Telling the Best Story
It was fall now, and she was back at school. Lucie knew that one of the assignments for the first week would be to write about what she did during her holidays and then read it out loud for her classmates. She worried about the subject. While she badly wanted to talk about her wonderful adventure, and she knew it would be the best story she had ever told, she also knew it would not be possible. Susan had warned her on several occasions that their time away was a private matter, not to be discussed outside the family. And what a terrible shame that was! Perhaps she could write only about some portion, without giving away the secret parts. Lucie felt quite confident being able to do that. She could talk about their trip by train with her sister and brothers. Then she could talk about the great old rambling house in the country with all the books. And then she might be able to describe the fun they had playing in all the musty rooms of the house, including in that special room. Oh, but that was the most thrilling part! How could she leave that out.
At the very least she wanted to share her summer story with her best friend, who sat at the desk just across from hers. Susan hadn’t made her promise not to talk to her about it. She could surely explain about the wardrobe with all the fur coats she found. And maybe, she could go on about how there was a back door to the wardrobe and how it opened to a place where it was winter. Perhaps it was better to leave out meeting the talking faun, Mr. Tumnus at the lamppost, and the White Witch. Yet, how could she not tell her about the magnificent lion Aslan? Would her friend think she was inventing it all? Susan had said no one would believe the story, even if she did tell it. “You are known for having a great imagination.” Still, surely Alice her oldest, dearest friend would understand.
Alice herself was quite anxious about the assignment. It was the same every year. When you returned to school from holidays, you always had to write on the same topic. This would be the first time she had anything exciting to write about. She might even be able to pull together a better story than her best friend Lucie, who always had grand stories to tell. Alice thought and thought about it. She had to write down ‒ every bit of her adventure. But how could she? So much of it was disjointed, almost like trying to talk about a dream. It wasn’t a dream though, and she could recall much of the various incoherent details. All the same, something in her made her pause; she instinctively felt the other students would make fun of her ‒ that she was trying too hard or worse, that she made it all up.
How could they believe that a little girl her size, in her fresh blue cotton dress and sparkling white starched pinafore could chase after a babbling rabbit and follow him down a long, narrow, dirty rabbit hole? And that she kept falling for ages, finally finding herself in hallway full of tiny doors that opened to a beautiful garden, which the key on the table would open. And that she had to drink of the potion left for her so she could make herself small to be able to squeeze through a tiny door to get to the garden. And how could she talk about all the strange people and critters she met in that wonderland? Even Lucie would have difficulty believing about the Duchess and the Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat and the Queen of Hearts.
Then, as if by happenstance, both Alice and Lucie came to a simultaneous decision. There was nothing to do but to test out their stories on each other. So taking charge, Lucie offered to share her butter tart with Alice at recess. It was then, that each little girl, revealed what a magical holiday each had experienced. When they were finished, they came to the self-same conclusion. Their stories were too fantastical. No one else would ever believe them.
“Let’s just make up some boring, predictable story about our holidays, and be done with it,” Alice advised. And that’s precisely what they did.
From my book: Echoes of Footsteps