Darkness, peace and serenity…
That was what she felt that day – that day she fell
asleep and never woke up. That day she shut her eyes and
slipped off to Sandman’s realm, that day she laid her head
on the pillow and sighed quietly. Sleep.
Sniffle gasp sob.
The sounds mother uttered when she found that her
daughter was asleep on her bed, her lips slightly parted,
her eyes shut tight. A stillness surrounded the sleeping
body – especially the part where the torso was supposed to
rise and fall from the breathing. All was still.
The body was laid in a white box covered with red
silk, placed beneath six feet of soil before mother threw
in a handful of ground that slightly smudged the coffin.
Roses followed, and tears. Goodbye.
“How did she die?”
“What? She’s dead?”
“My gosh…how terrible…”
“When did it happen?”
Questions uttered without meaning or emotion, just
simple questions asked by those who gossip. Unworthy
questions…a waste of time to answer.
I sat down on a chair in a classroom, my heart
curious and heavy, my eyes slightly drooping down to my
lips. I’m tired. So tired.
She did well in school. Her grades were high
enough, her friends nice enough and her other activities
were just enough. She was a good student.
Mother was washing the dishes when I saw her behind
the window. She looked tired and old, as if she had just
lost her baby. She had.
Father was sitting on a rocking chair, holding a
picture of her, the one who fell asleep, and sighed.
“She was a good girl wasn’t she, Martha?”
“Yes she is James.”
“How old was she?”
“Is she,” Mother corrected.
“How old is she?”
“Still so young…”
Father’s hands closed over the picture and his
fingers pushed against it. “Martha?”
His hands clenched, his fingernails biting into his
palm. “Martha…tell me…”
Blood trickled down his palm. “Martha…Martha…
Dishes being rinsed. “Go ahead, James.”
“Martha…” His body racked with sobs. “Martha…
The sound of dishes being rinsed stopped. “Oh no.
James, no, stop it.”
“Martha…” Father wailed. “Martha why? Why why
Mother ran to him. . “Stop it James…stop it.
This is not helping.” She threw her arms around
Father cried. “Why? Why did this have to happen?”
“It was her time, James. Stop crying…please…stop
it. No don’t think about this anymore. Besides, we still
“…Justine,” Father said, his voice breaking. “Her
sister, Justine…our younger daughter, Justine.”
“Where is she?”
“I think she’s at her friend’s place or something.
I don’t exactly know.”
I turned from the window and ran toward the
peaceful lake just below the house. I ran. I jumped. And
I was submerged in cool water.
Take me out of the dark, my Lord.
“She never did like to be with a lot of people, did
“No she didn’t, James.”
I sat quietly on a chair in the dinner table.
Mother and Father were talking about her again – the one
who fell asleep. They never did this before.
“I wonder why Martha.”
“I don’t know.” Mother was at the sink again,
wiping dry some dishes.
Mother’s eyes flickered, as if a sudden thought
came to her. “There was this one time though, she came
home crying. You were at work then James. She was crying
and I asked her why. She said some guys tried to flirt
with her and I said, ‘but that’s fine, honey’ but she only
cried harder and said that it was not fine, that flirting
was not good, that flirting was only a tool of the
She placed a few of the dishes onto the
counter. “There was also this one time when she came home
with a load of books. She looked sad and said that she
didn’t have friends anymore. She said everybody has left
her because she was dirty. I said that she looked
perfectly clean and neat to me but she said that she was
dirty. I just couldn’t see it.” A sigh came out. “She
also said that a guy at school tried to make a move on her
and she asked why do guys always flirt with her anyway? I
answered, ‘that’s because you’re pretty honey’ and she
burst out, ‘then I don’t want to be pretty!’ I
asked, ‘why?’ and she said ‘because all guys want from a
pretty face is pretty sex!’ She started to cry again then
and said ‘Mother, do all guys just want sex?’ I said, ‘of
course not honey!’ and she started crying even harder. I
found that a bit unusual but then I figured that she was
still young so I didn’t really think much about the
incident. But now, come to think of it, I think she has a
mental disorder or something. What do you think James?”
Father slowly moved his head from side to side.
Left. Right. Left. Right. “I don’t know Martha.”
I shifted slightly on my chair. Please go on.
“I never did find out the cause of her death,
James. One day I just woke up and went to her room to tell
her to get ready for school when I saw that she was still
asleep. I was surprised since by this time she’d usually
be up and about. Then I noticed that she wasn’t breathing,
and she was cold to the touch. She was dead.”
Father paled. “That was when you yelled for me.”
His eyes started to water again. “I – I still
don’t understand…I can’t take it. I don’t know why this
has to happen.” A tear rolled down his cheek. “Why did
she have to die?”
Mother drew in a deep breath as if willing herself
not to cry. She was a strong woman, she never cried and
she never did show much concern to me…or to my sister.
“I still want to know why and how she died,” she
continued after several breaths. “A person can’t simply
die just because…”
I rose quietly from my chair and slowly climbed up
the stairs that led to her room. Mother and Father were
still talking about her. Maybe they could raise her from
the dead by simply talking about her.
The door opened softly before me and I stepped in
the dark room. Everything was left as they were. The soft
purple drapes still hung by the window, the stuffed
marshmallow man still sat on the bed, the books were still
on the small shelf, the study table was still cluttered
with all of her paints and brushes; everything was still
Except that the dark atmosphere of death hung
heavily against the room.
I walked to the messy table and tried to open a
small shelf below it. It was locked. Great.
I clamped my hand hard on the handle and tried to
tug at it. It wouldn’t budge. I tugged and I tugged and I
tugged. No luck. How happy can life get?
I stood there trying to open the shelf for a long
time. Seconds ticked by…minutes…and still, there I stood
with my hand on the handle, my foot against the table…
tugging…pulling…yanking…and I was tired.
Give it one more try.
I pulled and the shelf came open. Inside was a
lone notebook, a thick blue notebook. And I took it.
I walked out of the room and shut the door silently
“You look pale James. What’s wrong?”
Their conversation floated up to me as I climbed
down the stairs.
“I don’t know Martha…I just had this feeling…that…
something’s going to happen…I don’t know.” A sigh. “I’m
going out for a walk.”
When I got to the door to the kitchen, I saw Mother
turn back to the sink to get back to her dishes. She
didn’t see me or even hear me enter as I walked across the
floor and silently placed the blue notebook on the table.
I exited as quietly, willing, hoping and wishing with all
my might that Mother would notice the notebook.
The water ran from the faucet as Mother started to
rinse the dishes again.
A breeze came through the window, a breeze strong
enough to knock the vase on the table over and shatter
across the floor.
Mother let out a shriek. She frantically turned
around and her eyes quickly went down to the broken vase.
“My mother’s vase!” she cried as she grabbed for
the broom and the dustpan. “My mother’s vase!”
She knelt down, broom and dustpan in one hand, and
picked up the flowers that were scattered as well. She
stood up and looked at the white roses she had in her hand,
the very same roses that were thrown onto the coffin before
the soil came and covered everything. A thought must’ve
come to her for a tear rolled down her cheek.
She walked to the trash bin and threw the roses
in. She furiously wiped the tears with her sleeve and set
out to clean the mess.
It was then that she noticed the blue notebook on
Puzzled, she dropped the broom and dustpan and
picked the notebook up. She found a clean chair to sit on
and very slowly, very gently, she opened the diary. I went
outside to take in the cool breeze.
Walking along the grass, I found myself before the
lake once again. I could drown myself in the cool waters,
lose myself in its darkness, but I didn’t and I won’t. Not
now. Not ever.
I moved back and forth from the lake to the window
to see mother reading the notebook. At times she would
smile, at times she would frown as her daughter’s thoughts
and feelings floated up to her.
Dear Diary, how I wish I’m not me…
I walked back down to the lake. It was dark. The
stars were coming out and father had still not come home.
I made my way back up to the window. Should I go
back into the house soon?
There was a gasp. She had found it.
Mother had a hand to her mouth. Her eyes were wide
and tears sparkled as they ran down her cheeks. They
climbed over mother’s hand and dropped down, staining the
blue cover of the notebook – the way the soil smudged the
coffin as it was lowered down into the ground.
A door banged. Father was home.
“Martha,” he said, “I got you something from the
store in town. It reminds me so much of our little girl. If
she was still alive I would give it to her.” He took off
his jacket and started toward the kitchen. “It sure is cold
out there. It’s a necklace actually, with a paintbrush as a
pendant. Our girl used to paint didn’t she?”
He reached the doorway of the kitchen and he fished
out the gold chain from his pocket. “It’s a pretty little
thing, don’t you think so Martha.” He lifted it up. “Don’t
you think…Martha what’s wrong with you?”
Mother sat on the chair with both of her hands
clamped on her lap. The broom and the dustpan lay on the
floor, spilled soil littered the ground and the diary,
stained with tears and soil, also lay on the hard and cold
Mother’s eyes were red and puffy, her forehead was
drawn, and her mouth was set in a grim and determined line.
She looked at Father with a look so intense that even the
strongest man would’ve turned away.
“My goodness Martha what happened here?” Father
stuffed the necklace back in his pocket and knelt down to
pick up the broom and dustpan. “For crying out loud Martha,
what’s all this mess? Where did all this soil come from?”
He started to sweep the soil onto the dustpan. “And what’s
this? What’s this blue notebook? Is this your recipe book
or something? Or is this where you keep track of all our
expenses? So how much have we spent for the past sixteen
years huh Martha? Why don’t you tell me?”
“That’s her diary James,” she said quietly, angrily.
The sweeping stopped. Father looked up, his eyes
wide, his hands a bit shaky. “Julie’s diary?” he whispered.
He paled. “What’s in it?”
Mother’s hands started to shake. Tears started to
run again. Her voice came out as a low, furious whisper. “I
“Martha…listen to me…”
“Martha this is not what you think…”
“You killed her!”
“I did not kill her Martha!”
“You killed her! You raped her, ravished her until
she could not take it anymore! You climbed into her bed at
night when I was asleep and covered her mouth with your
hand and ravished her over and over and over again!”
“Martha that’s not true!”
“You bastard!” She stood up and grabbed the
diary. “Will this lie? Huh? Will this lie?”
“She was disillusioned! She probably made up the
“Stop lying to me!” She threw the notebook at his
face and screamed, her hands rising to cover both her
ears. “Stop lying to me James! Stop lying to me!”
Mother grabbed a knife from the sink. She held it
in front, both hands clamped on the handle, the pointed end
away from her. “All these years,” she breathed through
clenched teeth, “you’ve been taking her, abusing her,
making her believe that you love her, that you love me, but
you raped her!”
“Martha!” Father was wailing now. Tears were
streaming from his eyes.
“How many times did you use her huh? How many
times? Was I not good enough for you anymore? Did you have
to hit on our daughter?!”
Mother leaned against the sink, the knife still in
front of her. “Do you know how she died James? Do you want
to know?” She was mocking him, her face contorted because
of hurt, of fear, and of anger. “She overdosed on sleeping
pills. She used to drink those pills so that she would not
wake up when you came in to ravish her. But on that night,
on that fateful night, when she decided that she could not
take it any longer, she overdosed. She overdosed James! It
is all written in that diary. Her plan, her fears, and her
Mother’s hands were shaking, her voice was
trembling, breaking as if she could not talk any more.
Father was crying. He did not know why she decided
to die. All he did was love her, love her, love her…
“She could’ve had a bright future James. But you
destroyed everything for her.”
He couldn’t stop crying. He was still on his knees,
his head buried in his hands, water falling from the spaces
between his fingers. “I loved her…”
“Are you happy with what you have done James? Are
you happy? You should be proud of yourself!” Mother glared
at him through tear-stained vision. “You will not lay
another finger on our daughter again. You will not set foot
in this house ever again you hear me? And you will not lay
a hand on Justine! Nor will you ever see her again!”
I stood a little away from the window. I heard
Take me out of the dark, my Lord.
“I’m sorry Martha,” Father murmured. “I’m sorry I’m
sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry –“
“Sorry?! What good is your sorry now James? You
killed our child and all you have to say is you’re sorry?!
The front door flew open.
“Justine is that you? Justine, come here sweetie,”
“Justine, baby come here. Come here, let me show
you your father. Let me show you the man who destroyed your
A little girl came into the kitchen. Her hair was
tied back in a loose pony tail, her eyes were wide with
“Justine!” Father cried and reached for her.
“Don’t you touch her!” Mother shrieked and quickly
yanked the girl from the door. “Don’t you dare touch her
you animal!” She wrapped an arm around the girl, the knife
glinting from the light. “Look at your father sweetie. Your
father killed your sister hon. He killed your sister. He
destroyed her! He’s leaving darling, don’t you worry. He’s
leaving and he’s never coming back.”
Justine’s eyes were sparkling with tears, her lower
lip was trembling as she asked, “Dad…?”
Father broke down. “I’m sorry Justine…”
“Get out of this house James. Get out. Do you
understand me? Get out! Get out!”
Father was crying. Mother was screaming. Justine,
her hand clenched tightly on Mother’s arm, slowly turned
her head to the window. Her eyes locked with mine.
“Julie…?” she whispered.
I ran from the window. I ran and ran and ran. I ran
into the night, into the horizon, into the skies and into
the stars that twinkled in silence.
Dear Diary, how I wish I’m not me…
But I am me. And I ran, I jumped and I went up, up
All those nights of yearning, all those years of
silence…all gone. All free. All free…
Now I can sleep….peacefully…eternally.
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