TGL Volume 5, Chapter 18 (3)

“You’re not going to attack them and take their resources?” 

Auntie Ilya’s game taught me a lot: for example, you can’t trust everyone. I don’t know if I really believe people when they say my mommy is the vice-sect leader of the sect anymore. She has a lot of free time. Auntie Ilya is always working even though she has ten different brains inside her head, and Big Sis Mirta never stops work unless her legs are bitten off by plants—but that only stops her for a day. Unlike them, my mommy has a lot of time to take care of me and watch me while I play games. Should I ask? I’ll put the game down for now. Once it’s down, it’s paused. “Mommy, what is it like being vice-sect leader?” 

My mommy blinked at me. “Where did this come from?” Her brow furrowed as she stared at the disc I had put down. “If you’re curious, no, we don’t regularly attack people for their resources.” 

Avoiding the question. That’s a sure sign of lying. Is my mommy really lying to me? Is she really not the vice-sect leader? 

“Sophia?” my mommy asked. “What’s wrong?” 

“You’re lying to me about being the vice-sect leader.” 

My mommy blinked again before her mouth tightened into a scowl. When she looked at me for a little longer, her shoulders slumped as she sighed. “What did Sister Ilya say to you this time?” 

“She didn’t say anything.” Mommy’s reaction doesn’t look like she’s been caught in a lie. While playing Auntie Ilya’s game, I caught a lot of people lying. Um, it’s a little harder to tell outside of the game without the help of text. “Things don’t make sense. If you’re the vice-sect leader, you’re supposed to be busy all the time, but you’re not busy at all. Tell me the truth. Did you lose your job when Mommy disappeared?” 

A dark expression appeared on my mommy’s face. “Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea letting you play this game,” she said. “It’s great that you’re learning how to question people, Sophia. In the world of cultivation, that’s a really important skill to have. However, you don’t need to doubt Mommy, okay?” She inched closer to me and hugged me to her side. “I’m the vice-sect leader of the sect still, and Sister Ilya is doing some of my work for me to give me time to take care of you. That’s why it looks like I’m not a busy vice-sect leader.” 

A reasonable explanation. That’s a sign of suspicion as well. What if Mommy is a really good liar? Good liars have reasonable explanations for everything you ask them. 

A sigh came out of Mommy’s mouth. “I think I’ll have to have a word with Sister Ilya. The number of betrayals and broken verbal agreements in this game is simply too high. It’s messing with your view of the world.” She climbed to her feet and bent over to grab the jade disc. “I don’t want you to grow up with the warped thinking that everyone is out to get you because it’s not true.” Mommy grabbed my hand, and she nodded at me. “I’ll drop you off at Mrs. Feathers’ place while I have a talk with Sister Ilya.” 

Mommy doesn’t know it, but if people ever find out I have the Divine Dream Scripture inside of my head, everyone in the world really will be out to get me. This game is good for me! It’s not messing with my view of the world at all. Um, I’m not going to stop Mommy from taking the disc back to Auntie Ilya. When I went to Auntie Ilya to get another jade disc to play the game because Mommy was using mine, Auntie Ilya stuffed a whole box of discs into my storage ring. I asked her why she had so many, but she told me not to question it. Auntie Ilya doesn’t lie to me; she just ignores my questions instead. Mrs. Feathers doesn’t lie to me either. I think she’s too afraid of being eaten by my mommy to treat me poorly. Speaking of Mrs. Feathers. “Hi, Mrs. Feathers!” 

My mommy let go of my hand. “Can you keep an eye on Sophia for me? I have to discuss things with Sister Ilya, and it might take a while.” 

Mrs. Feathers blinked twice before dipping her head and raising her wings, using her feathers to wipe her eyes. “But I’m working.” 

“You were taking a nap just now, don’t lie to me,” my mommy said and lifted me up, putting me on top of the library counter. 

“I’ll have you know, there aren’t any rules saying the librarian can’t nap while on duty,” Mrs. Feathers said and hugged me with her wings, dragging me off the counter and onto her seat on the other side which was a really plush cushion. 

My mommy rolled her eyes but didn’t say anything. She waved at me. “I’ll be back soon, Sophia, okay? I love you.” 

“Bye, Mommy.” And like that, my mommy disappeared, leaving Mrs. Feathers staring at the empty space Mommy left behind. After staring for a bit, Mrs. Feathers relaxed and fluffed herself up, settling her wings against her sides. 

“Alright, kiddo,” Mrs. Feathers said. “Did you beat that game yet?” 

“No, I’m still—” 

“Perfect!” Mrs. Feathers nodded at me. “You play your game, and I’ll continue doing my job.” Her head turned to look behind her while her body remained facing forward. Her wing rose up and covered her face without waiting for me to say anything. I always thought it but never said it out loud: birds sleep funny. They use their own backs as pillows. 

“My mommy doesn’t want me to play the game because she thinks it’ll warp my worldview. She thinks I’ll think everyone is out to get me.” 

“Well, isn’t that the truth? The world is out to get you,” Mrs. Feathers said. Her voice was a little muffled because her wing was still covering her face. “You’re still a child and a squirrel at that. If you’re not careful, a hawk could swoop down from the sky and eat you. You’re lucky though—compare yourself to a baby sea turtle, and you’ll see why. Then again, sea turtles still exist while squirrels were hunted to extinction, so maybe you’re not that lucky. Eh, you’ll be fine. Keep playing your game.” 

Sometimes, Mrs. Feathers says things that concern me.

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