Hi, my name is Ricky, and I’m a liar.
“Babe—Babe—Babe babe babe. I’m sorry. I know. I don’t know. I DON’T KNOW HOW IT GOT SO LATE ALREADY AND I’M SORRY THAT I BLEW OFF OUR DINNER PLANS WITH JAMIE AND KELLY.”
I’m not sorry. And I know full well what time it is.
She yelled at me until her breath ran out. Literally—her voice faded to nothing as she said, “I don’t know why I put up with th—“ and that was the end of our fight. She’s a very forgiving person. Too forgiving. That’s the only reason we’re still a thing.
I’m not sure when the lies started. I remember the obvious lies, stealing treats before a proper meal or not fessing up when my carelessness resulted in a hole through the wall, stuff like that. But while my mates outgrew their lies, mine only grew stronger.
Fifth grade I leveled up in my ability. Our assigned teacher, Mrs. Walling (AKA The Ol’ Brick Wall), left halfway through the school year with some health issues, don’t ask me what; she was old ya know?
We got this nerve-fried woman as a replacement right after Thanksgiving break. Poor thing. She was always looking for her glasses, which sat perched on her head. Even her hair looked stressed out—tight, anxious curls. Terrible time of year for a substitute teacher, too.
Jake the Jock forging a physical therapist’s note, with a side of prepubescent boy abjection, so he wouldn’t have to cut out snowflakes (“Fine motor scissoring could impede progress from Jake’s healing wrist injury”). Future megabetches Marie and Ashley prying into her personal life, just to waste minutes from math class. It was impressive watching their work; 10 year-old menaces behind rosy-cheeked masks, torturing a woman lesser in social stature but far greater in life experience.
And yet, I was worse. I appealed to Miss Traylor’s ego much like my female counterparts did, raising my hand during Quiet Time to ask for extra help in subjects it was obvious she had an affinity for.
“Miss Traylor?” I cooed, copy of A Wrinkle in Time on the corner of my desk. “I still don’t really understand what tesseract means.” I understood just fine. “Can you explain it once more? Please?”
I concocted a lie about Miss Traylor and fed it to the Rube Goldberg rumor machine. But it was sanitized of any traces of me before it reached the tiger moms of the PTA. Ricky Salazar? That wide-eyed, innocuous little featherweight? Not in a million trillion years. Not when there were deadbeats like Garrett or misanthropes like Thomas S. or mean girls like Marie, Ashley, and their minions to blame.
I don’t know why I did it. She was nicer than any teacher we’d ever had. Smart too, contrary to what the catty tenured teachers said behind her back. I’ll admit that climate coaxed along my slander.
I guess the thing is, no matter how well a person treats me, it’s more gratifying for me to subvert her. Him, too. I’m a pathological liar, not a misogynist. Not that it’s better. Just making the distinction.
I lie to my boss about time off. I lie to him on the clock, too. I lied on my interview in order to get the job.
Sometimes I lie about my hobbies and interests, because if I really think about it, my only interest is lying. I don’t play soccer on Tuesday nights. I’ve never been to a poetry slam. I don’t have a friend named Alex.
And so here I am, on the precipice of another new year. Little featherweight me with 20-odd years of heavyweight lying and manipulation under my belt.
It’s time to leave behind my life of lies.
This will be the last lie I tell.