Sticky Truth


Illustration by Fiorella Morzi

I’ve known it since I was old enough to speak – that telling the truth is the right thing to do.

So why did it feel, so often, like I never actually told the truth, but I choked it out through a tight airway lined with humid, sticky, soon-to-be sobs?

“The truth shall set you free.”

The truth never spilled out of me gracefully like the fresh, running water from a stream. It sputtered and sprayed like a shaken bottle of soda, leaving an uncomfortably sticky residue that I just couldn’t shake, no matter how many scrubs and showers passed.

Because really, there are two kinds of truths – there’s the truths that are so subtle, we don’t think of them as truths. “Yes, I would like almond milk, please and thank you,” “That’s my car over there,” “I just bit my tongue.” These are the truths that will come out so easily, despite not really being all that crucial. I could easily lie about burning my tongue, and no one would be harmed.

But then there’s those shaken-soda-bottle truths. These are the truths that we know as truths, because they need to be told. Sure, they can go unsaid; the bubbles will settle and you’ll be left with a flat soda with no spike or bite. Your counter stays clean, but you can’t help but feel that you just let something die.

The last big truth – a shaken-soda-bottle truth – I told was to my sister. I was standing in line at a Starbucks, the sound of mall patrons fading from my conscious perception gradually as I tuned them all out, the dirt from my boots leaving unsightly marks on the freshly-cleaned tiles. “I don’t love him anymore,” I said plainly. It took an army’s strength to keep my head straightened, to stare into her eyes and see her reaction.

She had always loved my boyfriend and loved us together. So I expected hot anger or at the very least, shock and indignation. “Are you going to break up with him soon?” She asked. She was giving me an out. I could have twisted the bottle cap tighter, closed it off and let the bubbles settle. I braced myself instead. “Probably Friday.” I was mildly surprised that it came out as a flat-toned statement from a grown woman of 23 and not as a girlish, whimpering peep. “Definitely Friday,” I said with a definitive nod.

And just like that, I had drenched my kitchen in a fine, viscous layer of syrup, derailing my life just in the slightest. I had said it out loud for the first time, the thesis I had rehearsed in my head for months with little intention of ever saying it out loud, except for maybe to the steering wheel of my car. I let the cap drop to the ground and stood for a moment, observing the mess I had made. I couldn’t let this die now. It was out there. It was set free.

It was sticky.