A Secret Everybody Knows by D.I. Jolly

Thomas looked into his wine glass as the bottle spun and his friends laughed beside him. For a moment it looked like it might land on him but blessedly it continued that moment longer to point at his girlfriend instead. The two other plays oohed,

“Your turn Ruth, you have to tell us a secret that you think everybody knows!”

She blushed and giggled and took a sip of her wine.

“Oh, uummm…. Henry at work had sex with his new boss at the Christmas party.”

The group seemed to frown collectively,

“We all knew that, it’s not exactly a secret though.”

Ruth smiled wolfishly.

“But did you know Henry’s new boss is a man?”

The friend’s jaws dropped and for a moment it looked like they might actually hit the floor. Then the one pulled himself together, put on a smug face and said.

“I knew it, I knew it, all along!”

Ruth’s smile grew and she extended her hands in triumph, and to the applause of her friends. Thomas did his best to stifle a sigh by draining his wine glass before quickly refilling it.

“Oh, nice one Tom, share the love, come on.”

The others all held out their glasses and through a faked smile he refilled them and they all cheersed.

“To friendship.”

Said the one.

“To love.”

Said Ruth as she looked over at Thomas.

“To Sex!”

Said the third and laughter once again filled the room, and Thomas once again emptied his glass and refilled it.

“Steady on there man, is everything alright?”

But before he could answer for himself Ruth put her arm over him and half mockingly half laughing said.

“He doesn’t like ‘silly little games’ like this. He thinks they’re childish.”

A light-hearted booing came from the other and again before Thomas could speak for himself, Ruth leaned in to kiss him on the cheek and spun the bottle. This time, to his horror, the bottle ended up pointing at Thomas. Everyone once again oohed, only with more enthusiasm to try spur him into the mood and Ruth, with a twinkle in her eye, announced.

“Come on then, a secret the everyone knows.”

Thomas looked into his glass and took another long sip and said.

“Santa Claus.”

The jeering suddenly stopped and everyone else looked at each other searching for reasons to argue with him. It was just to obvious an answer to be fun, but none of them could find in the faces of their friends a reason to make him try again. And for a third time in under ten minutes, Thomas finished his glass and a third time refilled it. His head swum a little in the wine but he still felt enough in control of himself to manage and waited to see if he’d get away with his prepared answer. Eventually to his great disappointment, Ruth said plainly.

“Nope, too obvious, and it’s not in the spirit of the game. This is supposed to be about getting to know each other better while also having fun.”

Her voice lost what was left of its playfulness and she shot a pleading glance at her friends.

“I promise it’s more fun if you just join in. Not everything has to be so serious, all the time. Please.”

Thomas took a sip of wine, breathed a deep sigh and without looking up said.

“You don’t actually love me. You’re just terrified of being alone.”

In one long swallow he drained his glass and then looking up to catch Ruth’s eye, said.

“And every… body… knows.”

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