Wendy picked up a copy of Sixteen in the convenience store the week before school let out for the summer. She mostly bought it because of the cute popstar on the cover, but she found herself paging through it over lunch. There wasn't much left to do except sign yearbooks and prep for finals, and she didn't want to do either of those things. She had all the signatures she wanted already, and cramming was for the night before the test, not a moment earlier.
There was a list in the magazine called Essentials for a Perfect Summer, and Wendy read through it. Totally doable, she thought. Her summer was going to rock.
1. Earn some extra cash by picking up a summer job.
She had this one in the bag already, actually. The Mystery Shack's last cashier had quit in a huff and she'd walked by when Katie was walking out. Stan Pines had stuck his head out the door and pointed at Wendy.
"You'll do," he'd said. "What's your name? You can start Friday."
"Wendy," she'd said, but he'd slammed the door already.
"Good luck. He's a huge weirdo," Katie told her, but Wendy figured she was tough enough to deal with any number of grumpy bosses. Even if he was weird, and probably a cheat. She'd taken an accounting class; she'd just keep an eye on her paycheck. She hadn't been in that dusty old place since she was just a kid. It was probably pretty lame now, but how hard could it be to work a cash register in the air conditioning?
She brought the magazine with her to her first shift Friday and watched Stan put on the eyepatch and do his shtick, and she managed not to laugh too much. He had kids staying with him this summer, so she even had company.
2. Have a summer romance.
Wendy figured she'd just let romance happen. It always managed to, despite her best efforts. She'd liked all her boyfriends, of course, but after a while she always got bored with them. She wasn't in any hurry to fall in love forever, though. A couple of months was the perfect length for a crush.
She had to admit, she hadn't seen it coming from Dipper until it became painfully obvious that he had a thing for her. Subtle, he was not. And he had that whole failure-to-whisper thing.
But he was just too young. It was sweet, really, and he was a good friend. Maybe he'd get over it and she wouldn't have to say anything. Maybe they could just watch monster movies and wander around in the forest and sometimes run really fast away from whatever it was that made really huge footprints.
And when she wanted her life to be more normal, well, there was always Robbie. He took himself a little too seriously, but she liked his music. You could dance to it. And he really was pretty sweet. He kept telling her that she was his muse, and she'd never been anyone's muse before.
Her phone buzzed. The message was from Robbie. After a moment's consideration, she texted back, ;).
3. Catch up on your reading.
The Mystery Shack didn't have air conditioning after all. Wendy put the fan up on the counter and turned it up to the highest setting. Then she leaned in and said her name into it, enjoying the funny buzz her voice produced. That was only amusing for so long, though, and after a minute she pulled out the romance novel she had stashed under the counter.
She only had one criterion for summer reading: there had to be a shirtless guy on the cover. Mabel liked the paranormal ones best, though, so she'd been picking those up more recently. Not that she'd say that aloud, but she knew Mabel was borrowing her books when she wasn't around. She dog-eared the pages and left sticky things and glitter on the pages with the most kissing scenes.
At first Wendy had been annoyed by it, and then a little worried about corrupting small children, but then she thought about it, and she'd found her mom's Harlequin stash when she was about Mabel's age. She hadn't understood half of what was going on, but she'd liked them anyway. It was like sharing secrets with her mom, which really wasn't something they could do anymore.
She thought Mabel would like this one. There was a zombie and a werewolf in it, and the main character was a brilliant reporter. There was definitely going to be a love triangle.
Wendy licked a finger and turned the page. The fan hummed.
4. See the summer blockbusters.
On Tuesday, Wendy saw something out of the corner of her eye that Dipper insisted was a hide-behind. On Thursday, she was pretty sure that the serious guys in the suits were from the FBI. She made sure to delete her Internet history when she got home.
Saturday was monster movie marathon night. Wendy and Dipper had an ongoing competition as to who could find the most costume zippers first. Currently Dipper was winning, but she was pretty sure she would catch up after Attack of the Fifty Foot Hedgehog.
She and Tambry sneaked into the Sunday matinee for something to do. She'd already seen this one, last week with Robbie, so she sat in the back with Tambry and watched Tambry text. Tambry had gotten her first cell phone when they were fourteen, and now Wendy barely recognized her without the phone glow on her skin. They made fun of the terrible movie previews and Tambry told her all about the latest Facehook drama.
Monday morning she was supposed to be at work by ten a.m., which was ridiculously early, but Wendy got up in time to take the long way around. She didn't want to give any hiding creature the chance to get behind her.
5. Take a chance on something new.
This was not the first time that Wendy has seen Mr. Pines arrested, but it was the first time it felt serious. Usually their ineffectual local law enforcement accepted bribery in the form of a pie, which Wendy was often tasked with getting. She knew he bilked the tourists, and he charged too much to use the bathroom, and he practiced creative accounting when he paid her under the table, but she didn't think he'd actually hurt anyone.
But there were enough cops around now that Wendy had to reconsider that idea. The place was crawling with police, and she didn't want anyone asking her questions about where she'd been on Sunday afternoon. She went home and watched a marathon of Too Young, Too Pregnant. The next day when she came back to the Mystery Shack, it was deserted, even creepier than usual. She wondered where Mabel and Dipper were. She went down to the police station to see if they knew anything, but it was a waste of time, and Dipper didn't answer any of her texts.
The town was buzzing with rumors, but no one seemed to know anything for sure. Everyone was talking about the creepy things that happened in that forest, which was unusual; normally everyone just pretended everything was fine. It was like a floodgate had open, and Gravity Falls was awash in paranormal weirdness.
She didn't go back to work on the third day, but Mr. Pines came looking for her. She was sunbathing in the front yard, and when she heard the sound of shoes crunching on the gravel drive, she sat up and saw him. Dipper and Mabel hovered around his knees anxiously. Wendy was really glad to see they were okay.
Mr. Pines coughed.
"You should meet someone," he said, and the other man came around the side of the house. She saw the family resemblance immediately. It was eerie. She had no idea that Stan had a brother.
"He'll be staying with us for a while, but he's not your boss. You only take orders from me," Mr. Pines said gruffly. The other Pines man offered a calloused hand. Wendy looked at Mabel, who was vibrating with excitement, and Dipper, who was watching his uncle, arms crossed.
"Sure, whatever," Wendy said, shaking the guy's hand. It was about time something interesting happened around here. There was still a month of summer left, after all.