Quinn always said she would be content, living that way: a love, a home, a job she liked and that earned her enough money to pay for the life she was used to. She hadn’t needed much more, and her days of ambition in high school were long gone.
She was content with settling, because it didn’t feel like settling.
She had always dreamed of two things—
(one in broad daylight, acceptance and love and a family, a home to go back to every night, a life like she dreamed as a little girl, a life like what was expected of her)
She had always been two girls—
(and the bedtime fantasies, muffled sounds under the pillow, under the comforter, dreams of rough and heavy and over and over again, until there was breathless, breathless with passion and starlight under her eyes, forbidden things and forbidden faces)
She had always hid and compartmentalized, separated aloud and whispered, separated the two girls until she could reconcile them.
And she had.
She had found this life almost by accident, stumbling over it late at night after a party, in her early twenties and hoping to go back, hoping to reconcile her past and the new turn she’d taken after high school.
(She’ll admit to it with a distracted, far-fetched giggle: the girl she met wasn’t the girl she was hoping to get back.)
She had found this life gradually, beginning with a drunken hook-up
(a hand down her underwear, absent-minded stroking, skin dark against her own, faster, and her back arching, bucking up against slick skin and skill, tight like a vice and bruising with intent)
on a night she was looking for something else, someone else entirely.
She had hoped for fantasies of love and sweetness to come true,
(not to be fucked raw and deep, not to be kissed by salt and sea, acid like an open woundand too much)
not realizing at the time that they had.
Not realizing both dreams had come true, dreams of stability and dreams of pleasure, dreams of changing and never going back.
She had come home late morning the next day, skin bruised and mottled with handprints and lips burning into her skin where they had been, and a smile around her words like a new beginning, like a renewal.
(Except it wasn’t, really, it was nothing but starting off where they had left, going back to tie bonds like they were never severed.)
She had come home thinking it was over, until a call late at night on the landline, waking up the flatmates and the cat, continuous noise and complaining until she picked up the phone and whined about the time, for half a second before being cut of, hey Q, been waiting for your call.
(the voice in her dreams, musky and low, raw, like going back to the shore after being lost at sea, a voice hovering over her skin for miles away and giving her chills)
She whispers a greeting, a farewell, not goodbye, not yet, promising to call back (when it isn’t—five in the morning, honestly Tana), promising not to leave, not to part.
They’re back leaving with each other a week after that
(Not yet together, not yet them with their shared coffees and fighting over the comforter, but back how it’d been, an endless sleepover, day after day of Quinn waking up sweaty and chilled in fear that she would have left, day after day of Santana laughing at her fear, not mocking but attempting comfort in her own way, day after day of being, as easy as breathing, and how it should have been.)
They routine shifts constantly, the only thing Quinn can hold on to as routine, the only thing she can expect. Every time it feels like the floor giving way under her, and every time she questions if it is liberating or frightening
(going from friends to losing touch, from a hook-up against a wall, against the floor, to a tantalizing week of coffee and dating, from living together again to sharing a bed, sharing a life)
If it really is what she wants, or simply something she grew accustomed to, if it really is what she needs, or mistaking fear with envy.
Sometimes she agrees with herself she’d rather wake up every day feeling the same way, she’d rather know what she’s doing and where she’s going instead of being blindfolded, pushed and pulled and tumbling along a path she doesn’t know where to,
(tumbling behind Santana and trusting her with her life, following her path instead of pursuing a dream)
but mainly she breathes each morning with the satisfaction of closure, of surprise, breathless already with intent of discovering where she is going, how is her life turning.
When she was a teenager she was two girls—
(one for daylight and one living in the shadows, pushed back under the bed and swallowed over swollen lips, over shame)
When she was a teenager she dreamed aloud of miracles and fairytales—
(and quiet, muted, about arms closing in over her, trapping her in, rougher lips than her own and a smile that smelled of cruelty)
It isn’t before years and years that the little girl she was, like two sides of the same coin, whispers over skin, over flesh, You were both dreams all along.