I was taught that every story has a beginning, middle, and an ending. From an early age our stories end with “happily ever after.” At the head of the tale, this is the only ‘tail’ that will do. It’s certainly what we all hope.

But life spins a different story for each of us. Whether easy or hard, every life has moments of magic. The big ones are easy to spot. The tragedy is missing the magic in the everyday.

Sometimes it’s easy to miss any of these moments. Especially when the story is framed by dark words and darker deeds. We look for an Enemy without…but the true enemy is within.

No one starts as the antagonist, and the journey into villainy is a story in itself. My crime is believing words spoken about me even before entering my own story.

Cripple,’ she said. God’s punishment for sin and shame. Doctors repaired the deformities but they couldn’t remove the scars.

Don’t tell anyone,‘ she said. Even now I cannot tell.

You’ll never be good,’ he intoned. By this time in the story I was learning to use the rage. I would be good in spite of jealous prophesy. But never quite good enough.

Then the day comes when pride turns fall. Mighty are the fallen…

Like the loneliness of early days in hospitals, overwhelming waves of abandonment come flooding back. But you are the betrayer. Your body is whole but your spirit is crippled.

You are alone even when never alone.

The words cling to your hoping heart. Descriptors of your fall haunt through the decades.

You come to the last act of the story. The arc is not complete, but the incline is steepening toward the end. Mistakes are made and lessons learned and unlearned, a student of life even still.

And the words remain as surely as the scars upon your flesh.

“Rich man, poor man. Beggarman, thief. Liar, betrayer, sinner chief.”

At least I can see the magic…and remember how the tale could have ended.