It was just another run of the mill Monday at rehab. Like always, the first item on our housekeeping list was the New Beginnings House. Run by the county, New Beginnings facilitated supervised meetings between parents and children when the children have been removed from the parents’ care.

Victoria and I volunteered to clean the nurse’s station, the small trailer about fifty yards away where they did physical check-ups on the children in foster care. The nurse’s station was an easy task, as it was infrequently used. A light dusting, bathroom wipe down and vacuuming took care of the little space. Lugging the vacuum down the slope was probably the most taxing part of the job.

“I have something to tell you,” Victoria said, as I unplugged the vacuum and wrapped the cord around the handle.

“What?” I asked, my curiosity slightly piqued. Day after day of the same people, the same stories, and anything new was as precious as a bartered can of soda.

“Well, you’ve got to promise not to be mad at me,” she said, looking down but keeping her wide brown eyes on me.

honestly couldn’t think of anything she could do to me that would make me angry, except maybe swipe my laundry money. It’s not like she could spread a rumor about me that I would even care about. My entire life was somewhere else, my reputation already destroyed by this disease…affliction…defect of character…whatever you want to call it.

“Okay, as long as you didn’t steal anything from me,” I said.

She shook her head. “Oh no, it’s nothing like that. I would never steal from you.”

She paused.

“Well, what is it?”

“I lied to you.” She had a strange smile on her face. I’d seen it there before, but I’d never been able to read it.

“About what?”

“Remember when I told you I was twenty-six, same age as you and Jennifer?”


“Well, I’m not twenty-six. I’m twenty-eight.”

I startled slightly. “Oh?”

“Yes. Only I’m not twenty-eight. I’m thirty.”

I stared at her.

“One. Thirty-one.”



“You’re not messing with me?”

“It’s true.”

“Why…why would you lie about something like that?”

She still had that strange smile on her face. “I don’t know. Sometimes things like that just come out. You know?”

No. I didn’t know. “Why do you think I would care how old you are?”

She shrugged. “I didn’t want you to think I was old. Like, you know, being twenty-six and in rehab isn’t bad. Thirty-one, though? That’s just messed up.”

I thought of the women here who were in their forties, fifties, sixties, hell, even seventies.

“Listen, I don’t care how old you are,” I said. “We’ve all got our reasons for being here. And I know we lie sometimes. That’s just what addicts do. That’s why we’re here, to get better. But I’m glad you told me the truth.”

“Really?” she asked. “So, we’re cool?”

“Yeah. I’m not mad.” I grabbed some wet wipes for the bathroom sink.

I really wasn’t mad. But when she got kicked out for her lies two months later, I thought about that strange smile, and felt relieved.

Green Oak


A Harmless Little Lie — 31 Comments

  1. First time I ever sat down in front of my therapist I told her every lie I’d ever told. Then I realized that 99 percent of them were done drunk/hungover or in between. Now, sober, I can’t lie, even little ones or hold stuff back, I just blurt everything out. My wife doesn’t even tell me what the kids are getting for Christmas, sometimes.

    Maybe that woman turned out that way. we can only hope.

    BTW, I’m 39…okay fine, 43…jerk
    Lance recently posted…100 Word Song – OpportunitiesMy Profile

    • I have a hard time keeping in the truth, also. It drives my husband crazy, that sometimes I’m a little too honest…
      I sincerely hoping she turned out okay, that she was able to be honest with herself…that is the only way to get clean. Being honest with yourself.

  2. It certainly was a harmless lie.I didn’t understand why she should be kicked out,when there were people much older were allowed to stay.O look I almost thought it’s true.You are good.Thanks for the story.

  3. Pathological liars lie about everything…. from the smallest to the biggest. They can’t see the distinction. It makes it impossible to trust them, then it makes it hard to trust yourself. The post I wrote about for this challenge was *also* a pathological liar. They’re mind-boggling.
    Kylie recently posted…Tweets from Dorothy Parker, Food CriticMy Profile

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