Liar Liar Pants on Fire

illustration by The Big Book of Art

Henry was finally meeting Angie, but it wasn’t his choice. He stared at her picture at the online dating site. She was a beauty with long dark brown hair and warm “melt in your mouth” chocolate eyes. I love looking at her.

They’d been writing and texting each other for a couple of weeks. He kept putting off meeting her, but she convinced him by inviting him to a book signing by Michael Connelly, his favorite mystery writer. He couldn’t resist.

He glanced in the mirror on the bathroom door. He’d dressed casually – blue jeans, a loose white shirt and boots. While his jeans were hemmed, the shirt cuffs almost covered his hands. He sighed. I hate being short!

Henry had curly black hair and indigo blue eyes. Everyone said he was attractive, except for the fact he was five feet and four and one half inches tall and that was with his lifts in.

A co-worker, John, was an experienced online dater. He told Henry women looking for men online didn’t like short men. “Don’t say your real height! Everyone cheats about this. Hey, my picture was before I went bald. Once they get to know you, they don’t care!”

So, Henry faked his picture. His friend George was good with Photoshop. With a few clicks and adjustments, he made Henry took taller. It looked real. But  he also had to lie about how tall he was in the stats section of his profile. Liar, liar pants on fire!

The fake picture got him lots of winks, views and emails. He didn’t think about the ramifications of his lies until he met Angie. Not only was she pretty, but they had so much in common. They both loved cats, dark humor, mystery books, Hitchcock and 1950’s music.

Henry stood on his tiptoes and straightened his shoulders, making himself as tall as he could. The man in the mirror did the same. I’m a cheat, but what choice did I have?

He stepped away from the mirror. With slumped shoulders, he looked at Angie’s latest text. “We meet F2F 2Nite! SYS, :-) It made him smile. She likes me! I know it! But will she like the short me?

The clock struck seven o’clock. It was time to go. The drive was uneventful, except for the butterflies tap-dancing in his stomach. He found a parking space, walked to Angie house and rang the doorbell.

Angie spoke through the door. “Henry, is that you?”

“Angie, what’s going on? You ready to go?”

“Well, no. I sort of had an accident today.”

“Are you okay? I can hardly hear you.”

The door cracked open, but Henry still couldn’t see Angie. “I’m okay, but my hair isn’t. It’s a long story.”

“I’m willing to listen.”

“Oh, Henry, I was stupid. I was watching my sister’s little kids and fell asleep. They decided to play beauty shop. They cut off my hair!”  On the word “hair,” Angie voice squeaked.

“It can’t be that bad Angie. Let me see.”

The door opened, exposing Angie. Henry gasped. She looked like someone from Night of the Living Dead, only worse. Parts of her brown hair were totally cut off, while others hung at choppy angles. Her mascara had run and created dark smudges under her eyes. She stared at him, waiting.

“Well, it’s definitely creative, but….” Seeing Angie’s eyes made Henry stop his attempt at levity. This wasn’t the time, “I’m sorry about your hair, Angie.”

Angie sniffed. Tears shined in her eyes. She rubbed her arms. “My sister’s taking me to her stylist tomorrow. I hope she can do something.” Angie shredded a Kleenex. It joined the others on the floor.

She looked so miserable; Henry stepped inside, pulling her into a hug. She had to lean down to rest her head on his shoulder. He patted her back and let her cry. After a few minutes, she spoke so softly he almost didn’t hear her.

“Can we stay here instead of going out? Please!”

The butterflies danced the Tango. She’s not cancelling! 

He managed to speak calmly. “Sure. We’ll order pizza and watch a movie. They’re playing a Hitchcock one on the WOLD channel.”

Turned out WOLD was showing a marathon of Hitchcock movies. They watched all their favorites. Angie was so upset about her hair; she didn’t even notice Henry was short. They laughed. They talked. Eventually, they kissed.

A year later, Henry asked Angie if she would have gone out with him if she’d known in advance how tall he was.

She blushed, hemmed and hawed for a minute. Took a sip of tea, bit her lip and finally said. “No, Henry, I probably wouldn’t have.” Seeing him frown, she added with a big grin, “but I’m really glad I did.”

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This fiction story is written for The Writing Reader and is based on the following prompt:  Write a scene about someone who cheats. What is the inner monologue that the person goes through to rationalize the cheating?

For those of you who enjoy good writing prompts, check out The Writing Reader. Liz comes up with some really creative ideas.