Erna stared at her diary in disbelief. Was this really the diary she had written? The pages were filled with stories about Mille, every detail of her daughter’s day recorded in painstaking detail. As she read, Erna realized that everything in the safe was a testament to Mille’s existence. She had even planned to make a larger safe to hold Mille’s outgrown clothes and hang Mille’s monthly portraits on the wall.
Erna gathered her diaries, worn leather-bound volumes with faded spines that held within them a lifetime of memories. She settled onto the plush sofa, determined to read them all.
As she began to sort through the diaries, Orpé returned from her errand with tea and snacks. She saw the open safe and the stack of diaries, and quietly approached her, placing a gentle hand on her shoulder.
“Take your time,” she said softly, and Erna nodded in agreement. Orpé disappeared from the room, leaving Erna alone with her thoughts and her diaries.
Erna reached for the first diary, the one with the tattered cover and yellowed pages, and cracked it open, her fingers tracing over the inscription she had written on the inside cover so many years ago.
“May these memories stay by my side, even when I start to lose them little by little someday.”
Erna’s eyes locked onto the page, the words blurring as she read them with a fervor that left everything else forgotten. The tea that Orpé had brought back for her grew cold, steam rising in lazy wisps as it sat untouched on the table beside her.
* * *
That night, Kalion was taken aback when Erna returned late, clutching a diary to her chest. “Why do your eyes look like you’ve been crying?” he asked with concern.
Erna hesitated for a moment before answering. “I have. A little,” she said, her voice barely above a whisper.
Kalion furrowed his brow in confusion. “What’s that in your arms?” he asked, pointing to the diary.
“My diary,” Erna replied simply.
Kalion’s eyes widened in surprise. “You don’t write diaries,” he stated.
Erna nodded, her eyes fixed on the ground. “Future me does,” she said softly.
Without another word, she made her way to the sofa and sat down, clutching the diaries tightly in her hands. For hours, she had pored over the pages, ignoring the other magical records that lay scattered around the room. The diaries were a record of her life with her daughter. Through its pages, she relived the moments of joy and sorrow, of laughter and tears, that they had shared together.
As she read, Erna felt a deep sense of regret wash over her. She had risked her life to bring Mille into the world, and yet she had missed so much of her daughter’s life. But there was also love and gratitude in her heart, for the time that they had been given together. Mille was not a stranger to her anymore; she was her daughter, her flesh and blood, and she would do anything to protect her.
Erna closed the diary with a heavy heart and stood up. “I need to see Mille before bed,” she said, her voice small.
“Okay. Let’s go together,” Kalion replied, reaching out his hand to Erna. As they walked down the long, dimly lit hallway, Erna’s mind realized she had never been to Mille’s room before and felt the weight of guilt burden her.
When they finally arrived at Mille’s door, Erna’s heart sank at the sight of the maid’s pale face.
“Is Mille not with you two?” the maid asked, her voice filled with a sense of dread.
“What do you mean?” Erna asked, a knot forming in her stomach.
“Mille said she was going to see her mother this morning, as usual. So we weren’t worried…” The maid trailed off.
Erna’s heart raced. As she had written in her diary, Mille always came to see her in the mornings. But today, Erna had not seen her at all.
“Um, um…” the maid hesitated, unsure of what to say.
“Do you remember anything?” Erna pressed.
“Well, yesterday, she strangely asked me for a big bag. Then she put her favorite doll, pen, and notebook in it. I asked her what she was going to do with them, but she said she was going to find her real mother…. I thought she was just joking and didn’t ask her anything else….”
Erna’s face froze. Mille had realized that Erna was not her real mother. She turned around, her mind racing.
She had to find her daughter right away.