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[Interlude:] Boarding School

Cassandra Allen

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Location: Parking lot of Blazers' Fresh Food Market
Time: Thursday, Sept 5th

There were quite a few markets around Shelley and the unincorporated areas, but for groceries there were two choices. Albertsons...and Blazers. One was a giant; unrivaled in size, price and availability for anyone that didn't want to make the long trip to the Walmart in Great Falls. The other was Blazers. Bless them, they tried.

A smaller store, locally owned, it got by on a small slice of loyal customers that lived in the neighborhood. Barely. What that meant was that, particularly before working hours let out, the parking lot was oversized; built for a time before big out-of-state megamarts were a thing. A handful of cars clustered near the store, leaving vast swaths of relatively flat paved asphalt with fading paint outlining where parking was to be done. Unlike smaller strip-mall venues, there were no culverts or big dips or ridges, barely even intermittent traffic, and no curb or rails or other features to make it an interesting place for skaters to hang out.

That's where Cassandra texted Autumn to meet her.

She was there before Autumn, easily identified on her bike with her bushy blonde hair floofing in the afternoon breeze like some kind of lion's mane. On spotting her friend's approach, Cassie waved and quickly got a scrunchie out to scrunch said mane into a quick-n-dirty ponytail that wouldn't get whipped into her face at an embarrassing moment. She wasn't bad at skateboarding at all, but she wasn't so good at it that she willfully handed the universe ammunition to use against her.

"Hey!" she called. "You made it! Here...I have some stuff for you."

Cass delved into the backpack she had on; pressed into service away from school for the day. From within came curious plastic pieces that Autumn didn't place immediately. They were curved and dully shiny, set onto stretchy-looking fabric. Then she saw the straps and bands and realized...oh, you wear it.

"You are going to want protective gear," explained Cassandra, grinning. "This is why Marissa will never stand where you are now standing. No such thing as designer elbow guards. So...these are for your elbows, these your knees...some people get shins and knees both together in like a kind of...boot, but I like it better separate so that's what you got. Uh, helmet. Make sure you get it on pretty snug, but not TIGHT, you know?"

She watched as Autumn got the hang of fitting the pieces to herself and fumbled with the straps, loosening them and tightening the elastic straps as she got used to how they sat.

When her friend was all gussied up like she was ready to play a post-apocalyptic deathsport, Cassie produced her skateboard, which had been under her backpack on a little hook that had been sewed onto it. She set it down and gestured Autumn over.

"So...just so you know how this works, the first part of doing this is falling off. Like, a lot. Partly just because you won't be good at first, but also because the thing that fucks you up the most is being afraid of falling, right? So taking a few spills, and not getting hurt, helps you get over that. Here it's just you and me, and believe me I will not be judging you for falling off the board."

"Just a general note to get you started...and you'll start figuring it out as you go too, because your body kind of figures it out...but you get on the board like this..." she stepped onto the board with her left foot leading even as her right foot was pushing her forward in a normal sort of walking motion. Her foot started out pointing forward, but as she lifted her right foot up onto the back of the board, she rotated it so that both feet were sideways across the width of the board, and she was standing on it sideways. This set the skateboard rolling forward at about a walking speed.

Cass waggled her eyebrows as she hopped back off the board and quick as a snake snapped a foot out to catch the board before it squirted out from under her feet from the movement. "Any questions?"

Edited by Cassandra Allen
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  • 1 year later...

“Only about fifty, and more literally every day,” Autumn replied with a brief glance and a broad grin at her partner-in-pluck, squinting slightly in the sunlight as she fiddled with the cinch-straps around her knees. “Just not about the skateboard. At least,” she amended with another fleeting flash of teeth, “not yet. Maybe I’ll have some after I’ve landed on my butt a few times, shaken them loose a little.” A quick movement of her hands on either side of her helmet suggested the jostling that might entail even as she considered, for just a moment, how weird it was to be wearing the foam-and-plastic armor at all, when the only danger was completely mundane- scraped knees, maybe, or sprained wrists. It was kind of… Ironic? Incongruous? One of those. Would’ve been nice to have these a few days ago, she mused, wiggling a little to see how the pads felt as Cassie handed her the clearly well-loved skateboard with an answering smile.

Yeah, well, her inner voice replied wryly, maybe next time you go up against an alien god-thing you’ll take more than a prybar and a prayer.

Ooorrrr… Maybe we could just try to avoid fighting ancient nightmare spirits in Hell dimensions?

If a mental voice could snort, Autumn’s did. I mean, sure, good luck with that.

She had to admit, it wasn’t exactly like they’d had much of a choice in the matter, which meant they probably wouldn’t in the future, either. At least, not if there were still monsters out there like the one Cody had become, and it was hard to imagine that there weren’t, logically. And that also meant more people like Charlie- No. She shook her head again. This wasn’t helping. As always, thinking was easier in motion, and the redhead set the board down on the faded asphalt, experimentally rolling it back and forth with her left foot.

“Nice,” Cassandra teased good-naturedly. “Now try getting on it.”

“I’m getting there,” Autumn retorted in kind, all but sticking her tongue out at the irrepressible blonde as she made a face and, true to her word, stepped forward. Much as Cassie had done, she used her right foot to continue the forward motion, wobbling a little, and that was fine, but- “Shit! How do I-?!” -turn my foot, she would’ve asked, had she actually managed to get the words out instead of a startled, slightly panicked yelp that echoed across the mostly-empty parking lot. With a sharp clatter, the board went sailing backward, leaving her to stagger forward gracelessly, arms up and flailing to stay upright as it went out from under her shoes. “Damn it,” she swore as she turned to chase after the skateboard, laughing even as her face burned from adrenaline and embarrassment. “Okay, hang on, let me try that again.”

And she did- not once, not twice, but half a dozen times before the persistent redhead finally managed to pivot her right foot without sending the board flying, to be chased down and retrieved while Cassie just laughed and cheered her on, remembering her own first time. “Hell yeah!” Autumn crowed triumphantly when she succeeded at last, wide-eyed and grinning like a kid as she rolled forward a few feet in a victory pose and cautiously hopped off, scooping the board up before it could go sailing away again. Back and forth she went, practicing getting on and getting off with varying degrees of success until she got a better feel for the board under her feet. “How long have you been doing this?” she asked after a little while, tentatively hazarding a curious glance at the more experienced blonde as she rolled slowly past.

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