2,420 words

Volume Four


Hesitantly, Sean took the once-loved journal from Faune Matterly. Sean stared at the book before Faune released it, and he noticed her pale white hands. Rayne had pale white hands too, and he could even remember the internal rivers of life underneath her thin semi-transparent skin. The thought of Rayne gave him shivers. Touching her diary amplified his shivers. Was she really gone? Well, he had gone to her funeral yesterday. He remembered staring at the beautiful ceramic vase where her ashen remains were. Tomorrow her sister and brother-in-law would sprinkle her remains on her childhood farm in Nebraska. In the end, he never got to see her. It's as though she disappeared instead of died; although, her charred country home was still there, what was left of it. What bothered him was that Rayne had always been a fighter, and she had been burned in her sleep. He supposed she was dreaming of him that night. Did she really record her dreams in this book?

Faune looked at him with sympathetic eyes. She had already read Rayne's diary. She knew what was in store for him. Her mournful face gave him no indication whether she was still mourning for her sister's death or for him after he read the diary.

"You have a right to read what she felt about you. Please, give it back. It's one of the few things I have of hers that wasn't destroyed in the fire."

He nodded, and he became extremely pale as he opened the front cover of the book to the first page. Of course, Rayne had been extremely thorough, and she had written the date she had started the journal, August 23, 1998. It was the third volume of her series of diaries she started as a child. The third volume was most definitely her last, since Faune was letting him read about their current relationship. Sean looked up, and Faune had exited the bar. He swore he would never drink again, but since Rayne was gone, the drinking took over him, promising comfort.

Inside the margins of the journal, Rayne wrote little "I love Sean's" all over the available space. Why was he so worried? She began the book loving him. His heart stung, and he froze. Did she end loving him? He looked at the back page, and his heart pumped moderately as he viewed a blank page. He sighed and turned back to the front. Did she indulge in their love like a teenybopper or did she reveal her sexual desires? Knowing Rayne, she probably complained about her daily misfortunes. She often got crazy when things didn't go her way.

He proceeded to read the first entry, which was dated the day the book was started.

August 23, 1998

High school is over! I know I hadn't written in here the whole summer, but I got busy with work and summer classes at Benson Community College. I also got a new boyfriend. Well, actually he's the second boyfriend I've had in my whole life. I'm embarrassed that he's my first kiss. I met him at work; he's a bartender. I know I'm five years younger than he is, but I don't care. Boy, did mom and dad have a cow when I started seeing him! Oh well, screw them. I'm in love. His kisses are so exciting, and I can still taste him hours later. Well, I'll write more as things develop.


Tears started to form in Sean's eyes. Their relationship had just started. It was like puppy love, full of adoration and latent sexual urges. She was so poetic, he thought, as she described their kisses. Was that same feeling in their kisses one week ago, before she died?

Sean had successfully read about seven entries of Rayne's diary. They were mostly about their advancing relationship. He didn't realize she remembered their fooling around in such detail, but it was wholly beautiful to her. When he finally reached the point where they first made love, he became interested in her intimate perceptions.

December 26, 1998

I know I told Faune that I'd go with a guy for a year before I slept with him. Well, I lied. It's only been about three months after Sean and I dated, and I lost my virginity to him two nights before Christmas. It was beautiful and painful, much like life can be to you everyday. He was totally gentle, lending me most of the control. The closeness of our bodies and hearts made me feel immensely loved and accepted, and all the social nadirs of my past were washed away. I never thought a man wanted me after being to unaccepted and taunted in school, but I was wrong. Someone does want me. I never want to let Sean go. He'll probably be the only man that will ever see me as a beautiful woman. I must hold onto him at all costs.


Sean read the last line over and over again. How could she not think she was beautiful? He remembered her flowing raven hair and porcelain skin; She never wore make-up because nothing ever matched her ghostly complexion. She didn't need it anyway; it would have ruined her perfect face. Her body wasn't overweight or skinny either. He despised skinny women. Rayne was perfect to him, mind and body.

He read on and on, delving into Rayne's emotions with the words she presented in her diary. For a year and a half, Rayne called him lover, best friend, soul mate, and future husband. As he read on, school became difficult for her, and she had gotten a new job with more pay. Their one tie was work, and she had quit the place where they had met. She now worked and lived in the town where Benson College was, twenty minutes away from him. It was no big deal, but Rayne was always busy with things. Their distance and different jobs had put a strain on the relationship.

June 15, 1999

Finally, my first school year at Benson is over! I thought I'd never survive especially my job at the convenient store. Anyway, Sean and I are still together, but man do we argue a lot! He can be such a jerk! Anyway, Faune is getting married. This guy is too weird for my taste! He's involved with some "families," and all the signs point to "organized crime." It seems Faune really loves him, but he controls her with his fist. I know she's being slapped around, but she's too afraid to say anything. She even gets nasty if I mention it. My sister is changing. If she won't say anything, dammit, then I will. Once mom and dad finds out about this guy, Faune will be free.

He stopped reading and turned the page. Two of the pages seemed missing, as if they were ripped out violently and without patience. Strange, he thought. He shrugged.

I went to work today and caught up with Rowan. He came in for coffee and talked for a while with the manager. Rowan is too fruity. At first, I thought he was queer. Then, he pointed out his ex-girlfriend in an old photo. It was a tattered old photo. Rowan is in his thirties and lives at home with his paraplegic stepfather. Too Weird! Anyway, I'm still fascinated with him. I love strange people!


Who the hell is Rowan? She never mentioned anyone named Rowan to him. Well, if it was just work, it probably means nothing. Still, he was curious to how this Rowan guy affected her life. He continued to read the next passage of her diary. Rowan came up again in the next passage. He was described as making her laugh and having things in common with her. As for him, she was still describing their arguments and how they irritated her. His entire body went numb when he read the last line in one entry, "Sometimes I wish I was single again."

He never realized how dissatisfied she became with their long relationship. The "I Love Sean's" in the margins were fading, and she was beginning to indulge more in her experiences with Rowan than with him. He couldn't believe it! Just last week she said she loved him. She never once mentioned this Rowan friend of hers.

The next passage that he read was the last entry in her diary. The entire diary had been her worshipping of him, until the end. In the last entries, Rowan was the high light of her life. It became even more apparent when she started making excuses to visit Rowan at his other job.

November 6, 1999

I don't know what to do. I still believe in my heart that I love Sean, but I've become bored with him. Our relationship began with such fire! Now, it's only luke-warm. I can't bear the thought of losing him because we've shared so much together, but I feel as though he's the only one I'll ever get to love in my life. I met Rowan, but I can never have him without hurting Sean. There is so much about Rowan I want to know, and every customer at work immediately assumes we are couple. What if we were? I'll never know. I've had one serious relationship in my life, and it feels like it will be my last. There is so much of the world I want to see. Sean only wants to stay home and be a townie the rest of his life. I want to explore the world after college. I'm not saying Rowan will give the world, but I feel like I'm missing out on others while staying in the relationship with Sean. I know I've never believed anyone but Sean would love me, but with the way Rowan treats me, I know I was wrong. What am I going to do?


Sean was stunned as he stared at the last line in the book. He gazed out the window of the bar. A violent rain was scourging the abandoned streets of the small town. Faune would be returning in five minutes to retrieve the book from him. He would give it to her, but he would forever be different after reading Rayne's deepest secrets. Maybe he should have never read Rayne's personal thoughts. They should have died in that fire with her. He could have gone on living and remembering Rayne as a faithful lover, not as a frustrated wandering lover. He would have never known about Rowan, who was probably allowed to read the same diary he read. Or, he probably had no idea Rayne was infatuated with him. Sean wanted to punch his face, but he knew it was pointless. Rayne fell in love with Rowan's charms on her own, and Rowan was an innocent bystander.

Sean noticed Faune outside the bar followed by two figures in black raincoats. Faune herself was wearing a raincoat, but it was forest green. The two figures followed her like shadows, one was female and one was male. Sean couldn't make out the face on the female because she kept her eyes on the floor. The male figure was definitely Faune's husband, and he was forcing the female figure to stay behind him.

Sean was surprised to see Faune walk into the bar and not go to him. She walked over to a man in the corner, who had his head in a book. Sean squinted at the man, and he tried to make out the title of the book he was reading. He slightly gasped as he noticed the book was a journal. The man hesitantly gave the journal to Faune, and he looked into his shallow drink as she said good-bye. Sean's eye's widened. Was that Rowan?

Faune approached Sean at last. She blocked his view of Rowan and held out her hand for the book. In her other hand, he noticed the book the man had given her. On the cover, he saw "Volume Four" written in black marker. His eyes narrowed at Faune, who stood stationary and neutral. Her gaze was no longer sympathetic, but impatient. He slowly handed her the journal. As she took it, his grip stiffened and became harsh. The male figure walked slowly to Faune like a cat, protective of her. Her eyes narrowed back at him and then at Sean.

"You can't hide her from me, Faune. I know there are things that you are keeping from me about Rayne. I'll find out one way or another," he said. The man in the corner looked curiously at them. Sean's glare remained fierce toward Faune. However, she only smiled maliciously.

"Rayne must be loving you in heaven," she said and grabbed the book from Sean's weakened grip. She turned her heel and left. The two figures followed her out the door. Sean sighed and met the gaze of the man in the corner. He picked up his drink and walked toward him.

At first, the two men were silent. Then Sean controlled his underlying anger and said, "May I?" He gestured to the seat across from Rowan at the table. Rowan nodded.

"So you are Sean," Rowan said nervously. Sean noticed him fidgeting with his empty drink.

"Yes. You're Rowan, of course."

The two men stared into their glasses. They heard the chattering of others in the bar. The waitress at the next table cackled as the customer hit on her. The bus boy dropped a dish, and it broke into pieces on the floor. Rowan and Sean both cringed at the smell of a cigarette being lit near them.

Sean was irritated with the silence. "Well, can you tell me what was in that book?"

Rowan nodded. He sighed and began to tell him in as much detail as he could about Rayne's last words in "Volume Four".

Outside the bar, the figure in the black raincoat placed her pale white hands on the window and watched the two men. She felt a grip on her other hand. She shivered in horror as Faune led her down the wet street toward the car.

"Come on. It's done," Faune said and pulled her arm harder. The girl couldn't seem to think which option was worse: deciding between two lovers or oblige the bruising grip of Faune, who was muzzling her destiny and leading her down the path of the suffocating unknown.