Chapter 1 – The Knower of Things

“Put it down.” She sighed, staring into her mirror.

“Put what down?” A tinny voice sounded from the laptop speakers.

“The brush, Cordelia. Put down the brush.” Danni glanced at the image of her friend on the computer screen. A hairbrush hovered over a mass of thick curls. “If you jam that amazing hair into one more stupid ponytail, I will kick you.” The other girl’s face reddened as she lowered her hand.

“Your plan is flawed.” Cordelia stuck her tongue out at the camera.

“How’s that?” Danni smoothed down as piece of her short, black hair, still getting used to the new pixie cut.

“You’re not here.” The curly haired girl smirked. “And virtual kicking isn’t nearly as effective as actual kicking. Why don’t you give it a try?” She stood and turned her backside towards the screen.

“You’re feisty today.” Danni laughed, throwing herself down on her bed. Lying on her back, she watched a lazy rainbow orb float across the ceiling. Her tiny grey cat jumped onto the bed, chased the rainbow for a second before flopping across her bare toes and immediately falling asleep. Danni flexed her toes to rub his tummy and smiled as the deep purr resonating from his chest into her foot.

“If you guys keep forcing me to watch basketball, I have to find new and exciting ways to psych myself up.” Cordelia joked, knowing that in their tiny town, the basketball game was an almost obligatory responsibility.

“I’m telling Rayne you said that.” Danni pushed herself up to glare at the screen.

“Telling Rayne what?” Danni’s brother asked, wandering into the room without bothering to knock.

“That Cordi is a bad friend.”

“What she means is that I hate basketball.” Cordelia interjected from the computer. “Which is not news to anyone.”

“No, it is not.” Caleb chuckled, leaning in front of the camera. His broad shoulders filled the screen, the sun from the window glinting off his hair. With his pale hair and crooked nose, he couldn’t have looked more different from his step-sister. “Hey, Cord.”

“Hey, Caleb.” She waved.

“What’re you guys doing?” He plopped down on the bed. Hercules looked up from his place in the corner, and swatted a lazy paw towards the large, tanned legs invading his space.

“Getting ready to go to the basketball game…Obviously” Danni raised an eyebrow, and pushed him off the bed with her foot. “Which is made harder by you barging into my room all the time. What if I’d been naked? ”

“My eyes would have burned from my head and you would have destroyed my football career. Then you would have felt really bad.”  Caleb slapped her arm.

“Then I would have done this.” Danni jumped off her bed and onto his back, messing up the hair he would never admit to spending time on.

“Stop! Stop!” Caleb spun around, trying to shake her off.

“Now you have to start your stupid hair routine all over!” Danni laughed, jumped down, and ran to the other side of the bed. “You’ll be trapped in front of the mirror for hours.”

“Oh, little sister, you have no idea what you’ve started.” Caleb tensed to jump across the bed.

“As fun as this is to watch,” Cordelia interrupted, the sound of crunching chips breaking through the speakers, “Kyle is going to be there to pick you up in about five minutes, Danni. You going to be ready?”

“If Caleb gets his ass out of my room.” Danni walked up behind her brother, pushing him out of her room. “Put down the chips, Cord. You’ve got nothing to be nervous about. It’s just a basketball game.”

“I’m not talking about this over a tiny computer screen.” Cordelia brushed her hands on her lap.

“We all know you hate social functions, but sometime you’ve gotta push yourself, Sweets.”

“I said I don’t want to talk about it.” Cordelia pushed back her hair. “I know what my issues are.”

“We’re talking about it when I get there.” Danni insisted, double checking her eyeliner.

Cordelia glanced somewhere away from the screen. “Bianca’s home. See you in a bit.” She popped another chip into her mouth as she leaned forward and killed the video feed.

Danni heaved a sigh before she bounced down the stairs towards the kitchen and grabbed a cookie from the jar on the counter.

“Bye Mom,” She planted a kiss on her mother’s cheek as a car honked from outside. “I won’t be late”.

“10:30 at the latest, and none of that my watch stopped stuff you pulled last week.” Mrs. Monroy reached over to ruffle her daughter’s hair. Danni ducked under her arm laughing.

“You figured that out ‘eh? I was hoping to use that one again.”

“Everything you try, I’ve already done. And you’re never without that damn phone, which has a clock. Now, go have fun with your friends.” With a wide grin, she disappeared into the kitchen.

Kyle was already waiting for Danni when she hurried outside. She was one of those people that legitimately didn’t care what other people thought of her. She wore whatever she wanted, regardless of what was on trend. Her complete confidence meant she always look good, even when her outfits were completely bizarre. Today her dark jeans were covered in silhouettes of people dancing around her legs. Her long auburn hair fell almost to her waist in jagged uneven lengths with white blonde and crayon red highlights painted through the layers. Her nose ring sparkled in the early evening sun. Leaning on the hood of her car, Kyle soaked in the abnormally good weather of early autumn in Alberta.

“What’s up, lady?” Kyle pushed up and around the side of the car while gracefully stretching her arms above her head. Danni felt an irrational twinge of jealousy as Kyle’s muscular 5’9” frame stretched to look even longer. “This weather kicks ass. We should totally do something this weekend.” She slid behind the wheel of her used green Impala and reached over to unlock the door for Danni.

“Camping, maybe?” Danni pulled her sunglasses from her purse and slid them on.

“Perfect. This is why we keep you around, Dan.” Kyle grinned and pulled the car onto the road. “You think the others would be up for it?”

“Cordi and Rayne for sure. I don’t know if we’ll be able to pry Bianca away from Greg though.” They chuckled to each other. Cordelia’s twin sister, Bianca was deep in the thrall of young love. She could barely stand to be away from her boyfriend for more than a few hours at a time.

“It might be easier than you think. It’s been like three months; Greg is starting to get on her nerves. A break might be just what they need.” Kyle chuckled, “And her lips are suffering from a serious case of make out chap. They need a break, too.”

Chucking, Danni turned up the radio and the two friends bounced to music until Kyle turned the car into the twins’ driveway. Knowing Bianca wouldn’t be ready, they let themselves into the house. At the bottom of the stairs, Kyle slipped into Bianca’s room as Danni headed down to Cordi’s. She knocked on the open door and stepped inside.

The four girls had known each other their entire lives; there were only enough students in town for one class per grade. But Danni and Cordelia hadn’t become friends until grade two, when Bianca joined Danni’s ballet class. Cordelia had been forced to sit and watch until the classes were over. When the teacher started to notice how good Bianca was, she’d kept her and her mother late one day.  The same day, Danni’s mom had been late picking her up, so the two little girls had started playing together. They’d been best friends ever since.

Today, Cordelia was stretched across her bed, indulging in a book and a bag of chips. Danni rolled her eyes at the typical Cordelia outfit: jeans and a loose fitting sweater. Her black Doc Martins on the floor beside her bed. Her painful social shyness worried her friends.

Danni curled into the big wicker basket chair in the corner of the room. Danni had been trying to convince her mother to buy her one for years, but so far, she’d had no luck. Cordelia’s had been a gift from her mother.

“Can you ask you mom if you can take that chair? If it’s free, maybe she’ll let you have it.” Cordelia mumbled from behind her book. “I just want it out of my room.” The twins’ parents’ divorce had been messy. Anytime their mom had to change their plans, she sent them something expensive. The sisters kept things out of guilt.

“You’re not really going to insist on wearing that sweater, are you? It’s full of holes.” Danni reached forward and snagged the giant opening in the cuff, ignoring the sensitive topic of the chair. Cordelia’s mom had moved to Calgary six years ago. It was only about two hours from Drummond, but she was constantly breaking plans. These chairs had arrived in the eighth grade, when Cordelia and Bianca had both preformed solos at the town Christmas festival and their mom just hadn’t shown up. Instead of calling to apologize, she’d sent these chairs. Danni had never, ever seen Cordelia sit in it.

“It’s for my thumb.” Cordelia stuck her thumb through the hole and popped another chip in her mouth.

“No more chips.” Danni grabbed the bag and tossed it on the dresser.

“I’m a stress eater, Danni.” Cordelia placed her book on her night table and sat up. “You know I don’t like crowds.”

“You’ve got to get over that.” Danni shrugged. “You’ll never meet anyone if you spend all your time hidden inside a book.”

“I’m not looking for anyone. I’m perfectly content being single.” Cordelia’s shoulder twitched at the thought of dating. She’d never had to deal with anyone being interested in her. It wasn’t something she liked to dwell on.  “I’d rather not have to put up with more people than I already do, thank you very much.”

“You just need to meet the right boy,” Danni grinned “We both do. John obviously wasn’t Mr. Right.”

“Obviously.” Cordelia agreed. “And I don’t need a boy to make me a whole person, friend of mine.”

“Boys are cute. I like to play with them.” She dismissed her friend and grabbed Cordelia’s arm and pulled her up off the bed. “Can we please, please try to find you something else to wear?”

“Danni.” Cordelia sighed and gestured towards her closet. “Go ahead. See if you can find something up to your standards. I am your dress up dolly.”

Danni skipped to the closet and pulled open the doors. Hanger after hanger held dark, long sleeved sweaters or plain coloured t-shirts. Danni clenched her teeth and chewed on the inside of her lip. “I wish you would let me take you shopping.” She glanced at Cordi, who just picked at the corner of her sleeve. “I just don’t understand why you’re so shy. It’s not like there’s anyone here you haven’t known all your life.”

“I don’t know how to talk to people. And why would I ever need to? I have you. You’re outgoing enough for both of us.” Cordelia smiled. “Now find something for me to wear, before I stop letting you dress me.”

“Okay, Okay.” Danni surrendered and laughed, “I’ll take what I can get.” She worked her way to the back of the closet where a chunk of clothes, clearly from Cordi’s mother, were hanging unworn with tags still attached. She pulled out a purple long sleeved peasant top. “Put this on.”

“That? It’s so…? I don’t know.”

“It’s adorable, and probably extremely comfortable. Stop arguing and put it on.”

“If it’ll make you stop.” Cordi huffed playfully, quickly changing tops.

“Perfect!” Danni squealed, clapping her hands. “It’s not so different from your sweater. You’re just as covered up, but so much cuter! Let’s go see if you sister is finally ready.” She grabbed Cordelia’s wrist, pulled her out of the room, and down the hall to Bianca’s room. Standing in the middle of her room, hands on her hips, wearing nothing but a bra and panties, Bianca was clearly not ready.

“Come on, B. We have to go.” Kyle tapped her watch, leaning back against the desk. After choosing a pair of jeans and a tight green halter-top, Bianca turned towards them.

“I look hot, right?” She looked at herself in the mirrored closet doors. “Greg’ll like this?”

“Sure. Yeah. Whatever.” Kyle shook her head and headed out of the room “Now let’s go before someone takes our seats.”

“Oh, Sissy, you look good!” Bianca skipped over to Cordelia.

Cordelia shrugged off the compliment. “I’m with Kyle. Let’s go.”

 

In the gym, they settled into seats high on the risers, cheering loudly whenever Rayne was on the court. After a close win, the girls waited happily in the hallway for their friend to shower and change. Perching on the edge of a bench, Danni noticed a boy she’d never seen before walking alone down the hallway.

“Who is that?” She whispered out of the corner of my mouth, squeezing Cordi’s hand. “Is he from the other school?”

“Nope. That is Anson James. He’s Zack cousin. He just moved to town. He starts here tomorrow. He’s a grade above us.” Cordi whispered back.

“You didn’t tell me about this earlier! He is so good looking.”

“I didn’t know he was that good looking. His picture did not do him justice.” Cordelia pressed down on Danni’s vibrating leg. “He is awfully cute. Isn’t he?”

“He’s basically the best looking guy I’ve ever seen in real life.” Danni was still looking down the hall. “I wonder if he’s single.”

“He is.” Cordelia mumbled as another group of students walked by them. “Hasn’t dated anyone in about a year.”

“I love that I can always rely on you to know all the details.” Danni hugged her friend. “How do you know all of this?”

“Meh, you know, people just tell me stuff. To be honest, I’d kind of forgotten about him.” Swinging their feet below the bench, they pretended not to watch the new boy as he walked by them, a plain black cotton tee shirt and fitted jeans covering his tall frame. Bianca and Kyle’s conversation fell silent as they noticed him. Danni smiled to herself as she began planning their first date.

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