The Little Liar

Miss Jess was already her enemy, so perhaps she should have known better. The fact is, she did write a few lies into her story, but she would never admit that to the second grade teacher who despised her.

Her assignment had been to write about her recent Thanksgiving vacation. It was that simple. She could have stopped with the turkey, the cranberry sauce and the apple and pumpkin pies. She could have said she went to her grandmother’s house for the weekend and all her cousins were there. That was all true, but truth alone did not inspire her. She threw herself into the assignment with gusto.

Her grandmother’s house, an old farm house indeed, needed a farm to make it interesting. So she gave it fields of corn and beans. The old dilapidated barn was real, but she thought it would be better bright red, so she gave it a brilliant coat of paint. A nice red barn like that needed some animals to house. So she invented sheep and cows and goats and horses and a big pink squealing pig that needed to be fed by her and her cousins, one of whom had to fall into the pig pen for dramatic effect. She wrote in a tractor and a plow and parked them next to the barn borrowing those with no one’s permission from the real Corson farm down the road.

She handed in her story and waited for the accolades that were sure to follow.

Miss Jess peered at her over her giant coffee mug. She wiped her nasty wet lips with the back of her hand and began the interrogation.

“So you spent Thanksgiving with your grandparents?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Your grandparents on Route 9 in Seaville?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“You, Missy, are a liar!”

She noticed that Miss Jess had a face redder than the barn she had imagined into her story. She decided it would be best not to say anything more.

“Shame on you! Your grandparents do not have a farm. They do not have animals. They sell vegetables in a wooden stand outside their old house. I HAVE BEEN THERE!”

Miss Mess roared that last line so loud it probably scared all the animals on the farm. They were probably running for the barn right now so they could hide. The Little Liar stifled a giggle as she imagined her animals cowering in their stables.

The teacher was standing now, moving toward the Little Liar’s desk. To the delight of sundry class bullies the old ogre ripped to pieces the embellished story and tossed it at the little criminal who was now cringing at her desk, afraid she was about to be hit. She was sorry. She would not lie again.

Made to stay after school for detention that day the Little Liar wrote her assigned penance 500 times: “I will not tell a lie.” “I will not tell a lie….”

But – some offenders cannot be rehabilitated, no matter how humiliating the public excoriation, and how much pain her disgraced writing fingers suffered from all those remorseful scribbles. The Little Liar simply could not be saved.

Miss Jess left the school the next year. Rumors circulated that she gave up teaching to become a prison guard.

The Little Liar became a poet and a story weaver whose relationship to meticulous truth-telling remained tenuous for at least one hundred and eighty more years.

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Writing for my life; working for social justice; grateful for community.

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