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Half a Truth is still a Lie


Sarah Timberlake


1) muster
собирать, концентрировать; 2) custody – опека; опекунство; забота, попечение; 3) up her sleeve – тайно, исподтишка; 4) leverage – средство для достижения цели; 5) crowd – давить, толкать, оказывать давление; 6) cramp – психоз; 7) exasperated – раздраженный, разгневанный; 8) Evanescenceисчезновение; grudge - испытывать неприязнь; завидовать; выражать недовольство; 9) have a crush on smb. - сильно увлечься кем-л., потерять голову из-за кого-л.; 10) a different kettle of fish – совсем другое дело
How life seems to whistle by without so much as a horn to warn you. That's how Beth felt that day when she watched her only daughter and only member of her family leave for university. She had divorced Joanne's father when she was not more than six years old. 

He had been an alcoholic and had physically abused her. It was the first and dare say it, last time that he hit her dear Jo, that she mustered the courage to grab him by the ear and turf him out of her house. The next few months that followed were to be full of hatred and a bitter battle to see not only who gained custody of the house, but also their daughter.

Well, what her dear husband hadn't counted on, was that she had kept a special kind of diary. She had been planning to leave her husband, but she knew that there would be a battle to see who kept Jo, so she had a sensational idea up her sleeve, one which she knew would give her leverage in the end.

The diary contained dates and pictures of when Gary had beaten her, she was keeping it as evidence that her husband was abusive and couldn't be trusted to look after her precious Jo.   

That lovely piece of evidence had won her case, but not her dignity. Gary had leapt up and managed to punch her in the face. He was taken away and placed in jail.

[But that was long ago, Jo thankfully looked nothing like her father. She had the same long willowy blonde hair that was constantly pinned back in a messy ponytail, her chestnut brown eyes added wisdom to her solemn and freckly face. Her long and lithe body was elegantly dressed in trendy jeans, a pretty white cotton camisole and a green velvet jacket. She looked simply stunning, her eyes were slightly glistening, but Jo being Jo, was trying furiously to stay composed.

Her mother's long thin arms encircled her and the tears started flowing easily. She was too old to care about looking composed and trendy, Jo was her only daughter and she was about to flee the nest to the University of Manchester, over two hundred miles away. Going away to study a History degree, what on Earth good a history degree did these days, she didn't know, but she knew it wasn't her place to say. Beth had always been careful not to 'Crowd' Jo's style. Or was it 'Cramp'? Beth began to sob, whilst Jo's eyes darted nervously to her awaiting car with her two best friends crushed inside amidst books, boxes and all sorts of other things.

'I have to get going mum, I love you!' Jo started to pull away.

'I love you too sweetheart' Beth sniffed 'So you better keep in contact!'

'I will mum, I promise.' Jo sounded exasperated.

'Okay, you had better be off love.' She saw her daughter trying to conceal to relief in her eyes. Beth sighed, she was dealing with this really well, she kidded herself.]

Her daughter waved briefly before she too crammed herself into the tiny blood red Rover Metro. As the door slammed shut behind her she heard some giggling before Evanescence was turned up full blast.

Beth watched the small car disappear into the distance before she sighed, her chest feeling tight and heavy from the emotional pain of losing her only daughter to Uni. She knew she shouldn't grudge her daughter the experience, she guessed if anything she was probably feeling a little bit jealous because never had the chance to feel that kind of freedom.

Beth dragged herself back inside her lonely three-bedroom cottage and closed the sturdy front door behind her and bolted it shut. You couldn't be too careful when you lived on your own. That did it! Beth started sobbing freely, her chest felt tight like she was having a heart attack or something.

Imagine that, Beth cried to herself, I could have a heart attack and die and nobody would find the body for days!

'Stop it Beth!' She ordered herself. 'You are being damn silly now.' She slowly moved away from the front door and wandered upstairs into Jo's bedroom and glanced inside. It was strange being here by herself, knowing that she was now going to be alone in a big house that held so many memories.

Beth found a framed picture of Jo and her boyfriend Dean, whom she would be sharing a flat with when she got to Manchester. Dean was a very handsome young man. Young man? Beth put the picture back in its place. God, I'm beginning to sound like one of those old buddies from that Harry Enfield sketch.

She guessed it was okay to have a crush on her daughter's boyfriend as long as that was all it was. Dean was six foot two and a model. His thick blonde hair and chiselled good looks would turn any girl's knees to jelly. Especially when he smiled at you and his huge green eyes twinkled.

Beth found herself getting excited and tried to push any ridiculous thoughts out of her mind. She decided she had better leave her daughters room before she got any more emotional.

She wandered back into her own room and lay down on her bed. Dean was delicious and what her daughter didn't know wouldn't hurt her. She smiled.  

It had been two weeks ago and her daughter had been out seeing friends when Dean came by the cottage. Beth had, as usual, felt as though someone had winded her as she laid eyes on Dean. He stood there in the doorway, looking like thunder itself. 

He had grabbed her and pushed her inside the cottage, bolting the door noisily behind them. He had ripped off her blouse and they had wild sex on the living room floor. 

You see, Beth was a typical mother. She was truly ruthless when it came to Jo's boyfriends. She kept close tabs on them. All of them, except Dean had been totally faithful to her precious Jo. She didn't like it when boys used her daughter for sex.

She stalked all of her daughter's boyfriends. Taking pictures, keeping evidence. All of the rest of Jo's boyfriends had come out clean. And Beth let them be, until Jo grew weary of them and dumped them. 

Dean was a different kettle of fish altogether. Beth had caught him kissing another girl passionately. She took a picture, wrote the date and slipped it back into Dean's 'File'.

She had called Dean up, pretending to be her daughter and invited him over. When Dean had got there, Beth let him in and told Dean that Jo wouldn't be back for the weekend, she was away with some friend to see a concert.

Dean had been so sweet, asking her why she had pretended to be Jo, telling her that his heart belonged to her daughter.

So he was more than a little bit upset when she presented him with his 'File'. He slapped her hard across the face and she had fell to the floor. She licked the blood that trickled down her lip and told him that he had until the next night to decide how much he really loved Jo and that she wanted the ultimate payment for keeping her silence.

Beth was good at doing things like that. Her husband had called her a manipulative bitch when she provoked him into hitting her. He had known that she was after a divorce, the cottage and his daughter. So when she started an argument and provoked him once again into hitting her, he hadn't noticed little Jo was standing right behind her. Beth had. In fact she had planned it all the way. She dodged out of the way of his fist just in time. They had smacked right into his daughter instead. Beth had been armed with the camera and took the picture that cost him the rightful custody of his daughter.

After that, life had been a good to Beth. She poisoned her daughters mind into believing that her dad had hit her on a regular basis, enough so that she refused to go anywhere near him, even after he got out of prison. 

Now her life wasn't going to be easy. She had no one, no friends and a daughter that was on her way to Manchester. She had no one to play any mind games on. 

Beth smiled and closed her eyes, remembering her wild night of passion with Dean again. Just then, the phone rang and it startled her. She grabbed the phone off of the receiver, cursing whoever it was for interrupting her pleasant daydream.

'Hello?' Beth sighed into the receiver.


She knew that bastard!

'How could I what Jo?' Beth tried to sound startled. 

'DON'T LIE TO ME! Dean just phoned me on my mobile and came clean.'  

  'Oh Jo honey, I'm so sorry. I couldn't help myself. He practically forced himself on me, saying he loved me and he was only still with you so that he could see me.' Beth pretended to sob.

The phone was silent for what seemed like an eternity.

'You slept with Dean?' Jo asked quietly. 'He phoned me and told me that you had been following him around and taking pictures of him. That you had caught him kissing another girl.' 

That bastard! Beth raged. He had outsmarted her. 

'I-I can't believe this.' Jo began to cry.

'Oh my God Jo, I-he uh' Beth stammered. 

'I hate you. I never want to speak to you again.' Jo turned off her phone.

Beth stared into space in shocked silence. Then she began to wail.      


1. Learn the vocabulary by heart.
2. Give the Russian for:

whistle by; grab smb. by the ear; place smb. in jail; to flee the nest; full blast; on smb’s. own; turn smb's knees to jelly; ruthless; stalk smb.; grow weary of smth.; provoke smb. into doing smth; come clean.
3. Give the English for:

собраться с духом; вышвырнуть кого-л.; рассчитывать на что-л.; ударить по лицу; вскочить (подняться); абсолютно не похож на…; алый; сердечный приступ; тайный учет; бросать, уходить, прекращать близкие отношения; увертываться, уклоняться; перехитрить.
4. Pick out 10 items from the exercises 2 and 3. Use them in the English sentences of your own.
5. Make up a written translation of the text in square brackets.

6. Answer the following questions:

1. Could you describe Beth’s family life as it is shown at the beginning of the story? 2. Where was Jo going to? 3. How did Beth feel about her daughter’s departure? 4. Why do you think Beth was so crazy about stalking Jo’s boyfriends? 5. Why was Beth so unfair to her husband? 6. Do you think the story is just a fiction or it could have happened in reality? 7. What do you think can happen next?

7. Retell the text as if you were a) Beth; b) Jo; c) Dean; d) Gary.