Before long, Quinn’s parking the car, trudging through a layer of snow, and rapping on a large wooden door. She waits. When nothing happens, she knocks again, harder this time. Finally, footsteps sound from inside. The door pulls open to frame a skinny blond standing in an enormous entryway.
“What do you want?” Chelsea’s nose crinkles like she smells something gross.
“Did you do it?” Quinn’s hands grip her hips, instinctively mimicking Chelsea’s stance, balancing their power dynamic.
“You know what I’m talking about.” Quinn seethes.
“Okay, psycho. Whatever.” Chelsea starts to close the door. Quinn jams a black booted foot between the door and its frame. Her hand slaps the wood as she pushes the door open and steps across the threshold. The walls are lined with pictures of Chelsea. Some with her parents. Most just her. More photos on this one space than there are in Quinn’s entire house. It’s no wonder the girl thinks she’s the centre of the universe.
“Did you do this to Stevie?” Quinn snarls. She ignores the sensation of the stares from the photos’ vacant eyes.
Chelsea takes a step back. A look of actual panic passes over her face. “Are you serious? Why would I do that?” For a second her face softens, but only for a second. “Why do you care?”
“Did you do it?” Quinn asks again, stuck on repeat until she gets an answer. Not moving. Just staring.
“Why would you suddenly care what happened to Stevie? Seriously?” Chelsea cocks her head to one side. Then a flash of insight shines behind her eyes. “Oh my god. You’re the girl, aren’t you?” Quinn refuses to answer. “You’re the reason Stevie threw her life away. For you?” Chelsea takes in Quinn’s outfit with disgust. “You?”
“If I am, do you really think you should keep avoiding the question?” Quinn steps towards Chelsea until the other girl has backed herself against the wall, her hair skimming one of the ornate frames. Quinn places a hand on the wall above each of the bare tanned shoulders. “Do you want to find out what happens when you piss off a freak?”
Chelsea’s face betrays her fear, but she still doesn’t answer.
“I will ask one more time. Did you do this to Stevie?”
“No.” Seeing the disbelief on Quinn’s face, Chelsea races on. “No! For real, I didn’t!” She insists. “Stevie was my friend for years. She was important to me. Even if she disgusts me now, I would never hurt her like that.”
“You’re not lying?” Quinn does nothing to ease the space between them. She keeps Chelsea as uncomfortable as possible. “You’re a known liar, Chelsea.”
“I may bend the truth, but beating people up is not my style. It’s tacky and disgusting. I wouldn’t risk hurting myself. Hello, do I look like I’ve been in a fight recently? Besides, I’ve been torturing you and your friends for years. Have I ever resorted to violence?”
“Point taken.” Quinn pushes herself away from Chelsea, believing her for some reason. “I don’t get you. Stevie was your best friend for years. She tells you this huge thing about herself and you throw it right back in her face. You tossed her away like garbage.”
“There are rules, Quinn. You know that.” Chelsea relaxes in the space Quinn has allowed between them. “And Stevie broke the rules. You don’t just get away with that. If I let her do it, everyone else would think they could do it to. I have enough trouble keeping you freakshows in line. I don’t need to worry about the band geeks jumping on the bandwagon. Besides, gay people are disgusting.”
Before Quinn realizes what she’s doing, her hand is on Chelsea’s shoulder, throwing her back against the wall. She shakes herself loose and starts towards the door. Her hand is on the knob when turns back to Chelsea, who is rubbing her shoulder angrily. “What about Brianne?”
“What about her?”
“Would she have done that to Stevie?”
An unexpected look flashes across Chelsea’s face. “Why… why would you think that?”
“She would do anything to impress you. She is your new little lap dog after all. She’s always resented coming second fiddle to Stevie. You’ve seen what she’s doing to people. People you don’t even care about. What would she do to someone that she actually thought you hated? And you looked awfully mad at her this morning after the announcement?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. And if Brie did it, it was her choice.” Although she stands with her hands firmly clutching the grooves of her hips, Chelsea’s voice lacks the confidence it normally carries. “I did not tell her to do this.”
“You sure?” Quinn steps closer again, her face contorting with anger. “You didn’t maybe mention to her that someone should do something like this? That Stevie deserved…”
“To be taught a lesson? Sure, maybe, but if I did, it was just in passing. Nothing serious. Nothing that you haven’t said about one of us.” Seeing the fury rising on Quinn’s face, Chelsea races on, “But I didn’t mean it! Really. And Brianne should have known that. I was just running off at the mouth. I meant for people to talk down to her. To treat her like shit. Not this.”
“You still put the idea in her head.”
“Whatever you think of me, believe that I would never have been responsible for this. I think too much of myself to have had anything to do with this. Like I would ever risk my own future just to have someone beaten up.” It takes Quinn a moment to place the look on Chelsea’s face; earnestness is so out of character for her. “And if I don’t like you big gay lezbos, Brianne is positively homophobic. Whatever she did, she did by her own volition.”
“I guess it’s time to pay Brianne a visit.” Turning to leave, Quinn gets only one step before she feels a hand on her arm. Looking down, she sees the tanned, slender fingers, ending in perfectly manicured French nails, gripping the fabric of her sweater.
“Don’t.” Chelsea’s voice is almost pleading.
“Excuse me? You think I’m going to let her get away with this?” Quinn attempts to shake off Chelsea’s hand.
“You can’t prove that she did it, and if you confront her, do you think she’ll have any problem going after you? Especially once she figures out what you are?”
“Why would you even care about what happens to me?”
“Believe me, I don’t.” Chelsea’s grip tightens, “But I definitely mentioned teaching you and your friends a lesson. If she did do that to Stevie, and she does it to you, she can say I asked her to do it. I don’t want my life ruined over a couple lezzies that I don’t give a crap about. That girl is bat-shit crazy, and I don’t need her ruining my future.”
“Chelsea,” a voice calls from somewhere deep in the house, “let’s take advantage of your day off and go tanning.”
“I’ll be there in a second, Mom.” Chelsea calls back through the house. “You need to get out of my house.” She turns back to Quinn.
“You’re a peach, Chelsea. That’s what you are. Don’t let a little beating get in the way of your skin cancer.” Quinn roughly peels the fingers away from her arm, leaving the door wide open behind her as she stomps her way to her car. One objective in mind: find Brianne.
Back in her jeep, she guns the engine, feeling the tires slide as they attempt to grip the icy road. Finally, they catch and the vehicle shoots forward. She tries to think of where Brianne would be.
Driving slowly down Main Street, she looks carefully at each vehicle parked along the road. None of them resemble Brianne’s ridiculously impractical silver convertible. She checks the theatre, the school, the library, the deli. Nothing. Finally, she decides to swing by Brianne’s house on the outskirts of town, just over the railroad tracks. A giant house at the end of a long winding drive. As her car passes through the break in the trees, she sees Brianne’s car parked in front of the house. Still running. Waiting for the driver to return.
Renewed anger floods through Quinn, heating her skin. Her fingers drum against the steering wheel. Waiting for the other girl to step out of the house. Quinn’s leg begins to shake with the effort to remain in the car. The long handle on the door twists down, begins to pull inward, but stops after only an inch. Quinn’s hand reaches for the door handle, pulsing with energy as she waits to see who’s behind it. The fingers of her other hand tap rapidly against the gear shift. The person behind the door seems stuck there, like they’ve forgotten how a door works.
Just when Quinn’s ready to bolt from the car and shove the door open. To rip whomever it is from their safety zone behind the panel of wood. Her phone jingles a message. Sitting face up on the dash, she catches the screen out of the corner of her eye: new message, from ‘Jennifer’. She grabs the phone. Clumsy, excited fingers fumble with the lock code. It almost falls from her hands. Tightening her fingers, she activates the screen. The text is simple “Come. Please”.
Throwing the phone onto the seat, Quinn jams the car into gear and takes off, the front door of the house never opening the entire way.