I’ll be honest. I’ve told some whoppers in my time. In fact, one particularly distasteful lie from my past proves that I am not immune to the temptation of the lie.
I was nine, maybe ten, a latchkey kid that sometimes came home to an empty apartment on the fourth floor of a South Bronx, New York tenement building. Dad worked night shift at a cab company, and Mom worked days at a thrift shop and didn’t come home until six-thirty.
My school, PS27, was a block and a half from our apartment. Often I arrived home long before my two brothers did from their respective high schools. They rode buses, and I walked. Sometimes, for whatever reason, my Dad wasn’t home, and I was alone. And scared.
Noises frightened me: the refrigerator compressor coming on, Cindy our dog barking at nothing…or something? the cat staring into space and being frightened by… what?
I was terrified of being alone. But, how could I tell my parents my fears when I knew they both worked to keep us afloat financially?
One day, Cindy barked wildly at the door, hackles up. I looked out the peephole and saw nothing. With a clear view to the apartment across the landing, and a partial view of the stairs to the door that led to the roof, I figured Cindy was mistaken. Still, I was shaken. When my parents and brothers came home, I fabricated the lie of all lies.
I told them that while I was alone, a man appeared at the kitchen fire escape. Describing him with the minutest detail, I explained that he had tried to get in through the window.
Needless to say, my parents were distraught. My father called his friend who worked at the Bronx’s 50th police precinct department. Soon, the policeman friend was at the apartment gleaning information from me. The lie became elaborate. I then described the fictitious man’s clothes: red plaid shirt, jeans, dark hair, etcetera.
The cop made phone calls. My parents paced, and I saw the turmoil in their faces.
In a whirlwind of emotions, I couldn’t take it anymore, went and lay down in my bed, and cried.
Soon, my great Aunt Irene (my mother’s aunt), whom I was named after, came and sat on the side of the bed. “What’s wrong, Renie?” she asked. The love in her voice made me cry all the more.
“I lied. There was no man on the fire escape. I’m just scared to be alone, that’s all.”
With tenderness and understanding, my great Aunt Irene took me in her arms, kissed me, and told me everything would be all right. I doubted it. I’d lied, and caused a great deal of concern and commotion as a result. But, Aunt Irene loved me. She smoothed everything over.
Soon, my father’s policeman friend left. Aunt Irene went home.
Later, my mother came and asked why I didn’t tell her how afraid I was to come home to an empty apartment. I began to cry once more and told her I understood how hard she and Dad worked to take care of the family, and I knew I was safe as long as Cindy was there to protect me, and the door was securely locked. I had no real reason for the lie. Except that I was afraid.
It took a long time to forgive myself for that lie. Afterward, my parents were more in-tuned with my need to feel secure, and made sure I was never left alone.
Lies. We all have reasons for them, don’t we? Almost everyone could forgive a not-so-honest, “You look nice in that dress.” But, there are lies we have a hard time forgiving, such the tangled web of deception used to cover well-kept secrets.
In my novel, Singapore Secrets, Julia Windsor, a Louisiana Senator’s young-adult daughter, runs off to Singapore to dodge the constant barrage of bodyguards and paparazzi caused by her father’s engagement to Hollywood sweetheart’s Kara Bordeaux.
Her father, who loves her dearly, hires Gabriel (Gabe) Davenport, a former Special Forces soldier to trail her, and make sure she’s safe.
Sparks fly when Julia meets fellow-American “tourist.” But will sparks be enough when Julia discovers Gabe’s true mission for being in Singapore? Find out in…