FAITH IN HUMANITY
Ursula sat in her bedroom, at her desk. Her diary was wide open on the table, and underneath the last entry she was writing something. She was nearly done.
There was a knock at the door.
"Come in," she called, and Peter entered the room. He looked tired, and sad, and was holding a book in his hand. Ursula closed her diary.
"Hi, Peter," she said, and smiled at him. He gave a small smile in return.
"I..." he began, and looked down at the ground, seemingly a little embarrassed. "You know what's been going on, right, Ursula? I mean, about my friend Harry, and Spider-Man, and...what happened."
He sighed. "Me and Mary Jane, we went to his house this morning, to...sort things out. There's all these legal issues, and we don't know where we stand...but his butler, Bernard, he gave us this to keep," he said. He held out the book. It was old-looking, like a book of fairytales, and dark green. There was something scrawled on the front.
"Who's Emily?" Ursula asked.
"Harry's mother." Peter answered. He let go of the book as Ursula took it. "This was her journal. Bernard said it was left open on the kitchen table, and he'd never seen it before." He looked downcast. "I read it. MJ did too, but it didn't seem right to keep it. And we couldn't just throw it away."
"So you're giving it to me?"
Peter ran a hair through his hair. "Yes. I...well, I've seen you writing in your own diary, and...I wanted to thank you. For putting up with me these last few weeks." He looked at her, and Ursula sensed that he wanted to say a great deal more, explain a great deal more, maybe, but couldn't.
"It's okay," she said quietly. "Thank you."
Peter nodded, smiled, and turned to go. Ursula put the diary down, stepped forward, and hugged him. Peter froze, then hugged back- after about six seconds, Ursula let go. She stood back, and looked at him.
"I'll look after it." she said.
"I know," Peter answered. He looked from her to the desk to the diary, and then -with another, slightly happier, smile- he left the room.
Ursula took her seat again. She picked up the diary and read the first page.
Peter returned to his room. MJ was sitting on the bed, staring at the ground, and she looked up when he came in.
"I wonder about that diary," was the first thing she said.
"Me too," Peter murmured. Awkwardly, he sat down next to her. "Are you alright?"
"Not really," she said. "I wish we hadn't gone to the house."
Peter didn't know what to say to that, and kept quiet. MJ carried on regardless. "It brought it all home, I guess. Again." She ran her hands through her hair, and gave him a searching sort of look. "Peter...we need to talk."
"I know," he answered.
"You sure you did the right thing just then? Giving the diary away?"
"I thought you meant..." Talk about all the other things, about us, he wanted to say, but didn't. "Um. I don't know. But I don't want to keep it, and you didn't, and we couldn't have thrown it away." He paused. "She'll look after it."
"Uh-huh," she answered. She fidgeted with the cuffs on her shirt. "And...Peter, I have a lot of things to tell you. Really important things," she whispered.
"Same here," Peter said. "I'll listen, okay?"
"Okay," she said. She looked him in the eye. "I don't know where to start..." She blinked. "Harry made me break up with you, Peter. He said he'd kill you if I didn't. So I played along."
"I guessed as much," Peter said heavily.
"Are you angry?"
"I forgave him for it. You know...before you turned up. We said everything we had to." She looked away. When Peter said nothing, just quietly mused, she added. "And...Peter...John's been helping us out, I think."
"He's trying to keep things out of the papers."
"Wait," Peter said, suddenly anxious, "he doesn't know I'm-"
"No. Don't think so." MJ answered. "I'm gonna write to him," she suddenly said. "Thank him." She glanced, quickly, at Peter. "Ask if he wants to meet. So we can talk."
"Okay," Peter said hesitantly.
"So I can say sorry for what I did to him," she said heavily. She rubbed her eyes. And then she shifted closer to him. "And...this is important...I don't...I won't leave you." she said, quite fiercely. "Alright?"
"Alright," Peter answered, suddenly feeling immense relief. He put his hand on hers. "I won't leave you either."
MJ smiled. It was the first time she had for weeks.
"Thank you, Peter," she said.
Ursula put the diary aside.
She had read the first few pages- she would return to it, and soon, but she had work to do. She returned to her own diary, and finished what she had been writing.
He is arguably the most important figure of the twenty-first century, and yet nobody knows his name. He could be the man sitting opposite you on the subway, or the quiet kid at the back of your college class. He could be anybody you brush past in the city.
She looked at the spot by the door where Peter had been standing.
Perhaps it is this that makes him a symbol to so many people.
Smiling, she put the pen down, and read over her work. She thought it was quite good. Not perfect- she knew better then to think that- but not bad. And all hers. She would use a pseudonym- her mother's name, she thought- but still hers. Her own book. Ursula Ditkovich's thoughts on history.
She ran her fingers lightly over the page. Then she closed the book, put the two diaries together, and stood up. She went to the window, and opened it, and breathed in the fresh air.
Ursula Ditkovich's diary, 15th August 2004:
A lot has happened, diary.
I've been speaking to a lot of people and it looks like my book will have a publisher when it's done- my dad is helping me find contacts. He's not very good at it, but it's the thought that counts, and he's begun to look at me differently, like he suspects I won't be here all my life after all. Or something. Things are different, anyway.
I still speak to Peter. Him and Mary Jane are still together, and sometimes MJ is here, but I don't know where they'll go, or if Peter'll stay in this building or what. I think he might.
He had nightmares for a few weeks after the battle, I heard him. He's had nightmares before, I think, but he screamed in these ones. It must weigh on him so much. I want so much to help him. I hope I am.
Then there's the diary I was given. I've read it many times, over and over, and I always wonder about it. About what might have happened if Emily hadn't married, or if she'd just lived...but I guess it's too late for that stuff now. It's all over now. I don't know if everything turned out the way it should have done, or if it could have been better. I don't know if other monsters will come on the scene and tear up the city and frighten the world and try to kill my friends.
I keep thinking about that night. The Final Battle night. About the things I saw. I can remember some of the little things- that man by the ambulance, and do you think that counts for anything, anything at all?, and little kids running around with jars of sand that they'll grow out of and break and let the Sandman free, and my father coming to find me, and walking home, walking and walking and walking, through the crowds and the cars and the aftermath.
I don't know what might happen. But- you know, for all the death and destruction and fear- oh, diary, I want to have a little faith in humanity.
15th August 2004:
Christine Steinhauer walked down a quiet New York street, clutching her handbag, trying to calm her nerves. A million conversations were running through her mind.
We can talk I know we can talk, I'll listen
She turned the corner; saw the house. Continued on.
We've all done terrible things to each other
She walked up the pretty garden path. All around her it was quiet, even peaceful, and she could almost hear her heart beating.
Forgive me, she thought.
She rang the doorbell.
The door opened.