Alice T. Glass
Don't try to catch me in a lie. I'm faster than you'll ever be. It's because I understand the nature of lying, and because I'm fully aware of the fact that we all do it all the time. And because people like you don't believe you are lying.
Why do you think you believe some things are true? Well, there's all that stuff you learned as a child from your parents. It goes without question that all that stuff is true. Right? Then as you get older, you hear something once, and maybe you believe it. Or maybe you don't. Then you hear it again and again, until you've heard it so many times you decide it must be true.
Well, it's not true. Nothing is. And don't look to science to back you up. Even Einstein's Theory of Relativity is up for grabs. Even the Big Bang. None of it is true in the true sense of the word.
So what's a person to do? How can you make your way in the world if the truth is always shifting and drifting and dodging.
You'd better get better at lying. Why? Because when you understand that you are lying, it all becomes play. And then it's fun and not so confusing.
Take Alice, for example. When her father left her mother for some chick he met at the local thrift store, she figured out pretty quickly that she'd been living in a make believe world. Everything she thought was true went out the door with him that last time he slammed it. She was only fifteen. Pretty young to begin a career as an accomplished liar. (But then, maybe she wasn't really fifteen. Maybe I'm lying.)
The thing is, after her father left and Alice realized she'd been making everything up, she started working on her lies. At first, it was just to see if they would work. But after a few weeks, she realized there was power in her lies. Like the time she was on a trip to Oregon with her mother and she made rain. There were forest fires everywhere. It seemed like the whole world was on fire. Smoke filled the air so thick they could hardly breathe. Her mother started coughing and couldn't stop, so Alice said, "Let me see what I can do." She talked to the earth, calling it Mother Earth because that's what the Indians called it, and she talked to the sky, calling it Father Sky. She stretched her arms in the air and said, "Please. Make it rain. My mother needs rain." And it did.
She learned from that.
Next, she tried talking to the owls. They'd left their feathers for her in the park, so why not? She went out for a walk on a Sunday evening just as the light was turning pink and gold out over the ocean. She followed the dirt trail down to the bare-limbed eucalyptus tree where the owls liked to wait for their prey. She focused her attention and called out, "Owl. Owl."
She called again and again, but owl didn't come. She figured, maybe she'd lost her knack. She turned away and headed back up the trail. When she was halfway home, she felt the weight of something huge swoop down and almost hit her in the back of the head. As it flew away in front of her, she saw what it was. Owl. The biggest owl she'd ever seen.
After that, she believed in herself. She knew she could make up anything she wanted, and it would work, because her lies were just as powerful as any random truth. She made herself a nice job at a local restaurant. She went to the thrift store that had taken her father away and found all kinds of things she wanted on the shelves. She didn't even consider bringing her father back. She didn't want him anymore. He'd already taught her everything she needed to know.
Pretty soon, she came to think of her lies as magic. Lying had a bad reputation, and she didn't like to think about her gift that way. She never spoke about her skills, but she practiced them every day: she'd bring the bus early if she was in a hurry, or she'd make the phone ring if she was lonely.
Then one day, Alice reached deeper into her bag of tricks. She decided she needed a boyfriend. She went to the local Starbucks, bought two cappuccinos and went to wait for him at a small round table by the window. It was the best table in the place, with pale morning light shining in, like a spotlight, so she was sure he'd be able to see her.
When a boy come through the door with his soft strawberry blond hair and a sprinkle of sweet freckles across his nose, she knew he was the one.
She crossed her legs, let her sweater fall loose, and waited.
The boy hurried across the room to her table. Without asking, he sat down and said, "Hi."
"Hi, yourself," Alice said, using her breathy Marilyn Monroe voice.
The boy laughed nervously and almost knocked the coffee over with his elbow. "Sorry. I should have asked. Do you mind if I sit here?"
She just smiled and said, "I bought you a cappuccino."
He looked surprised, but not really.
They sat quietly sipping their coffee. He looked at her now and then, smiled, but then glanced away like he was shy and didn't know what to say.
Finally, Alice said, "I want to tell you about my father."
The boy looked confused, then he shrugged and said, "Okay."
"He's a wonderful man, my father. He has sparkling green eyes, just like yours, and the kind of smile that makes you, well makes me, feel like I'm the most interesting and precious girl in the whole world."
"Wow! You're lucky."
"I know. And my mother really loves him. You should see them together. They've been married more than twenty years now, and they're still just as lovey dovey as they were when they first met. I want something like that. Don't you?"
The boy looked at the door and then out the window. "It's kind of cold in here, isn't it? I think it's going to rain."
"It's not going to rain. The sun is shining. It's a beautiful summer day."
"I think it is."
Somehow, she had lost his attention. She tried to get it back with a question. "What about your dad? What's he like?"
The boy shrugged. "He's okay, I guess. He's fine. I never thought about it."
"Is that true?"
"Not really. He's actually an asshole." The boy's face flushed, and he pushed his soft hair back with the tips of his fingers. He looked at the door again and then up at the sky through the window. "What do you mean? Why do you think he's an asshole?"
He grabbed the edges of the table, like he was about to tip it over. "I don't know a damn thing about him. He left my mom. Three years ago . . . for some nasty girl he met in a thrift store."
Alice stared at him in disbelief. Was he lying? Had he somehow found out the truth about her father? She leaned towards him. "Have you ever been to the thrift store where your dad met that girl?"
The boy said, "Sure, I have."
"Really? Which one is it?"
"The one on Main Street, of course"
The one on main street? That was the same thrift store where her father met his girl? Alice glared into the boy's green eyes and said, "How do you know about that?"
The boy just smiled.
Alice jumped up, knocking her chair over backwards. Everyone in the room looked over.
The boy just sat back and smiled that same damn smile.
Alice ran out of the place.
The boy finished his coffee, and then he started on hers.
Huge raindrops pounded the sidewalk outside the window.
An owl flew in and landed on the back of a chair. The owl gave the boy a wink. The boy winked back.
Like I said, some people are just better at lying.
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