They found his diary under his bed. His mother never knew he kept a diary, but then, with the things that had already come to light, she wondered if she knew anything about her son at all. Nobody had read it. Or so they said. His crimes were clear, and so was the motivation. There was no need to delve into the mind put to words. Who would want to read them anyway? And the police were there for much more concrete and graphic reasons, not some rambling of a someone with a twisted mind.
They handed her the small book with the hard clover and she fanned through the pages. It didn’t look like he left any pages blank. Under a different circumstance, she might’ve joked about how such a silent person could come up with so many words. But she only felt anger and guilt and shame and a whole lot of confusion. There was no refuting the evidence. She obviously didn’t believe it (how could she?), but they had shown her clips. She couldn’t look at them for more than a few seconds.
She kept the diary on her ever since, taking it everywhere she went, never out of sight, eyeing it every night she went to bed alone and every morning she was jolted awake by her alarm, morbid thoughts filling her head. She wanted to open it, flip through the pages, but she thought she knew what she would find and didn’t think she could stomach it.
Her own son. Her precious young man. It sounded so incredulous.
Even a year later, it still felt unreal, like she would wake up any moment and realize it was all a dream. But she knew that was just wishful thinking, an attempt to cope with the horror that has become her reality. It might’ve been a little easier to bear if she wasn’t so utterly alone. Her anger at what her only son had done just wasn’t enough. She was angry at her dead husband for dying, leaving her. But most of all, she was angry at herself. If only she had known somehow. If only she had paid more attention to her son. There never was an easy day, not for a single mother working two jobs, supporting herself and her son who was coming into adulthood in this economy. But there must’ve been something that she could have done.
She lost all her ‘friends’. They disappeared like farts in the wind. Lost her jobs. Now she was scrambling for anything. Had to move out of the apartment into a studio in the more ill-reputed area of the city. She drank up all her savings, mixed with the wrong crowd. Sometimes she felt like a teenager again, rebelling. The late nights. The ‘drink till you drop’. But she was closer now to middle age. And although she still had a body, the parade of men, the smacks and the blows all said she couldn’t be further from the experimental innocence of youth. She was a hustler and a junkie. Men had her easy. She never resisted. She didn’t want it, but thought she needed it. It was no more than attempt to drown herself in anything that might help her forget, might help kill her.
A long night would follow a hard morning. Remorse was always a part of it, but fewer was penitence. Promises to climb from rock bottom had become nonexistent. But no matter what she did or didn’t do, the face of her son would never leave her, staring back through the screen at her, bare, holding down and killing innocence.
She tried to visit him once, but he wouldn’t see her. She never tried again. Didn’t have the strength to do it. She sometimes had to try to convince herself she loved him no matter what, but the love she felt only made her feel sick. There was no hiding from it. What he was reflected who she was. She wondered if he loved her back, if her son loved his mother. It was an absurd thought, but she couldn’t help it.
When she got the news that her son died, murdered by other inmates, she felt a strange feeling inside. It wasn’t grief or anything that came with the loss of a loved one. She didn’t even know if she loved her son anymore.
Nobody came to the funeral, and she didn’t expect anyone too. And for her it was just a formality too. Her son, whatever monster he was, deserved to be buried by his mother at the very least.
As she left the cemetery, she understood what that feeling was. It was relief.
She was free.
She thought she was free.
In the weeks that followed, the diary seemed to have become an entity on its own. It seemed to grow bigger and obstructing, heavier. It has become the elephant.
She tried to ignore it but it was impossible to tune it out. It even seemed to have a voice of its own with an uncanny resemblance to her son’s voice. She couldn’t tell. She hadn’t heard her son’s voice in more than two years. And with every passing day, the voice got louder.
She tried to drown it out.
The white walls were blinding and the silence, deafening. For a moment she thought she was beyond. But the voice and the pain was still there, disillusioning. She cried because she was still alive.
She had gone home with the intent to finish the deed. She couldn’t possibly get out of the well of debt, couldn’t possibly sober up now, couldn’t possibly silence the voice.
She picked the diary in one hand and a lighter in the other. She was taking the diary with her.
Instead of lighting it, she set the lighter down and opened to the first page.
Ma, I have done something terrible. They will come for me and you will know what I’ve done. I don’t expect forgiveness, not even from you. I will never forgive myself either. Whatever comes for me, I deserve it. I’m writing this because I want you to know the truth from me. I did what I did, and there’s no excuse for it, but there was never a day leading up to it that I didn’t try to kill the urge. I tried, and I failed. I just hope you can understand that I never meant to hurt anyone. Least of all you…
She read to the very end without a break in between. It took her a little over three hours. She closed the book when she was done and set it down on a table. Not a tear in her eye.
She looked around at the mess that was her apartment. She took a deep breath and began to pick up the trash.