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The Journal (Short Story)

Updated: Nov 11, 2019

Credit: Complete the Story by Piccadilly


It looked like a shell, half buried, but as she dug through the sand around it's edges, she found it was something completely different, something she'd never seen before and thought only existed in stories. She had to be imagining - it simply couldn't be a journal. Paper like that hadn't existed in years. Not since the third world war. There was no one left to make it. She wasn't even sure how many people were left that could even write well enough to use one of these things.


Bonnie could hear her mother yelling for her to come back to the camp, and she knew she would be in trouble when she got there. It wasn't safe to wonder off like this, not with some of the biters still walking around, even after all these years. Truth be told, she had never even seen one. But, they'd been around since before she had even been born. She had really only heard stories of them. She had only heard stories about lots of things.


She put the journal under her shirt and walked around the back side of camp where their family tent was and hid the journal under the edge where her bed was. She didn't want to leave it outside, but she couldn't risk her mother finding it before she got the chance to read through it, at least a little. She wasn't sure there would be a whole lot she could get through as her reading skills weren't the greatest. There were only a few books in the camp and, while she had read most of them, they were all printed. This one was in some other kind of writing. Part of it was printed by hand, while other parts were in cursive.


She couldn't tell if it had even been the same person writing in it. She assumed there was more than one, though. Maybe someone else had found it after the third war and decided to use it. As she finished tucking it under the tent, Bonnie heard her mother yell for her again, and she walked to the sound in the middle of the camp. It was close to dinner. Her mother had been at the fire pit, holding a tin cup that must have had soup in it. It was one of Bonnie's favorite meals. The soup was made from rabbit and grass. It didn't have much flavor, but it tasted good to her and it was warm on nights like this when it was cold.


"We're going on the boat tomorrow, so you'll need to go to sleep early tonight. We'll be out for a few days to catch some fish," her mother told her. Bonnie knew this meant something else. Yes, some of the adults would catch fish and they would eat them on the boat. But, they would send all the kids and when they came back, the camp was always smaller. Even though Bonnie was only 12, she knew this happened because someone was being sent away or punished for their crimes against the camp. She didn't know if they were killed or if they were exiled. Sometimes, the kids were sent away when someone was sick and it was their time to pass and she supposed the adults didn't want the kids to see death.


All Bonnie knew for sure was that she had to find a way to sneak the journal with her. If she didn't, she was scared it wouldn't be there when she got back. And, if it was found, she was afraid they would know it had been her who found it and they would know she had been the one who found it, meaning she had left the camp boarders when she wasn't supposed to.


The next morning, Bonnie had packed her bag and hid the journal in it. She wasn't sure when she would be able to read it, but there was always a chance she would.


*****


They had been on the boat for over three days, which was longer than they had ever been out. Bonnie had been able to read some of the journal, but had found out things about the war no one had ever told them before. She had been found in tears multiple times. In the beginning, she had claimed that she was homesick and missed her mother. She thought it had been working as an excuse until she found the journal missing from her backpack the morning of the third day.


She knew it hadn't been one of the kids who'd taken it because they were all younger and none of them had seen it. So, it had been one of the adults. One of the adults, and she wasn't sure which one, even as they passed it between themselves and told her how it had been wrong to not tell them about it.


She thought about this as it floated beside her in the water. Bonnie had never learned to swim. They said it was an instinct, but no matter what she did, she couldn't get back to the surface. She knew her mother would cry for the loss, but it was better for their people. At least, that's what they would tell her mother even if they didn't tell her what crime Bonnie committed. But how had reading the history of the world been a crime. A crime punishable by death?


That was her last thought as what little hair in her lungs left her body in a stream of bubbles that floated above her head. The last thing she ever saw was that damned journal floating above her head.



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