When Lara first reads this quote she thinks she must somehow be related to Sir Walter Scott on her mother’s side. Scott is her mother’s maiden name, and she knows the truth of Sir Walters statement because she lives it, so it must be in her genes. How else can you explain her compulsion to exaggerate the truth, embellish it, twist it until it’s unrecognizable, never mind that she often tells the odd random outright lie that has no basis in truth whatsoever.
Her mother has read them the story about crying wolf, but all she gets from that is that boys are stupid if they keep trying the same trick over and over. No wonder he didn’t get away with it. Her own brother, on the other hand, is not stupid at all. He is a very convincing liar, and can make people believe he is completely innocent of whatever crime he’s just committed. Lara would dearly love to have that talent, but the only person she can get to believe some of the bizarre things she comes up with is her little sister Ainslee, who hangs on her every word and always wants to know more.
So for Ainslees entertainment, she makes things up. The three bears sleep in their parents clothes closet. Best to tiptoe when you pass it or you’ll wake them up. And mama bear might not always be able to convince papa bear that little girls are not that good to eat. So Ainslee tiptoes.
She tells her that at night a fox climbs up on the roof beside their bedroom and looks in at them through the window and the only thing that will make him go away is if he can’t see them. Ainslee pulls the covers over her head.
She tells her she was probably adopted from someplace far away , like China maybe, because how else do you explain all that blonde curly hair when both her older siblings have hair that is dark brown and straight as a poker. Ainslee sighs and wonders if she can go to China someday to find her real family. Lara says they’ve moved somewhere else by now, and nobody knows where. Could be Hollywood.
Lara explains to her that it’s a good idea to leap off her bed as far as she can to avoid whatever is under there grabbing her by the ankles. So what IS under there? Best not to make the mistake of putting your feet down too close to the edge or you might find out. Ainslee leaps.
When Ainslee eats all her peas and green beans and asparagus, Lara tells her she is risking having her skin turn green if she keeps it up. Ainslee has never seen anybody with green skin. Lara tells her frogs eat green beans every day so how do you think the green skin happened to them? She tells her the dog will die if they feed him cake. Cake is a lethal dog poison. Don’t even let him lick your fingers. Cows live for about a hundred years. Don’t worry if you cut all the hair off your dolls head, it will grow back. But it takes a long time, so you just have to be patient. Ainslee is patient.
Eventually her little head is so full of strange information that she can’t help herself and passes it on to their mom and dad in little bits and pieces. Who told you that, they want to know. The answer is always Lara. They try to explain to her that Lara doesn’t always get the facts exactly right. If it’s hard to believe, maybe she shouldn’t believe it. They strongly recommend to Lara that she stop telling Ainslee such ridiculous stories. But Lara has gotten surprisingly good at it, and sometimes she is almost able to convince herself that what she’s saying is true.
Like the time they’re playing in the hay in the barn and their dog comes bounding up the steps to join in the fun. Lara screams and runs for the ladder urging her sister to do the same. Hurry up before the dog gets you! He’s got rabies! Ainslee is petrified of foxes who could have rabies (especially the ones that look in their bedroom window at night) and she knows that dogs can get bitten and get rabies too. At first she’s skeptical, but Lara is so freaked out, climbing up out of his reach, demanding that Ainslee get up there with her right now, hurry hurry hurry! Ainslee climbs up the ladder and they both look down at their smiling panting dog who doesn’t look the slightest bit sick or sinister.
It’s the very early stages, Lara explains. See how his eyes are kind of glassy, and there’s drool on his mouth? When that turns to foam, we are in big trouble. But how are we going to get down from here then, Ainslee wants to know. They decide they will just have to wait him out and maybe he’ll wander off. Or their dad will come to do the chores and rescue them, or he’ll go to sleep and they can sneak away without waking him up. Ainslee loves the dog and is almost weepy with sadness. Her arms are aching from holding on to the ladder but she is terrified to let go. The dog looks at them, tilts his head, sits down. It’s a weird game but he’s fine with playing along. Did you see what he just did with his head? That means his brain has gotten all lopsided from the rabies. Pretty soon he’ll be walking around with his head tilted that way all the time, and then he’ll just fall over and …..
Lara stops talking and listens for a minute. Mom is calling them for dinner. We’re coming! she yells back. Then she jumps down from the ladder and walks over to the steps as if nothing in the world is amiss. The dog jumps to his feet and follows her. Ainslee is sure she is about to watch her sister die.
But Lara just turns around and tells her to come on. The dog hasn’t gotten to the biting stage anyway. He might never get there. You just never know. Ainslee wants to hit her. She jumps down and hugs their dog and buries her face in his furry neck. He licks her face and drools and Ainslee tells Lara when that turns to foam she’s going to make her eat it. Lara just laughs and takes off for the house. But she knows she’s gone a bit too far this time and it’s the beginning of the end for filling Ainslees head with bunk.
The next week at school, Ainsley gets in trouble for telling her best friend that she was adopted. From some place in China. And that her real mother is a movie star. Lara rolls her eyes and tells her sister she’s got to get better at this if she wants to be taken seriously.
Their dog never does succumb to the final stages of rabies. He works his neck muscles hard every day so that he is able to keep his head on straight, and no one is any the wiser. It’s a well-known fact that dogs who come over from China with adopted babies have a built-in immunity to all kinds of things.