Saturday, September 20, 2008


I'm so happy to have with us today one of my good friends, Kate Coombs, author of RUNAWAY PRINCESS and THE SECRET KEEPER. Kate's also one of my critique partners without whom I would be a mess!

I used to work with someone who opened her mouth, and lies flowed out—streams and rivers and lakes of lies, all shining in the sun as if they were true.

I’ve never been like that. As a kid, I’d tell the truth even when it meant tattling on myself. (My brother let me know just how idiotic he thought that was!) I also told the truth when people asked me how they looked. Funny how most of them didn’t ask twice. I didn’t cheat on tests, either. I had a do or die mentality when it came to tests.

So, smarmy though it sounds, thinking of a time I told a lie actually took some doing. But the one I came up with, while simple, has stuck in my mind. I was thirteen and in the seventh grade. This was a bad thing. I had braces, a handful of zits, a blah figure, and a trendy haircut that utterly failed in its trendy duties when associated with my particular head. I was in the marching band, with an unrequited crush on a boy named Steven. I was arguably a nerd, complete with a bully in my P.E. class who decided to put me on her hit list. So yeah, not my favorite year.

Then one day I was sitting in science when I felt something new and unexpected flowing between my legs. Why couldn’t my very first period have started when I was safely at home? At least I wasn’t wearing white pants. Still, I’m sure I was a little agitated as I raised my hand and asked the teacher’s permission to go to the bathroom.

I didn’t have any supplies with me, not even money for the dispenser in the girls’ bathroom. Instead I used wads of paper towels to get through the day. Somehow, it worked. But I may have been blushing when I got back to class. The complete opposite of a poker face is what you’d expect from a person with my honesty habit, kind of like the perfect bracelet to match a pair of earrings.

I sat down, trying to concentrate on science. When class ended, a girl I knew slightly from grade school approached me. “What happened?” Laura asked.

“Nothing.” Standard teenage answer, right? Translated, it means Back off!

She didn’t back off, though. “You’re acting kind of funny,” Laura persisted. “Did you start your period?”

What, did she have some girl-based version of ESP? Was my face even more easily read than previously suspected? At any rate, I wasn’t stupid enough to think that Laura was being kind—I didn’t know her that well. This was pure curiosity. And it wasn’t hard for me to guess how a rumor about my budding womanhood might make my already-dismal life even worse. I tried looking realistically baffled as I said, “No.”

Laura finally gave up.

That was a red-letter day, or at least a red one—between the blushing and, well, the obvious. I had managed to cross two lines at the same time, both of them over the border into adulthood, a land where nothing would seem simple anymore.

So hey—truth still works for me. Truth matters to me. I’m into truth. But I’ve never once regretted the sheer shamefully adolescent necessity of telling that one-word lie to Miss Nosy back in the seventh grade.

Have you ever felt cornered and had to lie? Leave a comment and be entered to win a copy of RUNAWAY PRINCESS.