Contest #36 shortlist ⭐️

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Dear Diary: 3-18

You’re brilliant teal-

The color of the sea, right where it touches the sky. 

A leather band wraps tight around you,

To hold your thoughts in, Mom said. 

I’ve never written in a diary before. 

But Mom thinks I should, she wants me to keep my feelings to myself. 

Like she does.

I can’t-

We all grieve differently. 

Dear Diary: 3-19

You should expect these entries to be short. 

I can’t fill the space with writing-

It’s not my thing. 

As if anyone has one thing

That defines them. 

I went into the music room today. 

Anything to escape

The crowded lunch room, screaming kids packed together

Like sardines. 

It was silent in there- 

Sound swallowed up by the red plush carpet. 

They have a baby grand- 

A gift from last year’s graduating class. 

Creamy white keys, alternating with black.

Already, one has a chip in the corner. 

I put my finger on it-

(Unblemished with the paint I just realized is no longer covering my nails)

And played a single note. 

In the empty room, diary, it echoed.

Dear Diary: 3-20

I still haven’t painted my nails. 

I used to-  coating them in different colors every day. 

I’d do designs for her, too, even though she only ever wanted plain pink. 

I was going to paint them, after the ordeal that is school.


As I was going home, I walked by the 

Elementary school.

I forgot I don’t have to pick her up anymore. 

I don’t think I’ll ever remember. 

How could I?

Dear Diary: 3-21

We all grieve differently. 

My dad retreats into himself,

I don’t think he’s spoken since- 


My mom gets angry. 

It’s the second stage of grieving. 

I don’t think she’ll ever reach third. 


I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. 

I went to the music room again today. 

Ms. Steph was there- although I didn’t see her.

I heard her, singing, like her whole heart

Was on fire. 

I stood in the doorway, frozen, hidden-

And darted away before she saw me. 

What would it be like-

To open my soul up in that crystal way? 

Dear Diary: 3-22

The crash of the river haunts my dreams.

Her pale, white face


Eyes unblinking. 

Waves buffeting against her limp body-

Mom screaming- 

I can’t- I can’t- I can't-

Her second-grade class 

In silent, black cloaked rows,

At her funeral. 

Parents wearing solemn faces

Like masks-

Underneath, just glad it wasn’t their child. 

Her face in the coffin was caked in makeup

To hide the bloating from

The rushing river water. 

She’s in my dreams. I stand by the riverbed.

She cries, help!

I don’t move, I can’t, I’m frozen.

Dear Diary: 3-23

I’m sorry about yesterday’s entry, diary. 

I got out of control.

It’s my fault. 

At least I kept it bottled up, in the world that is your creamy pages.

My mom should be happy

She doesn’t want to hear anyone else grieve

Not amidst the fog of her sorrow. 

Speaking (writing?) of Mom-

I asked about joining choir.

Be proud of me, diary, though no one else is. 

I want to learn how to sing the way Ms. Steph did. 

Open and free. 

They said no, though. 

How dare you think about frivolous things, in a house of grieving?

She’s right. 

But… aren’t I still alive?

Dear Diary: 3-24

Ms. Steph asked me, again, about joining choir. 

I really think your voice could be beautiful, 

If you’d let anyone hear it. 

I said, no, though. 

Thanks, but not this year. 

I can’t abandon Mom and Dad. 

I can’t betray her by moving on. 

Don’t tell Mom, diary, but even after I turned down choir-

I slipped into the music room.


I let the words pour out of me, a nonsensical, rich, glorious rush of words. 


I can’t express myself clearly in writing,

But… it gave me something I can’t reach otherwise. 


I was me.

Dear Diary: 3-25

Your pages are lined,

Paving out where I can write

What I can do

What I can say- 

Mom hates me… all for daring to suggest

That this mausoleum we live in

Could someday let fresh air and bird song in. 

But that would disturb the dust. 

We live to preserve the dust.

Is that what she would have wanted?

She was so full of life- she loved dragons. Once, she made up a language-

Each English word corresponding

To a made-up dragon name. 

She always had chocolate, smudged on her face. 

She was alive.

I visited the cemetery today. 

I didn’t tell Mom. 

If I had told Dad, he wouldn’t have heard me, or cared. 

That’s where I’m writing this, actually. 

From a bench

Under a tree

Next to her grave. 

She’s decomposing, under the stone that marks her name. 

Another family is gathered around-

An arced grave a few rows away. 

I could speak to them. 

Or I could let them mourn in peace. 

The rock marking her short life is mossy, though she’s only been here

What? Two paltry months? 

Lily. Where are you? Is it better there? Are you happy?


Do you miss me? 


She doesn’t respond. I want to ask-

Can I live? Not just exist… but live life?

I stand up to go. I can’t be here any longer. 

Just as I’m leaving… 

A robin lands on her grave-

It cocks its head-

And trills, a song of love and life and freedom. 



Dear Diary: 3-26

After that.. I don’t know what to call it..

Experience with the robin-

I can’t get away from the words echoing in my head. 

I don't believe in ghosts, or magic.

I don't know if Lily is- somewhere else.

But the thrumming in my chest and the beating of my heart-

When the robin landed.

They say something different.

A message only I understand.

Birds are free.

The only thing I can think of, now, are the words that keep echoing in my head.

Can I?

Could I?


Should I?



Dear Diary: 4-1

I haven’t written for days. 

I haven’t had to. 

I’ve almost reached the end of your pages diary-

You’re slim, and my entries are long, if not wordy. 

I did tell you I wasn't a writer.

It’s a new month- the start of semi-official spring. 

A time of beginnings.

I joined choir-

Lily, was it you who let me?

A few nights ago, I sat on the roof of our house-

I got the idea from, well, basically every teen movie. Ever. 

To my surprise, the attempt worked- I didn’t fall-, and I was watching the stars, breathing in the air which is only so fresh at night-

And a bird swooped across

My line of sight

Blurring out the stars with song.

So I joined in. 

I’m alive, Diary. 

I’m real, and true, and grieving.

I will always be grieving. 

Lily is part of me- and will always be.  

But not all of me. 

And so, dear diary, on that rooftop-

Breathing in the crisp air of nighttime-

I sang my heart out

With the birds and the stars. 


April 08, 2020 03:04

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1 comment

20:25 Aug 22, 2020

Haunting and beautiful.


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