It stared off innocently enough.
So many things do.
It stared off with whispers, giggles, nudging friends with elbows.
I don't know why I didn't see how one dare could change everything
It was my best friend's 16th birthday.
All of us were on her back deck.
Laughing, singing, teasing one another.
Then the game started.
"Truth or dare?"
It started off with easy, fun questions.
"Who do you like?"
"Would you rather..,"
"Which teacher is cutest?"
Then, all the truths started to become dares.
"I dare you to do a handstand while singing the Barney song!"
"I dare you to kiss Max." "No way!" "On the cheek."
It was my turn.
"I dare you to tell us something you've never told anyone before."
I took in a deep breath.
Looked down at my shoes.
"You have to tell us!" They insisted.
That was the last thing I wanted to do.
Whispered it under my breath.
"I have a crush on my best friend."
"Jasmine?" They all gasped.
I just nodded my head.
Jasmine was staring down at her shoes too.
My friends continued the game.
But I wasn't listening anymore.
Jasmine left the party early.
We didn't get to talk before she did.
But she texted me the next day, asking to get coffee.
I hate coffee.
But I happily agreed.
Anything for Jasmine.
I got there, and she had already ordered.
I didn't get anything, just sat down next to her.
"Listen, Jordan, I just don't feel that way about you."
"I know." I whispered.
"Why did you say something, then?" She asked.
"I wanted you to know" I mumbled.
"Jordan..." She started.
"It's fine." I inturrupted. "We're still friends, right?"
"Best friends" she whispered back.
I forced myself to smile at her.
She smiled back
Two weeks later.
Truth or Dare, again.
I hate that game.
This one started innocently too.
But it turned hurtful quickly.
"Jasmine, if you had to kiss Jordan or a frog, which would you pick?"
I fully expected the frog.
"Jordan." She answered.
I hid my smile in my scarf.
The game dissolved after half an hour, everyone started chatting to their neighbors instead.
Jasmine turned to me, smile on her face.
God, that smile made my stomach tie itself into delicious knots.
We talked, just like we used to. Like I hadn't told her.
But I had.
"Hey, Jordan?" She asked, after a while.
"Yeah?" I answered, distracted by the tiny strand of hair falling so delicately across her cheek.
"Truth or dare?" She asked, surprising me.
"Uh, you choose." I blurted finally, and a lovely laugh tumbled from her mouth.
"Fine. I choose both. Truth first." She said, a mischievous glimmer in her eye.
I was terrified at what I just agreed to.
"Your truth is; why do you like me, and how much."
For a split second, I thought that this was the rejection I'd been waiting for. That she wanted me to pour my heart out so she could stomp on it.
But when I looked into her eyes, I saw only cautiously hopeful curiosity.
I took a deep breath, curling in on myself before speaking.
My words came out in a rushed, sloppy mess.
"I like you because you're beautiful. I like you because your laugh brightens up a whole room. I like you because you can cheer me up after a hard day, because you always know when a day was hard
I like you because you are an amazing dancer. I like you because you always give me butterflies. I like you because even when you don't feel the same way, you're still my friend."
When I finally finished, she didn't say anything. She just sat there looking at me. I looked at the ground.
When she finally opened her mouth, all she said was;
"Ready for your dare?"
Fighting tears, I nodded.
"I dare you to kiss me" she whispered.
Before I had time to overthink, before I had time to wonder if it all was a joke, our lips were pressed together.
I don't know who initiated it. It didn't matter, really.
All that mattered was the delicious free-falling feeling that she gave me as we gently pressed our lips together.
It didn't stay gentle for long.
When we finally pulled apart, her lips were red and a little swollen.
'I did that' a delayed part of my brain thought.
The rest of me could only think about how I wanted to do it again.
I had to know, though.
So I asked.
"Jasmine, truth or dare?"
"Both." She whispered.
"Your truth is, do you like me back?"
She slowly nodded her head.
Trying not to faint or die of happiness, I took a deep breath.
"And what's my dare?" She asked me, the mischievous spark back in her eyes.
"Kiss me again" I whispered.
And she did.
And it was even better than the first time.
And the next time was even better.
And the next.
And the next.
And the next.
I still hate truth or dare.
It's certainly not an innocent game, it changed my life.
But not all change is bad.
I've learned that over time.
Don't believe me?
Just ask my wife.