My sixth grade teacher distributed little manila booklets with fat blue lines .
“These are your private journals, and you can write about anything going on in your life.”
I’d never considered writing before. I could write truth.
I could describe catastrophes, like my Dad’s time in Napa State Hospital, returning months later and trying, but unable to stop drinking. My mom, brother and I glad/not glad to see him, but he brought bingeing boomerangs. He lost another job, lost his car (again) or locked himself up in his bedroom wearing a green jumpsuit, and sang Irish songs along with the record player all Saturday long.
I wrote about smoking stolen cigarettes at the two tunnels, drinking stolen booze, throwing a chair at my brother’s head, and almost killing him, shocked when I squeezed a scarf so tightly around his neck he almost suffocated, until I saw at the last second that he was dying, and loosened it in the nick of time. Christ.
About one month into our activity, our teacher announced,
“I will be collecting and reading your journals by the end of the week.”
Like hell you are. I went up to her desk.
May I please have another journal? I lost mine.” She gave me another one, and I tossed my truth into the trash without a second glance, filling blue lines with innocuous shit as “I petted my cat today.”
“ Golly, my brother really bothers me,”
“I broke my arm in the multi-purpose room and had to wear a cast for six weeks, Ouch!” When my teacher returned our journals, I saw a red ‘B’ grade, and “very nice” inside the cover. Relief washed over me when writing pap was safe. Forget the truth.