Another one for the S-Project
The Truth About Lydia’s LiesLydia lied fluently, habitually, mellifluously. Lydia lied as easily and as effortlessly as she breathed. Her lies were totally believable, and totally unnecessary. She never knew why she started telling lies, but it had gotten to be such a habit that she did it incessantly.
She couldn’t remember the first lie she’d ever told. In fact, it was probably nonverbal. Perhaps she’d stolen something off her brother’s plate and stuffed it into her mouth; when he’d slapped her angrily, she’d stared, wide-eyed, at him, and then broke into watery-eyed howls of indignation. Her parents would have rushed into the room and seen the red mark on her cheek and punished him despite his protests. Yes, her first lie was probably something of that nature, she thought.
Astounded at how easily she got away with that, she moved on to bigger tales. She learned just what to say to whom. People were so gullible, and almost no story was too over-the-top. In fact, she realized that the more outrageous the story, the more willing people were to believe it.
Lydia even lied when she went to confession. Not out of guilt, not at all. She felt sorry for the priests, having to listen to the same old boring things all the time. She wanted to give them something interesting to hear. So she made up exciting stories for them, with the end result that she was given extra penance (which she gladly did).
She looked on her facility with lying as her special gift. Some people could sing, some could write books, and Lydia could lie.
But then she met Francisco.
Ah, Francisco! He was the most guapo man she had ever met, with deep brown eyes that melted her insides and turned her steely heart to warm goo. He had very firm opinions about many things, and honesty was one of them. He didn’t know about Lydia’s lies—no one did—and he was as much in love with Lydia as she was with him. And he proposed to her one sultry romantic evening, and she said yes of course and wept salty sweet tears of joy.
But her insides were squirming. Francisco did not approve of lying. So that night as Lydia lay in bed, she made a firm resolve that she was not going to tell any more lies.
As fate would have it, she overslept the next morning. When she opened her dazzling eyes and saw that it was 8:23, she smiled dreamily. Today I will tell my boss that … she began to plan her alibi. But then she remembered. No lies. An hour later, she stood penitently before her boss’s desk, hanging her head.
“I am sorry, Charles,” she said. “I overslept.”
He stared blankly at her. “What?”
“I overslept this morning. Francisco proposed to me last night—see, here’s my ring—and I was so happy, and we stayed up so late, and then I just overslept.”
Charles sat back and laughed.
Lydia looked at him with amazement. “What’s so funny?”
“You are,” he said, still laughing. “C’mon, Lydia, what really happened?”
“I just told you.”
“You overslept. Please. Nothing that banal ever happens to you.”
And no matter what she said, he would not be convinced. Finally she just left his office, shaking her head. Throughout the day, he came to her desk three or four times, trying to pry the truth from her, and she kept insisting that she just overslept, and he still would not believe her.
When Lydia got off work that afternoon, she picked up her sobrina, Alicia, who was going to spend the night with her. On the way to Lydia’s apartment, she drove to a touch-free carwash.
“Tía Lydia, how does this carwash work? There aren’t any brushes.”
“Oh, mija,” Lydia said, “the force of the water pressure washes the car. And then after the wash is finished, then a giant vacuum-like thing passes over the car and kind of sucks up all the water to dry the car.”
Alicia looked reproachfully at her aunt. “Tía Lydia, why are you telling such fibs?”
Lydia looked surprised. “I’m not fibbing, mija. That’s how it works. Watch, darling.”
And Alicia watched, and saw that it was exactly how it works. “Lo siento,” she apologized.
When Lydia and Alicia arrived at the apartment, they immediately began to prepare dinner, because Francisco was going to come dine with them. Lydia had a savory pot of moros y cristianos waiting in the crockpot. She and Alicia made fresh corn tortillas, a crisp green salad, and, because Alicia begged so hard, a layer cake with thick fudgy icing.
Francisco arrived about 8:00. When Lydia opened the door, she greeted him with a kiss.
“Mmmm, it smells wonderful in here! Hello, small-fry,” he said, smiling at Alicia. “What’s for dinner?”
“Black beans and rice, salad, and cake!” Alicia said excitedly.
“Well, let’s eat, then!” Francisco said.
And eat they did. The food was as delicious as it smelled, and they had a good time. Afterward they cleaned up the dishes together, because Francisco was a very thoughtful man.
“I’ll put the movie in, sweetheart,” Francisco said. “Where did you put it?”
“The movie?” Lydia looked at him blankly.
“Yes, the movie.” Francisco said impatiently. “You were going to stop at the store and pick up the movie that I asked you to buy, remember?”
Lydia thought back. She could not remember him asking her to buy a movie. When she said this, he got a little angry with her.
“Of course I asked you to buy the movie. You told me that Alicia wanted to see it, and I asked you to pick it up for me.”
She timidly said again that she didn’t remember him saying any such thing.
“Of course I did!” he said even more impatiently. “Do not lie to me! You know how I hate being lied to!”
Lydia burst into tears.
Alicia looked as if she might do the same thing, staring first from Lydia to Francisco, and then back to Lydia.
Francisco looked ashamed of himself. He took Lydia in his arms. “Sssh, sssh. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
Lydia managed to calm herself down. She rested her head against his broad chest. As she struggled to stop her tears, the little voice inside her head said See what happens when you deny your gift? She had to agree with it.
“You’re right, darling,” she told him, drawing Alicia into the embrace. “I promise I’ll never lie again.”