Marina Mander

{EN} The First True Lie – Marina Mader

1. “It’s not pretty seeing your mama cry because you don’t know how to help her, and also because you’d like to be the only one to cry at home whenever you feel like it.”

2. “And we don’t have a dad to save us, a fireman like one of those who after the terrorist attacks takes you in his arms and carries you far away from danger, a dad like the dads in commercials. We’re always in a little bit of danger.”

3. “Orphan in my case is like a coat with only one sleeve.”

4. “But being an orphan, that’s really a nasty business, like you’re missing something and everyone sees only the part that’s not there. […] You’re not what you are—you’re what you’re missing. Like when someone has a glass eye. You look into the eye that doesn’t see, not into the healthy one that’s looking at you with all it’s got. Anyway, being a half orphan makes you strange; and there are things you can’t do without a father.”

5. “He seemed dirty. Actually, more than dirty, he seemed poor, and a poor dad’s no good for us. If we really have to take one in, he at least has to be normal and not embarrass us. I’m sick of being different.”

6. “Pretending to be in a hurry gives the impression that you’re important. If no one is waiting for you, what do you care about being in a hurry?”

7. “I’ll have to practice with money because I’m not very good at it. I get confused by all the zeros, which seem like bubbles, impossible to hold on.”

8. “She couldn’t care less what it means to be an orphan at my age. She’s got her own problems, things I wouldn’t understand. Her problems are bigger because she’s bigger.”

9. “I cross the room like a sleepwalker, shuffling with my arms out in front of me as I look for the light switch. I turn on all the lights. I turn the TV back on. I turn everything on, the stereo and the radio too; that way the apartment seems full of people.”

10. “When Mama wants to see if I have a temperature, she puts her lips to my forehead, but I can’t do that to myself.”

11. “Someone whose mother has just died can’t do homework, but that isn’t an excuse, because I can’t tell anyone about it. It has to stay a secret, a really big secret just between us. I don’t want to end up in an orphanage.”

12. “It’s my first dinner without a good dinner, my first night without a good night. For the first time in so long, maybe ever. I’ll have to get used to doing without Mama.”

13. “So long to my room, to the toys scattered across the floor, to the bears on the shelf secretly looking and laughing at me. “You’re nothing but a race of stupid, weak bipeds.” So long to all the things I’m leaving behind.”

14. “She’ll come in her silk nightgown and, like a guardian angel, make it so that I dream in color.”

15. “Maybe Mama died of heart problems, because no one could love her enough, not even me.”

16. “Maybe I wasn’t able to make her stay in my life, to make her live for me, at least. Maybe I’m not worth much at all, not for her, not for anyone.”

17. “Mama feels lonely even though she’s never alone, because I’m always here with her; but it must not be enough. In order not to feel so lonely she went to talk to a man with a beard who listened to her once a week in a house full of books that were full of complicated ideas.”

18. “She did it the other night too. At times Mama moves in slow motion. When she slows down more than usual she decides not to go to work for a few days. “One of these days they’ll end up firing me.” I think one of these days came. So she took a day or two to sleep.”

19. ““Do you know that if you go to Venice with a man before you’re married, then you won’t ever marry him?”

20. “I see two decrepit old women, all bundled up against the cold. Blue starts to meow. “We’re Jehovah’s Witnesses. Is anyone home?” “No, it’s just a cat. Let’s go.””

21. “They always say that you shouldn’t tell lies, but without lies I’d already be in an orphanage. This, in any case, is my first true lie.”

22. “But I could, I should, I would like to buy some flowers for Mama, because people bring flowers to the dead. People bring flowers to their lovers, to sick people, and to the dead (there’s not a lot of common sense in all this).”

23. “In orphanages you have to eat like all the other kids and with all the other kids, play with all the other kids, and sleep with all the other kids, even if you’re not tired. From what I can tell, in orphanages you can never do anything different from other people.”

24. “It’s just that maybe together we could have made it, if only she’d realized I was here, not just for changing the cat litter or growing up or causing problems. I should have told her that more often. And she could have made me understand more of what it was that really wasn’t going right. We had a deal. I don’t know if it was she or me who broke it.”

25. “They’d never believe that someone would stay with his dead mother in the apartment because he doesn’t want to go to an orphanage.”

26. “You can’t put groceries away and decide your future. You can’t do two things at once. And yet now I can; I can do everything. So I decide to do the same things I did with Mama, just without her. It can’t be impossible. I tell myself: It’s just as if you’ve grown up. All of a sudden.”

27. “Nearly two weeks have gone by and everything just carries on automatically.”

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