This is my response to the third Scrivener’s Forge exercise on Character and Likeability. Click on the link to see the exercise details
It would be a delightfully simple world if telling the truth was always right and lying was always wrong. But it is not so. I work undercover, and I’ve had to become a practitioner of the Noble Lie. Such lies are told for reasons of the greater good, often to maintain law, order and safety. Though they may told with love, they corrupt other loves.
I spent a year and a half getting close to Ayesha’s brothers, but never did discover what they were up to. I went out with them on marches and protests, handed out leaflets, buttonholed worshippers after Friday prayers about sharia and the true meaning of Islam. But they never took me with them on their frequent weekends away. I was denied entry to the inner circle. The locations of their trips were revealing though – Hampshire, Surrey and Kent. I knew for certain they visited Aldershot, Deepcut. Chatham, Sandhurst and Worthy Down. All of those places have military bases. It looked, as they say, suspicious.
Then Ayesha said she had something to tell me. Her sloe eyes were bright, her breathing was fast and shallow. ‘I’m pregnant,’ she said.
I said the usual silly things men say – What? How? Why? Are you sure?
‘It will be all right, won’t it?’ she asked. ‘You must marry me.’
‘Your brothers will never allow it,’ I temporised.
‘My brothers and father will kill me if I have a baby and I am unmarried.’
The moment of betrayal is always agonising. You recite for yourself all the reasons that make it right. There’s duty. There’s the uncomfortable truth that you already have a wife and two vaguely C of E kids. And those are good justifications. But you can only betray what you first love.
I walked away, looked back once, and shed a tear.