Marvin’s Gift

by Miranda Nugent. Shortlistee of the Best Novel Opening for Children or Young Adults competition 2022

I see things that other people don’t. Take Mrs Meakin’s tail, for example. It’s long and pink, just like a mouse’s tail, and it scratches along the ground behind her. She has whiskers, too, and I don’t mean the kind my Granny has. I mean proper mouse whiskers. They’re long and wiry and look like they’d ping back into position if you pulled them. Not that I ever have. That would be rude.

When I told Mum about Mrs Meakin’s tail, she laughed. She even said I was bonkers. But when she saw how upset I was, she said I wasn’t bonkers and that I was intuitive. I had to look that word up in the dictionary. It means I can feel things are true without actually knowing they’re true. She said Mrs Meakin was just like a little mouse, forever scuttling about, and so it was natural I’d think she looked like one.  

But when I rang Grandad, he didn’t say I was intuitive. He said I had The Gift. I sat by the front door every day that week, waiting for the post, dreaming about electric scooters. But it turns out that having The Gift is different from receiving a gift. If you have The Gift, it means you have a special talent. And in a way I suppose I do. 

Mrs Meakin’s tail was the first thing The Gift let me see. But I’ve seen plenty since. Below is a list of other things I’ve seen that other people haven’t:

  1. Jonny Clogs, the cleverest boy at school, can swizzle his head around 360 degrees like an owl. He has big round glasses and feathery brown hair. I wish I was as clever as him.
  2. Bernard, the neighbour’s sausage dog has long white fangs and tall, pointy ears. Everyone thinks he’s cute, but I can see he’s more wolf than sausage. I’m scared of Bernard. He gives me the jelly-wobbles.