My name is Michael Simmons and this is my story. Well, not just my story, really. It's also the untold story of a beautiful, spirited young woman named Katherine. At first glance she was just a normal, run-of-the-mill teenager. She had problems, but tell me what high school girl doesn't? Her problems, though, were anything but normal. Her secrets were far darker than I ever could have imagined, and she knew her secrets could destroy her. For the longest time she wouldn't let me into her mind's world, until she left me the diary. But I'm getting ahead of myself. So many things happened before I got to read everything she wrote on those pages. So many conversations would have helped me save her if I had only listened more. Now several talks with her play through my mind like movie clips being played on repeat... ****
“Katherine!” I call out to the last girl walking out of my classroom. Slowly she stops and turns to face me.
“Yes, Mr. Simmons?” she asks, rolling her honey-colored eyes before she stares right at me.
“Can we talk?” I ask.
“I have lunch now.” She shifts her gaze to the floor.
“After school, then?” Her gaze turns back to me.
“I have band practice after school.” Her stare is both evasive and defiant.
“It doesn't start until six, and you always sit by the track alone until then.”
“I like to sit alone. I have a lot on my mind and being alone gives me time to think.”
“If you have so much to think about then you should talk to someone. I'm willing to listen.”
“I don't talk about what's on my mind. Nobody would ever look at me the same way again. Not even you, Mr. Simmons.”
“I think that it should be me who decides how I look at you, don't you?” I ask. I look at her eyes as she gazes at me silently for a moment. Her eyes... They're so beautiful, but they hold so much sadness in their soft honey depths.
“Maybe so, but I still don't want to talk about it with anyone, even you.”
“Your choice. I'll have an extra soda if you decide to join me.” I smile at her, hoping that she'll trust me enough to talk. I know she's hiding something that really bothers her, but I have no idea what it could be. I watch her closely as she bites her bottom lip and starres at the floor for a moment. Then she looks up at me with a sad smile on her face.
“See you later, Mr. Simmons.” She turns around and walks out without saying another word....
I remember that talk with her as if it were yesterday. Really that day was about a year ago, near the beginning of her junior year. She was such a beautiful and intelligent young woman. Even now my heart jumps at the thought of her. It was wrong then, to love her. Loving her, though, was something I couldn't avoid. I admired her, too, for her strength and courage. She held everything in and faced everything alone for so long. She came back that day and talked with me. I guess my surprise at her coming back was the reason I didn't pay close enough attention to what she said...
Her voice washed over me like a wave of cold water, both refreshing and shocking at the same time. I put down my pen and turned to face her. She stood in the doorway biting her lip. It was as if she were debating whether or not to run. She slowly started to walk into the room. All I could do was watch her; the way she moved so deliberately and her look of tainted innocence and sadness were overwhelming. I could only imagine what it was that she hid from everyone but herself.
“You said you wanted to talk to me so here I am.” She stands and gazes at me patiently.
“You can sit down if you want,” I tell her, waving my hand with a flourish towards the nearest desk. For just a moment an honest smile crossed her face and her eyes lit up. For a moment, one heartstopping moment, she seemed genuinely happy. “Here's the soda I promised you.” I grab the can of cola and hand it to her as soon as she's seated at the desk. She pops it open and takes a tentative sip, keeping her eyes focused anywhere but on me. We sit like that for a while, neither of us speaking. I just don't know what to say to her. In the silence my mind is spinning, searching for something to say to her. Suddenly she breaks the silence.
“Its not easy... Being here, I mean. Hiding everything from everyone. Always being afraid that someone's going to discover your biggest secret. If you're not careful, secrets can destroy you. You can become lost within the lies that you tell everyone.” Her voice was faint, almost shaky. At last she looked up and met my eyes.
I just stared at her. What could I say? It was obvious that she was upset. Tears began to pool in her eyes and she turned away from me. After she wiped her eyes she turned to face me again.
“Sometimes it becomes so overwhelming that you want to do anything to make it all stop, no matter what the cost.” Suddenly panicked, she looks away and then quickly back at me. Her eyes are wide with some unknown fear, as if she had already told me her deepest darkest secret. Before I could say anything she was halfway to the door. She looked back at me as she paused in the threshold. Tears streamed from her eyes and down her cheeks. She just stood there crying. She wouldn't say anything, but she held her eyes steady with mine.
“I want to help you, but I can't unless you talk to me Katherine,” I say calmly. I hold her gaze hoping that she can see I'm sincere.
“You can call me Kat, but you can't help me. Nobody can.” She turns without another word and disappears down the hall as I sit there staring. ****
I realized that day that she wouldn't open up to me. She didn't trust me enough to say anything to me. That was when I got the idea for the diary. I wanted to give her something special. I wanted to give her a way to talk without ever being heard. I wanted her to feel that she could write without being afraid that someone would read it. I wanted her to feel safe, and loved.