“That’s a pity. You were such good friends before.” Her mother was speaking. Dragging herself back to the present, Mairead wondered if there was any way she could convinced Fay that everything was fine between her and Ella. Surely a Truthteller could hide their words from another? Surely they could foil the gift? If anybody could it should have been them.
“Well, she couldn’t accept me for who I was. I frightened her.”
“She told you this?”
“No.” The single word said everything it needed to. Of course Ella hadn’t said so, not in so many words. All she had had to do was deny it and Mairead had seen the truth in her face. “But then, nobody would, would they? They think my power can hurt them. They don’t understand it, Mother, they don’t know what it’s really like. It can’t do anything.” That was her biggest grievance. People had no reason to be so afraid, since her only gift was to be able to tell when people were telling the truth or not. It wasn’t witchcraft and she couldn’t punish them even if they did lie to her face.
“You would be surprised,” said Fay, sounding serious. “Listen, Mairead, we’ve never really talked about this gift but it’s not everything you think it is. There are things you could never imagine, things that you can do.” She had come around and was standing halfway up the stairs, one hand resting lightly on the banisters and the other raised to brush her dark hair away from her face.
“You mean it can do more – it’s more than just being able to tell if somebody is lying or not?” Mairead was fascinated and she started to descend, to meet her mother in the middle. “But why didn’t you tell me before?”
“You were too young. Besides, we didn’t know for certain that you had it until that time when you exposed Phil for lying to you in public, and that wasn’t exactly a low-profile event. You’re an unpredictable child, Mai, you really are.” Her mother laughed. She liked to call her daughter ‘Mai’ because it was the name she had wanted when she was born, but the baby’s father, Col, had refused. It was too short, he said, not musical enough. Still, she could have it as a nickname.
“Too young, too young.” If there is anything that a fifteen year old doesn’t want to hear it’s that they were ‘too young’. There is nothing that seems more patronising, nothing that seems more unfair. “Don’t adults realise that we understand more than they think? We’re not idiots, just because we’re younger.”