Saturday, January 22, 2011

Short Story: Caught Dead Living a Lie

Caught Dead Living a Lie
by Nikki Layne

My entire life was a lie, but it wasn’t until I was twelve years old that I started to figure out. Certain aspects of my life never made sense. Why did my “parents” wait until they were almost sixty to have me? Why were my “siblings” almost twenty years older than me? Why did this “friend of the family” come and spend time with just me one day each month? Why did she stop coming? Why did I spend every other weekend at my “brother’s” house? These were all questions that started to brew inside my head.

When I was twelve, I got very nosy. I was rummaging through a dresser that was down in the basement when I came across a dusty photo album. In this album there were pictures of a baby girl with my “brother” and the “friend of the family.” Puzzled, I brought the album upstairs to my bedroom to analyze it better. He was married and so was she, but not to each other. They each had kids, but all boys. Who was this baby girl? Why was this album hidden?

The baby girl was me. Why was I with them alone in pictures that made it look like we were a family? Were they my real parents? Was everything I was ever told a lie? The questions started rolling in. I knew that if I had been lied to for the past twelve years that there was no way I would get any truth from them now. I had to research it all on my own.

I knew her name, the “friend of the family”, my potential real mother. She had stopped coming to visit six months ago. I knew she lived somewhere in southern California while I lived in Arizona. I went over by the telephone where a list of important numbers was always kept written on a steno pad. Her name was there, Julie Thompson.

It was 3:30pm. Nobody would be home until at least 5:30pm. I had two hours to attempt this phone call. So, I took a deep breath and gave it a shot. I dialed the number. I hung up. I was too scared. What was I supposed to say? I knew I had to do this. I needed to know who I really was and some truth about my life. It was obvious I had been living a lie for as long as I could remember.

The phone rang. I answered. It was Julie. I was at a loss for words. I somehow managed murmur, “Are you my mother?” There was a long stretch of silence. “Yes”, she replied. I had no idea what to say. I was shocked and confused. Why was I lied to for so long and lead to believe that someone else was my mother? “Why am I just now finding this out”, I asked? “The better question is how”, she replied. I told her about the album in the basement.

Who are Marilyn and Paul” I asked? “Your grandparents”, she answered. “How about Todd”, I asked. I could hear her crying and breathing heavily over the phone. I felt bad, but these are things I needed to know. I had no idea who else I could turn to for these answers. It was obvious the Fletcher’s would only lie to me. “Todd is your father”, she said.

I couldn’t believe it. My “parents” were my grandparents. The “friend of the family” was my mother. My “brother” was my father. “Alright”, I said. “Who are Sandra, Brenda, and Laura really to me”, I asked? “They are Todd’s sisters, your aunts.” I was amazed. I couldn’t believe it. Nobody was who I thought they were. This changed who I was. I was not who I thought I was for twelve years.

Why was I lied to”, I asked. “What happened between you and Todd?” “Todd and I should have never been together. We were too young and had no idea what we were doing. His parents took you and raised you as if you were theirs. Everyone thought it would be best for you if you never found out, but you’re obviously too smart to be fooled”, Julie said. “So this is what you and Todd wanted”, I asked. “You wanted me to grow up living a lie?” I could tell Julie was having trouble answering my questions. “It wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted you. I just had no money to fight it. I was fighting a losing battle. If I didn’t agree to the Fletcher’s terms I would have never saw you. I wanted to be in your life, so I took what I could get”, she said.

I was in shock. I didn’t quite know how to handle this. I glanced at the clock. It was 5:26pm. I heard the garage door. “I have to go”, I said. “Someone just got home.” Julie hung up. She didn’t say goodbye. There was just dead air left on the phone. I hung up the phone and ran up to my bedroom to hide the photo album.
That night I stayed in my bedroom most of the night. I cried quite a bit. It was a lot for a kid my age to take in. I was in the middle of enjoying being a kid when an atomic bomb of lies exploded and revealed the truth. This weighed on my mind for the next two weeks.

Then one night I overheard Marilyn and Paul talking. Someone had died. That’s all I could really hear. I didn’t know who, when, or how. At dinner Marilyn announced it. “Julie Thompson is dead.” My eyes got big as I burst into tears and stormed up to my bedroom.

Two weeks ago I find out this woman is my mother and now she is dead! I couldn’t believe it. I would never have the opportunity to get to know her as my mother. I hated the world. I hated the Fletchers. Maybe if they never lied to me none of this would have ever happened.

Marilyn came upstairs to check on me. She knocked once and then came in. “Are you okay”, she asked? “How did she die”, I asked? “She committed suicide”, she answered. Suicide! I couldn’t believe it. She gave me all of my answers and then killed herself. “Why”, I asked? “Does anyone know?” “Not yet”, Marilyn said. “It’s still undergoing investigation.” The phone rang, so Marilyn went downstairs to answer it.

These people were not my family. They lied to me. They forced me to live a lie. They made it impossible for me to ever know my mother. I decided I was done with them and I was going to run away. Sure, I was only twelve. However, living on the streets was better than living with them. I wanted to know about my mother. Luckily, I had $109.57 in my piggy bank and $150 from my birthday and Christmas. That gave me $159.57. I knew it wasn’t a lot, but I knew it would get me somewhere other than here. I packed one backpack of clothes and also put the photo album inside. That night, I was gone with the wind.

I decided to take a Greyhound bus from Waverly, Arizona to Ashtyre, California. Ashtyre is where Julie lived. I wanted to investigate what had happened for myself. I had ripped her address and phone number out of the steno pad.

It was a long trip by bus. I slept for most of it. If I was awake I was afraid I would cry. I didn’t want anyone to know I was running away, much less what I was dealing with. Finally, I arrived in Ashtyre. I stopped inside the corner store outside the bus station and grabbed a map. This was the only way I was going to find the house she lived in. I was looking for 265 Woodbury Lane. From looking at the map, it turned out I was only three blocks away. I walked there.

There was crime tape everywhere. “Kid, you wanna get away from that house”, said a lady from across the street. “It’s a murder scene.” “A MURDER SCENE”, I exclaimed! “Yes”, she replied. She handed me a newspaper. There was a story about it right on the front page. Julie was stabbed to death. The suspect in question was Todd. I couldn’t believe it. “Where is the police station”, I asked the woman. “I can give you a ride”, she offered. I knew not to get in cars with strangers, but I also wasn’t supposed to run away from home. I had to get there as fast as I could.

I ran into the police station after thanking the lady for the ride. “I want to talk to someone about Julie Thompson”, I said. An officer took me into an office. I told him my whole story about how she was my real mother, but I had just found out. I told him I had come here to find out what happened after I found out she was dead. I told him about how Marilyn said she committed suicide. “This was no suicide”, he said. “I know that now”, I replied. “What happened”, I asked. “I hate having to tell you this”, he said. “I feel bad, but you deserve to know”, he said. “It seems like you’ve had it pretty rough.” I nodded my head waiting on him to continue on and tell me. “We got a phone call from a neighbor saying they heard screams and cries for help from your mother’s house.” “Once we had gotten there, she was lying in a pool of her own blood”, he said. “She had signs of being strangled and was stabbed four times.” “The suspect left his wallet behind, but we are still trying to locate him.” “There was no license in his wallet, just credit cards”, he said. “Todd Fletcher”, I asked? Confused, the officer nodded his head yes. “How did you know”, he asked? I handed him the newspaper article and told him about the lady who gave me a ride to the police station.

Before I could say another word, I heard gun shots. The officer was killed. It was Todd. He came over to me and put his hands around my throat. He said, “Come with me and follow my lead and there will be no problems.” “NO”, I screamed! Darkness was all I saw. Todd had shot me. Three people dead trying to cover up the lie of my life. Three. And now one is in a prison cell serving three life sentences on three counts of murder.

I never got to find out who I was or who I was supposed to be. My life ended before I could get anymore answers. I was on the path of answers and I was cut short. You never know who you can trust. Your own father could kill you in a blind rage to protect the truth. The only person you can trust in life is yourself. 

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-Nikki Layne