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American Fiction Drama

Honesty is the best policy, right? Then why don’t males tell a female when a dress looks fat on her? You don’t upset her. What’s the harm in encouraging a little positive self-image? My name is Frank, and I’m here to tell you how a little white lie can seemingly overnight spiral entirely out of control.

It all began on a Friday night. It was karaoke night at the local tavern. I was out with a friend, her name was Kira. We sang songs and had our drinks, but sadly she couldn’t hold a note to save her life. I wasn’t going to tell her that, though. What was the worst that could happen? She’d go on some American talent show get humiliated, and I’m not a contemptible human being.

Well, either it was the booze or my general ignorance of her mental state, but Kira took me at my word and went on the talent show we’ll call “sing or screech” for copyright reasons. I wasn’t worried I supportively watched her, a part of me looking forward to her roast for her performance from even the most amicable judge. Well, unfortunately, Kira didn’t make it past round 1, and she blew her stack, screaming, “I am too talented! I’ll show you! I’ll show all of you!” 

After that, I avoided going to the bar, not wanting to see Kira destroy herself over a lie. Looking back, I probably should have. I mean, my name means honest, and that last weekend I wasn’t. Well, cyber scammers being clever as they are, it wasn’t long before she sent me a phone call to announce she’d found an agent who would help her get her big break in Hollywood. Kira just had to pay them 500 dollars to get started.  

I warned Kira it was a scam, but she brushed me off, saying I was jealous of her and I had told her she had talent, and she finally found someone who agreed with me on that. I told her agents only get paid when the gigs they book for you turn money for you. My words fell on deaf ears. I couldn’t stand to watch this train-wreck unfold, and there was no getting through to her. I asked mutual friends for help; not one of them could sway her. 

Days turned into months as she kept calling me insisting she’d be getting paid work any day now they just needed to find her the perfect gig and the required training to take herself to the top. Kira was so much into the dream she even gave up her job to have more time to take gigs. After the calls stopped, I took a walk down Hollywood Boulevard, and I saw her there dressed as some sort of celebrity I never follow because I don’t particularly care about such things and a tip jar. Not out of place amid other costumed characters, but far from the glamor she was promised. All I could do was shake my head as reality seemed to have finally hit her, and she went her own way. 

Despite the pity I had for Kira, she seemed to enjoy her work without much care. I didn’t figure there was much point in talking to her. Kira had realized it was all for nothing, right? Indeed the lesson was learned, and it was time to move on. Well, moving on didn’t exactly happen how I would have hoped as she’d fallen into the wrong crowd yet again when I wasn’t watching her. What could I have done? My words hadn’t swayed her before, and I knew nothing of what Kira was doing.

That is until I got a phone call from the local Jail a couple years later. Apparently, Kira had been doing better than I had imagined during that time, but she made money selling illicit substances for a cartel. Kira dreamed of finally having the things Hollywood denied to shame them and make the life she deserved. 

 I went and posted her bail. I mean, my lie got her into this mess, so I could at least get her out. I finally told her the truth that I had lied to her that night because I had been taught never to say anything that would break a woman’s heart. Naturally, Kira told me she didn’t believe me, that I would have lied to her and that I really thought she was talented, but no one else shared my sentiments. Kira felt I tried to spare her from the pressure of being a star by discouraging her away from her big break. Kira gave it up, thinking I’d be happy if she did while finding something else to make her money. Either Kira was lying to herself and me, or she is hopelessly out of touch with reality. The latter seems likely if Kira got mixed in with drug dealers. That being said, Kira’s crashing at my home until she can find something better, and I think despite it all, perhaps the chaos is finally over.  

Well, at least that is what I thought until a month after Kira started living with me. She came in looking pretty worn out from her new job and handed me a fat stack of hundreds as rent she’d even paid me back for her bail two weeks ago. Usually, I’d be happy for her to have found such rapid success, but I knew something was very wrong, so one night, I followed her in my car to her Jobsite. Kira walked into a club, and I knew immediately where her money was coming from. Kira wanted to be a star, and loosely speaking, she was.  

Maybe she didn’t have the best voice, but even after the chaos she’d been through, she certainly wasn’t bad-looking at all. Perhaps she knew it too. My thoughts were interrupted when some men lead her to their vehicle then dropped her off at my home. Kira had even more money than the previous night. She wanted to treat me to a feast to celebrate her new career in entertainment. Apparently, she’d impressed a mighty man indeed. Something about the whole situation was enough to make my skin crawl. I couldn’t tell her, though if I did, she’d not believe it unless I told her what she wanted to hear if I’d learned nothing by now. Instead, I tried to sow a healthy skepticism in her so she wouldn’t get hurt again. What can I say? She was like a daughter to me now with how innocent she seemed to the darkness in the world. Despite wanting to succeed to avenge herself, she didn’t seem to harbor any hate for anyone beyond that.  

“Doesn’t it seem rather uncanny that you’d have literally gone from rags to riches so quickly?” 

“Nah, we suffer early to earn what we get in life. Some more than others.” 

“ I have a bad feeling about this.” 

“Don’t my clients are quite the philanthropic types.” 

“They hardly struck me as royals; quite contrary, they looked like career criminals.” 

“ The world needs medicine to heal what ails them. Sometimes, the legal substance is insufficient to do the job. It is why people pay big for them. If they then use the proceeds to support performing arts, where is the harm?” 

“I don’t know you anymore; when we were kids, you had dreams, but you knew not to get mixed in with drugs or people who did. What happened to you?” 

“What do you mean?” 

Taking a huge swig of wine at the table before I said what I should have said a long time ago. 

“How could you let anything I said delude you into thinking the ends justify the means?” 

“I even told you I lied about you having talent. I’m not jealous; I’m guilty because you threw your life away over one lie. I told you to spare your feelings, yet still, you do morally evil things to further your delusions of grandeur. I just don’t know you anymore!” 

“Frank… I can’t believe you….” 

“I don’t blame you; how can you trust me after my deception wrought this all upon you?” 

“But I made a choice to try and make something of myself; how could you have known I’d go this far?” 

“I didn’t, but I could have still told you the truth, and none of this would have happened.” 

After she paid our bill, we went home. Despite how good the food and drink were, I really wanted to just move far away and start life over. But alas, we can run, but we cannot escape who we are and what we’ve become. Even if she does give up this life of entertainment, who will hire her for anything else? I just hope for her sake she’s got a plan for a retirement account; once her beauty stops paying the bills or some sort of Business, she will run.  

As for me, I’m just taking life one day at a time. I don’t plan to marry or have kids, but if I can just make it up for the damage my lie did, perhaps I can be at peace with myself. Until then, I’ll have to deal with the day-to-day fallout that comes with living with an entertainer. I can’t believe one little white lie could have changed Kira so radically, even though she says it isn’t my fault. While not all white lies will lead to such things as broken dreams and being scammed or pulling jobs for gang members, sometimes it is better to be the guy who tells them the cold hard truth before they make a fool of themselves and double down on it to try and regain face. 

August 19, 2021 20:27

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2 comments

Maria Avisal
22:24 Aug 25, 2021

The evolution of the story and characters in response to the prompt was great, but I think the first and last paragraphs could be cut out, they seem to read more like the intro and conclusion of an essay and I'm not sure are necessary.

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Adam Applebaum
05:27 Jan 22, 2023

True perhaps less was more on the ending there. Thank you for the feedback :).

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