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At first, Ash felt relief at the fact his English teacher had never actually read his daily journal entries. He was paranoid at first. He worried that CPS would be called, he wouldn't be believed and that everything would end up worse. (He's heard so, so, so many horror stories.) So each day for the first month he wrote mundane things about his day, turning his notebook in once every week on Friday and getting it back Monday, seeing a blue checkmark on every entry. He struggled to make it as bland as possible, paranoid his teacher could read between the lines.

 

September 27th

Today was another boring day. At school they'll probably serve hamburgers and I'll probably get the second choice. The semester is starting to roll forward and soon all my notebooks will be splotchy with ink. I wonder if I'll fill a notebook front to back this year, although it's unlikely like every other year. At home it is the same at is has always been, I know what is expected of me there.

 

Five sentences make a paragraph. It’s what he's been taught his whole life. It's the bare minimum, the expectation to do daily to get his participation points and keep his grades up. He's not particularly keen on spilling his secrets on these pages so he keeps vague for the first month and a half. Until one day Bones mentions it.

 

The teacher passes back their notebooks, Ash opening it to see his marks. Bones look to him and smirks. "You know, she doesn't actually read these," he says. His lisp is slight in his words.

 

"Huh? What do you mean?"

 

Bones cracks a grin before opening his notebook and showing it to Ash.

 

September 18

Today I went to the beach. You stopped reading so I'll write whatever the fuck I want lol. I didnt so shit but jerk off and watch jersey shore...

 

September 20

Math is really killing me and giving me a headache. A long time ago in a galaxy far far away...

 

Ash flipped through the entries, shocked at the fact that he'd been struggling to hide his thoughts for over a month over almost nothing. The entries were strange to see to him. Bones had terrible penmanship and even then, he wrote nonsense. The first October entry wasn’t even words, just a bunch of nonsense written for five lines straight. He looked to Bones, an incredulous smile on his face.

 

"Easiest points ever. I'll probably get an A in this class for this shit." Bones says. Ash nods before handing back his notebook. He thinks the situation is a little funny.

 

The issue with that though, is that he cant stop thinking about these journals. Really, they took up so little of his thoughts before. Maybe a minute per day to think up whatever bullshit he'd write to get his points. But now that he knows nothing is actually read, he wonders what would happen if he just...wrote what he really was thinking, what he really went through on a day to day basis. The idea won't leave him alone.

 

Later that Friday, he passes his journal to his classmate in front of him. The teacher collects them all at the front of the row and leaves them on their desk. He only halfway pays attention to the lesson that day, anxiety beginning to bounce around in his head.

 

That weekend is one of the longest he's ever experienced. He doesn't sleep well on Friday, mind racing at the possibility that Bones was lying, that the teacher might probably glosses over only Bones work but reads everyone else's. He doesn’t sleep well on Saturday either, although it is for utterly different reasons. But on Sunday he's so exhausted he passes out at 8 am, sleeping almost 11 hours straight.

 

Monday afternoon his notebook lands back on his desk. He tries not to let his hands shake as he opens up to the most recent entries.

 

October 11th

I'm going to try something. The past few entries might have been boring to you. But I want to talk about myself deeper now. I wonder if you are curious. I wonder if you actually read these. If you do, can you draw a little smiley face on this page?

 

He scans the pages for that week. Blue checkmarks only. Almost every entry is the same, asking for a smiley face. So he closes his notebook and puts it away. His leg bounces as he pays attention to the teacher.

 

Over the next few months, rather quickly it seems, his entries get longer. They grow from one paragraph to two, to three. At first he was paranoid, didn't want to bring attention to it. But at the end of every one, even in the middle occasionally and a few times in the beginning he'll ask for a smiley face. Blue checkmarks are all he receives as his words go unread and ignored. It's a freedom he's blessed to have as he begins to release all his feelings on paper.

 

November 22nd

Today I wore a heavier jacket due to the cold front coming in. I know you stopped reading by now. Honestly I think you just count the number of periods we have and give us marks based off of that. Can I have a smiley face instead of a check? I know I'll get a check anyway. I wish my foster dad wouldn't touch me. I wish I never got put up for adoption. I wish he would drop dead and I would never feel his hands around me ever again. He doesn't come home until late at night but I can feel his presence in every inch of this house. I wish I could think. I wish I could breathe.