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“Truth or Dare?” Nancy asked. It was a loaded a question that shouldn’t belong in a carefree slumber party, but somehow became a tradition. I truly hated that game, because I never knew which to choose. If I chose Truth I’d have to tell everyone a secret, something I didn’t want to share. If I chose Dare, I’d have to do some idiotic prank. My mother had instilled a great dislike for prank calls in me, and I certainly didn’t want to consume the entire contents of someone’s fridge… all at once. In the end my squeamish nature won out, and I chose Truth.
Nancy thought for a moment then gave me my Truth. When we were little, you only asked something that began with “Is it true that…”, but we’d long ago abandoned that rule. I steeled myself for whatever question I was about to receive.
“Do you still have feelings for Ryan?” she asked predictably. I had been expecting that question to pop up eventually. I sighed and began to answer.
“Mostly just feelings of concern,” I said, for there had been rumors.
“Why? Is it his girlfriend?” Katy asked.
I shook my head. “It’s not just that. She’s part of it, I think,” I replied. I wasn’t sure if I should tell them what I had heard. It could be just a rumor, nothing more. But the girls persisted.
“What happens in the circle, stays in the circle,” Nancy stated. I knew for once that would be the truth. That night, at Lindsey’s birthday party in the sixth grade, I became close friends with Katy and Nancy, after everyone else had fallen asleep. I felt like I could tell them anything, so I decided to trust them with that secret.
“I’m not one hundred percent sure this is true, but I’ve heard things about Ryan lately. I’ve heard that he cut himself,” I nearly whispered. Suddenly, I felt tears spring from my eyes unexpectedly. I buried my face in my pillow. It wasn’t like me to cry. It wasn’t long before everyone else was crying too.
My friends had always seemed so happy and joyful, so alive. To think that Ryan was hurting himself was almost incomprehensible, and the fact that one of my perfect friends was so unhappy made me scared. That night at the party just happened to be my breaking point. I was so worried about him.
I blamed his new girlfriend for it, to some extent. It was no secret that she cut herself, and I just assumed that she had convinced Ryan to do the same. I was angry with her for influencing him so negatively, and I knew I’d made no effort to hide that anger.
“But why?” Katy finally asked, “Why would he do that?”
“I have no idea,” I said softly. Ryan hardly even talked to me those days, and he definitely didn’t want to tell me how he was feeling. He was as unreachable as the farthest mountaintop. It seemed like there was nothing I could do to help.
“He’s so reluctant to talk,” I explained, “I just wish there was something I could do.”
“All we can do is be there if he ever needs someone to listen. When he’s ready to talk, we’ll be there,” Katy said sagely. I felt better already. He was not alone, even if he didn’t know it yet.
I fell asleep that night reveling in the sisterhood I had found. Now I had confidantes in my concern for Ryan. Things would look up soon, as long as we stuck together.