Expensive Shoes and Cheap Shots
"SO, I'm thinking we need to tease the roots of your hair, yah know, give it some more volume," Cindy sat in a chair in Libby's room, a bag of (pretty expensive) new clothes at her feet. She wasn't sure how she was supposed to explain the concept of a "fashion emergency" to her mother and why that constituted the use of her credit card, but right now she had bigger problems. Libby expected her to put on a pair of three-inch heels and wear her hair like an Orange-county housewife. She wanted to help her friend feel better, but the line had to be drawn somewhere. Elke sat on the bed reading a magazine; her butter blond locks up in hot rollers. She apparently understood that they needed to let Libby channel her energies into giving them a makeover. Cindy's stomach growled. She didn't know how Libby managed to be a vegetarian for so many years; a simple salad was not enough to sustain her until dinner.
"So, I was thinking we'd head over to the Candy Bar at about ten to three".
Her heart leapt. YES! Real food!
Elke look up, "That is funny, Carl texted me earlier that they were going at three. Our timing is very funny."
Elke was either very good at acting oblivious or she truly didn't understand Libby's scheming.
"Yesss," Cindy turned around to glare at her friend, "funny indeed".
"Put your head forward," Libby started backcombing the hair on the crown on her head. "We need you looking just as fabulous as me…well, almost as fabulous". She combed and hair sprayed for about ten minutes before reaching for her straitening iron to fix the ends. "And now for the finishing touch!" She slid a black headband onto Cindy's forehead to keep any loose bang stands from slipping out. Cindy looked in the mirror and grudgingly admitted to herself that it didn't look bad. She looked more like she was about to walk down a red carpet rather than just the Candy Bar, but that was beside the point.
"Alright, now go put your stuff on while I finish Elke". The other blond girl moved to the chair, rather awkwardly in a black pencil skirt and hot pink peplum blouse.
Cindy grabbed the blue shopping bag and went into Libby's adjoining bathroom. She wiggled into a pair of skintight black leggings before sliding a patterned dark green tunic over her head. Now comes the fun part. She put the short boots on carefully. Maybe if they weren't scuffed, she could return them tomorrow.
She left the bathroom to find Elke's long blond hair twisted back in a rather romantic style, and Libby rubbing pink blush on her fair cheeks. She turned around and gasped at Cindy.
"What? You picked it out…"
"Girl, you look hot!"
She walked over to the full-length mirror. I look like you. Not that that's entirely a bad thing, but... "It's alright".
Libby went to dig through a drawer, "Alright? Pssht…but I can make it better." She pulled out her purple makeup bag.
"What? Just a little liner…and eye shadow, contour, gloss-"
"Just-" she sighed heavily. You're doing this for her. "…Don't make me look ridiculous".
"As if I would do that. Besides, I still have to get myself ready. Then we'll go turn some heads".
Jimmy patted Sheen on the back. They sat at their usual booth at the Candy Bar with the boy slumped in his seat, staring blankly at a milkshake. He really didn't know how to comfort him besides the occasional "There, there."
Suddenly, the bell that signified the door being opened sounded and he turned to see who came inside. He saw Elke and some other girl walk into the building, followed by Libby. He had no confusion as to why she was here but who-
Wait a minute…is that…Cindy?!
Holy cow. It was. She had five pounds of gunk on her face and someone had mutilated her blond hair so it was pin-straight and…poofy on top. She wasn't dressed at all like Cindy, which was probably what threw him off. And he wasn't the only one to notice the girls looked different, for Carl watched them walk to their table, his jaw hanging open.
"Do you see them?" he whispered as he nudged Jimmy.
"Yeah...they look so-"
"Amazing!" Clearly Carl did not view this infraction as seriously as Jimmy did. "Elke looks so pretty in pink." He stared at her with a dreamy expression on his face.
How did it not bother him that they looked so different? Check that: Libby doesn't look different. No, Libby looked right at home in a black dress adorned with superfluous costume jewelry and high heels. This was probably her doing. She had Sheen in this slump, so she not only comes to parade around in clingy apparel, but she made Cindy look like some tarted up ditz. His intellectual Cindy didn't need scads of makeup or trendy clothes to be beautiful, there's no way she made the choice to wear that.
He watched as they sat down and Libby called Sam Melvin over to them.
"What do you want? Yah!"
"I want a sundae with-" Cindy was interrupted by a wave of Libby's hand.
"Do you have any pomegranate juice?"
"What does this look like, a health spa?"
"Considering the floors look like they haven't been mopped in months, no." She leaned closer to the balding man, " I'll be sure to mention this to my uncle the health inspector."
Sam's face fell. "How about three cranberry juices ladies? Heh heh."
"Why thank you." Libby smiled. Sam walked away and Cindy turned to look at her friend. "You uncle is a vet."
"He doesn't need to know that." Cindy rolled her eyes and look away, only to notice that Jimmy and the others were looking at her. She waved.
Well, I'll need to deal with this sooner or later. "Come on Carl". He walked over to where they sat. "Hey Cindy," he tried not to look at the girl sitting next to her. "You guys look…different."
"You like?" Libby answered. "It's just a little something we threw together. Here, sit down." She moved to make room in the booth.
"Um, ok." He sat down and noticed Carl and Sheen walking towards them.
Oh boy. The math would show that this will not end well.
"Hi girls! Hi Elke," Carl smiled inanely and waved his fingers in an embarrassing fashion. Elke smiled back and gestured for him to sit next to her. Sheen slid in beside him, not speaking to anyone.
"So, uh, got any exciting plans for the rest of the day?" There was no way to make this situation any less awkward.
Before Cindy had a chance to respond, the ebony she-devil spoke, "Well, I have to go to work at four thirty, but other than that no."
Jimmy narrowed his eyes, "I was talking to Cindy."
Cindy responded quickly before an argument broke out. "I'm not really doing anything."
She didn't know what was going on. Libby was acting like a lofty siren, Jimmy kept glaring, Carl looked like he was about to start drooling over Elke, and Sheen looked like someone deflated him. It was like she was in some alternate dimension or something (which she wouldn't rule out all-together. Who knew what Jimmy had been up to that morning?) One thing was certain: this was not how she planned to spend every day of her break.
"I'll probably just-"
"Cindy's coming over to my house after this," Libby interrupted, "we just have so much to do."
"For what?" Cindy and Jimmy asked at the same time.
"Prom preparations," she replied, a little louder than was necessary.
Cindy noticed Sheen's face flush. For a moment, there was a foreboding sense of tension that hung over them like a net over an unsuspecting prey animal. Libby was baiting Sheen, trying to make him say or do something so she… Cindy didn't know what. She wasn't exactly acting like she didn't care. In fact, she seemed a little annoyed that he wouldn't even look at her. Perhaps the whole purpose of this scheme had backfired.
"So have you two made plans for dinner the night of prom?" Libby directed at Carl and Elke, interrupting their conversation.
"What?" Carl looked confused (as always).
"Oh, I still need to get a feel for the local cuisine," Elke grinned. "But I'll be happy with anything that's not Rotmos med Flask!" she chuckled until she realized that no one got the joke.
"It's a traditional Swedish dish consisting of pork with mashed carrots and potatoes." Said Jimmy.
"Oh". Libby's face paled. "Well, momma has a client that just opened up a hot new bistro just outside town." She angled herself more towards Sheen. "Anyone who's anyone goes there and I thought our group could go." She glanced over but the tall boy gave no inclination that he had heard or cared. A thin line formed on Libby's forehead.
She got up from the table, muttering something about the bathroom. The rest of them sat in an awkward silence.
Elke tried to diffuse the tension by looking at Cindy and asking, " Libby, she is a vegetarian, yes?"
"What? Oh, yeah she doesn't eat meat for whatever reason. That's why we've been force-fed health food all day-" She noticed Sheen was glaring at her in a very un-Sheen-like manner. "What?"
"You seriously don't know why she became a vegetarian?"
"What? No, I don't know. So sue me."
He scoffed, "You've been friends how long?"
"Oh like you even know, Ultrafreak!"
"Her cousins own a cattle ranch and when she was nine and walked in the barn during butchering day. Ever since she hasn't wanted to eat anything with a face and has only relapsed once, for two months when she was fourteen."
Cindy's jaw dropped, "Why do you know that?"
Just then Libby walked back to the table and sat down. "Know what?"
"I just don't- ugh!" He covered he face with his hands "I'm out of here!" Cindy turned to say something, but instead saw Libby watching the tall boy walk out the door. She expected to see a smug or even proud look on her face, but instead there was one of -not sadness exactly- more longing. Libby didn't look like she wanted Sheen gone.
In more than one way, she wanted him back.