Prompt 9-Self Deception

Name one thing you have lied to yourself about. Why did you do this?

“I don’t understand why you just let him go,” Midge grumbled as he tore into a package of dried meat and chewed it vigorously.

“He can’t help us,” Lara said, limply stirring her pre-packaged soup with the attached spoon. She wasn’t actually hungry anymore.

“Then what was he doing all the way out here?” He took a swig of his canteen to wash down the jerky before digging out another ration. “How can you be sure he isn’t with the Forgotten?”

He had every reason to be skeptical of course. He wasn’t a Reader, and he didn’t know Shane. “He’s not a Hunter,” she repeated. Midge opened his mouth to reiterate his earlier protest but she silenced him with a shake of her head. “It was just a misunderstanding.” She sighed. Trigger-happy fools, the both of them.

Midge grunted his disapproval as he tore into the second package – Chicken Parmesan it optimistically cried – and poured boiling water into it. Lara stared into the lumpy yellow broth in her own hands. It would have been better in a bowl, but she didn’t want to dirty any dishes before they found the well of the unfinished Dome and could replenish their supply. Food always tasted better eaten from a dish.

Lara set the package of soup on the small table and got to her feet. Midge swallowed his mouthful. “You not gonna finish that?”

She gave him an encouraging smile. “Go ahead. I’m full.” She paused at the door to the small apartment they’d made camp in. “I’m just going to get some air. I won’t be long.”

He glanced from her uneaten dinner on the table to the door. His agitation melted when he looked at her face. “Ok,” he nodded. “Just holler if you need me.”

She waved behind her as she made her exit. The building was oriented the same as the apartments back in Athens. She walked slowly down the hall to the main foyer and out the glass doors of the entrance. The street was lined with half-completed housing developments. They had a few floors each, with metal beams reaching upward hinting at the levels they would have grown to, the numbers they would have sheltered.

They were utterly empty. The quiet was deafening. Lara wrapped her arms tightly around herself. Her stomach grumbled in agitation. It was crowded. Her heart did not belong in there.

She sank to her knees as tears carved through the windswept grime on her face. She couldn’t will them to stay inside her anymore. If she was going to spend energy keeping one of her abilities reined in while she was in distress, it would be her telekinesis. Midge didn’t need her bringing the building down on his head and she could dry her tears the old fashioned way.

Seeing Shane again had cracked the dam and now it was compromised, leaving Lara to deal with the aftermath. When he had disappeared without a word five years ago, she had convinced herself it was her fault. If only she had been stronger. If only she wasn’t so helpless. If only she didn’t love him.

So she trained harder. There were other Readers at the College who could help her. She worked and strained until the voices became a dull whisper. She didn’t need him. She could stand on her own and survive in the dome alone.

She didn’t love him anymore.

Her stomach twisted itself in knots around her heart. “I don’t,” she whispered. “I can’t.” The tears flowing over her cheeks betrayed her convictions. She sobbed, gulping rasping breaths when she could. It would be over soon. The pain would abate and she would regain control of her emotions. She always did.

“Feeling better?” Midge asked when she returned twenty minutes later.

Lara nodded. “Too much excitement today. I’m exhausted.” She smiled and he accepted her explanation. After all, it was the truth.

Notes: Not a very long one, but it gets the prompt done. The lie and the why. All is not so peaceful as it was on that rainy day long ago. This world has a long way to go and these characters keep growing. I can’t wait to write their whole story.

Have you ever lied to yourself about something? Was it something you just refused to accept? Was it for self-preservation? What about your characters? What lies are they telling themselves? Go find out! Write it down!

Friday’s prompt: What did you get in trouble for the most when you were a kid?

We’re almost through another week. Whew! Until tomorrow!


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