WHY DO THEY LIE TO ME? • by Rohini Gupta

Why do they bother to lie to me? Don’t they know that I can see the truth?

They come, they sit smiling at my table and they tell me stories which have no truth in them at all. I see past to the truth and I make their dreams come true, but I do not, and I have never, dealt in lies.

The woman comes, with her husband, weeping. She wears rubies; he wears a solitaire which could buy a palace. She has lost a diamond ring. The husband describes the report he made to the police. I do not listen to him. I ask the woman, “are you sure you want it back?”

“What kind of question is that?” the husband demands.

I ignore him and ask her again, “do you want it found?”

“Of course I do,” she says, “can’t see how distraught I am?”

The husband puts an arm around her and tells me he will pay and repeats his promise several times, anxiously.

“Then you shall have it by evening,” I say, sighing.

He smiles, but she looks back from the door, wondering. She does not know the price she paid. She will not be pleased. Some days you cannot please anyone.

Sometimes I get tired of the facade, of pretending I don’t know what I know, of watching them tell me one thing when their thoughts are boiling with another.

The father comes, with his teenage daughter, and a marriage proposal. He shows me the photo of a young man. I don’t want to look at it. I don’t want to look into this young man’s troubled life. I look at the daughter instead, and I see the tightness and anger inside.

“What do you want?” I ask her.

The girl says nothing and looks at the floor. She does not want marriage at all. She wants to go to college and get a job and earn money first. Her thoughts swirl like dark eddies in a red rage of anger but they never spill out into words.

Do I take his words or do I take her thoughts? His words have a foul taste and I decide I will take that little white flower of hope which I see deep inside her.

“Very well,” I tell her, “you will get what you want.”

She raises her head and looks at me wondering.

“Go to college,” I say.

I look at her father, and he looks at me suddenly, shaking his head as if he is waking from a dream. “Of course,” he says.

He sweeps the photo off the desk into the wastepaper basket. The girl’s mouth drops open. She turns to me with blank, bewildered eyes and the little white bud of hope explodes into a flower.

I take the fragrance of that flower and it is enough. She did not lie.

Just before dark, my last visitor arrives. He leaves his bodyguards outside. I have seen his handsome face in the newspapers.

He smiles at me, examines my tiny room and sits as if on a throne. It is a throne he will ask for.

“I hear you are the woman who can make desires come true. You are highly recommended by those whose opinion I value.”

“I can.”

“Can you make me Prime Minister?’

He waits tensely while I think. “No,” I say at last, “it will not work. The price is too high.”

He laughs and sits back, relaxed now that prices have been mentioned. “No price is too high, just name your figure.”

“I do not deal in money. The price is a lifetime of truth, and only the truth. No prevarications.”

He smiles, “I am a truthful man.”

“You agree to a lifetime of truth?”

“Of course,” he says, showing me his fine white teeth. He is a handsome man, this one, but his aura is fetid. “Is that all? I could pay more.”

“Once paid,” I say, “there will be no refunds.”

“Can you really do it?’

“It is done,” I tell him and so it is. I have doomed him and he does not even know it. He asked and he received. Case closed.

At night the woman of the diamond ring comes back and bangs on my door at 2 a.m. She is white and haggard. Her ring was not lost. She had given it to her demanding lover. But I have promised it back and so the police have arrested the lover and her ring was dropped into her unwilling hand.

She is wearing it on the hand that hammers on my door. I don’t answer the door. She shouts and weeps and bangs for an hour. Finally she goes away.

I am tired, very tired. I am fed up of the dirty green smell of lies. I know it is time for me to leave.

The politician will be back and will move heaven and earth to find me but I will be long gone. His colleagues will kill him one day when he can no longer lie, cover up or deny. He will make Prime Minister though — I have promised him that — and the country will be better for it. He will hate it and never stop seeking me.

I pack a bag and leave before dawn. There was a time when I dreamt of a house and a family and a place I could call my own. Those dreams died a long time ago.

For me there are no homes, no roots. Before dawn I step out into a shadowy world, slip past the sleepers and take a train to a place I do not know, to a town which will be new and will be just the same, where the tomorrows will be just like today.

The world has no place for the few like me who see the truth. This world belongs to those who lie.


Rohini Gupta writes in Maharashtra, India.


Rate this story:
 average 5 stars • 2 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • Nick

    An excellent story. Well-constructed and compelling. It reads fluidly and effortlessly – testament to the effort that’s gone into it.

  • Janice D. Soderling

    I agree fully with Nick above. A story that compels one to keep reading and at the end emit a little sigh of appreciation.

  • Excellent. Really enjoyed it!

  • I really enjoyed this.

    That said, I found myself wondering why the narrator gave up on her own dreams, when a nomadic existence, reading people’s thoughts and granting their desires makes her so miserable.

  • I love the ‘dirty green smell of lies’ – absolutely right but I don’t know why lies should be dirty green.

  • J.C. Towler

    I don’t usually weigh in on stories we publish, but I’m making an exception this week for the “extended” Flash Fiction Day celebration to try to give our loyal readers and writers a bit of insight on the hows and whys of stories making it through the slush pile. I should add that my comments are not meant as a reflection of the opinion of the entire editorial staff.

    The first thing that strikes you about “Why do They Lie to Me” is the beauty of language. Alan has already pointed out my favorite lines about “dirty green smell of lies” and a more scholarly type could probably write a small dissertation on why that description is so effective. It is but one of many gems in this darkly sparkling fantasy piece.

    EDF receives a number of poetry submissions, (which we gently refer to our sister-site, Every Day Poets) and also stories that probably would be better served to be presented in poetry format. But “Why do They Lie to Me” blends the nuanced language of poetry into a solid prose tale, along the way introducing us to a complex character with an unusual power that can be understood as either a gift or a curse. The character or item with an ability to grant wishes is no stranger to fiction. The consequences of ill-conceived wishes are a familiar plot. But here we have a character that is upfront with the price of her wish-granting, and the price is a life of eternal truth. It is a unique setup and the story itself lingers with the reader, who may well wonder if they themselves would accept such a tradeoff.

  • A very fine story. I really liked this.

  • Sarah Crysl Akhtar

    Five stars. Perfectly done.

  • kc

    This is a wonderful story. I want more.

  • JenM

    What great writing and characterization. No one likes the Cassandra’s of the world.

  • joannab.

    five stars. four of them are for the compelling quality of this story, the fifth is for getting back to the woman with the diamond ring. for awhile i thought we would never know how the diamond got “lost,” i was so happy when we were told.
    this story also helped me see what my deepest wish in life really is.

  • A great little story. I’ve lived in a few countries like this was set in.

    There were a couple of places (dodgily punctuated dialogue and typos – i.e.’who opinion’) where I felt a further edit might have been desirable. Otherwise – fab stuff.

  • What a great community of writers this is. Thank you for all your kind comments on my story.

  • kathy k

    WOW. 5 stars.

  • Paul Friesen

    I liked it

  • Simone

    Very nice! I especially like the girl who did not lie.

  • Loved this. Great work Rohini

  • J.C. Towler wrote:-

    But here we have a character that is upfront with the price of her wish-granting, and the price is a life of eternal truth.

    No, we don’t “have a character that is upfront with the price of her wish-granting, and the price is a life of eternal truth”. Read it again.

    She is up front with her clients that there is a heavy price, but no more than that by and large. She tells just one of them that that is what the price is – for him. Either she is not up front with all her clients that that is what the price is, or (far more likely, in view of the monkey’s-pawish outcomes) that is not “the” price at all, but rather there is always a price that is heavy for the client concerned, tailored to each, and poetically just from the perspective of Truth with a capital “T”; it seems to be always a form of acted honesty, being true to oneself, but for the others apart from the politician we neither see “a life of eternal truth” (yet) nor do we see them told any specific price. For instance, it appears that for the adultress the price, that she was not told specifically, is a life living with the consequences and side-effects of the truth coming out that way – subtly different.

  • Gretchen Bassier

    Awesome story – I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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  • Autumn

    Wonderful.

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  • Deepa

    Lovely story…and written with such clarity. A lifetime of experience in a few words. Well done!

  • I quite enjoyed this story. I’m not sure that the main character was as truthful as she wanted others to be, but maybe that was her own way of blending in with the liars. Either way, the story was good and the prose was well written.

  • veena gupta

    Beautiful, Rohini! Great characterisation. Love the brevity of the writing. So much said so simply and so expertly.

  • veena gupta

    Beautiful, Rohini! Great characterisation. Love the brevity of the writing. So much said so simply and so expertly.

  • jyotee

    That was excellent. So many fine nuances are lost when we read in ccd. Now I could enjoy them slowly and surely. ..eg “His words have a foul taste” or the little twists that are seeped in wisdom and convey a deep observation of life as your inner eye sees.

  • jyotee

    That was excellent. So many fine nuances are lost when we read in ccd. Now I could enjoy them slowly and surely. ..eg “His words have a foul taste” or the little twists that are seeped in wisdom and convey a deep observation of life as your inner eye sees.