About someone else’s diary

This one time after a party, the black moleskin was left behind at our house.

No name on the first page.
It wasn’t my husband’s.
No one asked about it the next day.
I texted some guys from the party. They didn’t claim it.

Some dollar bills were tucked into random pages. I didn’t touch them. Scattered writing. Some pages skipped or flipped. I did not read the words.

I wouldn’t do that.

I couldn’t throw it away either. So it lived in a drawer, dangerously close to journals filled with my own writing. A decent dose of someone else’s private thoughts, living with us in our home. This became a test of my willpower. I was building resistance to entering a mind without consent.

I wouldn’t confuse someone else’s thoughts with mine, of course. Yet, they were there, as if they could contaminate my mind.

In my most tempted moment, I allowed myself to read a few words on a random page.

Something about acting.

A girl’s name. An echo says, “Lauren.” Was she significant? Do side characters ever make it into people’s diaries?

Only words, no full sentences. I could not possibly reveal the full context. Even then, I felt guilty of crossing a line. With little information, I had already built too many assumptions about the writer.

He didn’t claim the diary, because he must have assumed that I or someone else read his private thoughts, and discovered something embarrassing.

Or, he didn’t claim the diary, because he simply couldn’t remember where he might have left it.

Or, he remained unidentified because the writer was a she?

Could she have left the diary unattended on purpose, to be secretly read by someone else?

What would I do in her place? You, in mine?

Any further revelations about the writer would have been on my conscience as much as hers. To sustain self-righteousness, I tricked my brain. I let my memory do its job. Details became diluted as years passed. Which party was this again? Who was at the party? Some new people I just met? What year was it? No longer a reliable witness to myself, I could not identify the writer accurately. Therefore, I remained innocent of developing any further judgments.

All that this had left me with, was my game of temptation.

I wouldn’t steal someone else’s thoughts of course. Yet they were there as if they could be mine.

A few months ago, I brought the diary from the house to my car. Next time we went out, I released it at a parking lot in West Hollywood. Dollar bills, intact.

I won.

That parking lot in WeHo. I took this photo long before I left the diary in the same spot.

This is written with crumbles from my memory. If it paints a picture of the writer or me, then I am not entirely innocent. Then, I suppose I stole a spirit from the diary.

Artist. Environmentalist. Immigrant. Mother. Investigating the links between environmental health and mental health.

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