Amateur writer. On the path of the phrase that says "practice makes perfect." Avid consumer of books that make me think, make me feel.
I did as I was told. To my surprise, the page was not empty.
Single words on each line, filling the page.
“How does that relate to the ‘unknown things’ and the ‘unsaid words’?” Thalia mouthed confusedly.
While Thalia was expressing her confusion, I was merely stunned silent. This small poem linked back to the quotation I had previously described as depressing and this theme was really worrying me. Why did my mother seem so hurt in her writing?
“Why was the page glued?” Thalia wondered, bringing to life the same question that was on my mind.
“Maybe Brianna didn’t see any importance to it after she’s written it, so she just glued it to the cover,” Chloe suggested. It was possible, but the hesitation in her voice implied otherwise.
“If that was the case, she could just have torn the page out,” Thalia pointed out.
I wasn’t convinced by Chloe’s theory. My mom would not write something she didn’t think was meaningful. And there was something unusual about the formatting of the text as well. One word per line. This had to mean something.
Even after Chloe had left, Thalia and I kept thinking about it, trying to uncover a clue without really knowing if it existed at all. But Thalia wasn’t going to think about it silently: she had to discuss everything rationally.
“I feel Chloe is hiding something.” Thalia’s voice was full of conviction, but her eyes glimmered with a faint sense of doubt.
“Explain.” That was the last thing I could have possibly thought of at that moment. “What makes you think that?”
“You maybe didn’t notice in the midst of this surprising discovery, but Chloe was acting pretty strange today.” I raised my eyebrows skeptically. “Didn’t you realize that she was trying really hard to convince us this poem was insignificant? This pushes me to think the opposite,” she said calmly. I sat in silence, so she kept going. “Also, if this whole theme of depression was insignificant in your mother’s eyes, wouldn’t she have eliminated all the other depressing texts?” Although I didn’t answer, Thalia knew she had convinced me by then.
“If we want to prove that she’d hiding something, we must understand this poem first, then,” I said. “But if what you’re saying is right, that means we’ve been trusting a liar. I don’t like that.” Thalia shrugged.
“Maybe the C in Chloe stands for con woman,” she joked.
We sat for a while silently, and I decided I’d glance at the poem one last time before going to bed. Suddenly, I jumped up from the couch.
“Thalia, you’re a genius! This poem is an acrostic poem!”
I received a phone call from Jared that arrived at the best possible timing. Aside from being my bus companion, he was my undercover agent in search for information about my mom’s death. The amount of bus rides we shared were enough time for me to tell him my story.
“Your mom was a novelist, Tamara. Pretty well known in Ireland, apparently. Her most successful book is said to be an autobiographical novel called How I Lost Her. But it was published exclusively in Ireland.” Hearing Jared’s words, I felt for the first time I was close to knowing my real mom. He cleared his voice and kept talking. “Actually… I shouldn’t talk in past tense. The book was published 3 years ago, way after you were told she was dead, and it doesn’t seem that it was published posthumously.”
I had to say it aloud to believe it:
“She’s alive?” It came out as a hesitant statement. I wondered about her book. Jared read my mind.
“I’ve got a copy of the book. It arrived from Ireland yesterday. I wanted to wait until I had it to tell you.” A short pause. “Also, I noticed it was published under her maiden name, Brianna Brooks, if that helps.”
“Jared, can you come over?”
“You’re up to something, Tamara,” Thalia said, eyeing me suspiciously.
“Well…” The doorbell rang. “You’ll see what I’m up to right now.” I went to open the door to Jared.
After I’d introduced them and updated her on the latest news, we started reading How I Lost Her right away. If we were going to get Chloe to tell us about the information she was hiding, we had to know the truth. And the truth was in my mother’s autobiographical novel.
We were a few chapters in when I stopped reading and asked a question that kept recurring in my mind ever since Jared’s call:
“It makes sense that the book was published in Ireland because my mom is Irish, but if this book is the story of her life, then what it this diary? So far, the contents of these two don’t coincide.” The looks on Jared and Thalia’s faces revealed that they too were thinking about that question.
“This isn’t the only thing that doesn’t make sense,” Thalia pointed out, “Why did she use her maiden name?”
We sat in silence for a while, and it was at that point that Jared said he had to go. At the door, he said:
“I’ll make sure to let you know if I have more information.”
“I’m sure you will,” I answered, giving him a weak smile. He turned around and walked away. “Hey, Jared?” He stopped. “Thank you so much.” He smiled, fully and radiantly, and left.
© 2017 H Bakerley