I will tell you my name. I will tell you my age. I will describe my appearance all the way from the color of my hair to the nail polish on my toes, but not yet.
Right now, none of those things are important. They’re so very unimportant because this story isn’t about me, not really. This story is about someone who outshines me in every way; and that is precisely the problem.
Her name is Promise. She has hair of liquid gold and eyes that shine like stars. Her smile is the envy of all who have very looked upon it, and her teeth are perfectly straight.
Her voice is light without being breathless. Her walk is elegant but still purposeful. And, most of all, her kiss is sweet as honey and leaves you wanting more.
Perhaps that is why she is so popular. She has never been turned down—not once. Her hand is never cold, for it always has someone else’s wrapped within it. And her words never fall on deaf ears, but instead most attentive ones.
There are many words to describe her. Though I would have to say the ones I hear the most often are “beautiful” and “trustworthy”. Can you imagine anything so grand? I mean, truly, when is the last time you stumbled upon something breathtakingly gorgeous and yet stable enough to never once wonder if it presented any danger or fickleness? But that’s Promise. That’s always been Promise.
Everyone adores her. And no, I’m not exaggerating. Would you like me to provide some examples? I have plenty.
I know he loves her. I see the way his eyes follow her as she turns the corner. His gaze remains there for at least an extra second, as if he could see through the very wall she disappeared behind.
It’s rather stalker-ish, actually. But no one ever calls him out on it. How could they? They all do the very same thing, after all.
I know she loves her too. I can hear her whisper to her friends about her, when she thinks no one is there to overhear. It is not that she is embarrassed of her. Oh no, it is simply that Promise is precious. She is something you hold and keep, not something you share and spread. Promise is the biggest reason she gets out of bed in the morning, and the absence of her is to blame for the reason her sister no longer feels anything at all. Though, as you’ll come to find out, that particular situation may have more to do with the presence of me than the absence of our dear Promise.
Does it sound as if I’m jealous? Bitter perhaps? There was a time in the not-so-distant past when I tried to convince myself that I was neither. But, in truth, who wouldn’t be? I am not jealous of her shoes or her hair, or her smile.
I am jealous of the relationship she has with the world and its inhabitants.
I am jealous that people swoon when they see her and shrink when they see me. I am jealous that doors open when she knocks and locks click when I do the very same. I am jealous that her very company is cause for celebration and adoration, while mine warrants calculation and avoidance.
So yes, I am jealous. Do you mean to tell me you would be immune from such a sin?
But here I am, getting ahead of myself. I didn’t mean to, truly. It is simply that it is getting most difficult to speak of her in the spotlight and keep myself hidden within these shadows. Though, I suppose I should be most accustomed to such an arrangement.
For the shadows is where I live. It is where people whisper to me and coax me to them with a lift of the chin. Sometimes they try to hide me behind their back, but I’m always peeking over their shoulder or through the gap between their elbow and chest.
I’m always revealed, of course. Sometimes it takes seconds and other times I’ve waited behind them for years. But I always get that spotlight shined on me eventually. It’s simply that the entire show ends as soon as it finds me; and I am in the darkness once more, destined for the process to repeat.
Would you believe me if I told you I’ve seen your back?
Would you call me a liar if I claimed to have peeked between the space of your elbow? Because that would be most ironic, indeed.
I told you earlier that I would tell you a bit about my appearance. And, though I could break such a promise, I suppose I will not.
For I tend to break enough of her as it is.
In all honesty, I look remarkably similar to you. Our hair is the same shade. Our eyes see the same things. And if anyone could witness you dragging me behind you like a ball and chain, or tucking me into the tightest corners and cubbies of the room, it would look like you were rather upset with your identical twin.
The most remarkable difference between you in I is simply our number of birthdays. I have been around for far longer than you, and will remain long after your bones are naught but dust. Of course, this difference is hardly visible. Even more, it is also irrelevant. I simply couldn’t exist without you and yours.
Even still, the day that humans tell the sole truth is the day that the ocean will become the sky and I will retire.
I’ve gone off on a bit of a tangent here; I’m well aware. But I have only slim more to say, if you’re willing to listen a while longer.
Would you like to know the worst part of it all? My very existence, I mean. The worst part is that I am everything you try to hide and ignore and hate and deny. I am the ugly thing that arrives to kill Promise right in front of you and everyone else who sees her. I am the wielder of deceit, and—in some deep, twisted way—I am the very embodiment of truth.
I was born with this dagger in my hand. I have murdered since I first drew breath.
But you are the one who points me in her direction once she has turned the corner.
You are the one that bloodies this dagger of mine.
She never gets her hands dirty. She is my victim time and time again. How many times have you asked me to kill her just today?
Even still, you will hold her hand tomorrow. You will bring her into the light when you are speaking to your mother or your sister or your child. And I will lurk just out of sight, because my services will be required soon enough.
Surprising as it may be, this is not a story about Promise. Not really. It is not a story about the world, or anything outside of it, for that matter. This is a story about my relationship with you.
My name is Lie. I am precisely everything that she is not. And I am very jealous indeed.