||I’m a cofounder of The Scintilla Project, along with the beautiful and talented Kim and Onyi. We believe that your stories make you who you are and we’re asking you to share yours. Interested? Learn more at scintillaproject.com and find us on twitter @ScintillaHQ.
prompt: what’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told? why? would you tell the truth now, if you could?
i gave him a kiss goodbye and walked the half a block to my driveway. it is all going to be fine and no one is going to know, i tell myself over and over. my mouth was already dry but this was going to be ok. I had to make sure it stayed ok.
i didn’t drive as a teenager. i’d taken the lessons but i wasn’t very good, my parents weren’t particularly interested in making me better, and i didn’t have the money for a car or insurance anyhow. i bought a ten dollar bicycle at a garage sale that got me around, and in my senior year of high school i had enough money to take local cabs sometimes. i started venturing out on my own frequently, and it wasn’t a big deal for me to spend a day or by myself.
but the summer before college, i also started dating a man who was twice my age. we worked together and he flirted with me always, and i thought it was a joke – we worked in a deli with a close knit group, we were busy and had to be in sync always, so you developed friendships. one weekend when my parents were going to be out of town, he proposed taking me out. i said yes. i never thought it would really happen. it happened. and it kept happening.
so this particular day, we went to the street fair a town over. i took a cab there and my parents thought i was going alone. as you may have already supposed, i was not, in fact, going alone. i met him and we spent the day browsing kitschy doodads and eating terrible food and going on rides and falling a little more in love, though i think i was still at the point where i believed this was a one month fling (it was not, in fact, a one month fling).
it was absolutely beyond imperative that my mother not discover this relationship. the one thing sustaining my will to live was going away to school, and i’d secured several scholarships to a decent private university two whole hours from home. if she caught me in this level of sneaking around, i would without question be forbidden from going to college. this was not an option.
i walked up the driveway and into the house, and nobody was inside. i heard music from deep in the backyard, and i found my parents floating around in the pool.
“why didn’t you take a cab home?”
“i did,” i reply, using every single ounce of strength i have to keep my voice from quavering. that’s sort of a lie, because i reserved some strength for trying my hardest to stop the heat from rising in my face.
“we didn’t hear a door slam.”
so here’s the deal. they thought something was up because i’d confessed that a boy who worked at the roofing place across the street from the deli had asked me out. i also truthfully told them that i’d declined. i hadn’t quite gotten to my reason for saying no – the fact that i was dating my thirty something year old coworker. you see how it all gets a little twisty? because of a longstanding policy of a lack of trust on both sides, they thought that i was sneaking around with the roofer – and considering what i was actually doing, this wasn’t a terrible thing for them to believe.
“i don’t know how you want me to prove it to you.”
“go get me the phone.”
fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck. shit is about to get real, and quick.
if you’ve never met a woman who will call the dispatcher at a taxi company and ask them if they’ve recently driven her daughter from sayville to bohemia, then you’ve obviously never met my mom, because this was her exact intention. my mother gives new meaning to the term “giving no fucks”, especially when it concerns me and lying. i walked back to the house, seeing my life’s purpose slipping away from me by the second.
there was the tiniest ray of hope and 80% it hinged on me developing a set of balls in twenty seconds flat. the other 20% depended on the kindness of a stranger.
i picked up the cordless house phone and quickly hit redial – if she suspected my plan, she might try this to catch what i’d be doing. but the last recorded call was my call to the cab company, for my pickup, so i was safe. i let it ring, the dispatcher answers, gruff and abrupt as always.
“hi. a woman is going to call you in a few minutes asking if you just did a pickup in sayville with a dropoff in bohemia. i need you to say that you did.” i’m not making a great case (or any case) for myself so far.
“what? did we?”
“no. she wants to make sure i was by myself and i wasn’t, i was with my boyfriend who she can’t know about. i ride with you guys all the time, and you’ll be saving my life if you do this.”
“so you want me to lie for you?”
“yes…” hold my breath.
maybe there is a baby jesus in heaven.
i breathe my thanks to my new savior and click off. walking back outside i am practically defiant in my stride, but i remind myself to tone it down, that i’m not out of hot water yet. she makes the call and my new best friend comes through. she’s clearly still suspicious, but since a complete stranger just corroborated my story, there’s not much she can say. i went up to my room, sat quietly, breathed in and out deeply. and this was the one time i ever got away (at least for a little while) with lying to my mother.
i don’t know if this quite constitutes the biggest lie i have ever told – i turned this prompt over in my head for a while before answering. but it did set the path for what would be my biggest series of lies, which was absolutely this relationship. it was born in nights i snuck out, on beachy cliffs of the north shore where he shouted to the stars how much he loved me. on highways driving too fast in a teal sports car at 3 am. leaned against the car after a 10pm movie, parking lot floodlights on us. pulled over on the side of the road because we never wanted to say goodbye. all of it, at the time, secret. it got out, eventually, and that’s a story for another day…