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February 6th, 1931

These words are my own for me alone and nothing I write here is meant to be binding.

Dear Diary

I am supposed to start with dear diary but daddy is very strict about what I say and how.  Daddy said writing this diary would teach me to write better and that is very important but I have to write that at the top of every new part.  Daddy said he would never read my diary but if I did not write that part at the top for every new part then he would whup me.  I asked how he would know if he never read it and he said he would just know. I believe him.

I was very very very careful when I asked daddy if it would be a bad whupping or a regular whupping and he asked me if I remembered when I got whupped and peed pink.  I said yes I did and daddy got a really mean and angry look on his face and said the whupping I got this time would be worse if I did not remember to write that every time.  Then he said he was not sure if it would work and I should tell no lies even when I write things down.

I should explain what happened the other time because you are my diary and you do not know anything except what I wrote here.  It was when I was playing with Pearl even though I was ixplicitly told I mustnt.  She kept telling me she knew a fun game and she gave me one of her toys to hold, then she took my hand and pulled me along.  Part of the game she said was that we had to go into her familys shed.  Her sisters and older cousins were there and they all had sticks and things.  They started hitting me over and over and kept knocking me down and would not let me leave.

I was lucky that everyone in Pearls family that isn’t a daddy is a girl and they were not very strong.  I bunched up into a ball and I shouted what daddy told me to shout if anyone every hurts me and I do not think I can get away.  WITH THIS BLOOD SHED I PAY YOU FURFUR.  EXACT MY REVENGE.  Daddy said it sounded convincing and if it came to that and Furfur listend I would not be much worse off.  I rememberd it because Furfur always sounded like an awfuly silly name.

Pearl and her sisters and her cousin ran when I said that and I went home.  I cryed and cryed the entire way and I fell down a lot because my leg hurt where I got hit.  I even scuffed my bottom lip and chin on the road when I fell on the path up to the house because its a hill and its steep in places.

When I got home I told daddy what happened and he got really really really angry.  I was scared he would whup me but he cleaned me up and wiped up the blood instead.  He asked me lots of questions about what happened like had I played with Pearl before and how did I get away.  Then he asked me about Pearl and where we would play and if I ever saw Pearl playing after sunday school.  Then he put me to bed and told me I did not have to go to Sunday school the next day.

I forgot I wasn’t going to sunday school and I woke up and daddy was sitting in the living room with a drink looking out the window.  He looked scary because he had that mean and angry look he has sometimes when he whups me and he was wearing the clothes from yesterday and he hadn’t shaved his face.  He left without saying anything except to tell me I had to stay home.

Then he came back and he changed and shaved and we ate and daddy told me that whatever came next I was forbidden to cry.

There was a knock on the door and then Pearl’s Mama came inside dressed in her sunday best.  Daddy made tea and gave Pearl’s mama a cup and gave me a cup and made a cup for himself and they talked about everything except me and Pearl.  He looked and sounded danjerous and so did she but in a diferent way.  Then Pearl’s mama asked about hair and he reached into his pocket and he pulled out all this blond hair tied into a knot in the middle and he put it over his knee.

She asked for it and he asked for her to promise he wouldn’t get in trouble and that I would be safe from her daughter.  They shook hands and then he gave her the hair.  She asked if it was all there and he said yes.  Then she asked if she could trust him and he smiled and said no but she had no choice.

I didn’t know where the hair came from until I went to school the next day and I saw Pearl with her hair cut shorter than most of the boys.  Mrs. Packman said it was because of bugs and we shouldn’t laugh but I knew the truth.  Even though Pearl and her family hit me with sticks I felt really bad because Pearl always loved her long hair.  Even when braided it was long enough to touch her bottom.  She won’t even look at me now and she acts scared.

It was only after that was over that daddy whupped me.  It was almost as bad as being hit with the sticks because I was already sore.  I peed pink after.  The peeing hurt and I would stamp and drum my feet on the stepstool in front of the loo to distract myself until daddy belowed for me to stop.

He asked me if I learned the lesson and I said yes.  He asked me what the lesson was and I said it was I needed to listen.  He asked me why I needed to listen and I said if I was disobedient and did not listen then everyone would hurt me.  He said that was close enough.

If I have to be truthful then I need to say my feelings hurt almost as bad as any of it.  I wish someone would explain this better.  Daddy said it was a trick but I said I did not think it made sense that someone my age could plan a trick like that and plan ahead to have people waiting in the shed like Pearl did.

Daddy said the members of the Duchamp family could and they would do worse because they were scared of me so I could never ever never ever be friends with them.  I asked him not even when I was an adult and he said when I am an adult I will know better or I deserve what I get.

I think I started having the bad dreams around then.  Every night for a long time.  Then one night daddy came and picked me up and he carried me to his bed.  He told me the deal was I was allowed to cry but only so long as it was night and my head was on the pillow.  In daylight I cannot cry or show weakness.  He held me and he stroked my hair until I started to fall asleep and I felt safer.  I cryed myself to sleep and I felt better.

After the bad dreams went away, I went back to sleeping in my own bed.  Daddy had me pick a special object to me and sit naked in a circle while I read from a book.  He said it would be better if mommy was here but I need to learn to defend myself sooner than later.

I don’t know how to defend myself yet.  I do know that I was really worried about being lonly forever.  My mommy is away buying a book and she has been gone since winter and she should have come back by now.  I am not allowed to make friends if they belong to certain families and I am not allowed to make friends if they are already friends with someone from one of those families.  Because most people here are like that I cannot make any friends my age.

But there are things that aren’t my age or my daddy’s age or even the age of the house that want to be my friend now.  Tricky things and scary things and things that offer me gifts like Pearl offered me the toy before she took me to the shed.  I have to be very very careful but I do not feel as lonly anymore.

This took me a real long time to write.  I am still learning and I have to stop and think before each thing I write to make sure I am not lying.  It made me feel better and I think it was a good idea.

I am going to go give my dad a hug now for letting me write this diary and then I am going to go talk to tricky things.

Yours,

Rose Thorburn

March 9th, 1932

These words are my own for me alone and nothing I write here is meant to be binding.

Dear Diary

Arsepint lives up to his name.  The dirty rotten bastard.

I played a game with Arsepint and his followers today and he cheated!  He wanted a lot of things and the only thing I was willing to give him was a kiss.  I am still tasting bad eggs and garbage from the peck I gave him on the cheek.  He said a lot of very rude things to me after.

I asked daddy for advice and he told me I had to earn a victory or none of the goblins around here would respect me.  I asked him how to win a victory and he took me to the library and helped me pick out books.

Some of these books are so thick I can put my hand down flat on the spine and have room on either side.  I asked and daddy said that being good at books is not always about reading a lot but its sometimes about knowing where to start looking.

He also said I needed to stop asking so many questions.  He said I have answers and I need to look for them on my own.

Wish me luck Mr. Diary.  I will let you know how I am doing.

Rose Thorburn

June 18th, 1932

These words are my own for me alone and nothing I write here is meant to be binding.

Dear Diary,

I did it!

Winning was easy.  Now I have a Arsepint in a cage.  I have to bring him food and water once every day or he is allowed to let himself free.

The hard part is punishing him.  How do you punish a Arsepint?

How long would I have to lock him up before he agreed to do a song and dance about how mangy and pathetic he is in compirison to me?  I could make him do it every time he met another person for a whole year!

He wont like it but I didnt like having to read all those books.  I was so bored I nearly cried.

I told daddy, but he didn’t seem to understand.  He gave me a pat on the head and told me to go read some more, so I would know good ways to use Arsepint.

Victoriasly yours,

Rose Thorburn

September 15th, 1939

These words are my own, for my eyes alone, and nothing I write here is binding.  You know the routine.

Dear Diary,

I am in a bind.  I am so sorry I ignored you these past two weeks, dear diary, but much has been going on.

I am in Montreal now, in a different school.  They put me in a private school so I could learn more useful languages.  It is a very religious school.  There’s something witty I’m supposed to say about that but I’m too upset.

Daddy let me bring some books, giving me a special suitcase that could hide them.  It has been so dull, and the school is so strict, I don’t have much to occupy myself with.  I would explore the school and meet the goblins and ghosts in the darkest corners, but they watch us like hawks watch mice.

I’ve only been here a week and something happened. I could see the other girls spending time together, girls who have known each other from kindergarten.  I couldn’t thrust myself into the middle of them, so I took a book outdoors.  I told myself I would enjoy the crisp weather before the cold shuts us inside for months on end, walking away from the school to make sure I could read in peace.  I was approached and told a teacher wanted me, and I had to stow the book away inside a hollow tree, because I certainly wasn’t about to take it into the school proper.  I made sure there wasn’t anyone around to see, but someone figured it out.

Of course it was a ruse.  I’ve been so on guard against trickster spirits and goblins, I’ve forgotten to keep my guard up around other humans.  The book was taken, then turned over to the head office in quick order when the taker found out what it was.

I thought I had it settled when I threatened and spelled the girls who took and handed over the book, ensured that nobody knew it was them or me.  Things are only getting worse, now, with the faculty on a warpath, hunting for the real owner of the book. They are threatening to take away privileges, to punish the entire school, and it’s only a matter of time before one of them bends to the pressure and points her finger at me.  I’ve hidden my books with one working, and I can play innocent, but I fret.

I need the book back, but I have only a few tricks at my disposal, and no creatures of any worth that I might bargain with.  Ancient ghosts with little power left, and lesser spirits.

We have been given time for self study.  I’m using the chance to write and collect my thoughts.  I need a strategy but I’m not sure what doors are open to me.  Some religious grounds are benign but others are dangerous.  What if someone asks along specific channels and an inquisitor is alerted?

The school, as well.  There is so much talk of the war, and so much emphasis placed on making the school proud.  The faculty keeps saying they want goodness and success to come out of this dark time, and they will see the subject of this book as a dark thing.

If they trace this back to me and come to see me as the source of this great disappointment and a stain on their pride, the hate might be even greater than what the inquisitors might direct at me.

Above all else, I fret about my mother.  She spends so much time and effort collecting her books, I worry about what might happen if I lose one.

I must find a way in.  If the ghosts are almost useless, I will simply have to use a great many of them.  There are other lesser spirits, as well.  They will have to do, as allies go.

I must say I thought being at a new school with no reputation would help.  Its worse.  Now, just a week in, I feel more pressure than I ever have, but I have nobody to turn to, not even to argue with or vent on.  I wonder if being hated may well be better than being a nobody.

Rose D. Thorburn

September 20th, 1939

These words are my own, for my eyes alone, and nothing I write here is binding.

Dear Diary,

Disaster, but not disaster of the kind I expected.

In their quizzing of the students and their gentle and not so gentle probing, the interest of the faculty spurred the interest of the students.  Word got around about the book, and I ended up being one of no less than three groups aiming to get into the headmaster’s office and get a better look at the book.

I bid the ghosts to scare the others, but a braver group pressed on.  Minnie from the year above me, her friends, and her cousin Herb.  I think they were almost thrilled by what I sent their way.  Herb might be the one who kept talking about joining the fight and being a hero.  Maybe that drove him to fight past fear.  Maybe he’s a moron.

With a measure of help, I slipped into a cat’s body to spy on the new owners of the book.  With learned tricks, I joined the shadows in slipping beneath the door.  I thought I could snatch up the book and run.

I did not expect what I saw.  They were doing things that proper boys and girls shouldn’t do until marriage.  Herb with one of Minnie’s friends and Minnie with one of Herb’s friends, and another two friends pairing up nearby.

Dear diary, I don’t know how to name or explain the feelings that found me then. There was a kind of anxiety, warm, low in my belly, very real disgust.  Surprising, when I’ve dealt with the most vulgar of goblins.

My father has an eye for justice, or an eye for a lack of it.  In a way, I might have viewed the world through his eyes when I saw that scene.  I saw something unjust that outraged me and wounded my pride, compelling me to act.

I feel wretched when I think that the action I was compelled to was fleeing.

The Lord of Montreal reached out to me last night, communicating through my dreams.  He has heard whisperings, as Lords do, and now I have a greater merchant spirit turned mortal turned god breathing down my neck.  He would like for the book to be found, and will forgive me my error if I retrieve the book and ensure the ones who took it don’t pursue such things in the future.

I have to confront the mundane humans, and I must do it while feeling as if they are somehow more distorted and unfamiliar than many of the beings I read about in my books.

I have been born into a world that one in a thousand people have the slightest idea on.  I know of goblins and boggarts, ghosts and elementals, demons and draiodhe.  Yet I feel as though I’m the ignorant one, here.  They are the ones who have been inducted into alluring, forbidden wrongs.

This writing was meant to help me clarify my thoughts, but I don’t feel clarified.

Rose D. Thorburn.

September 25th, 1939

These words are my own for me alone and nothing I write here is meant to be binding.

Dear Diary,

I don’t know what to do.

I had no chance to write, for I was watched closely, and I had no privacy until now.  I tried, but I couldn’t secure the book before they had a chance to use it.  They called a goblin to them, and the ritual gave it power to attack.  Minnie suffered the brunt of it, and the rest of us were caught.

The police seem to think Herb and his friends as responsible.  I was confused at first, but now I think it makes a kind of sense.  Boys, a fraction too young to go to war.  They intruded on a girl’s school, and they make for ready suspects when Minnie is hollowed out, left with only a vacant stare, unresponsive and unmoving but for the monotonous rocking of her body.  Her body was untouched, but that doesn’t count for enough.

When the books do tell of evil things being loosed, they often make it exciting.  The mission is a rescue, a race against time.  Here, three or four lives were utterly ruined, and they may never find out why.   They were given no chance, except to leave dangerous things be.  A practitioner could have done more to help, but I am more a novice than a full fledged wielder of power.  I caught the goblin, I kept the scene clear.  I was there when police arrived to answer the screams, and now I am a witness.

I still I don’t understand it, and I don’t know what my place in this is supposed to be.

The books say the ignorant may rewrite their own memories.  Perhaps they will blame themselves.  Perhaps Herb and his friends will convince themselves they were responsible. That strikes me as being nearly as horrifying as anything that happened to Minnie.

They may instead choose to let their recollection of what happened to Minnie fade from their minds, a curious incident they don’t let themselves dwell on.

I just sat with my pen poised over paper for long enough I needed to dip my pen again.  It’s more horrifying still, but it’s horror I feel on Minnie’s behalf.  I think it’s the scariest thing I can imagine.  Dying and having your existence erased from the world.  To be painted over and forgotten.

It’s my first time facing the aftermath of a situation like this.  Removed from the books.  It gnawed at me every day the girls and I were confined to the rooms on the top floor of the dormitory, while I waited to talk to police, and the entire way home.  It eats at me still.

A small blessing that it was a goblin of no particular status or power.  It could have been far worse.

I expected the usual sort of punishment from my father.

I did not expect my mother, returned from a year-long trip, to meet me in front of the house.

Her first question was after my welfare.  I told her I was well, but that the police might reach out to ask more questions, and that I might be asked to Montreal to attend court.

Her second question was about the Lord of Montreal.  I assured her I left things on good terms.

Her third question, of course, was about her books.

I assured her the books were well, showing her each of the texts I’d taken with me.

With that, she left to return to her study, leaving me with her detestable snake and with Father.  Even now, as I write this, the house has a smell, very like the aroma in that scene I stumbled on with Minnie and the rest, that had unsettled me so much.

Ampelos was staring at me, and even though that snake face doesn’t show a damned hint of an expression, I could tell he knew, as though he read my mind.  His every movement mocked me.

It feels like there’s always the group, and then there’s me, standing apart.

Ampelos is my mother’s familiar, so he is her ally.  My father is, of course, my mother’s partner.

And then there is me.

I think, writing this, I have settled on how I feel.  Mortified.  It’s a good word.

I cannot make another mistake like I did, but I can’t cover every avenue by myself.  I’m too young to take a familiar for life, and I have no friends here.

I was home, and I felt more homesick than ever.  I still do, writing this.

Ampelos knew all this, and he silently mocked me.  My father was in a good mood, but I didn’t hear his words and I think my silence annoyed him.

He was upset over the girl that the goblin attacked, that I’d let the book out of my sight.  He said it was my responsibility.

I was angry, and I think both of us were a little surprised at how much emotion came out.  I said a lot of things, and I was careful to keep my word, but I don’t remember much of it.

I blamed him, because making friends was hard before, but impossible once I became a practitioner.

I told him the truth.  That I was given the responsibility too soon.  Other families don’t let children have powers.  I’m sixteen, but I’ve had powers for almost half of my life.

And then I swore.  I swore I wouldn’t ever make my children go through this.  I would let them lead lives untouched by all of this.

Never have I seen him react like he did.  As if he’d heard me and he actually listened.

Ampelos was still there, smug.

I don’t know why I did it, but I took hold of Ampelos’ tail, seized a letter opener from the nearest shelf, and I stabbed him, fixing the tail to the arm of the loveseat.  I ran, before my father or mother could catch me.

As I said, mortified.  I know I have responsibilities.  I’ve done irreperable damage by swearing an emotional oath.  One I’ll have to keep or be forsworn.

I know I’ll have to go back and bow my head, accept my due punishment.  It’s well after dark, and writing is getting harder as even moonlight is harder to come by.  I’m sitting out of sight, using my bookpack as a seat, but trouble is sure to find me.  I almost hope it will.

I don’t know what to do,

Rose D. Thorburn.

September 25th, 1939

Dear Diary,

I’m not going to write the bit at the beginning.  I know there is no use in it.  It doesn’t protect me or do anything.  I’ve known for a good while, and right now feels like a good time to make a change.  I’m fairly certain I never made a promise, more because my father wouldn’t have exacted one from me than because I remember anything that well.

I’m not sure if I should write this down, but when I sit here, muddy and bleeding in spots, scuffed and bruised, I think of Minnie, and I think I want to preserve as much of myself as I can.  Even the gory bits.

I found trouble.  Aimon Behaim.  Years older than me, visiting home while an injury heals.  An enemy.

He mocked me, following me, and it took me minutes to realize why he wasn’t doing more.  My mother was back, and he was scared.

I called him on it, and I offended his pride.  He teased me, a working of spirits to bring raindrops down from leaves overhead, and I retaliated by throwing down the clay doll I keep Arsepint inside, giving an order to attack.  Something of an overreaction.

I didn’t think that a soldier might be carrying a firearm.

I had to order Arsepint away before he could kill my oldest servant, and Aimon closed the distance, and pressed the gun to my head.  I spat in his face, he grabbed me by the hair, and we fought.  I dug my fingernails into his bandages, he tried to throw me over the edge of grass so I might fall in the lake, and I pulled him after me.

Like my argument with my father, I can’t say everything that happened.  It was stupid, ignoble, and animal.

I look at him now, lying still beside me, and I think maybe Aimon was just as scared and frustrated as I was.  A different kind of fear and frustration, but it was there.

Somewhere along the line, he decided to let me win.  I ended up above him, pinning him.

He didn’t expect me to call Arsepint back, and have the lesser goblin bring me the dropped firearm.

With a gun to his head, he refused to say uncle.  To relent in the simplest, smallest way.  I think that was when I realized we were the same.  There was only us.

And Arsepint.  But allowances must be made.

He kissed me, and I kissed him back.

Things went to natural places from there.

I’m enjoying sitting here, watching Aimon’s bare chest rising and falling.  He has a bloody nose and it’s making him snore, and I like that.

When I’m writing, dear Diary, I sometimes like to think that you’re communicating with me, when my thoughts clarify and I can jump to new ideas.  It’s sad, that I give you an identity, when you’re only one of a long series of notebooks, but I’ll hold to the idea because it makes it easier to put pen to paper.

If you were communicating with me, I’d think you just pointed out how Aimon and I were connected in the heat of the moment.  You might be telling me I could have an ally in this.  A way to make up for the damage I’ve done to my family with a careless oath.

But Minnie is still fresh in my mind.  Trusting the wrong person is a telling mistake, with consequences and damage.

And I think of my first diary, your predecessor.  Of Pearl, who offered me an enticement before dragging me off to where I could be beaten.

I don’t know what to do, but it’s a more comfortable sort of doubt.  At worst, I have an enemy I know and that’s better than having and knowing nothing at all.  My predecessors will have to bear with me.

R.D.T.

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