Saturday evening, Cordelia sat at the vanity in her sister’s bedroom, watching in the mirror as Bianca pulled the straightening iron over a section of hair. The hair, which normally bounced below her shoulders, fell straight and long down her back. She watched in amazement at how a change in hair style changed her entire image. Two sets of identical eyes glanced into the mirror as the door opened and Kyle and Rayne laughed their way across the threshold. They stopped when they saw the two girls at the vanity.
“Holy schnikies! Cordi, you’re hair!” Rayne bounced across the room. “It’s so long!”
“This is why I never do anything with my hair! This much hair is usually crammed into half this space. And we’ve been at this for like an hour. I do not have time this shit on a daily basis.” She smiled at her friends, waving to Kyle in the mirror. “Excited about the dance?”
“I think the more accurate question is, are you excited about the dance?” Kyle flopped onto the bed and balanced a vanity mirror on her lap. “This is the first one we haven’t had to drag you to.”
“Wearing jeans and a sweater.” Rayne snickered.
“You don’t know what I’m wearing.” Cordelia chuckled, popping a chocolate in her mouth. “There are plenty of jeans and sweaters in my closet.”
“Unless you want to explain a big iron hickey on your neck, you should face the mirror.” Bianca twisted her sister’s head back to where she wanted it.
“And Anson would give no craps about what I ware.” Cordi laughed.
“He is almost nauseatingly easy going.” Bianca rolled her eyes and jokingly pulled on Cordi’s hair.
“Perfect, you might say.” Rayne sighed, flopping back on the bed.
“He’s not perfect.” Cordi grinned, “He’s just obnoxiously understanding. When I just want to complain, it’s infuriating.” She glanced at Kyle. “How are things with you and Zack?”
“He’s far less understanding than his cousin. We fight and make up and laugh until it hurts. It’s almost like we never broke up.”
“So, you’re completely over the Robyn thing?” Rayne brushed a layer of polish over her nail. The girls fell silent for a second as Robyn’s name settled on the room, with it thoughts of Danni. It was their first big school event without her. Danni loved dances. She had always been their biggest cheerleader.
“I’ve figured something about Robyn since everything went down. It’s made not hating her a bit easier.”
“What’s that?” Bianca raised a skeptical eyebrow.
“She’s just a sad little girl looking for attention. I think she’s lonely.”
“What makes you think that?” Bianca asked, pulling another strand of hair through the straightening iron. “I don’t know if I believe she’s anything other than a manipulator.”
“Look how easily she took Danni in.” Kyle shrugged and twisted a few strands of hair into a braid. “It took a week for a girl she hated to become one of her closest friends.”
“That statement blankets Robyn and Danni.” Cordi pointed out “Danni hated Robyn, but she jumped into Robyn’s pocket as soon as the option was there. She wasn’t lonely, she had all of us.”
“Right, but we turned our backs on her.” Kyle replied. “Don’t get me wrong, Danni deserved what she got, but how would you have felt if it was you? Wouldn’t the offer of friendship be magnetic? How horrible must she have felt to know that every single one of her friends, friends she’d had since she was a little girl, had rejected her? Especially when she felt she hadn’t done anything wrong.”
“Which she had.” Bianca snarked.
“Correct.” Kyle agreed. “Robyn was different though. The breakup of our friendship, shouldn’t have affected her at all. She should’ve chuckled her evil little laugh and gone on with her slutty little life. But instead, she takes Danni in as one of her own, starts grooming her, and suddenly, they’re practically inseparable. Does that sound like a girl totally happy with her life?”
“I hadn’t thought of it that way.” Cordelia tilted thoughtfully. “That actually makes me feel a little bad for her, and I want to keep the rage. She keeps trying to break up my relationship.”
“With a new lap dog.” Rayne grunted. “Did I tell you guys that I saw Danni leaving her house the morning after the Fyvie thing?”
“What?” Bianca’s head snapped up as she straightened the last piece of her sister’s hair. “You most certainly did not!”
“I was out for my morning run…”
“Winter running is gross.” Kyle interjected playfully.
“Shut it, Kyle.” Rayne kicked her friend’s hip playfully “I passed Robyn’s block just as Danni crawled out of what I’m guessing is Robyn’s window. It was barely after dawn and she was still wearing her club clothes. Looks like she spent the night there.”
“She slept over at Robyn’s?” The words tasted dirty in Cordelia’s mouth.
Rayne nodded, recapping her nail polish bottle and waving her hands gently.
“It feels weird getting ready for a dance without her.” Cordelia pushed herself up from the vanity chair, running her fingers through her hair. The smooth, straight strands felt so unfamiliar. “More than any time in the last couple weeks, I miss her the most right now. I’ve never gone to a dance without her.”
“You’ve got us, and Anson, and the boys.” Rayne hugged her friend awkwardly with her still wet nails.
“It’s not the same.” Cordelia shrugged, trying to remain cheerful.
Kyle grinned as she put aside the mirror. “Do you want me to do your make-up?”
“Just some mascara.” She sat on the edge of the bed and opened her eyes wide.
“Danni will be at the dance tonight.” Rayne tossed out as she turned on some music.
“I thought she was super grounded.” Bianca sat down at the mirror to do her own hair.
“Yeah, that’s done. Caleb said their parents felt she’d been punished enough and they can’t ground her because she’s fighting with us.” Rayne tested her nails, deciding they were dry enough to do make-up.
“They’re right, but man,” Cordelia muttered “would it be easier if she was grounded.”
“She better not pull anything like she did at the club.” Bianca huffed as she finished her own hair.
“Oh! Oh!” Cordelia suddenly exclaimed. “Jumping to her feet.”
“What?!” Bianca spun around to face her sister.
“I figured it out. Anson’s great flaw! He has horrible taste in tv shows. He actually likes those horrible MTV reality shows.” Cordelia announced enthusiastically. After a short pause, everyone burst out laughing.
“That’s a pretty serious flaw, Cordi. You’d better dump his ass.” Rayne laughed, rolling her eyes.
“I’ll take that into consideration.” Cordelia skipped to the door. “I’m going to go get dressed.”
“Now, Cordelia,” Bianca turned to glare at her twin, “if you come out of that room with that sweater on, even as a joke, I’m going to kick your ass. Understand?”
“Sir, yes, sir.” Cordi saluted her.
“Do you have something to wear? Or do you need to borrow something of mine?”
“I brought some extra stuff too, just in case.” Kyle lifted up a giant bag.
“Actually, I bought something.” Cordelia blushed, still not entirely comfortable with the idea of taking care when picking outfits.
“You bought something!” Bianca’s face lit up in a bright grin. “When did you go shopping? Why wasn’t I invited?”
Cordelia took a deep breath “I hope it doesn’t look stupid.”
“Go change so we can see! Come on, go, go!” Rayne shooed her out of the room. “Do you want one of us to help you?”
“I need to start doing things on my own. Because I want to, not because someone else wants me to. Know what I mean?”
Kyle kissed her forehead and spun her into the hallway.
Once her bedroom door was closed behind her, Cordelia stepped in front of her mirror. She felt pretty. Prettier than she’d ever felt before. She knew that the glow wasn’t just from the styling. It wasn’t even from Anson. She felt different. Confident.
She glanced at the dress bag hanging in her closet. She’d been sneaking peaks at it all week. She’d had her dad to take her to the mall in Fairfield when Bianca was at dance class. She’d never shopped for a dress before and had no idea how to find one in her size. Actually, she didn’t even know what size she was. She always thought that she couldn’t it into pretty things. There was no one else at school her size. But she’d taken some of those sites Kyle had shown her while they were camping and tracked down the stores where those girls shopped. When she’d found there was one at the mall, she’d decided to find it. The cool shirts and sweaters in the window, on mannequins that didn’t make her feel completely inadequate, had been a pleasant surprise. She’s entered the store with fear and anxiety written all over her face.
And she’d found this girl working there, who was the same size as her, with the coolest purple streaks through her hair and tattoos down her arms. She’d helped Cordelia find an adorable royal blue, vintage style sailor dress with white piping. The skirt ended just below her knees, with a hint of crinoline peeking out of the bottom. She slipped on the red shoes covered in little white anchors she’d bought at the same time. Taking a deep breath, she stepped in front of the full-length mirror. The bodice of the dress was tighter than she was used to wearing, but she knew she looked good. Smiling, she grabbed a cardigan from the back of her chair and headed down the hall to her sister’s room.
She leaned forward until just her head was visible from inside the room. “Wanna see my dress?”
“Yes, yes, yes, yes ,yes!” Bianca jumped up and down in excitement. Her flirty green dress twirling around her knees, the strapless bodice dangerously low. Kyle stood behind her in a straight white shirt-dress dressed up with wooden jewelry and a belt. Rayne’s dress was silver, slinky and ended a few inches above her knees. The skirt bounced prettily as she danced in place, showing off her athletic legs. Cordelia looked at the three thin girls and suddenly felt a little stupid. She was at least four dress sizes bigger than Kyle’s muscular size ten. Years of anxiety came rushing back.
“I don’t know, maybe I should go change.” She felt a sudden wave of sickness. “I’m going to look stupid next to you guys.”
“Not a chance!” The other three rushed the door.
“Okay! Okay! Hang on!” Cordelia laughed and pushed open the door.
When she walked into the room, everyone fell silent. They stood and stared at her, open mouthed. When no one said a word, Cordelia wrapped her arms around herself. “I guess I look as ridiculous as I feel. I’m going to change.”
“You look beautiful.” Bianca’s voice was quiet. “My beautiful sister.” Tears welled up in her eyes.
“Why are you crying?” Cordelia tilted her head, perplexed.
“I’ve waited so long for you to see what everyone else sees in you.” She sniffled. “Fuck, Danni. I hate that she stiffled for so long.”
Cordelia handed her sister a tissue, changing the subject. “You’ll ruin your make-up.”
“We can’t have that.” Bianca sniffed and dabbed her eyes. “Come here.” She grabbed her sister’s arm and pulled her in front of the mirror. With their hair and fancy outfits, they looked more alike than they had in years.
“We’re damn attractive.” Cordelia stared in awe.
“Correct.” Kyle’s voice reminded her that there were other people in the room.
“Can we please go show Dad?” Bianca hugged her sister. The four girls trooped upstairs to find the twins’ father in the living room. “Dad?” Bianca went into the room first.
“Yes, Bianca?” Cordelia heard him answer. “You look lovely. I do wish the top was about six inches higher, though.”
“Oh Dad, you just don’t know fashion.” Bianca giggled. “I have a surprise for you?”
“Is it a sweater to go over that dress?” He laughed.
“No, it’s this.” Bianca hurried into the hallway, grabbed Cordelia’s hand, and dragged her into the living room. “Ta da! It’s your other beautiful daughter.”
Cordelia smiled at her father and tried to figure out what to do with her hands. “Hey Dad.”
“Oh…, you look beautiful, Cordelia.” He pushed himself out of the chair and pulled her into a tight hug. “You’re positively glowing.”
“Oh, Pops. You flatter me” She swatted me.
“It’s not flattery. It’s the truth.” He squeezed her hand. “Don’t go anywhere.” He hurried out of the room.
“What’s going on?” Cordelia looked at her sister.
“No idea. The dad has gone nutso.”
“Okay,” He rushed back in the room with a photo album tucked under his arm. “Look at this.” He flipped to a page in the middle and put the album on the table. On the left hand side was a black and white picture of a woman.
“Oh my god,” Bianca ran her finger across the image. “She looks…”
“Just like me.” Cordelia finished. The woman in the picture was pretty. Her dress was the almost the same as the one Cordelia was wearing, and the smile was bright even without colour. “Who is this?”
“That is your great grandmother. My mother’s mother.” He replied. “With your hair like that, I just realized how much you look like her. She was a fabulous woman.” He hurried over to the desk and grabbed his camera. “Now, I want a picture of you two to send to your grandmother. Stand together.” They smiled as he took a series of pictures.
“Can you take a couple of the four of us, Dad?” Cordelia waved for Kyle and Rayne to come into the room and handed over her phone.
“It’s strange to see you guys without Danni. I know you don’t want to talk to your stuffy old dad about whatever’s going on, but it feels a little incomplete.” He saw the smiles on the girls’ faces falter. “But enough of that, you all look beautiful. Are the boys picking you up?”
“We’re meeting them there.” Cordelia and hugged her dad.
“Are you hiding this boy from me?”
“Do you want to meet him?” Cordelia felt her heart speed up. “Really?”
“Of course.” He brushed a piece of her hair back behind her ear, “How about you and Bianca invite Greg and … Anson, is that his name?” Cordelia nodded. “How about you invite them over for supper next weekend and I’ll see if he’s worthy of my little girl?”
“I’m not a little girl, Dad.” She hugged him again and hurried to follow the others into the car.