Keeping track of the tricks is crucial to any magician. All of the steps have to be carried out properly and in order to ensure that the act goes off without a hitch---and Trucy's tricks always went off without a hitch.
List-making was a habit and hobby of hers that few knew about. From the time she was little, making lists was the best way she knew how to make things happen. Whether it was magic or her day-to-day business---or Daddy's business, for that matter---Trucy's pocket notebook and pen were invaluable tools reminding her of what she needed to accomplish.
The end of the year and spare pages left in her notebook were both coming to a close. Trucy revisited the first page of her notebook, the annual First List of the Year: her New Year's Resolutions.
1. Perfect disappearing act
2. Perfect sawing-Polly-in-half act
3. Get Daddy to clean his desk at least once this year
4. Make new friends at high school
5. Design new business cards for Daddy
6a. Convince Daddy to find a new Mommy
6b. Get Polly a girlfriend
Getting a new mommy had been on the list as long as she'd lived with Daddy, and a part of Trucy had resigned herself to the fact that this was an unrealistic resolution. Getting Polly to stop cleaning the toilet and go on a date seemed much more reasonable.
The operative word here being "seemed."
Polly was the least social twenty-something Trucy had ever met, or at least seen on daytime soaps. Twenty-somethings were supposed to go to concerts (and not complain about the volume), hang out in sports bars with pals (and not give the stink eye to everyone ordering alcohol and watching football at a sports bar), and go on casual dates with at least five people before deciding to Get Serious and settle down.
As much as she wanted to chalk it up to Polly's being a stick in the mud, Trucy knew why none of these proper twenty-something activities appealed to him. He was an old soul, more interested in soft music that calmed his nerves and an evening spent wearing ratty-but-warm pajamas and falling asleep to T.V. reruns of black-and-white films. Most of all, Polly was no casual dater. He was about as Serious as they come.
"Why don't you find a nice girl online?" she'd once asked him.
"Maybe I will one day," he'd answered from his desk, somewhere in the midst of piles of case documents Daddy was having him refile. "Meet a nice girl, settle down, start a family." Polly poked his head out from around a precarious stack to flash her a smile. "Not anytime soon, of course. I want to focus on my job for now, get myself established, have something to offer a girl."
Trucy wanted to throw her hands up in the air and groan, but she also wanted to cup her chin in her hands and coo. What an old fart. What an old romantic. Worst twenty-something ever.
Luckily, Athena, an almost-twenty-something, was part of the Wright Anything Agency now. She was way more fun than Polly. Athena cranked her music up loud, once had to be pulled off a table she'd climbed up to in the midst of cheering on a football game in a sports bar (three guesses who did the pulling), and was more than willing to gush with Trucy over hot celebrities and high school gossip.
Once they'd gotten to know each other better, Trucy couldn't help asking, "Why don't you have a boyfriend?"
Athena had stuttered and stammered more than Trucy expected and finally answered that she didn't have time to date while she was still getting used to being a lawyer. "One day, though!" she said, pumping her fist in the air. Trucy could spot the little tremor in her fingers as they balled into a fist. "The guys'll be all over me!"
Even with her little twitch, Athena's enthusiasm was no fabrication. Trucy laughed. Once Athena was seated at her desk again, she admitted that her best friend growing up had been the type of girl who attracted every boy's attention.
"Sweet, gentle, pretty---the whole nine yards." Athena spread her arms and sighed. I love her to pieces, but so not fair! Widget chirped. From the bathroom, just barely audible over the scratching of the toilet brush against the bowl, Trucy could make out Apollo's laughter. "You be quiet in there, Apollo!" Athena yelled. Naturally, Trucy thought, his chuckle hadn't escaped her sensitive ears.
"No offense to your friend, but girls like that drive me nuts." Trucy sighed and slumped over the desk, propping her chin up in her hands. Athena must have been talking about that girl who sang with Mr. Gavin at that academy festival. She'd certainly been beautiful, all dolled up in a dress like Lamiroir's. "She probably doesn't even realize how popular she is, right?"
Bingo, Widget answered. "Junie's always had her pick of guys, but she totally doesn't get it."
"So, whenever she liked a guy, it all worked out for her, huh? That's rough."
Athena seemed to consider this. "Well, when we were kids, Junie never really liked anybody. She was too busy being a model student and not getting into fights and stuff."
Trucy just barely heard a muffled comment from the bathroom.
"You know what, Apollo?" Athena yelled back. "We all know you got into fights as a kid, don't even start with me."
"So she's super popular, oblivious, and not even looking?" Trucy buried her face in her arms and groaned. She could name a few classmates like that.
"We-ell," Athena drawled, her Cheshire grin returning. "If the blushing and giggling is any indication, she's recently been bitten by the loooove bug."
It was impossible to keep a straight face when Athena was on a roll. Any ill will Trucy had held for this Junie girl dissolved with each bubble of laughter.
"Yeah," Athena said, heaving a dramatic sigh. Her voice rose when she added, "Seems she's fallen for a fine older man who's strong and kind andwonderful." She pointed her index finger into her mouth and feigned gagging. "She wouldn't think that if she knew how long he spends styling his hair and making snide comments about his gorgeous coworker's psychology-based courtroom tactics."
Trucy's eyebrows shot to her hairline. "Get out." She was pretty sure Polly had never kissed a girl, and here he was stealing the heart of Athena's super popular friend.
"Athena, quit spreading rumors already," Apollo said. Trucy nearly jumped when she looked up and saw him standing over them, toilet brush in hand, his face scrunched up the way it did when she blasted her Gavinners CDs on repeat. "Juniper seems pretty shy to me. She'd probably be mortified if she heard you gossiping about her."
Athena widened her eyes at Trucy and mouthed, O-M-G. "Are you blind, Apollo? She's totally into you. Like, she got to sing on stage with Klavier Gavin and mentioned it, like, once, but in that bombing trial, her testimony basically boiled down to 'Apollo is awesome.'"
Trucy thought she noticed Apollo shift a little bit, as if the thought pleased him.
"I'm telling you this as her friend." Athena stood and slammed her hands down on her desk with a wicked smile. "You are one lucky guy. I wouldn't give my blessing to any old loser who came calling for Junie, but I'll make an exception for you."
"Thanks." Apollo rolled his eyes, and---there it was again. Trucy was sure of it: that little straightening of his shoulders that gave away a more positive reaction to Athena's blessing than his sarcasm. "Mr. Wright asked me to run some errands once I finished cleaning the toilet. Is there anything we need other than paper towels and grape juice? And remember--" Here Apollo held up a hand in front of him like a stop sign. "My wallet is not bottomless. Necessities only, please."
"Bring us candy," Athena said.
"Chocolate," Trucy added. "With peanut butter."
"Ooh, and some cookies."
"Cupcakes are also acceptable."
"As long as they're double chocolate. That means chocolate frosting on chocolate cake, Polly."
"Yeah, no 'golden' cupcakes."
Apollo's nostrils flared as Trucy and Athena exchanged glances.
"Mmmm, cake," they said in unison.
Apollo threw his hands up in the air and walked out of the office without another word. Once the girls had a good laugh at his expense---one of their favorite activities---Trucy grabbed Athena's arm and dragged her away from her desk at towards the couch.
"Okay, time for a break from pretending to work," she said. "Tell me all about this Junie girl."