Lies of a Certain Nature
“The difference is, I lie for a reason.”
Ali’s words were clear and concise, cutting through the lunch hour chatter of the restaurant like a stainless steel blade.
Robert looked into her face, void of emotion. Her green eyes used to sparkle when she smiled at him. But now, he studied her as if she was some unknown exotic species discovered for the first time.
She continued to stare him down, silent and unwavering.
“What are you talking about? Lies? What lies?”
Ali’s behavior over the past couple of weeks had been erratic at best. Pleasant conversations took sudden detours into dark places, ending in soliloquies of a brooding nature. Hours later, her jovial attitude made the earlier encounter seem like a fleeting nightmare one couldn’t quite remember upon waking. Robert was aware that hormonal shifts could be more pronounced as women aged, but this was bordering on bipolar.
“Your entire life is built on lies,” she snapped. “I thought it was a harmless game at first, watching you manipulate others by telling them what they want to hear: your friends, your colleagues, your employees. You lie like you breathe: effortlessly.”
“Why are you—“
“Let me finish,” she interrupted. Another pause. “I have been with you for three years. I had so much hope for the future. I fed off your passion; it was a drug to me. But now I see you for who you really are: A con artist, preying on everyone who crosses his path to get what he wants. Including me."
Every sentence, every word was cold and robotic. The lack of emotion was more disturbing to Robert than the words themselves. He had a thick skin--he had to, given the nature of his business. But dealing with this shell of a person whom he knew intimately was something otherworldly.
Ali sat perfectly still, unblinking, waiting for Robert to respond. His confusion quickly turned to annoyance as he sat back in his chair and crossed his arms.
“Look, Ali, I don’t know what’s got your panties in a wad. But I’m tired of your irrational accusations.” Robert pushed his chair back from the table and rose to his feet. “This conversation is over.”
Ali reached into her purse and produced a candy bar-sized item in a pink and white metallic wrapper.
“Perhaps I wasn’t being clear.” She slid the item across the table, glaring at him the entire time.
Robert reached down, picked it up and pulled back the already opened wrapper to see what was inside.
“I wasn’t implying that I’m perfect and you’re not. What I’m saying is, you lie casually. It’s your way of life. I, on the other hand, lie...but for different reasons. Big reasons. Like the one you’re holding in your hand.”
Ali smirked, showing the first sign of human emotion as the gravity of the situation was realized in Robert’s expression.
“I lie to Tom all the time,” Ali said. “I tell my husband it’s okay that he’s unemployed, and that I understand he’s looking really hard for a job. I also lie and say it doesn’t bother me that he has a low sperm count, and that we can’t have children. I smile and pretend that it’s all okay, because, what choice do I have?”
Robert stood like a statue now, white as alabaster.
“I lie and tell Tom, ‘It’s a miracle! We are finally going to have a child together!’ Well, we are going to have a child together. It’s just not his.”
Ali slowly stood up, both fists on the table supporting her weight as she leaned into Robert.
“You have used people your whole life to get what you want. Now it’s my turn to get what I want: The child I could never have, the family I’ve always dreamed of...with a promotion comfortable enough to support the three of us. I’m sure that can be arranged. Right, Senator?”