“I’m back!” Jonathan yelled as he returned to the living room later that evening.
“Where have you been!?” Alexis exclaimed. “It’s been a few years since you left for the restroom!”
Jonathan made himself comfortable on one of the couches where Adam and Kaden also sat. All of them, except Alexis of course, had been talking about basketball when Nathaniel walked in.
“Hey y’all,” he greeted as he grabbed a wallet which was laying on the coffee table. “I’m going to run to the store and grab some horse feed before they close.”
“Okay dad, see ya!” Drew waved and crunched on another chip which he held in his hand.
“I’ll be back in a bit.” Nate turned and slowly walked out the way he came.
The group sat in awkward silence. Alexis flipped herself to face the TV and put on a movie, making it clear she didn’t want to talk. “Why does he have to be here,” she complained to herself.
“Is your sister, like, obsessed or something?” she heard Adam ask quietly which made her even more irritated at him.
“No, she just really likes Shrek,” Jonathan replied cautiously. He knew if they weren’t careful, she could suddenly blow up in anger or completely shut everyone out. From his own experience, it was best just to leave her alone and Alexis wanted it that way.
“Let’s play a game!” Kaden turned around in his spot to face the others.
Alexis pretended not to hear. “I don’t want to have to play a game, especially not with him.”
“C’mon Lex, come socialize.” Drew grabbed the remote and flicked off the screen before she could take it back.
“What kind of game?” asked Jonathan with a raise of his eyebrows.
Alexis shot a hard glare at Drew. No one replied and Jonathan pounced upon the opportunity to suggest his favorite game. “Let’s play-” he scooted forward in his seat.
“Here it comes…” Alexis groaned internally. She knew what it was going to be and everyone else was probably sick of it by now. She couldn’t blame them though, because she also hated the agonizing seconds when it wasn’t his turn.
“Truth or Dare!”
“Any objections?” Drew asked out of courtesy. Silence was his only reply. “Okay let’s do it!”
“Ready?” Jonathan asked.
Alexis prepared herself to get up and dash.
Everyone, except Adam who had a confused look on his face, jumped up and started running. Alexis got through the study door ahead of Jonathan and started searching frantically for a pen and paper. It didn’t help that Kaden was there looking for the exact same thing. Alexis suddenly remembered her backpack from this morning which had been thrown against the wall of her bedroom. “Bingo!” She ran up the stairs, yanked open the velcro pouch on the front and jammed her hand inside. Alexis felt something and pulled out a mechanical pencil. With a sigh of relief she started back downstairs.
“One!” She heard Kaden shout from the living room.
“Dang it, he has his supplies.” Alexis quickened her pace.
As she ran down the short hall, she came up behind Drew. Alexis grabbed the pad of paper that was in his hands. She tore off a page, then gave it back to her best friend with a cheeky smile, then pushed him behind to continue down the stairs.
As Alexis rounded the corner into the living room and plopped down on the plush cloth couch. Suddenly she realized she had sat in the wrong place, or at least the place she was trying to avoid the most. She glanced at Adam who was next to her, made a face, and then jumped up to sit on the other couch just as Jonathan took the empty seat she had just vacated.
“Two!” Jonathan shouted triumphantly before she could call out a number. He turned and gave Kaden a high five.
Alexis’s jaw dropped. “I was two, Johnny! You were three. I was already in my seat by the time you got your lazy butt over.”
“For the last time, Lexi,” he said, over exaggerating his annoyance. “My name is Jonathan, not Johnny and, you didn’t call two,” He smirked at her. “I did, so technically, you’re not even here. You didn’t claim a number yet.”
Alexis mumbled ‘three’ while still glaring in his direction.
“Guess that means I’m four,” said Drew who had sat down next to Alexis during the little debate.
“What the heck just happened?” Adam, who looked very confused, shifted in his seat. Still trying to take everything in.
Jonathan grinned and explained how their family played the game. One of them always had an inspiration for a truth or dare when it wasn’t their turn. But by the time it came around, they had forgotten what they were about to say. So they started leaving to get things to write with and Jonathan made it into a race to make it more exciting. He also had to explain that the reason they started number calling was because they had to have a way to determine who came into the room first.
“Okay, so you got it?” he asked Adam, who answered with an amused nod. “Awesome! So Adam, truth or dare?”
“Smart move,” thought Alexis. “You never want to go for a dare with us Michaels unless you’re impossibly brave.” She shifted in her seat to get more comfortable.
“Why did you move to California?”
“Because I got transferred to a foster home.”
Alexis almost choked on her water bottle. “Did he say foster home? Does that mean he is dead?” She started mentally listing off things that could result in Adam being put in foster care. “Maybe he started hurting Adam more after I left and maybe he got caught. Or maybe he died of a sudden cardiac arrest or maybe-”
“Alexis!” they said in unison.
She jumped in her seat. “What?”
Adam laughed. It sounded so strange compared to the laugh that she had been expecting from him. It sounded so… Grown up. “Truth or dare?” he asked.
Alexis didn’t feel like moving at the moment so she chose truth.
“Why do you call your dad ‘Nate’?”
“Um…” she trailed off because she hadn’t been expecting that question. She didn’t want to say that Nathaniel wasn’t her dad, because he certainly had been the closest father figure she actually could stand. Alexis glanced at Jonathan and Andrew for help. She could tell Adam was getting suspicious. The two brothers just shrugged; they couldn’t answer anyways.
“I just want to…” Alexis felt awkward but was proud of her genius on the spot answer. She took a deep breath that was barely noticeable. It was finally her turn. After a short pause she asked, “Andy, truth or dare?”
“Dare.” He smirked.
“Finally some excitement!” Jonathan grinned.
“He must have thought of a good dare to counter the one he’s about to receive,” Alexis thought. “I dare you to go outside screaming then strip your shirt and shoes, roll in the dirt, then run up to the neighbor’s door pounding and screaming until they open it. Tell them in an over exaggerated, panicked tone, that we are out of ketchup.” She sat back with her arms folded as Drew absorbed the words that were spoken.
Everyone just looked at her with shock. Needless to say, they all jumped up when Drew started heading out the front door. He started screaming very loudly, pounding his chest for effect, while kicking off his shoes and yanking his shirt. He rolled in the gravel and dirt that made up the little road. Drew ran about 100 feet to Kim’s door, the closest neighbor. He was still yelling as he pounded and banged on the door until the fifty-year old woman opened it up looking very confused.
“We are out of ketchup!” Drew shrieked in the highest pitched voice any of them had ever heard come out of him.
The four other spectators all ran inside as fast as they could before Kim saw through the faded evening light. They closed the screen door, with Drew still outside, and busted up laughing as they all hit the floor. The group was still out of it when Drew came in holding his shoes in one hand and shirt in the other.
“I bet you think that was funny, huh?” he scowled playfully at them.
“Heck, yeah it was!” said Kaden in between laughs.
Drew just walked over to where he had left his pen and paper, sat down, and proceeded to write. They all returned to their original spots after catching their breath as Drew put his shirt back on. He continued his turn like nothing happened.
“Jonathan, truth or dare?”
“Dude,” he said, holding his hands up in surrender. “After that dare, I’m playing safe. Truth.”
“Wimp,” Alexis choked out between fake coughs.
“Whatever,” he rolled his eyes. “Guess she recovered from her mood…”
“Is my little brother scared of the dark?”
“What kind of question is that!?”
“A question that has to get answered or you have to do the forfeit,” Drew smirked. “I don’t think you want to spray paint a cop’s car anytime soon.”
Adam was obviously amused. “But how do you know if he’s lying or not?” he asked.
“Us Michaels’ are really bad liars,” Jonathan admitted. “And yeah, moron. I don’t like the dark.” He stuck his tongue out in his brother’s direction. “Okay my turn again…” He trailed off looking at his pad. He then glanced at everyone sitting in the room, his eyes resting on Alexis. Finally he said, “Lexi, truth or dare?”
“Dare,” she said immediately before she had time to think.
“I dare you to run outside screaming, take off your shoes and shirt, and roll in the mud. Then run to Kim’s house banging and screaming on the door until she answers. Tell her about how we ran out of mustard.” He crossed his arms.
“She’s going to think we’re a bunch of druggies or something!”
“Do it or summit the forfeit.”
Alexis shot Jonathan her best death glare as she started to walk outside. The moment she set foot out the door, it started to rain, or rather: sprinkle. “Typical Texas weather, hot and sunny one day, rainy the next…” She grumbled to herself as she kicked off her shoes. Alexis tugged at her shirt while giving Jonathan a pleading look. He just smiled and motioned like he was taking off his shirt. She growled at him, then took it off, quickly trying to pull down the tank top which was underneath. Unfortunately for her, she had some trouble because it got tangled with her shirt. Alexis caught a glimpse of Adam’s eyes, which were wide in realization; or was it horror? She couldn’t tell. Either way she knew what he was looking at.
A jagged scar ran from her shoulder to the opposite hip. Three or four stab marks from him. Two lines going horizontal from her spine to her belly button. Alexis shot a playful glare at Jonathan before pulling her tank top down as far as it would go.
Adam was cut off when Alexis started to fling her arms in the air and roll around in the mud. She kept screaming and went to pound on Kim’s door. The lady opened it, looking even more surprised than she did the first time.
“We… Ran out of…” Alexis wiped a tear away from her cheek, “Mustard!”
She ran back to the shoes and shirt which were still laying on the soft dirt, grabbed them, and made a dash for their front door. Once inside, she bent down resting her hands on her knees to catch her breath. It was an extremely difficult task on account of everyone laughing hard. After a while Alexis stood up and put her shirt back on then attempted to wipe the dirt off her face.
“Okay, guys. I have an epic idea!” Jonathan said excitedly. He then went on to tell how they all needed to repeat the same thing. First Kaden then Adam, except yelling different condiments each time.
“Oh this is going to be good!” Kaden rubbed his hands together in anticipation.