Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: DIARY (05/16/19)
- TITLE: Excavating Landon's World
By Yvonne Blake
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Landon was a good teenager, but a typical one - spending most of his time in his room. Once a week, he’d wander into the laundry room with an armload of stinky clothes, and later I’d hand back a pile of folded ones. Occasionally, I’d venture past his bedroom door to wake him or call him for dinner. That would trigger a “Mom, knock!” So I treasured this moment when I could explore this forbidden land.
I smiled at the scribbled sign on his mirror. MOM, DON'T THROW ANYTHING AWAY! Didn’t he know me? How could I throw away anything that belonged to him? But I found myself picking up a chip bag and looking about for a trash can. I turned in a complete circle, noticing posters of musicians and sports figures, obviously important to him.
His desk held such a hodge-podge of folders, clothes, and backpacks that it called me to discover its secrets. I ignored the desk, for now, to examine some sketches taped on the wall. One was of a knight riding a dragon. I remembered when he was obsessed with dragons. I think he was twelve, or was it thirteen? The other sketch featured a crow, a key, and a doorway. I’m not sure what it meant, but it made me think of Poe’s poetry.
Over the next few weeks, I discarded food wrappers and tattered t-shirts, and washed the rest. I vacuumed and made the bed - where I found another place full of promising artifacts. Now I could relax as I slowly began my archaeological dig.
My eye was drawn to a variety of ribbons. Some hung on the bedpost; others lay in a pile. They were conveniently labeled with the competitions and the dates, but each one included some hand-written words in a familiar scrawl. “Finally Beat Jake,” “Sprained Ankle,” “Muddy Field,” “Stupid Participation Award,” etc. I remembered many of those times.
The backpack contained layers of crumpled test papers, hall passes, notes from friends MEET ME IN THE GYM and GINA LIKES YOU. On the back was Landon’s reply, YUCK! PUKE! I smiled. Gina had bright red hair and freckles - a sweet girl, but at that time, Landon still thought girls had cooties. I pawed through gym socks and gum wrappers, looking for more notes. There weren’t any, but I did find a valentine from Gina. It had X’s and O’s on it.
Hours drifted by as I read essays of social issues, poetry of a teen’s emotions, stories of strange fantasy worlds. I sighed over my ignorance of my own son’s thoughts. He was a great writer. The teachers thought so, too. Most papers received A’s, with comments of “Great Job” and “Well Written.”
I found his saxophone in the back of his closet with a folder of music. Some sheets had notes scribbled at the top. “Hawaii Five-O” - COOL MARCHING PATTERN, “Stars and Stripes Forever” - LOVE MARCHING NEAR THE DRUMS, “Tea for Two” - STUPID SONG, WON 1ST PLACE IN PARADE. I put them back, hoping he'd keep up his music.
Sprawled on my belly, with a flashlight and broom, I approached the darkest spot with anticipation - under his bed. As expected, there were more dirty clothes. But I also found his snorkel from our cruise to Bermuda, a horseshoe from my parents’ farm, and Copper’s collar, his childhood companion - now gone.
As I packed the artifacts in a tote, I came across a journal. Eureka! But the pages were empty, except for the first few entries.
Jan. 1 - slept in late, snowed last night, shoveled all day
Jan. 2 - Mom took Gina and me to the mall. She’s pretty cool.
Jan. 3 - got a new laptop - I think I’ll start a blog.
Jan. 4 - LOOK AT YOUR BIRTH DATE
I flipped to August 4.
MOM, I KNEW YOU’D FIND THIS EVENTUALLY. THANKS FOR EVERYTHING.
YOU’RE THE GREATEST. I LOVE YOU.
With misty eyes, I looked around my son's room, a living journal.
Ah, I miss my baby!
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