My Friday Fiction Friends and I write different stories based on the same prompt. This week, Kelly DeBie at DeBie Hive provided the prompt. This is episode nineteen in an ongoing series. If you missed the first eighteen episodes, here are links:
Amanda, Brad, and Robert sat at the kitchen table for dinner. The lazy Susan in the center was full of the boys’ favorite meal, lasagna, garlic cheese bread, and salad. Feeding two teenage boys kept Amanda busy, and sitting down to eat together and practicing manners was important to her. Taking turns serving themselves, Robert kept his eye contact away from his mom because he knew he was in trouble. With a nervous feeling in his stomach, he started eating the lasagna hoping that it would calm down.
“Highlights and lowlights. Robert?” Amanda asked as she poured herself a glass of her favorite Merlot. She kept a pleasant tone of voice and had a smile in her eyes, attempting to set a positive tone at the dinner table.
“My highlight is everything, and my lowlight is nothing” he replied with his standard answer.
Brad was wolfing down his third piece of garlic bread and mumbled, “uh let’s see.”
“Finish eating before you answer. Where are the manners?”
“OK,” he swallowed and looked around as if trying to recall his day. “My highlight was probably soccer practice, and my lowlight was waking up this morning. I seriously hate getting up so early. How about you mom? What are your highlights and lowlights?”
“Well, my highlight is right now. I love being together with you boys. And my lowlight is getting a call from school today about Robert’s unexcused absence. What exactly is that all about little man?” She turned her eyes to Robert and waited patiently for his answer. Amanda had already raised two teenagers, her oldest Steven was quite a challenge in high school, and Robert was easier because he was her second oldest. She learned some things along the way raising her oldest. At eighteen, Brad was past his roughest teenage years and becoming more mature.
“What? Robert skipped school? What’s up with that little bro?” Brad laughed casually.
Robert didn’t know what to say. He didn’t want to tell the truth, and he didn’t want to lie either. What a bummer that the school calls the parents. He thought to himself as he avoided his mother’s stare. He looked out the window, then back to his plate. “What? I was there!”
“Robert, come on. Do you think I believe you or the school? You know I am an adult who believes other adults in most cases.”
“Dude, little brother, do not lie to mom. She hates that. You will be better off telling the truth than if you start lying. Liars need to have a good memory little bro; once you start lying you weave a tangled web of deception and have to start lying about your lies. It’s confusing brother. Trust me on that one. Been there, done that. Remember when I got in trouble for lying about going to the movies and got busted going to my friend’s party? Mom was so mad dude. I got my car taken away for a month! How was I supposed to know she could track my location on my phone? That’s sneaky mom. I was so stupid. If you skipped school today, mom can handle the truth. She already knows. Just be honest. A little bit in trouble for telling the truth is way better than a lot in trouble because of both the behavior and the lying.”
Robert kept eating, letting his big brother have the floor. Anything to postpone having to answer his mom. He didn’t think he would get caught, so he didn’t even have a good story. Amanda waited patiently, eating her salad and sipping Merlot. “Wow, your big brother has gained some wisdom has he?” She smiled at Brad and thanked him for his help. “He is right Robert. If you did something wrong, trust me I can understand that. You are human. We are all human. We mess up from time to time. That’s how we learn, from our mistakes. This is not my first time dealing with bad behavior, so your lucky to be the youngest. At thirteen years old, frankly I expect to have some behavior issues. That’s normal really. If you skipped school, I would at least like to know why and what you were doing. I care about you. And your education is important. Whatever it was you were doing is not more important than school. You will learn that one day.”
This was the first time he had ever skipped class, and now he felt so stupid because all he did was walk around. He didn’t even do anything exciting or scandalous. “It was math mom. I wasn’t ready for the test. I didn’t want to fail it” he said softly, embarrassed.
Brad laughed at him as he cleaned his plate. “Hey now be nice Brad. Honey, thank you for telling me. I didn’t even know you had a test coming up. You skipped class so you wouldn’t fail the test? What did you do? Where did you go? Were you with anyone?”
“I just walked around. I didn’t go anywhere, and no I was alone.”
“And nobody caught you in the halls?”
“I guess not.”
“Are you sure that’s it? You weren’t smoking cigarettes or drinking beer or trying drugs were you? Please tell me there wasn’t a girl involved. Seriously.”
“Mom! Come on. No!” Now he was really embarrassed.
“Because I want you to know you can talk to me about those things. I know what it’s like to be a teenager, and I know that there are drugs in the schools here. Don’t get me started on that. But honey, you are going to be exposed to all those challenges for the next several years. My bottom line is safety with you boys. And pregnancy as in not getting a girl pregnant. I want you kids to stay alive and not get a girl pregnant before you are married. That’s it.”
“Like Steven?” Robert was happy to get the attention off of him.
“Yes, like Steven. We all saw how stressful that was for both him and Althea at the time, and we see how they struggle now as a young couple. It’s better if you can get your education and start your career and get married before you start having babies. But just like with Steven, there is nothing this family can’t handle. I just want you boys to tell me the truth. And I will help you handle whatever it is. Since you told the truth, you will lose electronics for a day, and you will write an apology note to your teacher for skipping her class. If you were going to concoct a lie about it, the consequence would have been much more serious young man. Since it’s an unexcused absence, you will have to accept the consequence, which in this case is a failing grade. Unfortunately you won’t be able to make it up like you would if it was an excused absence. That stinks, but hopefully you will learn from this experience. If you need help, just ask. I am good at math! In fact, why don’t you boys clean up the kitchen after dinner and then you and I will sit down and look at the material.”
“Yes ma’am.” He reluctantly agreed, knowing that being polite was his best option right there. Honest and polite.
Truth lies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Here’s the prompt for the week: “Liars need to have good memories” ~Algernon Sidney