Burntcore's Choice: Both
The journal was a road map, of this Casey was certain. It was a road map of the life of a troubled young woman trying to find answers to questions she was prepared for yet. The journal was the story of Casey’s mother, a woman that she barely knew. How she came in possession of her mother’s story seemed to be a part of the puzzle.
Casey sat on a bench in that park, quite possibly the same bench that her mother sat on all those years ago, near the Penn State campus with the journal in her hand. She hoped that the journal would shed some light on her mother’s death. It all started there, in the park by the playground. Even the time of year seemed to match. The first entry in her mother’s journal was from when she was a freshman in college at Penn State, experiencing life on her own for the first time. It was filled with her thoughts, her dreams, her memories, the people she met, the people she wish she never met, and the ones she was running from.
Casey was just a child when her mother disappeared and was later found dead, her murder never found. Her mother’s last will left most of her belongings to Casey but the journal was not a part of that. The journal was mailed to her a few months after she graduated from Penn State in an envelope without a return address.
It sat there in the envelope for a week or so until Casey was able to open it. She was curious about it, but she had a lot going since she finished school. Casey had just landed a killer position at a PR company in State College. She had worked there as an intern for several years while she was in college and got to know the staff and their clients. Casey looked forward to building a deeper relationship with them now that she was an employee.
As she read through the pages, Casey was overcome with sadness. Her mother, Susan, was so sad but had hope in what the future held being away at college. It was a fresh start, one she sorely needed.
Susan’s first entry told of her youth, of being emotionally abused by her parents, never feeling like she was good enough. This was startling to Casey. She didn’t have a close relationship with her grandparents, but she never would have thought that they were capable of such things. She wondered if Margaret and Leonard were even aware that Susan had written about it.
Casey also learned she had an aunt that she never met or heard of, named Julianne. Susan was much younger than Julianne, but only had wonderful things to say about her older sister. From what Susan wrote, Julianne had also been the victim of emotional abuse by their parents, but had gotten out as soon as she could. The day that Julianne graduated from high school, she packed up and left without telling Margaret or Leonard where she was going.
Periodically, Susan would get a postcard from her sister, or a phone call to see how she was doing. Julianne expressed her remorse at having to leave her baby sister to fend for herself, but she had to get out of there before it was too late for her. Julianne always encouraged Susan to stay strong, and if Susan ever chose to leave, Julianne would be waiting for her.
Susan held onto that thought, that one last hope that she had some place to go. It is what helped her get through every day of high school and every night at home. When Susan started her senior year, she tried to reach her sister frequently, but when she called the last number that Julianne gave her, she was told Julianne was gone.
The man that answered had a rough voice that scared Susan. He swore at her, telling her that her sister was a no good whore and he finally kicked her out. Susan burst into tears and hung up the phone, afraid for her sister and heartbroken as her hopes dashed to the floor.
Casey's cell phone buzzed, pulling her out of the story. It was the alarm she set so she could get back to work on time. Sighing regretfully, she closed her mother's journal and stuffed it in her bag. She desperately wanted to read more but work came first. Reading the journal wouldn't bring her mother back to life, but maybe it would give her some answers.... and maybe she could find her aunt.