The Top Secret Diary of December Susanna Darling
Mom said diaries were for secrets. Well, I have a secret. Sort of.
I found the attic. It’s in my closet. At least, the doorway to the attic is in my closet. I wanted to tell Mom, but Sue Ellen said it should be our secret, just hers and mine. She said it had always been her secret place, and she had always wanted someone to share it with. She said secret friends like us should have a secret hide-out.
So that’s why I can’t tell Mom or Ian. Because if I tell them, it’s not our secret hide-out anymore. I thought about asking her how it could be her secret place if it’s in our house, but she gets upset so easily I decided not to.
Actually, the attic isn’t my only secret. Sue Ellen’s a secret, too. My secret friend. Which is probably a good thing, because, just between you and me, Diary, she’s a little strange. She’s seven, but she doesn’t go to Cliffwood Elementary. She said she goes to Miss McCarthy’s school on the Old Mill Road, but I don’t know where that is. All she ever wears is a pink ballerina costume and pink ballet slippers. And ever since she found out I have the Wizard of Oz on DVD, that’s all she wants to watch. She wants to watch it all the time. It’s my favorite movie ever, but I’m getting sick of it now.
But school’s starting up in another month, so then maybe I’ll only see her on the weekends. I’ll have homework to do then, and mom says I’ll make lots of new friends, too. Sue Ellen’s OK, but it will be nice to have friends my own age, and friends I don’t have to keep secret all the time. I still don’t know why we have to be secret friends anyway. All Sue Ellen told me was that she lived across the creek past the stone fence in our backyard and that her mother sleeps most of the time. I asked if her mother was sick, but she just ignored me and started singing along with the movie again. Seven-year-olds. Definitely weird.
But she did show me the attic. Or she led me to it. I heard crying the second night we were here. I thought maybe it was one of the old dolls I had moved around in the closet, but when I went to look, it sounded like it was coming from above me. Then I thought maybe it was Mom up there crying, and she needed me. That was when I saw the handle in the ceiling, hidden in the corner. I stood on a chair, and when I pulled on it really hard, a square opened up and a ladder almost hit me on the head as it slid down to the floor.
I called up to Mom in the dark. I heard a last sniffle and then the crying stopped.
I said, “It’s me, Mom.”
I got my flashlight out from under my sheets (another secret – I’ve been reading after bedtime) and climbed up the ladder. It was old and dusty. At first all I could see were old boxes and wooden crates. Spider webs were everywhere. Then I saw a blur of pink shaking behind a mirror.
I called out “Hello?”
“Hello?” A tiny voice came back, followed by more sniffling. And then, “Are you going to tell on me?”
She was really scared, so I had to say no. She said she came there to play sometimes while her mother was sleeping. She said I couldn’t tell my parents about her because they would tell her mother, and she would get mad again. And she said I couldn’t tell my parents about the attic, or we wouldn’t be able to play together. I don’t like lying to Mom and Ian, but Sue Ellen seemed like she needed a friend, and I didn’t want to get her into trouble, so I haven’t told them anything.
Not telling is different than lying, isn’t it?