09: Truth or Dare

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Games We Play

"What's the whole point of being pretty on the outside when you're so ugly on the inside?"

― Jess C. Scott, I'm Pretty

09: Truth or Dare

I never imagined the day that I'd find Ales ignoring me.

Whatever went down in that second game – she knew the impact on me. She didn't even try to brush it off as nothing – she knew just how much her lie meant, even if it was just for the game.

I'd like to think it was the guilt that drowned her, making her avoid me. Maybe she was scared. Of seeing me, of having to act like everything was normal when it wasn't.

But not having her by my side was terrifying. It reminded me junior year all over – it reminded me of the feelings I went through when she didn't bother to keep in touch after summer camp. I'd taken her for granted, gaining her back and the realization of the space where she used to always be, beside me, felt empty.

I guess you could never truly realize how much someone meant to you, until you meant nothing to them.

"Is everything okay with you and Ales?" Caius asked at lunch, where we sat around a lunch table. Once a table with four full seats and never ending jokes was now a strange missing chair and a never-ending frosty quietness.

"Yeah," I lied, although not really sure why. Perhaps I didn't really want to burden Damien and Caius when I knew well enough that there was something on both of their plates as well. Something they weren't telling me but it was something nevertheless.

"Liar," Damien narrowed his eyes at me. I noted how he looked similar to the day before the games had started. Dark hollows under his eyes and disheveled hair – he didn't look like he had slept at all. A part of me was scared to ask again.

"Looks like you learnt some of that from the game," Caius awkwardly chuckled. Why was the air so strange between us today? "Come," he impulsively grabbed ahold of my hand.

"Caius- Caius, what the fuck are you doing?" I squirmed under his tight grasp. It was unlike of Caius to act this way. And it was scary.

No wonder something was off on the table – when something was clearly off with each of the people sitting on it.

Damien and his strange, tired demeanor. Caius and this odd behavior. A missing Ales who I noted was sitting with some other friends - a table crowded with girls who talked loudly about make up, Gossip Girl and all that.

A table of friends that I could never been like with Ales.

"Come on," was all he said before he dragged me to her table. "Ales."

His tone was sharp, slightly irritated even. Her table quieted down and I felt somewhat uncomfortable for ruining Ales' lunch – I felt even more uncomfortable realizing that I was feeling uncomfortable for trying to talk my own best friend.

"Yes Caius?" she said in the voice she used with her little drones. At least – that's what I called them in my head. He gestured outside with his eyebrows raised and in a few seconds, I found myself dragged by Caius outside. Facing Ales.

"Talk," he said sharply, before leaving back inside to the cafeteria. I was startled by the way he acted – perhaps he had a headache or something? Why would Caius act any way apart from the way he usually did? With jokes and positive laughter?

"Dixie?"

There was a blank look on Ales' face. It made my stomach drop, it made me uncomfortable. She suddenly didn't look so much like my best friend as she did just another popular high school girl that I passed in the hallway.

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