'Katya Loves Dave', written under today's date in her diary. Katya doodled idly round it, drawing hearts and flowers in a way that reminded her of being a teenager with a massive crush on the captain of the football team. Tonight was the night. Tonight was the night that Dave had promised, after much pleading and a little nagging, to play The Trust Game. Ever since Katya had started taking a course in counselling and therapy at her local college she'd wanted to involve Dave in what she was learning. Each week she had rushed home to share what she'd learnt with him and suggest a few things they could try to improve their relationship. Not that it really needed any work but it couldn't hurt, could it? And tonight was the night when he'd agreed to play The Trust Game.
Dave pulled onto the drive, pulled on the handbrake and turned the engine off. He sat and listened to the familiar creaks and pops as the car settled and cooled after the drive from the office. He ran his hands slowly round the steering wheel, feeling where it smoothed from years of wear. He loved this car. It had been a gift from his parents when he'd graduated and he'd loved it right from the first time he drove it. Dave daydreamed about past driving adventures until he could stall no longer. He had to be brave and go into the house. Sighing deeply, Dave opened the car door. Tonight was the night he'd agreed to play The Trust Game with Katya. And there was no way he could get out of it now.
Katya walked into the kitchen to pour more drinks. It was all going so well. Dave was being far more enthusiastic than she could have hoped. He'd closed his eyes and allowed her to guide him around their home to show he trusted her to help him when he was lost and helpless; he'd crossed his arms and fallen back into hers to prove he trusted her to keep him safe; he'd even let her pick an outfit for him to wear to work on Monday to show that he trusted her to send him out into the world presenting the right image. All that was left was the Truth or Dare part of the game, Katya's favourite part. During training they'd all shared some embarrassing truths about themselves and discussed how important in any relationship to be comfortable bearing the deepest, darkest parts of yourself.
Dave knew what was coming next. He'd overheard Katya and her hippy training buddies chatting over glasses of Pinot, he knew that the most important part of The Trust Game was the Truth or Dare part. He'd played versions of it with previous girl friends and so he knew the sort of things girls liked to hear. He'd played drunken versions at several stag parties and knew how animated things could become. Heck, the police had been called to Eddie's stag do when Phil smacked Eddie on the nose for confessing that he'd snogged the bride one Christmas! So Dave wasn't looking forward to this. He knew he could lie to Katya, spare her feelings but she might see through his lies and that would inevitably lead to an argument, tears and him sleeping in the spare room again. As the kitchen door swung open Dave knew what he had to do.
Katya sat on the sofa, ripping the damp tissue into tiny pieces. Her breathing was still a little ragged but she was re-gaining her composure.
'So that's it really, the worst part of me.' she whispered. 'The one time I needed to step up and I let my best friend down.'
Dave shifted slightly in his chair. He had no idea what to say to her. If that was the worst thing, the thing she was most ashamed of in her whole life...
'Your turn.' she chirped, no longer the weeping wreck of a moment ago.
Dave froze. Secretly he'd hoped she'd carry on crying so he could come up with a plausible lie to tell her. Then all this nonsense would be over and they could have more wine, a quick cuddle then off to bed for some, in his opinion, well deserved sex.
'I can't.' He looked at his hands clutching the wine glass slightly too firmly. Time seemed to slow to a crawl. He waited for Katya to say something but there was only an awkward silence.
'Come on Dave. You agreed to play The Trust Game and I've told you the worst, most cringe worthy part of my life. It's not fair of you to duck out now.'
'Honestly, Kat, I can't. It's not fair to ask me.' Dave's mouth felt dry and the words seemed glued to his lips. 'This game must stop now.'
He glanced at Katya and was astonished at the expression on her face. He'd never seen her look like that, as if she was going to explode. Oh, he'd seen her angry, he'd seen her furious with him, he'd even seen a violent streak when she hurled an ashtray at him during a heated argument. But this was something else. She seemed to radiate fury.
'Typical!' she spat the word at him. 'You make me go through it but haven't got the balls to do it yourself.'
'It's not that, Kat, honestly. I thought about telling a lie so that I could go through with it but you were so keen on the whole trust thing that I couldn't do that to you.'
He paused, waiting for a response, fearing what that might be. He risked another look at her but she still looked furious.
'You don't trust me, do you?' Katya asked. 'You think I'll blab your dirty little secret and your image will be tarnished.'
Her expression had changed to one of disappointment, terrible disappointment.
'It's not that I don't trust you, Kat. Of course I do.' Dave took a deep breath, exhaled loudly. 'It's me I don't trust.'
They sat in silence for what seemed like a lifetime, neither knowing what to say. Dave knew that he had to break the silence.
'If I tell you then I have to do something that will make you very unhappy and very mad. There is no way to avoid that and I don't trust myself to be able to do it.'
Dave felt the sofa dip beside him as Katya sat next to him. Her hand reached out and held his.
'Tell me. Dave. Whatever it is we can deal with it together.' Her voice was soft, gentle and imploring.
'Just remember, Katya,' he said coldly, 'this Trust Game was your idea. I didn't want anything to do with it but you nagged and nagged and wore me down.'
He pulled his hand away from her, stood up and walked to the door. With one hand on the door handle he half turned to face Katya.
'My whole life is a lie. I don't really exist. All this, it's a lie, a fabrication, an invention. Dave Crawford isn't a real person.'
Katya's hand moved to her mouth and tears sprang to her eyes again. Dave slowly, quietly opened the door.
'And now you know that, I have to leave, now. You'll never see or hear from me again. I trust that makes you happy, Katya.'