A seven-year old Aloe blinked then smiled a toothy grin at his mother, albeit some of his tooth were either missing or still growing. His black eyes bright with wonderment as he heard a click coming from the machine his mother was holding.
“I wanna try! Momma!” Aloe exclaimed as he waved his hands and tried to touch the camera. The castle he was trying to build with his Lego blocks was ignored in favor of the new contraption in his mother’s hands.
He stood up excitedly; his height reaching up to the waist of his mother. His mother laughed and let the camera hang around her neck to crouch down and look at Aloe in the eye. Aloe clearly inherited his mother’s beautiful onyx eyes.
She pinched Aloe’s cheeks and kissed his forehead. “Nope, this is for grown-ups only.”
Aloe pouted and wondered why his mother wouldn’t trust him with the gadget.
“But, I won’t break it,” he promised earnestly at his mother. His mother giggled at her son’s persistence. “I promise! I’ll be careful!” Aloe’s mother could only smile gently at his begging. She just ruffled her son’s jet black hair and pinched his cheeks again.
“Still nope. But I’ll give you something else,” she started to rummage something in her pockets. Before she could find it and give it to Aloe, she was surprised by her son’s words.
“Momma, the dentist said no chocolates for me yet,”
“Yup! He said it’s bad for my teeth,”
“But let’s just keep it a secret between us, ok?” she whispered to him as she placed the chocolate bar in his hands.
When Aloe turned ten, he couldn’t understand why people acted so differently from the way they think. Even though he was smarter for his age, he really was still a child, confused by the complicated way the world works.
“Mom, why did you say you to the lady that you liked her dress when you clearly don’t?“ Aloe turned his curious eyes at his mother. His mother, clearly flustered, breathed in deeply to compose herself then smiled sadly at him
“Dear,” her mother hesitated. “There are things called white lies. Sometimes they’re needed to be polite and to avoid hurting anyone. Sometimes it’s necessary.”
“So, it’s okay to lie if it doesn’t hurt anyone?”
Aloe frowned and turned away from his mother.
When Aloe turned fifteen, his parents made the first major lie to him. They have never lied to him before about big things. He didn’t understand why they would.
“Mom?” Aloe cautiously approached his sobbing mother, who was frantically wiping away her tears.
“I’m okay,” his mother immediately said before he could open his mouth again. Aloe narrowed his eyes at his mother’s words. He waited for her to calm down, then what she frantically vomited the words as if she couldn’t hold it in anymore. “I think, I think your father is having an affair.”
Aloe felt blank. He, for a second, wished his mother had lied to him and kept her pain to herself. He was immediately overcome with the feeling of self-hatred and shame for his thoughts.
“Don’t say anything to your father!” His mother suddenly realized how Aloe could react to what she has just said. Aloe felt the tears fall before he realized he was crying.
“Aloe even if he doesn’t love me anymore, he still loves you, you’re still his son, so just do your best and always make him proud okay?” His mother whispered through her sobs. Aloe hugged his mother, and made a promise to himself.
Later that night, he heard his mother confront his father at the living room.
“Where were you? It’s already night,” His mother’s voice was heavy with accusation.
“I was at the meeting!” Aloe flinched. He didn’t know what to do anymore. Lies are wrong, but he was taught about white lies. He drowned out the rest of their arguments.
Aloe heard the door to his room being opened then closed quietly. He looked at his mother’s shaking body.
“Aloe, where did he really go?” His mother stared at him, her eyes begging him to say something. Aloe stayed silent.
“Please, where?” Aloe felt conflicted, but he had no choice. No, he had a choice but he knew what he had to do.
“He didn’t go to the meeting,”
Since then he stopped talking to his mother about his father.
When Aloe turned nineteen, he was told off by people. He tried to disagree with them, but he often found the world proving their words right.
Aloe gazed thoughtfully at the paper in his hand. The score written on it indicated that he passed. He also noticed that it was wrongfully counted. If he had it corrected, he would fail the course.
He approached his professor. “Ma’am, my exam score is wrong, it should be lower.”
That sealed his faith. He slowly walked back to his seat, mindful of what he just did.
“Stop being too truthful, you won’t survive the real world that way,” His classmate told him after having approached their professor.
“I’ll live, you’ll see,” Aloe coolly replied and promptly ignored him.
When Aloe turned twenty-one, he was already exhausted and jaded. His black eyes stared tiredly at the people walking all around him inside the coffee shop. He quietly observed all the people having conversation around him, and he couldn’t help but to feel the resentment.
“I wish that people would be more honest”
“Even if just to themselves”
“I wish to tell the truth”