Lying Can be Tough Too

He hadn’t even enjoyed the damn cake — it was hard at the edges, smelled like the fridge, tasted faintly of onion. When he’d denied eating it, his mom had blamed his dad. If he’d known it would make her so angry, he’d never have eaten the stupid cake.

That morning, having ignored each other for three days, his mom and dad argued again. His dad left without saying bye.

He’d built up to telling his mom, hoping it would stop the fighting. She sat on her bed, smiling as she typed something on her phone.

‘Mom, need to tell you something.’ He wanted to tell her how he’d thought no one wanted it, how he’d not even enjoyed it, how he wanted her and Dad to stop arguing. ‘I didn’t eat it. But Dad didn’t either. He wouldn’t lie.’

She dropped her phone onto the bed and held the tops of his arms. ‘Silly, we’re not arguing about that. Your dad and me… it has nothing to do with cake.’ She let out a small laugh and squeezed his arms. ‘You can tell me the truth. Telling the truth can be the hardest thing. But lying can be tough too.’

He saw over her shoulder, a man’s name appear on her phone. When it buzzed, she let him go.

As he was leaving the room, his mom said, ‘It’s going to be ok you know?’ When he turned to look at her, she was reading a message on her phone.

He pulled her door to, but couldn’t move; his stomach was twisting in on itself again. Looking through a crack in the door, he saw her shrug off her dressing gown and stand naked in front of the mirrored wardrobe. With a phone in one hand, she arranged herself in different ways, and took pictures of herself. A floorboard creaked beneath his foot. She turned, eyes wide, arms covering her chest. She said his name in a way he didn’t recognise. Wiping hair from her face, she exhaled loudly, and said, ‘For your dad.’ She reached for her dressing gown and held it in front of her, before closing the door.

He wanted to ask why his dad would want pictures of her naked when both he and his dad saw her naked all the time.

Something in her expression had reminded him of the cake, made him recall the taste of onion. His neck felt hot, his chest throbbed, his stomach spasmed. ‘It was me,’ he said to the closed door. ‘I took the cake.’ Both the tightness around his chest and the twisting in his stomach fell away.

Listening through the door, he heard his mom sigh.

Later that day his dad came home early from work, packed a bag, and went to stay with Uncle Jake.

Adam writes in the Black Country, UK, waking far too early in the morning to find time to write. Adam's stories have appeared in publications such as STORGY, Fictive Dream, Spelk, Retreat West, Fiction Pool, Occulum, Syntax & Salt, Ghost Parachute and others. Website: adamlock.net. He’s also active on Twitter @dazedcharacter.

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