Thus Conscience Does Make Cowards of Us All

 

From the lunch table: “Mom, are these raisins made out of little boys who didn’t let their moms get them out of the bathtub?”

I thought for a moment.

To lie, or not to lie? Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous answers, or to take arms against a bathtub of troubles, and by opposing, end them….

“Yes,” I said. “That one was Henry. Can you see his tiny shriveled fingers?”

I’d taken a chance. There could have been tears. Revulsion. Throwing of raisins. Instead, a sly smile. Mbot was in on the joke. “There’s his toes!”

And Henry went down the hatch. Gbot even joined the fun: “I’m eating Henry!”

Of course, it would have been useful leverage, if Mbot–who would, if it were up to him, spend several hours a day in the bathtub–had believed me. But how terrible I would have felt. And now, in the future, mentioning Henry might dissipate a brewing sputterfuss at towel time. You don’t want to end up like Henry, do you? The sputterfuss might turn to laughter, as effective a cattle prod as there ever was Maid.

To lie, or not to lie?

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