Two Truths and a Lie by Meg Mitchell Moore

Prologue




That was the summer we all drank tequila by the gallon. Not really, of course—if that had been true we all would have ended up dead, instead of only one person. Although there was no alcohol involved. It was your garden-variety car accident, the Acura crushed against the pole on that deserted stretch of Hale Street, the driver dead on impact.

Garden-variety. It happened all the time. Except that it wasn’t, and it didn’t, not in our town.





June





1.





The Squad


Later we would remember that we first set eyes on Sherri Griffin on Sawyer’s Beach, on the first day of the first session of surf camp. From the beginning, we weren’t sure she fit in. In fact, we weren’t even sure how she got in: surf-camp sign-ups happened in April, and she said she and her daughter had only just moved here. Somebody had to have clued her in before she moved. Or a child had dropped out, leaving a space open, and this newcomer had snapped it up. Perhaps she was savvier than she looked.

We remembered that she asked about the best place to get a haircut for her daughter, whose hair was curly.

“Rebecca would know,” Tammy said. “She has a wave in her hair.” She indicated the woman standing at the shoreline.

“Rebecca knows everything about the town,” Esther added slyly, and purposefully. “And she’s a planner.”

“Oh yes,” Monica added. “She’s very organized.” It was true. Rebecca decided when we would take our annual trip to Nantucket, where and when we would eat when we got there, and, most important, who would go. It was Rebecca who coordinated the carefully curated shots of us in our white jeans. It was Rebecca who tastefully filtered the photos and posted them on Instagram and Facebook, tagging each of us so that for any outsiders perusing their feeds there would be no doubt about who was there.

And, of course, who wasn’t.

Well, that was the old Rebecca.

There were twelve of us, an even dozen. Occasionally we made an exception to allow for more. For example, for Brandy’s fortieth, three years ago, we included two of her book club friends on the weekend trip to Chicago, bringing the total number to fourteen.

Fourteen, we all agreed later, was too many. There was the thing with the spiked seltzers, to cite an example. One of the interlopers drank five (!) White Claws without offering to replenish when we Ubered to the liquor store. The other got very drunk during Brandy’s birthday dinner out, at Twain, and was later sick at the Airbnb we had rented in Lincoln Park. We all agreed this made everybody uncomfortable and was not to be repeated.

After, some of us remembered the pertinent facts we’d learned about Sherri that first day at the beach. Divorced. Recently moved from Ohio. An eleven-year-old daughter, who would be entering sixth grade at the middle school.

Upon hearing this news, we tried our best to appear inclusive.

“All of us have sixth graders,” said Dawn. “So you’ll be seeing a lot of us, come fall!”

“It all depends on what team she gets,” offered Monica.

“True,” said Dawn.

“Teams?” said Sherri. “Like, sports teams?” She was sitting on a striped beach towel; we remembered that she seemed woefully unprepared, having brought only a small mesh beach bag. The rest of us had our Tommy Bahama beach chairs slung low in the sand, Hydroflasks in the cup holders. This woman had no water bottle that anyone could see. No Yeti full of cold brew. Certainly no snacks to share.

Though, of course, in her defense, one of us said later, how could she have known to bring snacks to share?

Gina shook her head indulgently. “No, it’s the teams for the middle school. Gold and crimson. She’ll be on one or the other, and that will determine everything for the year.”

“Everything,” confirmed Monica.

We could see that we were making the newcomer nervous (and many of us were okay with that). We were all relieved when one of our favorite surf instructors, Parker, approached the group.

“Who drives a white Acura?” asked Parker, whom we all agreed was very hot, especially when he pulled the top of his wet suit down during the breaks between sessions, showcasing his phenomenal abs.

“I do,” said the new woman. Some of us had forgotten her name already. Terri, was it? Mary? No, Sherri. It was Sherri. With an i. Some of us remembered that she’d told us that right away, as though anticipating an incorrect spelling.