01 Jul These Are the Lies We Tell
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"These Are the Lies We Tell"Written by Micah Edwards
Estimated reading time — 3 minutes
The dog ran away today.
It’s an easy lie, a simple one. Believable. No one questions it. Everyone knows how dogs are. There’s some work to follow through on it, of course. Walking around the neighborhood yelling, whistling. Putting up posters. Fielding calls from people who claim to have seen the dog. Which they haven’t, obviously, but I have to play along for the kids. It’s sad to watch the hope flare and fade in their faces, but what’s the alternative? The truth wouldn’t make them any happier.
The dog ran away.
I’m cleaning the tools in the shed.
Barely even a lie, really. Omission, if anything. The shovel did need to be cleaned, and a dent hammered out of the corner where it struck a rock. And obviously the axe had to be sharpened. So why not give the other tools a once-over while I’m out there? It’s window dressing, but that’s important. Setting the stage appropriately stops people from asking questions, and that saves all sorts of trouble down the line. The less you say, the less you have to remember.
The stupid dog ran away.
I was out cleaning the tools in the shed.
Your mother and I aren’t fighting.
How can children understand adult relationships? Tension doesn’t mean two people don’t love each other. If anything, it means they love each other too intensely. It’s easy to shrug and walk away from someone you don’t care about. Much harder to see someone you love going down the wrong path. I am anything but distant, no matter her accusations. I am deeply invested in this family. I sacrifice to protect it. My honor, my self: I will give it all.
We’ll talk about getting another dog.
The lock on the shed is to keep you safely away from dangerous tools.
Your mother and I aren’t fighting, but she’s gone to stay with your grandmother for a little while.
Why do things get so complicated? Here, at least, is one designed to reduce questions. Everyone knows what “staying with her mother” is code for. Not the children, of course, but they still think that the dog ran away. Everyone else just sees me putting on a brave face. I think they respect me for raising the kids without her.
I didn’t want this. Everything I’ve done has been to protect this family, to keep it together. I don’t know why she couldn’t see that. I never wanted to be in this position. At least it’s winter and the shed won’t start to smell for a little while.
She’s taken the kids.
Condensing. All other lies fold into this one. There’s no one left to care about the dog, no one to ask about the tools. No one asks for details on this. It invariably gets a grimace and an awkward apology. Meanwhile, I can take a deep breath for the first time since the dog ran away. Funny how easily that line comes now. Even when I don’t need to say it, it’s just what comes to mind.
My time is my own again. Time to watch TV, time to work in the yard, time to dig holes without anyone asking why or what for or why don’t you pay attention to us. I pay so much attention! Everything is about you. Even this. Even now.
Isn’t family supposed to be about happiness and togetherness? We’re happier now, and we’ll always be together. She really was going to leave, you know. Tear this family apart. I couldn’t have that. I kept us together.
She got full custody.
That’s the dog’s grave.
Omission again. It is the dog’s grave. If you dig down, you’ll find the dog. I don’t know what kind of sick-minded person would dig into a dog’s grave, but you can never be too careful these days. People ask a lot of questions, stick their nose into other people’s business. So if you dig down, you’ll find a dog, and you’ll be ashamed of yourself and cover it back up.
Which means that you won’t dig a few more feet down to see what else might be there.
I’m not ashamed. I’m just not stupid. The world runs on polite fictions. These are the lies we tell.
Check out Micah Edwards’ collection of published anthologies and novella, now available on Amazon.com:
🔔 More stories from author: Micah Edwards
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