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Liar

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“What was your favourite book when you were little?” a mother asks him at a convention, her son smiling up at him in adoration, probably seeing Tommy Taylor all grown up - instead of very much not extraordinary Tom Taylor, non-fictional human being and unhappy son of “Tommy’s” creator.

He opens his mouth to answer her question, but nothing came out - because nothing comes to mind.

You’ll always remember your first book, his father had always told him, even when he had just started to learn the first few letters of the alphabet. Stories are what’s important, Tom. You’ll see.

And back then stories were important to Tom. At a time long before his father’s obsession with books and stories had made Tom loath them... He hasn’t picked up a book in years and still there is all this knowledge about the history of literature, about classics, characters, authors, about scenes and settings, styles and narratives. But he doesn’t remember his first book, doesn’t even clearly remember the first story he’d loved as a child, apart from those he'd made up himself playing alone under his father's desk.

“I don’t remember.” He swallows, clears his throat, staring at the little boy, who is looking up at him with adoration - as if he really is Tommy Taylor, grown-up boy wizard. The mother is looking at him with a frown now, so he lies: “I don’t remember clearly, because there were so many books to love. I always loved Peter Pan - never growing-up and all. I loved fairy tales and adventure stories.”

The little boy smiles. “Like yours?”

He tries to smile back. “Like Tommy Taylor, yes.”

The mother seems happy. The boy seems even happier. Only Tom stays behind feeling like an impostor, the worst kind of liar.

People don’t like the true Tom Taylor, so he plays along when he can. He may not remember his first book, but he can never forget the story of his life.