When I read her diary, I knew.
It had the effect of pulling the plug from under the life I had known up to then, changing it completely, so that everything was sucked down into a dark and narrow vortex. Yet when I eventually came up for air, choking and struggling, I realised it had opened up a whole new world, one that was thick with intrigue, misplaced love, jealousy, fleeting passion, the ultimate rejection and a painful loss.
I hadn’t been expecting the diary to land in my arms. It was contained in a padded envelope along with some mementoes, most of which I was too shaken to examine at first. When I was over my initial shock I laid them out again, trying to make sense: a lock of dark hair twined with one of a red-gold; a small, square, grainy photograph taken with a cheap camera, the colours faded now with the passage of time; a video tape; a pendant with a glowing, heart-shaped ruby.
But I was more transfixed with the written account of her life. I liked to think she had recorded it with me in mind, a way of communicating with me through time and space. A chronicle of the truth, exposing it for me to see, so that I could choose to do with this knowledge whatever I wanted.
It wasn’t a proper diary insofar as most of it hadn’t been written chronologically at the time. She’d bought a 1995 hard-backed, A5 diary, in a sale obviously, because it had a vastly reduced price sticker on the front. On the inside of the front cover and spread across two pages was a 1995 date planner. This was blank, except for a few scrawled words in thick, black writing that jumped out at me:
‘This is the true account of what happened’
A shiver ran down my spine; it seemed she anticipated not surviving the year. The first quarter of the diary had the dates crossed out and contained a summary of her life spanning several years up to 1995. Then followed a large section when the pages were blank, and from the end of July, entries written in real time on the corresponding pages over the next four to five weeks. After that, the pages were blank.
Had she feared that things might go wrong and she’d need to put it all down? Just in case? I think so. I know she wanted me to have this and I’ve read it four times so far, staying up late that first night to try and get my head around it all, fingers trembling as I turned the pages, shocked and saddened in turn by the narrative and later entries.
Even if I hate her for what she did, and the way she ruined my life, I know exactly where the blame lies for her early death, who is responsible, and who carries the ultimate guilt – I will never come to terms with that, let alone forgive.
The truth doesn’t always set you free. Sometimes it nails you to a cross. It can make the path you were on crumble away in front of you, leaving you frightened and desolate. It opens your eyes to things you mightn’t like, forcing you to confront knowledge that alters everything you’ve ever known, and causing you to act in a way you’d never have imagined. But knowledge is power. And in a life that had become stale and unfulfilling, it has given me a brand- new purpose. I can’t change what has happened, nothing will ever bring her back, but I can change the future and avenge her death.
Right now, Friday evening in Lynes Glen is going according to plan. Nobody suspects a thing. By Sunday, it will all be over and I’ll have my revenge.
© 2017 Zoë Miller