As a young girl Magdalena had liked Dade Farnon. He had been quiet and somewhat sullen in temperament, but so was her brother, and she had worshipped Benjamin in those days, so she had never held it against Dade. Some people were just like that. But then all these rumours began to spread.
Dade Farnon was mad.
He set little girls on fire.
And Alena didn't know what to think but the consensus amongst her burgeoning group of friends was that Dade Farnon was dangerous.
And then one day Dade turned up at school not looking very much like Dade at all and that seemed to settle it - Connor's brother was a little loopy.
Alena remembered feeling embarrassed for Dade and for herself. She began to find it difficult to look at Dade or talk to Dade, without feeling like she was gawking at him, which was incredibly rude and not how she had been raised to behave, so she had ceased to look or talk or think about Connor's brother at all. Occasionally she would offer Connor a sympathetic ear, because it must be very lonely to lose a sibling especially when that sibling was moving past you everyday and morphing into someone unrecognisable, and despite their disputes Alena could not fathom a reality in which her siblings did not claim her as their own.
But otherwise Magdalena's life remained untouched by Dade who had become Dakota. Which was probably how she had found herself in this position. Only vaguely recognising Dakota's figure from a distance she had accidentally landed herself in conversation with a known Black Sheep. As Head student it was her duty to remain polite and welcoming to all students but her heart was beating fast and her feet began to shift awkwardly back and forth, as though she had placed them in the wrong shoes. Alena continued to hold the cotton candy but noted that it had not been accepted and felt her resolve waning. But then Connor’s brother was accepting the treat and making introductions and Alena found herself taking the hand of a cute boy and smiling.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you David,” she said face flooding with relief, she had never been a good conversationalist and was glad to have basic pleasantries to fall back on. “Have you known Dad - Dakota long?”
She thought her cheeks might be turning red at the misstep and prayed that she had applied enough makeup that it would not be noticeable but was surprised at how natural it felt to say ‘’Dakota’’. Alena wasn’t sure she had ever actually spoken their name allowed before, had probably spent the past few years subconsciously avoiding addressing them at all. But the fluidity of names was something Alena could understand. People changed their names all the time, or went by different names with different people, or in different situations. She went by many variations of her own name and hoped to soon drop parts of it altogether. Gender was, however, a more confusing business and one she preferred not to think about at all.