Buried deep in the Pacific Northwest, under Mother Love Bone albums and John Randle jerseys, Ballerball was able to uncover a vast number of writings from Shawn Kemp’s old diary. These are his words.*
February 24, 2003
I remember the summers in Kentucky. When we’d go to the pool at night after it had closed and the crickets were trying to keep everyone awake. Fireflies would sway in the night air and we’d sit on poolside chairs and drink Cokes and tell stories to one another of what we might do one day.
She said she was going to be an actress. I told her she could be anything she wanted. She told me teachers had long told her how emotionally mature she was and that the first time she took a drama class she realized how readily accessed her emotions were.
I can bring them to the front of me real quick, she’d said.
Her voice was soft and southern and she’d tie her sentences off with looks away from me. As if she was embarrassed by what she was saying.
I think you’re a star, I’d told her.
She giggled a lot at that. Told me I was a silly boy. I suppose I was. It’s fun to believe in people, though.
She did a monologue for me there. I don’t remember it as well as I want to, but it was something from The Godfather II. Something Kay said. She stood by the pool as she gave it. I remember the Kentucky breeze picking up and slicing into the water, making it bounce a little and slosh at the edges, the black water lipping out onto the sides. She did wonderfully.
We laid down in a chair together. There were no stars to count. The clouds covered them up. You could see the grey of the moon trying to pound its way through the blanket of clouds. The fireflies kept dancing.
We talked about school and the people who were in our class. I kept making fun of Chadwick Rontalay, a very strange kid who insisted on wearing a Louisville Cardinal football jersey to school every day. It was weird, but I regret calling him out on it. I think I made him cry. I can’t remember well. I try to compartmentalize the bad stuff and make it to where I can’t find it again.
She had to be home by midnight and the next day she moved for good. Her Dad had a job waiting on him in Missouri and he told them he couldn’t come till after she’d graduated. Didn’t want to pull her out of school to go somewhere else new her senior year. Always thought that was nice of him.
I think that was the first night I really thought about love and what that might feel like. Because laying with her that night, we were survivors of an apocalypse. We were the only two left. Everyone else had gone and the earth spun on just for us.
I kissed her on her doorstep. I let her feel how I felt about her. She told me she was going to miss me. I said I was going to miss her. I don’t remember her name now.
*No, they’re not.