TRUTH and other lies
by Foxglove Lee
An Evernight Teen ~ Alternative Young Adult
Have you ever wanted to get noticed? Have you ever felt like no matter how hard you worked or how hard you tried, nobody in the entire world cared what you did? Well, what if someone famous—and we’re talking Oprah-famous, here—noticed you for the one thing you wish you could hide? For your one big secret…
That’s exactly what happens to 18-year-old Kenneth McIntyre when television guru Prahna Mehta hails his self-published novel as the next bestseller. Little do his new fans know Truth and Other Lies wasn’t written by Kenny at all… and it isn’t fiction. Kenny’s been keeping secrets for years. Sometimes he feels like he’s lying to everybody he loves.
When Kenny gets swept into stardom, how will he hide the secrets he’s kept for years? And, if his lies are exposed, will anyone stay by his side?
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Nobody cried more than Kenny’s mom. Not even Kenny.
He started to understand that saying, “he was beside himself,” because that’s exactly how he felt. At Millie’s funeral, he kept glancing at the empty seat beside him—one of five they’d reserved in the front row for Millie’s family—because he felt like the real Kenny was sitting in the next chair, and his body was just an empty shell.
Millie was right, all those times she’d said her parents wouldn’t come to her funeral. She’d told Kenny and his mom, “You don’t understand, guys. I’m already dead to them. Why would they go to my funeral when I died three years ago? I died when I came out.”
Kenny didn’t believe that, of course. When he and his mom made the funeral arrangements, they even asked to have some of the readings done in Chinese. If her parents did come—and Kenny really and truly believed they would—they’d certainly appreciate the scripture in their mother tongue. They were very religious people, from what Millie said.
He stared at the grey chair beside him while the funeral people played one of Millie’s favorite songs. Any other day, he’d have been fuming that her family hadn’t shown up. But today? Today he didn’t have enough energy to feel anger. He didn’t have enough energy to feel anything, not even sadness. It was like a total absence of emotion. He was an empty shell.
The funeral went by in a haze. As they drove to the cemetery, all he could think about was the look of serenity on Millie’s face as she lay in that coffin. That gleaming white coffin, like Liberace’s piano. She would have laughed at it. She would have thrown her head back, cackled, and said, “You’re gonna bury me in that?”
Kenny could still hear her laughter.
When his mother pulled into the cemetery parking lot, he pressed his head against the cool glass and cried. More than cried. Sobbed. He felt like his heart had been ripped out of his chest. It was an actual, physical pain, and it hurt so badly he worried that, when he opened his jacket, his crisp white shirt would be stained in blood. He almost wished it was. He wished his wounds could be obvious to the world. He wanted everybody to understand. Nobody did.
Except his mom. She squeezed his hand so hard she jammed his knuckles together. That was a good pain, a useful pain. He couldn’t bring himself to look at her, but he gripped her hand, trying to show some support. Because she was hurting too.
“Come on, buddy.” Mom snapped a tissue from the box and blotted her face, wiped her nose. “Let’s get out to the gravesite.”
Millie would have thought all this grief was hilarious.
Plenty of people from school had come to the service. Far fewer had come out for the burial. Kenny’s mom had paid for everything—the funeral, the coffin, the plot—and it didn’t come cheap. In all, she’d spent nearly ten grand, most of it on credit. But Millie was worth the expense. She was the daughter Mom never had.
Kenny felt old before his time, having to deal with all this death stuff. But there he went, thinking about himself again. If Millie were there, she’d tell him to be happy. “Be happy you’re still alive. Be happy the sun is shining and the birds are chirping. Be happy spring is in the air.”
Well the sun wasn’t shining and the birds weren’t chirping, not for Kenny. And spring? Spring was just a pile of mud. Slick mud and stinking dog crap under a mound of melting snow.
That’s all Kenny could think of during the burial: how Millie was going underground, under all the mud and crap and snow. She’d never feel the sunlight on her skin. She’d never hear the birds. She’d died in the springtime of her life.
Top 10 list of favourite activities for Foxglove Lee, author of Truth and Other Lies:
10. Drinking coffee in the middle of the night
9. Reading a good book
8. Baking (when I find time)
7. Buying fresh fruit and veg at the Farmer’s Market
6. Walking around the city
5. Camping (in a tent. I want to feel the rocky earth jabbing into my spine)
4. Hiking with my sister
3. Knitting (I knit myself some new undies. Wanna see?)
2. Gardening (sooo relaxing)
1. Writing books!
Foxglove Lee is a former aspiring Broadway Baby who now writes queer fiction for young adults. She tries not to be too theatrical, but her characters often take over. Like Noah from her OmniLit Bestseller “The Secret to a Perfect Latke” who comes out in the most unforgettable way imaginable. Or Stefani from “Token Lesbians” in the “Year’s End” horror anthology (Untreed Reads), whose defiance incurs the wrath of the subway system. Or Mila and Laura, who make each other laugh a bit in “I Hate Love” and a lot in “Happy Birthday, Klutzface!” And who can forget her debut novel “Tiffany and Tiger’s Eye”? It’s set in the 80s and features an evil doll!
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