‘The dog was as big as a house.’
‘ A house… with an extension.’
She raised her eyebrows at me. I burrowed mine with deadly sincerity. I was horrendously serious; the dead giveaway was the metaphorical dagger I was holding to her throat.
‘A house, though? Are you sure?’
I leaned back and let my eyebrows resume their normal position. The dagger was retracted and fit back rather nicely into my backpack of doom.
‘Well… possibly not. More the size of a handbag, really. Or not. It might just have been regular dog sized, now I come to think about it.’
‘Regular dog sized?’
‘Yes, definitely regular dog sized. Definitely, definitely regular dog sized…’ with which I let out a short breath, ‘well maybe not, actually… it might have been quite small. Or there possibly wasn’t a dog at all. I tend to forget.’
My friend sighed at me and looked straight into my eyes. She hated me just a little bit. It was clearly because of my incredible capacity to be continually humorous.
‘You know the more exaggerations you do, the more likely it is that the Exaggeration Monster will come to your house while you sleep and eat you?’
I laughed. The kind of laugh that would make children’s eyes explode with terror.
‘That’s not true, and even if it were, I have some kind of hamster army as a back-up.’
‘You own one hamster.’
‘And that singular hamster shall lead a large hamster army, the likes of which this world has never seen!’
The cackle which followed might have been slightly over the top. The woman who owned the coffee shop certainly seemed to think so.
My friend and I parted ways, my eyebrows having made the rounds of my face had now ended up on my cheeks, not entirely sure what to do with themselves. My friend left to pursue her dreams of drilling people’s teeth open with instruments of torture, and I returned to my lowly but wonderful life of watching Bullseye on the sofa, on repeat. It was a worthwhile existence, peppered with periods of major excitement at Bully’s Prize Board, and several toilet breaks on account of the copious amount of bleach I had consumed for years, as a result of being seriously misled by an advertisement for brass instruments. I virtually had no stomach left, but I made up for this by watching more Bullseye. But that was another story.
On the way home however, I decided to put this Exaggeration Monster theory to the test. We’d all seen the papers: the blurry photographs of manic chugging of human flesh, always for some reason leaving the feet- probably on account of the toenails- something that is perfectly justifiable in my previous experience of chugging human flesh. With bleach. But then again, you can never believe everything you read: ‘All Pasties are Delicious’, being the obvious exception.
I walked into the Post Office and told the woman with the stamps that I had once consumed 87 hotdogs, and had been crowned ‘Queen of Hotdog Consumption’ at a small village in Mongolia. The woman in the Co-Op was also very surprised to hear that a beanbag had once molested me, and I won a very large compensation sum from Santa. The old Asian man in the sandwich shop was most delighted to hear that his sandwiches were the only reason I continued to exist, and then I called my mother and told her that I sometimes salivated milkshake and provided sustenance for malnourished pensioners.
Overwhelmingly pleased with myself and suffering from Bullseye withdrawal, I finally went home to my mansion made of solid gold and the skin of the cats I might have purposely trapped in the floorboards, and then ate the tastiest pasty I have ever eaten, from a bowl crafted from the finest porcelain, created by eunuchs in China, and sold for a moderate price at ASDA.
As I crawled into my bed of luxury and cheese-flavoured biscuits that night, I closed my eyes with the calm reassurance of safety suckling on my fingers. I knew in my heart that my exaggerations were the finest humorous gifts that had ever graced the face of the Earth, or the ears of the woman at the Post Office, who was coincidentally also the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, complete with a hearing aid and turquoise cardigan. Saggy, wrinkled breasts had always turned me on.
But then as the very last of my consciousness began to slip away, I saw it there, in the corner of my eye. The Exaggeration Monster! Huge, terrifying; my exaggerations spilled out of its orifices and choked me as it grew ever closer, all gangly and slimy. It smelled like Spanish drains and I trembled with fear and begged for my life. It towered above me with hair made from lies and skin weaved from all of the huge silences that had fallen when I had said something hilarious, but nobody had seemed to have quite understood how hard they should have been laughing. I closed my eyes and waited for it to eat my face.
Although it wasn’t all that bad, really. It was actually pretty small.