Under the covers of silk sheets, a quiet teenage female groan grew louder, rising from a peaceful sleep. Pulling the covers off her eyes, the first thing she saw was the calendar across her bedroom. The groan became a gasp, waking to a potential nightmare.
April 1st. Her little sister's favorite day of the year.
Shelby feared the day solely because of her sister. It was guaranteed to be fate that she was named after a month where the first day was an official celebration of trickery and trolling, qualities literally fused into April's DNA. Shelby enjoyed a good prank now and then, giving and receiving, but April was pretty much an idiot savant with it. The 'idiot' part came from her ability to render anyone she wanted her idiot.
Mind control, hypnosis, mutant power, whatever it was, April just had a way of getting people to do whatever she wanted. It wasn't like the comics where she was one of many gifted people in the world, using their powers for the good of mankind. No one seemed to be safe or exempt from her, except Shelby. April was more than happy to watch her parents side with the younger child most of the time, and give her sister a trademark childish gesture, watching Shelby fume before they'd have yet another verbal or physical spat.
Granted, it wasn't all bad. There was love between them, as with any normal pair or pack of siblings. They fought, made up, plotted together and against each other, talked behind each others back, but defended the other when talk came from outside the family, mostly. The only difference was whatever charisma April was born with. And on April 1st, like clockwork, her mischievous streak went into overdrive. Shelby remember asking April why year-apart sister was even worse on that day every year.
"It's the principle," April claimed as a twelve year old.
Now they were sixteen and seventeen, and the only thing she had to look forward to was some kind of new, nuanced trick April would play. She hated how potentially sophisticated the trick got every year, and how much she could appreciate it even when it happened to her. The results were juvenile, but the setups employed seemed brilliant and inescapable, partly due to her predictability. Knowing it was coming for sure, Shelby contemplated staying in bed, feigning sickness. She didn't do it often, but it was worth a try on that day.
"Shelby!" She heard her mom call out from downstairs.
She was literally afraid to get up, thinking her room had been booby-trapped already. Leaning over to look at the floral rug she picked out next to her bed, mistrustful of it. Out of bed, she leapt several feet past the rug, hearing her mother scream her name yet again. Nothing was set-off. Keeping a vigilant eye around her, she cracked her front door, giving a few loud coughs to add to an exasperated reply.
"Yeah, Mom?" giving it her best sickly voice.
"Shelby Jane Waters, I'm coming up there with a thermometer in the next few seconds. I suggest you actually be sick if I have to come up there, unless you want to show yourself downstairs. Now."
"Shit," Shelby walked in defeat down to the kitchen, unwilling to call her mother's bluff.
She and an already-dressed April were already there, eating breakfast.
"You really think you're getting out of that test today, young lady?"
"It's not like I'm not going to ace it," Shelby assured her over a bowl of oatmeal.
"Then it's even more perplexing that you'd try to skip out on a good grade," their mother frowned.
"No, it makes perfect sense," was the meaning behind the look she gave April across the table. The charming student stared back pointedly at her sister. She was dressed in a floral sundress over jeans, complementing the long braid running down her back. Somehow, it was innocent-looking garb contradicting the entirely different message written across her face.
What the hell was 'it' going to be this time? Instead of her imagination anticipating her next ploy, it just ran through the highlight reel of what came before. Locking her in a bathroom with a jump-happy frog (the one animal that creeped her out more than snakes), an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction with an old blouse, goo-filled shoes, and one year just enough laxative in her water bottle to keep her on the toilet for hours after school. The last thought made her do a double-take in the last spoonful of oatmeal, hesitating before swallowing the last bit with an audible, nervous gulp. All Shelby could do was quickly put her dish away and leave to get dressed before a bead of sweat could show itself. After taking every precaution with opening drawers, testing soap and toothpaste, she was ready for school. Wearing a black cropped jacket over a white tube top and blue jeans, she was just as attractive as her younger sister, lacking only in confidence.
Their mother drove them today, telling them she and their dad would be late that night, so they'd have to walk back a mile or get a ride with a friend, and take care of themselves for dinner.
"No problem," April said, looking Shelby's way.
Shelby muttered a weak ok, staring back at her sister. Something about the look they shared produced a hard feeling in her. Resolute rebelliousness is what it felt like, the need to fight back. The fearful look on her face dwindled a bit, but she kept her face as neutral as possible to hide her refusal to take any more abuse from April. The longer she felt that feeling and dwelled on it, the more she used the entire car trip to school to start planning retaliation. Most of the time her retaliation was reactive, wrestling with and pinning April down, fighting with each other away from everyone else. Sometimes she had little tricks to play on April of her own initiative, but they were paltry by comparison to what April would be willing to cook up. She also didn't feel like inciting her towards even crueler plots, but today felt different. She cared less and less about the idea of retaliation and focused on triumphantly ruining the day named in her sister's honor.
Her mother barely heard the "take care Mom" from her daughter, Shelby bolted out of the car to distance herself from April. She didn't feel like plotting while around the person she was targeting. She spotted her best friend Barb at her locker. Shelby waved and she waved back.
"Hey girlfriend," Barb called out as Shelby planted her back against the locker next to Barb's open one.
"Holding up ok? Has she struck yet?"
Shelby shook her head worriedly, her entire body language telling Barb she wished it'd already happened so the suspense wouldn't be so biting. Barb would've understood one way or another; she was Shelby's one solace over anything to do with April. The tricks, the public outshining of her older yet still popular sister, all of it. Unlike even her own parents, Barb never doubted what April was capable of. And since high school was where April's charm shone the brightest, they'd never know how truly devious and subversively hypnotic their daughter was.
Shelby caught sight of April down the hall, making Barb turn her head to see the same sight. The sundressed student was talking to her best friend, Terry Lynn. 'Best friend' was a loose term in April's world, where the rest of the world would've just considered her a thrall. April was talking casually, cheerfully toward the friend who listened languidly. To any passerby, it would seem nothing out of the ordinary. But Barb had been close enough several times to them to purposefully eavesdrop and hear induction after induction, trance happening in plain sight. Shelby's friend couldn't believe some of the things she heard, the techniques and triggers that seemed strange without the context of Shelby's knowledge. Barb would've sworn on the bible that hypnosis was some sort of scam, until April. Even across the hall, she could see April's lips mouthing programming words of praise, telling Terry Lynn how cool her South Carolinian accent was, how it made her unique in this sleepy Midwestern town, and how the only thing more unique and awesome about her was listening raptly to April.
"I'd say she's struck. Just not me yet," Shelby lightly banged the back of her head against the metal behind her.
"Just like nurses, she's doing her rounds, especially on her 'special' day" Barb nodded.
They expected April to mess with several individuals today. Just walking up to a lone student with a combination of words often did some kind of trick, at least making them suggestible enough for later. As much time as she spent with Terry Lynn, later in the day was probably when she'd get to some of them. Shelby keenly noticed April's eyes scanning the halls while she spoke. Her gaze seemed to linger on one guy in particular walking down the hall.
Grant Morry, transfer student, star basketball player, blue-eyed heartthrob. Rumors around campus speculated whether he was gay or not. Both persuasions tried to see if he was interested, and most have failed so far. Shelby figured he just might be shy, and his popularity came from how well he did on the court. Everyone had their eye on Grant for one reason or another, including Shelby, no matter the ribbing Barb gave her after claiming otherwise. She wondered why it took April so long to have her eyes set on him; she was basically part of the same popular crowd, or knew enough of the same people to have an in with him, but never took it. Pity for him welled up in her for him, wondering what April would do.
"What if you got to him first?" a curious voice in her head asked. Subconscious gears started turning before Barb interrupted.
"Hey," Barb finally tore herself away from April and Terry Lynn. "If you're interested in a little April 1st celebration of your own, I've got a proposition for you."
"You know that old pressure painter that used to be in the old storage closet, the one that got Willy Long paint-sprayed two years ago?"
"What about it?" Shelby inquired.
"What if I told you that I got inspired by that to make something miniature, yet just as....colorful?"
"I'd say you'd have to elaborate on that, science whizz."
"It's not like you're getting A-'s in your science classes, unless you've got some of that April persuasion in you to get good grades."
"It's only because you're my friend that I won't....sick my sister on you."
"That's low, even for you girlfriend."
"And what are you going to do about it?"
Barb didn't say a word, but rather gave Shelby a playful shove away from her. She figured it was playful until she bumped into someone. A pile of books clattered onto the floor, and Shelby bent down to pick the up.
"I'm sorry, excuse my dumb..." she spoke to a pair of surprised blue eyes. "...friend," she finished.
"No sorry, that might've been my fault," Grant said.
Both were crouched on the ground, slowly picking up their books.
"Shelby, right? April's sister?"
"You know April?" she asked.
"Know of her, from friends. Easier to keep track of people's names in a smaller school," he tried joking.
Shelby could barely muster a smile at his comment, but still managed one as she took one of her books he handed her. Over his shoulder, she saw April looking in their direction, with an unreadable look on her face, scary based on ambiguity.
The warning bell indicating 5 minutes before 1st period rung, and Shelby spirited Barb away toward their first class.
"I should kill you for that."
"Not before you hear about my plan...."
"A paint bomb?"
"An oversimplification," Barb complained over her lunch, "but yes. Works sort of like an airbag balloon. Makes a huge splat on anyone close enough. You sure you just want fruit?"
"Yeah." A low grumbling from Shelby's stomach said otherwise, but she paid it no mind. "I'm not for taking chances today. But then again, with your plan, I guess I am."
A glance around the cafeteria was difficult for her, to look at faces and not the fuller lunches everyone else was having. She was looking to see where her sister would be, when the sound of singing drew everyone's attention. A Mariah Carey song was proudly cantillated by someone Terry Lynn knew, and according to April, hated. She sang it beautifully, yet her face was surprised by how committed she seemed to doing the whole song. When it was all over, she nervously accepted applause from her classmates. Shelby noticed April was one of the first to begin clapping, looking the most unsurprised in the room, and second-most satisfied next to Terry Lynn.
"Another one bites the dust," Shelby said aloud.
The singer left the cafeteria and April's friend visibly gushed over how awesome that was. April calmly addressed her friend, and it infectiously induced calm to her companion with just a few words.
Barb focused on April's lips again, carefully reading every word she could.
"Looks like after cheerleading practice would be the best time to get her. So we should hit the locker room during."
"Both of us?"
"Well, I guess that would look suspicious. I can by myself."
"You sure this'll work?" Shelby asked.
"Are you chickening out, girlfriend?" Barb asked in mock disbelief.
"No, I just want to make sure I'm actually hitting her."
"Now you're just doubting me."
"Someone has to." They laughed at their exchange. Shelby caught sight of Terry making her way over to Grant, sitting with his friends. Seems like pleasantries were exchanged, and he'd been offered something. Neither Shelby nor Barb could see what, but they both knew Grant was really talking to a vessel April was using, and that he was likely on her April 1st hit list.
Shelby wondered if she would get to April before April would be getting to Grant.
Outside of the girls locker room, Shelby and Barb laid in wait, looking as casual as they could, waiting for the trap to be sprung. The hysterics shared between them as they imagined what it would look and sound like in there left them all smiles. Shelby complained that her plan was flawed in that she never thought to add a mounted camera somewhere to capture the moment. Barb told her to give Kodak a call if she wanted a captured moment.
The silence outside and somewhat inside the locker room was deafening, making Shelby impatient. It usually only took the girls 15 minutes on average to get in and get out. It was a minute later when the girls started walking out, including April and Terry Lynn, no sign of embarrassment or surprise on anyone's face. Shelby stared at her sister walking off, and then accusingly Barb.
"I don't understand," she mouthed. "It was full-proof."
"Was it," Shelby pointing to April's unruined sundress.
When the last few girls left stepped away, the pair slipped into the room, head directly for April's locker.
Barb just looked at it, confused, asking herself over and over what went wrong. She reached for the lock and began opening it.
"You know my sister's combination?"
"She's been using the same lock for years, and we've had gym class together."
She carefully opened the metal door to see everything more or less the way she left it, as if April had barely touched it, save for one thing.
"What the hell?" Barb spoke.
"Why is there a picture of you in there?"
Shelby moved in-front of Barb to see a picture of herself, where a vanity mirror would normally be. The picture nearly disappeared in a spray of blue, loudly popping and sending colored paint in every direction. Shelby, standing in-front of Barb, took most of the spray, all over her face and especially her white blouse. Shock froze the pair, and Shelby opened her eyes as wide as ever, quiet anger welling up in her.
Shelby turned her head to her confused friend coming into a horrible revelation.
"I set the timer...it was supposed to be.....but I.....no. No. April didn't....she couldn't have....."
"She did," Shelby uttered, much calmer than she ever expected to.
She walked over to a sink to wash the paint off her face and what she could out of her hair. It was no use trying to get it off her clothes. Her curious nose sniffed a scent off the paint. "Something sweet. Vanilla," she thought to herself. Barb stood behind her, afraid to move, afraid of what her friend might do to her if she remembered she was still there. But Shelby only had eyes on herself, imagining how or when April got to Barb, wondering if the whole plan was really of April's design or not. The luck of no one having seen them get sprayed didn't lessen the embarrassment at all. The embarrassment just morphed into anger, and the anger rose to action, seeking out her potentially deceased sibling.
A pained, painted Shelby roamed the empty hallways, fuming and motivated, hands eager to get their grip on that bright yellow dress to rip it to shreds, or on April's ponytail to see if it would come off as easily as unnatural hair. She found April in the gymnasium, looking on at the school's basketball players walking toward the other exit. April seemed to be walking behind them, finally making her move with Grant who was closest and trailing behind all the other players. Quietly, Shelby walked faster pace her sister and made her way to Grant's side. An assertive set of fingers pressed against his athletic chest and pushed him in the direction of the girl's bathroom where she trapped him and locked the door behind her. As mad as she was at April, she didn't know why she chose to move to Grant, even though she did. "I know where April lives," was her conscious excuse for dealing with her later.
"Hey," she said in a weird voice.
"Hey...Shelby," he replied not sure what was going on, unaware of which gendered bathroom he'd been forced into.
"I'm having a bad day, and I hope you don't mind, but I'm looking to still have a good one."
Grant's baffled expression was the tip of the iceberg over what he felt. He couldn't name one thing about what was happening that wasn't unusual or out of left field. How she approached and cornered him like a bully despite her shorter height and smaller frame, how her body language was commanding, toppling, yet only pushing him to a point where he was expected to kowtow and comply, how she looked like the victim of a horrible prank, but all the confidence came off her like a plume of pheromones. The longer he looked at her, the more her stained clothes became a beautiful, stylish mistake she was capitalizing on.
Shelby took in his surprise, realizing she was operating less on anger and more on pure adrenaline, all of her heightened vitality and motivation being filtered toward the new target in-front of her. Her pulse ran faster than her breathing, as she willed herself to outwardly synchronize with Grant's. Fingers still pressed against his chest, she silently moved them until his back was against the bathroom wall, and could gently rest there. The air around them was filled with the unexplained "good day" Shelby was looking to have. A brief thought of April flashed in Shelby's mind, but her will shoved it aside, unaware she subconsciously dissected it to where everything but her charming methodology vanished.
"Good days start out pretty calmly. They're quaint and assuring, the kind where you're so sure that things are going to get better from the moment you wake up, that good is the starting point on the road to things getting better. But sometimes, you'll have those days where you don't know it's a good day until something happens...and all those wonderful feelings come to you almost all at once. I can already feel myself having that kind of day."
Shelby's voice sounded monotonous even to herself, but she knew there was feeling in it, confirmed in how Grant's features reacted, or related to her words. Or maybe he was responding to the gentle caress from her fingers, barely moving centimeters over his shirt material, part of him forgetting that there was a cloth barrier between him and her touch.
"Standing in-front of a tall, receptive, and handsome gentleman like yourself, how could it not be a good day? Your presence just puts me right at ease, as I ease into the kind of person I want to be, easing into exactly the kind of day I love having. On that day, I could be myself and speak my mind, anything and everything on my mind, and someone would be there to listen. I could pour my heart's desire out, and someone would be there to catch all of it, the perfect listener, filled to the brim with everything I say. I think I could say anything to you, anything at all, and you'd understand it, consider it, absorb it, accept it. Good listeners like you do that so well, it just encourages me to be more open, open to speaking, opening you up to further listening."
The ultimate encouragement came to her as another flash of April came into her mind, her in-place of Shelby, as she was used to for someone with that deer-in-headlights look, only to be confidently reshaped as Shelby. It was incontrovertible to her how she didn't have to supplant herself in place of April, she belonged in-front of Grant, surpassing what April could do to him.
"Like I could ask you 'Grant, what's your favorite color?' and you'd be able to tell me that your favorite color is..."
Shelby's lips nearly quivered with excitement, hearing the difference between the normal voice she asked the question with sandwiched between the voice of this new seductress.
"Green," Grant croaked out, forgetting how long it'd been since he said a word.
"How interesting," Shelby's voice seemed to almost praise his answer, "because I'm sure it's blue."
A reaction to her contradictory response came too slow to object on as he remained the good listener and heard her explanation.
"I just can't help but think, can't help but say to you that blue is a favorite color. Your favorite color. And it's less to do with blue being a boy's color, but for how much blue there is to appreciate right now, on this very good day. Our favorite things become our favorite things by association, reminders of good experiences, like this one, where I spy lots of blue. Our team colors that you proudly wear and win games with. Or the blue on me, wild and free, and eye-catching no matter what anyone has to say about it."
For what little Grant knew about fashion, she could've stepped right out of a fashion magazine cover. Urged to look back down at her dress, a second glance changed his whole perspective. Blue blots of paint looked coordinated against her, particularly the white tube top, and even short streaks of it in her wet, slicked-back long brown hair. The longer Grant stared, the more he was fully convinced she was intentionally posing as abstract art that day, forgetting that he'd seen her without it before classes started.
"It's not really just the color itself, even if it is your favorite. It's the color spread across me, looking at it so carefully as if you're making sure you don't miss a bit of it. How some of it comes to the edge of the white and teases being on my skin, how the color rounds my curves. If you look at it too long, it might become one of those silly inkblot tests where everyone sees something different, and all you see is my body. If you stare at it too long, you might notice how there's a scent to it, making you come closer to recognize something sweet and pleasing to the nose."
Shelby took a step closer to help his senses make sense of her words, smiling as his breaths deepened more and more.
"You look so excited Grant, so happy to listen, and look, and take everything in. I can see that smile trying to tug at your lips. It's so cute on you. So dreamy, and I know it just wants to get bigger with every word I say. A big, wide smile that would mirror how wonderful you feel inside. That's it, just like that, so happy."
As with their breathing, the shape of their lips nearly became a matching pair. She bit her lip in anticipation as something really did tug at the corners of his mouth, like something was manually pulling his lips, molding them. She had to keep herself from giggling as she was reminded that her words made him grin like a lost, happy idiot.
"That's perfect, Grant. So happy because of me, because of the blue. And, speaking of mirrors..."
Remembering that they were in a restroom, Shelby's fingers grouped together to pull at the fabric of his shirt, pulling him forward as she backed up until both were in full view of a walled mirror.
"I have something else blue to show you, and you can't wait to see it."
The other hand that had rested at her side since she started found itself on his shoulder, firmly helping him to turn.
"Take a look in the mirror and a different, familiar blue."
Grant's eyes zeroed in first on the blue of her outfit, but she forced his chin to rise until he found the blue she meant him to focus on.
"Just look at those beautiful blue eyes. Your eyes, Grant. A different, but equally beautiful color. Go on, look deep into your own eyes. See how they're just as captivating as I am. They're captivating because I told you they're captivating, and you believe what I tell you. They're captivating because they remind you of me. Blue in-general reminds you of Shelby; a color imprinted on you just like I'm imprinted on you. I think from now on, whenever you're alone, and have nothing else you need to do, if you see yourself in the mirror, you'll focus on your eyes, and you'll think of me. It will be like you're coming right back to this moment where you can see me, hear me, smell me, feel my touch, and even..."
Shelby's breath caught; she hadn't thought that far about what she wanted to do with him besides imposing her will onto him, stealing him away from April. She looked at his smile and wondered how those lips tasted. She worried if such a move would be too much, if it would ruin the momentum and control she'd gained. That worry lasted only seconds as part of her knew she already made her choice, and her body moved before her mind decided how to. Grant felt his head pulled to the side and down, his smile being pushed against something soft.
"Kiss me Grant."
That's all it took for the smile to go away and mesh with her lips, putting pressure against hers until she pulled hers away and pressed fingers against his.
"This kiss lets you know that this moment is real, that you'll always remember everything I've told you, deep in that brain. The power I have over you makes your lips quiver, makes you want more of my lips, the words from them, the feeling you get when I tell you what to feel or do for me. You'll get to kiss me again, but first you have to tell me what your favorite color is Grant. What's your favorite color?"
His eyes pulled away from her beautiful face to look down at the painted dress again, his answer as automatic as it was breathless
She gripped his face and exposed him to her pent-up passion.
Eventually, Shelby and Grant left the ladies room, just in-time before one of the janitors would come to lock the gym up for the night. They'd left the school and walked out to the closest fast food place they could find, as Shelby was starving from her lean lunch earlier. He was conscious enough to buy the food and bring to the isolated grassy knoll where she waited, but Grant was never fully released from Shelby's power. She still commandingly, though more casually over cheeseburgers spoke of how much of a good listener he was, about his new favorite color and how Shelby was his new favorite person. He was more vocal about his agreement with her, expressing how beautiful he thought her voice sounded, the kind he could listen to all night. He also told her how beautiful he thought she was altogether, even the blue-on-white dress made her seem enchanting. Shelby blushed a little at his compliments, even more so when he wrapped his varsity jacket over her shoulders to keep her warm.
Walking back to her house was out of his way, but he was happy to. They talked about how good a day it was, how she feared April 1st because of her annoying sister, but he improved it tremendously. He expressed the same feelings, how she kind of swept him off his feet and made his day in ways he couldn't understand. She reminded him how it was better to accept that it just was because of her, and gleefully skipped a step when he mindlessly did.
Approaching her front yard, Grant tried his last bit of initiative for the night.
"I don't suppose it would be wrong to ask for a kiss goodnight."
"Hmmm," she coyly faked consideration for his request. Shelby turned to lean in to kiss him, but her words stopped him before he could close the gap.
"I suppose now would be a good time to tell you that you're not looking for a kiss goodnight. As much as you want it, you want my words more tonight. Since we have our phone numbers, I know exactly what you'll enjoy tonight. After you're finished with homework, you're going to give me a call and find a small mirror to stare at, so you can see those eyes of yours, and listen to my voice. More blue and more Shelby sounds even better than a kiss goodnight, doesn't it?"
"Yeah..." She had to keep herself from kissing him for how quickly he was accepting.
"Then you better get home before it gets too late. Talk to you soon Grant."
She stepped away from him as they exchanged waves, watching him head in the direction of his house.
The second she turned toward her own house, she was caught off-guard by a flash of light.
"Now there's a sight worth remembering, a girl trying out for the Blue Man Group." April laughed, checking the digital camera to make sure the flash highlighted her sister well enough.
Shelby felt the anger well up in her again, but she just smirked and walked toward the door, unwilling to let her sister ruin the rest of her amazing day.
"You had your fun today, but soon I'll have mine," Shelby sweetly threatened. April's eyes brightened at how her sister had grown a pair in such a short time.
"Considering who you walked home with, I figured you already had your fun. I thought you were bringing him to family dinner for a second."
"Sorry, but we've already eaten."
"A first date too? That's way better than I expected."
Shelby had a reply, but something about what her sister said piqued her curiosity.
April said nothing at first, but looked at her sister, waiting for something that didn't come.
"Ok, promise you won't get mad."
Shelby looked down at her clothes, and looked back at April incredulously.
"Ok, ok. Promise you won't get too mad."
"No. Promises. Whatsoever," Shelby claimed.
"...fine." April reached out and flicked at her sister's forehead. The fight that should've incited was put on hold and a flood of memories came back to the forefront of her head. It took a moment for words to form out of the agape mouth.
Shelby recalled memories of April asking her what she knew of hypnosis, how she figured April could affect people like she could. Suggestion after suggestion told her about confidence, giving her tips for affecting people, giving her a target she wanted to affect.
Shelby shook her head in disbelief as it came back to her that she was the sixteen year old, and April was the older sister. She remember her sister's laugh at how funny it would be if she could outshine no matter what age she was, but there was also the confidence gained from thinking she was the oldest, a confidence she should carry with her always.
More connections were made between programming she received, and everything else April had done, including having gotten to Barb to have the paint incident backfire, and probably to have her push Shelby into getting closer to Grant. April having her own manipulative eye on Grant whenever Shelby was watching was calculated as well.
"...bitch. You tranced me!" Shelby tried pushing April.
"You're lucky it took me this long to mess with you, and what I did ended up helping you, right?"
"Why did you do this?"
"For fun, and because this kind of thing is so natural for me, I wanted to see what it would look like and feel like for you if you did it. Wait," April recalled earlier. "You got Grant looking like that?"
"What'd you expect? Me to rush back home to trance him with clean clothes?"
"No, I expected you to change into the extra clothes in your bag. You were supposed to change before you took your shot at him, stubborn girl."
Shelby set her bag down on the ground to see a t-shirt and jeans behind her textbooks, something she failed to notice all day.
"Yeah, I took him looking like...this. Blue is his favorite color now." Shelby looked back on today rather conflicted, as if thunder was stolen from her. She thought she did what she did to spite April today, not because of her.
"And what if I hadn't gotten him today? I'd look like some crazy weirdo like that. I...did look like some kind of crazy weirdo doing what I did."
"That just means you exceeded both our expectations, but the way you've been taking Barb everyday this week after school, I was more than certain you can handle yourself."
Shelby's mind was turning on its edge with all the unveiled information. She found the closest support on the cement stairs of the porch. April wanted to join her to console her, but decided to give her space instead.
"I think you've hated me for years based on what I could do to other people, Shel. I didn't hate you for hating me, but I did want you to know what it was like from my point of view, to know how easy it was to take someone. I thought it came natural to me, but you're a damn savant with what you've done today. This isn't some magical power you've, we've got. It's just our will; we know how powerful it is, and we know how to use it. And now that you know what it's like, how did it feel?"
Shelby's incensed feelings calm down a bit as she heard April genuinely level with her for the first time in a long time; she had to suppress the smile at April actually looking vulnerable.
"I don't hate you. I may have hated the advantage you had, but I never hated you. Well, sometimes I did." She gestured down to her dress, and they laughed for a few seconds.
"Being on the other side of the looking glass, or finally being in one, or I guess both of those rooms that are connected by looking glass...I'm still overwhelmed by it all. The giving part especially."
"I saw you push him into the girls room and lock the door. I got a little worried at that point."
"I was on my way to assassinate you. But then I saw you and him, and chose him. Once I had him pressed against the wall, I just talked to him, and didn't stop until I knew he couldn't help but listen. I...really liked doing that to him. But...I don't want to turn into another you; I wouldn't do this to everyone."
"You're not another me. You're still Shelby, you just know a neat little trick now, imparted to you by your wiser older sister. I doubt the world could handle exactly two of me."
Shelby shook her head. "I wouldn't flatter yourself. If I surpassed your expectations, that means there's a stronger, smarter, prettier you out there. I think even you're in trouble come next April 1st. Or way sooner."
April couldn't help but laugh. It wasn't a mocking laugh, but one reflecting how ecstatic it was to see her sister start to transform into this new girl right before her eyes, a slightly larger reflection of her than before, and proof-positive that they weren't separated at birth."
"I'd save all that for your new boyfriend. Don't forget he's expecting your call; you don't want to turn into some cruel mistress, unless that's what you're into."
"I guess I could be better at it, but I'll let you be the madam president of the bad bitches club."
"Hey," April told her sister before going back in the house. "I'm not that bad a bitch. But it's nice to know I'm not the only one."
Shelby said nothing, but followed her sister in, satisfied with how the day ended, remembering it was the last day she'd fear April 1st ever again.