The Lies We Tell Ourselves
Mark D. Steffen

"Have you ever been in love?"

Jack was unsure how to answer. What did the question mean anyway? What was love? There was the girl he met that summer in Europe. He was sure then he loved her and she loved him. When he finally summoned the courage to tell her, her face produced the same confused expression that was on Jack's face now. "What is love?" she thought. "Can I really allow myself to be in love with this boy who will be an ocean away in a week's time?" Finally she answered him, "Love is not real. Love is only a lie we tell ourselves."

It was a hurtful assertion, but it gained favor with Jack. How could it be true that this girl--this mass of flesh--this thing that merely spoke and kissed and fucked could instantly become the rightful center of his universe? How could love be anything but a lie?

She said, "Have you ever been in love?"

Of course the answer was "yes" but it hurt so damn much. And if love was a lie that hurt, then why couldn't an opposite lie neutralize its effects?

"No," Jack said. "No, I never have been in love."

First published: February, 2003