I am the new kid at school. Again. After lunch at this new school, we third graders have to sit on benches under the basketball nets while the older kids finish eating.
I sit next to Joanie who has a cool Roy Rogers and Dale Evans lunchbox. How can I make myself interesting so that she’ll want to play with me at recess?
“My whole family used to work in the circus,” I tell her. “My cousins flew on the flying trapeze and my aunt danced with a bear.”
That seems to get her attention. And the attention of a few other kids sitting nearby.
“Really?” asks a wispy-haired girl in front of us. I think her name is Rene. The others lean in.
“We had a pet baby elephant,” I continue. “She was an orphan so I had to feed her from a bottle. I named her Mimi.”
Now the boys behind us are listening, too.
“Right. You had a pet elephant,” jeers a boy named John who has been sent to the principal’s office twice in the three days I’ve been at this school.
But the other kids are starting to doubt me, too. I can see it in their faces. How can I get out of this jam?
“And then I woke up,” I say.
“You were dreaming all that?” asks Joanie.
She doesn’t play with me at recess.
“Researchers have found that the ability to tell fibs at the age of two is a sign of a fast developing brain and means the liars are more likely to have successful lives. Scientists found that the more plausible the lie, the more quick witted the liars will be in later years and the better their ability to think on their feet. It also means that they have developed ‘executive function’ – the ability to invent a convincing lie by keeping the truth at the back of their minds.”
The article goes on to suggest such child liars would make good bankers as adults – but it seems to me lying is good practice for a later life in fiction writing, as well. To craft a believable story, we are called upon to create a believable lie. We must invent it all: dialogue that rings true, plausible events, realistic challenges for our characters’ lives. Like good liars, we freely mix in actual factual details from the real world to lend credence. We fabricate to reveal a bigger Truth. But back to my black-tongued childhood. I wonder how many of you writers out there were also child liars?
Contributed by Laura Kvasnosky, no lie.