I Started a Lie
Sheilah glanced around her bedroom as tears sprung to her eyes. She pinpointed the moment her world crashed. It all started with a fib; a little white lie, a lie of omission.
Sheilah turned on the radio, no longer able to bear the silence. The Bee Gees sang “I Started a Joke”, and the song hit her; it chided her. Disgusted with it, and herself, she turned it off and silenced the shaming tune.
She started no joke. She had stayed silent, then uttered a fib, which snowballed into a monstrous lie. Before she knew it, she was standing in the ring of fire caused by it.
The shame smoldered in her mind and stung the back of her eyes as more tears welled up and ran down her cheeks, like liquid smoke. Her ears burned and her chest rattled from the raging force of the lie.
If only I had shut the fuck up, she thought.
But ‘if only’ was too late. ‘If only’ was a dead wish in a dried up wishing well. That fib, that little innocent lie, why did she say it?
Even now, as she replayed the events leading up to that moment, as she lived with the consequences, she could not say what possessed her to fib.
The school expelled an innocent person. A person, a friend, unable to afford a permanent record tarnished by such a disgraceful expulsion.
Sheilah tried to fix it, to no avail. Those once unspoken words now boomed louder than her voice, which dissipated like ashes in the space between her and the school principal.
“I was afraid,” she said for the first time.
The realization smacked her right in the chest. It was fear, fear made her lie. But fear of what?
“Fear of these very consequences,” she said.
The silent bedroom replied with more silence until her sobs broke through it.
Sheilah lay down on the floor, rolled herself into a ball, and cried. The day turned to dusk, and night soon spilled its inky darkness over the world, and still Sheilah cried. The room darkened around her, but she noticed nothing.
“Sheilah,” a voice whispered, and Sheilah opened her salt-rimmed eyes.
“Sheilah,” the voice said again.
“Who is it?”
“You can still make it right,” the voice whispered. It pealed like heavenly bells.
“Tell the truth,” the voice said, and a loving touch warmed her shoulder, yet she saw no one.
“It’s too late!”
“No, it’s never too late to be truthful. Come, I will guide you. But first, I must apologize. I wasn’t there when you needed me, and this is the result.”
“Who are you?”
“You know me, I appear in adversity, and I am here now.”
Sheilah felt a soft kiss on her cheeks and arms that pulled her off the floor. In a daze, she grabbed her backpack, which held the crumpled, evidential truth. The loving, invisible fingers closed around her hand and guided her out the door. A resolute warmth flowed through her skin and into her tingling spine.
“Come now, let’s make it right,” the mellifluous voice sang in her ear.
“But who are you?”
“I am Courage.”