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She knew I was lying

I opened the door to the insistent knocking. In an even voice, the dark-haired woman with blue eyes asked if he was in.

“No, he doesn’t live here any more.”

She knew I was lying—she could see it in my face. I wondered—I don’t know why this flashed through my mind– if I’d given it away by the sudden constriction of my pupils. I remembered reading that, when you go to flea markets, wear sunglasses so they can’t see your pupils dilate when you desperately want something.  Don’t wear any jewelry or perfume, they advise, and keep your clothing simple, but most of all, wear the dark-tinted sunglasses so they can’t see your pupils dilate and constrict.

No sunglasses since  I’d been sleeping and had just flung the door open. I didn’t expect her to be standing there, hands on her hips like she owned not just him, but the whole goddamned world, too.

She’d been scrutinizing me and now narrowed her eyes.  “Really,” she said, not a question.

“Really,” I mustered. “He’s been gone now for a month, maybe two.” I tried to say this brief sentence smoothly without her hearing how my heart was jumping in fear. I kept my face a mask.

“Hmm. That’s not what I heard. Not what his friends say.”

We stared at each other coldly.

“Like I said, he’s not here.” I said it with as much finality and conviction as I knew how.

The gaze of her blue eyes pierced mine. “Well, you tell him I’ll be back, honey. You hear?”

I closed the door, went back to the bedroom, and slipped in next to his warm, sleeping body, his blonde hair splayed across the pillow. Instinctively, his long legs wrapped around mine. I shook his shoulder gently.

“ It’s her. She’s back.


“Listen. You have to decide what you want to do about her.”


We fell back to sleep.


Abigail Jardine has taught and written for many years. Her stories focus on gender, family dynamics, and American culture. She lives in California.

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