15-year-old Cristina Maria Fernando, preferably known as Kristin, found herself standing in line to board an airplane that would take her from her home in Shawneetown, Florida to the city of McDermitt, Arizona. She found herself staring into her Strawphone, or rather at a picture of her and her friends, which was taken at a New Years Eve party just three days ago. In the picture, she and her friends Alison Weaver, Mercedes Wood, Stefanie Doyle, and Deanna McCoy cheered as they waved glasses of root beer and wore glasses that said "2014" on them. None of them knew that this would be the last time that Kristin would see her friends for a long time.
"Why am I doing this again, mom?" Kristin said as she turned to face her mother, Tilda Sawyer Fernando. "Do I really have to leave home and stay with people who I haven't seen in years?"
"Kristin, you know why I’m sending you away," said Tilly as she sat up in her seat, which as near the line. "Your father and I are getting divorced and I didn't want it to affect you."
But the divorce did affect Kristin; she had not seen her father, Reynaldo, since the week before Halloween and no one knew where he was. That was, until rumors were spread online that her father was seen with a younger woman, who appeared to be a few years older than Kristin herself
"Look, Kris, I know that it's been hard for you the past few weeks, but trust me, it will get better," said Tilly.
"How do you know that?" said Kristin.
"I have a surprise for you," said Tilly as she reached into her handbag and pulled out a package. "Something to help ease the pain of the divorce, and you going away and leaving all your friends."
"Mom, you know I hate surprises," said Kristin as she stared at the package. (She always made it a point to know what she was getting for her birthday and Christmas; surprises were not allowed.) "I already got a book from you for Christmas and another book for my birthday, so why would I need another present from you?"
"Just open the package," said Tilly. "We don't have a lot of time. After all, it will be an hour before you leave and I want to make sure that you receive your gift before you go."
"oh, OK," said Kristin as she unwrapped the package. Inside the package was a hardcover book with 200 pages, two sections labeled "morning" and "night", and even had the name "Kristin" on the front cover next to a flowery design.
"You've got to be kidding!" kristin said to herself as she stared at the book for a long time. "what is it?"
"it's a diary," said Tilly as she stared at the diary.
"a diary?" said Kristin nervously. "you mean..."
"it's a diary," said Tilly, "a book that no one can read except for you."
"Well, i think this is going to be a problem," said Kristin as she continued to stare at the diary. "I already have a blog on WordPress, a blog on Tumblr, a Facebook account, and a Twitter account. So what would I need a diary for?
Tilly said, “You need a place to write down your private thoughts.”
"Private thought?" said Kristin. "Who has private thoughts? Privacy is a privilege, not a right. Plus, having private thoughts goes against today's social norms."
"I don't care about today's social norms," said Tilly. "I do know that you love to blog about anything and everything. But why would you want every Tom, Dick, and Harry to know everything that’s going on in your life? Why would you want to expose yourself to a public that will only eat you alive? You’re a person, not a reality show.”
“And what if we become like the Kardashians one day?” said Kristin. "What if we become famous? Everyone will want to know about us, and there will be cameras following me wherever i go. i won't have time to have any private thoughts."
“You’re not Kim Kardashian, Kristin,” said Tilly as she stared at her daughter. “You’re not just going to expose everything about yourself to the world on your blog. Even Kim has a life outside reality TV; she doesn’t write down every detail about herself on her blog.”
“When last I checked, you have a blog too,”said Kristin. "And you use that blog everyday."
"Not everyday," said Tilly.. Kristin stared at her in shock. Her mother did have a writing blog on the site Blogger, but it was mainly used for discussing her many writing projects. "There are times that I don't always want to blog, and there are some things that i don't blog about. But we're not talking about my bloggign habits; we're talking about yours."
"what about my blogging habits?" said Kristi.
"I know that you've been diligently writing in your blog everyday for the last four years," said Tilly, "but you're holding back on some of the things that have happened to you. you have made up things on your blogs that are untrue, and you've also keep secrets about yourself from people, which is not a good idea."
"and that's why you gave me the diary," said Kristin.
"Yes," said Tilly. "I gave you the diary because you needed to have a safe place to let out all your thoughts without having to worry about repercussion from spammers, trolls, and cyberbullies."
"What are you talking about?" said Kristin.
"You're hiding who you really are," said Tilly. "You never let anyone see the real you."
"But no one's interested in teh real me,' said Kristin. "They don't care about my heritage or my family's customs or even my background. Why do you think i never wrote about my quincenera? it's because no one's interested in that!" Kristin forced herself to calm down (as she had a bad habit of rambling whenever she was stressed) and then said, "No one's interested in you unless you do something extraordinary or were born special. I'm not special; I'm just an ordinary girl. No one likes an ordinary person."
"Well, you are who you are for a reason, Kristin," said Tilly. "The minute you pretend to be something that you're not, you lose the essence of who you really are."
Kristin frowned, knowing that she had made up some crazy things about herself on her blog; things that were untrue. But what would people say if they found out that Kristin Fernando was a normal 15-year-old girl who lived in normal parents in a normal neighborhood, attended a normal school, and had normal friends? (Except that her family was anything but normal, the school she attended was one of the worst schools in the entire state of Florida, and most of the people she knew from the school either dropped out, got pregnant, or ran away from home instead of staying in school and graduating. Kristin was lucky to have defied the fate that was set in place for her.)
"I also wanted to get you out of that terrible school," said Tilly. "I don't know why your father had it in his mind to send you to Northview when you should have been sent to Cutler Ridge Christian Academy like you should have gone to after you graduated from Uniontown Middle School two years ago. I personally thought you should have stayed in Beech River School and graduated from there. But let's not cry over that spilled milk, OK?"
"So, why am I really going to McDermitt?" said Kristin. "I don't know anyone there. You're not sending me to stay with a bunch of strangers, right? Or am I going to some sort of boarding school in the middle of the desert?"
"Neither," said Tilly. She sighed and said, "Do you remember your cousins Tybalt and Cassandra MacPherson?"
Kristin frowned, wondering who Tybalt and Cassandra MacPherson were. For all she knew, they could be strangers and she would be stuck in a place where she didn't know anyone. "No?” she said.
"You don't remember them?" said Tilly. ""You don't remember Tybalt, Cassandra, and your cousins Velvet, Nader, and Jacquala? You don't remember when they used to live in Gormsey, Georgia and we always visited them during the summer and Christmas vacation?"
At that, Kristin pulled up another picture on her phone; that picture was taken during Christmas in 2004. In that picture, Kristin and the MacPherson family were sitting on the couch, with Tybalt holding little Velvet and her brother Nader on his lap, his wife Cassandra holding baby Jacquala in her arms, and Kristin herself was sitting between them. "You mean, I'm staying with...them?" she cried out.
"That's right," said Tilly. "When Cassandra learned that I was going through my divorce, she offered to take you in. She and Ty will be able to provide you with a stable home while I handle all the nasty details of the divorce. Also, Do you really want to stay with your father and his new...girlfriend?"
Kristin shuddered; she had met Belicia Deltorrez once and the woman left a bad impression on her. Belicia was described as a deadly eel with narrow brown eyes, short dark brown hair, and nut-brown skin. She was very tall and often wore risque clothes, mainly white and red. Also, Belicia was 22 years old, which was seven years older than Kristin was. Kristin did not like her and she never hesitated to tell her father that.
"There's no way that I want to even be in the same room with Belicia," said Kristin. "In fact, I just don't see myself staying with dad for the weekend, let alone live with him."
"Good," said Tilly. "Now I know that you want to stay here and keep going to school with your friends, but I'm afraid that it's not going to happen. I not only have to sell the house, but I also have to take care of Aunt Faye and find her a place to stay. I don't have much time to worry about you and whether or not something will happen to you at that school."
I frowned, saying, "But I don't want to leave you, mom. I don't want to leave Northview High or my friends. This isn't fair."
"Well, your father decided to leave us for Carmelita, so I think that's unfair," said mom. "But don't worry, Kris; it's not forever, just for a few months. Who knows? Maybe you'll like living in McDermitt."
"Sure, mom," said Kristin as she put the diary in her bag and took her place in line. She knew that no matter what the outcome was, she would not be returning to Shawneetown, nor would she see her friends. Kristin knew that her time in that world was over.
But little did she know that as she said goodbye to her mother and boarded the airplane that would take her away from the only place she knew, Kristin didn't realize hoe much she was going to need the diary her mother gave her or the stability that the MacPherson family would give her...