We Were a Lie - Tamerlie J. Philippe

That day he threw us out my mother and me. Very few people know this. Not my older sister, not my older brother. That day, he packed up our things and put them in his car and drove us to grandma’s. How polite of him I thought. How thoughtful of him to escort us to our new home.


I looked to my mother than to him. The man who caused her so much torment for the past few years. I looked to him again and thought. What a hypocrite. That night, after he had so kindly dropped us at our new house, I was huddled in bed with my mom. I remember crying. Not because my parents were over, but because I wasn’t home. Frankly, I didn’t care that they were not together anymore. I just wanted to be home. However, I heard myself ask all the same.


“Why did you cheat on him?”


She wiped my tears. I will never know what her expression looked like nor will I ever know. I won’t ask her again because I don’t want to rehash those memories of us.


“There are things in life you have yet to understand honey.”


I hated when they told me things like that. Things like when you’ll be holder, you’ll understand.


I didn’t push it however. I dried my tears and fell asleep in her arms.


The days went by; I went to school. Life went on as if nothing had changed. But it did, obviously. I couldn’t pick up my friend on my way to school anymore. Why they asked. Well, my parents split. It wasn’t entirely a lie after all, just the truth slightly altered. A week passed. He phoned and I talked. I hated him, but I was raised to respect my elders, so I didn’t tell him. I hated his voice; I hated the fact that he pretended nothing had happened. I hated the fact that he made me hate him.


The day finally came for me to go back to see my trees, to feel my air. I know one would argue that we breathe the same air. The fact is that we don’t. The air at grandma’s was heavy, warm, unbeatable. The one where I used to live was crisp and smelled of pines. I was going to see my room, my haven. My books, my drawings. The list was endless.


I was happy to see my friends and was going to be happier to see my dog. I had missed him so much. I skipped to the green gate that used to guard us from the unknown. My heart skipped a bit when I laid eyes on it. Booba had already sensed my presence. I heard him bark and run down the stairs to scratch the other side of the gate. My heart did another skip. I slid the familiar square of the gate and put my hand through it. His wet saliva warmed my hand. My fingers tatted to the usually open lock and pulled. But nothing happened. I pulled again, yet nothing. What was happening? I tatted again, blindly looking for the problem. There it was. The usually opened lock was now a closed one. I was lost and confused. Yet I needed to see Booba. It took everything in me to do what I did next. I curled my hand into a ball and knocked on what used to be my gate. I knocked and knocked and knocked until Alina came. I saw parts of her face through the square of the gate. From the other side.


“Good Morning, Miss Christine.”


“Good morning.”


“I’m happy to see you.”


“Me too.”


What are you doing here?


“Let me in.”


“Your father gave me strict orders to not let anyone in.”


“But it’s me.”


“I’m sorry he said not to let anyone in when he is not here. I can’t let you in.”


“But It’s ME.”


As much as my response didn’t change, hers remained the same. The square closed taking my happiness along. I stood looking at the gate. All the hate I felt before came rushing back. I was humiliated, rejected. It was awful. I turned on my heels and left.


A week passed. He phoned and I talked. I hated him but he didn’t know. Or at least he didn’t show. A week later I went back but this time the usually open lock was open. And this time I walked to the other side of the gate and this time I held Booba in my arms. I climbed the stairs and inhaled the crisp air before walking inside what used to be my house. Where was my father? I walked past the hallway and past the living room and into what used to be my mother’s room. Into his room. It wasn’t my father in his bed but another woman. She was sleeping in my mother’s side of the bed wearing nothing but her birthday suit. I didn’t know her then and I don’t know her now . I turned on my heels and walked past the living room and past the hallway.


“Honey, I didn’t know you were here.”


Before I could reach the door and walk back into the crisp air, I stopped. I turned around and saw him with a towel wrapped around his waist.


“Hi, dad.”


“What are you doing here? You didn’t knock.”


It didn’t occur to me I should knock in what used to be my home.


“No.”


He hugged me. But I barely felt it.


“I just wanted to say hi, but I’m leaving.”


We both knew what I saw. We both knew what he felt. But as usual we both ignored it.


There it was again, my anger. This time it wasn’t alone. I was hurt too. That was the third time I was kicked out of my home and I had learned my lesson this time around. I said goodbye to him. I knew I’d still think him a hypocrite after he lied to my mother all those years. After the countless women we all knew existed. I knew he would phone and I knew would talk. But I knew I’d always remember that we were a lie .

Tamerlie J. Philippe was born and raised in Haiti. When she turned 18, she moved to Canada for her post-secondary studies. Growing up, Tamerlie always preferred strong independent women as the female characters of books. I wants to give women like herself heroines they can connect to.

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