You Find You Can Lie Better
by Carlotta Eden
Given the chance, you say he’s 6’2, way tall, way cute and at parties you say he’ll be here and when he doesn’t turn up it is because he is older, more mature. Maybe next time you say. Your new friends drink the same drink, wear the same lip gloss. Bottle-tops start tasting like strawberries and cream. You start leaning in more when boys speak to you. You know that skirts make you taller and blush makes you look older. You knew moving schools would make your parents worry less so you didn’t mind moving towns, heading west. Here, the girls don’t wear uniforms: It’s ponytails and eyeshadow. The boys let their hair grow long. Your parents say try to read more and make friends this time. You try. You lie more. Your new friends listen to music during class, feeding earphones through their sleeves and underneath their hair. They go to the beach, change into bikinis on the sand. Laugh when men stare and giggle when you fall over your panties. Your new friends ask about him. He’s sweet you say. Tell us about the kiss again they ask so you turn around, cross your arms and rub your back, make smooching noises until they fall apart laughing. You watch your new best friend laugh. Your new best friend has high eyebrows and hair like sand dunes. She goes on dates. She calls you sweetie and it’s strange to think she’s just a friend. She keeps a diary. She doesn’t have a dad and you don’t ask why. When you smoke in front of her she snatches it from you and stubs it out. Don’t smoke she says, like she knows more than you. At night, you lean out your bedroom window and practise blowing the clouds away from the moon, watching the smoke from your lips curl into the cold, pretend your time is nearly up. You text your new best friend why do boys kiss so hard? but she doesn’t text you back. Your new friends take photos of their lips. You walk in groups and watch yourselves move in shop windows. You get a fringe and a cotton bracelet. Your new best friend cries in front of you at a party, talks about her mum’s weak heart. You want to say your dad loves you but you have no idea if it’s true. You want to tell her that you’ve never actually kissed anyone. You watch her take a cigarette out of a boy’s hands, raise her glass and shake her hips, her cheeks pink, her eyes swollen. Your new friends take a photo and you smile. You want to say I made it all up but you find it easier to lie and instead you say my boyfriend will be here soon but it’s like she doesn’t hear you.
This story sprung from an old photograph of two girls at a party. They were young and smiling and I thought: I wonder what else is going on, away from the party? The idea of the made-up boyfriend was something I had done at school. I went to an all-girls school and I didn't know any boys and I thought I should. I'd told my friends I'd met this older guy and he was super cool, a skater boy. He was 18 and I was 13. (I wish I'd known how uncool this was.) I kept it up for a few months and then it sort of dwindled out. One day I told my best friend that I'd made this guy up and she just laughed and probably had a sneaking suspicion that was the case anyway. I think she wondered why I ever felt the need to do that and I still do too.
Carlotta Eden is a writer and editor living near London. She co-founded Synaesthesia Magazine and her fiction can be found on Necessary Fiction, WhiskeyPaper, CHEAP POP, Chicago Literati, and elsewhere. Her favourite words are puckered and buffalo and disco. Find more at www.carlottaeden.com or on Twitter @1chae.