Truth is pricey.
I discovered this Tuesday morning while getting ready for work. On Monday, a friend had implied I was too myopic to appreciate the veracity of her words.
The truth revealed itself as I looked in the mirror. I spoke out loud the words my friend had said - "I take myself seriously" - and watched a vein in my left temple rise, and then spider web its way down my face. It thrummed, insistent, and then submerged beneath the skin.
This surprised me. So I started experimenting.
At Macchiato's over cappuccinos and muffins, I told Mom the real reason for my divorce. I'd cheated on Samuel.
He'd found me in bed with one of his drinking buddies on the night of his birthday party. I was bored with our marriage, and wasn't even drunk as I'd led him to believe. But I begged Samuel to keep this fact to himself. It was fortunate we lived in a state with no-fault divorce rules. I got the house. He got the cat and the Lexus.
Mom received the news pale and tight-lipped. She'd lent me funds for the divorce attorney, and I still hadn't paid her back. Her eyes, riveted to my forehead, grew wider as the explanation tumbled from my lips and hung in the air between us.
She grabbed her purse, and pushed back her chair.
"I have to go," she said, "Your father is waiting for me," and gave her me a quick kiss on the cheek before barreling out the door.
Dad had been dead for three years.
When I got to work, I took my seat at the reception desk. I politely answered the phone, faxed documents, but didn't smile, and kept silent. My co-workers became disconcerted because they'd not received their usual morning meet-and-greet.
The HR manager came by an hour later. She smiled, and nervously approached my desk.
"Are you all right, dear? How are you this morning?"
Inwardly, I counted to five, and then.
"I think it's a waste of time to smile when I don't feel like it. Besides, it encourages wrinkles."
I felt the vein this time: It pushed its way up, and blood throbbed.
The HR manager stared at me, horrified, and then backed away from my desk.
Now I smiled.
"Is everything okay?"
"Yes dear," she replied, sliding her gaze down to her shoes. She turned, sped down the hall to her office, and slammed the door.
An hour later, I was called into the general manager's office. I left with my final paycheck and my favorite coffee mug.
I now had lots of time to experiment. One afternoon while riding the bus, I spied an old homeless woman wearing a torn mini-skirt, dirty tube top, and clown make-up. She caught me staring at her.
"Honey, got any change you can spare?"
I smiled, reached into my purse and pulled out a dollar.
"You look like a skank," I said, handing her the money.
Her eyes bugged at the sight of the vein bulge on my forehead. Her palm, open and waiting, retracted. She burst into loud, wailing sobs.
My bus pass was confiscated by the driver. He dropped off in the middle of a bad neighborhood. My purse was stolen. After hitching a ride home, I called a locksmith to open my front door, and make me a new set of keys.
I'm no longer welcome at Macchiato's. The owner told me not to come back. I kept regaling all his screenwriter patrons with statistics of how few screenplays actually a) get optioned, b) are filmed. He told me to see a doctor about my "facial lesion."
The good news is I found another job.at a dungeon near my house. I get paid under the table, and I work at night.
I wear a PVC mask to hide the vein. It's no longer submerged, but now maps its way down my cheek and into my hairline. I get extra tips for the truths I hurl at the men who come in for their weekly dose of physical discipline and humiliation.
"Oh, I see you're married. So, you're an adulterer."
copyright 2005 m. lecrivainSend us your comments on this article