The Viewing

Laura Conoly

Laura Conoly

Laura is a senior studying English and Comparative Literature who grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She has always spent summers in a small community on the lake and time with her Meme in her father's hometown which has hugely impacted her passion for Southern American Literature.

Jeanie was almost 80 years old, but she still was limber enough to climb the ladder into the attic. There was a party going on below her. Down in the living room she heard everything. Up higher everything was muddled, like Charlie Brown adults. Jeanie knew what she was looking for, but she knew people would be looking for her soon.
Hiding in a chest filled to the brim with photos sat Jeanie's diaries, starting when she was only fifteen. Each one was leather-bound and well-worn around the edges. They were filled with endless details, her favorite being a pink leather one that chronicled the year she married Clark. She preferred neutral colors even back then, but what could you do, it was the 70s. The pink looked pretty against her black dress now.
She opens the pink diary, expecting to see pages of her messy cursive about the woes of being engaged, a wife, a mother. She knew the page she wanted to turn to, but she didn't know why. It had to have been the spring after they had been married and she was listing reasons she was sure Clark was having an affair. The same baby that had been in her belly then now walked around in her world, in her living room downstairs entertaining guests. She lied to her grown up baby and said she was bringing the photos down, they were more interesting than Jeanie was. Her legs ached but she had to sit cross legged, she didn't know why. Hurting was at least familiar, touching a wound to keep it from healing because you are too scared to see the scar that will be left behind.
The binding of the diary made a cracking sound as she opened it. She flipped the pages until she was about halfway, where she knew the entry she was searching for was. To her surprise the letters were all jumbled up. Not even in a recognizable pattern like another language or a word jumble puzzle. She looked at old envelopes, the same conundrum. Even photos looked like they had been taken with a kaleidoscope lens. Jeanie laughed and then she cried. All the memories didn't move like a motion picture, they stood viewed, but not seen. The voices below her boomed louder. They started calling her name, like a bell ringing in Jeanie's ears, the first time she had heard her name without "and Clark" behind it since his passing. Jeanie lived in the limbo of the attic now with nothing of value and no interest in what was below.

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