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Ben Cotton Ben Cotton
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The Liar

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She had a friend.

Short story about telling lies, inspired by my own childhood

Junior liked to lie. Lying, he had discovered, could help him out in sticky situations where the truth would just get him into trouble.

‘Did you throw that pencil at Sarah?’ the teacher would ask after he had thrown a pencil.

‘No, Mrs Tigglesworth, I was working.’

‘Junior, did you eat all the chocolate brownies?’ Mum would say as he swallowed the last one.

‘No mum, it was baby Jonny.’

‘Did you take Jonny’s ball?’ Dad would ask him; the ball carefully hidden inside Junior’s room.

‘No Dad, he must have lost it.’

And with a few simple lies he could get away with practically anything.

A couple of days before his 8th birthday, Junior decided to take the calendar off the wall and to his bedroom to draw pictures on it.

After a little while he heard Mum coming up the stairs and realised he could get into trouble if she found out what he had done.

‘Do you know where the calendar is, Junior?’ she said, coming into the room.

Usually, he would deflect the blame onto his little brother, but baby Jonny couldn’t possibly reach the calendar off of the wall. Thinking fast, Junior came up with a quick lie: ‘Dad took it.’

Mum said she would ask Dad then, and Junior started to panic.

If Dad told Mum that he hadn’t taken the calendar, Junior’s lie would be exposed. He quickly rushed downstairs and distracted them from talking by loudly chatting about what he wanted for his birthday. Luckily the trick worked and they didn’t ask about the calendar any more.

The next day he was playing with Dad’s car keys.

‘Have you seen my keys?’ asked Dad, searching frantically.

‘No, I think Jonny has them,’ said Junior, so used to lying that he didn’t even have to think about it.

‘I already checked Jonny, he doesn’t have them,’ replied Dad.

Junior had to think fast again.

‘Erm, I bet he swallowed them... he had them in his mouth earlier.’

‘Why didn’t you stop him?’ exclaimed Dad anxiously.

‘Mum lost her purse!’

This last lie came out of nowhere. He hadn’t had time to think up a good excuse so had just blurted out the first thing that came to mind. And now he had to stick with it.

‘She usually leaves it on the mantelpiece, but it wasn’t there, so I went looking for it.’

‘Okay,’ said Dad after a deep breath, as Junior hurriedly scuttled out of the room.

He quickly and quietly made his way to the lounge, taking the wallet off of the mantelpiece so that his parents wouldn’t think he was lying. By bed time, however, he had forgotten all about it.

The next morning Junior opened his eyes and bounced out of bed grinning. It was his birthday, the absolute best day of the year. Except maybe Christmas. Although at Christmas everyone gets presents. Today all the presents would be his.

He bounded into Mum and Dad’s room and jumped onto the bed.

‘Happy Birthday to ME!’ he sang.

‘Oh, it’s your birthday is it?’ said Dad, rolling over.

‘Yes! Can I open my presents now, PLEEEASE!’ Junior asked excitedly.

‘I’m sorry, Junior,’ yawned Mum, ‘we haven’t got you any presents.’

‘What?’ said Junior, confused.

‘We didn’t know what day it was, because we couldn’t find the calendar.’

‘But... you know what day it is now,’ said Junior, ‘come on! let’s go to the shop and buy some!’

‘Sorry kid,’ said Dad, ‘Since Jonny ate the car keys we haven’t been able to get anywhere.’

‘What about the bus?’ pleaded Junior, ‘let’s go on the bus!’

‘My purse is still missing,’ said Mum, ‘we can’t pay for the bus fare.’

And with that Junior ran out of ideas. Every possible path towards birthday presents was blocked up with his lies and he was too embarrassed to admit it. So he spent a miserable birthday with not a single present to open.

The next day, he told Mum and Dad about the calendar, the keys and the purse, and was made to do double chores for a week. But Junior was actually quite relieved.

Lying, it turned out, was way more exhausting.

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