“You’re going steady?” said Denise with a frown, while looking around the Brown-Richards back yard. “Is this the 1940s? Have we gone back in time? I distinctly remember telling you that I didn’t want to be part of your time travel experiments.”
She was seated, facing Astrid, as both relaxed in the family’s bubbling hot tub. “There’s no such thing as time travel,” said Astrid, “and quit making fun of us. I think it’s sweet that he wanted to go steady.”
“Yeah, sweet like that artificial sugar substitute that makes you break out in hives. We’re young, beautiful women and we should be out playing the field. We should be serial dating, and not granola either but some cereal with lots of real sugar, that rots your teeth and makes you bounce off the walls like a hyperactive puppy.”
“Sometimes I wonder if even you know what you’re talking about,” said Astrid.
“I’m talking about dating.”
“But you’re dating Christopher.”
“That’s right; I am,” said Denise, “right up until I see somebody I want to date more. And then I date that guy, unless I find out he’s not as good as Christopher and then I go back to dating him.”
“But you always go back to Christopher.”
“That’s because they never turn out to be better,” Denise grumbled.
“Doesn’t it bother you if he goes out with someone else too?” asked Astrid.
“No. He can date Alicia all he wants… if he likes big butts and stupid faces.”
“Well, as long as you don’t mind,” said the girl inventor.
At that moment, Astrid’s phone rang from where her pants were draped over a patio chair. She answered using her Maxxim Carpe wrist computer.
“Astrid? Hi. It’s Michelle Pennington. I hope you don’t mind me calling. I got your number from Dr. Born.”
“No problem. What’s up?”
“Arthur and I were going over our experiments and we think we have a winner.”
Astrid and the Pennington twins had, weeks earlier, set up an experiment to test a dozen compounds of Astridium to see which, if any, might absorb carbon from the air.
“You’re looking over the results now? At school? It’s Sunday.”
“It’s all right,” said Michelle. “Dr. Born is with us, and Mrs. Frost is somewhere in the building.”
“Mrs. Frost,” grumbled Denise, evidently still upset about the aborted assault on her nose ring.“All right,” said Astrid. “We can go over the results in class tomorrow and if it works out, we should start designing some kind of prototype device to use the product.”