A Book of Blank Pages

Well, this is something I wrote a couple years back (when I was young and unwise- don't hate on the grammatical errors/painful cheese) and recently found on my computer. I don't know, I feel like it has potential... But I haven't got any idea where I was trying to go with it. Any ideas? Well, basically, it seems to me that it's about a girl who gets hit by a car.

    I don't know who you are, and you don't really know who I am, either, do you? So I think I'm entitled to an introduction. However, if anyone ever ends up reading this thing (and obviously you're reading this because you're reading this), it's not just a diary, it's a a book. And I've always thought that books that start like "Hello, my name is Alina Kaye," are extremely tacky. 
    But I never said I wasn't extremely tacky.
    So, hello, my name is Alina Kaye.
    Today is the sixteenth of June. Maybe I should have written that in the top? I've never actually had a journal before, so forgive me if I make some omissions or am not functioning like a professional. That's because I'm not a professional. I'm a complete novice in the art of journal-writing, not that it seems very hard- except the part about remembering to date it. 
    Anyways, I think I was introducing myself? I just turned seventeen years old. I have one younger sister named Karina- she's fourteen. Predictably, I have a mother who doesn't do much but worry and a father who just doesn't do much. My mom is actually shooting worried glances at me in what she thinks is a furtive manner- right now, she's concerned about my apparent "withdrawal" from family life. Once she understands that it's just a little thing called "growing up," she'll start panicking about something else. Right now should be the part where I say something like "my other interests apart from journaling include..." The trouble is that I don't have many "other interests." I don't believe I'm interested in journaling, either.
    Well, that's me. What about you?
    No, I didn't actually expect you to answer.
    Since you can't talk, I'll explain how I ended up with a completely useless book of blank pages myself. It's actually quite an interesting story, and I'm convinced you'll enjoy it. It all started on the day I was hit by a car.
    See, that's the kind of cliche I'm trying to avoid. "It all started..." I feel pathetic using phrases like that. My teachers agree that I have great potential inside me, despite my seeming "averageness." Apparently I just fail to exert myself, put in effort, that sort of thing. I could have thrown this journal away, but my worrisome mother decided that this would be the perfect vent for me to "exert myself." 
    Ah, yes. The day I was hit by a car. This is probably going to sound like an obtuse exaggeration, which is what many of my so-called friends told me- well, in less polite language. But there would be no point lying to you, it's not like you even exist. I actually feel kind of stupid sitting here settling into a full-fledged rant to a nonexistent entity. 
    I digress. I've been told that's another large problem in my style of writing, my inability to focus. My teachers believe I may have been born with writing ADHD that prevents me from ever getting my point across. Just to prove them wrong, I'm actually going to finish telling you about the day I was hit by a car. 
    I was being stupid. That's the simple reality of it, and I'm not going to attempt to redirect the blame to anyone else. I told you that I was going to maintain a policy of total truthfulness with you, which is much more than anyone else in my life can say while still keeping that aforementioned policy of total truthfulness. You can return the favor by not lying to me, if you ever make up your mind to open your mouth.     That was the day my mom told me what exactly it was she and dad had been having deafeningly hushed midnight conversations about. I didn't react pleasantly, screaming, throwing everything that came into my hands, and finally storming out the door. I wish I could say I had been extremely mature in the face of adversity, but I instead raged along the sidewalk for several miles and then sat down on the curb in one of the more dangerous districts of Queensburg.     At the point, I had no idea I was in the South Side. I just sobbed and sobbed until I was utterly sobbed out, dry as the desert. Then I looked up and found myself face to face with a grimy hobo. He grinned, displaying a mouth that was literally empty- no teeth, no nothing. "'Ello, sweetheart," he said in  a raspy voice. I screamed and stood, stepping back violently without shutting up, which was an extremely bad idea, because more creepy old men literally seeped out of cracks between walls. The spectacle was quite reminiscent of a scene from a zombie movie. Zombies have always been a particular fear of mine.    This was the point where I started running in an indiscriminate direction, not caring where it was I was going as long as it was away. The zombies may or may not have been following me, but whenever I picture it in my head, I see a thick tail following me. I'm not a hundred percent sure whether or not this was true; I was way too freaked out to spare a glance back. Maybe I was too freaked out to spare a glance forward, either, because the next thing I knew my right side was rammed into by a blue Corvette driven by a real hit-and-running idiot who seemed like the type who practically ran over teenage girls every day of his life because he didn't even spare me a backwards glance. Kind of like me and the zombies. Hey, maybe he was being hotly pursued by mythical beasts too. That would at least give him an excuse.    Yeah, remember how I said I was going to take total credit for this whole accident? I changed my mind.     In that moment, I couldn't feel any anger at the driver, or even take a moment to memorize his license plate number to report him. You think that, in the same situation, that's what you'd do, right? I know you so well, you theoretical stranger. Well, think again. When you're half dead, the DMV is the last thing on your mind. And I did feel half dead, though the doctors told me my injuries weren't that severe. I was really only a quarter dead. 
    So you're wondering how this has anything to do with how I ended up receiving this journal, right? 
    You are so impatient
    The real question is, how did I survive? Wouldn't the hobos, zombies or otherwise, have found me lying on the ground in something of a state and used me for whatever horrifying intentions they had in mind? Because, believe me, I was in a state. My leg was utterly mangled, my arm bloodied, and I was on the whole twisted up. If they had found me lying on the ground there, I would probably be long gone. Luckily, someone else found me first.
    His name is Jedediah Robert Andrews, twenty-three, but I didn't know that at the time. I didn't learn that until today, almost a month after the day I was hit by a car, when I accidentally stole his wallet. One of the reasons I didn't know that on the day of the incident is because I passed out when I glanced at my leg and saw the black and blue and bloody mess. I always thought that I had a pretty high threshold for gore- I watch R-rated movies all the time, which probably contributes to my phobia of the undead- but when it's your gore, the whole equation is irrevocably changed.     The first thing I remember after glimpsing my injury, a mental image I will never be able to erase, is coming to in the hospital. I woke up, and was greeted by my mother's worried face. "Darling," she mumbled through a sheet of tears, "I hope you never do that again." 
    I didn't respond eloquently, or dramatically, or lovably, like I expected myself to based on my knowledge of film. Rather, I said in a befuddled voice, "Wha- what happened?" The memory was weirdly hazy in my head, it still is. 
    The horror on my mother's face mounted. Swiveling to face the doctor, who had just walked into the room- apparently I was bad enough to warrant an entire room to myself- she demanded, "Has she suffered mental damage?"
    "She's fine," he said in an exasperated tone of voice, as if this wasn't the first time my mother had asked a stupid question. I hadn't even hit my head, at all. "The memory's probably a little vague at this point, which is good. That way she won't have to remember the initial pain."         Reassured, my mom looked back at me, placing a palm against my left cheek. "Honey, you were just so upset and then you left and I was so terrified about what might happen and you're always telling me I worry for no reason but I did have a reason to worry because, look!" she said in one breath. "Now you're in the hospital!" I'm starting to consider that maybe my penchant for run-on sentences is genetic.    I was starting to regain my memory. "Who brought me here? I remember there was some guy who carried me..." I scrunched up my eyes, trying to remember. I hadn't seen him for long, just a few seconds before I went out cold, not looking even once at his face. I had stared at his hand for probably around fifteen seconds, just long enough to notice a ring bedecking the fourth finger from his thumb. It was distinctive, I recalled, words etched into it in some foreign language. Hebrew, I think it might have been. It kind of looked like Hebrew, and Jedediah sounds like a Hebrew name, doesn't it?
    "Yes," my mother fretted. "That's what the nurses said too. But he left before I arrived here. Isn't it a pity that we won't ever get to thank him?"
    I groaned and fell back into the sheets. The next two weeks passed in a flurry of groaning and falling back into sheets as I was stuck in the hospital, injured. The month became progressively and progressively worse as my father moved out of the house to Cincinatti after a single visit to me in my personal ward. "Alina," he said, stiffly, "I'm sorry it has to be like this. But your mother and myself... this is the only way. We both feel as though we need to end it, there's so many reasons. I'll still come and see you. You understand, right?" I don't understand, and I can't think of any reasons. And I don't think he'll come and see me either.      The misery of my fortnight under intensive care peaked when Chase came to see me. He arrived while I was asleep- that was one of my predominant activities, sleeping. There's not much else you can do when your physician insists that you shouldn't leave the room- and when I awoke, he was perched on the very edge of the bed, staring out the window. I watched him watch the birds flying outside the fifth-floor for a little while, smiling. Despite his being more than a year older than myself, there's something undeniably childlike about him. It probably has something to do with the combination of his wide, hazel  eyes and the dark hair that falls over them. Whatever the reason, looking at him makes me smile.
    "Lina," he said finally, not looking at me. Somehow, he could sense I was awake. Telepathy might be an aftereffect of spending most of the last fifteen years with each other. Or maybe he didn't care if I was conscious or not. 
    "Hey," I said in a hoarse reply.
    Then, he turned to me. "I'm sorry I haven't come to see you," he apologized quietly. "I've just been really busy."    I nodded.    He added: "But today... I need to... Tomorrow. Alina, I'm leaving tomorrow."  
    For a moment, I was utterly silent, blasted into oblivion by this revelation. "Tomorrow? Where are you leaving to tomorrow?"
    "They're sending me to Mayfield. For training. I won't be back for six months, at least, probably more. Not for a couple of years unless the war ends." 
    I didn't reply, staring at my hands, trying not to cry. The war isn't going to end, not for another lifetime, at least. It's been raging, on and off, since before I was born, and probably will continue forever. Most people have lost track of what it's even being fought for; it's a bloody, pointless, drag, similar to my injury. Chase isn't back yet. He's still in Mayfield, and I hope he stays there- even if I miss him like a stomachache, it's better that he's in training than on the warfront in Europe, or, worse, Asia. I haven't personally known anyone who survived Asia.

    I ended up crying. 

    He's going to die, I know it. It's not fair that he had to be drafted, he's practically just a boy. I should have seen this coming a long time ago, though. Most of the young men are shipped out to a training facility shortly after they turn eighteen and are officially adults. But that sort of thing only happens to other people: your neighbors, someone from your school, someone who shops at the same grocery store as you. Not your best friend. Then again, it's usually "other people" who get hit by cars, too, so my life is kind of missing its order.

    The point is that, if he gets sent to the fray, he doesn't stand a chance. Chase has always been the sensitive type, never hurting anything more substantial than a fly. How on earth do they expect him to shoot people? To drop bombs? All I know is that they're going to face some difficulty compelling him to fight. I remember, sharply, the way his hand, clenched between two of mine, felt that day in the hospital when I wouldn't allow him to depart. The possibility that that may have been the last time I'll ever feel him terrifies me.

    "Goodbye, Chase," I said softly as he stepped backwards out the door, having finally wrenched himself from my grasp. 

    "Goodbye," he replied. That's the last word he said to me: "Goodbye." Not very promising, in my opinion.

    And, no, this doesn't really have to do with why I ended up getting this journal. It does have a large connection with why I'm writing in it, however. If Chase hadn't left, I'd probably be hanging out with him right now- down at the river, in the woods, wherever. But he's gone, and I'm stuck with only you for company. And, of course, my mom, who's currently eyeing me and this book suspiciously. 

    When I was finally permitted to go home, my life was suddenly empty. In two weeks, everything had changed. My father had disappeared to Ohio without leaving behind so much as a contact address, and my best friend was headed to his death. School had ended for the year, leaving me to spend the summer break listless. 

    I literally did nothing for the first few days, carrying on my routine from the hospital of lying in my bed and counting sheep on the ceiling. Then, my mother got on my case. At first, she tried to involve me in church groups, but that failed when I explained to her my belief in atheism. I don't think I actually believe in atheism, I just said so to get out of spending time with those brainwashed puppets. They didn't even seem human- whenever I suggested that we actually do something interesting, such as watch a zombie movie, they rejected it as an "immoral" option. Zombies aren't that immoral. Vampires are worse. All they wanted to do was sit and discuss their morality like a bunch of grandmothers. No grandfathers, no guys at all, because they're all either at Mayfield or in the East, remember? I honestly can't see why those girls are so concerned with losing their morality when there's no one to lose their morality to.
    But maybe I do believe in atheism, because I sure don't believe in God. Would God have let dad leave? Would God leave Chase to his death? Would God have let me get hit by a car? No, I don't think so. Therefore, God must not exist. I could write a two-columned proof about it that would make my geometry teacher proud. Is it even possible to "believe" in atheism? Isn't the whole point of atheism not to believe?
    After my mom realized that there was no purpose in compelling me to find my soul like all those other girls, she decided it might be a good idea to make me do something educational, such as read, because her current subject of worrying is that I may be losing my intelligence. "Go to the bookstore," she commanded me this morning, throwing a wad of bills at me. "Buy as many books as you want, just find something to read!" 
    She also mandated that I take Karina with me, despite the fact that not only is Karina already very intelligent and lacks the need to read more, she also flourishes in church groups. I'm guessing the reason my mom required her to tag along with me is that she hopes Karina will stop me from getting in another car wreck, given her greater wisdom than myself. I should be embarrassed by this because she's my younger sister. By three years.
    The bookstore isn't terribly far from the apartment, so we walked there in less than ten minutes. It's practically a block and across the street away- no reason for an unexpected visit to the south side. My sister was characteristically excited for no reason, almost skipping ahead of me as I trailed behind dully. 
    "Why are you so slow?" she complained in a genial manner as she glanced back at me, her blond hair trailing down her back. Looking at us, it's not easy to tell we're sisters. Karina is lovely, all sunshine and happiness, both in appearance and personality. She emanates cheer, which only brings me down more. How can she persist in being happy when my life is so miserable? I serve as a sharp contrast to her, dark and shockingly average. While Karina takes after our father, who was the happy-go-lucky and handsome type, I'm awfully reminiscent of my mother. Brown hair and brown eyes, very plain, on the whole.
    "I don't know if you remember that I was almost roadkilled earlier this month?" I snapped. "I'm not exactly expected to be running marathons at this point." This was really only an excuse. I've never enjoyed exercise, yet another way in which I'm inferior to Karina. She excels in both academic and physical environments, and had been on the volleyball and tennis teams at school. That is, before the budget cuts that had those teams discontinued. Now, any extra money the government has goes into the war. Not into after-school sports for teenagers.
    My response killed the conversation that my sister had been undauntingly trying to start. We entered the store silently, the only sound being the bell ringing as we opened the door. It was a charming location, small and quaint. As we entered, dust was visible in the entering light, proliferating through the air. It was as if the single-room shop had not been occupied in years. 
    Shelves lined the room with little gap between them, creating a claustrophobic atmosphere. By the time I had made these observations, Karina had vanished into the maze of shelves as though into thin air, and I was left to myself. I wandered aimlessly down an aisle, running my fingertips over the spines of the books in search of something interesting. Was there even a sales clerk here, or was the store really empty? I hadn't seen anyone sitting at the front desk when I entered, so I figured if there was someone present, they must be somewhere in the shelves like myself. 
    Just as these thoughts crossed my mind, I heard footsteps coming towards me and I turned to face them, tearing my eyes off the seemingly endless supply of books for just a moment. It was a man who appeared to be a customer, holding several volumes in his large hands. I couldn't have put an age to him- he seemed between eighteen and forty, though. You may wonder how he could possibly have appeared to cover such a vast range: but you didn't see him. His entire appearance was very curious, and if you had asked me to, based on memory, describe the way he looked, I would have failed to identify even basic details such as hair or eye color. I happen to be in possession of a photograph of him, though, so I know for a fact that he has curly blond hair and blue eyes.
    How did I get a picture of this total stranger at my disposal? Why do I even have one? Wait, you'll see.
    He did not smile at me, nod, or show any sign of noticing I was there. Simply breezed right past, his shoulder brushing mine as he squeezed through the gap between me and the shelf opposite me. As he stepped past, I attempted to catch a glance of the top book of the small pile he was holding. I was not able to see the title, as four of his fingers were blocking it; however, I did notice something even more monumentous. His ring finger was occupied by a piece that I recognized well from the day I was hit by a car.
    This was the man who had saved my life.
    I stood frozen for what felt like at least half a minute, and then Karina came tumbling around the corner, clutching a pile of novels that rose higher than her head. "Alina," she gasped in delight, "Do you think we have enough money to buy these?"
    I nodded distractedly, drawing the wad of bills out from my pocket and throwing it to her, simultaneously drawing a random book from the nearest shelf and placing it on top of the already precarious stack, thinking that I would need something to placate my mother with once I got home. "Here, and buy this for me." Then, I turned and started to run after them, hoping to catch him and thank him before he left the store.    I could hear Karina's voice shouting after me, laced with laughter and sounding only somewhat confused: "You lied to me! You can run!"  
    He was standing at the counter, handing over some money to the old man handling the transaction who had somehow materialized there. "Wait!" I called, as he turned and headed for the door, the books held in a brown paper bag in his right hand, a black wallet in the left. He glanced at me, then, ignoring my command, stepped out into the sunlight.
    Grunting in annoyance, I continued after him. After the darkness of the interior of the store, the brightness of the outside world was a shocker, and I stood merely reeling from the surprise for a moment. When I could finally open my eyes fully, I turned my head to both sides until I glimpsed the man, his black coat-clad figure heading down the street.
    "Excuse me!" I shouted, jogging in his direction. This time, he betrayed no sign of even hearing my words, and I wondered why he was so set on avoiding me. Was it possible that he was auditory-challenged? But, there was that time I had shouted in the store. He had clearly noticed me then: why had he ignored me?    As I neared him, he picked up his own pace, and suddenly he was no longer close. "Wait up!" I yelled with the last of my breath, doubling over with the intention of taking a momentary break and remaining in that position for quite a while. When I looked back up, squinting in exhaustion, he was gone. Frustrated, I slapped the side of my head and spun around, wondering how far I had come from the bookstore. It was nowhere in sight. I sighed angrily, wondering if I had somehow ventured to the South Side again.
    I began the trek back the store, hoping Karina was still there and had not returned home, so I would have a chance to convince to keep her mouth shut about this incident to my mother, because if she heard even a word about it I'd probably be grounded from now until eternity. Staring at the unvarying gray sidewalk, I noticed an abrupt black blot against it a few feet ahead. Bending, blinking in confusion, to investigate, I realized it was a wallet.
    His wallet.
    It's sitting in front of me right now, laying innocently on the table. There was nothing really that interesting in it: driver's license, credit cards, receipts for Safeway. It wasn't like he was hiding evidence of drug dealership in there- why had he been acting so edgy? Even if he was a drug dealer, all I wanted to do was thank him, not apprehend him. I fully intend to return it to him tomorrow, complete with all of his contents, so stop looking so scandalized. I'm not a thief. Luckily, Jedediah's address is written on a slip of paper tucked into the ID card holder. Also written is a contact phone number, but I don't intend on calling it in case he flees to Mexico to avoid me for his unfathomable reasons.
    In case you're just dying to know, Karina wasn't at the bookstore. I ran some more to catch up with her before she reached the apartment, and I did, but it turned out to have been pretty useless because my mom wasn't even home. She had gone to pick up some groceries, and I had plenty of time to grill Karina and make sure my mom would never hear a word about my escapade earlier today.
    Oh, and, I almost forgot the whole point of this essay: I got this journal at the bookstore. This is the random book I chucked at my sister during my exit from the building. Now, I didn't expect it to be great, but I didn't really think it would be totally empty either. I can't tell my mother that I wasn't paying attention at the book I was buying and return it, and I can't "borrow" one of Karina's books either because she's sensitive like that. So I just have to write in here for at least a little while to make it seem like this is all intentional, like this is all part of the plan. 
    I think I've probably abated her suspicions now, and writing for longer would only succeed in confusing my mother even more. So I'm going to stop now.

The End

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