I can weave a fabric of lies, rough and multihued, and no one else is the wiser; lies so plain, and so brightly told can look just like the sour, frayed hemp of truths so many thoughtless souls wear. But I never do a thing thoughtlessly; I can’t take a single breath without first making a careful calculation. I have been taught that a well-crafted lie is a thousand times more valuable than a bitter truth, and so why would anyone speak a true sentence? These days time is money and money is time and I’ll buy all the minutes I can get with curtains and cloaks and funeral shrouds of the most brilliant lies.
What we get isn’t what we deserve.
What we get isn’t what we deserve.
Maybe years ago, if someone had told me “he’s lying, silly girl, he’s a master of his loom and has never sewn anything but a falsity,” I would have shut my eyes, turned my hands over again, took a long sigh and forgotten the whole thing. Maybe I’d have ripped back the curtain, tore away the velvet that felt to me so much more like cheap dime-store velour and saved the day from all that was and all that was to come but then wasn’t all because I’d found the wizard, I’d found him out before his time.
But no one ever told me.
No one ever told me.
Not once did my mother slap me on the hand for telling a lie, use her razor-whisper voice behind closed doors when she knew I’d told an untruth. When what I said was right, she believed me. When what I’d said was wrong, she punished me. Lie or not, a sweet untruth was easier to swallow than a sickening slip of honesty.
I spent a few years perfecting my rights and my wrongs.
I spent a few years sorting through my memories.
It was nauseating at first, the moments of realizing; to look back and see through the closed doors, to recall exact wordings and pick them apart until they could’ve meant anything or nothing at all. But it wasn’t just the memories, clinging desperate and cruelly poignant to every synapse, every smell, each harsh season. I’d go through drawers and shelves and albums and chests and never find a single thing that didn’t drag behind it a stained remembering by the seam.
I thought maybe there’d be a time when I’d cleaned the filth of him out of every corner, when I’d never smash another spoon rest or rip to shreds another post-it note.
I thought maybe there’d be a time when I’d decide that truth was best after all, when I’d admit all of it or at least stop weaving new lies every hour.
Once you start, though, you can never stop. They breed in every cell of my mind now, conscious and not, and I can’t control them; they control me. I lied to my mother, yes, because I knew the lie she wanted to hear. I lied to the police man, yes, because my mother and father and their expensive lawyer were all there. I lied to my best friend, yes; because it was too late for the truth to make any impact.
I think I’ve forgotten what guilt tastes like.
I think I’ve forgotten what trusting feels like.
Was there a day when I took what I heard as reality, and never doubted those who said they cared, a world in which every hour wasn’t filled with note-taking and face-searching and meaning-breaking? Did I used to believe in black and white? I found their key one day, at the bottom of the junk drawer in our peachy-walled kitchen. It was caked with dust, and hidden below heaps of stiff children’s paintbrushes, snapped rubber bands, bent safety pins, and empty matchbooks. I glanced out the steamy window into the green-blue world of leaves and rain.
I looked back down at the fragile silvery skeleton in my hand.
I looked back at the fragile piece of dusty red construction paper in my hand.
After a moment, I shoved it under the bed with the rest of the memories I’d never made. If I kept telling myself I could rewrite the truth of time, maybe someday it would stick. Or maybe one day I’ll become so skilled at my dark, tragic sewing that it won’t take every sliver of my brain to keep my fictionalized life stitched together.
Maybe I’ll learn to lie to myself, too.
Maybe I’ll learn to tell myself the full truth, too.