The Journal of Meride
My grandmother used to say that a mirror, when seen without a thought of one’s self, becomes a carrier of all. It was a sentence I heard all throughout my childhood but never quite understood. She’d say the more times she’d repeat it, the more I would learn to ask questions. Alas, she’d whisper after a long, warm day, if one thinks of the questions, one is capable of anything. She died not long after my father did, but every so often, I’d dream of her. It was never a terrifying thing. In fact, when I saw her, she emanated a serenity I only heard of in books. Grandma May was one with the wind. She was, in all ways, crazy. But you see, she was crazy the way a leaf was once blown by a sudden wind. She was crazy the way a shooting star was when wished upon. She was crazy the way an inspired mind was. In fairytales, she would’ve been the princess. One who spoke her mind and fought for the right of the world. But she wouldn’t have accepted a rescue. No. She would have flipped the prince off and swung a sword herself. That is who she was. A warrior with a kind heart and confidence capable of twisting even the most mal intended labels. That’s what made her, her.
The difference between her and I was that she never feared the unknown nor the implications of love. I feared both. When I looked in a mirror, I didn’t think of anything else but the image before me. Whilst the mirror was a projection of my flaws and faults, Grandma May saw a reflection of the world. She saw the need for a catalyst for change. She saw it all in a light not seen by many but fought to show it. So, when people screamed about my crazy grandmother I smiled and I nodded and I agreed. She was indeed crazy and she did fight for a world not worth fighting for. Despite the judgment and the ignorance and the mockery, she kept that fire blazing within her the way a phoenix rebirthed. She kept coming back for more. She kept fighting.
I brought the shrinking candlelight to my moonlit desk. Pen in hand, ink dripping from my index finger, I wrote furiously on parchment. I imagined the world as I wanted it to be. A queendom? A kingdom? I didn’t quite know which would be more politically correct. Was that even something to consider? I overthought things I’ve noticed and tended to use those distractions to build disinterest until slowly, I stopped writing and I went to sleep. But tonight I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to think about perfect names and perfect plots and perfect characters, I wanted to think of the giant waves travelling from ocean to ocean. I wanted to think of undiscovered dragons lurking above an alp, protecting something unbeknownst to humans. I wanted to think of a world so impossibly possible that it sparked fantasies in even the most content. So I wrote until my hand grew hot and fingers tired and my palm ached. I wrote and wrote and wrote until the memory of grandma May became so lively, so here that I drowned in sleep.
“Wake up, Hazel! You’re late for work!” Sometimes I wished I could go on holiday and never come back. I lifted my head up, expecting to see my mother’s scowling face before me, but instead found that of my old, torn-up, eye-missing llama. I shuttered. I was not a normal child. I never fancied the thought of choosing the most loved stuffed toy. So most obviously, the llama seemed to be the one stuffed toy no one else would have picked out. I thought it deserved the love no one was willing to give him. Poor Mr Bobert has suffered more than those working below my corrupt mother.
I sped towards my obscenely messy closet, figuring once more that my clothes were stupidly few and bland. It was that or the fact I had spent countless mornings postponing the incredibly urgent need for a laundry day. There was, however, no neglecting my busy schedule. Hustling to brush my teeth and ready myself for the predictable day, I dashed to the door, my elbow just barely grazing the ancient, wooden fireplace frame. It cracked. My mother’s heavy footsteps creaked up the flight stairs and I panicked, nearly tripping over multiple sprawled books on the carpeted floor. Shite.
“Hazel, what in god’s name is taking so long?” The door flung open, and I grinned widely. Perhaps she wouldn’t notice? I gently rested my elbow on the fireplace, pretending I was just ‘chilling’. Young adults chill. This wasn’t an uncommon, every-day position. Act natural, Hazel. I smiled sweetly at the wicked woman.
“I was just, you know, chillin',” I said, waving my hand around rather wildly.
“Right. Hun, I need to see a little bit of that responsibility you promised me. I know your trip to the-”
“Could we just not? Look, I know I haven’t been putting much effort into this but I promise I will. I’ll be better.” She nodded, her eyes gleaming with a particular mistrust. Maybe it was pity?
“I know, honey. You’ve just been holed up in your room for so long and I just want to make sure you’re okay.” Here we go again. My mother had the tendency of turning everything into a speech. But most of the time, it wasn’t the type to leave me satisfied or content. It was the type to leave discomfort and guilt.
“I’ve been struggling with this change too, sweetie. But look at me! I’m all up and about. You just have to keep going and then you’ll slowly get over it.” I tuned it out. It’s what I did because it was my own way of ‘getting over it’. My mom, as concerned as she was, never let me mourn. If she did, I’d be gifted with her monologue. Her way of putting all her weight onto my shoulders to earn sympathy and the little bit of self-control I had left. I did love her. I really did. But sometimes I just wished I could be sad without thinking of the sadness of others. Alas, when I was with her I couldn’t just think of my problems. I had to think of how my behaviour and my past and my feelings impacted her. So, I tuned it out.
“And I just can’t be the best version of myself if you’re constantly in your bedroom moping around. Let’s be better together, okay?” I smiled and that was it. She never took notice of my eyes. All she needed was a confirmation, a promise and a hug. The door closed and along with it my throat. I clenched my jaw with force. I didn’t want to cry. Crying was for the weak. I breathed in and out just like Grandma May told me to before standing upright and ignoring the images of father flickering in my mind. I wished I could just leave.
Wood cracked suddenly and I screeched. I did not mean leave this Earth! I did not mean leave this Earth! I opened my eyes with panic, only to hear a thump on the ground. A scream would have followed if I hadn’t lost my voice in the process of pissing my pants. I barely calmed down as thoughts of giant spiders crawling out of dark holes sprang into my cluttered mind. I gulped once, twice, three times before pinching myself. Okay, at least I wasn’t dead.
I gazed down, thinking I’d find an animal to match the loud sound but was instead met by a leather journal. I creased my eyebrows. Maybe mysterious journals falling out of perplexing holes wasn’t that out of the ordinary? I chuckled softly. This was probably just a joke. But then again, my lack of friends and siblings was justification enough that no one would waste their time on a rather useless prank. Sighing nervously, I rested the dusty journal on my palm. This better not be cursed, I thought to myself before untying the book open.
Journal of Meride
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