I read through the first few entries, which were basic mundane logs about the end of high school and her ideas for the future; nothing dark or dramatic, just simple ideas. I began to skip over a few entries that seemed rather generic but was interrupted by my phone buzzing in my pocket.
Pulling it out, I checked the caller ID and saw it was Lily's cell phone. I flipped open my phone and put it up to my ear, continuing to glance over the semi-stolen journal.
"Hey Jess. What are you doing?"
"Oh, nothing," I lied, feeling very awkward already. I shut the booklet, "What's up?"
"I was just wondering if you were on my side of town. I found a bunch of old photos and I thought we could go through them and see about bringing some to Rachel's funeral to give to her mom." Her voice was a little muffled and I could tell she was holding the phone between her ear and shoulder while the shuffling noises in the background indicated she was probably looking through the mentioned photographs right now.
"Yeah, I can swing by in a bit. Do we have a date for the funeral yet?" I asked, setting Rachel's journal next to me on the passenger seat and running my fingers through my hair.
"I called Rachel's mom this morning, but she didn't really have an answer yet. She thinks it'll probably be Saturday, but it's not for sure yet. Everything's still kind of up in the air at this point." Her voice became clearer and I figured she was probably holding the phone regularly now, probably going to check on her baby.
"How is she- Rachel's mom? I mean, besides the obvious." I closed my eyes, leaning back against my seat and biting my lower lip.
"She seemed rather calm, which was very strange. I figured she'd be falling apart, but she's probably trying to stay strong until the funeral. I think a lot of people do that."
"Hm. I wonder how Rachel's little sister is taking it." I remembered Rose from back when I was in high school, although I was aware now that Rose was probably in high school herself at this point.
"She and Rachel weren't very close, they just fought a lot; but I'm sure Rose is probably still really upset." Lily sighed on the phone and I could hear just how tired she was. All of this on top of a seven month old baby probably wasn't going too well for her right now.
"Well, I'm getting in my car to drive to your area right now, so I'll see you in a little bit." At that point I started my car up to give myself a little bit of genuine-ness.
"Okay Jess, see ya soon." She hung up and I dropped my phone into my lap, giving one last look at the journal beside me before driving off towards Lily's house.
When I arrived at Lily's house, I immediately noticed the stark contrast between how it looked now versus how it had looked last night. Not only was it obviously daytime at the moment, but instead of six, seven, eight cars lined up in the driveway and wrapping around the block, there was only Lily's simple Honda sitting in front of her house. I also felt about a million times calmer this time.
I knocked on the door and she let me in without any small talk, leading me back into the same living room that had been filled with grieving semi-strangers the night before but now held nothing but memories and empty seats. Spread out on the coffee table were dozens of photos from anywhere between three to five years ago, most of them like mine taken at arcades or any one of our parent's houses.
Sitting down at the couch, I picked up one particular one that had me, Lily and Rachel all covered in cake icing on our faces and grinning wickedly at the camera. Oh, I remembered that sweet sixteen party.
"I haven't thought about most of these things for years, you know." I muttered, beginning to flip through all of the photographs, finding some of them incredibly unflattering to one or all of us.
"I know, it's very strange to look at now. It feels like it was just yesterday, but then again it also feels like ages ago. I think we're in this sort of weird in-between ness and we aren't sure where to go at this point in our lives." Lily bounced the baby on her hip and I smiled fondly at little Liliana.
"Emerging adults, that's what they call us. I guess it's appropriate." I shrugged, quoting my Psychology professor and turning back to the pictures. I started picking up small stacks randomly and beginning to look through them. Almost immediately, I felt my nose stinging and my eyes growing hot with tears.
I set them back down, putting my head in my hands and taking a few deep breaths. I felt Lily's hand on my shoulder and I let out a tiny sob, "This sucks."
We wound up choosing about ten photos and as the sun began to set I decided it was best to start to head home before Rick got too worried. I shouldn't have bothered though, because when I got home he was still at work doing some overtime coding.
I dropped my backpack on the couch and sat down on the other side, sticking my feet up on the ottoman and once again opening up Rachel's notebook. It fell open somewhere in the middle and the date entered was in the middle of January, 2008.
It's almost been a year since graduation and I'm still living at home. What a fucking loser. Ridley wants to get an apartment, but I don't know if I'll be able to afford it. I know I shouldn't spend all of my money on booze and shit the way I do now, but how the fuck else am I supposed to have fun on the weekends after work?
Ridley drinks more than me, anyway. She just hides it better.
Can't wait to get away from him, though. Maybe then I'll be able to actually get a good night's rest without having to be passed out.
The next entry was just a rant about not being promoted, but my eyes just stayed stuck to that last paragraphs. Get away from him? Get away from who? What was she talking about? A good night's rest?
Rachel, what the hell were you hiding from everyone?
At that moment, the door opened up and Rick stepped inside, kicking off his shoes as soon as he was in the house. Hastily I shoved the notebook to the side, sliding it underneath my backpack. He probably wouldn't be too keen upon me stealing a dead girl's journal to quell my own guilt.
"Hey babe." He greeted me with a smile, giving me a small kiss on the forehead as I closed my eyes and tried my best to smile back naturally.
"How was work?" I leaned back on the couch and stared up at him, crossing my arms over my chest nonchalantly. He immediately gave me a very strange look.
"It was work like. Any thoughts for dinner?" He raised an eyebrow at me and I shook my head, looking away from him.
He sat down in his computer chair, crossing one leg over the other in a manly fashion, "Jess, is something wrong? You're acting weird."
I finally met his gaze and sighed softly, feeling like I had to tell him something.
"I saw Rachel's mom today. I wanted to see how she was doing, which was rather well, strangely enough." I tried to avoid his gaze again, but his mouth did that strange half smile thing where I could tell he was wondering why I made the decisions I did.
"How'd she take you showing up after not having talked to her daughter for years?" He began to slide off his socks, his eyes still staying on me.
"She didn't seem phased, really. She offered me a drink and we spoke for a minute, but then she got a phone call and I left. That house… It felt completely different." I thought back to the years I had spent growing up partially in that house, sleeping on the living room couch or in Rachel's giant bed.
"Huh. I guess some people just handle grief differently than others." He shrugged before focusing back on my eyes again, "Is that all?"
"Yeah, why?" I swallowed, feeling my guts twisting inside.
"Just wondering." He shrugged, turning to his computer and hitting the power button on his monitor, beginning to check through all of his daily internet things. I stared longingly at the journal hidden partially under my backpack, but I didn't dare touch it. That would have to wait until after he went to bed or maybe to work the next morning.
I couldn't get it out of my head. What the hell did Rachel mean?