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I wrote this story after learning that some studies show people lie at least 1-2 times a day. A question arose: What is the scale of consequence per lie? Is there a such thing as a "small lie"? Before I knew it, my fingers began typing away at the keyboard.

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A young boy sits on the weathered sofa listening to the drip drip drip of the inoperable sink. His Mother scurries about, scattered, cleaning spots that are no longer dirty. Disinfecting germs that are no longer there. Taking care of a father who is long gone. Drip drip drip. Ever since his Father died, the child felt as though he had nothing to do. “Mother,” he’d ask in the most pitiful of voices. “Would you like to play catch?” And every time the little boy asked, he was met with a faraway “I…I have so much to do,” before the sound of scrubbing again and again. The boy disagreed but simply nodded in response. He had once tried kicking a ball back and forth. Back and forth. But running toward both ends of the patch yard, pretending to be two often wore him out. And so, he inevitably found himself on the weathered sofa listening to the drip drip drip of the inoperable sink. The boy would frequently find himself biting his lip like his Father taught him. “Never tell a lie, my son. Bite the words and breathe.” He would do it so funnily, that the child could not help but laugh. His Mother would feign vexation, swatting his shoulders. “It is not a joke!” But his Father would just wag his eyebrows until his Mother soon fell into a fit of laughter too. Sunny, the little boy decided, is what they were back then. The boy gnaws on his tiny chapped lips as he contemplates bringing up the memory to his Mother. Such a lovely moment could only make things better. And so, the young child leaps from the sofa, and tip-toes up the rickety stairs, so as to not startle his Mother. She’s become so skittish. The boy’s eyebrows furrow as his old irritations freshen. If he ambled up to her quietly and whispered, she’d flinch and strike his cheek. But if he yelled, he’d receive the same fate. Biting back unsavory feelings, he marches forward. No matter how silently he walks, the wooden floors creak and cry. The boy believes something is living beneath the floorboards, for only something alive could make such a gut-wrenching sound. Sometimes, even, the boy could swear he made eye contact with it. He told his parents, and they locked him in his room, for fear that he had told a lie. Days passed, and they finally let the frail, hungry boy out. The little boy didn’t know if they understood what his being okay meant. If he believed he made eye contact with a crying creature beneath their house and he wasn’t lying, what were they to do? *** The answer came quickly enough. Nothing. The family simply celebrated their son’s livelihood. But the child heard through paper-thin walls later that night, a striking conversation. “I checked under the house, Evelyn.” “And?” “And there is nothing there.” “Oh my,” the silent panic in her voice made the tiny blonde hairs on the child’s neck rise and rise and rise. “Hush, do not wake the boy,” he whispered. “In any case, this is good news.” “No. No! If…if there’s nothing there…h-he lied. He lied!” “Dear, maybe the creature simply left,” Father was always reasonable. “Then look me in my eye and tell me there was any sign of any creature,” And Mother was always smart. “Evelyn.” “We need to go and…and leave him here. We can keep some food for him, but—” “I would rather die.” Silence followed, and it was louder than any floorboard creak. The boy shook his head, bringing himself back to the present. Walking through the dark hallway, he found the bathroom door open, his mother leaning over the tub. He whispered a quick “Mummy?” and she flinched away, lifting her hand threateningly. When she saw it was him, she nodded. “Yes?” “Do you remember…when father would wiggle his eyebrows like this,” the little boy did a superb impression, giggling. For a moment—a mere iota of a second, his mother looked twenty years younger, a glimmer of a smile on her lips. And then, like a light switch, she dimmed, eyes darkening. “You mustn’t bring up your father. He was a fool, I tell you. A fool.” “He wasn’t,” I yell back. “Father was amazing!” “You’ve no idea what you’re talking about, you stupid child,” She spits, scrubbing away at the spotless tub. “It’s clean,” the child whispered. “It’s been clean.” “What are you on about?” “I miss my Mother! I don’t know who you are!” With that, the child runs into his room, slamming the door. Pressing his red face into his pillow, his tiny balled-up fists hit the mattress again and again and again. The boy missed his Father. The boy missed his family. Suddenly, he stops, hands mid-air. So quickly, jerkily, it’s frightening. With inhuman composure, the child sits up, wiping his face. Something, a silent whisper, tells the child to go outside. The little boy doesn’t even bother grabbing shoes. Barefooted, in ratty pajamas, the boy walks out of the house, crawling underneath. Rats scurry away but they don’t scare the boy. In fact, the child feels… excited. A woman’s voice calls to him. “My child, how I have missed you,” she says, still facing away from him. The little boy recognizes the voice, the audible smile. “Mother? Mother get away from there. There could be critters, don’t you know?” The boy knew how much she feared things that crawled. He scrambles toward her, giving her a tight hug. But something is wrong. The warm chest he expects is cold. Bony. But as he tries to back away, an equally cold hand presses him to her. “I love you, my dear.” And though, everything about this is wrong. The voice of his mother soothes him, as his eyes blissfully droop. “I love you, mother.” “Prove it to me, love. Do something for me.” The boy nods against her. “Who is your real mother?” “You, of course,” the child says, confusion creeping into his voice. “Good boy, say it to me.” “Say what,” the boy asks, becoming more annoyed at the conversation. A moment of silence passes. “Say I’m your mother. " Overcome by a need to please his mother, he said it, even with the tiny voice in his head screaming no. “You are my mother.” Within seconds, the boy was launched from the woman’s arms roughly. His face hit the dewy grass hard. His heart bumped from his chest as he looked up in horror. The woman looking down at him was not his mother! She was hideous, with eyes covering every crevice of her boiled face. Some of them looked liquified, dripping black goo. A thin layer of skin covered her visible bones. And then…so quickly…as if the creature was never there…a beautiful woman stood before him. Before he could say a thing, she snapped her soft fingers and everything went black. *** The boy awoke to the sound of water drip drip dripping. It echoed loudly, but not as loud as the ringing in his ears. Pressing his scraped palms against his ears, he sat up, realizing he was in a basement of sorts. His eyes dashed to and fro before making contact with the woman in the corner. Her skin glowed. She was perfect with long flowing hair, fair skin, and a natural blush. Her eyes were the brightest blue and she looked so…so kind. But then she spoke. The voice she held was akin to nails against the chalkboard.
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Savannah Hicks

Savannah Hicks, at the tender age of 17, navigates life with the grace of a giraffe on roller skates and the GPA of a student who occasionally remembers to attend class. Despite her humble 3.7, she's a force to be reckoned with when it comes to wielding words and wielding her trusty ukulele (occasionally simultaneously, with varying degrees of success). Blessed with a poet for a mom, Savannah's love affair with language started before she could even spell "inquizitive" correctly on the first try. Her drawings, so realistic they've been mistaken for passport photos, hang on walls, much to the confusion of unsuspecting visitors who wonder why the eyes in the room seem to follow them. When she's not busy stringing together sentences or making a total mess in the kitchen, Savannah can be found jamming out on her electric guitar, simultaneously impressing and terrifying the neighbors. And yes, she's been known to drop a humble brag or two about her accomplishments, but hey, when you're a walking masterpiece of talent and charm, who can blame her? So grab a seat and prepare for a roller coaster of creativity with Savannah Hicks - just, maybe, put on your seatbelt. more…

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