This short story first appeared in The New Yorker. It was later adapted by NPR for their radio series SELECTED SHORTS. Reprinted with permission of the author.
If you think it’s too cold for a woman my age to be eating her lunch out here by the beaver dam, then the first thing I have to tell you is, don’t worry about me. Or, if I say it the way I first said it as a little girl, “Don’t worry ’bout me.”
I seem to have been saying and thinking the same things right from the beginning. For a long time my mother would look at me as if the things I was saying were a little bit funny—just a little bit, not funny enough one way to laugh at or the other way to get upset about.
I don’t know—is “Don’t worry ’bout me” such a funny thing to say if you’re a small child? Many times after I’d said it my mother would ask me if I was angry about anything. I told her I didn’t think so. Maybe what I should have said to her was that I just didn’t like to have anyone worrying about me. But I don’t know if I knew that yet. After a while my mother didn’t say any more about it, but she would still sometimes look at me closely when I said it, as if she were looking not just into my eyes but into my whole face, if that’s possible.Continue reading