Sophie Gartshore

School: Glasgow
 

Viola

 

18th January 1922

Dear Diary,

Ugh… Harriet is really getting on my nerves! She ain’t letting me borrow Mari’s lipstick. She knows me and her are tight!

Mama sent me a letter yesterday, she might get the sack because of that fancy new factory just opening. Their cotton factories have recruited some young girls- they make better quality cotton and make it twice as fast for cheaper! My mama’s company is on the verge of going bust. She’s making next to nothin’ as it is. I can’t even begin to tell you how worried about her I am.


 



Viola Syveran
13 Warrington Drive
New Orleans
Louisiana
LA 70122 USA
11th February 1922

Ms. Winifred Syveran
18 Cleveland Avenue
New Orleans
Louisiana
LA 70119 USA


Dear Mama,

I am so sorry to hear about this new swanky shipping complex! Maybe you could apply for a job there? You don’t want to end up in the workhouse or on the streets, especially with Ida. I’m making as much as I can, but living off of tips and meagre wages isn’t enough to feed myself let alone two other people.

How’s Ida? She was so worried about the apprenticeship. I feel so guilty about not being there for her birthday. I love you.

 




Viola
Syveran
13 Warrington Drive
New Orleans
Louisiana
LA 70122 USA
5th March 1922

David Smiths
228 Main Street
New Orleans
Louisiana
LA 70158 USA


Hiya Love,

I hate to ask you of all people but… I need money. Fast. Davie, all I’m asking is a few clams for rent. I’ll pay you whenever you need. Please.

The Club is going to close an hour later tonight, ol’ Mister Smiths is working these little gams to the bone! My mama came down with influenza late last month; I’m using every last dime to buy medicine for her. I need a pay rise, something to keep us afloat.

Love you.

-Viola

 

 

 

April 27th 1922

Dear Diary,

Davie still hasn’t sent me the money. I don’t know what to do. The landlord is threatening eviction and Mama is getting worse and Ida told me she’s coughing so much that, that… I just don’t know what to do. I’m at my wits end.


 


 

May 30th 1922

Dear Diary,

Hallelujah! Davie came through! He’s not as much of a lollygagger as I thought! Mr. Smith is offering me job! Last night when I was on my way back from the club, I was called into ol’ Smithy’s office; he told me he could increase my wages by three crowns! He’s moving me into a different line of work! I’m to now be his and Davie’s personal assistant! Harriet is also working for one of Mr. Smith’s patrons, she’s been working since February and tells me that it’s just a bit of dancing and delivering drinks to already snozzeledold men! Easy enough right? The dresses I’ve got to wear are also really flattering; they are so sparkly they could blind a man!



 

Viola Syveran
13 Warrington Drive
New Orleans
Louisiana
LA 70122 USA
May 18th 1922

Ms. Ida Syveran
18 Cleveland Avenue
New Orleans
Louisiana
LA 70119


Dearest Ida,

I have fantastic news! I have just started my new job and my first paycheck is about to be issued! I just serve drinks to men who think they’re the bee’s knees and take tips. Something does feel off though… It’s probably nothin’. I won’t complain! Is Mama okay? Did I send enough money to you? Just tell me if you need more, money will never be an issue again! How is your apprenticeship goin’? You must be an excellent seamstress by now!

I will be in touch.

Love you.

-Viola





June 1st 1922

Dear Diary,

My. God. I have seen the occasional brawl between the neighborhood boys but this? This takes this to a whole new level. Last night I was taking the night shift as normal when something horrible happened… that poor waitress, it could’ve been me. I am ashamed to admit that it exhilarates me. Being so close to a firing pistol is honestly the most insane feeling, nothin’ matches it. I’ve never been more terrified.




Viola Syveran
13 Warrington Drive
New Orleans
Louisiana
LA 70122 USA
July 10th 1922

David Smiths
288 Main Street
New Orleans
Louisiana
LA 70158 USA


Davie.

Your offer was very… generous. I would love to accept but… I don’t know, is it legal? But I do suppose I’m in. As long as you promise that it’s okay. I don’t want to be unable to provide for my family because their daughter and sister ended up on the wrong side of the law. I don’t want  to throw my life away because of a stupid decision.

I’ll talk to you tomorrow at the Institute. I love you.





August 31st 1922

Dear Diary.

Well… I guess that’s it than. I’ve joined an ammo cartel. Turns out that Davie and Mr. Smiths were involved in some very, very deep trouble. I get paid more than I ever have before but for every little I make I feel a pang of guilt knowing why and how it was made. Family comes first after all. My main job is getting the bags of bullets to the right people on time. We call the place we store the products the Institute.

I’m so ashamed that I’d stoop this low for money. Whatever puts crumbs on the table and money in the taxman’s hand” my Mama had once told me.

Imagine what she’d say now.


 


 

September 1st 1922

Dear Diary,

I can’t do this anymore! The guilt and anxiety is killing me! I am selling bullets that will beused to kill innocent people! I need to tell someone, Mama, Ida, Harriet, anyone who will believe me. I have had panic attacks when I’ve seen cops. I want to come out about it but then where would I be? Penniless? Yes?Redundant? Yes. Shunned by my family? Yes. And all for what? A few people I have never met. I feel so trapped. I have no one to confide in. I’m scared someone in the Institute will catch wind of me second thoughts. I need to tell someone this story. My story. Because I may not be around to tell it.

 


 

October 13th 1922

Dear Diary.

Please listen closely because this will be my last entry. This last year has been a whirlwind of different feelings and thoughts, I cannot begin to tell you how frightened I have been, but at the same time, I am glad that it will end this way. On my terms.

I feel like, even though I am barely qualifying as an adult, I have lived a fuller life than most before me.

So the last thing I need to say is this. Thank you. For reading, for listening and I know that all this will ever amount to is words on paper but, I feel better knowing that as long as this diary and these letters survive, I will not be forgotten.

Goodbye.

-Viola


 


Copyright on all of the Pushkin Prizewinners' work remains the property of the authors. Please contact the Director of The Pushkin Prizes if you would like to make use of any individual pieces.
Designed and Managed by for The Pushkin Prizes