Exercising the craft—February 15, 2016

By Ekta R. Garg

Prompt: Write About A Lie–Is it a tiny one? A whopper? Does no-one find out about it? Does that mean your character really ‘gets away with it’? Does it spiral out of control and become a Fawlty Towers episode?

http://storyaday.org/

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Kate shrugged out of her trench coat and smiled at Nora as the woman reached for it.

“Thanks for inviting me over,” Kate said. She handed Nora the bouquet of flowers she’d picked up at the grocery store on the corner.

“You’re welcome,” Nora said with a smile of her own. “Now that the school year has started, you get a chance to meet the other moms without worrying about the kids.”

Kate nodded and followed Nora through the house. They’d met a scant two weeks earlier at a back-to-school event. Kate’s older daughter, Olivia, and Nora’s only daughter, Esther, were in the same fifth grade classroom. Nora had kept after Kate at the meet-and-greet, insisting that Kate join her and her friends for brunch. Kate spoke with Nora for a few minutes and then tactfully excused herself to talk to someone else. Nora followed Kate, tottering after her in her brand name high heels and chattering about how she could put Kate in touch with all the “right people.”

Kate had figured out right then how to set Nora right.

“Everyone’s here,” Nora said, leading Kate into the kitchen. “Ladies, this is Kate. She and her kids just moved to town last month.”

A chorus of “Hi” and “Welcome” greeted Kate. She nodded her head and shook hands with a few of the women, then pulled out a barstool at the island. The women fell right back into their debate: Tiffany’s versus Cartier. Nora offered her a mimosa, and Kate shook her head.

“I’m good, thanks,” she said.

“Aw, come on, Kate,” said a woman named Mandy. “It’s five o’clock somewhere, right? You’re not on the wagon, are you?”

“Um, actually, I am,” Kate said.

The chatter in the kitchen stopped, and everyone stared at her. Kate wanted to laugh and tell them right away that she’d lied, that she just didn’t care for alcohol. Why did people think they couldn’t have a good time unless they had a buzz going?

“I’m sorry, what?” Nora asked.

Mandy blinked a few times, and dark red splotches stained her cheeks.

“Kate said she’s…I mean, that she doesn’t…”

“I’m a recovering alcoholic,” Kate said. She reached for a strawberry from the huge center bowl of fruit and took a bite. The women continued to stare at her, all except Mandy whose eyes had dropped to her lap.

“I’m sorry,” Nora said. “Do I need to, um…I mean, is it okay for me to have—”

“Oh, no, no, you’re fine,” Kate said, holding out a hand. “I’m okay. Seven years sober and counting.”

Mandy continued to stare at her hands. “I didn’t mean to offend you, Kate. I was really making a joke. Please, don’t think that we’re insensitive to these things.”

A bubble of laughter crept up Kate’s throat and burst from her mouth. Mandy’s head whipped up, confusion on her face.

“I’m sorry,” Kate said, tears streaming down her cheeks. “I’m really sorry. I’m not a recovering alcoholic. I just…oh, my god, Mandy, I was just giving you a hard time. Really! Nora, bring on the mimosas, and an extra one for Mandy!”

The women exchanged looks and then tittered nervously. Kate grabbed a glass from the tray of mimosas and took a deep sip. Maybe this town would be different. She’d already made it clear to Andy that he couldn’t walk all over her, and the day the divorce had become final she’d vowed not to let anyone else make her decisions for her either. All her life she’d followed the lead of others. Not anymore.

“Are you, um…are you sure?” Nora asked.

Kate nodded and took another sip. “I’m sure. Now, how about I tell you how I’m running from the law?”