Snowcase #42 • 28 November 2007 • The SnowBlog

Snowcase #42

Shirley is a teacher turned writer, who loves French poetry, chocolate and cats. This is her first full-length novel, currently seeking a publisher. Honestly! How Do I Tell You? is a story about lies. Like placebo tablets, they make you feel better. After a lifetime of deception, Katherine wonders about revealing the truth. How Do I Tell You? Deep breath. That's better. Now just write the words. I am a compulsive and habitual liar. There, I've done it. Externalised the big secret and made it real. Fifty-odd years down the track, and I've confessed, owned up to the hollow heart of me, that lies fall from my tongue more readily than truths. They always have done, and I suspect they always will do. They fly from my lips like tiny birds in a blur of fluttering wings, blue, green, yellow. Like budgerigars, they chatter and hop and dazzle. There is no contradiction about admitting this truth. I'm quite capable of candour, when it suits me. Indeed, I suspect most people who know me would agree: I am entirely to be trusted, what you see is what you get, honest as the day is long. Although much of the time, it isn't, is it? Goodness, I feel light-headed. That wasn't as difficult as I'd feared. The burden of a lifetime, dropped with relative ease, and now my shoulders can relax. What a strange sensation. Makes me wonder why I carried the load for so long. Half a century telling lies. Of course, I'm not talking about the everyday fib, as in Do you like my new hairdo? Lovely, really suits you, which my mother used to call a white lie. Tactful, polite. The bad spookily become good, like white witchcraft. No. It's more the elaborate misdirection, to confuse the credulous and put them off the scent. You have to ask yourself how best to offer to others the opportunity to believe you. That is, after all, what they, to trust rather than distrust. As a teenager, I used to feel schizophrenic trying to maintain two identities, both of which were completely me but were often at odds with one another. People thought I was such a good girl, too. The words made me cringe. But I worked hard to preserve the illusion, until it became a self-fulfilling prophesy, so that as far as family, teachers, friends and neighbours were concerned, I really was a good girl. I appeared to conform, I epitomised the stereotype with which they were all so anxious to cloak me. After a lifetime of wearing that cloak, I wonder sometimes who I might have been, had not the shadow become the substance. To be a good liar, you have to be able to think fast, to think on your feet. You always look the enemy in the eye, without blinking, never mising a second or a heartbeat, just seamless, nonchalant continuity. One hesitation and you're done for. Literally. I've since thought I should have been an actress. Professionally, that is. At least I could have been paid for what I do so well. A problem occurs to me already, and I've barely started. Despite my earlier denial, I have inevitably set up a logical paradox, haven't I? If it is true that I always tell lies, then can anything I say be believed? Ah well, let the reader beware. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Author: Shirley Wright Email: shirley[dot]wright[at]blueyonder[dot]co[dot]uk


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