Inspired by My Favorite Book

“My gripe is not with lovers of the truth but with truth herself. What succour, what consolation is there in truth, compared to a story? What good is truth, at midnight, in the dark, when the wind is roaring like a bear in the chimney? When the lightning strikes shadows on the bedroom wall and the rain taps at the window with its long fingernails? No. When fear and cold make a statue of you in your bed, don’t expect hard-boned and fleshless truth to come running to your aid. What you need are the plump comforts of a story. The soothing, rocking safety of a lie.” (Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale)

Sometimes I find myself on the very brink of telling someone things that I have never told anyone before. The words are forming themselves into sentences in my head and dancing around in my brain in gleeful anticipation of bursting forth, of flying from my mouth. Panic swells inside me. I will not be able to stop them once they start, and then I will never be able to snatch them back.

I force myself to hesitate and wait for them to recede in numbing slow motion. Their impatience to be heard at last begins to fade and the words themselves drift blissfully away into mist and the recollections of that past are gone. Perhaps they are lost forever. Please, please let them be lost forever. The truth would be too painful for my listener to bear, and what good could ever come of that? I will tell her a bedtime story instead, containing little chips of the truth, but not enough of them to mar the happy ending.

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