I am seven years old.
This is the first lie.
And so it begins.
The first time was the hardest. I told my new classmates that I was royalty.
That we had moved here from across the sea. That my father was a duke
and my mother a duchess with a huge fortune. The other kids did not want
to believe me at first but they were young and easy to fool.
I showed them a ring I found in the dirt. I said it was a thousand years old,
handed down through gypsy grandmothers until it was mine. They believed me.
The lying got easier. I said I was born with two hearts; that there was nothing
they could do; that even all the duke’s money couldn’t fix it until I was much older;
and that each day my mother the duchess cried and prayed that I would live
long enough to have the operation. They believed me.
I said that as a baby I was taught a special ancient language that only certain people could know; that you had to have a magic kind of tonsil to speak this mystical language. They believed me — and begged to hear me speak to them in this special tongue.
I said I could, but that they would all be struck dead if their common ears heard it.
They believed me … and begged me not to speak it.
I said I had a horse with wings that could only be seen at night; that came to my window at midnight and spirited me away to the stars, and brought me back home just in time for breakfast each morning. They believed me.
I said I had a cat with three heads and three tails that transformed into my bed at night; that purred me to sleep and tickled me with its whiskers. They believed me.
I said I had a wise old aunt with a magic mirror that could tell the future —
and that it had told her a big, red ball would fall out of the sky and destroy the earth before three more moons had come and gone. They believed that, too.
They believed and became frightened and told their parents about all the things
I had said. Their parents said I was a witch and that I must be punished.
They came for me with stones. And sticks. And fire.
I told them it was all lies — that there was no duke and duchess, no gypsy ring,
no double heart. There was no magic language, no winged horse, no catbed,
no all-knowing mirror and, especially, no big red ball about to fall from the sky.
They did not believe me.