Today I am so happy to have Kirsten Miller, author of The Eternal Ones hijacking the blog!
First let me say congratulations, Lori! I’m so flattered that you asked me to write a guest post for your fabulous blog’s second birthday. I know how much work it takes to keep “feeding the beast.” So I hope you take this opportunity to take the day off and chug some champagne in your own honor.
To commemorate this momentous occasion, I’m going to share a story I’ve never shared before. The fact is, I owe my career as a writer/storyteller/professional liar to my birthday.
When I had just turned four years old, my parents doctored my birth certificate and enrolled me in school a year early. (They say I was ready. I suspect it had more to do with the imminent birth of my brother, Spike, their third little pain in the butt.) I made my debut as a liar/storyteller on my first day of class. My parents had sworn me to secrecy. Being a rather morbid child, I assumed they would both be incarcerated and tortured if their dastardly deed were ever discovered. I had every intention of keeping my lips sealed. But then I took one look around Mrs. Lacey’s kindergarten classroom and realized silence was not an option.
I can still see the other kids staring at me. And I couldn’t help but notice they were all giants. Giants who—judging by the strained looks on their faces—were either pooping or plotting against me. I imagined two questions forming inside their heads. Why is that girl so much smaller than us? And why does she have weird white hair? (Both sides of my family hail from parts of the world where the sun rarely shines.)
Before anyone had a chance to ask, I concocted a story that I was certain would keep my family out of prison. I informed my new classmates that my appearance was the result of a rather unfortunate diet. For years, I’d refused to eat anything but lemons or onions. The lemons had bleached my brown hair white, and the onions had stunted my growth. It was the sort of story that makes perfect sense to small children—and I stuck to it religiously. I even recall bringing a bag of lemons to school with me. I was still teased from time to time, but no one asked any questions. Until my fifth birthday.
I remember three of my friends came over for cake. I’d just blown out the candles when one of the girls asked, “Where’s the other candle? Why aren’t there six candles?” Fortunately, I’ve always performed well under pressure.
“Shhh,” I whispered. “My mom doesn’t know how to count.”
She used to know all of her numbers, I told them later when we were playing outside in the yard. But she got hit on the head by a very large rock and could no longer make it past the number five.
“How’d she get hit on the head by a rock?” Katrina asked. At the age of six and a half, she was already a big hit on the beauty queen circuit, and I thought she was very sophisticated.
“Avalanche,” I said, pointing at the hill conveniently located behind my house.
“Is that why she lets you eat all those onions and lemons?” my best friend Alicia asked thoughtfully.
“Yeah,” I said, grateful that she’d managed to connect the dots on her own.
So once again, a story had ensured my parents’ freedom. But that wasn’t the end of it. When I switched schools in the third grade, I thought I could leave all the lies behind. Instead, my stories just became more elaborate. I cared less about keeping my parents’ out of prison and more about being pegged as a loser. Until I turned sixteen, every birthday was a source of anxiety. I wasn’t worried about missing candles. I was too busy cooking-up stories to explain why my mother still thought I was too young for a bra (evil ran in the family), why my grandmother sent a card on my “fourteenth” birthday congratulating me on becoming a teenager (so did senility), and why the state of North Carolina refused to give me a driver’s license (it was due to an unfortunate brush with the law that I wasn’t allowed to discuss).
Happy Birthday, Pure Imagination Book Blog!!!!