In Which The Fabrication Remains On The Body Somewhere

Tell Me A Lie

by LINDA EDDINGS

Q: You came back to Chicago.

A: I don’t know how he knew I was in town, but he did.

Q: You were reluctant to go back with him, to his apartment.

A: He told me he wanted to talk. When he said it, I realized that was what I wanted, too. He didn’t look like himself, had put on weight. He mentioned it and explained he had given up smoking. I can’t explain this, but it felt like someone was watching us.

Q: Did you feel pity?

A: I tried to. He was telling me about his last girlfriend. She had probably had things on the walls, before she left. I said, why did she leave?

Q: There is a myth that smoking reduces the appetite. It isn’t true. The act of taking drugs simply mitigates the pleasure we take from food, in contrast.

A: His mother — when he was a boy — had tied him to a chair when he wouldn’t eat.

Q: Did you check on the story? Do you know if it was a lie?

A: That doesn’t matter.

Q: I had a boyfriend who was a pathological liar. Eventually I realized when he told a lie he always touched a dimple above his eyebrow.

A: I think a dimple specifically refers to a cheekbone. Anyplace else, it’s a twitch.

Q: In that case, your eye is twitching. But since I always knew when it was a lie, it meant he could no longer effectively lie to me.

A: You told him.

Q: No. Our connection was mostly physical anyway. To make him conscious of his tell would be to make him into an effective liar. Since no woman willingly tolerates that for long, I would have been dooming him to certain unhappiness.

A: So?

Q: We hold the fate of others in our hands. To pretend it is not so…

A: In his apartment, I felt a keening despair. He had nothing on the walls, nothing at all.

Q: That is the mark of someone who is easily distracted from what he should be doing, who could rationalize anything.

A: I know.

Q: Yes, that was good.

A: He said that it was because she knew he loved me. There was no point in competing with that.

Q: He was probably telling the truth there.

A: Do you know when I lie?

Q: Do you know when I lie?

A: I used to think I did. You have become subtler in the years since we began this. I don’t see you as a human. You know what I mean. I see you as a useful, kind, giving abstraction.

Q: You did it there. That kind of blithe summary.  Weak people – your ex, maybe – are addicted to that sort of thing.

A: His father was abusive, also. When he attained some corporate rank at his firm, his father’s first question was, “Why aren’t you a partner?”

Q: Don’t change the subject.

A: This was the subject.

Q: I meant, don’t change it again. I do know when you lie, sometimes. At other times, I don’t have the slightest idea.

A: You should look for a tell. It was lucky I could see it in his face. Usually the lie is on the body somewhere: the crossing of a legs, cracking of a knuckle, shifting of a tailbone.

Q: I realized what was happening in the apartment. His girlfriend was watching you. He had to prove something to her?

A: Yes.

Q: Were you angry?

A: No. I felt I deserved it.

Linda Eddings is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Brooklyn.

Mixed media by Ching Ching Cheng.

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