The life of a lie can last a millisecond or a million years. The life of a lie can belong to a pauper or a prince. In the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, the lie is about extreme moneymaking, personal prosperity, individuality, brokering power, cheating death, and the meaning of freedom.
In me, several lies exist at once. They blink in and out of existence, being replaced by other lies, or truths, or semi-truths in quick succession, like droplets entering and exiting a storm system as it moves and changes form. In this way, a woman can be an assortment of beliefs and expectations, not always fair, nor always true, sometimes crude, but usually diligently assembled, like a story from long ago, unearthed and remembered with passionate fidelity.
When I wake up and run through the checklist that is my body flowering into consciousness, I ask myself how I feel today and the answer tumbles out clumsily, hesitatingly, like a bear, newly emerged from hibernation, plodding into a burning forest: I’m OK today. I look at my hands, turn them over and back as though controlling my body remotely, and adopt the depersonalized authority of the second-person plural: You’re OK, you’re OK. I look into the void and find not emptiness, but a reflective surface. The Emma in the mirror smiles back sadly.
I’m not entirely in control of my own life. I never have been; a million forces shape me. Like a heather gray pebble on the shore, I am one of very many. Pounded by the surf, scattered by the wind, I can do nothing but make the best of my place, and try to remember my good fortune. Like a raindrop blending into a flooded field, I bleed resolutely, irrevocably, on my path to the drainage ditch, and then through the sewer, and then to the open sea.