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Lies I told to become a spy

Strapped to a straight-backed metal chair, I plant my feet firmly on the ground and try not to think about the electrodes and sweat monitors attached to my hands and chest. The room is silent – no air-conditioning hum, no buzz from the blue fluorescent lights.

Angela, the CIA polygraph technician, sits in a chair facing me and begins.

“Have you disclosed all of your illegal drug use to the Agency?”

I say yes. I had told them about trying marijuana, so I’m covered. Angela smiles. She continues with the next two questions, which I answer easily. Then the final one:

“Are you hiding any contacts with foreign government officials?”

My stomach lurches at the word “hiding,” but the answer is obvious: no. I say I don’t have any contacts with foreign government officials.

The polygraph screen goes wild. I inhale sharply, my heart pounding.

“Let’s try that again,” Angela says, and repeats the question. My hands shake as I remind myself I have nothing to hide – nothing big anyway. But I fail again. My body is betraying me.

Angela tells me to breathe deeply and relax. I fidget in the metal chair. Closing my eyes, I picture the ocean. And then I panic.

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