Tessa's Secret Admirer
The halls of Woodside High School were empty. Everyone was outside in front of the building, posing for pictures with family and friends. Tessa had managed to retrieve a cap from the floor after she tossed hers in the air. She unzipped her gown a few inches. It was hot as fuck today. The other girls had worn slinky dresses and 5-inch heels under their graduation gowns. Tessa had worn shorts and a T-shirt, with the same pair of Doc Marten boots she had worn every day for the past year. It wasn’t like she had a fancy party to attend. She’d been practically invisible to her classmates for the past four years and she had no family to speak of. Her mother died three years ago, succumbing to the effects of late-stage alcoholism. Tessa had vowed never to let alcohol cross her lips. Her father was a truck driver, currently hauling a load of cattle from the stockyards in Amarillo to a slaughterhouse in Nebraska. Tessa was a vegetarian. Her dad probably could have altered his schedule to attend his daughter’s graduation, but it hadn’t occurred to him to do so, and it hadn’t occurred to her to expect it. He’d never been home much. At the time his wife died, his step-son Caleb was over eighteen and still living at home. There was an adult in the house, so he didn’t need to worry about Tessa when he was away. She’d turned eighteen herself last February, so his work as a parent was done.
The senior lockers were about as far from the front entrance as they could possibly be. It was as if there was a sinister design in place to delay Tessa from shaking the dust off her feet for as long as possible. She just needed to retrieve one item from her locker. Then she could leave this place that had been so unkind to her, and never come back. Not even for a reunion. She would alter her driving routes so she wouldn’t have to pass this building.
Tessa’s heart stopped as she rounded the corner to the senior hallway and saw that all of the lockers were standing open. The maintenance staff had used a master key to open all of the lockers and remove their contents. Every locker was empty.
Her diary was gone.
For a moment Tessa thought she was going to faint. A lump rose in her throat and she could hardly breathe. Her diary. Her only friend. Her keeper of secrets. Secrets that no one else could know. The vulnerability of knowing that her most intimate thoughts were out there somewhere, being read by potentially anyone, possibly being passed around among strangers, was more than she could bear. She sank to the floor and wept. She cried until there were no more tears left in her body, and then leaned against the wall, bitterly contemplating the fact that this hateful place had managed to hurt her one last time and in the worst way possible.
It had been stupid to keep her diary at school. Stupid to write that stuff down on paper at all. Most people had the sense to type their secret longings, aspirations, and sexual fantasies on a computer and guard them behind layers of passwords. But the aging desktop computer at home was almost always in use. Caleb hadn’t ventured very far into the worlds of higher education or employment. He spent most of his time sitting in front of the computer in a cloud of cannabis smoke playing Adventure Quest. The computers in the school library were monitored and in full view of anyone walking by. There was no opportunity to write about her dream of a mysterious stranger who whisked her away from her miserable life, and brought her to his lair, where he fucked her in every way possible, all the while keeping her blindfolded so that his true identity was never revealed.
Oh fuck! Someone was probably reading that right now!
But maybe it wasn’t too late. The locker cleanout had to have taken place during the graduation ceremony. She had just put her diary in there this morning. Maybe it had been dumped in the trash. She looked frantically for a trash bin that might have been rolled into the hall. There was none. Remembering the dumpsters behind the gymnasium, she sprinted down the hall, around the corner, through the large double doors to the gym, and out the back exit to where the dumpsters stood facing the faculty parking lot. A few straggling graduation attendees were around standing in isolated groups, but Tessa ignored them. She moved the sliding door on the side of the dumpster and felt a glimmer of hope when she looked inside. What she saw may very well have been the residual contents of the roughly three hundred senior lockers that had been emptied out. It was a chaotic mess of papers, the moldy remains of half-eaten lunches, folders containing final exam review guides, homework packets, and detention forms. All these papers had been of life-altering importance a few days ago, but were now completely forgotten by their former owners. Somewhere in the midst of all this, if she were very lucky, there was a denim-blue, leather-bound journal in which she had poured out her heart, and stupidly, so stupidly, written her name on the inside cover.
She tore off her gown and climbed inside, braving the stench as she pawed through the mountain of trash, looking for her lost treasure. It had to be here. It just had to.
Only it wasn’t.
After twenty minutes of fruitless searching, she realized that she was no closer to recovering her secrets, although she had discovered the secrets of several of her classmates. She found Corey Bergstrom’s calculus notes with the name ‘Elena Farris’ written all around the margins. Good luck with that, Corey, she thought bitterly. She instantly felt bad for having a snarky thought about him. He was one of the few people who took the time to talk to her. Then there were Chris Waterman’s chemistry notes. He seemed to have written a reminder to himself at the bottom of the page. My faith is stronger than any temptation of the flesh. Wasn’t Elena Farris his lab partner? Jeez.
In all this mountain of teenage angst, there was no sign of her diary. It must have been interesting enough to catch the eye of whoever cleaned out the lockers. She started crying again, realizing that at this very moment, someone could be scanning her diary and uploading its entire contents onto the Internet. There was no other way this was likely to end. She knew how cruel people were. Elena Farris was one of the nicest girls in school, but she sucked a lot of dick and was constantly being slut-shamed. Jana Lawrence didn’t put out at all, and she was picked on for being a prude. As much as Tessa hated high school, she hadn’t actually been bullied much. She’d just been ignored. She’d spent the last four years wishing someone would see her. She would probably get her wish now, but not in the way she wanted. Now all she wanted was to stay invisible forever, to crawl into a dark hole and never come out.
So this was how high school ended for her. Crying alone in a dumpster surrounded by rotting garbage. She climbed out and brushed some of the debris off her clothing. The shit was going to hit the fan and soon. But as long as she could delay going home and finding out exactly how far and wide her private musings had spread on social media, she could still live in a world where only she knew about the dream lover who never let her see his face. She left her cap and gown lying next to the dumpster and ran across the parking lot through a break in the trees where the cross country trail intersected with the pedestrian path from the subdivision behind the school. She walked around the cross country trail three times. It was miserably hot and she already smelled like three-day-old garbage, but she didn’t care. No one else was on the trail. They were all off celebrating. Tessa hadn’t even sent out graduation announcements. To her, this was like getting out of jail. Or at least it would have been if she hadn’t lost her diary.
She sat down on a fallen log and tried to think about the good things in her life. She had her pet rabbit, her job at the florist shop, her garden in the backyard, and next August she was starting a horticulture program at the community college. If she did well, she could transfer to a Bachelor’s program in landscape design. She could find a job and move away from this place, away from all the bad memories. She could go anywhere she wanted. But that was still a few years away. She had to live at home for a little while longer. She wouldn’t fall into the student debt trap any more than she had to. Dad wasn’t there enough to get under her skin. Caleb was an annoying slob of a roommate, but at least he provided some human interaction, which she knew she needed. Oh God! If someone posted stuff from her diary online, Caleb would see it. She let out a wail of despair and threw a rock at a nearby tree. She might as well go home and face the music.
Tessa’s car was the absolute last one still in the parking lot. It was an ancient Japanese compact model that used to belong to her mother. Somehow it still ran despite the knocking sounds that had been coming from the engine for the past few months. She only drove it to school and work. Where else did she have to go?
It was a short drive home. Caleb looked up from the computer when she walked in. “How was graduation?” He seemed nonchalant, not like he had just been reading her private thoughts posted all over Facebook.
“Boring,” she replied.
“I figured it would be,” he said. “I didn’t even go to mine. And it was touch and go whether I would even make it.”
“I remember,” she said with a laugh.
“I’ve got the munchies. Do you wanna go get a burrito bowl or something? I know you like that vegan thing at Chipotle. It’s not much of a celebration, but it’s something.”
She was tempted to say no and go cry some more in her room, but Caleb wasn’t usually this nice. And she was actually hungry. “Let me grab a shower and get changed. Give me ten minutes?”
“Sure,” he said.
As she stood beneath the cool spray of water, she tried to imagine that it was washing away all the grief, fear, and shame of having her intimate thoughts exposed to the world. Maybe she had overreacted. Maybe she had somehow missed finding the diary in the dumpster. She knew she hadn’t, and stuffed down the urge to go back and dig through it again. But just because it wasn’t there didn’t mean anyone was reading it. Even if they did read it, nobody knew who she was. She wasn’t even in the yearbook because she hadn’t submitted any senior portraits. Everybody else was at a party celebrating graduation. No one was thinking about her. No one at all.
At that very moment, someone was reading a particularly juicy passage of Tessa’s diary and experiencing a very physical reaction to it. He knew exactly who Tessa was; had jerked off to her many times. But never like this. It had always been him having a fantasy of her, but now it was her fantasy, not of him, but of someone he could pretend to be. Maybe someone he really could be. Oh fuck, he was so hard! He stroked himself, running a practiced hand up and down the length of his shaft. He imagined himself with Tessa. She was blindfolded, with wrists bound, crouching on the floor and letting him have her, giving her heart and body to the man whose name and face she didn’t even know. He imagined how tight and wet her virgin pussy would be, how full and luscious those breasts were. She always tried to hide them behind a pile of books, but that hadn’t stopped him from noticing her gorgeous curves. She was so twisted and lonely and sweet, and he wanted nothing more than to take her in his arms and possess her completely, to chase away all the sadness that darkened her eyes. He stroked faster and harder. He was getting close. Tessa. Beautiful Tessa. Dark blonde hair, blue eyes, full pouty lips--would she be willing to wrap those lips around his cock? To swallow the pleasure she gave him and lick the pearly drops from her lips.
“God damn,” he moaned. He was breathing hard, beads of perspiration covering his brow. “Ahhhh!” he gasped, as jets of semen spewed from the head of his cock.
As soon as his breathing returned to normal and his balls stopped quaking, he reached for a towel and cleaned up his mess, careful to avoid getting anything on Tessa’s diary. As far as he was concerned, that was sacred scripture. There was one tiny picture of her in the yearbook, enough to make it worth the hundred dollar price tag. It was a group picture of the French Club Christmas party. Five or six kids were standing around a refreshment table talking, and there was Tessa, off to the side. Part of the group, but not really. That was the only trace of her in the senior yearbook. There was no senior quote, no photo in that fuzzy drape thing girls wore, and no one had bought ad space in the back of the book to give her a special senior shoutout. It broke his heart.
When Tessa lost her diary, it had felt like losing her best friend. Except she couldn’t tell anyone why she was upset. Not that anyone asked. She’d waited for the fallout, but it never came. Whoever had her diary--if someone had it--they weren’t making its contents public. Not yet anyway. Graduation had only been a week ago. Tessa was picking up extra hours at the florist shop, and Candace, the owner, was teaching her floral design. She loved being around plants all day. Her job made her happy, and there were a few regular customers she really liked. It warmed her heart to know that there were nice men who came in and bought flowers for their wives or girlfriends even though it wasn’t a special occasion. Everyone bought flowers on Valentine’s Day. Then there were the apology bouquets. Some of those guys were repeat customers. Tessa didn’t like them at all. The bigger the bouquet, the more their wives knew about the affair. Or the bigger the bruises after the latest domestic violence incident. The customers Tessa liked best were the ones who bought a bouquet for no reason. Just an I-still-love-you-after-so-many-years-of-marriage bouquet.
Her absolute favorite customer was a kindly older gentleman named Everett who always told her she was the prettiest flower in the shop. He came in every Saturday to buy a fresh bundle of flowers for his wife Julia.
“I bet her face lights up every time you bring her flowers,” Tessa commented. Everett gave her a gentle smile.
“You didn’t know?” He pulled out the prettiest rose from the bunch and gave it to her. “I put them on her grave. I don’t think she would mind sharing with the young lady who brightens my day every time I come here. She was never the jealous type.”
Tears welled up in Tessa’s eyes as she accepted the flower.
“Don’t be sad, honey,” he told her. “I’m not. She’s right here,” he said, tapping his chest. He turned to leave, and then paused, his eyes filled with nostalgia. “She was a real firecracker between the sheets. Oh--excuse me, dear. You’re too young to hear such things.”
Tessa laughed through her tears as Everett left the store. He must have been a hottie back in the day. Heck, he still was.
Candace had left early, trusting Tessa to close out the register and lock up. It felt good to know that people found her trustworthy. The late afternoon sun was just starting to lose the worst of its heat as Tessa made her way to her car. She was startled when the door didn’t swing open when she pulled the handle. She never locked her car. Who would want to steal that piece of crap? But someone had locked it. Puzzled, she used her key to open the door and slid behind the wheel. Then she saw it.
Her diary. Sitting right there on the passenger seat with a folded note laying on top of it. Tessa caught her breath and glanced around the parking lot. All she saw was the usual hustle and bustle of a suburban strip mall at six thirty on a Saturday afternoon. No one seemed to be paying any attention to her.
She snatched the note as if she were afraid it would burn her fingers. With trembling hands, she opened it and read:
I should have returned this right away when I saw it was yours. I know it was wrong to read it, but I’m not sorry I did. I always knew you were special. I wish I could be that man you dream about. I wish I could kiss away your tears. Is it just a fantasy or something you really want? I swear I’ll never tell anyone about your diary. I won’t try to contact you again either. But I hope you’ll contact me.
There was no signature, just a number and the words ‘please call or text’ written below.
Tessa read the note several times, her heart pounding, her breath coming in short quick gasps. She was hyperventilating. She had convinced herself that the diary had made its way to a landfill, that no one had ever seen it. But someone had. Someone who called her ‘darling’. She felt mortified. She had so dreaded the possibility that malicious peers would pass it around to mock her. But this one unknown person seeing her diary felt like just as much a violation as the whole world reading it. Tears slid down her cheeks as she thumbed through the pages, feeling a fresh bout of shame and nausea as she re-read certain passages, realizing that every single word on every single page had been seen by someone else.
She didn’t have the faintest idea of who could have written that note. As far as she could tell, not a single boy had looked her way during all four years of high school. But obviously someone had. I always knew you were special. Was it possible someone was just fucking with her? She didn’t think so. The note seemed sincere. He seemed to genuinely care about her. Did she dare accept his invitation? She discarded the thought almost immediately. He knew every single thing about her. Including her dark and dirty fantasies. She swiped at her tears and tried to look on the bright side. She had her diary back. And she believed this anonymous note writer who promised to keep her secrets. She would just have to live with the knowledge that he knew them. And the mystery of who he was.