Extract: The Lies We Tell by Jane Corry
Sarah always thought of herself and her husband, Tom, as good people. But that was before their son Freddy came home saying he’d done something terrible. Begging them not to tell the police.
Soon Sarah and Tom must find out just how far they’ll push themselves, and their marriage, to protect their only child…
As the lies build up and Sarah is presented with the perfect opportunity to get Freddy off the hook, she is faced with a terrible decision: will she save him, but in the process, damn herself?
Read on for a chapter of The Lies We Tell by Jane Corry!
The Lies We Tell
The kind that makes your hair stick to your head.
The sort where you want to MAKE something happen.
Other people laughing.
The kind where you want to join in.
To be liked.
Whatever it takes.
Freddie should be back by now.
‘Midnight and not a second later,’ I’d said. Or, rather, pleaded.
That’s what we’d agreed after a terse negotiation before our son had stormed out in those deliberately ripped denim jeans, scruffy trainers and a flimsy white T-shirt on which he’d written I HATE THE WORLD in red felt-tip. No jacket, even though it was March.
Why on earth don’t teenagers feel the cold?
I’d dozed off earlier, despite intending to stay awake, my ears tuned to the sound of our only child tiptoeing or thudding up the stairs, depending on the state of his almost sixteen-year-old hormones.
But the neon numbers from my alarm clock on the bedside table now tell me it’s 2.53 a.m. A sharp stab of fear pierces the pit of my stomach. Where is he? And why hasn’t he texted? I send an Are U OK? Of course, there’s no answer.
Searching for my slippers in the dark, I edge around the packing boxes marked Main Bedroom and pad across to the wooden sash window. I’m going to miss this old house, despite everything. Outside, in our quiet north London street, the lampposts are spilling their orange light onto the water-filled potholes that the council has promised to repair ‘shortly’. It’s been the wettest spring for five years, according to the radio. No one is in sight. Not even a car driving past.
I crawl back under the duvet, wondering what to do. Freddie’s never been this late before. I don’t want to wake Tom, but suppose something’s happened? I lean over my husband. His back is to me and his shoulders are rising and falling in a steady, solid sleep that matches his character to a T. He’s wearing pyjamas, of course, as he always has since I’ve known him. This pair has blue and white stripes. There’s a faint whiff of last night’s sex from the sheets; the kind of urgent coupling we have once in a blue moon, as if to prove to ourselves that we’re still OK together.
We might be if it wasn’t for Freddie.
Guiltily, I drive the thought out of my mind. No. I won’t wake him. It will only cause another argument. Besides, the removal men will be here in the morning to finish off and take us away. It’s our clean start. I don’t want to mess things up.
I try to read for a bit with my torch. Ours is the last room in the house that isn’t fully packed up. I was at it until late and gave in only out of sheer exhaustion, telling myself I’d get up early to finish it off instead. Besides, it helps to have some normality. I hate that unsettled feeling when a house is not a home because it’s half-empty or in transit. I’d had enough of carting my belongings from one place to another in my early years but this time, I tell myself, it will be worth it.
It has to be. If this doesn’t work, I don’t know what will.
On my bedside table, next to the clock, there’s an untidy pile of novels, magazines, art books and a poetry anthology (Other Men’s Flowers), which usually soothes me. On his side, Tom simply has a book of advanced cryptic crosswords. Inside is an inscription: To Dad. Happy Christmas. Love Freddie. I had to forge the handwriting because our son ‘couldn’t be arsed’ to do it. I’d even had to buy the wretched book.
I’m trying not to look at the time because, if I don’t, Freddie will just come back and I will have worried for nothing. But I can’t help it.
The last two digits make it feel much worse because we’re now into the next hour. The print on the page I am trying to read has become blurred by anxiety.
Suddenly I feel cross that my husband is sleeping soundly while I’m the one who’s panicking. Then again, hasn’t it always been like this? He’s the sensible pragmatic half of our marriage. Me? I’m the one whose imagination plays havoc with my mind.
Not surprising, really, given my past.
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