Liar Liar

By: L A Cotton

To everyone out there that ever felt like they didn’t fit the mould.

There’s a place out there for all of us.

You just have to find your people!

“Becca, are you going to stand out there all day or come in and help us unpack?” Mom called from the doorway as she watched me, her eyes clouded with a mixture of trepidation and sorrow.

“Coming. I’m coming.”

My eyes swept over the gray stucco house in front of me once more, sadness constricting my chest. Just turned eighteen, I had a life full of memories in another house—a much bigger and prettier house—and even though it was bittersweet and my throat burned with tears, staring at the unfamiliar building, I felt a kernel of hope at what it represented.

No more secrets …

No more hiding …

No more lies.

Born and raised in Montecito, CA, I’d lived in one place my whole life. The kitchen where Mom taught me to bake cookies when I was just five. The doorjamb where Dad scratched a notch every year on my birthday. The porch that witnessed my first kiss while my parents pretended not to watch from the living room window. All wrapped up in that house. But it was more than a house.

It was my home.

Filled with love and comfort and happy times, it held every memory of every significant moment of my life. Drawing in a long breath, I rolled my shoulders back and forced a smile. Climbing the steps to the door, Mom met me halfway, wrapping me in her arms. “Let’s get things straightened out and then I’ll make us something to eat. It’s been a long day.”

She wasn’t wrong. Five hours in the balmy California heat stuck in Dad’s truck on the highway wasn’t my idea of fun. I shrugged out of her grip and met her eyes, aged with the events of the last few months. “Sure, Mom.”

A sad smile tugged at her lips. “It’s going to be okay, Becca. New town, new friends, a fresh start.”

My lips pulled into a flat line, and I nodded, hardly able to get the word out over the lump in my throat. “Yeah.”

“Come on.” Mom took my hand in hers and guided me into the house.

My new home.

My fresh start.

My escape.

“So I called ahead, and Principal Garraway knows to expect you.” Mom clicked her belt into place, and I groaned, rolling my head back against the leather. “Seriously, Mom, I got this. It’s just school.” A new school, but whatever. It wasn’t like I hadn’t been to school before.

“I wanted to make things as easy as possible, Becca. You can’t blame me for that.”

Guilt twisted around my heart. Of course, she was only trying to help. It was all she and Dad had done since everything happened.

“I’m sorry,” I said, my voice thick with regret.

“Hey.” Mom’s hand squeezed my hand across the stick. “None of that. Your father and I would do it all again, in a heartbeat, so no more pity parties, okay? This is your senior year, baby. You get a shot at doing it right. New town, new friends, a fresh—”

“Start,” I finished. It had become Mom’s mantra ever since Dad announced we were leaving and moving three-hundred miles upstate to Credence, a small town between Oakland and Hayward. Turning my head to the side, I watched the unfamiliar landscape rush past.

“It’s new for all of us, but I’m excited. Your father’s looking forward to getting started, and I can’t wait to christen the kitchen. Did you see the oven? It’s a baker’s dream come true.”

“That’s great, Mom.”

“You know, Becca, change is good for the soul. And while I expect Credence High is going to be different from Montecito Prep, it’s nothing you can’t handle.”

I forced a smile. “Yeah. I’m sure it will all be fine.” Except I’ll know no one and be the new girl. I didn’t know what was better—starting a school where no one knew me, or returning to my old high school where everyone knew me too well.

“Are you sure I look okay?” I asked for the tenth time. I’d never attended public school before, and while Mom had reassured me that my outfit was ‘perfectly fine,’ I didn’t feel fine. Not in the least.

“You look perfect—lovely, in fact—although I still don’t know why you had to throw out so much. There was nothing wrong with—”

“Mom, you know why.”

She shifted uncomfortably. “I know; I’m sorry. Oh look, there it is.” Mom pointed at a brick building in the distance. Kids streamed into the open gates, and the knot in my stomach tightened. It was nothing like my old school. Not a single convertible or palm tree in sight, not that I’d expected it. But it was more than that. It was on the tip of my tongue to ask her to turn around and go back so I could change into something else. Sensing my nerves, Mom reached for my hand again. “Becca, it’s going to be fine.”