Two blocks later, Quinn pulls the jeep over to the side of the road. The green car sits in the driveway. From the bedroom window on the second floor, a light twinkles against the darkening sky. No other lights are on. Quinn goes directly for the backdoor and steps inside without knocking. Leaving her boots in the entryway, she starts up the stairs at the back of the house; the carpeting absorbs the sound of her footsteps.
She stops at the door with a poster of a mist-filled cemetery. Taking a deep breath, Quinn slowly raises her fist and brings it down to meet the wood. Behind the door, footsteps cross the floor. The door swings open without hesitation. Ellie pauses for a moment, her face blank before recognition clicks. She immediately closes the door. A soft click sounds as it comes to rest in its jamb.
“At least she didn’t slam it in my face,” Quinn mutters to herself. She knocks again.
“I’m not speaking to you, Quinn.” Ellie calls through.
“That’s not okay with me, Ellie.” Their voices sound hollow as they pass back and forth through the door.
“Not really your choice.”
“Well, you’ll either have to listen or plug your ears.” Quinn slides against the wall until she’s sitting on the floor, staring at the entrance to her best friend’s room.
“You don’t get to just dump this shit into my lap” Ellie’s voice rises as she rips open the door. Realizing she’s yelling at nothing, her eyes quickly scan the hallway until she finds Quinn on the floor. “and then expect me to just accept it and act like everything’s normal.” She continues seamlessly.
“If I had known that you were so narrow-minded, I would never have told you.” Quinn remains sitting on the floor. She can’t believe Ellie is reacting so badly.
“Oh fuck off!” Ellie turns and walks back into her room, leaving the door open. Quinn pushes herself up off the ground and steps over the threshold.
“Fuck off? Really?” Leaning against the door jamb, Quinn crosses her arms over her chest.
“Yeah.” Ellie throws herself onto her bed. On her back, hands resting on her stomach, she stares at the ceiling.
“You think it’s that easy? You’re a homophobe, so I should just fuck off?”
“I am not homophobic!” Indignant, Ellie pushes herself back into a seated position. “How dare you! Why would you think that!?”
“Um, hello.” Quinn waves her hand at the air between them. “You find out I’m dating a girl and this whole thing happening between us right now starts.”
“Oh, whatever. This has nothing to do with you being gay.”
“Okay, at this point in the story, I am so confused I need to sit down.” Quinn shakes her head as she steps further into the room and takes a seat on the floor under the window.
“What are you talking about?”
“What am I talking about? What are you talking about! What do you mean this has nothing to do with me being… gay. I tell you and you freak out and storm off and refuse to speak to me.”
“No. What you told me was that you were dating a girl from that group and then I stormed off.”
“Those are the same story.”
“From that group, Quinn!” Ellie thumps her hand into her palm with each word. “I don’t care that it’s a girl. My reaction would have been the same if it had been Kevin. Two sides of the same terrible coin.”
“It bothers you that much?” Quinn leans forward, her elbows resting against her knees.
Ellie takes a deep breath to compose herself. “You know how much I hate them.”
“So much that you would be willing to give up me? To give up our friendship?” Quinn shakes her head. “I can’t believe that’s true, Ellie.”
“What if you become one of them? You used to be.”
“I was eleven!”
“People do stupid stuff when they’re trying to be with someone.”
“I would never stoop to being part of the popular crowd.” Quinn dramatically puts a hand to her chest. “I have standards.”
The corner of Ellie’s mouth hitches up into a brief smirk. “But how do you know? What if you stay with her?”
“You do remember how Stevie’s not part of that crowd anymore, right?”
“For how long? They all go running back to Chelsea eventually.” Quinn simply raises an eyebrow in Ellie’s direction. “Okay, you’re probably right. After what happened, she’s probably won’t do that.”
“But she used to be part of them. She was there through all the crap.” Ellie insists.
“But she never did it to you.” Quinn insists.
“So it was alright to stand by and watch it happen? To not do anything when you know something horrible is happening. Like, people that don’t stop abuse are A-Okay because they didn’t do it?”
“No. Wait. That’s not what I’m saying. How did I suddenly become pro-abuse?”
“I’m not saying that.”
“Then what are you saying, Ellie? I don’t understand what you’re talking about.”
“There’s just so much going on in my head. I’m just saying…” Ellie drops her head into her hands. “Whatifiloseyou?” Her muffled words run together.
“What if I lose you?” Her voice is clearer, even though her face is still buried in her hands.
“Lose me?” Quinn pushes herself up from the floor. “How would you lose me? I’m right here.”
“Okay, so you know how when you date someone, they eventually become your best friend. And then, you have your other best friend that’s a girl that you can talk about girl stuff. Like I have Jason, and I have you.”
“Well, now you’re dating a girl. And you already have Geoff as your other best friend. So what do you need me for anymore?”
Quinn kneels on the floor and takes Ellie’s hands away from her face. “You…” she looks up into her best friend’s face “are a dumbass.”
“What?” Ellie crinkles her forehead.
“You need me to spell it out for you? D-U-M-“
“Stop. Stop.” Ellie laughs, pulling her hands free. She tucks a strand of loose hair behind Quinn’s ear. “I’m not a dumbass, and I have a valid concern.”
“Don’t be stupid about this, Ellie. I will always need you. There will always be things I can talk to you about that I can’t talk to Stevie or Geoff about.” Quinn slides up onto the bed and pushes back until she’s leaning against the wall. “Stevie’s pretty cool and all, but I can’t have a conversation with her about B grade sci-fi movies. Or the detailed history of vampire lore. Or what restaurant serves the best variety of dumplings. I need you for all those things.”
“Yeah, those are really important conversations.” Ellie crosses her legs, elbows resting on her knees.
“They are to me. And when I’m completely pissed off, or frustrated, or angry with her, do you think I’m going to go to Geoff? Oh Geoff, please help me talk about my feelings. Don’t be ridiculous. I’m going to come to you. And you’re going to know, from the tone in my voice, whether I need a triple shot mocha with whip cream and extra caramel sauce or a straight black coffee.”
“You’re sure?” Ellie sniffs, close to tears.
“Absolutely.” Quinn grabs Ellie’s hand and drags her to her feet. “Now let’s go to the kitchen and you can get me some ice cream.” Quinn pulls her friend into a hug. Ellie’s arms wrap around her and hold her tight.
“Thanks, friend.” She sniffs. “Sorry I was a looney toon.”
“Ice cream. Ice cream makes everything better.” Quinn brushes her off and pulls her into the hallway.