I’ve been working on this book I told you about. In fact, I’ve finished and refinished a draft (so, two, collectively). I’m going to share an excerpt here, for your eyes, and would love your thoughts. Do you like her? Would you want to read more?
IMPORTANT: This is a YA novel… my first… and a very early draft. In other words, be kind 😉
(Not that I think you won’t. But my, my, how insecurity shines strong!)
This is the opening. Her name is Quinn Ann Conklin. And she’s kind of a mess.
The truth is, everybody lies. I just happen to know how much I lie.
I’ve told 5,342 “lies” in my life. I know this exact number because I keep a detailed record of each one. When I do the math, over the course of eight years, it breaks down to roughly 1.72 lies per day. That’s basically nothing! If you really think about it, 1.72 lies a day is a blip on the radar. Say telling a lie takes one minute. Out of the one thousand, four hundred and forty minutes in each day, 1.72 of them is a lie. 1.72 of 1440! Nothing! Most lies don’t even take a full minute! They just slip out of your mouth like bacon grease from a hot pan. This lie to truth ration is especially blippy because most of the lies I tell are stupid and pointless. They’re the kind of white lies that get you through the day without any confrontation or drama. I hate confrontation and drama. So I started keeping a record of my lies when I was nine years old. You know, to cover my ass. The decision to document lies came shortly after I told a lie that hurt someone. This is how I documented my first lie:
- Lie #1: “I hate you.”
- Told to: Mom
- Conditions: Mom wouldn’t let me sleepover at Hannah Sofey’s house because Moira, my little sister, had just been born. Like, the same day. But then Mom looked sad, and said, “I hope you’re lying.” I couldn’t stand the thought of making Mom sad. I told her, “I love you but that right now you’re being really mean.”
This isn’t the actual wording in my documentation. At nine, it probably looked something more like this.
- Lie #1: “I hate you.
- Told to: Mom
- Why I lied: Mom wouldn’t let me sleepover at Hannah Sofey’s house.
Actually, I don’t know if that’s true either because I’m fairly positive that at nine, my knowledge of proper colon use was relatively limited.
Here’s what really happened.
Mom and Dad had just come home from the hospital with my baby sister Moira. Everyone was oohing and awing over the new baby, and I wanted to spend the night at Hannah Sofey’s house because Hannah Sofey and I were besties and Mrs. Sofey had just bought her a new gaming console. I asked my mom if I could spend the night but she said, No. So I told her, I hate you, which was obviously a lie because who really hates their mom, right? I took it back as soon as I realized it hurt her feelings. The look on her face said everything. Mom, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it. She opened her arm to me, the arm that wasn’t cradling her brand new human, and pulled me in close. I remember the scent of new baby, sickeningly sweet and pungent and soft, warm, with the traces of sadness that accompanies the shift from only child to sibling. I know you didn’t mean it honey, she said. The lie was absorbed back into the atmosphere as quickly as it had slipped from my lips, but the seedling idea that some lies can hurt people was planted in my brain. I never wanted to hurt anyone and I wanted desperately to be liked.
But then fear of hurting people morphed into a fascination with the idea that lies do hurt people and that I might be able to control how people react to me. I also knew that lies could help people, like the time I told a teacher that I ate Stella’s homework because I knew that Stella forgot her homework at home. Stella is my best friend now, and I still would eat her homework if it helped, we have that kind of friendship. But I was nine then, when I first started documenting lies. I figured documenting all the lies I told would help me to prevent 1) unnecessary pain and suffering 2) people from hating me and 3) me from telling lies so awful that I would get an L branded on my forehead for being a Liar. Also, of note, I was obsessed with journaling and convinced that I had something important to say. Classic nine year old.
My Book of Lies caused relatively little trouble throughout my life. I’m exceedingly organized for a 17 year-old girl, and color-code and tab the majority of important, current, and ongoing lies for easy referencing. Rarely do I encounter what I call a “slip-up.”
Here is a brief glossary to help you understand the different notations in my lie book:
Slip up: When I do something stupid and am not paying attention and tell the wrong lie, or mush lies together, or tell the truth where I should have or already have lied.
EOL: End of lie. When a lie comes to it’s natural death and won’t be questioned or brought up again. A lie’s lifespan is super unpredictable. Regardless, I’ll un-tab it in the book if I think it’s EOL. Then it disappears into the Abyss of Mistruths.
The Start: The first day of the rest of my life where I only tell the truth and everything is perfect. Forever.
This glossary thing idea is dumb. Also, those are pretty much the only three terms that matter.
In the event that a lie is EOL, I remove the tab, and if enough stickiness remains, I reuse the tab. As much as I tell stupid white lies, I honestly care for the environment. My environmental stewardship is outlined at great length in numerous college application essays and is a source of great pride for me. But I can understand if you’re having trouble believing me. I did start by telling you about what a liar I am.
So I’ll tell you the whole story, the story of how lies turn into truths, how truth can be just as damning as a lie, and how love can crack you open and cook your brain like Sriracha doused eggs on hot asphalt. It’s all looks really corny when I write it down, but oh well. Here we go.