Lies

Ana’s Pick
Danielle Vermette


I do not practice lies as I go up the stairs. For one, I am tired. For two, I am bored with pretending. I want to walk into the room and tell him it is over. Five years is a long time.

Yes, I have been telling you that I am unhappy. Yes, I enjoy the way he wraps his body around mine, the way I find him so early in the morning, reading his newspaper, with his grown-up glasses resting at the edge of his nose. This is what I practice as I go up the stairs.

My head is clear but my steps are choppy and sick. They suffer from lack of commitment. I might go to raise my hand to the sky and the furthest it will reach is my shoulder.

I take the stairs slowly. On my clothes, I smell a curry from some other kitchen.

I open the door. He lies on the futon we bought in college. He wears the only sweater I ever knit.

“Do you remember,” he says, “when we moved here and spent our last five dollars on the last tank of gas?”

“It’s true,” I say. “I do remember.”

He props himself up on his elbows. He picks particles from the sheet and flicks them to the floor. I study his face. I wish I could see it in some new way, but I only see another face.

“Where were you last night?”

I bend over at the waist and lay my hands on the ground to stretch. The back of my legs pull and tighten. I can still feel.

“I drove to the coast.”

“Were you alone?”

I bend deeper into the stretch. My face is red and hot because blood is moving to it. I try to breathe deeply, to send breath to every part of my body. My mouth is chewing my bottom lip. I count to five in English. I count to five in French.

“Well?”

“No,” I say. “I wasn’t alone.”

“No” he says, “I don’t imagine you were.”

I raise up and look at him. I cannot read his face. He stares into the sheet like it is an open window. He moves his hand over the fabric, then balls his fingers into a fist. He moves the fist back and forth over the sheet. It makes a dent in the fabric like the arc of a rainbow.

“Someday, though, you will be.”

In the old days, I would have said, “Don’t say that! I’m a highly suggestible person!” I would have told the story about never finishing a project after hearing that Geminis start things but don’t finish them. But now I say nothing because I can’t remember how to be light with him.

“I don’t mind loneliness,” I say.

He falls back down on the futon and turns his face away from me.

“In fact,” I tell him, “I am looking forward to it.”
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“I am a touring actor who is based in Portland, Oregon.” E-mail: daniland23[at]gmail.com