First: An explanation. Everyone tells me the way to begin the agent/publisher search is to start with contests. So I researched and Writer’s Digest is a well reputed source. I found a contest where I had to write a story in 700 words, starting with “The difference is, I lie for a reason.” I came up with the following fiction. Its not Hemingway, but I’m getting my feet wet with my first contest. Okay, I lied, its my second.
LIKE A RUG
The difference is, I lie for a reason. Susan lies compulsively and James lies because he’s an ass. It all started with a mailbox—the one that Dad made, with the words Air Mail painted on the side. It sat on a clear glass pole that was supposed to look invisible. Dad thought it was really funny. Until he found it broken on the lawn.
Dad came stomping in. “James, if you broke my mailbox, it’s off to boarding school for you!”
James was always running over things with the car. First a bicycle, then Dad’s favorite lawn chair. Each time Dad threatened to send him off to boarding school. This time he looked like he meant it.
Susan, our little sister, compulsively blurted out to Dad, “Irene did it.”
Of course I didn’t do it, but I didn’t want James to get kicked out. So I decided to take the blame. I shrugged and nodded unconvincingly.
James looked surprised.
Dad was sure it was James, and Susan always lied—she couldn’t help it, so Dad turned to me with eyes that could drill an oil well. “Irene?”
I was cornered. I took the high road. I lied.
The high road left me feeling a little guilty, and Dad wasn’t buying it. Dad planted his hands on his waist. “Outside, all of you. When you want to tell me the truth, you can come back in.”
We sat on the front porch in silence, six legs dangling over the edge.
Finally Susan said, “Did you see the three-legged dog this morning?”
James smirked. “The one chasing the two legged cat?”
I glared at him. “The doctor said no teasing her, James.”
James pointed to the broken mailbox. “Maybe we could fix it… do you have any money?”
Susan said, “I have fifty dollars.”
James tugged her blond braid. “We need real money.”
I shook my head. “I’m broke. What do we do now?”
James shrugged. “We go back inside.”
I frowned uncomfortably. “So we stick to our story.”
James raised an eyebrow. “What story?”
What an ass. “The story where I save your butt, by taking the blame for your sucky driving.”
Susan hopped up and skipped across the porch. “Irene did it. Irene did it.”
James shrugged. “See?”
Okay, now I was pissed off. “Or I just tell the truth and you get shipped off to boarding school.”
“What the hell are you talking about? You already confessed!”
“Irene did it, Irene did it!” Susan hopscotched in a circle.
James turned towards the door mimicking, “Irene did it, Irene did it.”
Burning mad, I grabbed James by the shoulder. “Fine then, I’ll just let you get shipped off to boarding school!”
A car pulled up. Mom! She had a way of calming Dad down. Maybe Dad was exaggerating. Perhaps it was time to tell the truth.
But…what if they did send James to boarding school? As much as he made me mad, he was still my brother. I slunk down onto the porch to think. I knew James wouldn’t confess. And Susan…well, no one was going to listen to Susan. It was up to me. My brother’s fate rested in my hands. I took a deep breath and stepped into the house. “Dad…I’m sorry. I broke the mailbox.”
He didn’t hear me. He was talking to Mom. He said to her, “Did you have a nice day, Reney?”
She laughed. “I had an absurd day. First, I was late for work. I backed out of the driveway and Susan came running out, right in front of the car! She was chasing some dog. To avoid her I had to drive across the lawn. I’m sorry dear, I hit your mailbox.”
Dad squeezed her shoulder. “That’s alright Irene, it’s just a mailbox.”
“But that’s not all. Susan kept right on chasing that dog. What a sight, I was running after Susan and she was running after a three-legged dog! When she caught it, the owner was so grateful he rewarded her with a fifty dollar bill!”
“It was a million dollars,” said Susan, jumping across the living room.
“Now, Susan…” said Mom, frowning, “No more lying; Doctor’s orders.”