Shelly rang the doorbell, nervously. The house had been easy to find, but she couldn't shake the weirdness of going to a boy's house and ringing the doorbell.
Aaron opened the door with a smile. "Come on in."
A girl appeared behind him, grinning. "You must be Shelly! So nice to meet you. It's been a while since Aaron brought a girl home."
Aaron laughed. "That's because you always pounce on them. Shelly, this is my sister Melanie."
Shelly said 'hi' and handed over her bowl of popcorn. Aaron took her jacket. "I see you've brought your notebook."
Shelly looked down at her 5-subject Hilroy. "Well, obviously I have a lot to learn."
Aaron grinned. "Commence Lesson Zero."
Another girl came down the stairs. "Hi Shelly! Welcome here! I'm Dana, Aaron's younger sister."
Aaron explained, "I asked them to help me teach you Lesson Zero."
Shelly didn't know what to say. "You guys didn't have to go to so much trouble..."
"They were quite enthusiastic, actually."
"We're very happy to help. This is an interesting undertaking to say the least! I'm so proud of my big brother!"
Aaron was doing something with a piece of cloth. He looked right into Shelly's eyes. "Do you trust me?" he asked.
Shelly eyed the black fabric. "Not at all."
"Will you let me blindfold you for the sake of your romantic sensibility?"
Do it, her pen warned.
Shelly sighed. "Okay."
Dana giggled as Aaron tied the blindfold. "How many fingers?" he prompted.
"Three?" Shelly guessed.
He took her hands and led her up the stairs. Shelly felt the carpet underneath her feet and heard some clattering in the distance.
The carpet changed to something smooth, probably linoleum. The bathroom?
"Put her on the toilet." Melanie was saying.
They made Shelly sit on the closed lid of the toilet. "What's going on?" she asked nervously.
"Take a deep breath and relax," Dana advised. "We do this all the time. There's nothing to worry about."
This had the opposite of a relaxing effect on Shelly, but she held her tongue.
"I'll be downstairs," Aaron called out.
Shelly felt one of the girls pulling on her ponytail. The elastic came out and her hair tumbled to her shoulders.
"You're not going to cut it, are you?" Shelly imagined her fluffy brown hair, cut boyishly short, sticking out in every direction.
"Of course not, silly. We're going to curl it. Relax. You have such beautiful hair."
Someone was combing her hair, and someone else was swiping wet stuff on her cheek.
"Foundation," Melanie explained. "It covers up blemishes and evens out your skin."
Shelly held her tongue as the sisters burned her ear on the hair curler and plucked out her eyebrows and put on lipstick and eyeliner and eyeshadow and blush and mascara, and even gave her a cute black dress to wear. They didn't let her near a mirror, however. Melanie painted her fingernails and Dana her toes. They threatened to wax her legs, but Shelly talked them out of it. As a final touch, they doused her with hairspray and coated her lips with gloss.
"I think you're ready." Dana said, an odd sound in her voice.
"You look amazing." Melanie said.
"Do I get to see now?" Shelly demanded impatiently. Her eyebrows still stung a little, and even though her face felt caked with unnatural, heavy makeup, and her hair felt stiff and bouncy, she was really curious. She felt a bit like a clown.
"Okay. You ready?"
They took her into their parent's bedroom, which had a full-length mirror for a closet door.
Shelly recognized the girls on either side, but the one in the middle... she looked weird! It looked like Shelly, and yet totally not. Her eyebrows were thin and straight, and looked sleeker when she raised them in astonishment. Her lips were full and shiny, her eyes big and mysterious. Her hair, for all it felt stiff and unnatural, fell softly to her shoulders in shiny brown curls, and the dress - it fit her perfectly, showing off her arms, making her waist look slimmer, and... her ahem, breasts were tastefully displayed.
"What do you think?" Dana asked, shyly.
"You guys are amazing." Shelly said, smiling. She couldn't take her eyes off her image, watching her mouth move the way it normally did in the mirror, but now attached to a different person. A good-looking person.
"Now comes the best part," said Melanie, excitedly. "Showing it off!"
"Wait till you see the look on Aaron's face!" squealed Dana.
Shelly felt something light and fluttery in her stomach. Was that... butterflies? How cliche! What was Aaron going to say? She knew he was going to say something sarcastic and sharp-witted.
"Let's go!" Dana pulled on her arm.
They led Shelly down the stairs. Dana did the introduction. "Introducing the new, improved, and stunningly gorgeous.... Michelle!"
Shelly smiled at the younger girl. She descended the last few steps and finally dared to look at Aaron's expression.
His mouth hung open. Eyes unblinking. Not in mock surprise, but in genuine awe - like he really couldn't look away. "You look... incredible."
Shelly looked away, heat rising in her cheeks. Blushing? Shelly never blushed. She mentally reminded herself to thank Aaron someday. He really knew what he was doing.
Aaron stepped closer, only taking his eyes off her face to sweep up and down and take in the whole picture. "Beautiful." He said quietly.
Shelly blushed again, not knowing what to say. She'd never felt this way before... She always had something to say. "Well, your sisters really know what they're doing," she said, lamely.
Out of the corner of her eye, Shelly could see Melanie nudge Dana with a wink.
Aaron snapped out of his reverie. "Yes. You girls have done it again!"
Dana bowed enthusiastically.
Aaron looked back at Shelly and offered his arm. "Are you ready for Lesson Zero Part Two?"