27th November

The Graveyard, New Diary

Dear Diary,

I ruined Gramps' birthday party. At least, Di and I ruined it in collaboration. But if I'd let my little sister have the last potato and been less childish about it, it never would've happened.

And yet I don't think I could've held on from being childish much longer. The past few months have been building up to this. Running away is a contemplation. But I can scarcely think about leaving my family, cruel as they are. They are my family, and in my way I love them, especially my father. In any case, I don't feel ready to run away, if I ever do. Just giving up the last potato to a spoilt little sister won't drive me away.

A little sister is truly a curse. Dianna and I never got on well. We aren't remotely the same, and unfortunately Di is the one who gets Mum's sympathy. While Di is outgoing and makes friends easily, including one of the king's granddaughters, who is in her year at school. The granddaughter is a complete royal totty, and Di plays her posh well-bred friend with sickening affection. They both hate me from the bottom of their shallow little hearts.

I am on the other hand. I like to think myself sensible and well-balanced. I am quiet. At least, one of my current mental ponderings is whether I am quiet, or just unnoticed. I don't find it easy to make friends. People don't seem to see me. I think I have a natural talent for invisibility, or maybe I am just a colourless little flower, as I have heard Mum tell her friends over the phone.

These have been three long years. Grannie was my sympathiser. She baked apricot cookies for me, and she encouraged me to talk to her about everything, and she was the one who first got me into making family trees. Family trees are my passion, and I am still scouring her filing cabinet for clues in the great story of ancestry. I don't often get a chance. The filing cabinet is in Gramps' rooms. He lives with us, since three years ago, and he stays in and grumbles about his rheumatism most of the time.

Father is kind to me occasionally, but he is a very busy man directing a large company all alone, after his partner Fearghal Cleveland walked out on him halfway through last year. And when he's home is ruled by Mum, who I am sure turns a hair on his head grey with every word she barks out at us all.

The graveyard is my haven. It is very near my house, just out the back gate and down the lane, which is now so overgrown I must push through the bracken and I am often soaking wet when I arrive, especially in miserable November. I come here when I am tired or sad, with the diary Grannie gave me the day she died. She came back to life that day, to give me the diary and tell me she loved me. She was overcome by dementia five months before she died. That was what first broke my heart. A world without Grannie was impossible to think about.

And then she did die, and I was alone...

So I sit here on the wet grass in front of her gravestone. I don't cry often anymore. The sky has already cried for me. Instead I sit and look. I know every grain of rock, every blade of grass, every particle of earth, where her gravestone stands at the edge of the graveyard in its own special undisturbed corner. And I talk to her sometimes. Sometimes out loud, often in my mind, depending on my mood. When I am desparate I talk aloud. When I am calm I talk in my head. And I write in my diary, as I am doing now.

But I finished the diary Grannie gave me. I finished it last week. And I have been scouring Grannie's cabinet in despair for days. I don't know what for. But whatever I was looking for, I found it.

Grannie's own diary. The last entry was the day before we found her humming Amazing Grace over and over again in a trance, the day before she lost her mind. The first entry was when she was eleven years old, my age. It's a fat book full of loose sheets, which I put in an envelope and stuck to the inside cover. Her entries are much shorter than mine are, and quite spaced out. That's why it lasted so long. I didn't read any of it. It is private to Grannie.

I left a few pages and wrote today's date. It gives me comfort to be writing on the pages Grannie was meant to fill. The same pages she once flicked through with her soft crinkly hands.

But Grannie's not here any more. She's under that cold slab of stone, cold and clammy as the rain sifts through the earth, buried without oxygen, not breathing, lifeless, dead.

That makes me alone.

I'd better get back to the party. If I'm missed I may be spoiling it more than before. On the other hand, maybe it's better I stay away.

The End

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