by Russell Dyer
published: december 15, 2003; revised: september 03, 2017; readers in past month: 123
My name is Concetta. I live in small town not too far from Boston. It’s no big deal of a town. But it does have a neat bookstore. That’s what’s important. I like to read-which is ironic since I’m not a very fast reader. Actually, I’m quite slow-of a reader, that is to say. I mean, I’m not a slow thinker; I’m a rather quick thinker actually. Of course, that’s not really saying anything that people don’t already assume. Since I read all of the time, people assume I’m smart and studious. Well, at least some of them do. Some just think I’m dull. My grandmother sometimes says I’m a stick-in-the-mud. That’s her way of saying I’m dull and don’t change much. At least I think that’s what it means. I’m never quite sure what she means sometimes. Anyway, I am smart. But not because I read all of the time. I read all the time because I’m smart. I don’t know. I guess I read all of the time and that makes me smarter. No, that’s not it. I read to hide from stupid people who give me a hard time.
“What non-sense you think, Concetta.”
“I’m sorry, Mom. I didn’t know you were standing there.”
“So you’re going to keep a diary now?”
“Actually, it’s a journal.”
“What’s the difference? Anyway, you shouldn’t call people stupid.”
“I’m going to the grocery store. Do you want to come with me?”
“No thank you. I want to stay here.”
“By yourself? And do what? Write in your journal?”
“I guess. I’ll probably read, too.”
“What else is new?”
My Mom’s not bad. She’s alright, I guess. She just doesn’t see the importance of reading. She thinks it’s a waste of time and that I do too much of it. How could I possibly read too much? I like to read all kinds of books. I don’t like modern stuff too much. I have to read them for school. We’ve read The Perl, To Kill a Mockingbird, Little Women, and a bunch of others. We also read some Shakespeare. What a drag. My teacher certainly likes it, but I think it’s silly and confusing. What I like to read are books by writers who have something interesting and passionate to say. I like Dostoevsky. He’s my favorite. I like Notes from Underground the best. Most people have never even heard of it. I’ve read it four times now. My parents converted our attic into a bedroom for my brother and me. Because of the angles of the roof, I figured out one day that there’s a little bit of space behind my closet, between the wall and the roof. So I cut a hole in the sheetrock behind my dresses-I hate to wear dresses-and now I can hide in that little bit of space, or like I like to call it, my “cell.” I like to read Dostoevsky and in particular, Notes from Underground in my secret hiding space. Now that I think about it, I should keep this journal back there. Let me do that right now. I’ll be right back.
♥ ♥ ♥
Well it took me three days to get back into my rabbit hole to be able to write again. My stupid brother was hanging around in the bedroom every time I wanted to come back here to write. I don’t know why I have to share the bedroom with him. He’s such a pain sometimes. You know, as a girl I really should have my own bedroom. The room’s pretty big; it’s like a large studio apartment. His bed is on the other end around the corner from mine, so he doesn’t see me when I sleep or get dressed. Still, it’s irritating. I don’t know what he’s doing over there sometimes. Probably something disgusting. Worst of all, he comes over here and pokes his nose into my business. And I don’t want him to know about my inner sanctuary.
Where are you?
It’s so hard to keep quiet and not answer my mother when she calls me and I’m hiding in here. My stomach burns and I think how awful I am in letting her call my name out over and over. Now I’ll have to wait until she’s back downstairs and on the other end of the house before I can sneak out and go see what she wants.
When you’re quiet and listening, you notice noises that you don’t notice otherwise. I can hear my mother’s footsteps downstairs. I can hear the boards creeking in the rafters over me. I can hear that irritating boy next door playing in his front yard. I think he’s stomping on something, something made out of wood. He’s so destructive. I think he’s a little cooky. He’s always acting up and trying to give me a hard time. He’s younger than me and smaller than me. Sometimes when nobody’s looking (no adults, that is) and he’s giving me a hard time I push him to the ground. There’s nothing more satisfying than pushing a boy into the dirt, ladies. Well, the coast seems to be clear. Got to go.
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Why do people have to be so cruel? My best friend Jennifer is so mean. She’s such a bitch. I hate her. I told her about my secret hide-away and she laughed at me and she told a couple of the other girls about it. I hate them. I hate them all. I hate everybody.
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Well, I’ve started in on The Idiot again. I just love Prince Myshkin. He’s such a wonderful person. I’d marry him if I could. I know I’ve said that I’d never marry, but if I could find a man like Prince Myshkin, I’d marry him in a minute. Of course, I wouldn’t want him to have epilepsy. But then again, if that’s the cross I would have to bear to have the Prince, I’d take him. I just would be worried about him. But I guess that would be so romantic to have such a wealthy and handsome husband who’s a Prince and who’s so gentle and kind to everyone and is especially loved by children and for me to be at his side taking care of him when he falls ill.
“What the heck are you doing in there?”
“Get out, you jerk!”
“Mom’s going to be pissed when she sees that hole you made.”
I hate my brother!!! He’s such a jerk!!!
“Vin. Vin, please don’t tell Mom. Vin?”
I hate him. I’ve got to go. I’ll be back.
♥ ♥ ♥
Next week’s Christmas. I know I’m supposed to like Christmas and all, but I don’t. It’s nice getting presents, but my Mom always gets me things that she thinks would look cute on me (skirts and stuff-who wants clothes for Christmas?) or that she thinks I ought to be doing. She bought me a bike last year because she said I need to get outside more and not read so much. What for? Anyway, she’ll probably get me something boring. What I’d like is hard-bound copies of all of Dostoevsky’s works. If that’s too much, maybe a couple of Kafka’s books. I really like The Castle. Poor K, he goes around in circles trying to get to the castle and nobody will help him. Oh if I was Frieda, I’d never leave K. I would do like she did in the beginning. I’d take care of him day and night, but I’d make love to him every night. And I’d help him get into the castle. Or I’d get K to leave the village and go to some place where the people are sane, where they’re not out to get him all the time. That’s what I’d do. I think I’d like to change my name to Frieda. That’s such a pretty name. Why was she Klamm’s mistress, anyway? What was she thinking? I guess it was something to do until K came into her life.
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Merry Christmas to whoever cares. My mother gave me three skirts and a board game of some kind with Barbie pictures on it. And my Dad forgot to mail my present. I hate Christmas and I hate Barbie. Now I’m supposed to change into one those skirts, my favorite one she said, so we can go to my cousin’s house for Christmas lunch. At least the food’s good there. That’s one nice thing about being Sicilian: there’s always good food at family stuff. I hope she makes lasagna with all those different cheeses and the sliced roast and spinach. Most people make it with just a couple cheeses and they use hamburger meat. That’s such a crime. The police should arrest people for doing that.
“Concetta. What are you doing? I don’t hear you walking around up there. Are you getting dressed or did you go back to sleep. Come on Concetta, honey. We have to get going.”
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I just love the name Nastasya. It sounds so beautiful. I think I’ll change my name to Nastasya. Prince Myshkin is so sweet. He’s so…
“Concetta! What are you doing in there? It’s not healthy for you to sit in there all cramped up with all that dust. Come on out of there.”
♥ ♥ ♥
When I grow up, I’m going to be a writer. I want to write novels and have people tell me how smart I am and admire me. I want them to ask me to autograph their books and I’ll say, “I’ll be glad to.” and then I’ll sign my name with big swirls for the capital C and for the capital S. I should start practicing my signature now so I’ll be ready. Got to go.
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I hate my brother. He’s such a jerk. I hate my mother, too. I hate God. Did you hear that God? I hate you!!!!
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I’m sorry, God. Just to go on record, I’m sorry.
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Four more weeks until Easter. Lent takes forever to end. Church and school are such drags during Lent. I hate that my mother makes me give up something noticeable for Lent. The nun says that you’re supposed to give up something and keep it to yourself. The nice thing about that is that nobody knows if you cheat. Instead, my Mom has to make a big deal out of it and make sure I don’t eat chocolate. Boy, I could go for a Hundred-Grand bar right now. My friend Jennifer says that she gave up sex for Lent. She’s so silly. She’s never had sex. How can you give up something you don’t have? I wonder what it would be like to have sex? Sometimes I think it would be kind of yucky. Sometimes, though, I think it might be kind of neat or something. I wish I could have sex with some boy who doesn’t speak English. I can just imagine taking a trip with some friends to Italy when I’m in high school-maybe a senior trip-and I meet some romantic and handsome Italian boy with curly hair who doesn’t speak English and I ask him for directions and since he can’t speak English he tries to walk me to where I want to go. I guess he wouldn’t know where I want to go unless I spoke Italian and could ask him. I could probably say, ‘Posto Offico?’ or something. Wait, hold on. I’ll be right back. “Dove le Poste e Telecommunicazioni?” And he would take my hand and walk me through the narrow side streets like you see in the movies to take me to the post office. And when we got near a doorway in a quite alley, I’d pull him back into the doorway and just do it with him standing up right there in the alley where nobody could see us. That would be sweet. I bet that would be neat.
Got to go.
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I miss my Dad. Why did he and my Mom have to get divorced? I miss him. I wish he would at least work in Boston. I mean, it’s kind of cool him working for the Democrat party in Washington, D.C. and all doing computer stuff. But, I still miss him. I wish Mom would let me call him every night. Dad says that I can call him whenever I want, but she won’t let me. I miss him.
♥ ♥ ♥
Anthony asked me out today. He’s so cute. We’re supposed to go to the movie tonight. It’s my first date. I’m so excited. I think I’m going to wear that blue skirt Mom gave me last year and a white cotton blouse. Blue skirts and white blouses go together so nicely. We’re supposed to see some science fiction movie he wants to see. I really despise science fiction. I think it’s just a way for geeks to hide from reality or to feel like they have some secret reality and weird language that nobody knows but them. They’re such dorks. I just don’t get it. Well, I have to go and do my homework so that I can be ready. We’re supposed to ride over on our bikes and he’s coming by at 6:00. I wish he had some neat car to pick me up in-I know he’s not old enough to drive, but still, it would be cool. I don’t know; going on a date on our bikes is kind of like being hippies or something. I think girls in Europe go on dates on their bikes. I always see pictures of girls and boys riding together on their bikes when they show scenes in Rome and all on the news. Anyway, I think it’s romantic and I have to go. So think what you like; I’ve got to get ready.
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Well, Anthony’s no Prince Myshkin. He has such awful manners and he ignored me half the time in the theatre lobby while he talked to his friends and he wanted me to pay for the popcorn since he was going to pay for the cokes. Then he tried putting his arm around me like we were some kind of lovers. What a loser. Still, it was kind of cool seeing Jennifer and some of the cool girls at the theatre and being there with a date and not my Mom or my goofy brother. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll go with Anthony again if he asks me. What a moron he is.
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We had to start reading the Diary of Ann Frank this week in school. I saw part of the old movie once on TV with my mother one night and thought it was boring. But you know, reading her book, she wasn’t too bad. When I curl up in my private study here behind my closet, I sometimes listen to my brother banging around downstairs and laughing with his friends while they watch TV and eat all kinds of junk food and make a mess of the living room. They’re like Naxis down there. Vin certainly thinks he’s the Fuhrer or something. One day the Naxis will find me and take me off to my tragic death and my Daddy will find this journal and read it and he’ll say, “I had no idea. I had no idea my baby was so beautiful and loving. What a fool I was for not living in the house next door so that I could have talked to her every morning when she woke up and every afternoon when she came home from school. I should have been there to have given her hugs and kisses to start and end her days. I should have driven her to the bookstore once a week and bought her all the books that she wanted. I should have spent my evenings listening to her tell me all of the things that she figured out about Dostoevsky and Kafka and all the other great spiritual writers. I should have talked with her about Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and pondered the ‘horror of it all&lrquo; with her. I should have read Walden to her when she went to bed each night and explained its deeper points to her so that she could understand it and so she would know how not to lead a quiet life of desperation.” That’s what he’ll say when I’m dead and gone and he finds this journal.
Dad, if you do read this, I’m not mad at you. I just miss you, but I understand why you left-sort of. I love you, Daddy.
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I haven’t written in this journal in a long time. I guess I should get it caught up on what’s going on in my life now. I start high school next week. No more junior high for me. I went on a few dates this summer and let a couple of boys kiss me. It was kind of neat. My friend Jennifer had sex with one boy last month, so she says. That’s not for me. I’m not ready to do that yet. One day I think I will, but it has to be with the right boy. Anyway, I’m excited about starting at a new school. The high school is so much bigger. I hope I make some good friends. I hope I meet some kindred spirits there. I know I will. I feel it.
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I feel so silly writing in this journal after all these years, but I miss my childhood. I can’t believe I managed to hang onto this journal. I thought I had lost it when we moved to the new house. Luckily I ran across it and not Charlie. I love him, but he can be such an jerk at times. I hate his mother, too. I can’t believe I’m writing this down. Wait, let me do this right.
Okay, now I’m in the back of my closet like I used to write in this journal when I was a kid. This is so funny and so neat. Life was simpler then when I didn’t have kids and when I was just a kid myself. I remember so much of those days. I remember the smells, the foods, the things I used to do. I used to read all of the time and I hardly talked to anyone. I still read. I got away from it for a while, for a few years actually. But latelyactually for the last couple years I’ve begun reading heavily. I guess I’m using reading to hide from the world like I used. I really hate Charlie. He’s such a jerk. I need to leave him. It breaks my heart to say it, but he’s no good for me. I love him, I guess. Or at least I thought I loved him when I was in college, but now I don’t know. I need to go back to school and take up writing. It feels good to just write these few lines. I seem to remember when I was little saying that I wanted to be a writer. I said a lot of things that I wanted to do when I grew up. Well, now that I’m grown up, what do I want to do? I guess I have to say that I don’t know, that the only thing I do know is that I don’t want to do what I’ve been doing. I don’t know. I miss you, Daddy.