A lie for a life

Posted: June 23, 2011 in #fridayflash, Short stories

Yesterday I was enjoying the last full day of our family vacation. Today, my wife is with the police identifying my possessions.

I remember seeing a fortune teller when I was in my last year of college, at a Country Fayre near my home-town. She read my palm and apparently my ‘life-lines’ were the most interesting she’d ever seen. She was a middle aged lady, but her forehead was so wrinkled it looked like a prune, with more creases and folds than I could count. She had wisps of dyed brown hair poking out of the head scarf she wore. Her prediction was I’d either live a fulfilled-short-life or, I would face a dramatic crossroads midway through my life forcing a fatal change. She wasn’t sure which of the two it would be. I found both possibilities confusing; utter cock ‘un bull; and at the time, just a downright rip off, of my hard earned five pounds. Turns out however, she was right, on both forecasts.

My daughters are my world. I am one of those annoying dads who love every minute of their existence, even if they are having tantrum. I don’t get angry or reprimand them with smacks, or shouting. If they do something wrong or out of character, its usually for a reason. They need to learn from it; experience a parent’s disapproval and disappointment and then hopefully know how to change their decisions for next time. By issuing a time out mechanism, to which they can reflect on their actions, it allows them to think of why they are being asked to reflect and see things from other peoples point of view. It doesn’t always work. Michelle, our middle daughter often tests the boundaries beyond the perimeters, she’s always been our ‘wild card’. The only way we’ve dealt with this over the years, is by sending us all into a time out zone. She therefore forces the whole family to reflect.

Anyway, I’ve digressed. I imagine my wife and girls at the police station, all sitting around in a complete daze. My third daughter, Hannah, sobbing in Michelle’s arms, whilst our eldest daughter is silent, absorbing the atmosphere and building it up inside her for when they get home, in the privacy of her own surroundings. She’ll be analysing things and questioning our last moments. Please don’t sweetheart.

The memories would be rotating in their heads like a salad spinner at a BBQ, a pointless act, but one which has to go through the motions. Its part of the grieving process I suppose, I just wish it could have been different. But I know; I’m confident; that they’ll all get through this and be able to move on, together.

My wife, Jannie, will be giving a police statement; comforting the girls; identifying my watch, mobile phone, jacket and my keys with the key-ring of all 3 girls attached. I carried that key-ring everywhere. It took the photographer a matter of seconds to get the perfect photograph of them all smiling. They were a content little bunch. All three had fair hair, Michelle’s darker than the other two and beautiful green emerald eyes. Their smiles told a story, one of happiness, content and confidence in themselves. Just like their mum.

My four girls, made me the happiest man on earth. I love you all with all my heart and soul. This was no-one’s fault, please believe me.

I’ve dedicated my life to those little girls and seen them grow into young ladies. Hannah will be ten this spring. But I had to leave them. If they knew what I had done, what I’d become, then the hate and disappoint would be too much for them to bare and would destroy their beliefs and values we had installed into them all their lives.

I had to do it in a way where we had spent some amazing family days together, a huge farewell party if you like, only they didn’t know that part. To them it was just another wonderful family vacation.

I wasn’t ill. I was in sane body and mind.

I didn’t really jump off of the cliff edge where my car was abandoned. I just had to make it look that way.

I just had to leave everything of my old life behind.

Its the only fair way I could do it. Fair being an inequitable word.

You see, I’m a secret bigamist and have unintentionally begun a new life 300 miles away, with a lady I met while away on business.

I had to leave my old life and family behind.

I owe it to my newborn son

  1. Sonia Lal says:

    I wasn’t expecting that ending! Very nice. Thought he would be a ghost or something. Though, IMO, if he loved them that much, he wouldn’t be leaving them at all.

  2. FARfetched says:

    Sonia said it: I was expecting a ghost too, and it sounds to me like he’s trying to justify his selfish action to himself.

  3. John Wiswell says:

    It’s a great lead paragraph, Haze. Sets up a good sense of intrigue and carries us through several paragraphs, the theme disorienting almost enough to keep us out of cognizance for the twist.

  4. Lara Dunning says:

    Nice suspensful build up. His continual reference to his children made you think something completely different. Although I wonder if he would really call himself a bigamist?

  5. Helen says:

    Very good story, I didn’t think he was a ghost, because of the way he talked about what he expected his family were doing, – eg “My wife, Jannie, will be giving a police statement; comforting the girls; identifying my watch,” if he was a ghost he would have seen for sure what they were doing so he would have said his wife was etc.. I wondered more why he had “got lost” if you like, the ending was a surprise not what I expected at all. I thought perhaps he was involved in some shady deal. Good writing!

  6. I was thinking ghost too, but caught on when he dumped his car (the title helped here too I think!).
    Great opening paragraph!

  7. adampb says:

    Nice and twisty. Wonderful reflective tone, that justification for actions that sound so hollow when you get to the end.
    Adam B @revhappiness

  8. ~Tim says:

    You captured well his attempt to justify his actions. I think his weakest argument is that he has “unintentionally” begun a new life. I’m not sure that is possible, but nothing here convinces me that any of his actions are unintentional. He gets no sympathy from me.

    Nice work.

  9. Maria Kelly says:

    Nice twist. Here I was feeling sorry for the guy because he’s dead and then…no, he’s just a man who values one son over four daughters…not just a bigamist, but a chauvinist as well. So you turned my empathy to disgust in a matter of seconds…reading the last paragraph. You used great shifts to do that, too. I like the way you punched my gut out there.

  10. TEC4 says:

    Man. I was feeling all sympathetic for this guy and then — wham! You pulled the rug out. Well done.

  11. Brilliant opening line: it completely drew me in. I’m not certain that you needed the digressive paragraph about the daughter. Instead, i’d have liked the meeting with the fortune teller to be more prominent. However, that opening line kept me with you and I wasn’t let down by the twist which was set up so well.

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