prologue

I’ve been actively querying agents, sharing bits of my memoir in this or that required format, so I thought it appropriate to share something here. This is the Prologue. It’s short – just a page. This is something of the end of the story, but it ended up being the beginning of the book thanks to the advice of peers in my writing group.

Thanks for reading!

PROLOGUE

Apostasy: the abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief

May 2006

I fidgeted at my office desk where I sat alone, waiting out the final moments of a twelve-year career in academe. Soon, I’d head to class where I’d administer the semester’s final exam. All day I’d felt unwell in a vague way. Pain in my back or my chest, I couldn’t tell. An antsy feeling in my belly as if I drank too much caffeine. It took hours for me to recognize the obvious: it was anxiety.

Exhausted by a tenure-track job search that had come to feel like an exercise in futility, I’d decided to “retire.” Giving up this way of life felt like giving up faith or family. The decision is still the most difficult of my life.

Feeling last rights were in order, I slid the piece of paper with my name on it out of the label holder on the file cabinet drawer next to me. I’d torn this misshapen scrap off a piece of notebook paper and threaded it into the slot with great anticipation two years prior. Now I dropped it into the trash. That made it official—my sendoff nothing more than a hum from the communal printer. The next semester, some other part-timer would sit in my wobbly chair and claim the file drawer as their own.

At 7:10 pm, I grabbed my bag and made my way down four flights of stairs. At the exit, I saw rain pounding the sidewalk outside. Perfect, I thought. I opened my umbrella and marched out into the storm.

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