M.C. Escher, Liberation, 1955.
When she wrote her faltering cursive in her new pink diary with the tiny, tiny key, her hand was light. Later the ink from the cartridge pen stained her fingers when she’d write about injustices, boys, high-hurdles, belt buckles, and beer. She pressed so hard that she left holes in the paper, so when she turned the page she just drew a peace sign around the holes and moved on, filling another page. In spite of her need to write, she remained detached from the notebook. Seldom was there a tear-stained page. Sometimes she thought she felt another hand on top of hers carefully underlining swear words in red felt marker for her. Her shame rose like smoke.
Eventually she realized the pages she’d written in the past were trustworthy. In her final months at home she allowed her tears to spill as she wrote of her new plan to not let him see her cry when he hit her. Some days she fell victim to the tears before she had a chance to show him the rebellion in her eyes. She clung to her pen for clarity.
One day, just like that, she found herself moving in with a new family on a farm. While she and her new family drove up the gravel lane to the farmhouse, across town her parents were packing her belongings into a large empty box. Never did she suspect that of the few things they kept—mostly gifts she’d received from them—they would keep her diaries. Nor did she know that as she navigated the lonely, heady days in a foster home and new high school that her mother would light a cigarette in preparation for her nightly reading of excerpts from that diary to selected friends and family over the telephone.
The lesson learned is that you can tell a lot about one’s character by how they respond to an offer to expose a girl’s life to them late at night by phone. Would you tell the caller you’re not interested or would you be drawn in by all the hype?
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