Libby's red car sped down the Retroville bypass. The ebony beauty drove the car with determination, even without the radio on.
"Get my phone out of my purse and text Elke." She dictated to the blond in the passenger seat, "Tell her we'll meet her at the mall at one."
"That's in two hours, aren't we going there now?"
"God no, we need prom dresses and there is no way we're getting them where everyone else shops. What if someone else bought the same one?"
"The world would explode?"
"I would glare at you but I'm diving."
Fifteen minutes later they pulled up in the driveway of a small ranch-style house with a black metal gate and fence.
"What the heck is this?"
Libby didn't say anything but walked through the gate and up to the door. She knocked three times, waited a moment then knocked another three times while Cindy came up beside her. Suddenly, the door flew open and a man came out onto the porch. He wore black leather pants, a gray v-neck t-shirt, and some sort of combat boots. Cindy doubted that he had ever seen battle, considering his spiky hair was the exact color of his striking blue eyes and he wore a chain necklace. But who was she to judge?
"Liberty, darling!" He said in a thick accent. "I thought I smelled 'Sass #3." He drew Libby into an embrace.
"Frederique! It's so good to see you!" They broke apart. "We're here about that little matter we spoke about over the phone…"
"Say no more my darling, Frederique le Magique will take care of everything!" He turned and noticed Cindy for the first time. "Who's your little friend? No wait…don't tell me this is Cindy?!" he gave her the once over. "You're right; she does dress like a librarian."
Cindy glared at her sheepish-looking friend. "Do you tell everyone that?"
"Never mind," the very tan Frederique said, ushering them into the little house, "We shall soon make you fabulous beyond your wildest dreams."
Once inside, Cindy realized that the house was in fact a store of sorts. There were very well-dressed women behind desks, counters, and next to racks of clothing. A small hallway led to a light blue room with a beauty salon chair and a sink. It looked like Libby's heaven. Too bad it was Cindy's something else.
"What is this place?" she asked, trying to take it all in.
"This is Edge: Frederique's salon and boutique." Libby answered in between hugging the receptionists. "He used to work with my mom's agency-"
"But one day I decided to quit and pursue my true passion" he held up two garment bags, "making women look gorgeous!"
"Uh-huh…and why are we here?"
"I told you in the car: we need prom dresses. I have to look extra fabulous just in case he dares to show his face."
Frederique scowled. "I never liked this Sheen boy. To give up an angel like Liberty just shows what an idiot he is."
"Soooo… you're getting back at Sheen?"
"I am simply showing him all that he has given up through his poor choices. I will show him that I am a mature, sophisticated woman who does not need him to have a good time. I will make him miss me and not even give him a second glance."
"So you're getting back at him?"
She sighed exasperatedly, "Libby, I don't think you really got what I was saying earlier-"
"I'm not trying to make him write with self-loathing and jealousy at every boy in the room who I grace with my smile to try to win him back! …Just to make him rue the day he let me walk out of his life." She turned to Frederique, "What do you have in purple?"
"Libby, I don't-"
At that moment, a woman walked into the room with a mobile rack of fancy dresses. Frederique glanced at them for a moment and then pulled one out to show to the girls. Cindy's jaw dropped.
He chuckled. "I thought you might like this one. Try this one, if it doesn't fit there are a few other sizes in the back."
An hour and a half later, the two girls had reserved their dresses (Frederique had made notes for necessary alterations, they would come back later in the week for a final fitting) and were back on the road to meet Elke.
"So, I was thinking about this for the last hour," Libby began, "and what you need most of all is-"
"Lunch? I barely had any breakfast and I would kill for some kung pao chicken right now."
"I was going to say what you need are a pair of leggings, but lunch is a good plan. We can swing by "Salad Heaven" and find something low cal-"
"What the heck are you talking about?"
"You can over-do the calories now Cindy, it's a crucial time-"
"No, the other thing."
"Oh. Yeah, just like I said: you need a pair of leggings…maybe a cute tunic to put over it…yeah!"
"Just to spice things up. Show off your karate legs, try a new look."
"What's wrong with my current-DON'T SAY IT!" she said, expecting the usual criticism that usually involved words like "dowdy" and "boring". "Alright, I'll give it a shot."
"Yay!" Libby smiled. "I thought you, me, and Elke could come back to my house for some girl time before we go to the Candy Bar."
"Why are we going there? I thought we weren't supposed to 'over-do' the calories?"
"Oh, we're not eating….we're setting the plan into action."
Jimmy stared at the lifeless blob that was Sheen, lying on his bed face down. Sheen had showed up on the Neutron doorstep before dawn, still wearing his clothes from the previous day, holding a crumpled piece of paper that he refused to set down.
"He hasn't moved since about noon."
"Wow," said Carl who had shown up a few minutes ago at Jimmy's bequest, "He's taking this really hard."
"Sheen, you've been here for seven hours don't you think it's time to-"
A muffled sound came from Sheen
He lifted his head, "I had a good thing Jim. A wonderful marvelous thing and I let it slip through my fingers."
"Are you talking about Libby or your relationship? 'Thing' is kind of an unclear-"
"Do you know what this is?" Sheen sat up and held out his fist with the crumpled paper inside. Jimmy walked over and took the strange item. He unfolded it to find a picture of Sheen and Libby laughing. It must have been taken a few years ago, because Sheen looked shorter and Libby's hair was much longer than it was now. "That was taken before the Valentines' dance freshman year. I don't remember what I said to make her laugh so hard, but she always hated that picture because her eyes were squinting, but I loved it. I still love it: it's real. Turn it over."
Jimmy did as instructed and found a penned inscription that read: Sheen you big dork, don't put this in your locker! I'm serious: I will find you! Love always, Libby. The I's were all dotted with little hearts.
"Love always: that's what it said. Well, apparently "always" ends today. Er, yesterd- AHH! You know what I mean."
"Sheen," Jimmy sat on the bed and put his hand on Sheen's shoulder. Up close he saw how pale he looked, how his eyes had dark circles under them, and sadness in his eyes. He would have given him a hug, but they were still guys so it was best not to make things weird. "It'll be alright, I promise." Although in all honesty, he wasn't sure how that would come about.
"The worst part is, I have no idea how to fix this. She won't believe me if I apologize and a grand gesture of sorryness would only make her more angry."
"You can't think of anything that would appease her rage?"
"No!" he slouched again, "Maybe Libby and I just aren't meant to be. I should be able to make things better! I know her, right?!"
Jimmy and Carl exchanged glances. "What? You think we could date this long and not be crazy close?"
"Oh, you're close alright…just usually in the…physical sense," Jimmy fought to the rest of his comments to himself.
"Well Sheen, fortunately for you when I was picking up my allergy medicine on the way over here, I happened to notice that the newest issue of Glamazon was at the pharmacy. It has an article about similar relationship problems and I picked it- what?"
The other two boys gaped at him. "Carl, you had no way of know this conversation would happen. Why do you have that?"
"What?! It has great advice for moisturizing!" he rubbed his cheek, "My skin is delicate."
"What's your point, llama boy?"
"The point is: there is a quiz to "see how well your man knows you." Huh, that's convenient."
"As weird as that sounds, it could work Sheen. If your results are deficient, then perhaps we'll discover what you need to work on to appease Libby."
"I don't know…"
"Here," Jimmy sat down next to him. "I'll even take it with you."
"Alright then," Carl sat at Jimmy's desk chair and opened the magazine. "Question one: what is her dream job?"
"Libby wants to be a fashion designer. She plans to take the world by storm and make sure no one ever wears spandex outside the gym again."
"Cindy's going to be a lawyer." Right? Of course she did; what else could Retroville's most spirited debater plan to be? Jimmy reassured himself that this was correct, but in the back of his mind, he wasn't certain.
"Question two: what is your lady's favorite color?"
"Oh that's easy, magenta." Sheen smiled to himself, "She always wears it when she needs to have a good day…or if it's Thursday."
"Ok," Carl wrote something down on a scrap of paper. "Without the correct answers this is sort of guess work for now…Jim?"
"Um.." Jimmy's mind went blank. You know this. It's…how do you not know this? She wears green a lot…but isn't it pink? Her bedroom's pink so obviously… But it occurred to him that he hadn't actually seen Cindy's bedroom in several years. It had been a while since an invention had caused him to crash there, and Mrs. Vortex would have never allowed entrance. For all her knew, she could have repainted. "Um, pass."
"Uh, alright." Carl wrote something down. "Question two…"
Over the next half hour, Jimmy realized just how deficient his knowledge of Cindy was when he failed to know her comfort food, favorite flower, preferred leisure activity, guilty pleasure, and an assorted variety of trivial things that suddenly seem like essential information. Sheen on the other hand whipped out answers instantly. Cinnamon toast; marigolds; dancercise; reality TV, he spouted off as easily as if asked his own name.
When they finally finished, Carl went to tabulate the results. But Jimmy didn't need them to know the awful truth: he was clueless about Cindy. And it wasn't just simple things, like her favorite movie or best joke; he didn't know about her past save for when it involved him, her home life save for her mom was insane, or her opinion on quantum mechanics.
All he really knew was that he liked kissing her and how pretty her eyes look when she smiles…and until now, that had been enough.