Pants on Fire | Flash Fiction

Long nose illustration - "Pants on Fire" flash fiction

Paul scans the faces of the three friends who are staring at him and wonders if he should be nervous. “Is this an intervention?” he says, forcing a smile.

“Yes, you could say that,” Sally replies. “We need to talk about your lies.”

The two other friends nod their heads solemnly. Paul frowns.

“You lie about everything,” Sally continues. “We don’t think you’re a bad person. We know that it’s probably due to some deep-rooted psychological problems, and we want to help you work through them.”

“Sal, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Come on, man,” Greg mumbles. “Just be honest with us, just this once.”

“We care about you, Paul,” Sally says, “but it’s hard for us to trust a friend who can lie so easily.”

Paul looks to Amy – the third friend who is yet to chime in, the one who is usually the voice of reason. But this time, she simply shrugs. “You’ve travelled the world. You’ve come face to face with sharks three separate times. You’ve climbed four mountains. You’re a qualified diver, a qualified pilot, and a qualified doctor, but you sacked all that in to work in a shitty tech start-up. You once went out on a date with Jennifer Lawrence. You once met the pope. You once bumped into the Queen on holiday in Magaluf and she bought you a beer. The odd epic story here and there is cool – it’s believable. But you can’t expect us to believe it all, can you?”

“But… it’s all true,” Paul says. “I swear!”

“Come on, mate. We’re your friends. You can open up to us.”

“I know it’s mental that I met the Queen, I know it is – but it happened! I can prove it all. You guys have seen my Instagram, you’ve seen photos of most of this stuff.”

“Clearly Photoshopped,” Sally says with a shake of her head. “We’re not daft, Paul.”

“Look, I don’t want to be a dick about this,” Amy says softly, “but we can’t continue to be friends with you if you keep at it. It’s embarrassing. People laugh at you and then they laugh at us by association. Listen: it’s okay to be normal. It’s okay to have a boring life, y’know? You don’t have to lie.”

“I don’t lie!” Paul says desperately. “Never have. Lying is immoral – I truly believe that.”

Greg gives him a sad smile. “That’s exactly what a compulsive liar would say, mate.”

Paul sighs. “Fine. I’ll stop.”

“Really?”

He nods.

“So you’ll admit it then. You’ll admit that all your little adventures, all your celeb run-ins, your degree in medicine, all of it… it’s bullshit?”

Paul considers it. His palms get sweaty and his throat becomes dry. “Yes,” he says. “It’s all bullshit.”

And so begins a lifetime of lies and the most boring Instagram feed in the world.

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Author: Ellie Scott

Ellie Scott is a freelance copywriter and fiction writer from Sheffield, UK. She writes speculative and silly short stories and flash fiction. In 2018 she was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize Short Story Competition and published her first book, 'Merry Bloody Christmas: A Short Story Collection'. You can often find her hanging out on Twitter (@itsemscott), Instagram (@tinysillystories) and Medium (@elliemaryscott), or hibernating on her sofa with a book and a very large glass of gin.

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