March 29, 2000
Do you remember the moment when I said I had reluctantly agreed to help Adrian and Dorian get rid of Declan Cesar? I must admit that I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, and I must admit that I never wanted to hurt anyone. But there are times when I had to hurt other people to keep myself and my family and friends safe, and I knew that I would have to deal with the aftermath of said deed.
I sat outside in the backyard, wondering why no one bothered to call the police when Adrian and Dorian crawled through the window in the library covered in blood. Was it that no one cared about the boys at all, or did no one see the boys at all? Plus, did anyone care that Declan Cesar was cruel to the other kids? Did no one notice how much the kids suffered while Declan did such horrible things to them?
Sometimes, I just don’t see the point of me going to Lochland Middle School.
A few minutes later, I received a message from Claire; she and the twins (plus Orlando, Toby, and Joanna) would meet with me at the end of the month. I shuddered, knowing that what they would to tell me would make things even worse…
Before the story begins, Juniper writes the following things in her diary…
“I have been obsessed with D. B. Painter’s “The Trees of Light” Trilogy since I was 8 years old. But I’m hardly the only person in the world to be obsessed with those books, as most kids my age loved those books when they were younger. But why is it that when you become a teenager, everyone expects you to read (and like) teen novels?
“That’s not me. That person who reads teen novels will NEVER be me!
“But what most people don’t know is that I am obsessed with “The Trees of Light” for a reason. They don’t know that when I was 8 years old, the school bully savagely beat me up because I was reading books in the library during recess instead of playing on the playground like the other kids, where he could see me and beat me up. I ended up in the hospital for several months; most of them were spent in a coma. The doctors weren’t sure if I was going to live or die.
“Well, I lived, but due to the beating, I suffered some irreversible brain damage. Meaning I couldn’t grow up properly.
“The other kids made fun of me for being childish and not acting or dressing my age. (I’m still wearing pigtails at age 14, mind you!) Plus, the adults, not knowing about my beating or injuries, tried to get me to read more mature books, books I wouldn’t touch with a lighter, or torch with a lighter. Even my foster family tried and failed to get me to “grow up” as it were.
“You may not believe this, but I’m obsessed with “The Trees of Light” because those books were my only solace in a cruel world that demanded normalcy and conformity, not imagination and individuality. I was accused of hiding behind the trees of light and refusing to interact with the real world.
“I know I should get some help for my problems, as what I’m doing is unnatural, but I fear the doctors will say that I was a victim of child abuse. I was, seeing as another kid beat me up, and no one intervened until it was too late.
“So what should I do? I know I can’t keep doing what I’m doing, as the school threatened to call social services and have me removed from my foster parents and sent to a hospital for not acting like a teenager. It’s not my fault, but I don’t want to grow up. But I also can’t stay a kid forever.”