"High school is the first step in life's long staircase," my mom wrote in her diary when she was seventeen. I'd found it covered in dust in one of the boxes that were hidden under old blankets and clothes in the attic, when I was packing to move. The box was labelled, "Confessions of a Less-Than Perfect Teen". I know mom had lots of issues back when she was my age (seventeen), like losing my grandpa to cancer, or her own medical results since grandpa's side of the family was plagued by cancer. There were more than a dozen diaries safely tucked under books like, Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad, To the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf, and The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I leafed through some of the older diaries, their pages slightly yellowed by age, before finally deciding to bring down the whole box to my room.
When mom died, dad was devastated. He went through bouts of alcoholism and anger with those who approached him, except for me because I reminded him of mom and he would never hurt her. But mom died when I was six, so dad had plenty of time to go through the grieving stages before finally meeting and falling in love with another woman.
The afternoon that I found the box, I hid it under a pile of clothes in my closet. I wanted it to be my secret. I barely knew my mom before she was taken away by the cancer that took her dad from her, so the idea of having something that would finally tell me what she was like was both exciting and scary. What if I didn't like who she was? What if she had secrets too heavy for me to learn?
I made a pact with myself that I would read one diary at a time, cover to cover without missing a page, a scribble, or a dark secret. I hadn't started yet when the moving day came. I stuffed all the diaries into several backpacks and carried them with me all the way to our new house in Playa, Florida, a small town bordered by the beach. Dad asked about the bags, but I told him that they were fragile things that I didn't trust the movers with.
Dad's fiance, Kate Martinez, lives in a house near the centre of Playa. That's where dad's taking us, despite my refusals to go. This is another reason why these diaries are important to me, so that I can remember and learn about a past that my dad is so desperately trying to erase.
My name is Habana Torrez-Morales, I'm seventeen and my dad just moved us to the middle of nowhere, because of a woman that he hopes will ease the pain of losing my mom.