It’s always more fun when kids help make up stories, so we’re trying something new today. Lucinda is a character that’s been rattling around in my head today, and I think she has the potential for unlimited adventures. I’ll get the ball rolling, and then hand it off to the listeners to add in ideas. If I run this by my kids, will you do the same? Then we can meet back here next week with some fresh new leads. Here we go…
“On an arctic expedition,” said Lucinda, buttoning her parka with the fur around the hood.
“In this weather?” said her mother, looking out at the pouring rain.
“Yes, we must hurry before the polar caps melt,” said Lucinda. Seeing her mother’s face, she added, “Don’t worry, we’re taking an umbrella.”
Not five minutes later, Lucinda’s mother looked outside to see Lucinda gathering rocks in the rain. She was soaked to the bone.
“Lucinda!” her mother exclaimed, pulling the girl back inside. “You said you were taking an umbrella!”
“We did take an umbrella,” Lucinda protested. “My assistant was carrying it, but she was eaten by a polar bear. They are very hungry at this time of year.”
“Lucinda, there are no polar bears and you don’t have an assistant. If you tell me you are taking an umbrella, you have to actually take an umbrella. You’ll catch your death of cold!”
“Well, I can’t take the umbrella now,” Lucinda explained patiently. “It’s inside a polar bear.”
Lucinda’s mother gave up with a groan, but not before forbidding her to go outside again.
Lucinda studied the rocks in her pail and decided she had gathered enough samples for one day. It was best not venture out again, in any case. That polar bear might be getting hungry again.
Sunday dinner was a special affair. Not only were they eating at Grandma’s house, but Great-Grandma was visiting. Lucinda’s mother made her wear her fanciest dress. She even put a bow in her hair.
Lucinda took the bow out when her mother wasn’t looking, but she didn’t mind the dress. It flared out when she twirled, exactly like the skirt of a ballerina.
“My, how big you are,” said Great-Grandma when Lucinda walked in the door. “How old are you now?”
“I’m fourteen,” said Lucinda.
“She’s eight,” said Lucinda’s mother, squeezing her shoulder.
“Then why’d she say she was fourteen?” asked Great-Grandma.
“Because I am fourteen,” Lucinda said. “I’m very small for my age. It’s a good thing, too. If I weren’t so small, the Royal Ballet would never have considered me.”
“The girl dances ballet?” Great-Grandma said in confusion.
“Yes,” said Lucinda.
“No,” sighed Lucinda’s mother.
“What a little liar,” said Great-Grandma.
Lucinda thought about this all through dinner. Her fancy ballerina dress was beginning to itch her back. She couldn’t be a ballerina with an itchy back. Besides, that last twirl on the front porch had made her dizzy. Ballerinas had to twirl all day, and being dizzy that long would not be enjoyable.
Being a liar, though, that sounded like fun.
Lucinda thought of all different kinds of liars: spies and magicians and actors and novelists and lawyers. She thought she would be quite good at all of those things.
All the next week Lucinda was a spy. Her alias was an average eight-year-old girl, and it was the perfect cover story. No one suspected that she was actually a secret agent for the tiny kingdom of Hortensia.
No one suspected that when she volunteered to walk the dog, she was really scouting out escape routes in case her enemies found her.
No one suspected that when she offered to tidy the living room, she was really hunting for clues about the whereabouts of the Hortensia crown jewels.
No one suspected that the reason she agreed to wash the dishes every night that week was that she needed to cleanse her hands of all traces of the invisible ink she had used to send messages home.
“What’s gotten into you this week?” Lucinda’s mother asked. “You’ve been so sweet and helpful.”
“Nothing,” lied Lucinda smoothly. “I just appreciate all you do for me.”
Actually, as it turned out, that last bit was even true. After one whole week of dog-walking, living room tidying, and dish-washing, Lucinda felt more thankful for her mother than she had ever felt.
You never really stop being a spy, of course, but once Lucinda’s mission was complete and the crown jewels were returned to the Queen of Hortensia, Lucinda had time to focus on other things while waiting for new instructions.
Sneaking around had been extremely interesting, but Lucinda thought she might like to try some more obvious lying as well. The next day, she went to the library and checked out a book about magic tricks.
In no time at all, she had mastered seven different card tricks. Her friends at school were all amazed.
“How did you do that?” they asked.
“Magic,” said Lucinda.
“There’s no such thing as magic,” said Robert Grady.
“There used to be,” Lucinda said. “The world was full of magic long ago, but then the last magician accidentally fell down inside a volcano. It took all his magic to keep from burning up, so he couldn’t get himself free. He had been there for three hundred and fourteen years when I found him two weeks ago. I threw him a rope and pulled him out all by myself, and he was so grateful that he taught me how to use real magic.”
“That’s not true,” said Georgia Fulton. “You made that up.”
Lucinda made a quarter appear in Georgia’s ear and smiled mysteriously.
“Do you think he would teach me magic, too?” asked Robert.
“Probably not,” said Lucinda. “He’s gotten used to being alone and doesn’t want to see anyone but me. If you wanted, I could teach you, though.”
Robert and Georgia were eager to begin, but after their first lesson, they looked at Lucinda in disappointment.
“That’s not magic,” said Georgia. “That’s just a trick.”
“When I first showed you, did you believe it?” Lucinda asked calmly.
“Yes,” Robert admitted.
“That’s because I used my magic to make you believe.”
Robert and Georgia did not know how to argue with this logic, which is how Mrs. Hanson’s second grade class came to school on Monday to find three magicians in their midst.
Their wonder was better than any logic.
Restoring magic to the world was so thrilling, that Lucinda began to wonder what else she might be able to do.
And I am wondering, too. What other “lies” might Lucinda tell and how might she make them come true? It’s your turn to tell…