Secret or Truth?
By Risa Nyman

Three things cannot long stay hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth. – Buddha

So, if the truth cannot stay hidden, what happens to all the secrets we keep. Everyone has a secret, either their own or one they promised to keep for someone else. When we’re pressed for the truth, it’s a dilemma. Do we tell or not? What are the stakes? The choice isn’t always easy or simple, and not for the faint-hearted.

The decision to keep a family secret is at the heart of my debut middle grade novel, SWALLOWED BY A SECRET, publication date January 21, 2020, from Immortal Works Press.

When twelve-year-old Rocky learns that his mom has told him a bogus story about how his dad really died, he is gut-punched. Now, in addition to his grief, he must deal with the loss of trust in his one remaining parent. Rocky’s mom compounds his misery when she puts the For-Sale sign on the front lawn right after the funeral, afraid that if they stay in town, someone will blurt out the truth before Rocky is ready.

While I wrote this story, a visual got stuck in my head of a fork in a road. One way beckoned me to the truth and the other to the vault where secrets are locked away.

Which way should you go?

Most of us remember from our childhood being taught that the truth is sacrosanct, and yet young kids often choose to lie to stay out of trouble. Recently, I watched a funny Facebook video of a cousin pressing her four-year-old daughter about the origins of some blue marker on the white counter, only to be told repeatedly by the little girl that “the dog did it.” That was her story, and she was sticking to it. Perhaps this sweet, adorable child is a natural-born fibber or a natural-born secret keeper.

By the time we reach adulthood, we have discovered that the truth is not all it’s cracked up to be. There are times when the emotional toll of honesty is too great and doesn’t serve a higher purpose. Should you tell Aunt Gertrude she got fat? Does your friend have to know that the boy she likes doesn’t like her? Should you tell your child about a parent’s illness that might send him reeling from the shock?

This was the burden Rocky’s mom faced. She knew that once she told the truth, there was no going back. You cannot re-secret a secret. But the not knowing consumed Rocky and embolden him to embark on a journey of risks, eavesdropping and snooping to discover the truth, forcing him to re-think who was the father he thought he knew.

Along the way, he found out what most of us know: family secrets are epidemic and no one is immune.

Born in Boston with the accent to prove it, Risa lived within ten miles of the city for decades until a recent move to the neighboring Ocean State.

For many years, Risa worked in a nonpartisan, not-for-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting active participation in our democracy with a special focus on voting and elections.

Then a strange event that involved three pennies led her to take a deep dive into creative writing, which is now a priority and passion – unless grandchildren are nearby.

At other times, you might find Risa reading, exercising or doing therapeutic ironing.

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