Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

The Boy and the Journal

Custom User Avatar
More by this author
Ali stared at the blinking cursor as if doing so would bring an idea to her head. It didn’t. She sighed and rubbed her eyes. She felt like everything in the world had already been written and there were no ideas left to go around. She shook her head at the foolish thought. Of course there were ideas. They were just hiding from her. Come out ideas! Show yourselves! She pictured herself holding a sword up to a book with blank pages. All of a sudden, words appeared on them. If only it were that easy.

Ali wanted badly to win a writing competition. Very badly. She wanted to show the world what she could do with words. Plus, it would give her extra credit in school, and if any editors liked it, they might want to publish something of hers. Basically, it might be the start of her career. If only she could find something to write about!

Finally, she got tired of the blinking cursor and decided to take a walk.

“Mom, I’m gonna take a walk around the neighborhood! Be back in about thirty minutes!” Ali yelled to her mom upstairs.

“Okay sweetie, be careful and don’t go too far. Love you!”

“Yes ma’am.” Ali stepped out the door. She was about to shut it when she caught herself.

“Love you, Mom!”

Ali walked out into the chill winter air. She had on her boots, hat, scarf, and sweater, so she felt comfortable. She had also made it a point to grab her journal and a pen in case any ideas struck her (she hoped they would!) while she was out.

She walked a short ways to her favorite spot in the neighborhood; the Haunted Cul-de-sac, in the wealthier part of her neighborhood. It was called this because it consisted of a circle of houses where no one had lived for over thirty years. No one ever really ever paid them any mind, so they just sat there, empty. The only night of the year anyone even remembered they were there was Halloween, when kids dared each other to go into the houses. Ali discovered the Greenfield Mansion when she ducked into it to keep out of a huge rainstorm about a year before, and, after exploring the rest of the houses, found that the dares were ridiculous; the houses were empty of all except beautiful furniture and paintings (she thought Greenfield was the most enchanting, though).

Ali was fairly sure no one besides herself ever ventured up to the Haunted Cul-de-sac on a regular basis. She liked it that way, actually. She loved Greenfield Mansion, one of her favorite places to explore. It was the setting of many of her stories.

She turned the squeaky doorknob and headed straight for the sitting room. It was a small room, with a huge framed black and white photo of a beautiful lady. Ali settled on the navy blue sofa and laid her notebook and pen beside her. She finally felt safe and relaxed.

The relaxation was short lived. Ali suddenly heard the doorknob squeak. She jumped up and peered over at the door from behind a wall.

A blue eyed boy with sandy blonde hair stepped into the house. He looked mildly surprised when he saw her.

“Uh, hey,” he said, sounding just as surprised as Ali felt.

Ali might have seen him before, but she wasn’t about to take her chances. Even though he didn’t look any older than her, her mother’s words echoed in her head. Ali, if you come across any suspicious strangers please come home immediately. A boy suddenly appearing in an old, uninhabited, forgotten house? Ali thought that must be pretty suspicious. Without a word, she shoved past the boy, bolted to the door, jerked it open, and made a mad dash out of the cul-de-sac.

She looked back after she had run safely out of that area of the neighborhood, only to see the boy running after her, waving his hands madly.

“Hey!” he called. “Hey, wait up!”

Ali ran faster. He was chasing her now.

“Hey, you!”

Ali didn’t stop until she got home. She slammed the door behind her, thinking how she was lucky that there wasn’t a speed limit for running.

“Home so soon?” her mother called.

Ali debated on whether she should tell her about the boy or not. She decided that not was a safe bet for the moment. “Uhuh,” she replied. Fortunately, her mom didn’t ask why.

Ali kicked off her boots and left her sweater, hat, and scarf on the peg by the door. She slid to the kitchen in her socks, heart still pounding. When she reached the counter, she froze. She raced back to the door. Her journal! She had left it on the couch when she ran away! She felt sick. All of her best stories, ones that she was considering using for the competition if no other ideas came to her, were gone. That was so many months of hard work and ideas, all gone. She wasn’t fond either of the idea of a stranger reading her writing without her permission. Though the stories weren’t all based off of real life experiences, they were hers until she said otherwise.

She walked slowly back to the kitchen. She grabbed an apple and started to munch on it while pacing back and forth.

Her phone number! She had written her phone number and name on the inside of the journal! She ran to the door again, this time for her sweater. She dug her hand in the left pocket and pulled out her cell phone. She slid out the keyboard and quickly scrolled through her missed calls. None from that day. She pocketed the phone and went upstairs to go stare at the cursor on the computer screen until the stranger called. After 10 minutes of Internet surfing she went to her room to read a book. Finding that she couldn’t concentrate, she dropped the book on the floor in frustration and flopped onto her bed. A stranger reading her journal! She was appalled. It wasn’t like a diary or anything, so some might say she was overreacting. But to her, a writer, it was very important.

Suddenly, a piano riff ringtone emitted from her pocket. She dug the phone out and fumbled to check the caller ID. It wasn’t a number she recognized. She answered the call.

“Hello?”

“Umm, Ali? This is Dylan Johnson. I-” He cleared his throat. “I have your journal. Remember, you kinda ran away from me today?”

“Oh, yea, sorry about that,” Ali blushed. “I was just trying to be cautious, please don’t take it personally or anything.”

“No worries. I was just wondering when I could return it to you.”

“Well, what school do you go to?”

“Forest Middle School, seventh grade.”

“Me too!” Ali exclaimed. She wasn’t really surprised that she didn’t know him; Forest was a huge school. “Meet me at fifth period in the library?”

“Sure thing,” replied Dylan. “Well, see you tomorrow I guess.”

“Bye,” said Ali.
*************

The next day Ali felt better. When fifth period came she gathered her books for the next class and headed to the library. She recognized Dylan’s sandy, curly hair, along with the rest of him sitting in a chair. He rose when he saw her.

“Ali?” he asked with a mischievous smile.

She blushed in spite of herself. “Yup.”

He handed her the green journal.

“Thanks! Hey did you, like, read any of it? Just wondering.”

Dylan cleared his throat and shuffled his feet. “See, I didn’t plan to, but when I opened it to see if your name was in it, I saw the first sentence and it was really, well, captivating. I’m sorry, I know I shouldn’t have, but it was all really good. You should enter something in the writing competition.”

Somehow, Ali wasn’t mad that he read her stories. “Thanks. Maybe I will. What I need is a second opinion. I don’t know which one to enter.”

Dylan grabbed her pen and circled the title of the first story: “What Once Could’ve Been”, about losing the chance to say all of the things that people want desperately to say but hold in.

“I think it might need a few tweaks, but it’s really good.”

“Thanks.” Ali smiled.

“I gotta get to class. See you around.” Dylan waved and walked off.
*************

Running away from Dylan turned out to be one of the best decisions Ali ever made. Two weeks later, after editing it and changing it and continuing her unhealthy practice of staring at the computer cursor for awhile, Ali won first prize in the local writing competition, and eventually moved on to state and nationals. Her story? “What Once Could’ve Been”.

Dylan actually surprised Ali (well, again). He wrote beautiful poetry. One day he came up to Ali, handed her a blue notebook, and then ran off, laughing. Ali giggled, and began to read. Dylan ended up winning a national poetry competition with his poem, “When Skies Turn Red”. Ali sat with him at lunch one day and was surprised by how funny and kind he was. Strangers no more, they became the editors of the school newspaper and good friends. Ali smiled when she thought of the irony of her situation.

She met one of her best friends by running away from him.



Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

Site Feedback