Shairi Engle Writes - Memoir Opening (Draft)

This story is hers -- not mine.

I remind myself of this when a thought crosses my mind -- the frequent thought that: I made these things happen. That, in my absolute power, I made these things happen.

“You made this happen. Don’t complain, don’t utter a word. Unless you want to invite trouble.”

But - then. Who says that to an 8 year old girl?

Who says that to a 12 year old child?

Who says that to a young woman -- while she stares up at the ceiling of her dorm at Keesler AFB in 1999? While she’s not really in her body to hear those words, anyway?

Nobody says those things. But they don’t have to.

Those things are understood the moment you leave your body.

I guess, maybe sometimes it’s easier for me to look at the words on a page if I say:

“This isn’t my story.”

But then … as years tick by and my voice comes squeaking out, I discover that -

It’s actually a friend’s story. Or it really belongs to the stranger I just met at the bar. Wait, maybe it belongs to the lady that’s worked at the corner store I’ve frequented for nearly ten years. Or the guy that just gave me the finger after I cut him off on the freeway. But really, despite my endless debate over who this story belongs to, it always comes down to Mary.

N. B. Hankes

N. B. Hankes

Founder and best selling author of "Waking Up On the Appalachian Trail."
Humboldt County, California