Friday, April 17, 2015

Omissions are Lies Spelled Backward

He'd spent his life lying and/or omitting facts. When the day came, he knew he wouldn't remember the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth.

Rick's wife, Barbara, was fully aware of the omissions. It's said, the wife always knows. Doesn't she? Whether to act on the knowledge was the elephant in the room. Each evening she knew she smelled it. During the day, it occupied every moment at her desk. That cubicle grew smaller and smaller until she wanted to scream and bounce her skull off the grey, carpeted, 5-foot walls to lessen the pain.

They'd once been known as R&B. No one knew their house was singing only the Blues everyday.

Barbara heard the key in the lock and unmuted the television without looking up.


They spoke in shorter and shorter sentences at instead of to each other, lately. They'd edited communication right down to single words or no more than four.

"You eat yet?"
"Food's on the stove."

She heard his shoes hit the floor and felt it like they hit in her head as well. He stomped in his socks toward the kitchen, stepping on her heart.

Tonight is the night. I can't take it anymore! But what if I'm right?

"We have to talk." The most hated words in a couples' life came from the kitchen.

Like a dead man walking, she shut off the TV and walked to face her fate, their fate. Barbara gathered every ounce of dignity she had and never let her thoughts show on her face.

Oh, God! He said it first!  He beat me to it. Now, what? Now, what? Now...what?

"I haven't been at work. Remember when I told you that they were laying people off?"
"Yeah. I remember." She responded dully because she didn't remember. She didn't care as turned her back to him.

She couldn't see his slumped posture, the bags under his eyes, or the slight tremor of his hands. Was she aware of the catch in his voice? She'd stopped listening after the first few words.

"Then where have you been going everyday? I call you, I text you, and NOTHING! Who are you with? Tell me!" The composure was lost now. She heard someone screaming and realized it was her own voice. In a tiny room in her mind, another voice was calmly wondering when she began to sound so shrill. Despite the conflicting thoughts, she continued until she suddenly realized hers was the only voice in the room. He'd better say something! Why is he not saying anything?

Barbara's eyes were 20/20. Why only at that moment, turning to face him, did she see Rick standing there? Why hadn't she seen the tears forming in his eyes? Her hearing was that of a teenager's. Why hadn't she heard the fear and self-loathing? Why was Rick silent? Why did he, for the first time since she'd met him, look frightened?

Her fingers hurt from grasping the sink. She massaged them, actually wringing them, as she stepped towards him. Her voice softened. Her breathing fighting for normal.

She pulled a chair from under the table and sat, leaning forward. She was exhausted but knew what she had to do.

"Tell me everything. And, don't leave anything out."

He did.

"Now. Tell it to me backwards."

“The slickest way in the world to lie is to tell the right amount of truth at the right time-and then shut up.”
Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

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