The Way We Lied

New Year’s Day,
January 1, 2000

We woke quite early that morning, considering none of us had been to bed until about two o’clock. Amy nudged me awake and said, “We’ve got to make our film right now. Come on.”
I yawned and stretched. “And we’ve got to make something for the time capsule as well.”
We crept downstairs to find my mother already organising the kitchen. She told us to help ourselves to cereal for now, as she would be cooking bacon sandwiches and sausages later when everyone was awake. Taking our bowls with us, we shuffled into the playroom and set up the video tape Amy had filmed the day before.
“We’ll have to put this one in the time capsule and use another tape for filming later on,” she said, pressing the play button on the video recorder. We curled up on the shabby old sofa, crunching our cornflakes and watched the scenes Amy had filmed the previous afternoon. There were shaky shots of cars arriving, Aunty Sarah telling Amy to be careful with the camera and Uncle Nick hugging and kissing everyone. “Ugh, did you see that? He patted Alex’s bottom as well,” grimaced Amy. Then there were the boys pulling faces, the dogs begging and panting and lastly my father, walking through the garden.
“What’s he doing, Lisa?” Amy froze the image so we could study it more closely. She had been filming from the window and had caught him coming up the lawn from behind the hedges at the bottom of the garden. He walked very slowly with his head hanging down, his hands in his pockets. Then he stopped and leant against the big oak tree, holding his arms above his head and slowly banging his forehead on the tree trunk. His shoulders seemed to be shaking.
“What’s he doing? He looks like he’s crying,” I said quietly. “But dads don’t cry.”
And then the boys burst in, each with a freshly baked croissant. Amy stopped the tape and ejected it from the machine. “We want to make a film,” Sam yelled. “Where’s the camera?”
After much shouting, in which our cereal bowls spilt on the carpet and Amy crossly stomped out saying she would not fetch the camera until they had decided to be nice to us, the boys became quieter and more friendly. We sat on the sofa and they lay on the carpet and we planned our filming schedule.
By mid-morning we had filmed a scene in which Ben had examined a silver tankard for fingerprints, Tom had crept through the back door of the house in an old black eye mask and Sam had dug a hole in the garden. I had decided to be the beautiful lady of the house and had dressed in what I considered to be an elegant outfit with one of my mother’s borrowed handbags. Alex’s twins kept trying to join in and we were told to entertain them while the adults finished their late breakfast and had further cups of coffee. Amy and I decided to teach Daisy and Lily how to belly dance, thinking they would look quite ridiculous and might even fall over. “Then they’ll go away and leave us alone,” Amy said. However, they both enjoyed our dance class and even began to get some idea of how to wiggle their little hips and we all laughed together and even the boys attempted to copy us.
And then late in the morning, we heard my mother calling us. “Darlings, we’re going to bury the time capsule in the next half hour. Have you all got your contributions ready?” Amy and I stopped and looked at each other, as we had done nothing about this since talking about it the night before. We both ran upstairs to my room and began scribbling notes, then sealed our envelopes and grabbed the video tape.


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