Friday, 14th June 1935
Today is my birthday.
As always, I woke up at seven and went to the dining room for breakfast. Father was already there, reading a newspaper. Our maid, Aleida, gave me my pancakes and then I unpacked my presents. I got a lovely new dress from Aunt Mia, and a notebook from Father. I decided to start writing a diary. Yes, it was the notebook I’m writing in. Hopefully something will happen in my life and I will be able to describe it.
Then I went to school. Just after I walked onto the courtyard, I heard someone shouting my name. It was Katrijn, of course. She does that every day.
Katrijn is my best friend. My father is friends with hers, and we’ve known each other since we were little. She’s always full of energy, and talks a lot. It’s irritating at times, but mostly we get on very well.
Anyway, she was sitting on the parapet, as always. I joined her and we talked until the bell rang.
The first lesson was mathematics. Miss Berger gave us our homework assignments back. My result was bad. I have a great memory, and do very well in literature, history and such, but mathematics is a nightmare. Mostly because Miss Berger hates me. I don’t know why, but believe me, the feeling is mutual.
‘And yet another failure.’ She said, standing next to my desk. ‘Maybe you would finally begin studying, Miss Van Aarle, instead of lazing around.’
How could she? Maybe I’d do better in my next assignment if she actually explained something to me for once. But I knew she won’t. She never did.
When classes finally ended, Katrijn and I went to buy some ice cream. Father gave me a little money for my birthday, and she convinced her parents to give her pocket money last month. We bought our favorite flavors, like each time we go to the little ice cream store near the school. Mine is lemon, and she likes chocolate best. We sat there and talked for about half an hour. Katrijn told me about how she thinks Jakob Geelens looked at her today during history. I just couldn’t say I didn’t notice. She’s so hopelessly in love with him.
I had to say goodbye soon, and got home. I did my assignments and when I finished, I got back to my book. I love it so much, I’m reading it the third time already. I even wrote a short story about what happened to the characters after the ending. Reading and writing are my bread and butter; I live because I have them.
Tuesday, 3rd March 1936
I thought today is going to be a day like any other.
Oh, how wrong I was.
The morning was the same as always: breakfast, then my way to school, sitting on the parapet with Katrijn, talking about boys, a history lesson. I described those so many times that it is truly unnecessary.
Anyway, it happened during mathematics. Miss Berger was giving us our tests back, and yet again my results were bad. More, they were worse than before. I highly suspect I was the only of all the students in my class to get such a result.
‘Explain yourself, Miss Van Aarle. Can’t you see that you did even worse than always?’ that… that demon asked. ‘You shouldn’t be at school with others if you can’t keep up. Maybe it’s time to finally admit your failure and start learning at home?’
I was enraged. She was always awful, but this was an aggrandizement. My anger was growing inside me… and I felt something I’ve never felt before. Suddenly, something improbable happened.
A large, dark orb appeared in front of me and flew straight at Berger. It landed in her eyes with a loud splash. It must’ve been made of some kind of fluid, and it looked like… ink.
For a while, everything was silent. And then…
‘How dare you?! How dare you throw the blackboard sponge at me?!’
The… blackboard sponge? I was starting to think either I or her experienced some kind of delusion. What was that orb? And why does she think it was a sponge? And why do students nod like they agree with her?
I couldn’t stand it. I raised from my seat, picked up my bag and ran away from the classroom. Not paying attention to both Berger or the janitor whom I bumped into near the entrance. I ran until I reached the park. I had a secret place which I could use to hide and think over everything.
Finally, after thinking and coming to no solution, I waited for the school hours to end and returned home. Father shouldn’t know about this. The school will tell him eventually, but I needed to rest.
What happened? Who made that orb? Was it… me?
Questions come in dozens, but I cannot find any answers.
Thursday, 26th July 1936
Yet another strange occurrence. I already assumed that the previous one must have been some kind of hallucination.
But now I’m not sure again.
The day is very windy. I met Katrijn at a café, and we had some cake and small talk. When I had to go home and said goodbye, it started raining. But Father was expecting me, and I didn’t want him to worry. So I decided to try and go anyway.
I managed to walk near home, staying next to buildings to shelter from the rain. When I was finally on our street, a newspaper carried by the wind hit me in the face. I caught it as it flew away, and read the headline out loud: ‘Local judge killed with a knife’.
That was horrible. I didn’t have time to think about it though, as I heard a strange noise just in front of me. I let the paper go and looked down. There was… a knife. I could swear that it wasn’t there before. Did I somehow make it appear? It would happen that way in a book. But this was very real.
Am I losing my mind? Or do I really have the power to… to create things? But how?
If people did have powers in the real world, without doubt I would have heard of that.
What is happening to me? Will I ever understand?
Sunday, 19th February 1937
Today history was made. My bizarre abilities saved my life in an equally bizarre situation.
It was an ordinary rainy day. Nothing special. And then it happened.
I was just going back home from Katrijn’s with a book I borrowed from her when I heard a noise behind me. I turned around and froze. Before me was a… a hellhound. At least so I thought, despite knowing hellhounds don’t exist. I’ve read of them, but this one must’ve just been a… a big, scary dog running toward me. I knew I didn’t have much time until it would bite me. I had to act instinctively.
‘Verdomme!*’ I whispered, running and hiding behind a nearby building. It would find me there in a few seconds, so I had to do something fast. And a thought came to me. If it was me who created a knife that day by only reading a newspaper headline, maybe I could do something like that again? I opened Katrijn’s book on a random page and found a word that seemed fitting.
‘Wings’ I read very quietly, imagining a pair of angel-like wings on my back. I wasn’t sure if visualization was needed, but I had to try. And suddenly I felt something. It was a horrible pain on my back. I bit my lip and tried not to make any unnecessary noises. I assumed that the pain comes from the fact that the wings must grow first. The feeling lasted for a very short while, a few seconds, probably, but it felt more like an hour. Finally, when I could hear the hound’s chug behind me, the pain stopped. I looked at my reflection in a large puddle and nearly shouted. On my back, I saw a beautiful pair of brown, feathered wings!
I tried jumping into the air, and… oh goodness, I was flying! It was better than flying an airplane. Or, to be precise, better than how I imagined flying an airplane was like. I never experienced it myself. Anyway, I had wings, and was flying homeward! Luckily, the streets were empty, and I think no one saw me. I landed near my house and froze. I had no idea how to make the wings disappear. But… I felt something again. Maybe they disappeared? I jumped and fell. I guess they had to vanish after some time. Then, I just walked home like nothing happened. I’d love to fly again sometime. But I feel like I can’t. What if someone sees me? They’ll most probably take me to a circus and force me to show myself to crowds. I definitely wouldn’t like that kind of life. It must remain a secret.
- OOC: Meaning ‘damn’ in Dutch.
Wednesday, 13th September 1939
I couldn’t believe it. I declined. I begged. I prayed.
But war is here indeed.
Well, not here, actually. Amsterdam - and Nederland in general - is safe. For now.
News has arrived- Germany attacked Poland thirteen days ago. They did it like cowards, without a war declaration. I can’t imagine how something like this happening to one’s home feels like. The German forces are incredibly strong. Can another army, even a professional, well-trained one, defeat them when they’re so shocked?
Can Nederland defend itself? Germany obviously wants to conquer. Are we all in danger?
How stupid I am. Obviously we’re in danger. In grave danger. No one is safe now. They’ve already shown that they don’t bother to warn before they invade. They might as well do it here.
But I believe we can resist. Our army is a good one, and I’ve learned about our country’s military tactics. They should do it. Just in case, of course.
I don’t think we’d be a likely target. Isn’t France more likely to be attacked?
However, I’ve learned that what I believe to be true isn’t always real.
Friday, 7th June 1940
How am I still writing this?
Today was the most frightening day in my entire life.
I was going back from Pieter’s, like I do every week. Pieter is a friend of Katrijn’s, and he knows someone else, whose name I don’t know, who gives him the press. The real press, which does not contain their propaganda. I get a copy for myself and Father each week. It’s very risky, if they caught us, we’d die. Today was very windy, so I had a good excuse to wear Father’s coat. I hid the paper under it while I was still at Pieter’s house, so it wasn’t visible.
I was walking home, trying to look as ordinarily as I could. It wasn’t easy, as I was stressed and afraid that they’ll catch me, but I managed to fool them every week, so why couldn’t I do it now? I knew I was overthinking it.
Deep in thought, I bumped into someone. And, oh God… the paper got out of my coat and was lying on the ground. I froze with my heart beating faster than it ever did. Someone’s hand grabbed my wrist and held it so tightly that my hand started to go numb immediately. I looked up and saw a soldier.
It couldn’t have been worse.
Out of the thousands of people in Amsterdam, I had to bump into a German soldier.
I didn’t have time to think about it. He shouted something in German. I knew the language, but couldn’t hear anything because of my own loud heartbeat. The soldier pulled me away and forced me to stand near a wall. I knew what he was about to do. I mentally said goodbye to Father, Katrijn and all the people I care about.
And then everything went dark.
I honestly do not know what day is it.
It might be a day since I died as well as a century. I wonder how came that this notebook was still in the pocket of Father’s coat. Yes, I’m still wearing what I was wearing then.
I woke up in a room full of people. I had no idea what I was doing there. I was supposed to be dead, wasn’t I? Well, maybe this was what comes after then? Sitting in a crowded room for the rest of an eternity? The crowd… were all these people dead?
Suddenly, a man stepped in front of me. I didn’t have time to notice what he looked like when he spoke.
‘Do you have your coin, ma’am?’
A coin? I didn’t know what was going on, but it was probably best to play along. I managed to find a coin in my coat’s pocket, but as I was about to give it to him, I froze. It was Father’s coat, and the coin was one of the old ones he was collecting. It looked like it was a Greek one, but could it be? I handed it to the man.
‘This will do. Follow me.’
He took me and a few others to a nearby door. When we walked through it, I noticed what was on the other side and gasped.
I saw a dark river and a boat on it after a second of disbelief my mind suddenly solved the puzzle that was bothering me for years now. A river in the world of the dead. A boat. A man asking for a coin.
I was in the Underworld, the one described in Greek mythology. I read about it. If this is real, my powers and the hellhound must’ve been real too. I’m sane. I’m not a freak. Despite being dead, I could still feel the relief. Finally I knew what my life was about. If I had my abilities, I must’ve been… who had powers in Greek mythology, despite the gods, of course?
And yet another truth hit me so hard that I almost stumbled. My mother. I never knew her and Father never told me much. What if my powers came from her? What if she… what if she was a… a goddess?
Somehow I walked onto the boat along with the others. We took off and sailed through the River Styx- because it must’ve been Styx, right? No one talked. In the water, I could see many different things, probably possessions of the dead- toys, clothes, diplomas…
Finally, we reached a big wall and, back on foot, went through the gate. On the other side was a black tent, which must’ve been where the souls are being judged. Suddenly, I felt irrational fear. What if they sentence me to be eternally punished?
When it was my turn to stand before the judges at last, I reached the state of being so nervous and afraid that I didn’t feel anything anymore. I walked into the tent and looked at the three masked judges before me. I was expecting questions, but they didn’t say anything. They just stared at me. Maybe they had some method of looking into my memories.
‘She didn’t fight in the war. No significant events happened in her life’ said one of them after some time, and the others nodded. ‘She should be sent to the Fields of Asphodel.’
I went outside and to the fields they mentioned. They were filled with countless souls, walking around aimlessly. So this is where I’ll spend an eternity. But… if I recalled correctly, they didn’t remember their lives. Why did I? Because of my mother, perhaps?
Well, I’ll certainly have enough time to think about it.
Saturday, 27th January 2018
I still can’t believe all this.
I spent a presumably long time in the Underworld. There is no day or night in the Fields of Asphodel. I don’t know how I stayed sane there. The souls around me were all the same, they spoke, but I couldn’t understand what they were trying to tell me all the time. Of course, I tried to entertain myself in a way by writing short stories on whatever blank pages this notebook had, but it was starting to drive me mad eventually.
I was sitting on the grass as always today. Nothing special. I had a new idea for a story, which hardly ever happens these days, so I was pretty excited- at least as excited as one can be here.
Suddenly, I heard a noise. I stood up immediately. Souls of the dead don’t make such noises. But how could someone alive be here? Maybe I was losing my senses?
I was sure I wasn’t imagining anything when I saw her. A live girl stood between the spirits, and her appearance was bizarre, to say the least. She was presumably a few years older than me, had long red hair looking like she didn’t bother to tie it up, and was wearing a black trench coat and…was that… a pair of denim trousers? I’ve never seen a girl wear such inappropriate clothing. Maybe… maybe she was from the future? Maybe I’ve been here for centuries?
She saw me and froze, looking surprised. For a few seconds, we glared at each other before she spoke.
‘You’re not like the others. You’re a demigoddess, like me. More than just any demigoddess, you seem to remember. You are someone special. Maybe you’re my sister? Do you know if your father is Thanatos, like mine? Hades?’
I looked at her in disbelief.
‘You missed a life. Do you want another chance? I can get you out of here, somewhere you’ll be safe.’
She extended her hand, and I took it.
Wherever she would take me, it must’ve been better than this.