“Reading Books” Fiction. Based on a True Tale of My Life.

“There you are, shining from afar. Can you find me in the dark? There’s a spark within my heart.”

-Maya McClean

“Reading Books”

Fiction. Based on a True Tale of My Life.

By Starry Teller


This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character, or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.

Trigger Warning: our program often motivates people to discuss their trauma. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, please, take a step back to address emotional flashbacks and trauma before continuing to push yourself. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or the National Suicide Hotline at (1-800) 273-8255.


She lived; inserted within the boundary between reality and fantasy.

As a child, she spent her days reading books.

Her mother taught her to read at three years old. She was never fully interested in spending time with other children, even from a young age, so she found herself immersed in the world of fiction. She loved the stories about strong, young women who verbally or physically took a stand and made a name for themselves. She admired protagonists from princesses to demigods, and from orphans to detectives.

She experimented with mythology, mystery, fantasy, science fiction, adventure, and anything with an interesting title. Even though she had always been told not to “judge a book by its cover,” she usually found her favorite books based on the intrigue of their titles and covers.

She wished she could read one book each day, but it usually ended up being one book each week.

Due to her complete immersion in the world of fiction, she sometimes confused reality with fantasy. She would intertwine plotlines with daily conversations. She often imagined herself as a character within her books, daring to live alongside her favorite protagonists. In her dreams, she would fly upon the back of the pegasus, or march through the snow in revolt; she would unlock the mystery and expose the villain or discover she was really biologically royal.

As a teenager, she continued reading books every day. She still loved fantasy, but she lost herself in the realm of philosophy. She researched the historical background of philosophers and longed to study what they studied—to know what they knew. She studied religion, philosophy, Greek, and theater, among the required subjects. She found the beauty of words to be the most moving and powerful force on earth.

Through discovering herself in philosophy, she began writing. She longed to capture the magic of words on the page she had known for so long. She wrote fantasy. She philosophized. She wrote poetry.

In her daily life, she would sometimes forget something immediately after it happened. She tried her best to capture moments with a mental snapshot, but often, she lived a life separate from the one she really lived. As she walked down the street with a friend, she would really be far away with someone else. She stared down the rainy street but was actually feeling the breeze off the ocean on a sunny day. A story was constantly unfolding in her mind. Due to this, she was hardly ever fully present when she was physically present.

One of her least favorite qualities about herself was that she would always forget what people looked like when she was no longer with them. She constantly looked at pictures to refresh her memory. She could easily call to mind an image of her family members. It was mostly the boy she loved, that she could hardly recall, even after spending a full day or evening with him. She wondered how it was possible to forget the face of the boy she cared about so deeply only an hour after being so near to him.

She found it hard to be content. As she lived her life, and years passed by, she always wondered what life would be like if she was a different person. Due to this, she always questioned if she was in the right place at the right time. As she would try to enjoy herself at an event with friends, she would imagine herself somewhere else with someone else. This is probably why she had a difficult time remembering faces—particularly the ones of people she cared about most. Even the boy she loved suffered from her fantasy wanderings.

As a young adult, she read books throughout college—some semesters consisted of reading 30 books or more. She graduated in three years, hoping to pursue a career as a creative writer. The books she had loved since childhood impacted her so deeply, that she knew the only thing that could make her life meaningful consisted of being a writer.

She still struggled to be present in the moment. The young man she loved now wasn’t perfect but was truly wonderful. She found it easier to be content at his side. She learned to be more present—to separate reality from fantasy. They would read books together before falling asleep. They would write poetry and stories together. They had pictures of each other, but for the first time in life, she didn’t need the picture to remember his face.

And for once, she lived. She wrote fantasy. But she lived reality.

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