You feel you are being lied to. You have no idea what the lie is. You (simply) know the lie exists. The liar is your partner. You will not consciously decide to go through your partner’s belongings: wallet, emails, phone records, shopping receipts, etc. You simply happen one day to find yourself unattended by said partner and deep in the labyrinth of them. An email will stand out:

From: [name belonging to a body your partner is surely sexually attracted to]

Subject: Tonight [gasp. oh god. this cannot be good]

Body: I regret to inform you that I will be unable to make the buyer’s dinner
this evening. Good luck representing the ____________ team. We all have
faith you’ll do a great solo job.
Best,
[name belonging to a body your partner is surely sexually attracted to]

You find this email to be unimportant in your endeavor to reveal the lie. Move on. Wallet contents: debit card, photo I.D., assortment of business cards (all of ostensibly innocent nature), receipt for underwear. Expensive underwear. Nice underwear. You have not seen said underwear. Think, how will I confront my partner about nice, expensive, new underwear I am meant to have no knowledge of existing? Check places around your home where new underwear might be. Search without success. Look to dog, a new dog you and your partner recently adopted, for ideas of where nice, expensive, new underwear may be. Feel strike of realization while looking at dog. Remember dog has an affinity for soiled underpants. Remember last week hearing your partner complain about all the underwear new dog has shredded. Return receipt to wallet. Return wallet to nightstand. Close email.

Before the lie, they, your partner, will leave early for work. First, they will kiss you. The kiss will be long and wet. You will kiss them while pushing your body into the crevices of their body: the armpits, the crook of their neck, the gap between their feet, the warm indent beneath their hipbone. This will make it hard for them to leave.

Hours will pass. Time will pass.

They will return. Kiss you. You will have been waiting for this, the kiss, inside the doorframe of the front entrance, or the door to the room with the bed you and your partner share or else within another doorframe within the home.

Hours will pass. Time will pass.

You will notice one day your partner has yellow teeth. You will notice one of them is dead. You have never before noticed your partner’s yellow decaying teeth. You will not be able to recall if they have always been yellow or if they have become yellow without your noticing. You will decide to love your partner and their yellow teeth even more than before. You will feel proud of this small sacrifice you have made for them. You feel this small sacrifice has brought you and your partner closer together.

You will think of all the small sacrifices you have made: you enjoy(ed) eating a large, fatty cut of cow that bled on your plate when you cut into it. You are, and have always been, an exceptionally conscious eater. You have spent the majority of your adult life growing your own vegetables and buying only local organic food. To reward yourself for making not only healthy, but also ecologically sound food choices, you reward(ed) yourself with a delicious, mouth- watering hunk of cow once or twice a month (the cow is(was) always sustainably sourced from a local farmer practicing organic production methods). Your partner is a strict vegan. You no longer reward yourself. You envision blood in your mouth when they surprise you with hearty tempeh disguised as pork product.

You think too that you have sacrificed a sort of moral code for your partner. You have always acknowledged the h in human. People that believe this h to be silent, as in (h)ewuman, have always made the hair on your arms stick up. Your partner appears to believe human is spelt without an h. You have never once corrected them. You cringe every time a conversation about society or politics or the future comes up.

The next time your partner returns home from work you will not be waiting within the doorframe of the front entrance. You will not be waiting in any doorframe. You will think waiting in doorframes is yet another sacrifice you make for your partner. You will have gone to bed without your partner. This will be a first. You will not be able to sleep until they get home. You will not want to appear to have been waiting up. You will hear your partner walking through the doorframes of your large house. They will be looking for you. You will fake a snore when they walk through the doorframe to the bedroom you share.

The next morning, or some morning following the next morning, you will say to your partner, Why is it I am always the one making sacrifices for this relationship? You will be reading a book or newspaper and will not tilt your head to look up as you ask this. Seconds, a minute, minutes will pass. I didn’t know I made you feel that way, they will respond and reach out their hand to touch the nape of your neck or thigh or belly. Their hand will not make it to any of these destinations. They will try again in a day, a week, a month. Still, their hand will not make it to any of these destinations.

Hours will pass. Time will pass.

Your partner will return home from work. Again, you will not be waiting beneath a doorframe. You will be at the kitchen table in front of a dinner you have made. It will be their favorite. It will be your anniversary or their birthday or yours. This birthday or anniversary will have made you wonder, when was the last time my partner and I did something sweet together? You will have spent whole minutes attempting to remember.

You will look across the table toward the doorframe they walk through to meet you. You will smile. You will give them your best smile. As the two of you eat (a dinner you made while thinking only sweet thoughts) you will notice something different about your partner. It will be their posture or the way their eyes twitch in a way you don’t remember having ever seen them twitch or it will be the way they chew. You will think, my partner has never chewed with ambivalence and now they chew as if they are unaware there is even food in their mouth, let alone a perfectly executed vegan meal served as a gesture of sweetness and made while thinking only sweet thoughts. This is their favorite dinner. If ever there were a time for them to chew with ambivalence, as they never had before, this certainly would not be that time. You will not ask your partner what is the matter. You will not ask your partner what has caused this sudden change. You will know it is much too late for that. You will feel discomfort. This sensation of discomfort will consume you as you realize you do not know how long your partner has been chewing with ambivalence. You will not know what other ways your partner has changed without your noticing.

You will feel you are being lied to. You will have no idea what the lie is. You (simply) will know the lie exists. You are a modern person. You will not be lied to.

You will hear of new technologies. Everyday you will be inundated with advertisements for technologies that allow access into other people’s emails or phones or bedrooms. You will tell yourself it is not right for people to have access to information that was intended to be kept private. You will think it is necessary. A day, a week, a month will pass and then, you will hear of an even newer more cutting edge technology. It will be microscopic. It will be more discrete than any technology to have ever come before it. It will allow its purchaser to see its subject without any limitations.

You will hear of the countless possibilities for this microscopic device (the UltraMicroscopicMicrochipImplant a.k.a. the UMMI): employers who have UMMIed their employees, men who have UMMIed their wives, parents who have UMMIed their children. You will be astounded by the capabilities of the modern ultra-microchip technology.

You will see images of the UltraMicroscopicMicrochipImplant on the screen of your computer or a billboard above where you live. You will think, even blown up in print, they are not easy to recognize. People will say, there is no such thing as privacy anymore. You will like the way this sounds. You will feel, finally, relief that you can live free of the unknown. You will think if there is something I want to know, I will know it. This will feel good.

You will find someone in the Deep Web. First, you will hear of a thing referred to as the deep web. You will not know entirely what this means. You will need someone, someone younger or more advanced than yourself, to explain to you what the Deep Web is. Then, you will find someone in the Deep Web who you will purchase an UltraMicroscopicMicrochipImplant from (UMMIs will still, despite being steadily advertised, be hard to come by without corporate ties and a disposable income). When you find this someone, you will pay them an exorbitant amount of money to navigate the Deep Web for you. You will have to sell some of your favorite valuables in order to make enough extra money so as not to leave a noticeable withdrawal from your and your partner’s joint savings account. You will think the entire interaction is not all that different from meeting a private investigator in a smoke-filled room or dim-lit alley to discuss a philandering spouse.

You will pay this exorbitant amount of money and in return you will receive the UMMI. It will be even smaller than you could have imagined. You will learn it has features you never knew existed. These features are meant to relay an endless amount of information to you about your chosen subject. This information will come to you in the form of sound and video. You will think you are not sure you want the information this microscopic device will give you. You will install the UMMI while your partner sleeps.

At first, you will have trouble watching. You will sit in front of your computer screen and watch as an image appears from your partner’s perspective as they pull out of your driveway and onto the main road. You will turn the screen of your laptop down and push your chair away from your desk. The UMMI will work. You will be able to see what your partner sees. You will stare at the folded laptop in front of you. You will think, I cannot go through with this, I do not want to know what I thought I wanted to know.

You will open the laptop back up. You will see the front entrance of your partner’s office building. The images on the screen will get larger as your partner nears the door and then the hallway inside the building where they work. You will continue watching for a day, a week, a month.

You will try to respect your partner’s privacy by averting your eyes and muting the sound when they use the restroom. You will feel surprised at how much candy they consume and how little they masturbate throughout the week. You will think they work in a space comprised strictly of attractive people. You will feel disbelief at how little time your partner spends appraising their above-average-looking coworkers.

You will remind yourself to focus. You will keep your eyes on the screen until they water with exhaustion. You will sometimes forget your partner is not just a character on your computer screen. You will forget that this person you watch is someone you have met, someone you speak with daily (although less so now). You will often forget this person on the screen lives with you. You will remember this only when you hear keys in the handle of your front door and think, who is entering my home so late? You will have to rush to blackout the screen before they enter through the doorframe of the front entrance as you remember it is your partner. The person on the screen is your partner.

Hours will pass. Time will pass.

You will see that your partner’s days and weeks and months are mostly the same. You will watch for an indiscretion. You will watch as your partner eats their lunch in the break room at work and sometimes on the bench outside the office beneath a tree when it is an especially sunny day. You will watch as your partner interacts in no particularly alarming way with their coworkers and friends and family.

You will feel you are being lied to. You will have no idea what the lie is. You (simply) will know the lie exists.