The Last Entry
- By: Elena Asofsky
- Quince Orchard High School
- Montgomery County, Maryland
I remember the night I first met him. Everything else, I’m not sure.
I remember the sky being cloudy but not quite having the courage to rain, so my room was pitch-dark, nothing but shadows and faint outlines of furniture. Silence as deep as the air in my lungs. Silence; that’s why I heard him knocking on my closet door.
How polite he was when we first met.
Every child had a monster, right?
Mine stood six feet tall and had hands made of torn ink-black paper and a face made of nothingness. He stood in the wake of my closet door and said he’d come to eat me, said that if I screamed he’d eat me right then, that he’d never tell me the other option.
And I didn’t scream.
When I was five, I started keeping a journal. It was the only way I could deal with what I’d done. Jak, the journal says. I don’t know if it means ‘Jake’ or ‘Jack’; I can’t remember him and so many words are misspelled–I’d invited him over to play and while we were in my room, I heard the monster in the hall. I remembered our deal and my role. And I could hear him waiting.
“I need to go in my closet,” I said, standing.
“Ok!” Jak said. I can still see his blue eyes and clueless, gap-toothed smile.
“Just for a little,” I said, even though he had already agreed, because I was still afraid.
I was a coward.
I shut myself in my closet by putting my hands under the door and pulling it closed. The door sealed and I was alone with my own breathing and the coats pressing against my cheeks. I felt a change overcome the air; my heart dropped into my gut, and I knew the deed had been done. When I opened the closet door again, Jak and the monster were gone. So marked the first of my crimes; the monster stood over my bed that night and told me I was not yet done, no, not yet.
I’ve lost count of how many times I complied with the monster’s will. Enough times to fill my journal, to fill up ten journals, to finally give up on journals altogether and instead write on any scrap of paper I could get my hands on, the stack piling high beside my desk. The faces and names blur together by the time I’m eight.
Her name was Lorri. I was giving her a ride home on the back of my bike, and her small arms were wrapped around my waist and her chin was resting on my shoulder. It was getting late, the sun already behind the trees, and all I could do was follow the street lights on the other side of the quarry that became brighter in the growing darkness. On my street, those lights are orange. In my memory, they’re red. It was then I knew; the monster was waiting for us at the bottom of the quarry.
I dipped down the hill and suddenly, the asphalt was speeding by underneath us.
“It’s too fast,” Lorri spoke up. “Steph, it’s too fast!”
“It isn’t too fast!” I called back, and she held tighter to me.
“It’s too fast!” Lorri repeated, trying to bury her face in my back, but at that moment I turned sharply right and she lost her grip; she flew from me and to the monster’s arms, but I moved too fast to see her go. My bike swerved and tripped over a rock, and I crashed into the street, my arms and knees on fire and my bicycle clinking as the wheels turned uselessly in the air.
My head was pounding. The monster stood over me, his face indistinguishable from the unlit night sky. His seemed as tall as the foliage, looming.
“Not yet,” he said. “You aren’t done yet.”
Will I ever be done?
I woke up yesterday with the realization that I was a fool as a child. I think of the faces I’ve forgotten and it’s enough to make me wish I’d just let myself be eaten all those years ago. So perhaps this is a confession, of sorts. These papers, at least, remember their names. These papers can be sorted neatly. School starts again tomorrow; I don’t want to go. I have to atone for what I’ve done. I know this, I’ve accepted this, and yet I’m still afraid. How selfish am I to still fear for my life?
At least the sky has courage. Tonight it storms, and I open my window wide to let the rain in. I fall asleep there at the windowsill.
When I wake up the world is cold and ringing. It feels as if something is jarred loose, or missing–I stand up so fast my head reels, and that’s when I see it, everything narrowing in on one point in my room: in the space beside my desk, my papers are gone.
Panic seizes me like a vice and all at once I can’t move. Several sheets are strewn across the floor, fluttering in the crossbreeze. One kicks up and lists weightlessly, landing again a foot farther on the carpet–my eyes follow the direction it’s traveling in, and I see the open window and my heart stops.
Outside, my papers are cast about the street, clinging to trees and held in the hands of my curious peers who had been lining up for the bus.
I race outside. I see them reading my words and I feel lies rising to my lips, excuses and then apologies, thousands of repentances I don’t know how to ever begin, I’m not ready, and then I see Annalena, Lorri’s younger sister, in front of me. She’s holding one of my paper in both hands. Her eyes are shining. But before I can say anything, she beams at me:
“Jesus, Steph! I had no idea you were a writer!”