Stepping into the elevator with a clamor we begin chatting about our plans.
“Any of you two going to Heroes tonight?” inquires Brett, eyebrows raised in a questioning stance. His head switching from left to right to take in our response as we jostle for room.
A shake of the head and “nope, I was bored last time. I’m going to a gallery downtown instead,” is my reply. In excitement my voice rises in volume as I also exclaim, “and tomorrow I’m going to a free symphony performance!”
“Say what are you guys going to do for the writing assignment?”
“I think the one about not telling a lie for a day will be an excellent challenge.”
“Yeah,” murmurs Jamie with a grin, “it should be easy to picture.”
“No, no, no, it’ll be a fun theoretical challenge!” I declare already considering the possibilities for a plot as I look beyond the lights installed in the elevators ceiling. My mind is already traversing several scenarios.
“Imagine trying not to tell a lie. Your body movement can tell lies. Every time you speak you tell a lie to someone in the room!”
They probably think your crazy my consciousness whispers through a fog of disquiet.
But it’s true! Another conscious wind of energy whips the fog away in unbridled anticipation. Consider the last statement. You said “every time you speak you tell a lie to someone in the room”! That’s a lie! You technically didn’t lie by the statement itself- thereby proving wrong your statement-, which means you lied about your statement being true! A simple comment a lie. This is going to be so much fun! How do you get through a day without telling a single lie?
The idea would pester me throughout the evening and into the night as I schemed on how to get through the next day without releasing a single lie.
Groggy with sleep my fingers resentfully seek the alarm and click it to off. Following the absent Sun’s lead, my bedroom slumbers on in the darkness as I rub the sleep from my eyes and settle my feet to the ground. With a snap, I remember my personal challenge for the day. Gleefully, I skip to the bathroom and begin preparations.
An hour later I am dressed, groomed, fed, activated, and ready to go. I should tell my roommate there are free tickets to the symphony available. Fingers closing to a fist my knuckles rise to drum out my presence on her door.
How do you know you won’t be lying? I scold myself. The tickets were being released yesterday and there was a limited amount. How do you know there are some still available?
“Shoot,” I grumble retracting my hand. I don’t have time to consider my words.
Apprehensive about the growing prominence of imminent challenges, I turn my back on her door and creep into the hall, guilty over my omission. Wait. My mind skids to a halt as my feet ignore the subconscious act and continued to carry me to class. You lied through omission. And you lied through… a white lie? For yourself!
I have already struck a failure.
Battling it out in my mind, I argue for not speaking, and one rebuttal after another follows. Finally, albeit grudgingly, I admit defeat about lying through not telling, technically I may not have ‘told’ a lie through not speaking. I might need to break this down into not ‘speaking’ a lie, I admonish myself. That’s what you get for not setting ground rules.
I don’t have time to respond as my faithful legs lead me into class and my imagination balks at the scenarios playing in my mind of inescapable lies.
“Buenos dias,” the professor greets the class, ever cheerful. I can’t reply with good morning I realize as my frenzied mind works out the repercussions. When I say the words ‘good morning’ if I’m speaking for myself I’m being truthful, but if I’m perceived as saying it in general I’d be lying because it cannot possibly be a good morning for everyone in the world.
So my lips stay shut.
Further into the class I hit another sticky situation. “Allison, what is the answer for question seis?” my professor whips out.
Startled I pause as my mind quickly calculates. Ok easy enough, just answer. You won’t be lying.
Unless you get it wrong, in which case you are lying because it is not the right answer.
What can you do but answer, I chastise myself, you’re in class, so answer!
I’ve got it!
Brazen, I look her in the eyes and reply, “this may or may not be the right answer but I wrote down cuarenta y cinco.” My muscles could have been played like a harp and my body mistaken for stone, those few seconds of pause felt like a decade.
“That’s number siete, we are on seis.”
“Oh! Um, ochenta y dos?”
Phew, that time I didn’t have the back-up phrase, so if I had been wrong I would have been lying.
Like a ton of proverbial bricks it hit me. I had lied. I hadn’t written down cuarenta y cinco for question seis.
Slumping to the desk, I groaned inwardly in defeat, the sound echoing through my mind above the unsatisfied cries of my ego. My brain was blaming my lips for speaking too quickly. My lips rebuking that the brain was a tyrant. My feet were snoozing in my shoes, ignoring as always, the banter of the head corporation.
“Ha, you actually wrote it down as you said,” Jennifer, a classmate and my savior, chuckles as she leans in and points to my answer.
The concept of heaven breaking open in song and light prances through my brain in silent merriment. Little did the professor know that there was a one-woman party happening in her classroom with millions of neurons celebrating; even my feet gave a toe-tapping little dance.
I had written it down! I had written it down! I had written it down! I officially hadn’t lied, so I’m off the hook and still in the game.
And yes, I realize I probably look like a crazed maniac, grinning like an idiot and giggling to myself.
A small part of me, the mature stoic character I sometimes bring up, shakes its head in embarrassed sentiment.
The other bit is too busy.
With that note, class ends.
On to physics! I inwardly shriek, punching the air of the realm of my imagination.
Around me birds chirp in the quiet, biting air of the morning, and the ghosts step through the cold, slowly stumbling to class.
“Hey, what’s up?”
Yeep! The manifestation of my ego overseeing this thought adventure, plummets from cloud nine to my feet, suddenly two inches tall as it witnesses the next wall that must be climbed.
“Hi,” I stutter, trying to gather my wits like fallen jacks. You can’t say, ‘nothing much’, because it isn’t true! “Um, the sky?”
“Yep.” So far so good, I thoughtfully pat myself on the back.
“How are you?”
“Heading to class?”
“Nope, done for the day. And you?”
“I have one more class.” It’s true.
“Ok what is going on?” My friend settles into a rigid stance, arms crossed in stubbornness, feet comfortably, stably set. An eyebrow rises and her eyes peer at me up and down through invisible magnifying glasses, lips purse in the gotch’ya pose.
Think carefully. My referee reminds me.
“I’m, trying to get through today without releasing a lie.”
‘Trying’, good, implies you may or may not be successful. ‘Releasing’ good, you were worried about the difference between spoken and non-spoken lies earlier.
“Oh, so that’s why you’re not jabbering you’re head off today. You always have so many stories to share.”
“I was worried you were sick.”
“Oh! No, I’m not sick!” I flail my arms for emphasis. Then abruptly stop as my mind silently brings a post-it note to the forefront of my disarrayed control room. Physics.
“And almost late! Bye!”
If anyone ever actually ate dust, my friend became of those people that day. Actually we all eat dust: frequently too.
The thoughtful bourgeois of my brain urge the proletariat underfoot to move quickly, and I am off, speeding away to physics class.
Hands grasp the door spurred by commands from the board of directors that is adhering to the tight schedule of education conquest. Once beyond the door, it’s out of my mind. Out of sight, out of mind, snicker, snicker, snicker.
I’m merely a system governed by neurons cut off from the rest of the world. They never directly experience what my limbs do, merely receive gossip from my nerves. My feet can tell them they are sore, but I keep walking. When it becomes unbearable I may choose to sit, maybe.
My ramblings cease as I reach the door.
Class project on a story about not lying for a day. Harder than it looks….