Rated PG; domestic violence
Prompt: Write a game of 'truth or dare' that goes horribly wrong.
“Truth or dare?”
“Come on. You already know.”
“Okay. . .why are you grounded?”
Vicky closes her eyes and sighs. One leg is stretched out onto the pavement, the other bent. She’s resting her elbow on her knee. She leans against the wall. Her hair falls out of her face. She’s not pleased with the question.
“I was grounded for taking a train.”
I furrow my eyebrows. Mido swallows the last bite of the oatmeal cookie in his hand before asking.
“Why was taking a train so bad?”
“It was at night. After curfew. To visit Jackie.” She responds.
Her bravery to do something like that both disgusts and amazes me.
“So, how long are you banned from your phone?” I ask.
“What about emergencies?” Mido wipes a crumb from his cheek.
“I can’t get into any, or I’m screwed.” Vicky picks at a piece of lint on her skirt.
I clamp a hand on her shoulder. “Maybe not more late-night train rides, then?”
She shrugs, removing my palm from her sweater.
“Okay, it’s my turn to ask.”
Mido and I sit straighter as her eyes dart between us. It’s only the three of us in this garden, so I feel extremely exposed. There’s no hiding behind a tree or birdbath that will save me.
Vicky’s light hazel irises do land on me. She smiles. Revenge.
“Truth or dare?”
I chose ‘truth’ the last time. While I would love to do it again, it takes away the fun if I just choose the same option every time.
I’m diving headfirst into Vicky’s trap.
Vicky bites her lip as she thinks. Her eyes light up, and she leans forward, getting right in my face. She smells like dandruff shampoo.
“I dare you to get grounded, too.”
“I’ve never been grounded before.”
Mido narrows his eyes.
I kick a stone on the sidewalk. We’re now walking next to a busy street, so I raise my voice as I reply.
“It’s not a punishment my dad doles out. It’s usually not being able to go see a friend or having to clean the house by myself.” I lie.
Mido has never been a friend I’ve wanted to see. I haven’t known him long enough. He seems to accept it as the truth.
“Well, we’ll do our best to get you punished anyways.”
Vicky comes up behind me and slings an arm around my shoulders.
“Now, when did you mess up last?”
“It was a few months ago. I pretended to be sick to skip class.”
“Your dad realized it was a charade?” Mido asks.
Vicky looks up to the sky, thinking.
“Well, it’s summer, so the whole sick thing is a no-go.”
“How about stealing from his wallet?”
We’ve just turned a corner, and reached my street. It’s relatively devoid of cars, so there are no sidewalks. Which means the three of us should be staying on the side of the road. However, I stop in the middle of turning in my direction when I hear Mido’s suggestion. I think I’d rather die.
“I’m not a thief,” I state as calmly as I can manage.
I tug on my hair, to try to find something to keep me steady. It just makes my scalp hurt.
“I like it.” Vicky takes her arm away from me to high-five Mido.
Mido accepts it, slapping Vicky’s hand and grinning. I swear for a second I see fangs. Like that of a monster.
“Okay, so you’ll get caught stealing, and bam, you’re punished.”
“I hate it.” I spit on the road in frustration.
Maybe they’ll see how much I can’t do that. Maybe they’ll understand.
“Perfect.” Vicky and Mido say in unison.
Dad has just gotten home from work. He puts his bag on a hook, along with his sweater. He kicks off his shoes and walks into the living room, where I’m pretending to read to calm myself.
“High, hon.” He kisses my forehead. “How was your day?”
“It was good.” I squeak.
“Did you have fun with your new friends?”
My knuckles tighten around the pages I’m holding.
“Yes. We just went to the park and spoke the whole afternoon.”
Dad shuffles over to the fridge in his socks. He opens the door and scans the contents.
“Did you finish the dumplings for dinner?”
I did, and soon afterwards threw up on my bedroom floor.
“Y. . .yes.”
I keep waiting for the explosion, but today he seems fine. I flinch as he reaches for the remote on my right. He plops himself down on the yellow couch, making me bounce.
“What do you want to watch?”
“Let me just get my phone from my coat,” I say as quickly as I can, rising from the couch.
I walk around the couch and go to the front entrance with heavy steps. I know he is watching. I glance back, and I see it. I should just give up. I’ll tell Vicky and Mido that the two of them liking me really isn’t worth it. I won’t have to go into detail.
Yeah right, a voice in my head laughs.
His bag is right next to my coat, which is phoneless. I take a quivering breath as I unzip the bag.
Now I’ve caught his attention.
I reach my hand into the bag.
Now he’s pushed himself off the couch.
I poke around, trying to feel for a wallet.
He’s coming up behind me.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
I manage to turn my face before the slap. It hits my cheek as opposed to my nose and mouth. It doesn’t hurt so much.
Then he does it again. This time with a fist.
The tears. The blood. The pathetic heap with a missing tooth lying on the ground as their father yells at them. The red drops hitting the tile in a synchronized dance with the water. The tongue that's poking around the empty spot, just below the gum. It’s all real. It’s all happening.
I tuck the wallet into my shorts pocket. I smile, though it’s painful. Tomorrow’s excursion will be on me.