The story follows Ripp Grunt and a CAS sim named Abby... who is a girl Ripp became best friends with in the third grade. They stayed best friends all throughout school, and now it's time for their senior prom.
The senior prom was approaching, and Ripp was in quite a quandary. There were at least four, and possibly five, girls who were expecting him to take them, and since none of them knew about the others, Ripp could see this whole shindig becoming quite a disaster. He wanted to talk to Abby about it and get her advice on what he should do, but he didn’t know how to approach the subject. It bothered him, because he had always been able to talk to her about anything, but his romantic interests had become a completely taboo subject these days.
I wish I knew why it bothers her so much, he thought to himself, shaking his head with frustration as he contemplated the mystery meat on his lunch tray. I could really use her advice on this one...
“Hey.” Abby unceremoniously placed her tray beside his and slid in to a seat beside him. “Oooh...” she half groaned, half laughed as she turned her main course over with her fork. “Looks even more mysterious than usual...”
“It tastes okay,” Ripp mumbled, his mouth full. He swallowed, then added, “Just use lots of ketchup.”
“Good advice,” Abby agreed, reaching for the ketchup bottle.
“Um, Abby... speaking of advice,” Ripp began hesitantly. “I could really use some about the prom... ”
“Hmm. So you’re wondering which of your many admirers you should take?” The expression in Abby’s voice was unreadable and her eyes were on the slowly dripping ketchup bottle as she covered her dish liberally.
“Well, not really,” Ripp replied, digging into the sticky yellow goo on his tray that he thought might be creamed corn. “Actually, I’m wondering how to let it be known I don’t want to go with any of them... but without letting them know there’s anyone else in the picture... does that make sense?”
“You don’t want to go to the prom?” Abby set the ketchup bottle down and looked at Ripp incredulously. “Ripp, it’s our senior year! It’s going to be a blast... even if I don’t have a date...”
“Of course I want to go to the prom,” Ripp said crossly. “I just don’t want to have my head bashed in by four or five angry chicks, and it’s not worth it... Hang on... did you just say you don’t have a date?”
Abby swallowed a mouthful of her lunch before she answered. “Nope.”
Ripp dropped his fork. “Geez, Abby. Why not?” Come to think of it, he’d never really seen her date anyone... although he ruefully had to admit he’d never taken the time to notice.
“There isn’t anyone I want to go with,” Abby said evasively, but she’d never been a good liar and Ripp could see it immediately.
“Yes, there is...” he said with concern. “I can tell. Abby, I’m sure he’d go with you if you asked, so why don’t you?”
Abby sighed irritably. “It wouldn’t do any good. I just found out he doesn’t want to go.”
“Oh. Well... ” Ripp’s brow furrowed. “Hey, I have a great idea, Abby! Why don’t we go together?”
“Yeah! See, it’ll be perfect!” Ripp’s face was blazing with excitement. “Everyone in school knows we’ve been best friends for years. I can just tell all of my ladies that we had... oh, I don’t know... some sort of pact or something... something where we agreed we would go to our senior prom together if one of us couldn’t get a date. I’ll say that you just found out your date can’t make it, so I’m honor-bound to take you. It’ll solve both of our problems! Whaddaya say?”
Abby studied the pattern her fork was making in her mashed potatoes. She wasn’t quite sure how she felt about this unexpected turn of events. Of course she wanted to go to the prom with Ripp... it was what she’d really wanted and was the main reason why she’d turned down other dates. She simply couldn’t see herself going with anyone but him. However, he’d made it perfectly clear he was only going to be escorting her as a friend, and that wasn’t part of the fantasy.
Still, they’d be together... and they’d always had a good time together. The prom shouldn’t be any different.
“I think,” Abby said carefully, piling her potatoes into a mound on her tray, “...that it sounds like a perfect solution.”
“Yeah,” Ripp agreed with relief. “Yeah, it does!” Dilemma solved, he once more began to eat with gusto, while Abby gave up on her own lunch and stood up.
“I’ve got to go,” she said. “I need to finish my English essay before class.” She lifted her tray, started to walk toward the bins, and then stopped and turned back. “Um... my prom dress is pink,” she said. “...so you might want to see what you can do about matching that... or whatever. See you!”
“Your favorite flowers are pink baby roses... is that right?”
Abby had no idea Ripp had known that. “Yes. Yes, they are.”
“Thought so,” he replied, grinning.
The day of the prom found Abby a nervous wreck, even though she knew she shouldn’t fret so much. This was Ripp, after all, and the Gods knew he’d seen her at her worst in the past. He’d even been there in the seventh grade when she’d gotten her period for the first time and had been caught unprepared, to say the least, and that hadn’t even phased him.
No, nothing about her could ever surprise him when it came to the worst... but she found she did want to surprise him when it came to the best. She wanted to do more than surprise him. She wanted to knock his socks off.
Her pink, lacy satin dress was very becoming, and just putting it on made her feel special. She was sure this was going to be a night to remember, and when a black limosuine pulled up outside her door, her breath caught. He had hired a limo?
Ripp hopped out, looking much older in his black tuxedo. He swept his hair back off his face, and walked up the sidewalk, just like he’d done thousands of times in the past, only this time he was carrying a small box made of clear plastic. Abby opened the door and smiled at him.
“Wow, Abby...” he breathed when she opened the door. “You look amazing!”
“So do you,” she replied in a low voice, suddenly feeling shy. For a few moments, they just looked at each other, then Ripp seemed to come back to earth.
“Here,” he said, indicating the plastic box. “I didn’t forget... pink roses, right?” He presented Abby with the box and opened it carefully to reveal an exquisite corsage of pink baby roses and baby’s breath, surrounded by delicate greenery.
“Oh, it’s beautiful,” Abby breathed.
“Well, so are you,” Ripp replied. “Maybe I’ve never told you that before, Abby... but it’s true. Just because you’re my best friend doesn’t mean I can’t notice how pretty you are.”
Abby didn’t know what to say, so she just wordlessly held out her wrist. Ripp took the delicate flowers from the box and placed them over Abby’s slender hand.
“Perfect.” he proclaimed, leaning forward to kiss her on the cheek. “Now... let’s party!”
They went out to dinner first, and it was almost as if it was like any other night they had eaten at a restaurant together, and there had been more times to count all through the years of their friendship. There was joking, and teasing, with laughter and much easy conversation.
Best friends, just like always...
...yet when they arrived at the hotel where the dance was being held, and stepped into the lavishly decorated ballroom, the atmosphere seemed to completely change. Ripp found he felt proud to walk into the magnificent surroundings with Abby on his arm, for truly, as he looked around him, she was the most striking girl there. How had he never noticed? And, she was his best friend. He knew her better than anyone here and she was just as close to him.
Those thoughts gave him a warm feeling inside.
“Do you want to dance with me, Abby?” he asked softly, turning to face her and gazing into her eyes. “It is the prom, you know...”
“Yes, Ripp,” Abby replied, in the same soft voice. “I’d love...”
“Hi, Ripp!” a girl’s saucy voice interrupted them suddenly, and Ripp turned automatically to face Chandra... a redheaded minx of a girl who had previously provided a rather raunchy time for him on a date, but who now, he saw, looked overly made-up and trampish when compared to Abby. “Um... hi,” he answered, trying to steer himself and Abby away.
Chandra was too fast for him, however. Quickly, she took Ripp’s other arm, leaned in close, and smiled sympathetically. “So sorry you couldn’t be my date tonight, babe...” she smirked, clicking her tongue and simpering at Abby. “...but a promise is a promise, I suppose...”
Ripp felt his ire rise. How dare Chandra suggest he’d rather be with her?
“Well, since I’m not your date tonight, Chandra,” he said quietly but firmly, shaking his arm free from her clutches, "maybe you should leave us alone.”
“Whatever, baby doll,” Chandra smirked, chucking him under the chin. “But I know whose trellis you’re going to be climbing tonight once this dance is over and you drop off your little friend back in her pink teddy-bear decorated room. Don’t you worry, I’ll leave the window unlocked this time.”
She sauntered off, leaving an uncharacteristically embarrassed Ripp and an exasperated Abby in her wake.
“Abby, I’m really...” Ripp began, but Abby cut him off with a fierce look.
“Just... don’t... Ripp.” she warned.
“But I’m sorry...” he said. “Chandra had no right to...”
Before he could even finish his sentence, he was interrupted again. “Dance with me, Ripp?” Another girl, this time with long black hair and a sparkling red dress had appeared next to Ripp’s elbow and was wrapping herself around him like a snake.
Furious, Abby let go of Ripp’s arm and strode quickly away from him toward the table of refreshments. She felt if she didn’t occupy herself with getting something to drink, she’d shove that girl across the room... sparkles and all.
“No, Violet,” Ripp said, gently but firmly pushing the black-haired girl away. “now’s not the time... Abby!” he called desperately. “Abby, wait!”
“Oh, let her go, honey...” Violet grabbed him by the lapels and spun him around to face her. “You owe me at least one dance tonight. Of course,” she tittered, “if you’d rather wait until after the prom to collect on that, my car is just outside...”
Abby overheard. Ripp knew she did, and his heart sank. He had no idea it would be like this! Why couldn’t these girls leave him alone and let him be with the one he really wanted to be with tonight? Why did they have to make Abby feel so badly?
It was one thing to ruin his prom... but to ruin Abby’s was something else entirely....
What kind of girls were they, anyway?
“Abby!” Ripp called again, and tried to catch up to his friend, but once again, he was stopped. This time by a brunette who tried to get him to dance with her, and as he was fending the newcomer off, he caught a glimpse of Abby’s face. He saw the tears in her eyes... the hopelessness in her stance... and then he saw her turn and run out the double doors of the ballroom into the reception hall.
“Abby!” he yelled, as the brunette laughed and tried to pull him closer.
“Get away from me!” he said through clenched teeth to the brunette before rushing after Abby as fast as the stiff material of his tuxedo would allow.
Abby was in a corner of the reception hall, half-hidden by a vase of flowers, and she was crying. Ripp felt terrible. In all the years they’d been friends, he’d never made her cry. In fact, he didn’t think he’d ever seen her cry at all before now.
She’s always been the strong one...
“Abby, I’m so sorry...” he whispered.
“You... can’t...even... st...stop for one n...night!” she cried brokenly. “J...just f..for one night, I w...wanted... to f...feel like... to f...feel...” she couldn’t finish and began to sob in earnest.
“Abby...” he said helplessly, unsure whether or not to try to put his arms around her. He crept closer and began to reach out, but she stopped him.
“Don’t.” she said fiercely, swallowing back her tears and taking a deep breath to steady herself. A cold stillness came over her then, but that didn’t make Ripp feel better. Her tears, though heartbreaking, had at least been real... this unnatural calm wasn’t.
“Please,” he whispered. “Abby, let’s just go back in there and start this dance all over again...”
Abby laughed harshly and shook her head. “I don’t think so, Ripp. I don’t know what I was expecting to happen tonight,” she said, “but I guess I must have had my hopes up a little too high.”
“Abby, it’s not what you...”
“It’s okay, though...” she said, wiping away the tears that still remained on her cheeks. “It’s obvious where your focus is, and it’s not on me, or the prom... or anything except what your plans are after you get rid of me. Well, I’m sorry I’m holding you back.” She indicated the double doors into the ballroom with a tilt of her head. “...so you can just go back in there and hook up with whoever you want for the night. I’m going home.”
Ripp was heartbroken. It hadn’t been like that at all! All he’d wanted to do was get rid of those other girls so he could get back to Abby! “Listen to me,” he said earnestly. “I didn’t ask for those girls to come up to me and...”
“Oh, Ripp, don’t you get it?” Abby said, smiling ruefully. “I know you didn’t ask for that. But the fact they felt they could... right in front of me, as though I didn’t exist...” she shook her head sadly. “... that tells me more than you could ever know.”
Ripp didn’t know what to say to that, but Abby didn’t seem to be waiting for a response. She thought for a moment, then shrugged.
“Well, I guess now’s as good as time as any to tell you,” she said carefully. “I was accepted to a college in Veronaville for the upcoming summer quarter... with a full scholarship. I wasn’t going to go, since it’s so far away, but now I think I’m going to go for it. They have a great art program there, and they...”
“What? You’re going to leave Strangetown?” Ripp asked in a shocked, small voice. “Just because of what happened tonight? Abby... don’t do it. I’m sorry! Don’t move away... I wouldn’t know what to do without...”
“Oh, my taxi’s here...” Abby interrupted, looking out the window at the yellow minivan pulling up to the curb. “I’ll see you later, Ripp.”
“Abby... please... can’t I come over to your house tomorrow? We can talk some more after we’ve both had a chance to calm down. Please?”
“I don’t care,” Abby said, shrugging. “Go ahead and come over if you want.”
She walked away from Ripp toward the front doors of the hotel, then she stopped, turned and gave him a crooked smile. “Oh, Ripp? Have a good time tonight, but I don’t want to hear about it in the morning.”