“These are your private journals, and you can write anything you want.” My sixth grade teacher gave us little booklets with fat blue lines. Writing was a relief. I wrote about my Dad’s time in Napa State Hospital, feeling scared when he came home but couldn’t stop drinking. He lost job, his car (again), and when he put on the green jumpsuit, locking himself in the bedroom, his puffy fingers scratched the record as he sang along to Ernie Ford’s gospel album, ‘How Great Thou Art.’
I wrote about smoking in tunnels, drinking stolen booze, throwing a chair at my brother’s head. I squeezed a scarf so tightly around my brother’s neck he almost suffocated, and I loosened it in the nick of time. Christ.
I wrote about keeping under the radar, and sneaking out of my window to run around the neighborhood once or twice a week. My mom didn’t notice because she sent me to my room after dinner every school night, supposedly to do homework.
Then our teacher announced,
“I will be collecting and reading your journals.”
Like hell you will. I went up to her desk.
“I lost my book.” She gave me another one, and I tossed truth into the trash, filling up the stupid blue lines, “I petted my cat today, Golly, my brother really bothers me, I broke my arm in the multi-purpose room and have a cast, Ouch!”
My teacher read and returned it with a red ‘B’ grade, and “very nice” inside the cover. Forget the truth.