Please go to this blog post (first) if you wish to read this story from the beginning.
The attic was still when she awoke. She looked about and listened. No voices and no movement, only dust motes dancing in beams of sunlight angling in from a small attic window.
The light seemed unchanged from when she had dozed off, but she had a sense of a long time having passed. She had left her watch downstairs. She thought about calling it a day and going back down and taking some aspirins for the headache she’d developed.
Instead, she walked over to the big old steamer trunk the voice had indicated, pulled off its dusty cotton sheet and opened it. Sally’s caught her breath when she discovered the diaries.
There were a score of slim diaries, each bound in reddish leather engraved with gold leaf flowers. The pages were of a high-satin, heavy paper that, to her surprise, still smelled faintly of lavender.
She opened one and read at random. Flowing, neat handwriting in black in filled each page.
”I can say nothing. In silence, I die slowly and keep my peace. When the Skipper arrived, I put on my clothes and made them dinner. The Skipper would have killed him, or Jake might have killed me. I don’t know…I would want the former, but old Skip could hang for it, and where would I be.“
There was a scratch-out, then a blank line. Then: “I’m ashamed. Shame! Shame! I’m ashamed at myself in the mirror, ashamed of the marks on me, somehow. I’m ashamed of cowering naked on the floor trembling at what he would pick up to hit me again. He will kill me. I thought this time he would kill me, but he stopped and went downstairs and I heard him welcome the Skipper as if nothing had happened….”
Sally’s hands trembled and she almost dropped the diary she was reading. The words, “I’m ashamed. Shame. Shame.” Screamed out at her. She’d seen and heard a woman saying these same words into a cracked mirror in the dream she’d had when she’d fallen asleep in the rocking chair.
She gathered all the diaries and took them from the cramped attic, down a spiral back staircase to the kitchen of the Queen Anne, Pacific Victorian house where she’d been staying for the past week.
She proceeded to the parlor and the gingerbread desk where she’d laid other papers and mementos of the woman for whom this house had been built more than a century earlier. She put down the diaries after moving aside a stack of yellowed newspapers, with lurid headlines: “JENNY JURY: DAY 5!” “JENNY’S GOLD MYSTERY” and “JENNY MURDER TRIAL OPENS!”
It seemed now to Sally that the woman who wrote these diaries was everything that she had not been in her 45 years, a woman who had led a wild life, taking chances. Yet, she felt a profound kinship.