Chapter 1 Pandora’s Box
When I moved abroad, I took all my writings with me, except for one journal. It was for the best really, because rereading it was dangerous. I found it again, semi forgotten with the rest of my teenage stuff, in my parents’ loft.
I paused for a moment before sitting down next to the boxes just below the solitary light bulb, and as I opened the tattered notebook, I was nauseated by an artificial apple fragrance. I smiled. Thanks Grandma!
I flicked through the first few yellowed pages full of angry poems ‘inspired’ by my father. I frowned and skipped to the next entry.
November 19th 1992
I sat next to Anna today drawing a still life. We discovered we have one thing in common – our weekend adventures out of Prague, which we discussed in great length. There was something else that happened today, and I am not quite sure what to make of it. The weird guy that sits in the corner next to Peter kept staring at me all day. In the end I adjusted my easel, so he could not see me, his constant staring made me feel quite uncomfortable. I asked Anna, if he was looking at her too, and she said that he didn’t. How strange…How come I haven’t noticed him before? He seems like a loner type, not talking to anybody except Peter.
November 20th 1992
Why does Luke keep staring at me? Until yesterday I had no idea of his existence, which is strange, because there is like fifteen of us in the class, and now he is making me slightly paranoid. I even asked Anna, if I had paint on my face or something, but she said no, so there was no apparent reason for his staring. Even more disturbing is that when I looked into his eyes across the classroom – just out of curiosity – something happened. I can’t quite explain it, but it was intense. What was that? And why does he do that? Does he like me? I don’t even think he is hot or anything, besides my heart is still occupied. It’s just his eyes… they are intense brown, and there is something unsettling about them.
November 23rd 1992
We kept playing the staring game with Luke again today. I quite enjoyed it, yet it annoys me, because I don’t know why he does it, or why I like it. On top of that I totally embarrassed myself today. Peter and Luke were hanging out in their favorite spot on the radiator in front of our studio, and I tripped just as I was walking past them. They laughed.
Later when we finished classes, I bumped into him in front of the school. I proceeded to walk on down the steps, but he asked me for a lighter, and to my disbelief and to his amusement, I tripped again, as I was walking towards him! He asked me, if I was aware that my feet and eye coordination was out of sync. We laughed, but I am so embarrassed, that the first time he ever spoke to me, I made such a fool of myself. Cringe!
Anyway I hope that we speak some more soon. I just want to find out why he keeps staring at me. Actually he doesn’t seem that weird, when you talk to him, but he is definitely different than other guys of our age. He is generally quiet, perhaps a deep thinker, and his fashion sense is slightly odd. He wears this long leather coat, like some kind of intellectual-
“Gia, dinner’s ready!” Mum’s voice brought me back into the present.
I closed the journal reluctantly and threw it back in the box. “Okay, Mum!” I shouted back into space below.
Funny how reading it again transported me right back to the past. For a moment I was fifteen again, sitting there in our old studio full of easels, it felt so real I could literally smell the paint fumes, and all the suppressed memories and feelings rushed to the surface. The journal was definitely cursed, it always had the ability to suck you right back in.
As I placed all the other stuff back in the box, I spotted the green perfume bottle. Perhaps it was the apple scent taking me back, making the memories so vivid, and the feelings, my God! How funny that scents make you feel the exact same emotions you felt in the past no matter how long ago.
I knew, that I shouldn’t read any more. This was a dangerous territory, but then again I was not that naive girl any more. I actually had a life with a perfect boyfriend, who adored me and I him. In fact for the first time in my life, I was content – perhaps too content. Anyway the stuff that happened with Luke, that was definitely in the past. Yet it still puzzled me. I should have left it alone, but deep down I knew I had already opened the proverbial Pandora’s box.
Original writing and photo © Gia Joseph and Giasuniverse, 2015