The Wrong Question

I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. I was confused by the question. The man behind the desk peered at me over the top of his specs as he waited. It felt as though he were trying to see beyond my body deep into my soul. It wasn’t like the other questions. Those had been easy to answer. Any question which began with “where” or “how” was simple. All I had to do was give the facts. Let’s face it, I had been rehearsing those facts for a long time. In fact you could say, all of my life. So, when I was asked, I was prepared and I didn’t have any problems coming up with an appropriate answer. I don’t really remember a time in my life when someone wasn’t asking me the “where” or “how” questions.

The woman in the corner was nodding her head as she took notes. I stared at her, trying to use my mental powers to force her to look up from the pad of paper which had so captured her attention during this whole process. She was a real do-gooder. I could tell. You see, I have had years of experience of these types. Oh yes, they can smile really sweetly when they want to. What was that saying that my mother had, something about “butter melting in the mouth”? Well, this one should have stayed away from the butter, as it didn’t melt in her mouth but had congealed on her hips. They actually rolled as she walked. Too much time sitting down, obviously. Now, I would never let myself go like that. I mean look at those specs. And that hair! What a state she was in. In fact she isn’t that different to the last one. Maybe there is a depot of these women where one is plucked out of the reservoir whenever one is needed.

Whoops. I smiled. That wasn’t a good move. Now he is looking at me more closely. He knows that I have been thinking of something. His mouth is opening and even before the question is phrased, I know what is coming. This one is not going to be so easy to fool. His eyes reflect a deeper intelligence than the others. I wonder if he is as bright as I am.

That was part of the problem you see. I am not just smart. I am super intelligent. I know I am because all through my life people have told me so. Sometimes they even say it to each other when they don’t think I am listening.

“She is really bright, you know. Almost a genius.”

When I was younger I used to pretend that I wasn’t. Bright and all that. When my mother wanted me to talk, I wouldn’t. When my teacher wanted me to read, I wouldn’t. When the doctor wanted me to answer the questions, I kept my mouth shut. There have been a lot of those kind of occasions in my short life. It was fun pretending that I couldn’t understand. It is amazing what you can get away with if people think you aren’t responsible.

On one occasion I was given a new watch to replace the one stolen from me in class. Now, how did that story get started I wonder? It is funny how no one thought to question whether I had even come to school with a watch in the first place. Of course, Jackie’s necklace and Susan’s pencil case containing the locker keys disappeared on the same day. Mr Jones said it was easier to put all of the items on one claim together and when the money arrived he even took me out to the shop to choose my “replacement”. It’s funny to think about it now because I found the box a couple of months back. It was a bit stinky from the ground but inside were the items just as I had packed them all those years ago. It made me a bit nostalgic for those days.

Anyway, the whole point is that people just make assumptions when they think they know about you. The trick is to convince everyone that you don’t know what you are doing. You can be really bright but you can still act stupid. After all, I have been getting away with it for ages.

At first, I refused to do what everyone else did. This made me very popular at school. It is amazing how everyone loves the baddie. I got away with it for a while because, let’s face it, a blonde haired blue eyed cherub doesn’t normally hide devilish horns in her curly locks. You could ask Mr Peters, if he weren’t locked away for a little misconduct with one of his young pupils. Now that wasn’t a very bright man. He should have looked at me a bit closer and he would have seen that one day I would repay him for calling me a tricky little bitch. In fact, you could say that he had it coming to him. I bet he does think that I am a tricky bitch now. It is amazing what a few torn clothes and tears will do if they are delivered in the right way. Poor old Mr Peters. I could almost feel sorry for him.

Anyway, that was in the time before my face changed. I guess that I was about nine or so when suddenly people stopped smiling at me. I kept checking myself in the mirror to see whether I had suddenly developed some awful feature which spoilt my looks. Whatever it was I couldn’t see it. After giving it some consideration, I decided that my face must be giving me away. Instead of seeing innocence people were seeing something else. It didn’t take me long to figure out the answer.

Diversionary techniques. Something I read about in one of the magazines left lying around in the common room. All I had to do was figure out what other people would find so disturbing that they wouldn’t look too hard at the rest.

Now, I can’t pretend that there aren’t times when I really would love to finish a meal and know that it was there forever, in the receptacle provided by nature for absorbing all of the goodness. It would be easier and certainly less painful. At first I tried refusing food all together. Well, that didn’t work, did it? I had to save that little trick for when I was old enough to refuse the force feeding. Then I learnt that a quick trip down the hall after a meal was all that was needed to start to shed some pounds. That was also something I read about in a magazine. It’s amazing how much you can learn from something which seems to be written for the uneducated.

Well, all of that was a number of years ago now. You could say that it has become a way of life for me. But as I said, I am clever. This type of deception would not work if I didn’t show signs that I wanted to get better. Make sure that you take note. You can not do this if you don’t dangle a little carrot in front of them. Not often, but just enough to make them think they are winning. This little technique makes them want to like you. That way they will forgive any little misconduct.

Believe me, I am an expert in this. Normally, I don’t get caught and am able to hide those items which, although not originally mine, become part of my treasure chest, buried like that of a long dead pirate. Most of the items are not valuable to me but their owners suffer terrible distress when they disappear. That does give the day some entertainment when I am bored. No one has come close to guessing about my hidden treasures. No one except Mr Peters that is and as you know he is a guest of her majesty.

This new one though, he is clever. I think that they must have brought him in from another unit. Someone threatened that a while ago, during one of my bad phases. They said that they would bring in someone who may understand me. Someone who could get through to me. He doesn’t seem to be disturbed by my waif like arms or my skeletal face. He hasn’t asked me one question about my eating patterns or how I get rid of it all when I am so closely watched. He just sits. Sits and waits. Asking the same question time and time again. The one question that I can’t answer. The one question that has disturbed me so much that I feel like telling him the truth. And, you know that I can’t do that. You understand, don’t you? There is just no way that I could ever, ever in my whole life, explain why.

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