For almost a week we didn't talk at all. I was worried about her. She didn't talk to hardly anyone. Most of the time she stayed to herself. It was like she was closing the entire world out. Finally the diary I ordered for her arrived in the mail. I wasn't sure how she would react to the diary, but I knew I had to do something to help her. She loved the diary, though, from the moment she saw it.
“Kat?” I say. She's standing outside my door waiting for class to start. Timidly she pokes her head around the corner and looks at me. I smile at her but she doesn't smile back. I point my finger at her and then wiggle it, telling her to come here. She giggles as she slowly walks just inside the door and leans against the frame.
“How did you know I was there?” She asks quietly.
“It's kinda hard to ignore your sniffling, stuffy nose.” I smile at her, but she doesn't smile back. Instead she looks afraid and tearful. “Hey now, don't start crying on me, not when I have something to give you.”
“I'm not going to cry, and I wasn't crying before, either. I have a cold and a stuffy nose, that's all.” She smiles shyly at me and it's such a beautiful smile. “So you have something for me?”
“I do. I had it ordered just for you. I hope you like it.”
I walk over to my desk and pull out the neatly wrapped diary and the small box that holds the key. I hand her the diary first and she opens it slowly. Her eyes light up when she sees it. Slowly she runs her fingers over the leather strap that holds it closed. She tries to pull at it to open it but it stays closed. She runs her finger over the side-by-side silver hearts and looks up at me with a puzzled look on her face. Then I hand her the box. She pulls off the lid and gasps when she sees the locket. She pulls it out of the box and drapes the gold chain across her fingers and holds the locket itself in her palm. She sets the empty box on the table then runs her fingers along her engraved initials, K.A.B. She stares at the locket in surprise and then she opens it. Quietly she stands there just holding the locket. Carefully I take the locket from her hand and press it into the side-by-side hearts on the diary. There's a small click and the strap falls free allowing the book to be opened. I hand the locket back to her and she sets it on the desk as she takes the diary from me. She opens it and her eyes move from side to side as she reads the note I wrote on the inside of the cover. Then she flips through the book looking at all the blank pages just waiting to be filled. She puts the diary on the table as tears fill her eyes. Then she turns around and hugs me. At first it catches me off guard but in a moment I relax and hold her as she cries against my shoulder. Then she pulls away and picks up the diary and puts it in her bag after she locks it back. Then she hands me the locket and pulls up her hair up as she turns away from me. Slowly I reach around her and draw back both sides of the necklace and hook them together. Then I let the chain drop from my hands and I gingerly place my hands on her shoulders. Then she steps away and starts to walk towards the door.
“Kat,” I call to her. She turns around and looks at me.
“Here's a soda,” I say as I grab a coke from the small cooler under my desk and hand it to her. She smiles as she takes it and walks out the door.
For the rest of the year we keep talking from time to time, and even meet up after school. But I'll talk about that later. I have more important things to talk about before all of that, such as how I came to have the diary again as well as the key. In the end, Kat made a choice that I couldn't change her mind about. That's how I got the diary at the end of her junior year, after she died before my eyes. That day still haunts me almost every waking moment.
“Kat,” I call out to her and smile. “Do you have time to talk?”
“Well,” she hesitates, “I was going to eat lunch in the courtyard, where I could be alone.”
“Please, join me?” I ask.
“Sure, I guess. Let me go get my lunch and I'll be right back.”
A few minutes later she returns with her lunch. I hand her a coke and she takes it but she doesn't sit down. Instead she leans against a desk and opens it. She looks at me patiently for a few minutes before I say anything to her.
“Kat, I don't think that suicide is something you should use as a subject for your poetry. Some people might get the wrong idea.”
“I don't care if they do or not. My best writing is dark,” she says. I look away for a moment, frustrated, and as I turn back I see the last bit of a powder slip from her hand to her coke. I wonder at first if its only a energy powder or something harmless like that. I honestly can't imagine that she would kill herself. Then I notice her neck is bare of the locket. That's when I know something is wrong. She always wears the locket.
“Where's your locket?” I ask.
“It's at home, in an envelope. Don't worry it's safe.” she says.
We both sit there for a moment not saying anything. I want so badly to kiss her, as we've kissed so many times before and I know just how soft her lips are. The wind from the open window blows a strand of stray hair into her face. She brushes it aside then looks at me.
“I'm sorry,” she says. “I love you, and you know that. I'm so sorry.”
At first I don't understand, but then reality hits me like a brick as she gulps down the soda. I reach to pull the can from her but its too late. She drops to the floor and begins to shake violently. All I can do is stand there and watch in horror as she dies right in front of me. She said that she loves me, but at that moment her words don't register, they are just empty words spoken in the last moments before death. Who is to say that they are true?
That day, only two weeks ago, is a horrible memory. I just stood there as the light faded from her eyes and the life faded from her body, helpless to do anything to stop it. I watched that day as paramedics lifted her body onto a stretcher and covered her with sheets. I was still in shock that night when I got a knock on my door. When I opened it, Katherine's step-father and mother were standing there. In his hands her father held the diary and an envelope with my name written on it. The only thing he said to me was “She said to give this to you,” as he handed them to me. I stood there in shock as they turned to leave. I closed the door and leaned my back against it as I held the diary in my hands. Then I looked at the envelope. It was clear to me that Kat was the one who wrote my name on it. Only she would have taken that much time to write my name in old english script letters as she had done so many times before when she was bored. I ripped the envelope open, even though I already knew what was inside. As I pulled the locket from the envelope I wrapped the gold chain around my fingers. I ran my fingers over her initials and then opened the locket. Inside were two pictures, both of us. I slowly sank to the floor with my back still to the door. I clutched the diary to my chest along with the locket. She was really gone. This was all real and not just a nightmare. I couldn't save her. She meant the world to me, yet I couldn't save her. For the first time that day, I cried.
For two weeks I barely ate anything at all. I sat on my bed holding her diary. I put a longer chain on the locket and wore it all the time. Not once did I take it off. Wearing it made me feel closer to her. The day of her funeral was a sunny day, but everything seemed dark. As I said my final goodbye I had to fight the urge to kiss her cool lips. I was saying a final goodbye to the only woman I had ever loved. I didn't want to let her go. I thought at first of putting the locket in the casket with her, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I needed answers, and that diary was the only thing that had them now. It was the only thing I had left of her, other than pictures of us, and memories a million times more precious than gold.
The day after the funeral I decided to begin reading the diary. As I opened it I saw the note I had written inside the cover. That note seemed worlds away now. I let my finger run over her name on the opposite page. Grief and desperation welled up inside me as I looked at her name there and at the pictures inside the locket. She seemed so happy and now... nothing. Gone. Forever. I slowly turned the page to her first entry. Now I would get the answers I needed.