She opened her little plaid journal and positioned her pen carefully. This had fast become one of the favorite parts of her day. A brand new page lay blank in wait for her imagination. She could do and be anything in just a few words! Drawing, writing, doodling. Collecting clippings that she found interesting. The journal had become her friend, a repository for her most private thoughts. It was of course to mean so much more later.
She felt a whole world of her own making could be conveyed if she could just figure out what her inner voice had to say. It spoke to her all the time; would it speak to others as well?
She sighed, shifted in her chair, leaned her elbows on the desk and began to write.
She wrote about what she saw, how she felt. She wrote things she hoped to see, hoped to someday feel. Since she was so young, she knew people might not take her seriously. After all, who would want to read the musings of a teenage girl?
Big thoughts about life and love and little thoughts about clothes and hairstyles all found their way into the book. She grew. And grew. Her body, her mind, her imagination. She felt she would outgrow the confines of her small space if not for her journal. Somehow some paper and ink kept her grounded; reminding her of what she felt mattered. Her writing touched on a newfound interest in boys as well as more philosophical matters like the good and evil she saw in the world. She had dreams of her stories being published. She wrote about things and people she knew; cleverly changing names so as not to risk anyone thinking her work too personal. From the real in all its grit came some beauty in fantasy.
After filling up many pages, she began to look them over, making subtle changes in case someone someday did indeed decide her thoughts were indeed fit for public consumption. She crinkled her nose in disgust at some sections, laughed aloud at others, felt embarrassed at some passages, elated that her imagination had shown through it all.
The tenor of her writing changed over time. The darkness that had remained a distant threat for so long was edging closer to her world. She could find solace in her plaid notebook for a short while but could only hold evil at bay for so long. Before the end, she wrote as any teen would, of making friends, loving boys, arguing with mothers, finding no wrong with fathers. She wrote of the good that she saw every day even as things were falling apart all around her. She wrote as though she was pressed for time to get out all her dreams and thoughts quickly before she forgot them or before she was forgotten.
She was not forgotten. Her journal was discovered, shared. As with any plaid pattern, such as the one of her notebook, the lines of several people’s lives and experiences intersected and meshed and coordinated to form a patterned story of hope amidst horror. Her story has been shared with the world so broadly that children hearing of her think of her as a character, not a real person. But look closely at some of the photographs. She was awkward but beautiful. Read carefully. She was young but intuitively adroit at expression and description.
I was recently given a small plaid notebook from someone who doesn’t know how Anne Frank touched me as a child. Reading thoughts so similar to my own from someone who existed thirty years before I was born was a revelation. Maybe I felt a connection because I was an awkward youth. Maybe it was the odd fact that stuck with me that she and I share a birthday. Whatever sparked my interest in her and her writing, I learned as a youngster that storytelling was important. I use my notebook to take notes for future stories and to jot down quotes I like. We can all find some means of expression no matter what the swirling activity of the world exists around us. Like Anne, I want to be hopeful and share my thoughts and dreams instead of being brought down by darkness.