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A Perfect Lie
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Secrets. Lies. A man. There’s always a man. And there’s always a truth to be told.
I’m Hailey Anne Monroe. I’m twenty-eight years old. An artist, who found her muse on the canvas because I wasn’t allowed to have friends or even keep a journal. And yes, if you haven’t guessed by now, I’m that Hailey Anne Monroe, daughter to Thomas Frank Monroe, the man who was a half-percentage point from becoming President of the United States. If you were able to ask him, he’d probably tell you that I was the half point. But you can’t ask him, and he can’t tell you. He’s dead. They’re all dead and now I can speak.
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THE BEGINNING, THE MIDDLE, THE END…
They say that you are not a product of the environment that you’ve grown up in, that you create your own story, tell it your way. That you get to pick your own future. They lied. If you’re honest with yourself, you believed that lie, too, like I used to, because I wanted to, and even needed to believe that I had some semblance of control over my own self. The truth is that control is part of the lie. The ability to become a person of our own making is the perfect lie. I concede that it might appear that some people control their destiny, but I assure you, if you gave me fifteen minutes, I could pull apart that façade. We are born into a destiny that we never have the chance to escape. That’s why I must tell my story. For those of you out there like me who were told that you have choices, when you never had one single choice that was your own. For those of you out there who were, who are, judged for decisions you’ve made that were directed by your destiny, not by the façade of choices. The irony of the story within this story is how one person’s predisposed destiny can impact, influence, and even change the lives of those around him or her. How one destiny ties to another destiny.
I am Hailey Anne Monroe. I’m twenty-eight years old. An artist, who found her muse on the canvas because I wasn’t allowed to have friends or even keep a journal. And yes, if you haven’t guessed by now, I’m that Hailey Anne Monroe, daughter to Thomas Frank Monroe, the man who was a half-percentage point from becoming President of the United States. If you were able to ask him, he’d probably tell you that I was the half point. But you can’t ask him, and he can’t tell you. He’s dead. They’re all dead and now I can speak.
PART ONE: THE BEGINNING
HAILEY ANNE MONROE
You already know that I’m one of those perfect lies we’ve discussed, a façade of choices that were never my own. But that one perfect lie is too simplistic to describe who, and what, I am. I am perhaps a dozen perfect lies, the creation of at least one of those lies beginning the day I was born. That’s when the clock started ticking. That’s when decisions started being made for me. That’s when every step that could be taken was to ensure I was “perfect.” My mother, a brilliant doctor, ensured I was one hundred percent healthy, in all ways a test, pin prick, and inspection could ensure. I was, of course, vaccinated on a strict schedule, because in my household we must be so squeaky clean that we cannot possibly give anything to anyone.
Meanwhile, my father, the consummate politician, began planning my college years while my diapers were still being changed. I would be an attorney. I would go to an Ivy League college. I would be a part of the elite. Therefore, I was with tutors before I could spell. I was in dance at five years old. Of course, there was also piano, and French, Spanish, and Chinese language classes. The one joy I found was in an art class, which my mother suggested when I was twelve. It became my obsession, my one salvation, my one escape. Outside of her. She was not like my father. She was my friend, not my dictator. She was the bridge between us. The one we both adored. She listened to me. She listened to him. She tried to find compromise between us. She gave me choices, within the limits I was allowed. She tried to make me happy. She did make me as happy as anyone who was a puppet to a political machine could be, but the bigger the machine, the more developed, the harder that became. And still she fought for me.
I loved my mother with all of my heart and soul.
That’s why it’s hard to tell this part of my story. If there was one moment, beyond my birth, that established my destiny, and my influence on the destiny of those around me, it would be one evening during my senior year in high school, the night I killed my mother.
THE PAST—TWELVE YEARS AGO…
The steps leading to the Michaels’ home seem to stretch eternally, but then so do most on this particular strip of houses in McLean, Virginia, where the rich, and sometimes famous, reside. Music radiates from the walls of the massive white mansion that is our destination, the stretch of land owned by the family wide enough that the nearest neighbor sees nothing and hears nothing. They most certainly don’t know that while the Michaels are out of town, their son, Jesse, is throwing a party.