Sharing Lies

Free fiction! A story from The Old Man's Last Sauna

Sharing Lies

It is a thin line and a wide gap
that separates a child's imagination
from the world of lies

It wasn't long after they arrived that her parents were privately and urgently telling her that they should do something about the lies her son told. While her parents were having their afternoon hiatus, she revealed all to her husband as they watched their four-year-old liar building sand castles on the beach.

He frowned and smiled and took his wife in his arms for a brief hug and a tender kiss. He was happy in being so lucky to find such a perfect mother for his progeny. She was thorough, quick to perceive, and kept telling him he should write a book about raising children. A reasonable man could ask no more. She cuddled against him as he said she should tell her parents that he would deal with the boy's lies on the eighty-kilometre return trip to the nearest butcher shop this afternoon. She kissed him in response, saying that she was sure he would, and that she would tell them. After all, they agreed, there was no point in having unhappy grandparents during their weekend visit.

At three o'clock, with his parents-in-law still at rest, he fired up the old station wagon. His son, always eager to travel, especially with Daddy, settled in the passenger front seat on his knees, so he could see over the dashboard. Father and son were so relaxed in each other's company that neither felt the necessity to fill the air with words. They talked when prompted by ideas, events, or people, as bright four-year-olds and sensitive fathers will. This time it was the Incherman family that got them going.

His son, with glowing face, pointed ahead and said there was one of the Incherman children, and that they should stop and give him a lift. Daddy said okay, pulled the car to the side of the road, stopped, and leaned past his son to open the passenger-side door. Is he in? When his son said yes, he closed the door, and put the wagon in motion as he asked his son if the Incherman child was comfortably seated. His son said yes and silence absorbed them.

They hadn't gone a kilometre before his son saw their passenger's sister and said they should stop to pick her up too. The father could hardly argue. After all, it wouldn't do to pick up one member of the family and not another.

This was really Incherman Day. Within the next ten kilometers they stopped eleven times to pick up a member of the Incherman family. The eleventh stop was for the Incherman parents themselves. There were now twenty Inchermans in the wagon. Two kilometers further his son said that ahead were two cousins of the Inchermans. As the father stopped the car and opened the passenger door, he suggested that the vehicle was full, that they had to get to the butcher shop before it closed. Maybe they could pick up the rest of the Inchermans on the way back.

His son was radiant with shared secret. He stared ahead at the road and said okay, that would be a good idea.

The pickups delayed them about twenty minutes. When they arrived back his wife and her parents were in the kitchen. His wife had supper started, her parents were sitting around the table watching and talking.

She took the meat and began to prepare it, asking him how went the journey. He shrugged with his lips and narrowed his eyes at her, saying it was easy, the only problem was that before they got there they had encountered on the road the whole family of their son's friends, and stopped for each to give them a lift.

Her face warmed and their eyes touched in gentle caress. You mean the Incherman family? she said. He said yes. She dropped to her knees and gathered her son close against her bosom, held him there for a moment and then released him with a whimper of delight, telling him to wash up because they were soon going to eat.

The Inchermans? her parents wanted to know. She went back to the counter. He took an aperitif from the liquor cabinet and then an ice tray from the refrigerator. As he set out the glasses he said that the Inchermans lived down the road and his son played with the children just about every day.

Their son came back in and announced that three of the Incherman children were still in the station wagon. Father and mother exchanged glances and he said well, there's nothing for it except to take them back to the pavement two kilometers along the gravel and leave them there for their parents to pick up. She smiled with approval.

As their son-in-law and their grandchild drove out of the lane, the visiting grandparents necked out the window, curious to see three of the Incherman children. They looked at each other with repressed emotion. As far as they could see there was no one in the station wagon except father and son.


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  Image: Cover of The Old Man's Last Sauna by Carl Dow  

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