A writer friend of mine recently told me about a Reader’s Digest writing prompt to write a story that begins with the phrase, “The difference is, I lie for a reason.” I found the idea inspiring, though I took some liberties with its execution. But below is my story based on that prompt.

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People tell a lot of lies.  Some lie to others; others lie to themselves.  Some tell white lies, while others spread the darkest gossip.  I’m not like any of them though.

The difference is, I lie for a reason.

I lie for a man, a father, on his deathbed.  I tell him, “I love you.”  He smiles – I’m not sure if he knows I’m lying.

I lie for a woman, her hair streaked with grey.  I tell her, “You were a good wife, a good mother.”  She says nothing – I know she knows I’m lying, but I lie anyway and hope that I can convince her otherwise.

I lie to a girl who lied to me.  Once upon a time, she told me she loved me.  She didn’t.  Now, she tells me her boyfriend doesn’t beat her.  He does.  But I lie to her, and tell her that I don’t remember the last time I saw him.  I do.

The last time I saw him, the whites of his eyes shone like two full moons right after I told him a truth that left the night hushed like the twin kisses of a double-barrel shotgun.  The last time I saw him, he looked like a Jackson Pollock painting of the Invasion of Normandy.  The last time I saw him, he ran out of lies to tell me as I threw one last shovelful of dirt on an unmarked grave in the middle of nowhere.

“How could you do it?” you ask?  Maybe I’m just a stone-cold bastard.  Maybe not.  Anyway, that’s not the question you should be asking.

“Did you get the girl?”  No – but I keep an eye on her.  I listen to her lie to her acquaintances and say that she left him, and lie to her friends and say that he ran off with another woman.  Neither are true, and she knows that.  But she lies to them and to herself, out of habit or maybe just to make it through the day.  But that’s not the right question either.

“Do I think I’ll ever get caught?”  Of course not – most criminals don’t, not that I think I am one.  But for all the red this confession seems to paint on my hands, no one will ever find a body.  Even if the cops bring me into the station, they’ll never get the story out of me.  Nothing will come of it.  Anyway, that’s still not the right question.

“Why did you do it?”  Ah…now that’s a better question.  Maybe I did it for the girl; maybe I did it for myself.  Maybe I’m mad, or maybe I’m just the last righteous man in a world full of liars.  Maybe you’ll never know.

Because when I lie, I lie for a reason…

And what if I’m lying to you tonight?  That…that is the right question.  Because anything else…?  Well, how can you believe anything I’m saying?

After all, I am a liar.

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