I was bored the last few days so I decided to clean out the entire house. Once I finished tidying the kitchen, the bathrooms, the bedrooms, and the living room, I should’ve said enough was enough. I should have called it quits. But I was feeling antsy, restless, on edge. I wanted to keep myself busy. So I climbed into an attic my family rarely used and cleared out the cobwebs. I threw out old dolls, old toy boxes, old throw pillows.
Then I found a diary. It must have been abandoned by the last owners of the house. Our realtor wouldn’t tell us anything about the couple other than the fact that they had both passed away on the property. It didn’t bother me. My father passed away at our childhood home. It didn’t stop new people from moving it. People died. It happened. I never thought about it again. Until now.
I coughed while clearing away the dust from the front cover. Unfortunately, the pages were impossible to read. They were yellowed and curled with age. There were even edges that looked like they were burnt with a lighter. Plus, the words were written in the type of script you rarely see anymore. I couldn’t make out a word.
I was going to toss it in the trash, but boredom got the best of me once again, and I decided to do some research. After a few hours, I ended up finding an app for my phone that would take a shot from a handwritten page and turn it into text so it was easier to read. It was meant for scribbled doctor’s notes and love letters written in loops and swirls.
I snapped a few pictures of the diary, not expecting it to work since the pages were so faded — and I was right. Most of them didn’t work. The app kept popping up with a warning saying writing was not identified. But I kept flipping through. I kept my phone camera aimed at each page. And, finally, one of them worked. It was the very last page in the diary, the cleanest one, still crisp.
It said: “It doesn’t matter what I do to this thing. I can’t burn it. I can’t tear it. I can’t toss it away. Every time I try to get it off of my property, I’ll find it on my nightstand or kitchen table or bathroom counter. There’s nothing else I can do, so I’m hiding it deep in the house. Up in the attic. I’m hoping the next owners don’t get a look at it. I’m hoping I did enough damage to the pages before this. Please, if you find this, if you read this, don’t flip back to earlier pages. Don’t let your curiosity get the best of you. Don’t make the same mistakes as me.”
I should have tossed it back into the attic, returned it to where it was found, but I tossed it in the garbage can instead.
The next day, it was sitting on the mattress in my bedroom. I don’t know how it got there. I don’t know what it meant. But, because of the damn boredom, I ignored my warning and started to do more research…