The End Diary: Day One
 
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I will be posting the rest of THE END DIARY, a YA Contemporary book, as a serial for my patrons. Exclusive early access for anyone who contributes monthly. The book is already written and is now in the editing stage.


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THE END DIARY

Day One


I, Megan P. Whitford, declare this the whole entire truth. No one can tell this story except me, because no one understands what happened except me. I suppose I’m your main character, and I hope you’ll bear with me readers, as I’ve never attempted something like this before—the “writing my life story” thing. Well, not my whole life. That would be kind of boring.


You don’t need to know about the time I tried to steal a cookie off Jeremy’s plate and knocked over my milk. Not only did my teacher realize what I was doing, but Jeremy cried as milk spilled over his pants. Well, no, he cried because Lyle laughed and pointed, saying Jeremy had peed himself.


Kindergarten.


My point is, the story doesn’t start there. None of that before stuff matters. But I should preface this with a warning: this story probably doesn’t have a happy ending. If it does, on some level, I’ve failed. There shouldn’t be a knight in shining armor swinging in at the last second—or riding in? Is that a better visual? Whatever. He won’t ride in at the end of the story and say, “Hey, Megan, guess what? I’m saving you.” And boom, story’s over.


But that’s enough about the potential ending. This story begins exactly where it should, with Carly Jacobs.


And this story is the beginning of something bigger, something more powerful than any force in the universe. In these words, I’m letting the world know exactly what happened between Carly and I. Maybe the truth will matter more than I did.


Here goes everything.


Carly Jacobs walked into our sophomore homeroom like she had lived in my small town her whole life. An air of confidence surrounded her, from the way the ends of her hair kissed the tops of her shoulders whenever she giggled to the way her crooked smile showed entirely too much teeth. Her wide-rimmed glasses screamed geek-chic, but she’d never admit they were part of her image. Add on the dramatic eyeliner with bright, neon colors, and she could steal anyone’s breath away.


In a word, Carly Jacobs was fascinating.


She sat next to me and blew upwards, an old habit from before she grew her bangs out to be long enough to tuck behind her ears. Freckles danced along the top of her skin, tracing lines under her eyes and accentuating her roasted brown skin. Her deep, brown hair matched the intensity of her dark hazel irises.


Without warning, she thrust her hand out at me. “Hi, I’m Carly Jacobs. We moved to town from Kingsfield.” She said the name like I should know exactly where her town was.


I had no idea where Kingsfield was, but I wanted to thank whatever power brought her to the seat next to mine. Her back story didn’t matter; I knew through and through I wanted this girl—this miniature, geek-goddess—to be my best friend.


Well, my only friend.


Okay, readers, that’s not fair to you, is it? I’ve presented you with this colorful version of Carly, but haven’t explained any of the other twenty-four students crammed into the classroom meant for twenty. We were a small town, but my grade had a population influx.


In other words, our parents decided “this is a good year to procreate” at the same time. Weird how that works. The grades below and above us had an average of eighteen per classroom, but not us. We suffered with cramped spaces, and we had been doing so since elementary school.


Carly added one more body to our already overpopulated room.


In truth, I think Carly was only in my room because the administration was too lazy to put her in alphabetical order, so they stuck her at the end. Megan P. Whitford, remember? Carly made twenty-five, myself included. Adam Treston barely made the cut off, being the first person in the alphabet in our homeroom. And believe me, I hated how Adam Treston was in the room with us. If I could have voted him off the island, I would have. A long time ago. Before everything.


Sorry. I’m the worst at this storytelling thing. Let me boil down some people into their most stereotypical selves, myself included:


Adam Treston - Popular Jock

Lola Trudy - Quiet Artist

Kyle Tyrent - Valedictorian

Deirdre Vanstrom - Liar

Megan P. Whitford (that’s me) - Lesbian, Liar, Loser

Carly Jacobs - New Girl


There were nineteen others, but most of them never spoke up, at least, not enough to warrant a named part in my story. Unfortunately, every morning, I spent time with these people. See the L-adjectives next to my name? Those are my descriptors placed upon me by my peers. Most of those came from Deirdre.


You see, Deirdre has a problem admitting the truth to anyone, including herself. We were friends for a long time, then that stupid freshman party happened, and she decided it would be a great time to climb the social ladder.


She left me at the bottom, with those three Ls forever stuck next to my name.


You have to understand something about my school: they are incredibly homophobic. When Dierdre left me at the bottom, giving me the “lesbian” descriptor pretty much destroyed any chance I had at making another friend… ever. And no one moves to our small town; it just doesn’t happen. Not enough jobs, no affordable rentals.


So when a new girl walked into our homeroom and introduced herself as Carly Jacobs, I stared at her dumbfounded. This girl was clearly in the wrong place. Clearly. And I… I was gaping at her like a hyena waiting for a lion to be done with its meal.


“You’re talking to the wrong person,” Dierdre chimed in, looking me up and down with her horns growing an inch farther out of her skull. “Megan is only going to get you into the wrong crowd, if you know what I mean.” She leaned over Carly’s desk, fake smile plastered on her face, so wide it reached her ears. “You should hang out with us.” She nodded towards Kyle and Lola.


Lola wanted nothing to do with Dierdre. Thing was, Dierdre had power. People believed her when she spoke; she commanded attention, though I never understood why. She talked, you listened, and you believed. Life has never worked that way for me, so I can’t begin to explain how she does it.


“Megan,” Carly said, smiling at me. Her attention stayed solely on me. I swallowed. “Nice to meet you.”


Just like that, no hesitation. She kept her hand out, tilting her head to the side when it took me more than a second to grab her outstretched palm. Her skin was warm. Dierdre’s neck turned red, and the color slowly spread up to her face; not a flattering look for someone with pale gray eyes.


“Carly Jacobs,” I repeated her name, still trying to wrap my brain around why she was in my homeroom. I shook her hand and forced myself to let go before it became weird. “Nice to meet you, too.”


Kyle snickered, glancing at me with a smug smirk. His lips were too peachy for his pink skin. Maybe he’d be a little less high and mighty if someone told him how horrible his natural color palette was. Despite being Valedictorian, Kyle wasn’t a nice guy. Wasn’t particularly mean, but he’d always laugh when he thought someone was making a terrible decision. Like he laughed at Carly for shaking my hand.


“You are making a mistake,” Dierdre hissed. “You know she like… likes girls, right? She could turn on you, try to make out with you when you to go the bathroom.”


I flinched.


Kyle laughed again.


Adam said, “Dierdre, drop it. We all know the bathroom thing was some messed up fantasy you made up.” He looked over his shoulder, black eyes meeting Carly’s. Carly smiled politely at him, but didn’t give him another glance.


I blinked.


Adam’s lips parted. He wasn’t the kind of guy who got ignored. I mean, Carly was very smart in the way she played him. Adam always got the girl. He’d throw out one compliment—or stick up for someone, e.g., me—to get a girl’s attention. His dark eyes, tan skin, and golden brown hair bagged him any girl in the state. Oh that Adam Treston, he’s so nice. No one ever thought Adam was nice once he broke up with them. No one.


And no one survived more than a month with Adam Treston.


Well, I mean survived figuratively, but I’m hoping you understood that. He wasn’t a murderer. So far as evidence shows, he’s still not. I personally don’t know. Is Adam capable of killing someone? Maybe. Is he smart enough to pull it off? Maybe for a week or two. But Adam would slip up eventually. That’s the kind of guy he is.


A nice guy.


Dierdre turned purple. “You wouldn’t know, would you? Unless that peeping tom rumor about you is true. Should I talk to Sarah, Adam? See what makes you tick?” Dierdre licked the bottom of her lip in a challenge.


Readers, please note, I literally have not said anything beyond, “Carly Jacobs. Nice to meet you, too.” This was my life—not saying anything, blending as far into the background as possible. That’s why the story starts here. Today. Day one of life after Carly.


Carly and I watched the exchange. If it hadn’t been for this, I’m not sure where our conversation would have gone. See, Carly, despite being able to hide her nerves, was terrified of attending a new high school. Starting all over, knowing no one in such a small town, she had dreaded it all summer. I found that endearing.


The conversation continued, and I couldn’t have been planned better. All of my classmates were self-destructing in front of the new girl, the girl I wanted to get to know. The more they destructed, the more of a chance I had to become friends with her.


I hoped, wished, and prayed for her to be nothing like Dierdre.


That was all I could think about. Goodness, if you are like Dierdre in any way, I’m pretty sure my heart will explode. I thought those very words. I even imagined it in my head. Me clutching my chest as I gasped for air, my skin burning bright red. Actually, my heart exploding probably resembled a volcano eruption. A hole bursting out of my chest and red lava covering the floor. All the students would have to climb onto their desks and play the kindergarten version of “The Floor is Lava” but it would be real… because the floor would be my heart lava.


Heart Lava. Good name for a song title? I don’t write songs, so… you can feel free to use that one. Dedicate it to Carly Jacobs. Make it great.


“Don’t you dare talk about Sarah.” Adam gripped the sides of his desk, knuckles bleaching white as his voice dipped lower. Sarah accused Adam of breaking her heart, numerous times. Sarah was a jealous ex—and a jealous person in general.


I’m sorry, Sarah, if you read this. You were. You are? Anyway, don’t be mad about it. It’s just something you need to accept.


Adam was still sore over Sarah’s rumor. She spread as many lies as Dierdre, saying Adam had spied on her after they broke up. Claiming he had watched her change through her bedroom window after he started dating Penelope. For once, a girl had broken up with Adam before he had the chance. Penelope didn’t feel like dating a creep.


“Why? Because you know how much of an as—”


“Dierdre Vanstrom, you were not about to swear in my classroom, were you?” Mrs. Massor walked in, tiny-rimmed glasses hanging far down on the end of her nose. Her glasses made her look like a stereotype, but Mrs. Massor wasn’t a librarian. She wasn’t a historian either. Mrs. Massor was the queen of Communications. Journalism? She taught it. Public speaking? She taught it. Anything politically related? Probably her too. I never liked politics. Too messy. Too many people willing to twist your words and use them against you.


“No, ma’am.” Dierdre sank into her seat, her face flushed red.


“What’s her problem?” Carly asked, still looking at me. She nodded in Dierdre’s direction.


“She pulled me into the bathroom at a party last year. Things got weird, but nothing happened. Dierdre made up a story about how I tried to make out with her, how pathetic I was, and well, the rest is history.”


“Pulled you into a bathroom?” One of her eyebrows arched.


I shrugged. “It didn’t have locks on it. ‘Guard me, while I pee.’”


Carly laughed. “So, what, this school hates lesbians?”


I rolled my eyes. “It’d be one thing if they hated me for being a lesbian; it’s another to hate me because of a lie.”


“Hating someone for who they like is wrong.” Carly shook her head. “I didn’t realize I was moving into the dark ages.”


“Welcome to Tyscany; where none of your dreams ever come true.” I scowled. The joke had sounded better in my head. Out loud, it became a bit pathetic.


“Well, I think my dreams already have.” Carly smiled, winked at me, and turned around, facing the front in time for role call.


I leaned onto my desk, watching Carly as her eyes swept over the room, taking stock of the faces I saw every single day. For her, there was a kind of wonderment. Being new meant being able to start over. Her eyes sparkled. I noticed the moment her gaze met Adam’s. They smiled at each other, a small smirk coming from her. While I had only met Carly five minutes prior, I knew there was something intrinsically different about the smile she gave me versus the one she gave Adam.


Mine was genuine. Adam’s was forced.


And that was it. Day one of meeting Carly Jacobs. Were you expecting something bigger? Better? Or are you still wondering about the details around Dierdre’s big lie? She is a liar, trust me.


This story is about Carly. I have to start with her to end with her. It comes full circle, you see? My therapist says that a lot: everything comes around eventually. So… day one matters. Day one sets up the beginning of forever.


Read the next section: Day Eight