Friday, July 19

I am a Storyteller

By Margie Senechal @wishwryter
Sometimes we let life get in the way and forget our true calling in life. I am a storyteller. I may never be a published novelist, get my name on the NYTimes bestseller list, or make the big bucks, but I have always been and will always be a storyteller.
A couple of weeks ago, my eldest had an in-and-out surgery and my mom came to sit with me in the Vancouver Clinic surgical waiting room. We were talking in hushed voices and somehow the conversation came around to a tragedy that happened while we lived in Iceland.
This happened on the Naval base in Keflavik, Iceland in either 1969 or 1970. We lived on base in Navy housing which consisted of rows of town-house apartments in U-shaped blocks circled around a big hill. The hill was steep enough that we couldn’t access it from our back door. We had to walk up to two streets to another U-shaped housing area and go to their back area. It was popular sledding hill when it snowed.
 I was in second grade. And there was a boy, whose name we can’t remember, so for today’s purposes I’m going to call him Jack. That’s a solid sixties name.
Jack was a few years older than me, either late grade school or junior high. I’ve always pictured him around 13 when I tell this story. 
Somehow Jack had acquired a parachute and asked his father if he could take it to the hill and try it out. His father said, “No, it’s too windy.” Not to be deterred, Jack went into the kitchen where his mom was preparing dinner and asked her. She waved him off, not really paying attention, with an “I don’t care.”
Jack went to the hill and started running down. But, like his dad said, it was really windy. And Icelandic wind is a different sort of beast. The wind caught his chute and cast him into the air. His head hit the top of one of the apartments and knocked him out. He later died at the hospital.
A truly tragic tale. 
Now, let’s hear the version that I, at eight-years-old, created—probably from the whispers of the adults around me and possibly my schoolmates as his younger sister was in my class.
Actual 1970 picture from Iceland. Probably what I imagined the 
cliff to resemble in my version of Jack's sad tale.
Jack did some odd jobs for a doctor who lived on base and the doctor gave him the parachute as a thank-you. Jack and a couple of friends took the chute to a cliff to try it out. He jumped off the cliff and the wind caught him and dragged him against the jagged cliffside and dumped him on the doorstep of the doctor who’d given him the chute.
The doctor heard a thudding at his door and when he answered it, he saw the broken body of Jack. He rushed him to the hospital, but it was too late. 
The family took him home in the USA to be buried and his bloody body was wrapped in plastic on the plane and his sister had to sit over his body. 
I have been telling my version of this story for my almost 50 years. I truly believed that’s what had happened and only learned recently--as in two Mondays ago--the true story. 
I like my version better. LOL. It has suspense, it has a twist (the wind dropping him on the doctor’s doorstep), and it has a bit of gore. To be honest, I had figured out before now that there was no way his sister had to spend an entire plane ride from Iceland to the US, with her brother’s body wrapped in only plastic.
So, as you can see, I have been a storyteller from practically the beginning of my life and I, probably will be until I die, even if it’s just making up stories about the homeless who frequent our store, the two neighbors who seem to have a competition going about who can have the most yard ornaments, or about a girl who collects suitcases and never goes anywhere.


  1. What a story--both versions! And I'm still captivated by the girl and the suitcases.

  2. Good story, I had forgotten that incident. You are a true storyteller even when you aren't telling the truth.........I am still waiting to finish hearing the story of the girl and her suitcases.

    1. Ahh, thanks. I can't believe you forgot about it. Aren't you glad we stayed in your life?

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  6. Margie, you are a wonderful storyteller. Your imagination is a real gift, and I'm glad you're sharing it with the world.

    1. Thanks, Janie. And you haven't even read my good stuff yet ;)