Carlo felt like he still needed to do something – something that didn’t include taking seven strange cows home. So he held his breath and entered the boxcar. He wasn’t very good at holding his breath, however, and he soon discovered that it smelled just like a box car that had recently been full of cows. He discovered too late that he needed to mind his step as well.
He looked around for anything odd or remotely helpful, and found something. He went to grab it, silently cursing whoever put it at the far end of the boxcar. It turned out to be a book of some sort, which he grabbed. He then left the boxcar as quickly as possible. When he landed on the ground, he spent a bit of time dragging his feet across the grass to clean off his shoes.
David decided that it was safe to be brave, and walked up to Carlo. “What’s that?” He nodded at the book.
Carlo opened it. “It looks like a diary of some sort.” This led to a bit of discussion among a number of people about the difference between a journal and a diary. However, Carlo decided to stick with diary, since that was the word he used first.
After flipping through the pages a few times, the men looked at each other and took the diary to Athena.
“Look,” one of the men said, pointing to the book.
“Um, I don’t see anything wrong with it,” the healer replied. “It looks like a diary or journal. Did you read any of it yet?”
Carlo gave Athena a rather unpleasant look. “We can’t.”
Athena took the diary and flipped some of the pages again. “Why not?”
David sighed and pointed out to her what was painfully obvious to the men: “It’s written in that curly writing.”
Athena made a face. “Cursive? Yeah, it’s written in cursive. So?”
Yamileth came over and translated for her son. “They can’t read cursive.”
“Wait. Seriously?” Athena looked around. “None of them can read cursive?”
Yamileth sighed. “Athena, you can only read cursive because your father taught you, before he left. You didn’t learn it in school. It wasn’t taught in school.”
“Wait! My father didn’t leave! He died … in the mining accident that closed the mine!”
Yamileth ignored her friend Kyria’s glare, and continued talking to her friend’s daughter. “There is no mine, Athena. Never was. If your father worked in a mine, he’d come home every day covered in coal dust or something.”
“No, my father hated getting dirty. He didn’t even like picking vegetables out of our garden.”
“Exactly. Your father wasn’t a miner. He didn’t die in a mining accident. He left, and your mother should have told you that when you were eight.”
Athena remembered back to when she was eight. Her mother certainly acted the way a woman would if her husband had just died. But Yamileth burst into her memory before she could go on. “There was no funeral, child. That should’ve been a clue.”
Athena looked down at the diary in her hand, the diary that only she could read. She wondered why her father taught her to read cursive, and why no one else could read it. But she didn’t have too much thinking time before the cows started making noise, demanding some sort of resolution to their housing problem.