by Madeline Laughs
I have never felt this boggled before in my life. I have no idea of where the lies stop and the truth begins. So many different stories, all neatly weaving the same details into each, and yet none of them make any sense to me anymore. Who am I to believe? Who am I to trust? Where can I go to share my stories and know that they are heard and understood for what they all are…the truth.
In all my life I have never had a problem telling the truth. When I am put to the task of lying, I just don’t say anything. It’s no wonder I have a problem understanding when someone lies to me. Small lies, big lies or white lies, they are all the same to me. They are all unnecessary life sucking bullies.
It takes so much energy to create and maintain the lie. Where do people find the time? The truth costs you nothing at all in time or thought. You just tell it, live by it and you’ll find your days free to do whatever you wish to do with them…except lie about them.
What did I miss?
This new lie, the one that has me flummoxed, bamboozled, feeling hoodwinked and all of those lovely words that are so much fun to say, was a doozy. In a dozen million years if you had told me I’d be on the receiving end of this gargantuan aspersion I would have called you a liar! No way in my world would I ever fall hook, line and sinker for something of this magnitude! But here I am, completely and utterly taken off guard and floored, rooted to the spot, wondering…what did I miss?
The guile rained down upon me and the facts peppered within each conversation were numerous and carefully delivered. From the haircut to the shots it was all prepared like a gourmet meal fit for a movie star and I sat at the dinner table and savored each and every morsel I was served by the tuxedo clad butler with the pencil thin mustache. “Would you like second helpings maam?” Well, of course! If the seconds taste even half as good as the firsts then by all means! Fill my plate with a heaping helping pile of more, more, more! I ate and I ate and I ate until my tummy bulged with the satisfaction of knowing that I was being fed the loving truth by my loving friend.
It wasn’t until a few days later that I felt the first stirrings of indigestion. They were small bubbles of bad taste rolling across my palate and into the atmosphere around my head, but they were heady with deceit. No, no, no, this couldn’t be the honest truth, could it? Perhaps I should speak with someone else dining at the table with me that night? Maybe they are not feeling so well either? Has someone fed me lies?
Hours later I found myself prone with illness and sharing my aches and pains with the diner closest to me at the table. She was the one wearing the mask and using an assumed name because she couldn’t be seen blatantly dining out on a night when she was supposed to be preparing dinner for her family. I moaned in pain and she giggled at my distress because her stomach rumblings were merely a burp or two and not so hard to pass along as mine seemed to be. “Oh, but he’s fed us the same!” I proclaimed. And she giggled some more. “No, that he has not. He tricked you with poison, but I know better than to take anything he serves with such seriousness. Besides the meal wasn’t all that great.”
Why did I eat so much of it? How did I not see the writhing snakes of deception? What did I miss?
I roll over to see the face of my logical and grounded friend. She did not come to dinner that night, but she did order delivery. She smiles at me and asks me how much it hurts. I start to cry. How can I tell her how much it hurts to be lied to? Are there words to even describe the pain I feel at this very moment?
She pats my head and coos words of comfort. She knows all of my stories. She has listened to me from the beginning and offered songs of wisdom and encouragement. I have felt her hand between my shoulder blades gently nudging me forward towards happiness that both of us could clearly see in the distance. “I am sorry that he has lied to you. I don’t have any clue why he would, but you must be brave now until this meal is fully digested before you can know if it will kill you, or make you stronger.” I just don’t know if I have the patience for this.
Even as I sit here today processing everything I have learned, I find that I still have questions about what has happened. The lie sits heavy in my gut now and it makes my clothes fit funny, but I continue to get dressed every morning and go about my day. I ruminate about past talks and can smell the heat from the many meals of before just as crystal clear as if they had occurred moments ago. I close my eyes and envision what your face looked like and how your lips formed the words that have sent me into this tailspin. “I’m all packed” is one of the last things I remember hearing before the door slammed in my mind. All packed and ready to go was what you were, but you never left the building.
My fears will not be soothed and my questions will go unanswered because I have missed something served during the elaborate seven course meal. Some nuance, a particular flavor, perhaps something salty and then sweet and easily ignored. I did not miss it because you didn’t serve it. It was there. I missed it because I wasn’t paying attention. By the time I knew I had been sold down the river you were long gone in your own mind and may never return to me here in the reality of real life.
My questions will remain my questions because you do not care enough about me to answer them. I am not the easy way out. I am work and challenge and all things you are too lazy to fulfill. It is so much better for you to sit in the dark of despair and loneliness bemoaning your lack of status and your empty purse than it is to rise up with the sun and meet your destiny head first. Is it so much better to hide away from the beauty of the day than it is to relax under the shade of a tree dappled with moonbeams? Is the glare of the computer screen so much more desirable than the offer of fresh air and friendship?
I guess so.
I am left to ask myself what I desire as truth from you and I can’t come up with a single request. I am devoid of emotion having cried this out for days on end and can find no words to convey what I ever wanted from you, if I ever wanted anything at all.
Perhaps I wanted respect. To be treated like someone that mattered in the scheme of things. Maybe that’s it. I could ask you for the same sentiments you shared just a short month ago. I could ask to be the bright spot, the honored friend, the person that means something no matter what the weather brings. The ketchup and fries served on a silver platter garnished with sprigs of parsley and lemon wedges.
I sought the truth and the truth was as ugly as I have ever seen in my life. Even when partial bits of it lay next to me on the sofa where I printed them out and poured over them for one mistake to prove I was wrong, I knew the truth. Digging deeper in the stack of lies I needed something more concrete before I could finely rest in knowing I hadn’t lost my mind. That the growing lump in my gut was nothing more than the taint of bad meat served up with the gusto of someone caught in their own webs of self loathing that they didn’t care enough about me to make sure I got out of the way before the spider sunk in it’s fangs.
I relied on you to separate the fact from the fiction. Who, but you, can make life changing decisions based on the flighty fancy of a fantasy? I asked nothing but honesty of a friend that might love me unconditionally and you gave me only what you believed to be the truth. I understand that now.
It is up to me now to figure out what I missed and to decide if this small morsel left behind on my plate is enough to keep me alive for all my days. I keep starring at it wondering what will happen if I douse it with water. Would it expand past the edges of my dish like a thirsty sponge or would it just sit there and be wet? It doesn’t look very appetizing after the plate of lies still moving through my system. I remember the first ones being delicious and I never noticed a single twinge of regret. But I never knew they were lies then. I push the bite around with my fork like someone pretending to eat, but touching nothing on their plate. I stab it slowly and bring it to my lips. My hand pauses slightly in midair, like the refueling of an airplane, and I wait for the moment to tell me what I need to do. Once I am committed to swallowing yet another lie, will I be doomed to feign ignorance forever? Are you worth it?
Do I even love you enough, my friend, to stop looking for what I missed?