Loose Lips Sink Ships
Libby paced back and forth, "I think the main mistake you've made is assuming that I'm joking when I say that I am going to kill you. I am one hundred percent serious about inflicting every method of physical pain possible should you make the mistake of continuing this. I don't care if I have to go to juvie instead of design school, I will commit murder."
"Libby, you couldn't convincingly fake-slap Candace in last year's production of "A Raisin in the Sun", I really doubt that you will lay a hand on me" Jimmy hadn't meant to be so blunt, but something made him want be candid.
"Why you little-"
"Libby just calm down. Getting upset is just going to prolong this"
She turned to glare at Cindy. "Do NOT take his side! I am still upset that you had anything to do with this, best friend."
Cindy's face flushed. "I'm not on his side. I didn't want to do this. I only went along with it because I thought it would distract Jimmy when he started talking about making our relationship public!" She clapped a hand over mouth.
"I didn't mean to say that. Why did I say that?"
Jimmy was too incredulous to be confused, "You don't want to make our relationship public? I knew it: you're embarrassed to be dating me!"
"No! I just don't want to deal with- what do you mean 'knew'?"
Sheen scoffed, "What happened to 'telling your girlfriend how you feel' Jim?"
"Shut up. This isn't about me, it's about Cindy… I mean, you and Libby. Start talking"
Cindy put her hands on her hips, "Oh no, I think we'd all like to hear what you have to say about me. Go on!"
"You will just take any excuse to make things about you!" He said it without thinking. Or meaning to. Uh-oh.
"I did not mean that Cindy- I mean, I meant it, but I didn't mean to say it. Um…"
Shut up! You are making things worse. Why would you say that?
Cindy looked like she was going to unhinge her jaw and eat him live.
If her head doesn't explode first.
"Well he's not wrong," Carl's eyes grew three times their size before he leapt behind Elke. "I'm sorry, please don't hurt me! I don't know why I said it!"
Suddenly, her face went from bright red to a curious expression. "Carl, you are the third person to say something like that"
"That you're an attention seeking-"
"NO! You said something you didn't mean to say. It's strange that we're all being so… straightforward. It's almost like…" realization dawned on her face, "we can't lie!"
She turned to Jimmy who ran over to the enclosure and dropped to the ground. Sure enough, the yellow gas was seeping out of a socket where the tube attached to the glass.
"This is not good."
"Oh my gosh, you didn't?"
"I can assure you this was not the intent!"
Sheen guffawed, "Oh this is great. Camera in action Jim"
"It's Karma, Sheen. And it's not that, it's just a simple mistake"
"More like shoddy workmanship," Cindy mumbled.
"Well I did put it together in one night. It's not like any of you clowns could do it"
"Why are we friends with you?" Libby rolled her eyes.
Suddenly a high-pitched noise filled the room.
They turned to see Carl's face contorted with misery.
He started sobbing, "I'm a despicable human being!"
"Did you have something to do with this?"
"No, I didn't know about Jimmy's sinister plan to learn all our secrets-"
"But I've noticed that, I'm starting to prefer alpacas to llamas!" He released a floodgate of tears. "The llamas are just so mean, and they spit…alpacas are just so fluffy and cute…"
Elke shook her head. "It's like I don't even know who you are anymore…"
Libby rolled her eyes again. "Carl, no one is going to judge anything you say. I will however be making a mental list of everything Jimmy says so I can spend the next ten years blackmailing him for this"
"Hey, I did this for you!"
"No, you did this for you. We've already established that Libby and I are perfect for each other! I mean- uh" Sheen looked at Libby nervously.
"Oh please, ultradork! You know for a fact that Libby is way too good for you. I'm actually surprised the relationship lasted as long as it did!"
Sheen turned to glare at her. "You know Cindy, the really surprising thing is that you seem to think that any of us cares what you have to say. Most of the time we just tune you out until you stop talking." He glanced over to Jimmy and Carl, who just looked down at their feet.
The blond girls nostrils flared with rage, "Oh, you are so- That is such a load of crap! You are just lucky I can't get behind that glass!"
The adrenalin of the moment must have given Sheen a fair amount of bravado because he laughed sarcastically in the black belt's face. "Ooh, what are you going to do? Lecture me to death?" He waved his hands in mock fear.
"I would rip off your arm and shove it down your throat, but your coleopteron brain is no doubt as neurologically simple as a starfish and it would most likely grow into a clone of the original!"
"That's not insulting because I don't know what it means!"
"Oh big shock! You know, half the guys in this school want to date Libby, and the only reason none of them have asked her out is because I made it clear she wasn't interested because she was so happy with you. What a mistake that was. Right now she could be dating the captain of the football team who has a sports car and an IQ higher than his shoe size."
Sheen's hands clenched in frustration, "I suppose it would be fitting for her to date someone as shallow as her best friend, but he is not right for her!"
"Um, excuse me!" Libby interrupted, "I don't really think any of you are qualified to decide who is right for me."
Cindy fake-laughed, "Oh you would be wrong there Libs"
"And why is that?"
"Because Tweedle-dumb and Tweedle-dingus here took a magazine quiz and decided it was iron-clad logic."
"You told her about that?!"
"I had to explain why we needed to open a dialogue. I'm doing this thing where I actually let me girlfriend know how I feel" Jimmy new it was a low blow, but he didn't care. That and the darn truth serum wouldn't let him be discreet.
"So was it your plan to have us sell each other out?"
"It was my plan to help you fix your relationship issues, but a bit of honesty from you ungrateful slackers would probably be welcomed."
"Oh really? So you'd be down with me telling Cindy that you used the time box to beat her in the eighth-grade spelling bee? Oops."
"You did what?"
"I can explain-"
"He misspelled elucubrate and went back in time to prepare himself, so he could eventually won on-"
"Staphyloccocci" Cindy looked like someone had punched he in the gut.
"How are you two remembering all this?"
Cindy's face was full of vehement rage "Are you kidding me? Is your ego so fragile you can't handle losing to me?"
"Seriously? You act like a spoiled child anytime you lose anything!"
"That's because you can't ever let anyone else have a victory! I studied for months for that, and you declined going to the regional level. Care to explain that?"
He hesitated, "Well…"
"You didn't care about winning, you just cared about beating me"
"Ok, what I did was…wrong, but you have an unhealthy obsession with winning"
"I do not have an obsession, I have an obligation. If you lose something your mom will make you a batch of cookies; if I lose I get assigned word problems. Winning that bee would have given me a first-class ticket to whatever college I wanted."
Libby let out an exasperated groan, "What planet are you living on? You still can go to whatever college you want! It's pretty much a guarantee that you're going to be accepted wherever you apply. Boo hoo, mommy's making you decide between Stanford and Yale so she knows which checks to buy to pay your tuition!"
"Yeah, funny story," Jimmy interrupted, "Did you know that the Ivy League doesn't accept scholarships? I have a genius IQ but I can still be up to my eyes in student loans before you can say 'financial aid', and my parents have been talking about looking into," he shuddered, "in-state universities."
"Wow," Libby's voice dripped with sarcasm, "that's not at all insulting to people who will most go to one of those schools. No no, you two are the real victims here. It's not like you're going to be fabulously wealthy and successful after college or anything. In fact, I'm glad you can't use scholarships because that means the rest of the school has a chance to get them. But I suppose it never occurred to you that maybe we're all tired of living on both your shadows."
Cindy looked stunned, "What do you mean both?"
"I mean, whatever he doesn't win, you do! Literally no one else gets any recognition!"
"I don't know about literally-"
"I got straight A's on my report card all this year too, but you don't see the principal inviting me into his office for acknowledgment. I could do just as well as you if I wanted."
"Libby, I know that! I know you're smart! I always tell you how much potential you have!"
"No, you always tell me that I'm not 'living up to my potential'. That maybe if I just apply myself more I can get into a first-rate college and spend the next five years doing nothing but read. But maybe no everyone wants to spend all their time studying. Maybe I like being in executive committee better than the honor society. Maybe there's more to my life than school. Why is it so hard for you to accept that?"
Cindy walked up to the glass. "Because I don't want you do anything that might mess up your life. You're my best friend and I want you to be happy"
Libby came closer, "Then let me do what I think is best with my life. I don't have everything figured out Cin, but I know that no amount of AP classes is going to make me want to be like you."
Cindy looked dejected "What are you saying?"
"I'm saying, let me know when you decide between Stanford and Yale, so I know whether to pick Parson's School of Design or the University of Bridgeport," Libby smiled.
"We'll need an apartment with sizable closets, you ever see the pathetic things they put in dorms?"
Cindy chuckled, "They wouldn't hold your handbags. And just for the record: I know you can do anything you put your mind to. I just want my best friend to be happy."
"And I will be. Assuming you never collaborate in one of Jimmy's evil schemes again."
Sheen walked forward. "You know, this is very touching, but at the end of the day you're all going to be happy little college student in two years and none of this will matter. Do you know what the last thing our guidance counselor said to me was? 'Your schedule for next year doesn't really matter, Sheen. You've earned enough credit to apply to Retroville Tech'." He shrugged. "I have never once expressed the desire to go there, but I guess that doesn't matter. From the first time I sat in her office as a middle schooler and she looked at my grades, I've just been an inconvenience. Why should she waste time on my pathetic future?"
"Don't say how sorry you are, Jimmy, you guys are just as bad. 'Ha ha, Sheen doesn't have a job! Ha ha, Sheen can't concentrate in school, what a moron. Ha ha, Sheen's obsessed with the best television series in the world, like we're not all obsessed with things ourselves!' Did anyone ever think that maybe I don't want to be a repairman like my dad? That maybe I know I'm the only member of the basketball team who hasn't been talked to about college recruitment? And maybe college isn't right for me, but no other alternative has been mentioned," He crossed his arms.
"And none of you seem to care that my future is being treated as a joke."
"At least they include you!"
Everyone turned to face the back of the room. Carl was quivering, holding on to the arm of an enraged-looking Elke.
She spat out, "All of you are terrible self-centered friends who ignore the most caring person in the world! You are always excluding Carl from the plans, and when you do include him you use him as the test pig!"
Jimmy interrupted, "Guinea pig."
Libby glared, "You're really going to do that now?"
Jimmy shrugged shamefacedly.
"I have been here three days and this entire time you have been only focusing on yourselves!"
Carl pulled her back, "Elke, it's not a big deal"
"No Carl, you always write that they are wonderful friends, but nothing they have done seems less than terrible"
He shrugged, "No, they… Sheen and Jimmy always include me in their hijinks…usually"
"Unless they are too busy with their girlfriends, who I doubt would consider you a friends"
Libby scoffed, "I'm sorry what exactly makes you an expert on us? You've been here a total of three weeks in the last six years, you don't know us!"
"I am not so oblivious that I can't tell what people think of me. You two dislike me for reasons I am unaware"
"That is…I mean… Fine! I don't trust you!"
"Because I am such a suspicious character, correct?"
"I don't trust you around Sheen. Are you happy now?"
"What? You thought I might steal your boyfriend? I am here and I am female, so I must want to home wreck. In what way does that sound logical? I come here for the sole purpose of seeing Carl, and I do not even like these two boys as people that much." "Hey!"
Elke continued, crossing her arms "I enjoy spending time you the two of you, but I cannot do so if you are going to dislike me for no true reason."
Cindy felt dumbfounded (and believe you me, that never happened). She couldn't believe Elke had the nerve to say such things after she - huh. When she had the nerve to…
Actually, the more Cindy thought about it, Elke hadn't really ever done anything to warrant any suspicion or distrust. She hadn't even said anything to Jimmy, save a thank you for the ride. Cindy only started to have misgiving after Libby voiced her concern, and even then Elke hadn't done anything except be there. Did we really start to dislike someone just because she's attractive? Am I so foolish as to ruin a potential friendship because I though she would steal my boyfriend? Cindy wanted to throw up. She had become one of those girls who hates other girls for no reason.
"Oh my gosh Elke, I am so sorry. I don't know what I was thinking."
Libby looked crestfallen. "It's my fault. I…I don't know why I didn't trust you. I just-" She closed her eyes, "That's just it: I don't know. Obviously I could tell you if I did, but…" She turned to Sheen, "It's pretty easy to feel jealous when you feel insecure."
He crossed his arms, "So this is my fault?"
"Well you didn't exactly help! We have been dating for how many years and you still have the nerve to check out other girls."
"Are you kidding me? When have I ever done that?"
"How about all the time? Especially around her" she pointed to Elke.
"First of all: you know I have ADHD and the medicine makes me space out some time. B: Carl asked me to keep an eye out and make sure he wasn't annoying her. And lastly: wait-" He thought for a second, "Don't you get it, Libs? I have no reason to look at anyone else. I haven't looked at anyone else since I don't know when. Why would I? You know you're the hottest girl in existence."
"See this is what I mean: how much respect can you have for someone that you call hot? You don't even know why that upsets me!"
He stood up and walked over so where Libby stood and took her hands. "I know a lot more than you think. I know that you are dedicated and hardworking- you run like eight clubs and work part-time. I know that you take such pride in your appearance because you want to leave a good impression on everyone. I know that you're compassionate enough to help your best friend all the time; I mean pretty much the only reason Jimmy and Cindy are dating right now is because of you!"
Jimmy and Cindy both interrupted, "That's not true!" "That's entirely true."
"I know that you care so much about everything, and that you are the only reason I'm not a complete mess or a failure as a human being. And most importantly, I know I have never loved someone like I love you"
Libby's lower lip quivered. "You love me?"
"Libby, I have been in love with you since I was thirteen years old. You had to know that."
"But you've never said it before."
I'm not always good with words, but I thought I had shown you that in other ways. But I guess not."
"Sheen, I know you care about me, but… I just get in my head sometimes and… but it's nice to be reminded every now and again."
He slid a hand on her cheek, "Well I'll just have to do a better job of reminding you"
They embraced and started kissing.
It was sweet for the first few seconds, but after three minutes was just awkward for everyone else in the room.
Finally, Cindy loudly cleared her throat. "A-hem!"
They broke apart. Libby wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, "Sorry. Got a little carried away"
Cindy crossed her arms, but gave the couple a small smile. "And for the record Sheen, I am glad you make my best friend happy. Even if you are an immature imprudent careless-"
"Ok, I get it! Thank you Cindy. And I'm glad that you…" He thought for a few seconds too long, and then shrugged, much to her chagrin.
Sheen put his arm around her shoulder. "I guess this did work out. Jimmy, I would say thank you but it might encourage you to try something like this again."
"Oh no," Cindy shook her head, "I'm destroying whatever's left of that serum."
Jimmy groaned, "I'm not a monster. I've learned my lesson about interfering, even if it did get everyone to open up and solve some deep-seated issues…"
"Yeah yeah, are you ever going to let us out of here?"
"Oh, sorry!" He pressed a button on the control panel and the glass panes descended back into the floor.
Libby pointed a finger, "You are just lucky it didn't cause someone to do something really bad. I'm amazed I didn't let slip how Cindy went out with Eustace in-" she covered her mouth her free hand. "Oh my gosh! I didn't mean to- I'm sorry!"
Jimmy whipped around to look at Cindy. Her face was white as a sheet and her mouth hung open in shock. "I- I have to go."
She ran to the tube and pushed the button to leave.
For the first time all day, Jimmy didn't know what to say.