Pants On Fire

I remember what it felt like the first time I was lied to. I mean really lied to.

I was in first grade. Jamie (second grade) and I were waiting at a different bus stop than usual that week. My mom would drop us off at the house of a family friend for a short wait before we would walk with their kids to the bus stop at the bottom of the dip. I don't know why, because I wasn't the type of kid who asked those kinds of questions. I was the 'observe now, make sense of it later' type. In many ways, I still am.

By 'the dip' I mean the bottom most point of the deep bowl in the earth that was cross-haired by the road and the winding creek that was large and rugged enough for me to think it was a river. The bottom of this bowl was heavily treed, and we would wait for the bus in the south-east quadrant the road and the river created. There was a turn off from the road that ended in a loop where the bus would pick us up. In the middle of that loop was a little grove of trees.

I fancied that tiny first-grader sized forest to be enchanted, and so I would break from the pack and wander through its trove, kicking over rocks and running my fingers along the tall grasses, leaves, and the rough bark of the trees.

One fateful day, I found a treasure. It wasn't just something my imagination conjured for me, either. A real life bona fide treasure! It was a large, green stone. Translucent. The size of my fist - and it felt good in my hand when I wrapped my fingers around it. Looking back, I think it must have been a rock-shaped piece of green glass. But to my mind, then, I had found a magnificent emerald. Something that fell from a pirate's pocket as he fled, or perhaps lost from a royal treasury, or placed there by the fairy king himself - and I was now either blessed or cursed forever for finding it and putting it in my pocket!

That stone stayed in my pocket the entire day. My hand kept sliding into my pocket, unable to resist the feeling of those smooth, angled surfaces or the satisfying weight of it in my hand. I showed only my very best friend in the entire world, because loyalty dictates that such a find and all the consequences - be they dire or delicious! - must be shared in equal parts with one's very best friend in the entire world. She marveled at it appreciatively, and I let her hold it and carry it in her pocket for a while. To get the whole effect.

Recess came, and there was a lightness in my step. A daringness in my play. I flipped around those monkey bars as though nothing in the world could harm me - and for that short time, I believed nothing could.

But then, in music class, sitting across the circle from me was Marlayna. Marlayna was the sour-expressioned pretty girl that was a tad on the snooty side, yet always inexplicably popular. And Marlayna was holding my stone.

My hand darted to my pocket - my empty pocket! - and I stared in horror as Marlayna showed my stone to the two girls fawning over her on either side. She stroked its surface, and I bristled.

Now - it needs to be understood that I was a very shy girl in my youth. The thought of speaking to Marlayna at all was a frightening prospect. But seeing my stone in her hand spurred me forward with a courage that wasn't my own. Intimidation welled within me, threatening to swerve the course - but I held fast. My eye on the stone. It was as if it were drawing me to it, to claim it again as it's rightful owner.

I looked down at where Marlayna was sitting cross legged. "That's mine." I said - and marveled at my own voice.

Marlayna looked up at me with cool disinterest. "What?"

"That stone. It's mine."

"No it isn't."

"Yes," I explained. "It was in my pocket and must have fallen out during recess when I was upside down on the monkey bars."

"No, I found it." Marlayna insisted.

"Yes - by the monkey bars?"

The girl next to her snapped her attention from me to Marlayna and said, "Isn't that where you said you found it?"

But Marlayna wasn't explaining how she came by the stone to me. She was telling me. In no uncertain terms. "No," she repeated. "I found it. This morning. Before school. It's mine."

The girl fell silent, and my world tilted. My stomach hollowed. Nothing made sense - and I could think of nothing to do but walk away. I chocked back the tears of a sudden intense feeling of unfairness. I had found this glorious treasure - it had been my companion this whole day (it might as well have been a lifetime!). I knew Marlayna hadn't found it this morning before school, because *I* had found it this morning before school. Her friend knew it. And I knew Marlayna knew it.

It was a lie - and I had not yet experienced anything so __. I felt flustered, anxious. And in that moment, my little world became many times more complicated.

Marlayna moved - and I never saw her again. But years later - in high school - I made a friend who had known Marlayna from when they were neighbors and friends. I told my friend to ask Marlayna about the green stone the next time she saw her. "Tell her I'd like it back," I said.

I didn't expect the message would get relayed. Not really. But some time later, my friend came to me and said, "You know that stone you wanted me to ask Marlayna about?"

"Yes," I said with the thrill of one about to unravel a mystery.

"I remember that stone. Once when I was sleeping over. She kept it on her dresser."

"You're kidding! That was mine, once."

"Yes - Marlayna remembered you. She didn't tell me about the stone except to say, 'tell her I'm sorry, I lost it.'"

Apparently this lie had an impact on the both of us.

I've been lied to since, and have told a few myself. I don't think of Marlayna as my enemy - at least not in a three dimensional way. But the feeling of that first time has always stayed with me, and probably always will.


Wendy said...

Being lied to sucks. Being the liar sucks. It's amazing how we hold onto the experiences from childhood and how those memories bring back very real emotions.

craftyashley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
craftyashley said...

When I was young, I had saved up a whole six dollars- a pretty large sum of cash for someone so young. I had it rolled up and stuffed into a bangle bracelet on my desk. One evening I found the bracelet empty. The next moment my evil little brother was proclaiming that he had found six dollars while cleaning out his room.

My parents believed my brother. It was a serious tragedy. I couldn't believe he could stare me in the face and flat out lie like that. And that my parents didn't see through his web of lies!

I still kid my now more likeable little brother that he owes me $6- with interest.