He rolled his eyes. I can’t believe this, I thought. A week or two ago putting a full sentence together in front of Wes was a challenge. Now we were arguing about liquids.
“Okay,” he said, “back to Truth. You were saying?”
I took in a breath. “To win, one person has to refuse to answer a question,” I said. “So, for example, let’s say I ask you a question and you don’t answer it. Then you get to ask me a question, and if I answer it, I win.”
“But that’s too simple,” he said. “What if I ask you something easy?”
“You wouldn’t,” I told him. “It has to be a really hard question, because you don’t want me to win.”
“Ahhh,” he said, nodding. Then, after mulling it for a second he said, “Man. This is diabolical.”
“It’s a girl’s game,” I explained, tilting my head back and looking up at the stars. “Always good for a little drama at the slumber party. I told you, you don’t want to play.”
“No. I do.” He squared his shoulders. “I can handle it.”
“Yup. Hit me.”
I thought for a second. We were walking down the center yellow line of the road, the moonlight slanting across us. “Okay,” I said. “What’s your favorite color?”
He looked at me. “Don’t coddle,” he said. “It’s insulting.”
“I’m trying to ease you in,” I said.
“Don’t ease. Ask something real.”
I rolled my eyes. “Okay,” I said. And then, without even really thinking about it, I said, “Why’d you get sent to Myers School?”
For a second, he was quiet, and I was sure I’d overstepped. But then he said, “I broke into a house. With a couple of guys I used to hang out with. We didn’t take anything, just drank a couple of beers, but a neighbor saw us and called the cops. We ran but they caught us.”
“Why’d you do that?”
“No,” I said, although I had to admit I was curious about that, too. “Break in.”
He shrugged. “I don’t know. These guys I was friends with, they’d done it a couple of times, but I never had before. I was there, so I went along.” He ran a hand through his hair. “It was my first offense, my only offense, but the county was on this whole thing where they were punishing right off, to scare you out of doing more, so I got sent away. Six months, let out after four.”
“My boyfriend,” I said, then, feeling the need to correct myself, added, “sort-of boyfriend, he used to tutor there.”
I nodded. “Yup.”
“So what’s the deal with that,” he asked. “The boyfriend.”
“I get to ask a question now,” he said. “That’s how the game goes, correct?”
“Um,” I said. “Yes. I guess.”
He waved his hand at me in a take-it-away sort of motion. Great, I thought, scanning the horizon for headlights. No such luck.
“I’m waiting,” Wes said. “Does this mean you pass?”
“No,” I snapped. “I mean, no. I’m answering. I’m just collecting my response.”
Another few seconds passed.
“Is there a time limit for this?” he asked. I shot him a look. “Just wondering.”
“Fine,” I said, taking a breath. “We’ve been dating for about a year and a half. And he’s just, you know, a genius. Really smart, and driven. He went away for the summer, and I was just, you know, being a little too clingy or something I guess, and it sort of freaked him out. He’s very independent.”
“Define clingy,” he said.
“You don’t know what clingy is?”
“I know what it means to me,” he said. “But it’s different for different people.”
“Well,” I said, then stopped, not sure how to explain. “First, he was upset that I wasn’t taking my job, which had been his job, more seriously. And then, I said I loved him in an email, and that made him a little skittish.”
“Do you need a definition of that, too?” I said.
“Nope. Know it.” He tipped his head back, looking up at the moon. “So things went sour because you said those three words, and because you weren’t as serious about the library as he wanted you to be.”
“Right,” I said. Again, it sounded stupid, but of course everything does when you’re just getting the bare bones facts, only the basics, without—and then it hit me. “Wait,” I said. I stopped walking. “I never said anything about the library.”
“Yeah, you did,” he said. “You—”
“Nope.” I was sure of it. “I didn’t.”
For a second we just stood there.
“Kristy,” I said finally.
“Not exactly. I just heard you guys talking that night, out at the clearing.”
I started walking again. “Well, now you’ve heard it twice. Although I think you should be penalized in some way, because you asked a question you already knew the answer to, and that is totally against the rules.”
“I thought the only rule was you had to tell the truth.”
I made a face at him. “Okay, so there are two rules.”
He snorted. “Next you’ll tell me there are service charges, too.”
“What is your problem?” I asked.
“All I’m saying,” he said, shrugging, “is that I vote that the second one be done away with.”
“You don’t get to vote,” I said. “This is an established game.”
“Clearly it isn’t.” He was so freaking stubborn, or so I was noticing. “You seem to be making up rules as you go.”
“I am not,” I said indignantly. He just looked at me, obviously not believing this, so I said, “Fine. If you’re proposing a rule change, you have to at least present a case for it.”
“That is so student council,” he said with a laugh.
I was pretty sure this was an insult. “I’m waiting,” I told him.
“You should be allowed to occasionally ask a question you know the answer to,” he said, as I reflected how it was so like a guy to change the rules when he’d only just started playing, “so that you can be sure the other person is telling the truth.”