One of you will lie, he says, giving me advice the way big brothers are wont to do—his favorite phrase—are wont to—as in parents are wont to worry when their little girl. . .
I’m not a little girl!
When their little girl goes out with a man . .
A man? Joe’s . . .
A man 8 years older than she is, a bearded man who shows up in leathers and a Harley. . .
. . . motorcycle to meet them.
He was wearing a helmet.
But he only brought one as reckless men are wont to do.
I have my own.
You do? End of monologue. He’s staring at me, waiting for me to produce the helmet, no doubt, which I can’t do since we’re in his car on our way to Mom and Dad’s for Easter.
It’s at home, I say, in my dorm. I just didn’t have it that day.
Convenient explanation, he says. And your boy friend—emphasis on boy—is a man.
Of course he’s right about that. I’d been going out with boys until Joe came along. Joe, tall, blond, handsome, just a hint of beard really. He keeps it trimmed.
My brother starts again. One of you will lie. That’s all I mean to say. One of you will lie.
I wonder if I’m the liar. We’re almost there—two more stoplights. We never make them both so I have a minute to decide: who will lie?
I can’t tell her, I say at the first light. Omission isn’t really a lie.
Liars are wont to say that, he says as the light changes.
The second light is also red. I think he slowed down so we’d catch it. If I tell her, she’ll lie and say she’s so happy—a lie. . . . Which makes me tear up because my mother would lie to spare me, to make it a nice day for us all. If I lie, everybody will know I’m lying, but it won’t ruin the day, at least not publicly.
We’re there. I’m out of the car, walking towards Mom in her slim green dress, smiling, arms out, noting my tights, the blousy tunic, the slight bulge.
Oh, Darlings, she says, meaning us both. I’m so glad to see you. She looks at me, the usual up and down—and . . . and . . . I see you have something to tell us.
I nod, and we both burst into tears, neither of us lying. My brother was wrong as he is wont to be, but I see him nod and smile—glad to be wrong for once in his life.
© 2013 Kathleen Coskran