Carolyn Steele Agosta
A Bellyfull of Lies
Updated: Mar 25, 2020
This story was originally written as 'flash fiction' - a spontaneous writing activity with a 'prompt'. In this case, the prompt was the word "Cookies".
A Bellyfull of Lies
She ate his lies, all of them. Gobbled them down one mouthful after another, like hot French fries or popcorn or fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies just out of the oven, and oh, they tasted so good. They satisfied all her needs – salty and sweet and savory all at once – the finest caviar and vodka – pizza and beer – whatever she craved. They filled her up and kept her begging for more. She had been so hungry, achingly starved, her tongue parched, her stomach growling. She felt as though she’d been living on rice cakes and a few drops of tepid water and now, here he was, offering ambrosia and nectar and things she’d never even dreamed about.
She knew they were lies. She was not beautiful. She was not refined. Or amazing or sexy or smart or special or oh, so understanding. Not in any sort of way. But he made her FEEL she was, until she loved herself almost as much as she loved him.
So, she ate his lies, gulped them down, crammed them in with both fists and swallowed them whole. Nibbled on compliments, munched pet names, came back for seconds and thirds of ‘plans for the future’. Replete with sex and lies, she became his slave. Gave him money, loaned him her car, bought him clothes, paid their rent. It was worth it to be able to come home and find him there. She was not alone any more. He asked about her day, carried in the groceries, commiserated with her about her boss. He introduced her to new experiences – football and basketball and video games and pot. He helped her select a big screen TV and a black leather couch. “So we can snuggle,” he said, and she ate that too, chewed it slowly, savored the taste and washed it down with a big glass of deception on ice. She was willing to do so, a co-conspirator, just glad to be able to sleep at night because her belly was full.
There came a day, though, when she gorged too much, and her gut overflowed, and some of the lies came spewing out. A day when her wallet was empty and her bank account overdrawn, and the TV and leather couch were missing from the living room. There was a reasonable explanation, she was sure. He needed money for a friend, or his mother, or to settle a debt. She hunted him down, hoping he could explain, terrified and dreading that she would end up choking on horrible truths, bitter and sour, full of fishbones and glass shards, tasting of mold and chalk and mud. But she needn’t have worried. She finally found him, outside that pub, straddling a brand-new motorcycle, his helmet in his hand. He looked up at her, his expression a mix of – what? – annoyance? – pity? She wasn’t sure. He bent close, his lips to her ear, and said, “I have to go. You’re too good for me. I don’t deserve you.” His words settled like warm syrup over her nerves. “I’m leaving to try to become a better man. Someday, if I work hard, I might become everything you ought to have. And then I’ll come back.”
A young woman walked out of the pub, climbed on the back of the motorcycle. His sister? A cousin? He’d mentioned family, once or twice, hadn’t he? They drove away and she was left standing on the curb, full of doubts, but finally setting off toward home. He was going to try to become a better man, a man who would be everything she ought to have. He would be back. She felt her stomach gurgle and settle down. His words were just crumbs, tiny infinitesimal crumbs, but she could live off them a long, long time.