfully did. She asked me to explain what I wrote sometimes, and we would have long and elaborate discussions, and our disagreements would be strongly and strangely uplifting for the both of us. And with those discussions I got to know her more as well; all of this thanks to my mom and Chloe’s friendship.
Having Thalia help with cooking dinner was great. We’d been living together for more than a year now, but she never exhibited such a talented passion for cooking. While the salmon was steaming away, she prepped the vegetables—tomatoes and fresh green beans—and preheated the oven to bake some potato wedges. Her multitasking was mind-blowing.
“Since your amazing skills make me feel a bit useless, let me at least try to analyze some of these words aloud,” I said. She giggled and nodded. “Every page addresses a different topic, but the last few pages are quite depressing, and I don’t really know what to make of it. The last part is strikingly touching.” There was a dreaded moment where I thought that the sense of depression was a sign that mother was thinking about… taking her own life away. I swept away the thought immediately.
She covered a pan where she had put the vegetables to cook, and walked over to look at the diary. She flipped through the pages. They contained wonderfully touching words, words that perfectly portrayed the pain of raw reality. In pure simplicity, they were words that, once understood, define the world we live in.
“There is a certain feeling of reassurance that one gets from being thankful.”
“I forgot that I am forgotten, but that’s okay.”
“I'm a hypocrite, but aren't we all?”
“My body parts are held together by strings. My wounds are sealed with tape. My scars are my body’s attempt to pick itself back up.”
“I forgot that I am forgotten, but that’s okay.”
I left Thalia reflecting on these words and went to check on the fish. I came back with a mug of hot sugar-free mint-lemonade, a weird invention of mine and my favorite drink. When I came back and sat by Thalia, she raised her eyebrows at me. That meant she wanted an explanation for something.
“What? The salmon is perfectly cooked, chef, no worries,” I stated, guessing what she wanted me to explain. She disregarded what I just said and nodded towards my steaming mug instead.
“You always drink that, and I never asked you why, so please explain,” she simply said, implying the question. I smiled, delighted with the question, and pretended to be an overly intellectual person.
“I drink a mix of lemon and water and mint every day because 1. water is life, and 2. overcoming the bitterness of the lemon reminds me of how it is possible to overcome the bitterness of life, and 3. the sweetness of the mint reminds me there is always hope in the most desperate scenarios.” Thalia had the most innocent sounding laugh ever.
“Like mother like daughter. Your words are wonderful, Tamara.”
“Very flattering,” I said, taking a bow. At that moment, the doorbell rang, and I pirouetted my way to the door to let Chloe in. Thalia couldn’t help but laugh her head off at how I was pretending to be a ballerina. I heard her fading laughter accompanying her footsteps as she was heading towards the kitchen to finish off the meal.
Dinner was amazing and being in the company of Chloe filled up the whole apartment with a lighthearted atmosphere.
We were clearing the table, and I was so busy paying attention to Chloe’s stories that I clumsily spilled a glass of water onto the back cover of my mom’s diary. Snapping out of my laughter, I hurried to save my mother’s lifework.
I was busy telling Chloe about the sense of desperation that emanated from my mom’s last few pages when Thalia burst into the living room with the diary.
“There’s a secret page!” she exclaimed. The water I’d spilled helped unglue one last page that was stuck to the back cover. I slowly peeled the page off of the cover and eyed Thalia and Chloe with a look of fear-filled astonishment. I read aloud the words:
“So many things left unknown, so many words left unsaid.”
I was a little bit surprised by the simplicity of the phrase: it almost had a cliché nature, and that was a strikingly sharp contrast to the rest of her book.
“Turn the page,” Thalia suggested. Chloe looked hesitant, as if she wanted to say something but decided to hold it back.
6. (To Be Continued)
I did as I was told. To my surprise, the page was not empty.
© 2017 H Bakerley