"What is it, Granda? Is it a toad?"
"I’m not sure, dear. My eyesight isn’t what it was. We’ll need to get closer. "
"It’s very ugly."
"Oh, I see what it is."
"What? What is it?"
"What’s a truth?"
"Goodness, me. I thought they were extinct."
"What’s a truth, Granda, and why does it have to be so ugly?"
"Oh, truths were all ugly, dear. Most of them anyway. Some of them were quite gruesome in fact. That’s why they started eradicating them before you were born. I wonder how this one managed to hang on so long."
"People started getting rid of them."
"Should I squash it? Can I squash it, Granda?"
"Wait! Wait. Hold your horses. Let's get a good look at it. I want to see what kind it is. There were lots of different kinds of truth. It might be something new altogether. A new strain."
"Well, I don’t like it."
"No, not many people did, my dear. Lies were much more colourful, adaptable and interesting. And there were so many of them."
"Granda! What are you doing?"
"Oh, nothing. I just thought I’d dig it up and take it home. See what it grows into."
"You mean it’ll get bigger?"
"Yes, and probably uglier. The biggest truths were really hideous. People could hardly bear to look at them."
"Ugh, Granda. I’ll be ill if I have to look at that much longer."
"Well, some truths can make you feel like you’re ill when you’re not really ill."
"Why would anyone want to feel ill?"
"It’s a kind of protection."
"I don’t understand."
"Well, imagine every time you had to go out in the rain you felt a little poorly. You’d never go out in the rain would you?"
"No. But I have an umbrella. You can see through it."
"Well, that’s good, too. But if you didn’t have the umbrella what would happen if you went out in the rain?"
"I’d get wet. But if I felt poorly, Mummy would make me a bed on the couch."
"That’s the idea. So you see why truths used to be a good idea."
"I think so. So why did people get rid of them?"
"Why? Oh, I suppose they all bought umbrellas. We should get going. Your mother’ll be wondering where we are."
"She’ll shout at you if you try and bring that thing into the house. That’s what she does to me."
"Ah, out of the mouths of babes and sucklings…"
"I'm not a baby. I'm six."
"Of course you are, dear. Of course you are."
* Jim Murdoch is a Scottish writer living just outside Glasgow. His second novel Stranger than Fiction was published in August. www.jimmurdoch.co.uk
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
We all shout we want the truth but how many of us really want to hear it? How many of us can handle it? So stop asking me questions. You're not gonna like what's on the dark side of the moon.