Esther Jenkins’ Heart

…Esther Jenkins liked to tell lies. All kinds of lies; small white lies, sly half-truths, cheerful daydreams, and enormous technicolour monstrosities of invention. It didn’t matter to Esther whether she was inventing social commitments in order to decline an invitation to dinner, or describing her (imaginary) eldest daughter’s ballet recital to the butcher. What mattered, was the glorious swoop she felt in her stomach when she told a lie so convincingly that she almost believed it herself. That slight tingle she’d get at the nape of her neck when people responded to her lies, as they listened and commiserated, laughed and believed.

However, though Esther lied to strangers, the postman, the lady next door, her oldest friends, her closest relatives, she never lied to her heart. Her heart would ask her, after every lie she told, Esther Jenkins are you true to me? And she would reply yes dear heart, I would tell you no lies, I speak only truth between us and her heart would rest easy, until the next time. 

And then one day, Esther told a lie of such magnitude that the sunshine was briefly dimmed and nearby, a small mountain trembled and the local townsfolk shaded their eyes and muttered to each other that they must have imagined it, because the solidity of that mountain was a byword for steadiness and predictability. 

Esther Jenkins lied to her heart.

She told her heart that she was happy, when she was not. And her heart was not the greengrocer nor her second cousin Jenny, and it knew that it was a lie before the words were even fully formed. It paused when Esther finished speaking and simply asked Esther Jenkins are you true to me? And Esther, while staring up at the sun wondering why it did not seem as bright as usual, replied absently yes dear heart, I would tell you no lies, I speak only truth between us. And though she waited for a reply, her heart did not speak again…

 

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