Sunday, May 15, 2016

My Life with Letters (short story) by Leanne Dyck (1 of 2)

My Life with Letters is the true story of the first time I read my writing to a group of authors. It was first published in the anthology From the Heart:  Real Life Stories of Hope & Inspiration compiled by Gary Doi. Twenty-seven international authors donated their stories to raise money to support students who wish to continue their dream of higher education.

My Life with Letters

It was an ordinary day until I read an email from a literary journal. That's when my head exploded. After re-assembling all the pieces, I told my husband, "My submission is going to be published."

"It is?"

I waved at the computer screen.

"It is." He sounded more amazed than impressed, but I choose to ignore that.

"They're asking the contributing authors to read their work at the issue launch. We have to go," I told him.

Weeks passed; the day arrived. Everything was great until I remembered...

A fragile eight-year-old girl cowers in her desk, willing flesh, bone and tissue to dissolve into the steel of the seat. Please don't call on me. Please don't call on me. I'm shivering.

"Leanne, read the next passage," the teacher says.

A spotlight shines directly into my eyes. Everyone stares at me with laser eyes that burn.

Brody, the fat kid that sits in the back of the classroom, glares at me. "No, not her. She can't read." His voice is distant and muffled, but I hear him.

He continues to taunt me, but his voice is drowned out by a huge ocean wave that hit rocks--laughter. My classmates think me reading is a laugh riot. I try to ignore them. I push my glasses up onto my nose, breath out slowly and try to find sense in the swirl of words that confront me. The letters leap, spin and twist--refusing to be captured. I wrestle with the first word, attempting to claim it. I remember what my special teacher Mrs. McIntosh, told me. That letter is a 's'. It makes the sound of a snake. I smile contentedly. I've begun. Next letter. I look at it. That's a 'p'. But when I look again the 't' has hopped over the 'p' and now it is first. 'P', 'T', they dance back and forth. Panic grips me. This is taking way too long. A clock ticks loudly. The sweet aroma of the teacher's perfume engulfs my nostrils. Outside a bird calls. My senses are assaulted. I can't shut anything out. I can't focus. I just want this to end. Please, please, I don't want to be here any more, I pray.


The class giggles; I want to dissolve into my desk.

"Sound it out, Leanne." Frustration, annoyance fills the teacher's voice.

I'm not a bad girl, I long to tell her. I want to be good. I want to do well. I want to make you happy. I'm trying. Really, honestly, I am but...but...

I look at the page. The words are gone, replaced by tiny black marks on a white page.

"Stop," I blurt out.

"We're going to be here all day," Broody sneers.


My inner voice screams, You're dumb. You can't learn. You can't do anything. Everyone laughs at you. You are STU-PID!

I am mustering up all my resources to continue my battle when the teacher cuts my progress short.

"Kim, please continue."

The book rests in Kim's palms like a hymnal. She reads the words; they flow together like a song. The teacher smiles.

I am a big awkward moose. Kim is a meadowlark. She sings sweetly and others listen. They don't laugh at her. She soars with words. I stumble and fall. She belongs, I don't. She's normal. I am a freak.

"What's the matter?" My husband's words release me from memories' tight grip.

"I can't read. I'll trip over my tongue. I'll say the wrong word. Then they'll know. They'll all know I'm dyslexic."

Do I read my story? Do I ask someone else to read it for me? Who? If my story is read, what then?


An inspiring Youtube video to encourage you to live your dream link

About Picture Books in Canada...

Shortlist for the 40th anniversary
Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz
Children's Books Awards

Sharing my author journey...
As you may remember, I'm rewriting a novel. And this week things weren't going well. My writing seemed 

tired and forced. I walked away from my computer and got busy with something else. That's when inspiration struck. It was a lightening strike--just a small flame from a match, but still it was an idea. I jotted a note and that note took me to a sentence, that sentence took a paragraph, that paragraph took me to a scene--and that scene sung on the computer screen. Time, patience and faith--that's all I need.