written by Amira K. Wolf
Have you ever made a friend that you could tell all your secrets too? Someone you could trust, and knew they'd never repeat any of what you revealed to them to anyone else? Someone that you'd cherish for life? I did. And it all started with one, old journal.
I was seventeen years old when I received a beautifully crafted journal from my travel blogger aunt. It was a leather-covered journal with two small buckles, and curved patterns etched into the leather on both sides. My aunt said that she had bought it from an old antique shop while in England and that if I wanted to pursue travel blogging like her, I should at least start by writing a journal of my own before writing one for others to see.
"That's how I learned," she said with a triumphant smile. Though my aunt was a little eccentric, she had a point. If I wanted to be as good, or better, than her, I needed to at least practice, even if I wasn't actually travelling. And so, I took the journal to my room and sat down at my desk. Since it looked so old and authentic, I thought it'd be appropriate to write in it with my favourite pen. I rummaged through one of my drawers and took out a black fountain pen that my aunt had also given to me after one of her trips. I opened the journal to its first page and started to write.
"Thursday, August 20th, 2015
I just received this new journal from Aunty Marla today. Well, it's not really new, it's actually kind of old looking, but I just got it so I guess it's new? Anyway, from now on I'll be writing anything I find interesting in here. Not sure what that'll be yet, but I'm determined to get better at journal writing so I can become an awesome travel blogger."
I closed the journal and left it on my desk as I headed back downstairs. My aunt was still visiting, and I wanted to hear more of her recent travel stories. Little did I know that what I'd continue to write in that journal would bring about the most interesting thing in my life.
A few weeks later, after writing a few journal entries, I had stopped for about a week or so since I had gotten tired of writing nothing but mundane happenings. Grandma visited today; I got on the honors list again; I hung out with my friends today; were the types of entries I would write about, and I started to think my life was very boring.
"I'm seventeen, and this is all I can write about?" I asked myself as I lied on my bed. My last entry was about how Aunty Marla had sent me an email from Japan about how she visited Mount Fuji, and lots of shrines. It somewhat depressed me since I had always wanted to go to Japan. I wanted it to be the very first destination I visited. So, hearing that she went there just made me upset.
With a sigh, I turned over onto my side and stared at the journal on my night table for a moment before picking it up. I thought that maybe writing about how I felt would make me feel better because I was starting to dislike being in such a self-pitying mood. I opened my journal and turned to the next page after my last entry, but to my surprise something was already written there.
"What is the elevation of Mount Fuji?"
"Who the hell touched my journal?" I exclaimed aloud.
I sprung up from my bed and left my room in frustration. I really hated when people touched my stuff. I marched straight over to my brother's room and burst through his door.
"Antoine! What have I told you about touching my stuff?" I yelled. Startled, Antoine turned away from his video game to look at me.
"What're you talking about? I didn't touch anything," he answered.
"Yeah right! If you want to know how high Mount Fuji is, look it up! Don't touch my stuff!"
I left his room, slamming his door behind me, and returned to my own room. I grabbed the journal from off my bed and sat down at my desk. I opened the journal to the page where the question was written, and was about to rip it out when I remembered that if I did such a stupid thing I would lose part of my last entry on the opposite side of the page. So, I kept it, but instead I grabbed my fountain pen and scribbled over the question. I then started to write underneath it.
"Saturday, September 19th, 2015
I was already in a bad mood earlier, but now I'm in a worse mood because Antoine touched my journal. For some reason he wrote 'what is the elevation of Mount Fuji?' in here. I mean, what kind of question is that? And if he really wanted to know, he could look it up. That's what the internet is for! Anyway, I told him off about it, so enough of my ranting. What I really wanted to write about was..."
I suddenly heard a loud noise coming from outside, so I got up to check it out. Once I returned to my desk, I was stunned to see that there was something written right underneath what I had written.
"I thought my question was a valid conversation starter. There isn't such a thing here."
As any sensible person would be, I was completely dumbfounded.
"What the hell? No one came in my room!" I thought to myself. Then I saw it, words forming on the page.
"So, will you be answering my question? I'm quite curious about this Mount Fuji."
In my absolute panic, I jumped backwards, almost falling over. I didn't know what kind of...Sorcery was going on, but it was very clear to me that I had to apologize to Antoine later. I reached out to my laptop on my bed and opened up my email. I had to write to Aunty Marla, and find out where in the world she got this journal from. I know she said it was from an antique store, but what kind of antique store sells a journal that writes by itself, let alone addresses the owner of the journal?
I wrote my panicked email to my aunt, but until she responded I didn't know what to do. My parents weren't home, and I didn't think talking to Antoine would have helped much. I glanced back over to the journal and saw that there were no more messages. I waited for a moment, and then did a quick search online.
Once I had done that, I went back over to my desk. I grabbed my pen, and with a gulp I wrote in the journal.
Then I just waited, and not even ten seconds later I saw the journal writing.
"Ah, so I was right. There is someone there. Very nice to meet you."
Again I jumped back. Someone was actually talking to me via my journal. I wasn't hallucinating, and I wasn't going crazy. This was actually happening. How does someone deal with that?
"Who are you?" I wrote.
"My name is Tylon. And you are? I seem to know a bit about you apart from your name," the journal wrote back.
I hesitated for a moment. "My name is Casey-Lynn."
"What an interesting name. But tell me, are you male or female? Your name does not seem to convey gender."
"I'm female, and you?" I wrote.
"I am of the opposite. This is splendid! You must excuse my enthusiasm. Imagine my surprise when I found this book and saw it writing by itself. I am sure I scared you with my question. I apologize, but I wanted to know who was writing."
After that message, I couldn't help but chuckle. He was definitely a talker, and a curious one at that. This Tylon didn't seem to be anyone bad, or mischievous. In fact, he seemed quite genuine. So, I calmly sat down at my desk, and continued the conversation.
A month later, my journal was filled with nothing but messages and doodles between Tylon and I. It was like a text thread on my phone, but in a book. We had learned so much about each other in such a short time. Then again, we wrote to each other morning, noon and night. Even when I was at school, any free time I got I took it to write to him. It got to a point that, let's just say, people around me started to notice my absence in a social life. Even Antoine noticed, and I barely even talked to him before. So, I guess you could say I was distancing myself a little too much, but could you blame me? Tylon was so interesting. I had learned so much about him and his world.
He was a scholar at what I would consider a university, and was an amazing artist. He would draw pictures of large elegant towers; breathtaking landscapes that seemed to stretch on forever; animals that I'd never seen before. He said he was studying science and math, so he was kind of a big help when it came to my math homework.
I would draw images of my town too, but my skills paled in comparison. With the amount of writing and drawings, it was a wonder how my journal never seemed to run out of paper. Just another aspect of this book that piqued my curiosity. Speaking of which, I did get a reply from Aunty Marla about the shop, but it turns out that there wasn't anything particularly special about the place. Apparently, it was like any other antique shop. I wasn't that disappointed though. How could I be? I was the proud owner of a mysterious journal that connected two very different worlds.
"Have you decided on what to present your mother on her name day?" Tylon wrote.
"You mean her birthday? Yes, I bought her a book. Speaking of which, I should go. My dad will be home soon so we can all go out for dinner to celebrate. I'll be back later," I told him.
"That's disheartening, but I will impatiently await your return. I pray that your mother receives every wish on her special day."
I always imagined him bowing when he wrote stuff like that, and every time I found myself with a stupid smile on my face. I closed my journal and hid it deep within one of my clothes drawers. The last thing I needed was someone finding it and thinking I had multiple personality disorder. Then, I simply left my room.
I returned a few hours later and immediately curled in my bed. I didn't bother to turn on the lights or change out of my clothes. I just wanted to lie in the dark for a while. I couldn't fall asleep, though, so all I did was just stay there with my eyes closed hoping that I'd eventually drift off. But no such luck. So, instead I got out of bed, grabbed my journal, and curled back under my blanket. I turned on my phone's flashlight and started writing to Tylon.
"Are you there?"
"You've returned! How was your mother's name day? Splendid, I hope," he enthusiastically wrote back.
"My dear Casey-Lynn, what happened?"
"My dad...Forgot all about it, and brushed it off like it wasn't a big deal. They ended up having a fight," I revealed to him.
I continued to tell him how I felt about everything, and how my parents' relationship was pretty unstable. I wrote for hours with few breaks in between despite having school the next day. I had friends who I could talk to, I guess, but for some reason I felt like I couldn't really tell them this sort of thing. But I could tell Tylon. Throughout the entire night, throughout my long-winded messages, he didn't say much. He just listened, or rather, read what I had to write and offered his opinions when he felt it was necessary. He didn't judge anything I said or took a side. Anything I had bottled up inside me was just let out in one sitting, and he didn't seem to mind. Cliché as it may sound, if this was a dream, I hoped never to wake up from it.
From that day forward, any problem or issue I had, I talked to Tylon about it. In return, any issue he had, he talked to me about it. There were no longer any secrets between us. For a lack of a better term, we were an open book. Actually, that's a lie. There was one secret I did keep from him: I had fallen for Tylon. I didn't want to accept it, though. I mean, come on, I didn't even know what he looked like. However, my feelings overcame my logic, and I couldn't help myself. No matter what I did, I always found myself smiling or blushing uncontrollably when talking to him, or just thinking about him.
Unfortunately, that kind of bliss came at a price. I was barely socializing with anyone anymore. If my friends asked me to go out, I'd say that I was busy. If my mom wanted me to help with something, I'd say I had homework to do. I didn't even eat with my family anymore, but that was also, in part, because it had become too awkward being around my parents at the same time. My grades at school started slipping as well, except for my math grades, unsurprisingly. I guess it really started to worry my parents, though, because they had called my aunt to come back early from her trip just to talk to me in person.
She wanted to know what was going on with me. Apparently, she had talked with my parents, Antoine and my friends for answers, but obviously no luck. I couldn't just tell her that I fell for a guy in another world through the journal she gave me, and that's why I've been so isolated. She might as well give me a one-way ticket to the closest asylum. So, I had to come up with a lie on the spot that my eccentric aunt would believe. I told her that I just hadn't been feeling like myself since my parents started fighting, and I thought I was going through a phase of some sort. Miraculously, she bought it hook, line, and sinker. However, she wanted me to promise that I would socialize a bit more. I had already lied to her, and I didn't want to add a broken promise to the pile, so I did as she said and tried to talk to other people. Tylon was upset, but understood.
"This saddens me, Casey-Lynn, but I cannot disagree that we have been conversing far too much as of late. Not that it is wrong, mind you. I truly enjoy our banters, but I must admit that I too have been lacking in my commitments," he wrote.
I felt bad. I didn't even think that he might have things that he has to do too, wherever he is. And so, with that last message we reduced how much we wrote to each other.
Three months had passed since Tylon and I cut back on our interactions. I was able to get my grades back up, and eating with the family wasn't as awkward. I was even talking to Antoine a lot more, which was saying something. Tylon and I still kept very much in touch and nothing changed in our platonic relationship, which made me happy. Things were going very well for me, until the one day I never thought would come.
I went to my room like I always did after school. I grabbed my journal and opened it. I turned to the most recent page, and...Nothing. As in, there were no more pages after that. All that was left was the paper residue as though they had been ripped out, and the leather backing. I frantically searched my room from top to bottom for those missing pages, but I couldn't find them. I had written in the journal in the morning before I left for school, and it was just fine. I couldn't even ask anyone about it since my parents were still at work, and Antoine was at soccer practice. I thought I was about to have a panic attack. Then I saw Tylon writing something.
"Casey-Lynn, I pray that you are there!"
"I'm here! What's going on? Where are the rest of the pages?"
"By the Gods' wrath, I hoped that this would not affect you," he wrote in jagged writing as though he was shaking. "My father found the journal. He was convinced that it was cursed and took it from me. I fought him for it but amidst our quarrel he ripped the remaining pages from it," he continued.
"Oh no..." I wrote back in small lettering to conserve space.
"This is truth. I am in hiding from my father, but I fear that without those pages, this will be our last meeting."
He couldn't be serious. We were always so careful. Or maybe it was my fault for getting my hopes up by thinking this would last forever. What was I supposed to do?
"But I only met you a few months ago. I was still learning about you. There were still things I wanted to tell you," I wrote to him.
"I know, and I feel the same, but there is nothing I can do. Forgive me..."
"I don't even know what you look like, Tylon."
For a few moments there was no response until I started to see light strokes in a corner at the bottom of the page. He was drawing something, and a few minutes later it was revealed to be a face. It was that of a male, seemingly in his early twenties, with long hair, tied up into a ponytail. He had thin, lively eyes, and freckles.
"Wait...Is that you?" I asked.
I was amazed at how handsome he was. I wanted him to see my face as well, but I wasn't very good at self-portraits, and I didn't want one of the last things he sees to be a misrepresentation of me. Then I had an idea that I wasn't even sure would work. I looked through all my pictures until I found one that showed me off quite nicely. I cut my face out and glued it in the other corner of the page. I wasn't sure what I expected to happen. I was just hoping that something did happen. Thankfully, luck was on my side because I watched as the picture I had glued sunk into the page as though it was now part of it. And a few seconds later, Tylon replied.
"You are a beautiful damsel, Casey-Lynn."
"Thank you," I wrote back with tears forming in my eyes and my cheeks bright red.
"Please forgive me, but we seem to be nearing the end of the page, so I want you to know that conversing with you was an experience unlike any other. I wish things did not turn out this way, but alas I cannot change the past. Please take care of yourself, Casey-Lynn, and always treasure this journal."
I didn't know what to write. What could I write? I didn't want to tell him goodbye, but I didn't want to not tell him anything.
"I love you," I wrote, my eyes blurred by tears. I waited for what seemed like a long while for a response.
"I love you, Miss Casey-Lynn," he wrote back.
And with that, the final page of the journal was filled. I don't think I had ever cried so much in my life. It felt like my heart had been ripped out just like those remaining pages. I stayed in bed for a few days, and kept re-reading the journal until I finally felt I could come out of my rut. Afterwards, I hid the journal deep within my closet and never looked back. If I did, I knew I would surely break down into tears again. So, to save myself that embarrassment, I never opened it again.
Years later, I did become a travel blogger like I wanted to. It was an amazing job, and people loved to read what I had to say. And anytime someone asked me how I became such a good writer, my answer was always, "I had a lot of practice."