We Were Liars(2)By: E. Lockhart
Granddad’s only failure was that he never had a son, but no matter. The Sinclair daughters were sunburnt and blessed. Tall, merry, and rich, those girls were like princesses in a fairy tale. They were known throughout Boston, Harvard Yard, and Martha’s Vineyard for their cashmere cardigans and grand parties. They were made for legends. Made for princes and Ivy League schools, ivory statues and majestic houses.
Granddad and Tipper loved the girls so, they couldn’t say whom they loved best. First Carrie, then Penny, then Bess, then Carrie again. There were splashy weddings with salmon and harpists, then bright blond grandchildren and funny blond dogs. No one could ever have been prouder of their beautiful American girls than Tipper and Harris were, back then.
They built three new houses on their craggy private island and gave them each a name: Windemere for Penny, Red Gate for Carrie, and Cuddledown for Bess.
I am the eldest Sinclair grandchild. Heiress to the island, the fortune, and the expectations.
ME, JOHNNY, MIRREN, and Gat. Gat, Mirren, Johnny, and me.
The family calls us four the Liars, and probably we deserve it. We are all nearly the same age, and we all have birthdays in the fall. Most years on the island, we’ve been trouble.
Gat started coming to Beechwood the year we were eight. Summer eight, we called it.
Before that, Mirren, Johnny, and I weren’t Liars. We were nothing but cousins, and Johnny was a pain because he didn’t like playing with girls.
Johnny, he is bounce, effort, and snark. Back then he would hang our Barbies by the necks or shoot us with guns made of Lego.
Mirren, she is sugar, curiosity, and rain. Back then she spent long afternoons with Taft and the twins, splashing at the big beach, while I drew pictures on graph paper and read in the hammock on the Clairmont house porch.
Then Gat came to spend the summers with us.
Aunt Carrie’s husband left her when she was pregnant with Johnny’s brother, Will. I don’t know what happened. The family never speaks of it. By summer eight, Will was a baby and Carrie had taken up with Ed already.
This Ed, he was an art dealer and he adored the kids. That was all we’d heard about him when Carrie announced she was bringing him to Beechwood, along with Johnny and the baby.
They were the last to arrive that summer, and most of us were on the dock waiting for the boat to pull in. Granddad lifted me up so I could wave at Johnny, who was wearing an orange life vest and shouting over the prow.
Granny Tipper stood next to us. She turned away from the boat for a moment, reached in her pocket, and brought out a white peppermint. Unwrapped it and tucked it into my mouth.
As she looked back at the boat, Gran’s face changed. I squinted to see what she saw.
Carrie stepped off with Will on her hip. He was in a baby’s yellow life vest, and was really no more than a shock of white-blond hair sticking up over it. A cheer went up at the sight of him. That vest, which we had all worn as babies. The hair. How wonderful that this little boy we didn’t know yet was so obviously a Sinclair.
Johnny leapt off the boat and threw his own vest on the dock. First thing, he ran up to Mirren and kicked her. Then he kicked me. Kicked the twins. Walked over to our grandparents and stood up straight. “Good to see you, Granny and Granddad. I look forward to a happy summer.”
Tipper hugged him. “Your mother told you to say that, didn’t she?”
“Yes,” said Johnny. “And I’m to say, nice to see you again.”
“Can I go now?”
Tipper kissed his freckled cheek. “Go on, then.”
Ed followed Johnny, having stopped to help the staff unload the luggage from the motorboat. He was tall and slim. His skin was very dark: Indian heritage, we’d later learn. He wore black-framed glasses and was dressed in dapper city clothes: a linen suit and striped shirt. The pants were wrinkled from traveling.
Granddad set me down.
Granny Tipper’s mouth made a straight line. Then she showed all her teeth and went forward.
“You must be Ed. What a lovely surprise.”
He shook hands. “Didn’t Carrie tell you we were coming?”
“Of course she did.”
Ed looked around at our white, white family. Turned to Carrie. “Where’s Gat?”