Rules of Deception

By Zoë Crowest

People’s eyes glow golden when they lie; it’s quite beautiful. Sometimes only a brief flash, other times a lingering enchantment that intensifies as the deception grows.

“There were three of my special chocolates left this morning. Did you eat the other two?” I ask Harry, knowing my defiant son will deny it.

“No, Mommy, it was Otis!” he points to our elderly beagle, too deaf to respond to his name anymore. “I told him not to, but he wouldn’t listen.”

I smile, watching Harry until his irises return to their regular brown hue.

It’s how I knew Rebecca Thompson stole my pencil case in Year Three, but Mrs. Appleton refused to acknowledge the blatant evidence.

It was before I realized I wasn’t normal.

I watched my mom nod attentively as Mrs. Appleton aired her concerns regarding my ‘fanciful behavior’ after school that day.

I found the parenting book that encouraged imaginative play in the kitchen bin shortly afterward.

Even after I proved my ability to a psychologist, no one believed me. My obsession with identifying lies was rationalized as a by-product of acute anxiety. The medication I was prescribed didn’t stop people’s eyes from changing color, though.

Eventually, I taught myself to accept lying the same way I viewed people’s ability to listen – present in some conversations, but not all. I also considered it an insight into adulthood upon realizing deception becomes socially tolerated as one matures, fobbed off as a character flaw or necessary kindness.

It wasn’t easy. I resented knowing when I was being lied to because I was denied the naïve and gullible youth everyone else is granted. Friends couldn’t understand why I stopped trusting them, and boyfriends became frustrated when I didn’t believe their convincing protests of innocence.

Now I welcome the deception because it fascinates me.

My sister-in-law’s eyes perpetually morph into a kaleidoscope of golden shades. Sometimes the transformations are so subtle I nearly miss them; she works hard to believe the perspective she speaks from. Our conversations are geared towards celebrating her being the smartest student in her school two decades ago or commending her now being the top employee of her company. She has a husband who agrees with her on everything and an intellectually gifted daughter currently being considered for an international modeling contract. 

I can’t resist letting her convince me; her eyes are the most captivating I’ve ever come across.

My husband walks through the front door and scoops our son on to his hip, accepting as his work tie immediately becomes a toy.

I told him about my ability on our wedding night. I appreciated his vehement reassurance that he believed me and wished I had turned the lights off beforehand. I often wonder what it’s like to have blind faith in someone’s promise.

“What’s all this?” My husband points to melted chocolate smeared around Harry’s mouth.

I gesture towards torn wrappers beside the near-empty box of chocolate liqueurs.

“You’ve got a sweet tooth too? You’re definitely my son,” he chuckles.

“He sure is,” I reply.

“Mommy, why have your eyes changed color?”

Musepaper Story Prize #62

Currently residing in Australia, Zoë Crowest is originally from the UK, a Literature graduate of Exeter University. Upon realizing working life was sapping her of creativity, she began writing in 2019 and has been shortlisted and longlisted in several competitions. Zoë also enjoys competing in various sports with her dogs, Monty and Otis.

* Zoë is a Two-Time Musepaper Story Prize Winner! *

Musepaper Story Prize #62
Musepaper Story Prize #57

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