She should have seen the trap coming and been more prepared. Only it wasn't the sort of thing she ever really thought about so she hadn't really even considered having to answer it now.
Or, at least, not until Lucy was actually turning to her and asking, "What about you, Mels?" and all the other girls in the circle were looking at her, expecting an answer.
"Me?" she managed to ask, trying to buy some time.
"Yes. You," Lucy replied. "Who would you kiss?"
She could tell the others were growing impatient so she said the first name that popped into her head.
Lucy rolled her eyes, and the other girls groaned. "No. It has to be a real person, stupid. One of the boys at school...?"
Mels hated it when Lucy talked like that. As if she thought Mels really was stupid. She narrowed her eyes at the other girl. Sometimes, she wished she didn't have to wait and hide and pretend. Sometimes, she wished she could just...
And why on Earth had she said that, anyway? Sometimes she really could be stupid. She wasn't going to kiss the Doctor. She didn't even want to. Not really. She wasn't going kiss him. She was going to...
Besides, Amy'd said he wasn't really hot. Those were just stupid dreams. Now, if he'd been funny and hot... But just funny?
"Well, I know who I'd kiss," Amy spoke quickly from where she sat cross-legged on the rug next to Mels.
"Not your imaginary friend, too? Lucy asked.
This time it was Amy's turn to roll her eyes. "No. Stupid. I mean a real boy."
"Rory?" Mels guessed.
Amy giggled. "Rory? Really?"
"She said a real boy, Mels," Lucy added, and all the other girls laughed.
"What's wrong with Rory?" Mels asked.
"Nothing. Just... No. Not Rory," Amy answered definitively.
"Then who?" Chloe stopped giggling long enough to ask from across the circle.
"Jeff?" Lucy asked in disbelief. "I said I was gonna kiss Jeff."
Despite herself, and despite Amy's warning glare, Mels couldn't help but laugh at this. Sometimes, she could see things. She didn't know how or why, but it was like everything sort of opened up in front of her and she just knew. And Jeff and Lucy?
She giggled again. She couldn't help herself.
"What's so funny?" Lucy snapped.
"Nothing," Mels managed to say. "I think that's great. Good choice, Lucy. I think you'll make a great couple." Couple of what Mels wasn't about to say. Not with the way Lucy was looking at her.
Only she clearly wasn't convincing enough. "Well..." Lucy began, and Mels knew she was in trouble simply by Amy's sympathetic glance. "At least I'm not stupid enough to have a crush on someone else's imaginary friend, now. Am I?"
"Lucy..." Amy warned, but the other girls were already laughing.
And she knew it was stupid to let it bother her. It's not like any of this even mattered, anyway. Not like any of them even mattered.
They were just stupid little girls living stupid little lives in a stupid little English village in the middle of stupid nowhere.
And yet, somehow, it always did.
"Don't worry about it, Amy," Mels said, laying an arm on her friend as she felt her tense next to her. "I have to use the toilet, anyway." She glared around the circle. "This is a stupid game, anyway," she added.
As a parting shot, it left a lot to be desired, but she didn't care.
She needed to get out of there before someone noticed the tears in her eyes.
Because girls like her – people like her – whatever that was...
Certainly never cried.
Amy looked toward her bedroom door again. Mels had been gone a long time. They'd already stopped playing Truth or Dare and were painting each others nails and she was starting to worry. In her current mood, there was no telling what trouble her friend could get into. Finally, unable to wait a moment longer, she said, indicating the now empty bowl of chips,"Hey, I'm gonna go see if I can grab some more food. My mum said something about biscuits...?"
"'K," Ashley said, not looking up from where she was doing Lesley's nails.
"And hurry up," Lucy added. "Especially if they're chocolate..." But Amy had already stood up and was heading out into the hall.
As she'd expected, she didn't find Mels in the toilet. Voices floating upstairs, though, ended her search rather quickly.
"And that, dear, is why he's not allowed to bake biscuits alone anymore," her mother was saying as Amy entered the kitchen.
Mels, perched on a stool at the counter next to her, was laughing around a mouthful of the chocolate biscuit she held in her hand. "Really? Pepper?" she asked after swallowing.
Amy rolled her eyes. "That story again? Really?"
"It's funny!" Mel defended, turning her head to look over at Amy. Then, grinning sheepishly at Mrs. Pond, she added, "Every time you tell it."
Now it was her mother's turn to laugh. "Yes, it is, isn't it?"
"We missed you," Amy explained to Mels, crossing the room to stand on the other side of her mother.
Mels cocked an eyebrow at her.
Now it was Amy's turn to grin sheepishly. "Well... I did."
This time Mels grin was genuine. Then, indicating the platter of biscuits on the worktop, she explained, "I found biscuits."
"Yup, fresh from the oven," her mum agreed. "Would you like one?"
Amy shook her head. "No. I'd better be getting them back to the others. You coming?" she asked Mels as she grabbed the platter.
Her friend exchanged brief glances with her mum before sliding down off the stool. "Yeah." And then, as she was about to leave the room, she added, turning to look back,"Oh. And thanks for the biscuits, Mrs. Pond."
Amy's mother returned her friend's smile. "Sure, sweetie. Anytime."