Disclaimer: The Truth About Forever, its characters and most of the dialogue in this story belong to Sarah Dessen. The title, "What She Really Wants," was taken from a Brighten song of the same name.
What She Really Wants
"If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?"
Macy smirked as she thought about it for a second. "How about everything I did between leaving your house and right now?"
I honestly didn't understand what was bugging her. "I told you, it wasn't that bad," I said with a shake of my head.
"You didn't have some football player pawing you."
"No." I considered this. Good point. "You're right about that."
She leaned back against the side of my truck and looked up at the sky. We had just come from a party in Lakeview, where I had to give a friend of mine some car parts. Macy was on her way home, and I asked her if she wanted to ride with me.
I couldn't believe the way my heart lurched when she said, "Sure," instantly, as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
Maybe it was.
At the party, I left her for a second to look for my friend, and when I came back, she was half past drunk and couldn't say no to anything Kristy told her to do. Some guy from the football team was trying to get lucky with her when I finally intervened.
Truth was, I was two seconds away from knocking the daylights out of him.
On the way out of the house, Macy grabbed my hand. I had been guiding her with the same hand as we made our way through the party, first on her shoulders, then down her arm to her wrist. She probably didn't think too much of it. But the whole time, I couldn't keep my head on straight and all I had on my mind was the fact that my skin was on fire as it came in contact with hers.
I really shouldn't be so quick to think so, but I couldn't help it. Stop, I told myself as I loosened my grip on her wrist. But she still took my hand and held tight until we were out of the house.
I bought her some water and some aspirin at the Quik Zip, and then I drove her home. However, I didn't leave just yet. We just stayed there on her driveway, and somehow we fell into our usual routine of Truth in no time.
"I wouldn't be so afraid," Macy was telling me now.
For a second, as a watched a firefly moving past, I didn't understand what she meant. I'd been so lost in my thoughts, remembering the way her hand grasped mine—
"If I could change anything about myself," she clarified. "That's what it would be."
Oh. Of course.
"Afraid," I said, turning my full attention back to her. It wasn't really that hard. The whole conversation we had about being "gorgeous" and this idea of perfection a couple of days ago was still fresh in my mind, and I'd meant every word I said to her then. "Afraid of…"
She sighed. "Of doing things that aren't planned or laid out in advance for me," she explained. "I'd be more impulsive, not always thinking about consequences."
This was getting interesting. If anything was impulsive, it would be Truth. But I had a few more questions on my mind. "Give me an example."
She took a sip of water. "Like with my mother. There's so much I want to say to her, but I don't know how she'll react. So I just don't."
"Like what? What do you want to say?"
"It's not as much what I'd say, but what I'd do." She hesitated, shaking her head. "Forget it. Let's move on."
What? No. "Are you passing?" I challenged.
"I answered the question!" She made a face.
"Only the first part."
"That was not a two-part question," she protested.
"It is now."
"You know you're not allowed to do that!"
One thing I like about playing Truth is how open it is, especially to changes in rules. Really, it doesn't even matter what the so-called "rules" are anymore. This, to me, was just a regular conversation with someone I trust. That's it.
I stared her down, daring her, and shook my head. "Come on, just answer." I nudged her with my arm.
"Okay," she said, rather loudly, leaning back on her palms. "I'd just…if I could, I'd just walk up to my mother and say whatever I felt like saying, right at that moment. Maybe I'd tell her how much I miss my dad. Or how I worry about her. I don't know what. Maybe it sounds stupid, but for once, I'd just let her know exactly how I feel, without thinking first. Okay?"
Neither of us spoke for a while after that, and as the candidness of Macy's words sunk in, I felt myself see her differently, completely differently, for the first time. I'd been thinking about her a lot lately, and I never really knew how I was supposed to feel. At that exact moment, I started getting an idea of what it was, what I felt about her.
I can honestly say that I'd never known Macy Queen as well as I did that night.
She wouldn't look at me, and I could see why. We'd barely known each other long enough, and I knew that. But maybe we're just different.
"That's not stupid," I found myself saying. She still held her head down, but I could see her eyes darting up to meet mine slowly. "It's not."
"I know. But just talking about anything emotional is hard for her. For us. It's like she prefers we just not do that anymore." She looked up, but not at me.
She took a deep breath as I watched her.
"Do you really think she feels that way?" I asked.
"I have no real way of knowing," she admitted. "We don't talk about it. We don't talk about anything. That's the problem." She paused, finally gazing at me.
I nodded, encouraging her to go on.
"That's my problem, actually," Macy went on, crossing her arms over her chest, which I knew meant that she was feeling defensive. About what, I wasn't entirely sure. "I don't talk to anybody about what's going on in my head, because I'm afraid they might not be able to take it."
I found that hard to believe, I really did.
"What about this?" I wanted to know, waving my hands and gesturing around us. "Isn't this talking?"
She smiled warily. "This is Truth. It's different."
"I don't know. The vomit story alone was huge."
She raised her eyebrows. "Enough with the vomit story," she said, sounding exasperated. "Please God I'm begging you."
"The point is," I went on, "that you've told me a lot playing this game. And while some of it might be weird, or heavy, or downright gross—"
"—it's nothing I couldn't handle." I was telling the truth, as plainly as it came. "So you should remember that, when you're thinking about what other people can deal with. Maybe it's not so bad."
"Maybe," she conceded. "Or maybe you're just really extraordinary."
I was about to brush it off with a scoff and an indifferent laugh. But once I caught sight of her, I couldn't move.
We sat there, looking at each other. It was warm out, the way summer was supposed to be. With the fireflies sparkling around us, and with her leaning close to me, our knees only inches apart, it was suddenly so hard to focus on anything but Macy, Macy, Macy.
I could say it was easy to kiss her right then and there, because suddenly, that's all I found myself wanting to do. I was willing to confess everything to her, tell her anything. But this is the real world, and in reality, things just don't happen like that.
"Okay," she said suddenly, and this was when I realized that I had been leaning closer to her, "my turn."
I blinked rapidly. She had to have felt it. It couldn't have just been the heat of the moment, could it?
"Right," I said, trying to sound as nonchalant as possible. "Go ahead. Hit me."
She took her time. "What's the one thing you'd do," she finally asked, "if you could do anything?"
"It's funny you should ask," I wanted to say. "Because if you knew..."
But of course I didn't.
There was no way I could answer that. Not right then. If I did, I'm not sure what I would have even said. I was still trying to shake off my nerves, and yet here they were, as messed up as ever.
I had no idea what she was expecting from this kind of question. I could have easily lied and said something off the top of my head. I just didn't want to.
"Pass," I declared.
She buckled. "What?"
I cleared my throat. "I said, I pass."
"Why?" It was a perfectly justified question.
Because you might not like the answer.
Because I don't know what I want yet.
Because I do know what I want, and that scares me.
Because things are getting complicated.
Because, because, because.
I turned to look at her. "Because." I seemed to be stuck on this answer.
"Because I just do," I insisted with a dismissive wave of the hand.
"You know what this means, right?" Macy asked. "You know how the game works?"
"You have to answer whatever question I ask next." I nodded. "And if you do, you win."
"Exactly." She sat up straighter, squaring her shoulders, preparing for whatever it was I was throwing her way. "Okay. Go ahead."
Macy seemed so excited for the question, although I knew she would never admit to it. I actually wanted to tease, "You want to win, don't you?" But in the end, all I said was, "No."
I don't do anything half-assed.
"No?" she repeated, sounding disappointed. "What do you mean, no?"
"I mean, no," I said again. I have to admit that I was thoroughly enjoying this.
"You have to ask a question."
"Not immediately," I replied, just as a bug landed on my arm. I flicked it away. "For a question this important, a question that carries the outcome of the game, you can take as long as you want."
She was staring at me like I was crazy. "Says who?"
"Says the rules."
"We have more than covered the rules," she told me. "That is not one of them."
"I'm making an amendment."
The expression on her face was too good not to paint. The way things were happening, I could have told her to wait and stay like that while I got materials, and she might have actually did as I asked. It wasn't hard to see that she was trying to make sense of everything that had just happened in her head. I was, too.
My brain was still pretty much stuck on Or maybe you're just really extraordinary, though.
"Okay, fine," she said finally, rolling her eyes. "But you can't just take forever."
"I don't need that long," I reassured her with a smile.
"Considerably less than forever."
She made that face again. I could live with this.
"Maybe a week," I added, when I felt that she'd waited long enough. "You can't bug me about it, either. That will nullify the entire thing. It has to just happen when it happens."
"Another new rule," she clarified.
I nodded. "Yup."
She titled her head and looked at me, mulling over this.
All of a sudden, this car came up from the other end of the street, dousing us with a bright burst of light. I squinted and shielded my eyes as I watched it pull into Macy's driveway, all the way to the garage. A woman was driving, and she was talking on the phone. I was sure that she was Macy's mother.
When she got out of the car, her gaze fell upon us, and she stopped in her tracks. "Macy?" she said. "Is that you?"
"Yes," Macy said instantly. "I'm coming in, right now."
With another final glance in our direction, Macy's mom made her way into the house, leaving the door open for her daughter.
"Well," Macy said, all casual, as if we hadn't been talking about her mother only a few minutes ago, "thanks for a truly exciting evening." She smiled, but then she added, "Even if you are leaving me hanging."
"I think you can handle it." I climbed into my truck and smiled back.
"All I'm saying," she said, "is that when this is all over, I'm going to submit, like, twenty amendments. You won't even recognize the rules once I'm done with them."
"Sure you are." I let myself laugh out loud, freely, shaking my head. Macy only smiled, but after a while, she was laughing with me, too.
"You know," she began, leaning in through my half-open window, her voice cool and steady, "after all this buildup, it had better be a good question."
"Don't worry," I told her. I didn't know what I was going to ask yet, but I wasn't holding anything back when the time came.
She was looking at me strangely, and I began to wonder if maybe she was seeing me differently, completely differently, for the first time, too.
"It will be."
A/N: The Truth About Forever has been my favorite book for three years, and I can't believe I'm discovering only now that it has a fan fiction archive! Hooray for that! I decided to keep things simple for my first TTAF fic, and I wanted to experiment with Wes's POV (the Wes POV fics are really good here!) so I went ahead and did this. I have other things planned, though. Hopefully, they won't be as by-the-book as this one, and I'll have more room for making things up as I go along...kind of like how Macy and Wes play Truth. :-)
So, I was pretty sure my original plan was to change Wes's answer to "What the one thing you'd do, if you could do anything?" and see where that went. But I seemed to end up doing this, and I was pretty happy with it. I think I'll be doing a second take, though, and see where I'll end up if I had changed his reaction. An alternate ending, if you will. In the meantime, how was this?