The Lie Misses You by John Wiswell

Welcome to Short Fiction Friday! Every Friday, Black Forest Basilisks will be shining a spotlight on a new short story, novelette, or novella in addition to our regular posts. These stories will usually be available for free online, but occasionally stories from published anthologies will also be featured. 

This story is available online for free at: Cast of Wonders. Click through to read… or to listen! This story has an audio narration available

The Lie can’t wait to see her sister again. Every night she draws another picture of the two of them together, sometimes in space, sometimes playing baseball, always in crayon, always looking shoddy like the work of her father’s left hand. But The Lie is recovering from the Contact Plague, and it affects motor functions in survivors. Her parents bring this up every time her sister calls.

John Wiswell has crafted a careful, delicate vignette of pain, lies, and a parent’s desire to protect their children. A white lie can grow until it becomes reality, until it ultimately becomes a painful reminder to everyone involved that the past is just that: the past. 

In the midst of an intergalactic war, one family has been torn asunder by disease. Their oldest daughter, Vim fights in the war as a soldier, while their youngest daughter, Carrie, The Lie, remained behind and became infected. The family regularly video chats with Vi, talking about the daily goings on and how they’re all doing. They hide the worst from Vi, knowing that it would only hurt her to know how bad things have become back home. It’s a series of white lies that become truth in the hearts of everyone involved. 

Wiswell focuses most on dialogue and omission as he writes, communicating most with what is left out. For every exchange the family has, what’s left out between the lines – the liminal space where The Lie lives – is what matters the most. 

In the end, people just try to do their best. They try not to harm. They try to spare the feelings of those around them. Sometimes, though, good intentions simply are not enough. 

Past Short Fiction Friday featured stories can be viewed here.

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Published by Christine Sandquist

Christine Sandquist is an NYC-based sensitivity/developmental editor and author assistant to writers such as Hugo Award Winner Mary Robinette Kowal, World Fantasy Award Winner Tobias S. Buckell, and SOVAS Award Finalist Cadwell Turnbull. They specialize in analyzing and providing feedback on works that include diverse, queer casts, representations of sexual trauma, and broader gender-based violence. They are part of the team behind Reddit r/fantasy, the internet’s largest discussion forum for the greater speculative fiction genre.

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