The Secret Diary of James Killborn

Copyright © 2003
Robert Pruneda
All Rights Reserved

  Annie Killborn woke up at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday morning as usual. She crawled out of her bed, careful not to wake up her husband, put on her robe and walked downstairs to prepare some coffee. James would be down within the next half hour. He would grab the sports section of the newspaper and smoke a cigarette with his coffee while eating a bagel smothered with cream cheese. He would then go fishing or play cards for a few hours with some friends.
  Every weekend seemed just like the other for the couple, but today Annie would discover something that would change her life forever. As she cleaned the house, she discovered something odd about the fireplace, something she had never noticed in the ten years she and James had lived in the old Connecticut home. One of the bricks on the fireplace seemed to be out of place.
  Annie pulled gently on the brick, and just as she had suspected, the brick was loose. She pulled a little bit harder and the brick slid out, leaving a hollow opening in the wall. The opening extended further than the depth the brick should have created. Annie thought she saw something inside the crevice, but wasn’t positive. She looked around for a flashlight and when she found one, she shone the light inside the hole in the fireplace wall.
  Inside the secret compartment was a book. Annie held her hand over her heart trying to decide whether or not she should grab the book or not. She looked over her shoulder and then rubbed her fingers together nervously. The book looked like a diary.
  Annie finally worked up the nerve to reach inside the hole and grab the book. It was a diary without a lock.   She carried the diary over to a recliner in the living room, sat down and opened it. There was nothing written on the first several pages, but after thumbing through the diary, she came across the first entry, which did not have a date recorded…

Today was the happiest day of my life, for today I married my high school sweetheart. I never dreamed of being blessed with marrying such a magnificent woman. When she had said ‘Yes’ to my proposal six months ago, my heart melted like gold being purified in a refiner’s fire. I look forward to spending the rest of my life with her… and I look forward to our honeymoon.

  Annie smiled as she remembered her wedding day. The honeymoon to the Bahamas had been like a dream vacation. James had been such a gentleman and had spoiled her throughout the entire week. It was then that they had conceived their first child. Annie fanned through a few pages and realized that none of the entries had dates recorded on them. She read on…

Today is Valentine’s Day. My beloved wife and I spent a lovely evening together after we came home from our jobs. I took her to her favorite restaurant and danced with her afterwards. She has always been such a great dancer. The baby kicked during a slow dance. I thought I had stepped on her toes at first, but then realized what had happened. We’re going to have a baby! I’m going to be a daddy!

  Annie wished more had been written in this journal, but only a few sporadic entries had been made, mostly about personal outings with friends whom she did not recognize. Some of them were hilarious stories and wondered why James had never told her about them. Nonetheless, reading the diary entries reminded her of how much she adored James.
Several minutes later, she read the final entry, which pierced Annie’s heart…

  I haven’t written in this journal for several years. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to tell my wife, but… Maybe I shouldn’t tell her. Maybe I should just leave and never come back. She would never forgive me, but then do I even need her forgiveness? My life has been so miserable lately. Every day I leave the house, I tell her that I love her… but that’s far from the truth. It has been for a long time.
  I have to get this off my chest and writing this down seems to be the only way to do it. No one else would understand.
 Why should I have to live such a pathetic life? I’m no longer attracted to my wife and even though she acts like I’m her knight in shining armor, I can see it in her eyes… she doesn’t love me. I feel like I’ve wasted my life with her, that’s why I’m going to tell Cynthia that I’m going to be leaving my wife for her. The sooner the better. Cynthia makes me feel like a young man again, unlike the excess luggage I have at home, who just makes me feel like I’m old and gray. I guess I still have some love for her, but Cynthia… well, she does more than just make coffee for me in the morning. I always hear about the gold digger seducing wealthy men for their money. Bah! I don’t believe it. Cynthia treats me like a prince and has never talked about money in the three years I have been seeing her…

  Annie shut the diary and cried nonstop for several minutes. “Three years!” she cried out in despair. “Why? Why? What I have done to him to deserve this? I’ve been nothing but good to him! I…” Suddenly grief was turned into anger and hatred. Annie carried the diary and placed it on the kitchen table where James could find it. His little secret was now out in the open. Through her tears, she felt betrayed and entertained the thoughts of how she would reveal to her husband that she knew he had been having an affair.
  Several hours passed before James came home. He waved at his friend with a smile on his face. He laughed as he walked to the front porch, thinking about the joke his friend had told him on the way back home. Three drunk pigs in a hen house! He laughed again and then reached in his pocket making sure he hadn’t forgotten something. Yes, it was still in his pocket. James smiled and wandered how his wife would react to—
  “Where have you been?” Annie opened the door and asked James with a stern look on her face.
James cocked his head and asked, “I was playing cards with my friends, like I always do on Friday nights. Are you okay?”
  “Hmph!” Annie mocked and stepped aside for her husband to walk inside.
  “Why is everything so dark in here, Annie? And what’s gotten into you?” James turned on the kitchen light and walked over to the fridge to get him a beer. He then reached in his coat pocket and asked smiling, “Annie, do you know what today is?”
  James’s body froze when he turned around and saw his wife pointing the barrel of his shotgun at him. She cocked it and said, “Yes, I know what today is, you son of a bitch! How could you!”
  James struggled for words, “Wha? How… how could I? Please… put down the gun. I don’t know what’s going on here.” He stepped forward.
  “Don’t you come any closer, James! I know about your little secret! You’ve been living a lie for years. Did you think I’d never find out?”
  “What are you talking about, Annie. Please, put down the gun and let’s just sit down at the table and talk about what’s bothering you.” James noticed a book on the table.
Annie growled, “I found your secret diary in the fireplace today while I was cleaning the house. I read it all, James. I know everything! You son of a bitch! How can you live with yourself! Well, that little whore of yours can—”

  James tried to reason with his wife, “What? I don’t know what you’re talking about, Annie. He grabbed the book, being careful to walk slowly and not make any sudden movements while his hysterical wife pointed the gun at him. “I don’t know what you read in this thing, but—”
“Don’t try to play me as a fool, James. I can’t believe after all we’ve been through together, you could just throw it all away for a sleazy tramp like that Cynthia you wrote about.”

  “What? Who’s—”
  Annie clinched her teeth and said, “Well, she can see you in Hell for all I care, you bastard!” Annie pulled the trigger. Her husband fell backwards and crashed through the wooden table and onto the floor. A small jewelry box fell out of James’s coat pocket and bounced on the floor.
Annie dropped the gun and then picked up the jewelry box. She opened it and found a gold locket inside. She said with contempt, “Well, I guess Cynthia won’t be receiving her little—” Annie stopped herself and gasped when she opened the locket. Inside was her wedding picture! There was an inscription on the inside of the locket. It read:

To Annie, my beloved princess.
Happy Anniversary!
Love always, James.

  Annie trembled and fell to her knees. The diary lay open on the floor within a foot of her. It was spattered in blood. The inside cover of the book had a tear in it. Upon further examination, Annie noticed a photograph tucked away inside. She pulled it out from the makeshift sleeve. Annie wept as she looked at the old photograph of the couple that she and James had purchased the house from.

Sharky Teeth

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  1. Amy Edwards says:

    WOW!!!! A massive amount of emotion in such a short story! I love it!!! I don’t usually like short stories but I feel like I’ve had a complete 3 course meal and am completely satisfied. So many keep you hanging. Very good job writing this one!!!!

  2. Wyatt says:

    Terrific story my friend but then I sort of expect a high caliber from you and this doesn’t disappoint as it gives one of those feelings of one of those ultimate human experiences, that dark sense that overtakes us taken to the most dramatic of conclusions even as we come to find we didn’t understand, at least not like we should have. Even as I read it I can’t help but feel something so palpable, so gutwrenching as you weave the story in a way that lets me feel the depth of the emotion that comes with it.

    • Thank you for the kind words, my friend. It is always nice to hear such positive feedback from those who have read my work. I’m glad you enjoyed “The Secret Diary of James Killborn” and that it lead to you thinking about the overall theme of the story on a deeper level. It’s exactly the kind of response I hoped to receive when writing this short story. People often jump to conclusions and react without thinking about the consequences of their actions. Unfortunately for James, the lesson learned by his wife is of no benefit to him.

      • Wyatt says:

        It’s one of those things I suppose, because you brought it to the extreme conclusion, but the truth is how often do we let another person die in our hearts, how often do we kill them off in our spirits because we didn’t see the full picture or because we didn’t quite understand, reality warping with perception until finally we have done more to harm ourselves and others because of it? I guess, in the end I think there’s a little bit of Anne in all of us, quick to anger, quicker to jump to conclusions and make up our own minds, and prone to rashness, when temperance needs to guide us and give us a better idea. I think that’s why I like the story so much, because I can see, as I said, the human experience in it through the image of a glaring flaw that so often guides us in a way that can cause hurt, pain and sorrow

      • Or her for that matter :-) That was sad Rob. Not the writing but the story :-(

  3. joeynga says:

    I loved it. Again, sometimes life isn’t it seems, and people are always misinterpreting information all around them, but only able to filter it so as that it pertains to themselves.


  4. Albert Hewett says:

    This story is quite dramatic. But there is a lesson here, which is, do not act before knowing the whole story. very becoming of our present times. Good story, I enjoyed reading it.

  5. Steven says:

    Nice. Very Hitchcockian (we’ll pretend thats a word) ending. =D

  6. Wow! Terrific writing. I’m sad now though. lol

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