The Only Page in Becca’s Journal

The following text is the only journal entry that was penned in a recently-discovered moleskin notebook, which is labeled with the name “Becca Trumbo”, though we cannot certainly confirm that this entry was penned by Trumbo.

 

August 27th, 2014

Thanks to a piece of advice from one of my student-advisors, I’m going to start keeping a journal. This happened last night.

“It only takes one of us for both of us to die,” I said. Me and McClain were sitting close together on a rotted wooden bench, sitting inside the pavilion outside the rear of Gingrich residence hall. It was an insufferable August night—the second week of the 2014-2015 academic year at Collins College, our special little women’s college in the middle of Missouri— and Gingrich, being too old and cheap to have air-conditioning, had all of its windows open. You could hear several different conversations floating out the windows, those feminine voices drifting into the sticky air of the night. But it wasn’t the heat that took me and McClain out to the pavilion. We were from Virginia, so Missouri heat wasn’t much of a bother. It was what was going on inside our suite.

At Collins, we only have about four-hundred girls. There’s three residence halls, and Gingrich is the oldest one. Gingrich is wide and three stories tall, styled in Gothic architecture, got pipes running along the walls and old water heaters. It was built in 1938. The residence halls are particularly special because we all live in suite-style apartments. There’s ten girls to a suite. Me and McClain live in Canada Suite, located on the third floor of Gingrich.

In Canada suite on that night, one of the girls, Whitney, who is from Minnesota, cracked out a bottle of moonshine. It was ridiculous. Who even drinks moonshine besides idiot redneck boys from the hills? She entered the living room and set the jar down on the coffee table. “Drinks are on me tonight,” she said, laughing. It was just me, McClain, and a freshman, Ashton. Ashton took one gulp, but then went back to doing something on her computer. Me and McClain pretended like we didn’t hear and continued talking with each other.

McKenzie came out of her room. She’s from Nebraska. She and Whitney are the wildest ones in our suite. They started sharing the jar, taking large gulps and walking around the living room, getting loud and rowdy. The doors to both entrances of the suite were closed, but anybody could have walked in and got them in trouble for having alcohol,

That’s how the trouble started. I hadn’t even said anything—just kind of looked at them as they took turns taking swigs—but then McKenzie wiped her mouth and suddenly pointed a finger toward me. “Careful, watch this one here—she’s a snitch.”

I’m no snitch, but I do speak up when something wrong happens. Collins is a dry campus, so alcohol is prohibited under all circumstances, even if you’re twenty-one; nobody in Canada suite is twenty-one, for the record. I was about to go into my room and get ready for bed. It was a Sunday night and I wanted to get some good rest for the week ahead.

So I said, “Dump that out before you guys get yourselves in trouble. I don’t want you two getting hurt or getting kicked off campus for something that’s so preventable.”

“Fucking buzzkill,” Whitney replied in a slurred voice. “It’s so like me and my luck to be in a suite with a bunch of Bible-thumpers.”

I’m not a Bible-thumper; that’s McClain, who is actually very intelligent, a critical-thinker. I’m more of an atheist myself, but I do believe in strong morals.

But something awful happened after that. McKenzie called one of her friends from a different residence hall and told them to come over for a drink. Then she mentioned me on the phone and said they’d have to help “deal with” me.

So I got up from my chair. McClain immediately got up too, and then she reached forward and rubbed her hand across my backside. I felt her small soft palm through my shirt, it was that strong and meaningful.

“I think we should go for a walk,” she said, giving me a slight nudge toward the door. I followed her suggestion, and then we walked down the three flights of stairs and ended up in the pavilion outside.

Me and McClain are second-year students. She’s the greatest friend I’ve ever had. We’re both from Virginia, but we’re from different parts of the state. I’m from Fredericksburg and she’s from Richmond. We met on the first day of being at Collins, last year when we were freshman. I could never forget the first moment I saw her—her tall figure, slight frame, chestnut-colored hair, long and luscious. She’s the most gentle person I’ve ever met. I’ve never seen her raise her temper, and she treats everyone with patience and respect. She is truly the sweetest thing in my life—the honey of my world, and the flower of my world, too. I can only hope to be as good to her as she is to me.

Sitting close together on the pavilion. I said, “I thought a women’s college would have intelligent, original people. Not idiots who drink out in the open on a Sunday night.”

We could hear their laughter and yells from the open windows up on the third floor.

“Oh, hush,” McClain said in a fond tone, reaching her hand toward me once again to brush a strand of hair from my cheek. “They’re still original and intelligent, even if they don’t make the nicest life choices.”

“But, god, I wish we lived in a quieter suite. France Suite has the highest GPA, and I bet you twenty bucks none of them party.”

“Are you excited for your classes this year?” she asked, changing the subject.

“Yeah!” I replied, “I’m excited for my literature classes and the piano one. So far they’ve been great. What about you?”

“I’m glad you’re looking forward to them. For me, hmm…  my world religions class, I think. It’ll be covering a little bit of everything, so it’ll be interesting.”

She smelled like the fresh flowers of springtime, and through the lights glowing from the windows in Gingrich, I could see the fullness of her beauty in half-light, which made her all the more mysterious and complete.

“World religions, huh? I bet they all have conveniently have something different to say about death,” I said, a bit jokingly, and playfully elbowed her. We always joke about death. Our views are very different on the subject.

“Oh, shh! Most religions agree on a general consensus of Heaven.”

“I’m sure it’s actually much more complex than that. Go to godisimaginary.com,” I said.

She laughed. “I can’t believe you actually believe in nothing! How depressing is that.”

“It only takes one of us for both of us to die. Each perception is entirely unique from all else. When I die, you die too, because once I’m dead, my perception isn’t active anymore. You never existed in my perception until we met.”

“Shh,” she cooed, and laid her soft head on my shoulder. “Let’s be happy and talk about how much we hate partying.”

We laughed and continued talking until eleven. It was a great night. She made me forget all about Whitney and Mckenzie, and even more.

 

 

Becca on the Edge

Becca walked to the edge of the cliff, where the mountainous boulders had overlooked the lake for hundreds of years. They didn’t know a young woman would die here. They didn’t know she’d been pushed here—literally, pushed to the edge—her throat so wet with tears it almost felt pleasurable, almost tasteful in her mouth, the salt and the warmth creating some sense of sweetness.

She told herself to stop trembling, but she still trembled. She told herself it would stop in a few minutes, so she had to get over it. It does not matter. She thought briefly of her family. How would they react? She thought of her few friends. She knew they’d have a hard time, and maybe they’d be a little haunted by what would happen, but time would be sure to fade the shock of this act for anyone who had any connection with her. And then everyone who had ever known her would die eventually; that’s when she’d truly be finished. In the instant the last person dies. But first she would have to do it. She pulled her father’s gun out of her jacket and stared at it. It wasn’t so simple. Then she started to cry again, not because she was scared of dying, but because of how terrifying it was to think of how such things were so swift, how quick and easy it would be. There is nobody to stop me, she thought. It made her sad to think of all the people who’d felt this way too. She scrunched her face and gazed around through the clear darkened air.

Just a few weeks earlier, in the frost of late October, she and all of her college classmates—her college was a small women’s college located just down the street from the lake—had stood on this cliff and sang songs and held hands on a Sunday night. Serenading each other was part of the college’s culture: the older girls recited songs to the younger students, songs that had been written by former students in the 1930’s. When they sang together, Becca fought the enervating sense of dread that wearily crept into her mind; it felt as if they were detached from simpler times—as if now they were apart of the flimsy beginning of a new type of living, a type of living which centered on flashing screens and numbed fingertips. Perhaps that was why she’d opted to do it here on the cliff, over the lake, in the cool air of November, with the dark, the silence, her phone crushed to pieces beneath the stripped bed in her dorm room.

Now the cliff was empty; now where were they? Some poor old man would find her body, Becca knew, because she saw them take walks every morning. But tragically, people come across this kind of stuff all the time, Becca reasoned. The feelings will fade and the thoughts will fade harder. It wasn’t fair to know such things. She pulled the gun to its last place, and there was Becca, all gone.