Prompt: You live in a world where each lie creates a scar on the liar’s body. The bigger the lie, the deeper and larger the mark. One day, you meet someone that only has one scar; it is the biggest one you have ever seen.
I shouldn’t have gone out tonight.
I don’t know what I was thinking, I hate going out. I hate these stupid parties my friends make me go to. I don’t know anyone here. They’re all dancing to pulsing music and the lights in this room are making my head ache. I’d go home if I had a ride. It would be too embarrassing to call a cab to come pick me up, right?
I flex my fingers nervously. They’re covered with scars, tiny ridges along my knuckles and the backs of my hands. I’m not embarrassed of them, they’re just little white lies, but not everyone has visible scars. There are some people who are so obsessed with the truth. It’s hard to tell, though. Some people just have scars they’re able to hide.
I start to push my way through the crowd. Who knows if it’ll be less crowded outside, but it’s worth a look. It’s packed in here; I can barely see the back door, much less get to it. I squeeze in between party-goers, weaving my way through as best I can, until-
I run straight into someone. Someone shoves me from behind and I hit his chest with both hands. I jump back immediately, look up to apologize, and freeze.
The stranger has a massive scar on his face.
It’s bigger than any scar I’ve ever seen before. It runs from his temple to the base of his neck, even splitting off to travel across his eye. It’s deep- really deep. The lie he must have told to get a scar like that…
I take a step back. Then I realize that I just ran into him, and my face flushes.
“Um.. sorry. My bad.”
The stranger scowls at me and pushes past. As he walks through the party, the crowd seems to part for him, coalescing in the spaces around him to let him pass.
I take advantage of the sudden distraction and manage to make it outside.
It’s quieter out here.
I sit down on an empty lawn chair, letting the cool night air chill and relax my nerves. I stare at the pool, the moon glittering strangely on the surface.
The stranger appears at the door way and makes his way over to the row of lawn chairs. I glance down the row and realize the stuff on the chair two down from me must be his. He’s got a beer in his hand and he eyes me warily as he sits down.
I can’t help but glance over his scar. It’s bigger now- branching off to follow his jawline. Whatever this lie is, he’s still telling it. He hasn’t told someone… something.
“Stop staring,” he growls. I jump.
He grunts and looks away. Seemingly unconsciously, he runs a hand over the side of his face.
“Does it hurt?” I blurt out. I’ve heard that the biggest lies, the deepest scars, burn.
He glares at me. “No.”
I can’t tell if he’s lying. “Do you know what it is?” I ask. He must. A scar this deep and complex, it has to be intentional. He must-
“Why haven’t you told them?”
God. Why am I still talking.
I expect him to get angry, yell at me or storm off. Instead, he looks strangely vulnerable. He refuses to meet my gaze.
“… I can’t.”
Now, he looks like he’s in pain. I can’t tell if it’s the scar or the guilt, but something is eating him alive. I take a breath and wonder what the best thing to say is.
“Do you think,” I say carefully, “it’s worth the pain?”
“Yes,” he says without hesitation. Then he pauses. After a few moments, he sighs. “No.”
He exhales in frustration. “It’ll destroy them.”
“It’s destroying you,” I murmur.
We sit in silence for a few minutes. Then, without warning, he stands up, collecting his things, and clears this throat awkwardly.
“Thanks,” he grunts.
Then he walks away. He leaves his beer on the table by the chair. He seems taller, I think, walking away. His spine’s a little straighter, his shoulders a bit farther back.
The moon’s reflection on the water’s surface hasn’t changed.