Authors: R. L. Stine
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Many Happy Returns
Here I am, my dear diary, about to confide in you again. About to spill my guts, as I always do, only to you. This is the only place I can open my heart and talk about what I really feel. How many ballpoint pens have helped me share my story with you? How many late nights have I nodded off, my head drooping over your opened pages, my hand still clenching the pen, as if I could write my thoughts in my sleep?
Of course, my parents don't understand why I spend so much time bent over my desk, scratching away line after line, baring my soul when I could be doing a million things for fun. But you do, my friend.
Okay. Shall we start today with some details? Since this is a new diary, I'm going to begin at the beginning. I'm Caitlyn Donnelly. I'm seventeen, a senior at Shadyside High. I'm not terrible looking. I'd say I'm a seven.
I have nice wavy blondish hair that falls nicely down my shoulders. I'm average height and weight. I have an okay smile although my two front teeth stick out a little. My friend Julie says my eyes are my best feature because they're so round and dark and serious.
I've lived in the same house on Bank Street, two blocks from the Shadyside Mall, my whole life. It's just my parents and me. Jennifer, my older sister, moved to LA to be a screenwriter.
Jen is the talented one in the family, but so far, she spends most of her time waiting tables at a taco joint in Westwood. I think I spend more time writing than she does, but I know she'll get a break one of these days. She's very sophisticated and clever, and everything comes so easy to her.
Jen and I were never that close, I guess because she's almost six years older than me. But she was someone I could talk to when I had things on my mind. Like, always. And I miss her a lot.
We FaceTime every few weeks, but it isn't the same. It's always kind of awkward, I think because Jen feels she's been out in LA for nearly a year and hasn't come close to getting anyone interested in her writing. And she's the kind of person who hates to fail.
I don't care if anyone ever sees my writing, Diary. Truth is, I don't want anyone to
see it. I think I'd totally freak if someone read my true thoughts and learned what a weirdo I am. That's why I keep the book locked and wear the key on a chain around my neck.
Private. Keep Out. This Means You.
Actually, I don't think I'm a weirdo. I just don't fit in with my family. They're all so driven and ambitious and serious about life, and I mainly want to have fun.
Life is so short. I've learned that the hard way. You know all about it, Diary. You're the only one.
No one else knows the true story. No one would believe it.
Since Blade died, my life is only sadness. And fear.
I don't think I'll ever get back to the cheerful, funny, fun-loving person I was. My parents and my friends are desperate to pull me from my black mood.
But how can they? It will never happen.
Blade and I were perfect together. PerfectÂ â¦ from that first night we met.
That nightÂ â¦ It wasn't a perfect night, Diary. I ran into Deena Fear that night.
I'd lived in Shadyside my whole life and never spoken to anyone from the Fear family. And now my hand is suddenly sweaty and it's hard to grip the pen, rememberingÂ â¦ thinking about Deena Fear and all the darkness she brought with her.
And poor Blade. My beautiful Blade. Did I have any way of knowing he would be with me for such a short time? Any way of knowing he would die such a horrifying death?
I have to stop. My tears are smearing the page. And I'm gripping the pen soâtightly now. I want to use it to stabÂ â¦ stabÂ â¦ stab.â¦
It seems like a long time ago, but it was only a few weeks, Diary. Julie and Miranda and I were squeezed into a booth at the back of Lefty's. That's the cheeseburger place across from the high school. The food at Lefty's isn't bad, but we mainly go to see who else is there. It's a hangout. That's what they'd call it in all those cornball teen movies.
It was a little after nine on a Friday night. Just about every booth was filled with kids from our high school. A few grumpy-looking adults were huddled by the front counter waiting for a table. They probably didn't appreciate the loud voices and constant laughter.
I think adults generally hate teenagers. Because they're jealous. They'd rather be teenagers than what they are.
A loud crash made us all jump. A waitress had dropped a tray of glasses. The restaurant went silent for a few seconds. Then everyone burst into applause.
I turned back to Julie and Miranda. “What was I talking about?”
“You were talking about yourself, of course,” Miranda said. She's the sly one with the dry sense of humor.
my favorite subject,” I replied.
“You were telling us about the little boy who dropped his popcorn,” Julie said.
“Oh. Right. Well, I'm not allowed to replace it. Ricky, the manager, says no free popcorn for anyone. But I waited till Ricky stepped away from the popcorn counter, and I gave the kid another bag.”
“Big whoop,” Miranda said. “That's your best story for tonight?”
I grabbed her wrist. “You didn't let me finish,” I said. “Then the kid dropped the second bag, too.”
Julie laughed. “That's so sad.”
Miranda rolled her eyes. “Caitlyn, you have an exciting life. My heart is totally pounding. Tell that story again.”
“Okay, okay,” I said. “So, working the popcorn counter at the Cineplex isn't a thrill a minute. What did
do today that was so exciting?”
Miranda sighed. “Believe it or not, this cheeseburger is the highlight of my day.” She raised it to her mouth and took a small bite. The tomato slid from the bun and plopped onto her plate.
“You have to learn how to work a cheeseburger,” Julie said. It wasn't that funny, but all three of us laughed.
Julie and I have been friends since ninth grade, although we're both very different. She's always sarcastic and rolling her eyes and making funny remarks. I'd say her sense of humor is kind of nasty, actually.
I'm not a rah-rah cheerleader, but I try to see the bright side of things. I get into things. I'm enthusiastic. I can't help it. I don't hold myself back. I even try to enjoy things other people might find boring, like my after-school shifts at the popcorn counter.
I'm impulsive. And emotional. I cry at movies and TV shows all the time. It doesn't embarrass me.
I don't think I've ever seen Miranda cry. Or get very excited about anything, either. She's always standing off to the side, making jokes. She's not shy. She's just all locked-up inside herself, I think.
Miranda could be really attractive if she lost a little weight and did something with her stringy brown hair. Also, her glasses have to go. The red plastic frames make them look like swim goggles.
Julie and I keep telling her she'll look so much better with contacts. But she says she doesn't want to stick sharp little things in her eyes. Stubborn.
I'm not judging her in any way, Diary. I'm just trying to describe her. She's a good friend. She'll never see what I write here. No one will. But I want to be as accurate and honest as I can.
Julie doesn't eat meat, so she had a grilled cheese sandwich, and we shared a plate of fries. She and I look like we could be sisters. Her hair is pretty much the same blonde as mine, and we both have serious, dark eyes. She likes to wear bright red lipstick, which makes her face more dramatic than mine.
We're the same age, but I think she looks older. Maybe because she's about two inches taller than I am. And, I admit it, she dresses better. Her aunt is always sending her these awesome designer tops and skirts from New York.
Julie is very practical and even-tempered. Her last name is Nello, and I call her Mellow Nello. She's always warning me not to jump into things and to be careful about different guys and to take it easy and not be so emotional.
I always accuse her of being too timid and not taking chances, of always being predictable. Of course, she thinks being predictable is a
quality. We may look alike, but our personalities are way different.
Miranda leaned close and gave my hair a long sniff.
I squinted at her. “Are you getting weird?”
“No. Your hair smells like popcorn,” she said. “It's a great smell. Someone should make a popcorn perfume.”
“A million-dollar idea,” Julie said. “I'd buy it. And how about bacon perfume? We could make a fortune.”
“I thought you were a vegetarian,” I said.
She frowned at me. “I don't eat bacon. That doesn't mean I can't
I sighed. “When I get home, I shampoo my hair twice. But I can't get rid of the popcorn smell.”
Julie shook more salt onto the plate of fries. “Do you ever eat any of the popcorn while you're waiting for the next customer?”
I grinned. “Ricky would like to keep count of each kernel, but he can't. I help myself to a handful or two when he isn't looking.”
Miranda rolled her eyes again. “Are we going to talk about popcorn all night? Doesn't anyone have any good gossip?”
I gave her a gentle push. “Get up. I have to go to the bathroom.”
She edged out of the booth and climbed to her feet. I slid out behind her. “Don't say anything interesting till I get back.”
“Not a problem,” Miranda said.
Lefty's has a single bathroom across from the kitchen door. I had to wait in line behind two other girls I knew from school. They were talking about a metal band concert they'd seen at the Arena in Martinsville. They thought it was awesome. They sat in the third row, and the ushers passed out ear plugs to keep everyone from going deaf.