The fox won't let me tell you the truth, not even a fragment. He is glinting
at me from orange eyes again. 'Don't tell them anything. pretend. Imagine,
like you did when you were younger and spun stories from paper. It's all a big
game.' The dog has his ears pricked forward and is chasing his tail next to my
I don't think he doubts me.
The fox wants me to open up a conveyor belt leading straight from the back of
my mouth into peoples' waiting ears. He has made his own production line for
me: a thousand identities like shedded skins, two eye-colours, alternate beauty
marks, three accents and a past straight out of Shakespeare's quill. He wants
me to flick my tongue and weave an odyssey, spin on the spot and become a boy,
then a girl, then a woman, then a Hollywood star with sunken cheeks.
The hound is sat by my feet, panting. He wants me to smile widely, say that no,
I am one girl with one accent, green eyes, no frills on my clothes or gemstones
on my toes. The fox glares and sniffs the air. My hand raises to my lips, where
I bite off a ragged semicircle of keratin.
I look to the dog.
'Stop me.' I say.
It lifts its head.