Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

The Lies We Tell This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

Custom User Avatar
More by this author
Being young doesn't make you a kid; being lied to makes you a kid. You come piping from the oven and resemble road kill with one major distinction: you're fresh. You are a stream of squeals, your face is a crinkled chip, your skin is Vienna sausage, and you're coddled and cleansed and ultimately wrapped up so tight in a blanket that your fingers balloon. And only after all of this do they bring you to your mother, and she looks at you and says, “My baby baby baby,” and she kisses your angry red-gray skin and calls you “beautiful.” And that is the first lie. You're not beautiful yet, but you will be.

You're now three, four, but still a baby baby baby. Your parents have crafted a world in which there is no pollution, prostitution, or predestination. You will not make their mistakes, will not carry their woes. The little kid on the train tracks in those government-issued commercials looks nothing like you. Therefore, it will never be you. In another world, there might be Strangers, but they will never touch you as long as you know what to say when they ask you to come with them.

In this world, there may be disease that eats at your bones, there may be nukes and pain and animals that revel in the horror and filth of warfare. Your head may clamor with all the sounds of the sufferers and the hotheads and the socially sick. There may be bad days. Or vicious neighborhood dogs, lucky pennies covered in millions of germs, and obscene insignias posing as art along tunnels and trains. But this is not your world.

And you buy it. And you keep on buying it. You put on your teddy bear sweatshirt and purple hat, stuff chocolates in your mouth, and go out to play with the world. This works until first grade.

School gives you what your parents know you need but can't give you: the knowledge to survive in a world that is not yet yours. So they begin to teach you about the wars and the issues, and make sure to give you a watered-down version of the facts. You learn in increments, slowly, like the frog that boils in water. All the time your parents are floundering desperately, spitting out lies like so much vomit. But they have competitors. They have to deal with the bitter ones who have experienced things no amount of lying can patch up. And you encounter these bitter ones once in a while, and they corrode your confidence, shoot down your sunrays, and gnaw at your naiveté.

You encounter enough of the bitter and the learned until you know you live in a world of lies. But you don't want to leave it. And you are angry. You begin the long process of acclimation. You go through a second, lengthier childhood. Adults condemn you as an adolescent and wag their fingers as you spit acid, wreck cars, and cry into a pillow that is never quite dry until you are ready to pretend.

You graduate and ultimately find a niche. You settle down with a commonplace spouse, get a desk job, build a fence, and look down on those adolescents who chose not to grow up. What right do they have to dissipate their anger when you keep it in deep storage? You're past the pimples and excessive salt of sweat and tears; you think you're maybe beautiful.

You're not beautiful yet, but you will be.

Soon, you're the one baking up babies. And they come out crinkled, gray, and mushy. And you call them “My baby baby baby. My beautiful baby.” You create a world for them, and oh, how you lie. You justify the lying: it's worse than when you were a kid. And you know what love is when you look at them, and love is blind and you let them be blind.

You watch them grow until they dash your guts to pieces: they know. And they leave you and buy cars and houses and claim titles in a desperate attempt to be full, and there is possibly a divorce or two. And as you watch them watch their kids, you discover the happy truth: that the way to escape the world is to escape its complexity. You try to teach your kids this, and your kids' kids. But they cringe, and the world cringes. So the hotheads and the socially ill continue bashing heads, and thousands of people die at the hands of countries in search of the finer, the bigger, and the better. There is just one lie: simplicity is a sin and a sorrow. From this comes every happy lie and every sad truth.

This understanding takes you to a world in which everything is real. In this world, you do the things that make you happy. You stop giving a hoot about what all the sorry people think. You put on your teddy bear sweatshirt and purple hat and go play with the world. The bad doesn't touch you like it used to because you are separate. You're mild, bare-boned, and wise. You take walks again, watch silly movies again, and play make-­believe with the children.

Eventually, you let others take care of you again. You eat mush and wear a diaper and your skin turns red-gray and your face is a crinkled chip. Now, like road kill, you are old.

Finally, you are beautiful.

Sad, isn't it, how most of us wait until we are on Social Security to­ finally begin to live.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




Join the Discussion


This article has 5 comments. Post your own!

Katdub12 said...
Dec. 15, 2011 at 11:53 am:

This was actually the article that made me join TeenInk. I had to read the magazine for an english class last year, and read through a TON of blasé articles. And then I turned the page and there this was. This masterpiece is still on my wall from two years ago, because of the simple truths you're able to convey creatively. The first time i read this, i was in the same exact state of mind that the peice relates to, and immediately fell in love because i no longer felt that i was the onl... (more »)

 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
pankake7 said...
Feb. 7, 2011 at 1:34 pm:
This was very good and true to some extent.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
SophiaCross said...
Jan. 28, 2011 at 9:27 pm:
I love this. Your idea is incredible and very truthful. Keep writing!
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
xmoonlightx123 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 27, 2011 at 9:18 pm:
I would favorite this a couple hundred times if I could. [^__^]
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
-h0p3 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 11, 2011 at 10:44 am:

I....I am in love with this piece.

It flows like a poem, stings like the truth, and is all around a gorgeously written tale that came from someone with years of wisdom.

Keep writing <3

 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Site Feedback