Listen to this story here:
The thing that drives Zeek the craziest about his mother is that she's always talking to everyone. It doesn't matter if they're in the supermarket, or at Powell Street Laundry, or in the waiting room at Dr. Pinsky's. His mother talks to anyone within earshot. She asks strangers where she can find a nice pair of boots like theirs, or informs them about how bad the traffic was on the drive in, or tells them some humdrum anecdote from her past. When she runs out of the truth, she moves into the imaginative parts of her mind. "I was in the paper once," she might say. "Got my picture taken and everything!" And hearing this, Zeek blushes and pulls on his mother's sweatshirt, whispering, Mom, Mom, stop please.
Other times, he can't stop her, like when he's sitting slumped outside of the womens' dressing room at Clark's, and his mother is telling the dressing room attendant about the diet she's been on for weeks and weeks, though in truth they've had hot fudge sundaes for the last three evenings in a row. There is even still a chocolate stain on the front of Zeek's shirt in the shape of a fox. But his mother is saying, "You get used it, after a while, all the calorie counting," while zipping up the floor length evening gown that she'd carried so happily into the dressing room.
"You must have a special event coming up, I imagine," says the attendant.
"You won't believe this," Zeek's mother says, "But I won tickets to a movie premiere. Hollywood! Here I'm in my forties, and I've never been. But with this dress... it's alright if my son comes in for a second, isn't it? Zeek, honey, come tell me what you think." And though he doesn't want to, he goes in. It feels like stepping through into another world, like being caught in some large, soft web. He sees her standing in front of a three-way mirror at the end of the narrow hallway, blue sequins shimmering all over. Her face is lit up, her cheeks rosy.
"Excited to go on your trip?" the attendant asks him.
"Trip?" he asks, and then, "Oh, right. The premiere." The attendant is still looking at him, smiling, waiting. "I can't wait," he forces himself to say, and for the first time in his life, he feels the thrill of the lie. It unfolds. It beckons him. You can say anything you like, it promises. Anything at all.