The day lies were permanently banished from this realm was a Monday.
There was no warning or reason. No clear motive for the sudden drastic change the world underwent. No strange semi-magical race of aliens came to take the blame and demand ransom, so that all could go back to normal.
One day mankind just woke up and realized they’d lost their ability to lie, just like that.
Needless to say the world lapsed into an episode of utter panic. Science worked overtime, grabbing random test subjects that happened to be nearby because “No time for coffee this is urgent!”.Those of religion either walked upon the streets and loudly proclaimed the divineness of this action that would rid the world of its sins while others of the same religion cowered in fear and looked at the sky, waiting for it to turn red and waiting for the divine armies to come forth and lay waste to mankind, for now that men could no longer hide their sins judgement days must have certainly come. Politicians just skipped work and looked at the ceiling with mild desperation, wondering just what the hell they were going to do about this.
For most of mankind, however, very little changed.
Emma Hartlock even managed to sleep to the first hours of the new, lieless world. Something she’d have later come to regret, though just a little. It felt as if she’d slept through some major happening, like the wall in Berlin falling or the clock striking twelve on new year’s eve. Though everyone who had been awake at said moment assured her that there had been no magical flashes of light, incantations or anything else out of the ordinary. Yet, it still felt like she’d missed out.
No, Emma Hartlock spend the first few hours of the new lieless world sleeping in the bed of her best friend, drooling on her pillow and with her legs tangled up in both the sheets, a stray string of party flags that had fallen down from the ceiling and another pair of legs. Both girls smelled suspiciously of alcohol, sweat and tomato sauce. Their hair looked downright terrible and one of the girls had apparently not removed her makeup and had ended up with both the looks of a space rainbow raccoon and a very dirty pillow. Despite that and the wrecked room the scene looked very peaceful. A lazy ray of early sunlight making its way through the glitter-covered window and giving the dust in the air a golden glow. Outside, a blackbird sang.
Exactly three hours and fifty-five minutes after lies had ceased to exist one of the girls began to stir.
Emma realized, after staring lazily through the room for a couple of minutes, that she could not recall when exactly she’d decided to stay over. She’d certainly not intended to do so when she’d arrived at the party. Rubbing her hand across her collarbones and finding familiar fabric she realized that she was still in her party dress, now probably wrinkled beyond repair. Ah, jolly good.
She yawned and stretched, managing to accidentally kick her best friend in the shins. The other girl groaned, cracked one bloodshot eye open and laid a murderous gaze on the other. Finding herself ignored she got revenge by mercilessly kicking the other girl out of bed. A startled yelp and a loud thud proved her plan successful, and she chuckled, quickly ducking when a pillow slammed against the bed board.
“Nikki,” the other voice complained, cracking with overuse. “Why am I not home yet?”
The other girl chuckled again, “You wouldn’t have made it even halfway down the street. You were that wasted. Hell, I would have been surprised if you’d even found your bike back. By the way, you’re skipping school today, don’t even try to argue.”
The other girl grumbled and Nikki ducked as yet another pillow flew her way.
“Also, your face is a mess. As if a rainbow puked on you. Oh and I filmed everything, brilliant blackmail material. I’ll show it to you once you’re sober enough to comprehend it, ah, that’ll be fun.”
Emma groaned, damn Nikki and her tolerance.
More groaning. A stray string of party flags was brutally kicked aside as their owner went vertical again. The floorboards creaked, some joints creaked too.”
“Kitchen, breakfast, now! And coffee, loads of it.”
Forty-five minutes later they were sitting on the couch. Piles of junk that had previously been on the couch had been banished to the floor as neither of them felt like cleaning. Nikki probably knew that loads of food wasn’t actually a hangover cure, but didn’t seem to care the slightest. There was scrambled eggs, bacon and toast, even orange juice! The two of them were sprawled over the couch, looking at the television (that was decorated with a crown of empty beer bottles). Both were way to wasted and occupied with their food to actually process what the mildly stressed out scientist on the TV was blabbering about. Not that they cared much, of course.
‘The event seems to have occurred at exactly eight minutes past seven this morning. The other time-zones were affected at the exact same moment and even though there’s still a number of countries we’ve gained no information from, including North-Corea, Somalia and Timor-Leste, we have all reason to believe that this is global.’
“Though you have to admit that this was a brilliant party,” Nikki Slurred. Mouth still half full with scrambled eggs. “Legendary, I’d say! I wonder how many of our friend are going to turn up at school today.”
“Aye,” the other replied, “I bet at least six others are still sleeping right now. And are going to face an hangover even worse than ours!”
The two laughed.
‘But what is the extend of this?’ the reporter asked. ‘I mean, ‘unable to lie’, what does that include?’
‘Well,’ the scientist said, ‘we only know the basics. After all we’ve only had four hours to do research and most of our people were still sleeping. I’m not sure if we’ve ever used as much coffee as we did today. Also, we suspect our professor is still snoring…’
“No but seriously,” Emma said, suppressing a yawn, “this is like the best hangover ever! With bacon and eggs! Thanks for letting me stay over, this is much, much better than waking up somewhere in a ditch.”
The other chuckled, “dear, I wouldn’t ever let you end up in a ditch.”
‘Nevertheless, we’ve concluded that people of all ages, genders and nationalities are affected. We’ve yet to discover anyone with ‘immunity’. But in the hours we’ve been researching we’ve observed several successful attempts at sarcasm and mockery, including, ‘I’m dying, bring me coffee!’ and ‘your mother is a pig’. We’ve also had people from several religions proclaiming their religion to be the only ‘true’ one, which led us to conclude that whether or not something is considered a lie depends on the speaker and is based on subjective truth only.’
“I hadn’t expected to end up in your bed though,” Emma said jokingly. “Thought that place would be reserved for Reinard after tonight.”
Conflict flared across Nikki’s face right before she spoke. “No chance he’d end up in my bed.”
“Whaat,” Emma grinned and stomped her friend’s arm. “Why? You’re totally into him. You guys were flirting almost constantly!”
More conflict. Nikki frowned, frustrated. “No… I mean, yes… I, -we were flirting all right. But I’m not the slightest bit into him.”
She turned and looked at her friends face, frozen in confusion.
‘However strange it may seem, mankind seems to have somehow held on to her ability to tell stories. We suspect that this is because storytelling is so ingrained in human nature that we simply cannot go without it. Also, as previous research has concluded, there seems to be a very distinct difference in brain activity between telling a story or actively trying to lie.’
“Wait, wait, wait,” Emma said, finally catching up on the new information, “You flirt with him but you’re not actually into him?”
“Oh my, it sounds quite terrible when you say it like that,” Nikki stared off into space worryingly, setting the empty plate down and wrapping her arms around her knees. “As if I’m a player or something.”
‘Also… some people got rather freaked out by this,’ the scientist openly glared backwards at a student in the background who started blushing furiously, ‘But we have no reason to believe that this sudden inability to lie we seem to have going on somehow compels us to answer questions. There’s no penalty in staying silent and keeping your mouth shut. We recommend this to anyone who’s actually hiding harmful secrets. Just stay silent until we resolve this, or till it blows over. Which I hope it will.’ She sounded rather insecure.’
Nikki was still staring into space with a rather desperate expression.
“Nikki, are you okay?”
She turned around, frowning.
“It’s not actually… I mean. Do you think I acted like some player?”
‘And it’s not only speech. Also non-verbal communication has been affected. Not even through sending text messages or writing letters can we lie.’
“Yes,” it was out before she knew it, leaving her too with a shocked expression. Nikki choked.
‘… Up to the point where people could no longer use the ‘heart’ emoticon when sending messages to people they were not currently in love with!’
“I mean the poor guy might actually think he has a chance with you and, hell, even I believed you were into him and I’ve known you for, how long has it been? Four years! You’re totally playing with that guys feelings and blandly said I think it’s rather disgusting.”
Nikki breathed in sharply, somehow seemingly hesitating whether to become furious or start crying. She made a sad noise, like a small animal dying.
“O dear, Nikki, I didn’t mean... I mean... arg! I didn’t want to be that harsh.”
‘But, how is this even possible?’ Asked the reporter, ‘I mean, how could this even happen? Have you yet found what caused this?’
The scientist sighed sadly. ‘No, to be honest... Haha, well that’s a given now, it’s it? But no, we have no idea what caused this. Or how to reverse it or if it’s even reversible...’
“I, eeh,” Nikki still seemed unable to respond, so instead she focused on the television. Desperate to get out of the overly painful tension between them. She switched channels.
‘...we might be stuck unable to lie for the rest of our lives for as far as we know.’
She switched again, but the scientists and her minions were present on every channel. All looking equally worried.
‘We have no idea whether it’s magic, mind control, aliens or some sort of ancient curse.’
The words started to sink into her dehydrated brain at last, she gasped.
‘All we know is that we’re probably in an awful lot of trouble...’
It only took them two hours to come to terms with the situation. Some panic, a few heated discussions and some embarrassing revelations later the two ended up on the couch again. Sobered up but still completely blown away and baffled. How was this even possible!
“I’m so sorry about what I said earlier,” Emma said, face buried in her heads. “It was a terrible thing to say.”
The other girl sighed, “terrible but true. And don’t even deny that you meant every word you said.”
A groan, “it’s not like I could.”
“Don’t worry. I fully agree. It was a terrible thing to do. What even got into me!”
Emma gave her a sympatric look, “hey look, forget what I said. I mean, it was quite shitty, but I bet you just didn’t fully realize what you were doing and you probably wouldn’t have done it if you had known. Besides, you have plenty of brilliant character traits to make up for it according to me, so it isn’t that I’ll hate you now or something.”
Nikki visibly relaxed.
“I do think you should apologize to Rein though, tell him the truth.”
“No way! As long as we’re stuck telling the truth I’m not going near him!” Nikki shivered.
“But what if it’s permanent?”
The both of them were silent for a moment.
“Do you have any secrets that might, you know, cause trouble?”
“Yes,” the other said without hesitation.
“Yeah me too,” Nikki said, looking worried. “Let’s just, for the sake of our friendship, say that we will not ask each other about our secrets.”
“But how can we? I mean, we can’t just stop asking questions.”
“It’ll work, we’ll find a way.”
Emma was by no means much of a special person.
Having gone to a rather open-minded high school she’d had more than a few chances to observe weirdo’s in their natural environment, witnessing prank wars, weird fashion trends and shameless spirituality during lunch breaks and in the halls. People summoning angels and spirits sitting cross legged on the table she was using to eat her lunch or random strangers asking whether they could read her palm in the hallway, only to stagger off, chuckling to themselves when they were done.
She had, all too quickly, decided that, though not exactly opposed to expressions of weirdness, she was more than happy to leave the standing out to others and continue living her life in comfortable normalness. After all, not everyone could, or had to be, special. If everyone stood out, in a way, no one would. And her eyes would probably burn out due to all the weird hair colours and neon clothes.
Yet, whether it was something in the way she talked, the way she walked or behaved, she didn’t know. But somehow she always found herself within a friend group of complete lunatics.
It wasn’t that she deliberately picked them or anything. So maybe it was them, or maybe it was some deep hidden part of her subconscious that was just completely bonkers. But somehow every time she went to a new class, or a new town, or a new school, the friend group she found herself in was a screaming pile of crazy.
Maybe they needed her to counterbalance their weirdness, or maybe they secretly admired her for being so outstandingly normal in such an environment, making her the absolute queen of standing out.
For example, childhoods. Now Emma’s childhood hadn’t been exactly spectacular. She had a mom, and a dad, and a little brother. They’d also had a dog at some point, and a few guinea pigs. Now they just had a very grumpy cat, but he was hardly ever home. She’d been a nice kid, and her brother too. Her family was nice too, and her childhood had moved by spotlessly.
In her group of friends, things were different.
Back stories and childhoods were filled with trails and horror ranging from drunk parents to anorexic siblings, autism and faulty people skills in general, extensive bullying and dysfunctional families. Josh and his sister Emily came from a family of total psychopaths. One of their grandparents was extremely religious and had once attempted to arrange a marriage for Emily so that she’d ‘gain a chance to come back to god’.
Reinard had a pet goat ‘Bienvenue’, who on occasion escaped and spend the night at the bar next door, returning intoxicated and swinging on her hooves.
There was Britt, a small, kind girl, who didn’t talk more than necessary. No one really knew what happened to her, but the long slim scars on her arms spoke for themselves.
And there was Joshua, who seemed pretty normal despite a slight aversion to people in general. That was, until he got his hands on any kind of intoxication.
And then there was Nikki. Strong, witty Nikki who’s weapons of choice were sarcasm and mockery. Nikki who’d gotten the police to round up her father when her mother was to weak and scared to do so herself. Who was almost beaten to death before the police managed to show up. Nikki who wore her scars with pride and never backed down for anyone. Nikki who, despite the angry red stripes in her pitch black hair, looked and acted like a complete Disney princess, until she opened her mouth. Gosh, what a brilliant person she was.
As she was standing in Nikki’s kitchen, sweeping beer of the counter, she realized that whatever stupid secrets all of them were keeping she wouldn’t let it come in the way of their friendship. Not in a thousand years.
They were almost done cleaning the living room when Emma’s phone rang.
“Dear? It’s mom. I just wanted to know where you were, I thought you’d come home tonight.”
“Oh, yeah. I’m still at Nikki’s, I slept over. I thought it would be rather cruel to leave her to do all the cleaning. Sorry for not calling.”
“Oh okay, congratulate her for me, will you. I hope it was fun. Found any good boys?”
“Eh, no, not really. It was great fun though! I’ll show you some pictures when I’m home. Joshua fell into the pie!”
“Poor guy, did he take drugs again? Oh wait, don’t answer that. I don’t want to know. Have you seen the news yet? Or did you even put the television on because I think it’s on every channel.”
“The lying thing? Yeah, we did. We already had our conversation of embarrassing revelations a while ago. Bizarre isn’t it?”
“Yes, yes it is”
“How’s everything going there? Any awkward secrets I’ve missed.”
“I tried to get Joe and dad to talk about it but they seem to be avoiding me.” Emma swore she could hear her mother frown through the telephone.
“Oh, haha. I bet they just freaked out. They probably left the toilet a mess or didn’t do their household chores again.”
“Yes, probably. I guess I’m worrying too much. By the way, about those chores...”
“I’m going mom! I’ll be back at noon. See ya!”
“Emma don’t you...” ‘click’
They came to call it the Revelation.
Science did make some progress after those hectic first four hours. But all together it wasn’t much. No one knew why it had happened, how it had happened, or how to get the world back to normal.
Science guessed it was pretty permanent. Mankind shrugged and went on.
After a couple of days things settled in a new, comfortable rhythm. Shock overcome, everyone went back to their daily business. School reopened after a brief hiatus and people went back to work.
Everything had changed, of course, and in a way it left disaster in its wake. Or maybe not so much disaster as disturbance.
Emma observed it all from a distance. Feeling rather save with her share of secrets. It wasn’t like they were bad, after all. She hadn’t killed anyone. And for the smaller embarrassing secrets, well, she could always just keep her mouth shut, right?
Television got a blow. For a long, fantastic week, the television was completely free of commercials. Turns out all of them had somehow destroyed themselves and the computers they’d resided on. Many talk shows faced the same faith. Due to this for a whole week television was full of only the occasional news report about the Revelation and all the things that had gone wrong and loads and loads of fictional movies, which had survived the blast somehow. It was brilliant!
Marktplaats was an absolute joy to visit. After a couple of days of emptiness people tried filling it again with new, lieless content. Most of the advertisements looked quite normal, others were just really minimalistic, clearly to avoid both lying and telling the truth, but sometimes a pearl showed up. “It might not be visible in this picture due to the angle, but this chair actually has only three legs. I’ll still be selling it for eighty either way, I really want the money.” It was golden!
Love life got a big blow.
Many relationships were shattered completely by the sudden honesty on both sides. However, many more were formed by people now unable to hide their wishes and desires. Emma observed it all with mild joy, figuring that relationships based on lies weren’t worth the keep either way.
But she’d soon come to despise it.
“Please ma’am, please! Please spare some chance for a widowed father. My child is at home, burning up with fever and I have no way to feed him.”
“Sure,” Nikki said, opening her purse in front of the beggar and pushing a billet of fifty euro’s in his hand. The beggar stared at it as if he’d never seen paper money before.
“I have a lunchbox with two ham-cheese sandwiches in it too,” Nikki said, “would you like to have that as well, for your son?”
“Oh, if you’d be so kind,” the men said, voice weak with gratitude.
The lunchbox quickly disappeared into the ragged back he had with him.
“Everyone has been so kind to me lately,” the men said, dumbfounded. “Two old ladies came by this morning and they took me to their home and gave me half an apple pie and some other leftovers. So extremely kind. I never got much more then maybe twenty euro’s a day before.”
“I can understand,” Nikki said, “my parents always told me not to give beggars any money, because they were mostly just broke addicts that would waste it either way. I guess, in a way, they were right. Your three colleagues in the street next to this one used to beg for their ‘kids’ too, but they just dumbly scream for money now.”
The man sighed, clutching his ragged bag. “Bless the Revelation. Best thing to ever happen to the world, I’m teling ya!”
Nikki walked on, “I hope your son gets well soon.”
“Thank you ma’am, you are kind at heart!”
It was eight days after the revelation when Emma came home to disaster.
The living room was wrecked. Papers were littered across the ground along with the shards of what had once been a vase, the bent and broken flowers that had been in the vase, and the muddy brown water they’d resided in.
Stunned, she stood in the doorway for a very long time. Listening to the dripping brown water. Utill she heard soft sobbing coming from the couch.
“He told you, didn’t he?”
Her mother turned around slowly, taking her in with weak, puffy eyes. She looked more broken than she’d ever looked before.
She nodded slowly.
“I was at home when he took her with him. Walked into the bedroom at some point. Dad was drunk, I promised not to tell.”
She sat down next to her mother. For a long while, they sat in silence.
“Where is he?”
“Out, away, I don’t care.”
“Why didn’t you tell?”
“You can’t blame me for wanting to keep my family in one piece. Besides, I promised.”
Her mother snarled, stood up and walked out of the room. Leaving her daughter to mourn in the wreckage.
“It’s absolutely rubbish!” Joshua snarled as he violently placed is elbows on the table. “Rubbish I tell you! Give it a year and the entire world will have gone right down the ditch!”
“You’re really being way too pessimistic about this,” Nikki said. She was sprawled out over the couch, her hair dangling down as she looked at us upside down. Her legs were sprawled out over Emma’s lab.
“No, no I’m not.” Joshua continued. “Imagine what this will do to all the people that are in relationships and suddenly can’t pronounce the ‘I love you’ words anymore because they did it for the sex? And not just that! Art will cease to exist, emotions will cease to exist! The world will be dead and grey and emotionless and such.”
“That’s some really faulty logic there,” Emily commented.
“Bullshit!” Nikki was more blunt, “who cares if those relationships go down the ditch! If one of the two is just doing it for the sex it probably isn’t a very good relationship to begin with.”
“Oh yeah, you laugh about it,” Josh growled. “It’s not just guys, you know, that just want a partner for the sex. Girls do it as well! Don’t tell me you never wanted a guy just for the sex!”
“I never did,” Nikki said, voice cold and face stoic. “Never in my life have I even felt the slightest bit of sexual desire for a guy.”
A gasp went through the group. Reinard suddenly looked very confused.
“You’re a virgin then?” Britt asked.
“Yep,” Nikki said, without a shard of shame, flashing an upside down smirk to Joshua, “What? You’re masculinity hurt because you were dissed by a cute, little virgin? Ah, poor baby!”
Joshua just stared at her, mouth and eyes wide open and full of hurt, confusion and rage.
“Is it maybe a good idea to drop this subject for now?” Emma suggested. Everyone ignore her.
“You keep on thinking the world is just full of you’s,” Nikki smirked, “Just clones of you in a different package. Out on the hunt for sex and drugs and simple pleasure. But let me tell you a secret, Joshua. I have heard rumours, of the existence of a certain kind of people, who experience this thing called ‘love’” She whispered those last words, hands clasped around her mouth and eyes wide as if she spilled a great, important secret. “People who simply want to be with others because they love them, not because they’re horny. Very rare phenomenon, love. Maybe read up on it once. I bet you’d find it interesting.”
“Are you making fun of me!” Joshua snarled, standing up from his chair and towering over the girl on the couch.
Emma screamed as the fist connected with her friends face.
Nikki had weird coping mechanisms.
Emma was almost a hundred percent sure that it was the Revelation. Her odd behaviour had started around then. She always had been impulsive, but this was simply bizarre.
She just randomly seemed to show up at Emma’s doorstep. Neither mom nor Joe refused her entrance. Emma would come back home from school or elsewhere to find her friend launching on the couch, commenting on the new, hilariously honest TV commercials or anything else she had happened to be enjoying herself with while waiting. Emma never asked for the reasons of these surprise visits. Nikki never gave them.
Other times she disappeared for days. Not answering her phone and completely disappearing from the face of the earth. Or at least, the part of the earth’s face that was within Emma’s vision. It drove Emma crazy.
Their friend group had more or less fallen apart. After the fight between Nikki and Joshua she had hardly seen any of them, save for Nikki. She hadn’t given up hope though, the rest probably needed some time adapting to the Revelation and coming to terms with their own secrets.
It had been weeks though...
Emma calmed herself by arguing that their secrets probably were more awful than her secrets. After all, what did she have to be ashamed about? Nothing, right?
She wondered if lying to yourself was still possible. The scientists hadn’t mentioned it so far. She reckoned it probably wasn’t, which was good, very good.
Nikki was still a pain in the ass though.
Uncle Robin his house was a mess, as usual. It should have been more of a mess than usual, seeing that there were now two people living in the small apartment. Yet somehow it seemed neater, like perhaps Robin had tried to recreate dad’s original home, to make him more comfortable. Or maybe dad had been going through the house, neurotically cleaning everything to keep his mind of his problems. He tended to do that sometimes if things went rough.
He hadn’t been doing a very good job at keeping his mind of his problems today though, if his sprawled, face down pose on the couch was anything to go by. That and the empty pizza boxes on the floor.
“Sweetheart!” Her dad sat up, pulling his face into a smile with visible difficulty. “Oh my, how long have I slept.”
“It’s only one in the afternoon,” Emma said.
“In case you were wondering, I called in sick yesterday. Because I was sick, mind you. So I’m not late for work or anything, I didn’t have a reason to get up.”
Emma was just about to tell her father to drop the lame excuses when she realized, ‘oh yeah, wait, no lying’. Instead she said, “you know dad, I mean, I know uncle doesn’t mind you staying but shouldn’t you, you know, look for a place to stay?”
Her dad sighed, “I keep on thinking it will be all right.”
Her dad shrugged. Miserable.
“Oh my, what do you want me to say, Emma! I miss her. Okay. I miss her so much it almost physically hurts me. I hate myself for what I’ve done to her and how I’ve kept it hidden all this time and I hate it and in a way I wish she’d done the same because then I could face her and we could laugh about it. But your mother is so pure and good and honest and she might not be all that good in bed but that doesn’t stop her from being the most miraculous person I have ever met. While I’m such an asshole, and I don’t deserve her, and I know that. But still somehow I still expect her to forgive me.” He laughed a broken laugh. “Isn’t that stupid, dear?”
“No,” Emma said.
Her dad laughed harder, almost hysterical. He jumped off the couch and fled out of the room.
Fifteen minutes later he returned, dressed and cleaned up. He made her orange juice and toast and eggs and they talked about school and Emma’s friends and how dad was coping with living with his brother. Mom wasn’t brought up again.
She ran into Nikki by accident.
It had been four days since she’d last heard of her, when she suddenly ran into her in the city centre. Crossing by the park, on her way to the library, she spotted her best friend sitting on a park bench, talking to someone who suspiciously looked like a hobo.
“Hey Emma,” Nikki had spotted her too and waved, “come over here, I have someone for you to meet.”
The man looked foreign, with a dark skin and a bright smile. He greeted her in English but his voice had a slight, lispy accent to it that wasn’t at all unpleasant.
“Mitch here has just gotten his passport,” Nikki explained. “He and his son can finally stay now.”
“Indeed! This time when I told the men that I would have been killed in my own land they believed me!” The man told her, still smiling brightly. “I brought my son to kindergarten for the first time today. He’s a bit older than the other kids, but he still did really well!”
“All thanks to your peoples kindness,” the man smiled, “bless the revelation!”
“Nikki, could I talk to you in person?”
“Sure,” Nikki rose from the bench, “see you later Mitch!”
“Goodbye Nicole,” The man waved, “do come by sometime soon, all right? Those two lovely ladies from nearby gave me their apple pie receipt and it’s honestly sorcery!”
They walked on through the park. Original route to the library forgotten. All around them were people, enjoying what could be one of the last warm days of the year. Feeding the birds or sitting near the fountains. A group of kids were playing tag, loudly interrupting conversations and such, but no one minded.
“So, Emma,” Nikki said eventually.
“Nikki,” her heartbeat sped up. It was awkward between them. When had that happened? It wasn’t supposed to be awkward between them!
She waited for the other to say something, but instead Nikki just kept glaring at her. Emma kept looking ahead, trying to avoid tramping one of the many little kids that were running around, but still she could feel Nikki’s gaze burn into her skin.
“Well...?” Nikki asked.
Emma gave her a confused look.
“Yóu wanted to talk, remember.”
Emma could have slapped herself right then. Angered, she spun around. Facing the smaller girl, but dumbly with her mouth open, at a loss for words.
“Out with it!” Nikki snarled.
“How... You!” Emma growled, “It’s you that is the problem! All right! You’re being really weird lately. Sometimes you’re just there and you turn up at our house unannounced and talk about bullshit and eat my food and then you’re gone and you don’t answer my messages and don’t answer your phone and it’s driving me mad and just what is wrong with you!”
She realized she’d shifted poses. Standing right in front of her friend, towering over her. Fists clenched at her side, teeth bared. Nikki mimics her, her eyes angry.
“Oh, boo, didn’t I answer the phone?! What an evil person am I? I am so ashamed of myself!” Nikki practically growled as she pushed forwards, driving Emma back. “What? Need someone to cry one because all your friends ran off to bury their secrets in some godforgaven graveyard? Hasn’t it occurred to you that maybe I have been busy too? Maybe I also need some time to sort my shit out like they do? We’re not all saints, all right! We’re not all honest like you!”
Emma’s glare was cold and judging, “you’re keeping secrets.”
“No shit,” her arms crossed, teeth bared.
“Damn, Nikki! We’d sorted this out! Didn’t we,” Nikki threw her hands up in frustration. “You should have sorted this out. It’s been weeks since the revelation! Tell me, Nikki, why aren’t your secrets buried away yet.”
“Maybe they’re not the kind of secrets you can dispose of?” Her voice was dripping with venom.
“Oh dear, horrid,” Emma wasn’t impressed. “What could be so awful you won’t even share it with your best friend?”
“Ah yes. My best friend.” Nikki send her a joyless smile. “Best friends forever, right? That’s what you always called me. BFF. I hated that word, remember, but you insisted, just to mock me.”
Emma opened her mouth to protest, but couldn’t find her words. Nikki pushed on mercilessly.
“Remember when I came to call you ‘Beefy’ instead of BFF because I hated that so much? And how confused everyone was when we called eachother after meat. They never understood.”
She was positively enraged now, and Emma unconsciously scrambled back, until her back was pressed against a three. Half the park was looking at them now, Nikki didn’t seem to care.
“You’ve called me dear,” she hissed, softly, “you’ve called me friend, best friend, and all the like. But where is the forever, Emma, I thought you wouldn’t be like the others! I though you would be able to handle this!”
Emma didn’t say anything.
At that Nikki yelled! She honest to god yelled so hard all the park heard. With one supple movement, she struck, hitting Emma straight in the jaw. Emma hit the ground, pain surging through her jaw. She opened her eyes just in time to see Nikki sprinting out of the park.
Her jaw had turned purple by the time she arrived home. It throbbed and hurt.
She was confused, pained and panicked. At a loss for what to do and absolutely terrified. Scared shitless.
She was so self absorbed and lost in thought that at first, when her dad ran up to her, terrified, asking what had happened, she didn’t even question it.
He led her to the couch and fetched and ice-pack from the freezer. Wrapping it in a towel and pushing it to her jaw. When after that she still wouldn’t talk he got her a cup of tea. She drank it with gratitude.
When she was done she looked up, her eyes meeting her dads.
Her dad smiled briefly.
“I went to your mom, told her the truth.”
Emma laughed, genuinely, “the truth always works.”
Her dads eyes clouded with worry again. “But Emma, what happened?”
She opened her mouth, tried to explain. But found that she couldn’t.
It was dark outside when she dared to look at her phone. Alone in her room, undisturbed. She felt like she couldn’t have people looking.
Surprisingly, Nikki hadn’t left her any messages. A part of her was relieved, yet she also felt her stomach contract with fear.
Her finders were shaking when she started typing.
Her finger kept hovering over the last letter. The last F. She whined and struggled, but somehow couldn’t get herself to actually press the button. She couldn’t. In the same way she couldn’t tell Joe how she hated him, or her mom just how much she loved that delicious meatloaf she made, because a part of her was stubbornly convinced it was a lie.
[About time you showed up]
Emma pashed surprised. Nikki must have been watching her phone when she came online.
[What took you so long? Had to cry on mommies shoulder first you pathetic infant.]
The words were harsh, mean and angry. But Emma had known the other girl for a long time now. Nikki only spoke this way when she was either very scared or very, very hurt.
[Took you long enough to figure it out eh? Though you’d have ran of screaming by now.]
Why couldn’t she put that last F down! She didn’t want Nikki to leave. She’d already lost so much
friends to that damn honesty!
Forever. Well, that was a big word right, she’d die at some point.
[Nikki please don’t be mad.]
[Well I’m very sorry but having everyone you love run of screaming doesn’t do wonders on your mood.]
‘You were the one to run off screaming,’ Emma thought. But she knew better than to type it down.
[We could have at least tried to stay friends.]
The small shiver of fear in her gut turned into an unforgiving spear of ice.
[Nikki please I don’t want you to leave! I never said I wanted you to leave!]
[Say it then! If you dare. Say you want to stay friends! Loud and clearly.]
She stopped typing. Leaving Emma frozen in her dark room, fingers clenched around her phone and eyes wide with fear, blurring with tears.
[I want us to stay...]
And once again her fingers halted.
At this point she felt like she was close to a mental breakdown. She’d taken her other friends leaving with hope, waiting for them to come back. They hadn’t. And now her very best friend in the world was angry with her for no reason and threatening no leave and she just knew that she couldn’t handle that.
She typed away frantically on her tiny keyboard. Writing how she didn’t want Nikki to leave for a thousand times. Different phrases and different structures. But that wasn’t what the other wanted to hear.
Then why wouldn’t her damn mind let her tell the other she wanted to stay friends.
Realization hit her hard, like a baseball bat on the back of her head. Slamming her face first into the dirt.
Her fingers flew to the buttons before she even realized it. No hesitation, no resistance. It was as if she had little magnets in her fingertips. Then again, there was no time to think. Her best friend was leaving. The buttons were pressed before she knew it.
Her hands froze in mid air. All she could do was stare with wide open eyes at the little symbol she’d just send. She was completely blown away.
Nikki replied, rapid and blunt as always, [well fuck]
Soon to be followed by another message.
Emma couldn’t even describe all the emotions that went through her at that very moment. They washed over her like a wave, unforgiving. Not leaving anything untouched.
[But we’re both girls]
[It’s called lesbians dumbass. Now stay there, right where you are. I’m not getting my first girlfriend over freaking whatsapp of all things!]