By MJ Kerr |

Melody and Ava had been friends most of their lives they would tell you but if you had to trace it back to a start, their parents would tell you it was third grade and specifically bonding over a boy who had mutually teased them. They had teamed up, one dared the other to push the bully in the mud, and they had never looked back.

The dare had become the cornerstone of their friendship. Whenever they had a disagreement, whenever they might have been at each other’s throats, one would yell out ‘truth or dare’ and follow it with something ludicrous. Usually so absurd that they move on from whatever it was in laughter.

In this exact moment in time, Melody and Ava sat across from each other in their favourite local coffee spot on the corner of Main and Fir. They weren’t looking at each other, but down at their respective mugs of warm caffeine.

“You know it isn’t working with him,” Melody mumbled to Ava, keeping her tone low so they didn’t broadcast to the patio they were seated on. Ava, her red hair tied up in a severe bun, picked up her white ceramic mug and shot Melody a look over it sharply. Melody didn’t shy from it, but met it with a sharp look of her own, “don’t look at me like that. He makes you miserable.”

“You are just miserable that you have been single for years,” Ava retorted with her tongue sharp, knowing that Melody was sensitive over being single for nearly 5 years.  Ava couldn’t really put a finger on why she felt defensive of her one year relationship with her boyfriend Neil though, it wasn’t exactly a secret they were usually fighting.

If Melody had let that barb land she didn’t show it and instead rolled her eyes and waved a hand dismissively, “If he was a good guy, maybe, but really? Did you finish his laundry today? What about dinner, is it pre-made? Do you have to be home by 5 to put it in the oven? I’m surprised he let you out to have coffee with me,” Melody almost sneered, “if you don’t want me to make remarks about your relationship, stop venting to me about it. He’s controlling.”

“It’s not as bad as I make it-“

“It is likely worse,” Melody cut Ava off, which made the redhead frown, brown eyes diverting to a spot off on the wall of the café. Melody seemed to note that Ava was bouncing her leg a little anxiously, “We are 28, Ava. What keeps you with him? Sure, he’s hot, and sure, he seems very charming but you have lost so much of your light-“

“Stop,” Ava said with the same sharpness, but it was dulled by a desperation in her eyes, “he is smart, makes good money, my parents love him…”

“Do you love him?” Melody asked simply as she cocked her head to one side, something in her own face looking a hint anxious. She saw the defensive argument bubbling to Ava’s lips, so Melody wrinkled her nose, “in love, Ava. Are you in love with him at all?”

Ava’s lips thinned; her eyes narrowed. She set her mug down with a loud clatter. The delay in her answer was almost answer enough, if she was truly in love with him Melody was sure she would have blurted it out. Melody wanted to hear it though, a part of her needed to hear it.

People in the café were beginning to look in their direction and Melody suddenly realized that Ava looked like she was about to cry, silver lining her eyes to make them glitter.

“Truth or dare,” Melody suddenly blurted. Ava was caught off guard enough that her tears seemed to recede a little and she blinked what remained away.

“What?” Ava asked, then sighed loudly, “come on, we are almost in our thir-“

“Truth or dare,” Melody said firmly. They were not going to fight here, and certainly not over a guy. Ava straightened a little in her chair and narrowed her eyes. Her lips twisted up a bit as if she was considering telling Melody to go to hell.

Then her lips relaxed and she crossed her arms over her chest, “Dare.”

“I dare you to tell me the truth about Neil and your relationship.”

Ava hadn’t answered her before, but some how asking the question slightly different on the tails of a dare made Ava’s freckled cheeks flush with rage. Unspoken rules, unbreakable, meant she had to answer it. Melody still held her breath to see if this would be the time the game would end, as Ava had been defensive since day one about Neil.

“No I am not in love with him. I am in love with not being lonely,” Ava spat out, as if it was forced out, like the voice was being used against her will and she was angry it came out. At the same time though something in her eyes changed. A wall came down and Melody saw it and it looked very much like relief. Melody opened her mouth to say something but Ava shot her a piercing glare, “Truth or dare, Melody.”

Melody didn’t like the look in her eyes. She sensed whichever she chose, Ava was going to use the answer as ammunition for a weapon. She chewed on her lower lip for a moment, her triumph over getting to admit she did not love Neil short lived, “Truth.”

Ava leaned forward a little and dropped her voice, “Neil might be a prick, but is the reason you wanted me to say that because you are jealous?”

All the colour drained out of Melody’s face and Ava smirked faintly before she picked up her cup. Melody went to stutter, but Ava reached across the table, and tapped the back of her hand, “I will dump Neil. You don’t have to answer that.”

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