"What?" Lynda said, staring after her friend as the other girl crossed her room and flopped down on her bed.
"Did I stutter?" Cyndi replied, slumping back with her arms supporting her at a slight angle. "I ... am ... not ... going."
Lynda let out a huff of air to show her annoyance. "I heard what you said, Cyndi," she said, coming over to stand next to the bed. "I just didnÕt understand it. I mean, weÕve been looking forward to MistyÕs party for weeks now. Why, all of a sudden, have you changed your mind about going?"
"BecauseÉ" Cyndi stopped before continuing. "Because I donÕt have anything to wear," she finished with a sigh.
LyndaÕs eyes shot open. "You donÕt?" she asked, sitting down next to her friend. "I thought your mother was going to buy you a new dress?"
"Stepmother," Cyndi corrected with more than a little venom in her voice. "And that was before my stupid stepsister had to have braces. Now, with Dad still looking for work, she says thereÕs no money left over for..." She made little quotation marks with her fingers. "...non-essentials."
"Well, that sucks."
"Tell me about it," Cyndi agreed. "I swear, I wish Dad had never married that woman. We were so much better off before her and her two brats came to live with us."
"How about your Dad? Maybe he would go to bat for you."
Cyndi gave her friend a "get real" look. "Yeah, right," she said in frustration. "Like heÕd ever disagree with the queen. IÕm just going to have to accept that IÕm not getting that dress any time soon. Too bad, too, 'cause I had just the right one picked out and everything. I mean, it was perfect. Black satin with lace trim. I tell you, it would have driven Will out of his mind."
Lynda smiled briefly. She knew that Cyndi had been trying to catch Will Taylor's eye for a while now. Still, she was tempted to tell Cyndi to give her stepmother a break. After all, it wasn't the woman's fault that her new husband lost his job as manager of the local bank shortly after they got married. She was just trying to do the best she could in a bad situation. But Lynda knew better than to say anything. Her friend was mad enough as it was. So, instead, she tried a different tack. "CouldnÕt you just wear one of your old dresses?"
Cyndi just stared at her for a minute before answering. "You're kidding, right?"
"Well, uh..." Lynda stammered, realizing that she wasn't going to win this one.
"Oh, wouldn't Misty just love that?" Cyndi cut her off.. "Showing up in a dress that I've worn before would be just the thing to solidify her opinion of me."
"Oh, come on, Cyndi," Lynda said, trying to recover the high ground. "Misty's not like that."
"Oh, really?" Cyndi shot back. "Well, tell me this, then, Lynda. Are you going to wear an old dress to the party?"
Lynda hesitated, knowing that she'd just stepped in it. "Uh, no," she finally admitted. "Mom took me to get a new one before her and Pop left for Europe."
Cyndi just nodded. "Yeah," she said coldly. "I thought so. It must be nice being the daughter of a rich and famous magician."
"Hey!" Lynda said, jumping up from the bed. "ThatÕs not fair, Cyndi, and you know it"
Cyndi sighed. "I know," she said with what sounded like genuine regret. "I'm sorry. IÕm just feeling sorry for myself again." Again, she sighed. "Anyway, why don't you just go on without me. ThereÕs no reason for you to suffer for my sorry existence."
Lynda rolled her eyes to herself. She and Cyndi had been best friends since grade school, and she knew her well enough to know what Cyndi really wanted her to do -- stay home with her. But Lynda had been looking forward to this party for weeks. She'd even passed up a chance to go on tour with her folks in Europe to go. Surely, there was some way that she could convince Cyndi to change her mind. She thought for a second about offering her one of her own dresses to wear. They were pretty much the same size, after all. But she abandoned that idea almost immediately. It was obvious that Cyndi had her mind made up about the dress sheÕd picked out, and nothing but it was going to satisfy her now. And there was no way that Lynda could be able to get it for her.
Or was there?
"Um, Cyndi," she said carefully. "If I could somehow get you that dress, youÕd still go to the party with me, right?"
CyndiÕs face lit up. "Would I? Hell, if you got me that dress, IÕd go to the moon with you. But I canÕt ask you to buy it for me, Lynn. I don't know when I'd be able to get you your money back."
Lynda bit her lip before replying. "Actually, there wouldnÕt be any money involved." Cyndi gave her a confused look, as Lynda turned toward the door. "Stay here. "IÕll be right back."
Leaving her confused friend to wonder what was going on, she rushed out of the house to the old shed in the backyard where her Pop stored some of the props from his magic act. Opening it, she went straight to a set of drawers on one wall, opening the top one. She hesitated for a second before reaching in and pulling out a narrow rectangular box about a foot long. She stood there for a few moments, considering putting it back. Her Pop had strict rules about her messing with his magic stuff without his supervision. But he and Mom were on tour in Europe and wouldnÕt be back for days. And this really was an emergency. So, with a sigh of resignation, she closed the drawer and headed back into the house.
"WhereÕd you run off to?" Cyndi asked impatiently as she came back into the bedroom.
"I had to get this," she replied, holding up the box.
Cyndi eyed the box in confusion. "I don't know how to tell you this, Lynn," she said sarcastically, "but I think thatÕs a little small to hold a dress."
"Very funny," Lynda told her, moving over to her vanity. Sitting the box down, she removed the lid. "Now," she said, turning to face her friend, "if I do this, you have to promise me that you wonÕt tell anyone about it, especially not my folks. Believe me when I say that I could get into serious trouble if Pop found out that I used this."
Cyndi looked at her suspiciously. "Used what?" she asked cautiously.
Lynda let out a slow breath before turning around and pulling out what was in the box. "This," she said, holding it up. In her hand, she held a long baton-like stick with a star on the end of it.
Cyndi just stared at it for a moment, then turned to look at her friend. She didn't say a word, just turned back to look at the stick again. A moment later, she burst out into laughter. "A magic wand?" she said through her giggles. "You're kidding, right?"
"No," Lynda said, unable to hide her frustration, "IÕm not. Come on, Cyndi. You know my Pop can do real magic, not just illusions. He cut you in half at my Sweet 16 party, remember?"
"Well, yeah," Cyndi admitted with a smile. "And I have to admit that, while it shook me up a bit at first, once you explained it to me, it was all pretty cool. But come on, Lynn. You've got to admit that that thingÕs just soÉ so É well, fake looking."
"Well, I assure you, itÕs not," Lynda said defensively. "This wand just might be the most powerful item in Pop's collection. The fake look is just to throw off the audience whenever he uses it in his act. Now, do you want my help or not?"
Cyndi held her hands up in a calming gesture. "Okay," she said, getting up off the bed. "Okay, IÕm sorry. Believe me, if that thing can get me my dress, I'll never question your dad's power again." She came over for a closer look. "So, how does it work?"
"Pretty much like youÕd imagine," Lynda explained. "You touch it to something, and it changes into something else." She looked down at her vanity, spotting a compact sitting on it. "Watch," she instructed, reaching out with the wand. She touched it to the compact with the starred end, and there was a brief flash. A second later, the compact was replaced by a bottle of perfume.
"Whoa!" Cyndi shouted, sounding genuinely impressed. She reached down and picked up the bottle. Taking off the cap, she passed it under her nose, taking in its fragrance. "Okay," she admitted, dabbing a bit of the perfume on her neck, "that was pretty cool. Personally, if I were you, I'd be using that wand all the time. I mean, think about it. You could have pretty much anything you wanted with that thing."
"Well, yeah," Lynda replied. "Temporarily, anyway."
"What do you mean?"
"The magic donÕt last," Lynda told her. "At the end of the day, whatever you used it on turns back into itself. Something you should keep in mind if we make you a dress with it. At midnight, it'll go back to being whatever we use to make it."
Cyndi thought about that for a second before breaking out with an evil grin. "ThatÕs cool," she said. "Because if Will plays his cards right tonight, IÕm not planning on being in it by then anyway."
Lynda gave her friend a shocked expression. "I swear, Cyndi, sometimes you can be soÉ"
"Wicked?" Cyndi finished for her with a wink.
"Something like that, yeah." Lynda looked around the room. "Okay," Lynda said. "We just have to decide what we're going to use to make your dress."
"No problem," Cyndi said without hesitation. She reached behind her back and under her t-shirt. After a few moments of twisting and turning, she pulled her bra out from under the shirt. "Here ya go," Cyndi said, holding it out to Lynda. "Use this."
Lynda sighed as she took the bra from her friend. Just how the hell does she do that anyway? she wondered to herself. It was an act that she had never been able to pull off without getting herself tied up in her clothes. "Something else youÕre not going to need tonight, I take it?" she said, holding the bra by two fingers as if it were a dead animal.
"Trust me, no," Cyndi replied with a snort. "With this dress, a bra would just get in the way."
"Uh-huh," Lynda said, tossing the bra onto the bed. "I bet. Well, let's just see, shall we? Tell me about this dress of yours."
"Well, like I said, itÕs black satin. And I mean pure black. Not a trace of blue. It comes to just above the knees. Right about here." Cyndi used her hands to show the length. "There's lace trim that comes down between your boobs to about here." She traced a triangle from the top of her breasts to the center of her chest. "And it has two little straps that goes over the shoulders. About this big." She made a ring with her fingers. "Real sexy," she finished with a big smile.
"Sounds like it," Lynda agreed. "Something like this?" She reached out with the wand and touched the bra with it. A second later, after another flash, a black dress was in its place.
Excitedly, Cyndi reached down and snatched up the dress, holding it up by the straps for inspection. A second later, her excitement faded. "Uh, not quite," she told her friend. "For one thing, itÕs not black enough. And the lace was smoother than this. Less ruffles. And I believe I said satin. This is silk."
"Well, excuse me for trying," Lynda said, grabbing the dress from her.
"Hey, donÕt get mad," Cyndi said. "ItÕs not bad for a first try. I'm sure you'll get it right next time."
"I hope so," Lynda said, looking a little nervous.
"Uh, is there a problem?" Cyndi asked, picking up on her apprehension.
"Well, maybe a small one, yeah," Lynda admitted. "Remember when I said the magic only lasted a day, right?" Cyndi nodded. "Well, thatÕs a day for each time the wand is used. So, if I use it on your bra again, at midnight, instead of becoming itself again, it would turn back into this dress here."
"Forever?" Cyndi said, considering the problem.
"Oh, no," Lynda said quickly. "Just until the next day is over. At midnight tomorrow, it would be your bra again."
"Oh, okay," Cyndi said nonchalantly. "Well, thatÕs not really a big problem. I mean, I've got plenty of bras at home. So, if this one has to be a dress for a while, it won't be that big a deal, right?"
Lynda thought about that. "True."
"So?" Cyndi said, holding her hands out to the dress impatiently.
"Okay," Lynda agreed, tossing it back onto the bed. "Now, letÕs see if I've got it. Blacker. Made of satin. No ruffles. That sound right."
Cyndi nodded. "Yeah. Oh, and while you're at it, could you make it just a bit shorter, too." She winked playfully at her friend.
Lynda shook her head again. She was beginning to wonder if Cyndi's sister's braces were the only reason her stepmother didn't want to buy her the dress in the first place. "Shorter, got it." With that, she touched the starred end of the wand to the dress, changing it with another flash. "How about now?"
"Well," Cyndi said, picking up up the dress again, "itÕs shorter, thatÕs for sure." She held it up to her torso, and Lynda could see that the bottom of it barely reached the top of her friend's pants. "Come on, Lynn," Cyndi said with a touch of frustration. "We're after a dress here; not a cami."
And so it went through six more attempts. And with each, there was something about the result that didnÕt meet with CyndiÕs expectations. This one was too thin. That one was too heavy. The straps were too big on this one. Too much lace on the next. And with each new try, the girls grew more and more frustrated Š Cyndi with the results, and Lynda with Cyndi, a fact that she made more than clear by stitching the words Bitch Bitch Bitch clearly on the front of the most recent attempt in white thread.
"Very funny," Cyndi said sarcastically.
"Well, come on," Lynda shot back. "IÕm doing my best, okay? You could be a little more helpful here, you know."
"Me?" her friend said. "IÕm not the one that keeps screwing up. I mean, come on. How hard can this be, anyway?"
"Harder than you might think," Lynda told her. "The wand responses to how I picture it in my head. And keep in mind that I've never even seen this dress of yours. All IÕve got to go on is your description of it."
"Well, why didnÕt you say so?" Cyndi said. Without warning, she reached out and snatched the wand out of Lynda's hand. "I know exactly what itÕs supposed to look like, so IÕll do it."
"Hey!" Lynda shouted in protest. "Be careful with that!" She tried to retrieve the wand, but Cyndi used her shoulder to block her. "IÕm serious, Cyndi. Give it here. That thing can be dangerous if you donÕt know what youÕre doing with it."
"WhatÕs to know?" the other girl huffed. "Like you said, you picture what you want something to become, then you touch it with the star. How tough is that?"
Lynda still looked unsure. "Well, yeah. ButÉ"
"Look, Lynda," Cyndi said in a tone that meant she wasn't going to give it up. "Just let me make my dress. Then, weÕll get ready, go to the party, and have the guys waiting on us hand and foot for the rest of the evening. What do you say?"
"WellÉ" Lynda finally sighed in resignation. "Okay. Just promise me youÕll be careful."
"Promise," Cyndi said, smiling in triumph. She tapped the wand a couple of times in her left hand before holding it out in a showy fashion. "Okay," she said, closing her eyes to concentrate, "just give me a second to picture my dress." She took a deep breath and opened her eyes. "Got it. NowÉ" She reached the starred end toward the dress on the bed.
Cyndi turned angrily to her friend. "Lynda! I told you IÕve got it!" she shouted, waving the wand in the other girl's face.
Lynda jumped back, real fear showing on her face. "Hey! Watch it!"
"Well, just stand there and shut up, then," Cyndi told her in a warning tone. She turned back to the bed. "Jesus. Now, IÕve got to start all over."
"Actually, no, you donÕt," Lynda said. "You just have toÉ"
But as she was talking, Cyndi went through her routine again, starting with the tapping of the wand into her left hand. This time, however, she only got as far as the first tap. As soon as the star made contact with her palm, there was a bright flash, and the girl vanished. In her place was a short black dress, similar to the one lying on the bed, but just a bit different. It hung empty in the air for a few seconds before falling to the floor in a heap.
It was all over so fast that, at first, Lynda didn't grasp what her friend had done to herself. "Cyndi!" she shouted out when she realized what had happened. The dress just laid on the floor without answering. Twice, Lynda reached for it, but both times she pulled her hand back before making contact. Finally, on the third attempt, she managed to pick it up. Holding it up by the spaghetti straps, she looked it over carefully, looking for any sign of her friend. She found none. "Oh, crap!" she said.
Carefully, she laid the dress out on the bed next to the one she herself had made earlier. Turning to the door, she called back over her shoulder. "Wait here!" She stopped dead in her tracks as she realized how stupid that sounded. After all, in her present condition, Cyndi couldn't hear a thing. And she certainly wasn't going anywhere. "Uh, IÕll be right back," she said quietly, mostly to make herself feel better, as she went out the door.
Rushing back to the shed in the yard, she headed straight to the same drawer that she had taken the wand from. With no hesitation this time, she grabbed another small box out of the drawer, leaving it hanging open as she ran back to her room. Wasting no time, she dashed over to the bed where the two dresses laid side by side. Opening the box, she pulled out what looked like a small earplug. She gently touched it to the soft material of the dress that was Cyndi before putting it into her ear.
Instantly, she heard the sound of CyndiÕs voice, screaming at the top of its lungs. "Cyndi!" she called out. The screaming continued unabated, so she called out again, louder this time. "Cyndi! Please!"
The screaming stopped. A second later, she heard her friendÕs voice. "Lynda? Is that you?"
"Yes," Lynda said, breathing a sigh of relief. "Are you okay?"
"I ... I donÕt know," CyndiÕs voice admitted. "I feel so..." Her voice stopped as she hunted for the right word. After a minute, she gave up. "Hell," she finally said, "I don't know how I feel. I canÕt see anything. Until just now, I couldnÕt hear anything either. What the hell happened?"
Lynda took a deep breath before she answered. "You turned yourself into a dress," she stated flatly.
For the next few seconds, she got nothing but silence. Then, Cyndi said, "Say what?"
"Look, I tried to tell you," Lynda explained, "but you wouldnÕt listen to me. Once youÕve picture what you want the wand to make something into, you donÕt have to tell it again. It's set. You can just go ahead and touch it to what you want to change."
"So," Lynda replied with a roll of her eyes, "when you started over, all you had to do was touch it to the dress on the bed. But you didnÕt do that. You tapped it into your palm. Don't you see? You touched you. So, the wand changed you."
"I ... I'm my dress?" Cyndi exclaimed.
"Yeah, I'm afraid so," Lynda told her. "ThatÕs why you couldnÕt see or hear anything. You donÕt have eyes or ears anymore."
"So," Cyndi asked, the confusion plain in her voice, "how can I hear you now?"
"There's a hearing piece that goes with the wand. It lets Pop communicate with Mom whenever they use the wand in their act."
"I see," Cyndi said, her voice calm. "That's all very interesting, but if it's all the same to you, I'd like to get back to being me again. So, if you don't mind too much, how about using that damned stick of yours to change me back."
Lynda hesitated before replying. "Uh, I donÕt know if thatÕs such a good idea."
"WHAT?" CyndiÕs voice was so loud in her head that Lynda winced. "Lynda, IÕm a frigging satin party dress here. How can turning me back be anything but a good idea?"
"Cyndi," Lynda said, trying to be patient, "remember what I told you about using the wand more than once? We used it ... what ... six or seven times on your bra trying to make it into your dress, right? That means itÕs going to have to work its way through each one of those changes before it's back to normal. One day for each change."
"So, the same is true about you."
More silence. "But you wouldnÕt be changing me. YouÕd be changing me back."
"DoesnÕt matter," Lynda explained to her. "ItÕs a change made by the wand, and would be subject to the same rules as any other. So, if I change you back, at midnight youÕdÉ"
"Échange back into this dress," Cyndi finished for her.
"Literally, yes," Lynda nodded. "Not only that, but youÕd stay that way until midnight tomorrow night." She waited for Cyndi to comment on that, but got nothing but silence from the girl. Finally, to fill that silence, she added, "Besides, even if that wasnÕt the case, IÕm not sure I could restore you anyway."
"Huh? Why not?"
"Well, think about it," Lynda told her. "The wand would make you however I pictured you. Hell, Cyndi, I couldnÕt get your dress right. How would you like it if I had the same problem with you. I could make you shorter, or maybe your boobs would come out too small, or something else like that?" She was careful not to tell her that she could make some even bigger mistakes, like forgetting to include a vital organ or something. She figured her friend was probably scared enough.
"Yeah," Cyndi said after thinking about it for a few moments. "That would suck."
"No doubt," Lynda agreed. "No, I think weÕd both be better off if you just stayed a dress until the magic wears off on its own."
She heard Cyndi sigh. "I guess so. But that sucks, too, you know. I really wanted to go to this party."
"Yeah," Lynda said, sitting down on the bed next to her friend. "Me, too." She had already made up her mind that she wasn't going to the party herself anymore. Not with Cyndi stuck like she was. It just wouldn't be ri...
"This is all your fault, you know," Cyndi's voice said in her head.
"All this," Cyndi told her. "It's all your fault."
"What?" Lynda said, turning to look down at the dress beside her. "How is this my fault?"
"It's your wand, isn't it?," Cyndi replied, the venom easily detectable. "Well, your dad's anyway. This never would have happened if you'd never gotten that damned thing out."
"That's unfair, Cyndi," Lynda said, defending herself. "I didn't turn you into a dress. You did."
"Well, sure," Cyndi admitted, adding, "but only because you didn't give me all the information I needed to use it properly."
"When did you give me the chance?"
"It doesn't matter, Lynda," Cyndi said, not answering the question. "When you have something as dangerous as that wand around, it's your responsibility to make sure its handled safely."
"No buts," Cyndi cut her off. "Face it, Lynda. This is all your fault. And now, thanks to your carelessness, I'm stuck here and can't go to Misty's party, which means that I won't be getting together with Will, if you know what I mean. I hope you're happy, Lynda. I hope you're good and damned happy."
Lynda couldn't believe what she was hearing. How could Cyndi actually blame her for what had happened. After all, she had only been trying to help. If Cyndi had just listened, this never would have happened. Besides, it wasn't like Cyndi was the only one suffering from this disaster. She had really wanted to go to this party, too. But she was willing to stay home in support of her friend. To have her turn on her like this was just... OOOOHHH!!!!
"Fine!" she shouted, snatching the dress that was Cyndi up off the bed. "You want to go to that damned party so bad. Well, fine. You're going!"
"I am?" Cyndi asked in obvious confusion.
"You're damned right you are," Lynda answered, going over to her closet and opening the door.
"B-But," Cyndi said with a slight stammer, "I thought you said it might be dangerous to change me back."
Lynda pulled an empty cloth hanger out of her closet. "Who said anything about changing you back?" she stated matter-of-factly, closing the door.
"Then, how..." Cyndi's voice trailed off. After a minute, it came back. "Oh, hell no!"
"Oh, but hell yes," Lynda spit back, smiling as she fitted her friend's straps over the hanger.
"Forget it, Lynda," Cyndi shouted out. "You're not wearing me to the party."
"Why not?" Cyndi repeated. "Because IÕm not a dress. ThatÕs why not."
"Well, actually, until midnight, you are a dress," Lynda told her plainly, holding her up by the hanger. "In fact, now that I get a good look at you, I have to admit that you were right all along. You're the perfect dress for Misty's party. Much better than the one my mom got for me."
"Look, Cyndi," Lynda said, hanging her on the back of her closet door, "all I'm trying to do here is make the best of a bad situation. Kinda like your stepmom, actually, when you think about it. So, you just hang on while I go take a shower." She turned to go across the room, but stopped to look back at her friend hanging there. "Besides, it's not like you can do much about it, right?"
"Maybe not now," Cyndi was forced to admit. "But when I get back to normal..."
Lynda put her hands on her hips. "Watch it there, girlfriend," she told her friend. "Don't forget I still have the wand out here."
"You wouldn't dare..."
"Well, I wouldn't want to, no," Lynda said, going over to pick it up off the floor where it had fallen next to Cyndi when she'd transformed herself. "But keep giving me shit and I just might. You could always go to the party as something beside a dress, you know. My panties, perhaps. How'd you like that?" Cyndi remained quiet. "Yeah, didn't think so. You just hang out here for now. I'll be back in a bit to finish getting ready. Then, we can head out."
She went to her dresser and took clean underwear out of her drawer. Heading for the bathroom, she stopped, turning one more time to taunt her friend. "Oh, and donÕt worry. I promise you'll get at least one dance with Will Taylor."
"Oh, you bitÉ"
CyndiÕs voice was cut off as Lynda pulled out the earplug.