A Life of Lies

“I have a confession to make. I never really…” this was harder than I’d thought it would be. I cleared my throat, the fingers of my right hand gripped tightly around the fingers of my left, and tried again, “Remember how I said I’d take care of everything, how I was making enough and had my savings,” I took a deep breath then blurted it out, before I could stop myself, before I could try to doctor it up, “I have to declare bankruptcy. Er, rather, we have to.”

The look in her eyes was gutting, I could see as she went from encouraging, her eyes clearly saying, “I love you, I trust you, you can tell me anything,” to confused, the way her eyebrows would come down and together wrinkling above her nose in a way she hated. Then, it started coming, the confusion was there, but in the background, like an afterthought, now front and center was anger tinged with disbelief, the eyebrows now in opposing positions, one up and one down, as though they were the two halves of her brain fighting for supremacy of her face.

“What are you saying, exactly?” she asked, “Are you saying we’ve run through everything or…?” she trailed off and I could tell that my next words would determine our entire future, I knew I had to be careful, but I couldn’t keep up the lies.

Sighing, I opted for the full truth, “I’m saying I lied. I’m saying, I didn’t have any real savings, I mean I had a couple hundred bucks, but not any real savings, and I was making decent money for a single guy, but…” I took a deep breath, “I’m saying, I wanted to give you what you wanted and I didn’t stop to think about whether or not I could.” Her face had taken on a tinge of color I’d come to know as “fury” and realized what I’d said had been misunderstood, I rushed in to clear things up, “And this isn’t on you, at all, that’s not what I’m saying. I just,” I ran my hand through my hair, shrugging and laying them out before me a universal gesture of “my cards are on the table, “I thought I could do what I said, I thought I could give you this life we wanted and I didn’t stop, not once, not the many times I could have to tell you it wasn’t working out, because I was just so determined I could do it. I didn’t tell you when I couldn’t keep up with the big bills, or when I couldn’t keep up with the small bills, I didn’t tell you when I knew I’d have to take on a second job or when I realized even that wasn’t enough. I was so confident I could rally, that I could find a way, that there’d surely be some outside intervention, and then there was, only it wasn’t what I’d been hoping for.”

She was still looking at me, which I figured had to be a good thing, but the emotions flying across her face were changing faster than I could keep up and I wasn’t at all sure that this would end well.

Her shoulders, which had slowly been tightening up, suddenly dropped. She closed her eyes and raised her hands to her cheeks doing this thing where she kind of rubs them a little, like she’s getting makeup off or trying to warm up her face or something, but I know that for what it is, she was buying herself some patience and keeping herself from saying the first words that came.

When she lowered her hands and opened her eyes, I saw that she’d made a decision, and instinctively tensed already sure of the verdict. So I was surprised when she said, “I can’t talk about this right now, I’m late.” She grabbed her keys from the sideboard, a jacket from the hook above it, and turned to the door. With her hand on the knob and her back to me I heard her say softly, but with enough power that she’d know I’d hear her, “I need to see it all. Everything. Write down every lie. Give me every bill and every bank statement. I want it all, everything, on the table by tonight.”

And then she was gone. I couldn’t even tell you what jacket she took or if she had her purse. I couldn’t tell you if she turned before closing the door to look at me. I hoped she did, no, no I didn’t. I didn’t want her to see my face. I was sure she’d know exactly what I was thinking, what I was feeling.


I knew, maybe from the tone in her voice, or maybe because she took that moment to rub her face, but I knew she would forgive me. More than that, I knew she was going to fix this. That’s what she did, what she does. She’s a fixer, and I knew she was going to take this on, take it over, make it right.

Everyone said I didn’t deserve her, and they’re right, I mean, they’re probably right, no, they’re definitely right. I don’t deserve her. I don’t even know why she stays with me, I mean, that’s why I’d been so quick to promise her I could do it, take on everything myself and give her the time and space she needed to try something new. To not worry about the day-to-day. I was confident that if I could give her that, if I could give her this thing she wanted that no one else had ever given her, that I’d seal the deal, that I’d somehow earn her.

But I’d messed it up. First with the lies, I mean how hard would it have been to just say, “I would love to offer you this, but I can’t right now,” or “you deserve this, and we’ll get to a point where you can have it,” or even “wow, that’s such a great dream you have and maybe someday we can make it a reality.” Anything. I could have said anything. And I went with a lie. And that was it, what do they say about lies, one lie begets another or something? Well, it’s true. I went with the whole macho thing, the whole let me take care of you thing, and it went from one lie to another lie to another. Sometimes in the same sentence. Definitely in the same sentence. It started with “I’m making enough and I have my savings.” Lies couched in truths so I could tell myself I wasn’t lying.

And now because of all those lies, because I not once considered sharing even a portion of the truth, we were broke, looking at being homeless, looking at being alone if she decided to leave me. I’d do anything to prevent her from leaving, like lie.

This #writethirtyminutes session was prompted very loosely from “A Year of Writing Prompts” by Writer’s Digest, available here

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