The word is often on the lips. Obama lied. The Malaysians lied. Putin lied.

The one thing I’ve tried hard not to do in my manuscript is lie. But I’ve lied left and right. Names are changed. Some of the events happen out of sequence. Some of the dialogue I can’t remember word for word but I write it like I do. I’m lying. I’ve always lied.

I’ve also always loved clothes. As a tween and teen, I plotted out the money I needed to acquire the clothing I coveted. Church lessons and my mother’s lectures made sure I understood this was a slippery slope.

In the summer of ’75 we visited my oldest brother and his wife in the old house they rented on the edge of a pig farm in Tennessee, surrounded by nothing but country.Their first daughter (I was a 13 yo aunt!) was starting to crawl. On a trip into town, I spotted a tennis hat covered in pale blue eyelet lace. It was on sale for ten dollars. I bought it when my mother wasn’t looking and hid the bag in the backseat.

Later that afternoon, my mother found it. “It was on sale,” I protested. “Only six dollars!’ The price was a lie. I knew my mother wouldn’t approve of such a frivolous purchase; she considered ten dollars a lot of money.

Since my mother had the hat in her hand, tag flapping, it was a lie she couldn’t ignore. She carefully reviewed the evidence, forcing us both to confront the uncomfortable truth: I had lied, by omission, by not telling her about buying the hat. I had lied, overtly, about the price I paid. My shame was monumental. “Go and sin no more,” she said, half joking, as she ended that horrible talk.

At the time, I didn’t think to argue that I bought the hat with the money I had earned and saved. My money, my choice. In later years, this would become my mantra. I remember that hat well, but I don’t remember ever wearing it. It was tainted. Every time I looked at it, I relived a lie.