Sally stood outside the classroom, trying to quell her fear of speaking in front of an audience. It was absurd, she thought; the things she’d done in front of audiences without a qualm, when the price was right.
She looked in through the long slit of window embedded in the door. It was career day; she had prepared a lie. She didn’t like lying, she’d only done it once before, but she wouldn’t embarrass her thirteen-year-old daughter. Not during freshman year. Even though her daughter insisted she tell the truth.
Genie was sitting in the front row. Her face was bright and intent, full of hopes and dreams the way a teenager’s face should look. She was listening to Jennifer’s mom the investment banker, proudly speaking about the steady rise of her career. Luckily for her, she was born the daughter of a bank owner. She must have forgotten to mention that part. She would also never know that that bank owner was one of Sally’s biggest fans.
Despite the miserable life Sally had known as an orphan of foster homes and shelters, she had never given up on her dream of becoming a nurse so that she could help people in a better, honest way. Struggle as she had; she would never allow that life for her daughter. Genie will never know her real father. Nor will she ever know about that night Trojan failed, hence the lie. From that failure, sprung hope—a chance to make it right. Hope isn’t just for the young.
Genie has never wanted for anything, Sally has made sure of it pole by pole. It was all she knew. It’s what has kept them going all these years since her birth. She was too proud for charity, so she sold her soul instead. Choices had to be made. It’s just what one does when life takes a turn.
She was thirty-five then, when she had Genie. Now going on forty-eight, the pole has slipped from her grasp. Regardless of identity, good genetics had gotten her by up until now, before the club owner had ‘That Talk’ with her. Sometimes, life’s turns are for the better.
Now it was her turn to speak to the class.
Jennifer’s mom pushed past the door, click-clacking in her Pradas. “You’re up!” She said to Sally with a smirk. “Poles all yours, ah—I mean, floor, floor’s all yours,” she finished in a whisper.
The door clicked shut before she could let Jennifer’s mom know what she’d never known or never would. She knew. They knew. They all knew. Maybe not the children, but she really couldn’t kid herself. Children were wicked enough back in her day, let alone in today’s day and age of bullying. Men talk, people overhear. Rumors are born and gather strength downhill.
All sixty-two eyes followed her as she made her way over to the blackboard. As she stood in front of the class, looking into the faces of the young students, something inside of her changed. Her daughter’s proud, smiling face, stood out in the crowd like a beacon—a beacon of hope.
Her daughter nodded only once, a nod of encouragement and from that gentle gesture sprang a world of limitless boundaries.
She took the index cards of lies that she’d been squeezing the life out of and tossed them into the trash can next to the teacher’s desk. She’d only lied an important lie once in her life and from the proud hope beaming from her daughter’s face, she wasn’t about to tell another.