The Honest-to-God Truth

I’m going to be late, I think, as I stand in the hotel bathroom dabbing cover-up onto my face.  I don’t like what I see in the mirror.  Another sleepless night has added its footprints to the tracks of exhaustion and tears that already etch my face. I’ve got to put aside the guilt and go on, I know, but it’s not easy.  I am, as they say, wracked with it.  I should have said something. 

Do advance warnings actually serve any purpose other than to raise one’s anxiety to a fever pitch?  Does knowing that the storm is brewing help you stay dry?  If you had known where the tornado would hit, could you have jumped aside?  Probably not.  



Back in college, Linda was always gullible.  Every Tom, Dick and Isn’t-He-Gorgeous-Harry who came along and showered her with compliments was The One.  When they all proved to be nothing more than yet another horny frat boy looking to score with the prettiest girl on campus, she was devastated.  I’d tried to warn her, but such a warning coming from the plain Jane sharing her dorm room was suspect, even in my eyes.  And were I honest, I’d have to admit that I was jealous of the way she drew the best from Alpha to Omega like flies to honey.  But watching her self-esteem being chipped away by every guy who took advantage of her was hard.

When she met Matt senior year, Linda just knew.  He was The One.  I was pretty sure he was just another one, but right after graduation, they married.  

You like him, don’t you?” Linda had asked when she told me she wanted me to be her Maid of Honor.  "Tell me the honest-to-God truth."

“Of course I do,” I lied.  "Matt’s a great guy.”

So I stood at her side holding her bouquet, looking on as Linda said “I do” and smiling through the requisite wedding tears.  They both looked so happy.  I couldn’t help but wonder if my misgivings had been just another manifestation of my jealousy.

And then life went on.  I went to New York, and Linda and Matt stayed in Miami where he had joined a law firm.  I was eager to start my career in publishing, and Linda was eager to start a family.  I did very well, while Linda was not as successful.  Her relationship with Matt seemed fine, but after several years of marriage, all attempts to have children had failed.

Seven years ago, I flew down to Miami one Friday morning to visit Linda for a long weekend.  Matt was away at a convention and she seemed really depressed.  I hoped I could cheer her up a bit, and maybe encourage her to consider adoption.  Most of the people I knew who decided to adopt had no sooner signed the papers than they were pregnant.  We talked, cried, drank about a case of pinot, and talked some more.  But at the end of the long weekend, I’d not been able to advance the idea of adoption.  Matt, it seemed, wanted only a child of his own making.

Matt got home Sunday afternoon.  He dropped his bags and came out to the lanai where Linda and I were lounging by the pool in swimsuits.  He took one look at me and gave a long whistle of approval. 

“Wow, the big city certainly agrees with you.”  

I guess I should have been flattered, but in truth, I was a bit insulted.  I knew I looked more polished than I’d ever been able to pull off in college, but I also knew that was just a by-product of the confidence I’d gained while climbing the corporate ladder in one of the most cut-throat industries in New York.  I was still me.

We had dinner at a popular local restaurant, where Matt was apparently a regular, judging by the number of drinks sent over by his fans.  Once back at the house, I said goodnight, pleading an early flight.  It was a beautiful tropical night, so I opened the sliding door to the lanai and climbed into bed.  The several drinks I’d had at dinner worked their magic and I was soon fast asleep.

Sometime in the night, I was jolted awake when the sheet over me was suddenly yanked back, and I looked up to see a dark shape standing over me, silhouetted against the moonlit sky beyond the open door.  I opened my mouth to scream, but didn’t get a sound out before a hand clamped over my mouth.  I quickly realized that the man I’d first taken to be an intruder was Matt, reeking of alcohol.  I struggled, but he was just too strong; I was no match for him as he raped me.  Every woman thinks about rape, wondering how she would get through it were it to happen to her.  What I never realized was how little time it would take to be so totally violated.  It seemed to me that no sooner had the sheet been pulled back and his hand clamped over my mouth than he was climbing off me and heading for the door.  As he left, he hissed, “Don’t you say a word.”

No, I never said a word.  Not that night, and not in the years since.  I never said a word, even when Linda told me Matt had taken off for San Francisco with his secretary to “open a bread store in the Haight.”  And I never said a word when he came back six months later, begging her to take him back.  Worst of all, I never said a word when she agreed to give him another chance, telling me, “But if he ever does something like this again, I’ll kill him.”


Oh, yes, I am consumed with guilt, not about Matt’s death, but because Linda took her own life after she killed him.

In the mirror, I see my six-year-old daughter standing in the bathroom doorway behind me.

“The babysitter’s here, Mommy.”

“Thanks, honey.  I won’t be too long.  I promise to come back to the hotel right after the funeral.”

I wipe my face, kiss my daughter, and leave to say goodbye to my best friend.  And to tell her the truth, at last.

“I’m so sorry, Linda.  And that’s the honest-to-God truth.”


Written for the Tenth Daughter of Memory 


  1. oh man...intense...i thought she killed him up til the end...and...sad about her friend...nice little tale patti

  2. Wow, nice twist !!
    love stories like this, well done !

  3. Oh Patti, that is a great write. You leave the door open to interpret the lineage of her daughter in a great way. You don't tell us exactly, but there is a heavy suggestion that gives answers and brings up questions never to be answered. This is fabulous!

  4. Intense Patti...
    I was captivated from the beginning!
    This was a novel encapsuled in a letter!
    What a great story....G

  5. Gave me chills. Excellent tale of secrets and lies.

  6. Like it. A lot. I think you can push the envelope more than you did (the narration moves a bit too quickly), but this entry is my clear-cut favorite out of what's been posted so far.

  7. Really great. Couldn't stop reading.

  8. I never saw that coming! Never. Reminds me of a movie where the audience keeps thinking, JUST tell him/her the truth!

  9. Outstanding piece. I love your writing - to me, this is one of your best.

  10. sure, got the bones of a good story here...and i'm happy it's short, seeing all the entries to read...but yes, you can flesh this out quite a bit if you choose to.

  11. I would have gladly read some more of this story. I want to know more about the main character, more about Linda, and I want to murder Matt also. Maybe he can be the victim in my entry. :)

  12. that was seamlessly engaging, pretty intense.

  13. Nice twist at the end and I love the change in perspective. My aunt murdered my uncle in 2009 and then tried to kill herself, that much is true. I had removed the post, but reinstated it in case you would like to read my fictional account as a fly on the wall.


Thoughts? I would love to hear from you.