The first time I remember lying, I was seven years old. My best school friend, a fellow Catholic schoolgirl, was over and we were playing in my room. I guess I could blame what happened on her, but it was my idea. We played post office. I did the writing. She sealed the envelopes. I addressed them. Even back then I didn’t like to relinquish my pen.
Afterward we delivered the letters to all the neighbors: Miss Lil, who had hanging plants above a poster of Matisse’s goldfish; Miss Shirley, the young divorcee with two kids and a case of herpes; our top-floor drug addicts; ever kind Miss Malcolm who once bandaged my bleeding toe when my mom wasn’t around. And there were more.
My friend and I finished our deliveries and came back to my house for a snack. Hours passed and she went home. When the knocks on the door began, I wasn’t worried. First Miss Lil came to the back door, frantic, nearly in tears. I grinned on the way to my room. I didn’t get to see the rest of the neighbors come, but each one did. I missed their worried looks and concerned hugs. I never got to witness the fruits of my labor, except in my imagination.
I’m sure there was an appropriate punishment. What I did was evil. Good girls never lie and tell the neighbors that their mom died. Good girls don’t trick nice people into thinking they’re starving and miserable. But I did, and I was never sorry, not even for one single second.