The Lie

Note: I thought I had lost this, but found it over Xmas while looking for something else. I wrote this years ago as an exorcism. I had woken up one morning after a dream so vivid that I was in a state of panic for about ten minutes as I frantically revisited its narrative elements to convince myself of their fiction. I told my brother the story as I dropped him off to the airport yesterday. I frequently have dreams that are great stories – often metaphors, and have also been able at times to continue them the following night as the memory of the dream often arrives just as I am dropping off to sleep, as sort of, ‘previously in this story…’. This one was genuinely terrifying – for me and thankfully I have not had another one like it since. What it might have been a metaphor for, I do not know.

The Lie

I’d forgotten. I truly had
Until they asked me again, years later at the embassy.
Had I really jumped and swam that night
While my brother stayed at sea?

We’d been drinking. Had a row.
He tipped the boat – I jumped, I swam to shore.
[How far?] Quite far. I’m a strong swimmer.
He wouldn’t have made it. I left him there.

[But this man, his head destroyed by a rock –
Your brother left the boat with you, the argument was on the shore.]
No. I swam, he stayed. He stayed and drifted with the boat.

Only after they had questioned me, I met my brother
Who told me how he’d reached the shore that night and slept.
How the man tried to touch him and he’d reached for the rock.

The first blow hadn’t killed him but, as with a rabbit
My brother thought it best to finish him off.

I hadn’t lied. He’d walked back into the water,
Climbed into the boat and drifted – washed up miles away next day.

So I stuck with my story when they asked me again.

It was the truth. I swam, he’d stayed at sea.
It was the boat that was his alibi, not me.


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