Sunday, April 1, 2007

The Diary: A short story by Dani

I.
One rainy Sunday afternoon, while I was visiting my Grandmother who signs, I stumbled across a box of old books and papers in her library. Curious, as all young children are - for I was only 10 years old at the time - I started pulling papers out and looking through the contents of the old books. As I neared the bottom of the box, I found a charming looking necklace. On the silver chain hung a small silver key.
Pleased, I hung it around my neck and continued to rummage through the parchments. At last, I finally removed the last of the papers and books. Staring down into the box, my eyes were captured by the sight of a strange little book that lay on the very bottom. Intrigued, I picked it up. The cover was hard and brown in color. A silver lock wound around the front to the back. I tried to open it, but ceased to do so after I realized the lock on the cover would not budge.
As I studied the keyhole, a thought at once occurred to me. It must be the key around my neck! The answer was literally right under my nose. Feeling quite impressed with my brilliant deduction, I removed the chain from around my neck and went to insert it in the lock. Turning the key, I heard a strained click, and the lock popped open. Gingerly, I pulled the cover open and stared down at the few yellowed pages bound to the spine. They were unlined pages, but that proved irrelevant due to the neat and straight lines of the writer’s simple handwriting. Enchanted, I began reading.

II.
The Fourth Day of the Tenth Month
Dear Diary,
Today is my 10th birthday and I have just received you as my birthday present. Mother and Father thought you would be a good thing for me to have, considering I am without any friends and still remain an only child. I know they worry about me dreadfully sometimes, especially since they believe me to be deaf. But it is not so. I have purposefully neglected to inform them that I can, in fact, speak. I simply choose not to. Why, you ask? Because they do not understand me, and talking bores me terribly. Plus, I find it to be a waste of precious breath. Other than that, I get headaches quite frequently and noise of any kind irritates it tremendously. I prefer silence, for I find it to be peaceful. But my parents do not understand, nor will they ever. They do not know me, their little girl. So you, dear diary, shall come to know and understand me, for you cannot talk and, therefore, cannot disagree nor argue with me. You shall be my best friend, considering you are now my only friend.

III.
The Sixth Day of the Tenth Month
Dear Diary,
It is quite silent in the house today; just the way I like it. Father is away on business for a few days and Mother is visiting her sick sister who lives two counties over, so I am left here at home with my Nanny. She is a plump old lady, roughly around fifty years in age, with pretty blue eyes and silver colored hair. She makes the most delicious butter cookies, but she refuses to allow me to sample the batter, which Mother always lets me do. I sneak a taste when she is not looking, though!
She is quite gullible, and easily spooked, so I quite enjoy playing tricks on her when she is least suspecting. I am quite clever as I always throw suspicion off myself. Instead, I love pinning the blame on her black cat, Maestro, whom I simply detest. Yesterday, after she finished baking a batch of butter cookies, she left the flour out and ran to greet a guest she was expecting for tea. Maestro was sleeping on his pillow by the fireplace, so I took one of my small rubber balls and threw it at him. It hit him square on the head and he leapt up into the air, yowling in fright. Well, he landed in the sack of flour and it poofed up in a big cloud all around him, coating his fur in a white blanket from head to toe. I grabbed my ball and rushed out the back door just in time to hear Nanny returning. She was absolutely furious!
“Maestro! You bad kitty! Get out of my flour! Now you must have a bath!” Her Italian accent echoed through the old halls of our country manor. I could hear it quite clearly from my room as she fussed over that stupid cat’s bad behavior. But I was quite pleased with myself and my na├»ve mischief.


IV.
The Ninth Day of the Tenth Month
Dear Diary,
Father returned from his business trip shortly after lunch today. Mother returned yesterday from her sister’s house. They have been talking privately in Father’s study and will not permit me to enter. I hope they will tell me soon whatever is the matter.

The Eleventh Day of the Tenth Month
Dear Diary,
Mother and Father announced to me today that I am to begin learning sign language as a means of communicating with them. They have grown weary of deciphering my little handwriting, as we talk through writing notes to each other, and are obviously prepared to move on to another means of communication. I was not sure how to react to that news. I was so tempted to speak, to tell them that I am not deaf, but held my tongue for fear of having to explain myself. Nor did I want them to go into shock, for I have never once uttered a single word aloud, not even in private, for the walls have ears and I do not trust them.
You see, after I was born, my parents realized that my hearing was not fully developed and I could not even make noises when I was a baby. My parents taught me to read and write as young as I was able, and I learned to recognize things by sight. It wasn’t until I was seven years old that I began to hear things and understand words. But I decided to hold onto my silence, since I felt they could never know me as anything but deaf. But now I do not know what to do, my friend. Should I reveal my unspoken secret, or endure the unnecessary yet easy task of learning sign language?

V.
The Thirteenth Day of the Tenth Month
Dear Diary,
I have made my final decision. I will not reveal my secret, but will instead learn the language of signs. It was not as hard of a decision to make as I originally thought. After I wrote my last entry I realized that I have lived with my secret for so long it has become a part of my identity and I shall not part from it. Thus, to please my parents and prevent them from uncovering the truth, I will begin lessons in three days.

The Sixteenth Day of the Tenth Month
Dear Diary,
Lessons today were quite stupid. For one thing, the tutor never spoke a word to me, he merely pointed to the word on the page of the textbook and made the sign for it with his hands. He, like my parents, does not know I can hear, so I guess I cannot blame him for assuming I am still deaf. All the same, I suppose I should be grateful that the lessons are not hard and it should not take me too long to learn all the necessary signs. I could quite possibly teach myself, if my parents would allow it. But alas, no, for they too are learning the signs, although at a rate slower than mine. It is simply because they are kept busy with their business meetings and appointments, which makes me wonder why they wanted sign language to become our new means of communication in the first place. Oh, how they vex me with ridiculous problems and senseless solutions. I simply do not understand them.

VI.
My reading was interrupted by the ringing of the bell that signaled tea time. There were plenty more pages in the diary to read, but I was not disappointed in the least. I had read my fill and was satisfied with the content. Thoughtfully, I closed the cover but did not lock it as I made my way to the parlor where my Grandmother was waiting. She looked up and smiled wisely at me when I entered the room. Then, her eye caught a glimpse of the unlocked book in my hand and she signed for me to sit down in the chair across from her. As I obeyed, I noticed a change in her demeanor. She gazed upon the book as thought she were being reunited with a long lost friend.
She knew what it was.
“This was yours,” I said, looking down at it.
She nodded, tears welling up in her eyes. Then she spoke for the first time in her life.
“My best friend told you my secret.”