Chapter 14 – A Proper Upstanding Citizen

Quinn feels her phone vibrate in her pocket. It’s a message from Stevie. She’ll be ready in twenty five minutes. Quinn hadn’t realized how long she’d been picking though her closet. Grabbing a bag from the floor, she heads up the stairs.

“I’ll be home in a couple hours.” She yells while pulling on her boots.

“Okay!” Her sister’s voice bellows in her ear.

“Jesus!” Quinn jumps, turning to see her sister sitting on the stairs.

“I’m right here. There’s no need to yell.” Taylor grins.

“You handing out the candy this year?” She looks at the bowl and the small bulge in Taylor’s pocket.

“I’m too old to trick-or-treat.” She mimics their mother. It’s the first year Taylor hasn’t been allowed to go. “So I’m handing it out.”

The singsong voices of children sound from the other side of the door. Pulling open the heavy wood, Taylor reveals a small group of kids in an array of cute, but mostly typical costumes. Quinn smiles at the little girl dressed like Rainbow Brite, no more than three, her parents standing proudly on the sidewalk. She grabs some candy from the bowl and leans over to put it in the little girl’s bag, smiling at Taylor as the group runs away excitedly.

“I’m heading out for a couple of hours. I’ll be home later.” Quinn kisses her sister on the cheek and heads out the door. Soon, she’s parking her car and heading up the stone steps. The chapel isn’t as empty as it would normally be on a Wednesday evening, but Halloween tends to bring out the uber religious of the town. Quinn steps into the main room, running her hand along the smooth wood of a pew, not sure what she was hoping to find here.

“Hello, Quinn.” A soft voice sounds behind her.

“Hi Mr. Monroe.” She smiles at the minister. “Busy night?”

“Not generally. I’m just finishing up some paperwork before I head home to relieve Terry of candy duty.” He steps up beside her, staring at the front of the room. “What brings you in tonight? I thought you’d be out with your friends. You always struck me as a Halloween girl.”

“I am, but the parents don’t love me partying on school nights.” Quinn shrugs, her fingers still tracing along the wood. “I figured I’d come in for a little bit and get class prepped for Sunday.”

“Any ideas what you’re going to teach?”

“I actually wanted to talk to you about that. Do you have a minute?”

“For my favourite resume padder, absolutely.” He grins and leads her over to his office.

“I’m wondering if you can talk to me a little about your opinion on… homosexuality.”

“Well, there are two schools of thought in the church when it comes to sexuality.” He doesn’t asking why she wants to know. “One believes that homosexuality is a sin. An abomination before God. The other, the one I believe, says that we are all created in God’s image, so therefore, if someone’s gay, it’s because that’s the way they’re supposed to be.”

Quinn nods, tapping her fingers against her legs, fidgeting almost uncontrollably.

“What does this have to do with your Sunday school lesson, Quinn?” He raises an eyebrow. “How exactly are you planning to work that into a lesson for kids who are too young to even understand dating?”

“I was think of doing a class on love – all kinds of love. Friendship. Marriage. Families. And just kind of slip some images of same sex couples in there. Show them that it’s totally normal before someone can convince them it’s not.”

“I think that’s an excellent class. Teach love and acceptance of everyone. You should also include some mixed race couples and maybe non-traditional parents.”

“Non-traditional?”

“People like the person I imagine you will be when you grow up.” He shrugs. “A little left of centre.”

“Good idea.” Quinn nods. “I’m just worried about how other people will react. Not everyone here believes in your option number two. And that means people can’t always be who they are.”

“What do you mean?”

“What’s a person supposed to do if they think that they might be gay, but their parents believe that it’s a sin?”

“Are you worried about your own parents, Quinn?” Jake crosses his legs casually, but his forehead wrinkles.

“No… I mean, obviously. I’m dating your son. I’m talking hypothetically.” Quinn stammers.

“Of course.” He nods as he pulls a bowl of candies from the table beside him, offering one to her before taking one for himself. He lets the conversation linger for a moment while he unwraps the candy and pops it into his mouth. He lets the silence sit until she keeps talking.

“Is it worse to have someone angry at you or to disappoint them?” She fidgets. “Like, let’s pretend it’s me. You know my parents. Those are the people I’m worried about. Normal people who’ve never been exposed to other options. Who are simply stuck in their ways because they’ve never known another. There are so many ways I could disappoint them.”

“Okay, let’s pretend it’s you, just to make the conversation easier. Are you more worried about disappointing them, or disappointing yourself?”

“What do you mean?” Quinn pauses, the candy halfway to her mouth.

“Does any part of you think that by admitting being gay they’re giving up on a so called appropriate future?” He asks the question like a teacher.

“What do you think is an appropriate future?”

“It doesn’t matter what I think.” He raises a hand when she begins to respond. “I don’t actually want you to answer. I want you just to think about it. Can anyone, other than you, figure out what you’re supposed to become? Does anyone else have the right?”

“But, I’ve always been taught…” she pauses for a moment. “I don’t know.” She pauses again, and realizes how out of place she must seem sitting here, in this room, in a shirt covered in skulls, even if they are cute little skulls with pink ribbons.

“Quinn.” He reaches across the space between them, gently touching her hand. “I’ve known you for a long time, but recently I’ve seen a change in you that isn’t positive. You’ve always been this strong, vivacious character. It’s one of the things that drew Terry to you. You knew who you were. You didn’t care that other people looked at you, or criticized you because you were different. You were the kid a lot of people thought they needed to protect themselves from. But you’ve won over the members of the congregation. They know that you’re genuine and here by choice. Someone that wants to go to church, but still wants to choose an alternative lifestyle. Something different from the kids who only come to church because their parents make them.”

He pauses for a moment, letting his words sink in. “But over the last month or so, you’ve changed. You aren’t that strong person anymore. You’re letting yourself fade into the background. I can’t explain it, and I don’t think you can either, but I think it’s something that you really need to think about. That’s where you’ll find your answers.” Standing, he indicates that their meeting has come to an end.

Quinn nods. Still sitting in the comfortable armchair, she looks at the small golden clock on the table, the base spinning in rhythmic motion, counting off the minutes. 6:30. Time to meet Stevie. She stands, following her minister to his desk.  “Thank you for talking to me. That turned into a much deeper talk than I was expecting.”

“It’s been my pleasure.” He moves to a closet and retrieves his coat. “There is one thing though, Quinn. And I’m removing the minister hat and putting on my dad cap for this. When you’ve put this much thought into a hypothetical question, it usually means something. Please figure out what you need and if it’s not my son, tell him. Don’t string him along. You both deserve better than that.”

Quinn nods, her face burning with shame, and hurries out of the room. She makes sure no one is watching before scurrying down to the basement. Once through the familiar door, she sees Stevie sitting cross-legged on the floor, a book open in her lap. Her denim clad legs a much better forecaster of winter than the weather channels. Stevie’s so involved in her reading that she hasn’t heard the door open. The fluttering in Quinn’s stomach makes her feel worse about Terry, but she presses it down. She’ll deal with that later.

“Hey, Sugar.” Quinn grabs the always ready chair and jams it back under the doorknob. Stevie glances up, startled, her lips part in surprise before widening into a happy grin.

“It’s been too long.” Stevie pushes off the floor and closes the gap between them in two long strides, her book slipping to the floor with a soft thump. She wraps her arms around her girlfriend. Yanking her close. Their lips meet in a passionate exchange. Pulling at each other. Ravenous. Like this might be their last chance. “You taste like butterscotch.” Stevie sighs.

“Church candy.” Quinn breathes into her ear, taking the lobe between her teeth, letting the skin scrape gently through to its release. Quinn pulls the other girl to the carpet with her. No more uncomfortable than the grass at a bush party. Quinn straddles Stevie’s lap. Running her fingers from the tips of Stevie’s fingers, braced against the floor, up her arms, across her shoulders, around her neck. Her movements are slow. Deliberate. Pressing their torsos together as she brings her lips down to Stevie’s.

Stevie’s hands find Quinn’s knees, her thighs. The skin of her palms soft. The size small. So different from Terry’s.  Quinn’s longed for this for two weeks. Two weeks of convincing her boyfriend to take things slow. Two agonizingly slow weeks. She lets Stevie’s fingers work their way beyond the hem of her skirt.

When they’re both exhausted and satisfied, Stevie flops on the carpet, feeling the scratchy carpet against her bare skin. She rolls to her side, fingers splayed against Quinn’s stomach, the soft skin warm beneath her fingers.

“I’ve missed you so much.” Stevie smiles, distractedly tracing designs across the expanse of skin. “I can’t believe I’ve gone two weeks without you. It’s been torture. And not just this part. I’ve missed talking to you.”

“I know what you mean.” Quinn stares at the ceiling, her arms crossed behind her head. Her eyes slide in Stevie’s direction, inhaling as the emerald gaze meets her own. She leans forward and kisses the tip of her nose. “Your eyes are green today.”

“They always are when I’m really happy.” Stevie sighs. “I never want to go that long without talking to you again.”

“I can’t promise it won’t happen.” Quinn pushes herself up to a sitting position, pulling her bra from the floor beside her. “This is part of the problem with dating me.”

“What do you mean?” Stevie brushes her fingers gently across her girlfriend’s knee.

“What I said when you first came out. It’s harder to sneak around when people expect you to be doing it.” The fear that has so often filled Quinn over the last few weeks begins again. “But I have potentially happy making news?”

“What’s that?” Stevie watches her curiously.

“I’m breaking up with Terry tomorrow.”

“What!” Stevie pops up into a sitting position.

“This isn’t fair. To him. To you. To me. To other people.” Quinn sighs. “I was talking to his dad tonight, and I realized that that is an important relationship in my life. As are you. And Terry as a friend. I can’t keep doing this to him. It’s not just cruel; it’s making me a bad person.”

“You’re not a bad…”

“Yes I am, Stevie.” Quinn slaps her hand against the carpet. “I am stringing this boy along and making him think a care about him as something more than a friend. I’m letting him think that maybe this is going somewhere. It’s not. It won’t. Ever. Even if you and I stopped seeing each other, Terry and I would never be a couple. The spark just isn’t there. I need to stop this before it goes any further. So tomorrow. Or maybe Friday. Soon. Soon I am breaking up with him. Before it ruins our friendship. As long as he doesn’t find out about us, I think we can go back to just being friends.”

“See, that’s what makes you a good person.” Stevie leans over and kisses Quinn’s forehead. “But let’s not talk about that now. Right now, let’s just relish in a little us time.”

Quinn scoots backwards until she’s leaning against the wall. Dragging the bag she brought closer, she pats the spot on the floor in front of her. Stevie crawls across the floor and sits between Quinn’s legs, resting her back against Quinn’s chest.

“I brought you something.” Quinn wraps her arms around Stevie’s waist, resting her chin on the other girl’s shoulder, inhaling the familiar scent.

“Right! I forgot I asked you to bring me clothes.”

“Well, I actually bought you this a couple weeks ago. It got forgotten in all the stuff that’s happened.”

“You bought me a present?”

“And it just happens to be exactly what you asked for.”

“Yay! Let me see. I love presents.” Clapping her hands, Stevie bounces with excitement.

“Who doesn’t like presents?” Quinn chuckles, “Settle down before I get distracted again.”

“Would that be so bad?” Her movements slow to a more deliberate rhythm.

“It’s never bad.” Quinn’s breathes deeply. “But it’s not like we’ve got butt loads of time tonight. And sometimes, I know this sounds crazy, but sometimes, I want to do girly stuff like talk and share our feelings.”

“You’re such a girl.” Stevie jokes, turning to sit on her knees and face her girlfriend. “Present me.” Quinn hands her the bag. Stevie opens it and sees the shirt lying inside. Pink and black with little cap sleeves. Very 1950’s pin-up.

“I love it.” She holds the shirt out in front of her. “How amazing would this look with my little black skirt?”

“That’s exactly why I bought it.” Quinn smiles contentedly. She feels truly happy. Something she hasn’t felt in a while. This is where she’s the most comfortable. She smiles as Stevie tries on the new shirt and pulls the buttons closed. “You look beautiful.” Quinn leans forward, pulling Stevie towards her, pressing her lips against the silky skin in the hollow of her throat.

“Quinn.” The voice escapes through Stevie’s lips. Both encouraging and pleading. “Remember what you said about time.”

Sighing, Quinn releases Stevie’s waist. “I know. But you’re just so… god. It’s unnatural for someone to be this cute, and smart, and brave.”

“I’m just me, Quinn. I’m those things because you see them in me.” Stevie smiles, adjusting her clothes. “How do I look?” She jumps into a pose.

“Fantastic, but you should probably think about wearing pants.” Quinn grins from her perch on the floor.

“Oops.” Stevie giggles and grabs the pile of denim from the floor. She pulls her girlfriend up into a tight hug. “It’s time to go.” Checking the hallway, Stevie grabs her stuff, waves to Quinn, and slips out the door.

Chapter 15

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