Chapter 23 – The Other Woman

The next few days pass in a blur of monotony. Quinn wakes up. Gets dressed. Goes to school. Visits Stevie. Goes home. Tries to figure out how to tell her dad what’s going on. Officer Bracken kept her word when she contacted Quinn’s father. Had Quinn been home the night of the attack? Why? They’re checking with all the students from the senior class. Yes, it’s going to take some time.

School is the hardest part. Sitting at her desk, waiting. Eternally waiting.

Waiting for the police to come through the door and drag Brianne out of her desk. To slap on handcuffs and announce to the entire student body what she’d done. To make her confess. To demean her and make her pay.

Waiting to lose control and throw herself across the room to rip the newly bleached hair out of the mean girl’s head. Waiting for someone to make the connection between the scabs forming on Brianne’s knuckles and Stevie’s attack. To catch the smug look on Brianne’s face. To stop her from continuing her reign of terror on the underclassmen.

Waiting for her secret to spill past Chelsea’s lips. But Chelsea has been surprisingly silent since the morning after the attack. Waiting for the ball to drop and everyone to start blaming her for what happened to Stevie.

Waiting to have to face Terry. Except he hasn’t been to school since the incident in her bedroom. No one has spoken to him. Their phone calls go unanswered. Quinn wonders what he could possibly have told his father to convince him to let Terry stay home for this long. Surely, he hasn’t told the truth. Not to a minister. Geoff keeps asking for details about what happened. Her refusal to answer has made him suspicious that it’s so much worse than she’s let on.

Waiting for the moment when she can no longer avoid telling her parents what’s happening. She considers telling her dad while her mom’s away, but she doesn’t want to have to tell the story twice. The time for avoidance is coming to an end. She’s running out of excuses about why she hasn’t been home.

When classes end Friday afternoon, Quinn is once again heading to the hospital. Walking towards her jeep, she notices Ellie lingering around the front of the vehicle, making a row of tiny snowmen on the edge of the hood.

“Hey dude, what’s up?” Quinn searches through her purse, trying to find her keys. Her face begins to stiffen in the cold. The winter sun makes the whiteness around them seem to dance.

“Well… um…” Ellie looks nervous, a fairly foreign expression on her face, trying to compose her thoughts.

“What?” Quinn stops rummaging through her purse, her arm still jammed inside, and lifts an eyebrow.

“Well, I was thinking…” Ellie stops again.

“Are you sure? Cause it sounds like maybe you flooded your engine.” Quinn goes back to the key hunt. It’s too cold to stand around waiting for Ellie to hum and ha about something. Pulling a book from the purse, she tucks it under her arm. Her wallet under her chin. She’s pushing aside a pair of sunglasses and a bunch of stir sticks someone had thrown inside. Her fingers find the key ring as Ellie finally answers.

“I was wondering if you would let me meet Stevie.” Ellie stammers. “Not like meet her. I mean I know who she is. I’ve spoken to her before. But meet her as your girlfriend meet her.” She hurries on.

The wallet tumbles into the snow as Quinn’s head shoots up. She takes the moment required to bend down and pick it up to compose her thoughts. She unlocks the doors and jerks her head to indicate Ellie should get in.

“Are you sure you want to meet her?” Quinn’s turns on the ignition and waits for the heater to warm the air. “Like completely sure. This isn’t something you can half-ass.”

“Yeah. I’ve been thinking about it since we talked on Wednesday. She’s important to you. So, if this thing between you guys is really serious, and I think she’s good enough for you, then it’s important to me, too.”

“It’s serious, Ellie. And she’s more than good enough. She’s better than good. She’s amazing. But, I don’t want there to be any extra stress on her while she’s trying to get better.”

“What exactly do you expect me to do?” Ellie’s tone becomes defensive.

“You know what I mean.”

“I would never do anything to hurt you. You know that, my Quinny.” Ellie reaches over and squeezes Quinn’s hand reassuringly.

“I do.” Quinn leans forward and rubs her hands in front of the vent. The air isn’t quite warm yet.

“Does she know that I know? About you two?”

“Yes, she does.”

“Does she want to get to know me better?”

“Honestly, that hasn’t come up.” She sees Ellie’s face hardening and quickly continues “But, I’m sure she does. We didn’t really get to talk very long. She fell asleep. We’ve mostly just talked about what happened.”

“So let’s go and see if your two girls can stand each other.”

Quinn pauses, not sure she’s making the right decision. When a snowball slams into the windshield, both girls jump. A squeal escapes from Ellie. Quinn glances out the window to see Brianne standing a few stalls away with her cronies, laughing. When she sees Quinn staring at her, she flips up her middle finger and turns back to her conversation.

“Oh my god! When are they going to arrest that bitch!” Quinn punches the dash.

“What do you mean?” Ellie’s first ball in her lap.

“Stevie.” It’s the only word Quinn can spit out.

“And you haven’t destroyed her?” Ellie is almost vibrating.

“Stevie asked me not to.”

“She didn’t ask me.” Ellie jumps out of the car and closes the gap between the two stalls before Quinn can say anything. Ellie taps Brianne on the shoulder politely. When the other girl turns, Ellie hauls back and punches her right in the face. Brianne screeches, grabbing her nose. Ellie laughs and hurries back to the car. “Go. Go. Go!” Ellie slams the door shut.

Quinn jams the car into gear and shoots out of the parking lot. “What did you do, Ellie!” She reaches over and squeezes her friend’s arm. “That was crazy!”

“Crazy amazing.” Ellie laughs.

“That is the best thing I have ever seen… Ever!” They pull to a stop at the only streetlight in town. “I love you.” She leans over and pulls her friend into a giant hug before it turns green.

“Do I deserve to meet your girlfriend now?”

“She’s going to love you.” Quinn chuckles, picturing Brianne’s face. The girls drive in comfortable silence until they reach the hospital. Pulling into a parking stall, Quinn, distracted, misjudges her distance. The car jerks against the snow covered curb.

“Dude!”

“Sorry.” She shrugs innocently. “Not paying attention.”

“Really? I totally couldn’t tell.” Ellie adopts her syrupy cheerleader voice.

“Hey, hey. None of that.” Quinn snaps. This is the tone Ellie uses to mock the popular kids.

“Sorry, force of habit.” Ellie mumbles. Quinn can tell how nervous she is by the way Ellie is tapping her fingers against her leg.

As they head into the hospital, Quinn reaches over and squeezes it. She makes a quick stop at the coffee cart and grabs a tray full of drinks.

“Isn’t that too many drinks?” Ellie eyes the cups.

“The mysteries of my ways will soon be made clear.” Quinn makes mystical whooshing noises and leads the way to the elevator.

“Okay, weirdo.” Ellie laughs, following her.

Outside Stevie’s room, Quinn nods to the police officer still posted at the door.

“She’s with me.” She jerks her head towards Ellie.

“You think so? Do you?” He raises an eyebrow.

“This latte thinks so.” Quinn pulls one of the cups from the tray.

“Damn you. You’ve learned my weakness.” He smiles and takes the cup. “Go on before I change my mind.” He sips his drink and steps aside.

The cheerleader’s head turns to face the door when she hears it open. A giant smile breaking out across her face when she sees Quinn. “Hey, you.”

“You look amazing!” Quinn gasps. Stevie is sitting up in bed; her red hair freshly washed. The swelling around her eye has gone down enough that she can open it fully. The skin surrounding it is still a horrible purple-green colour. Her hand is now in an elaborate cast lying in her lap instead of hanging from that complicated contraption. Quinn skips across the room and leans in to kiss her girlfriend. As she pulls away, she feels Stevie’s muscles tense beneath her fingers. Her eyes look towards the door. For a second, Quinn has forgotten that Ellie is with her. Turning, she sees her best friend standing at the door, staring at the ground. Her long, blond hair completely hides her face.

“Stevie, you know Ellie.” Quinn says.

“Hi Stevie.” Ellie mumbles, trying to be polite through her obvious discomfort.

“Hey Ellie,” Stevie smiles, her body relaxing into her pillows. “So, you’re the other woman ‘eh?” She chuckles, trying to lighten the mood.

“Hey, yeah! I guess I am.” Ellie perks up a little.

“My two girls” Quinn’s face glows with happiness.

“Think you can handle both of us?” Stevie pokes her in the arm.

“I think I can manage it.” Quinn rolls her eyes.

“I don’t know. There’s a lot of sassiness here.” Stevie waves her hand between herself and Ellie.

“A cornucopia of sass.” Ellie agrees, taking a step forward.

“Our cup overfloweth.” Stevie adds.

“We’re like a giant sass monster.”

“Enough! Enough!” Quinn laughs. “I get it. I’m drawn to people who make me insane.”

“In the best possible way.” Stevie grins.

“Oh! Oh! Oh! Speaking of the best things, guess what Ellie did today?”

“What?” Stevie glances back and forth between them. The two girls are smirking at each other. “What!? Tell me! Tell me now!”

“Ellie punched Brianne right in her stupid face!”

“You didn’t!?” Stevie exclaims. “Why? Did you get in trouble?”

“She threw a snowball at us.” Ellie shrugs, pulling up a chair next to the bed. “I overreacted. Or at least that’s what I’m going to say if she tries to rat me out. In actual fact, I’ve wanted to do that for years. More so after Quinn explained recent events.”

“I don’t know if I want to hug you or shake you. That girl is dangerous.”

“She’s just a girl.” Ellie shrugs.

“She’s not.”

“Mean girl. Shmean girl.” Ellie brushes her off. “Those girls never actually get their hands dirty.”

Stevie stares at her and nudges Ellie’s arm with her cast. “And before she turned to this,” She waves her hand at her bruises. “She wasn’t the nice girl. Chelsea is your stereotypical mean girl. She runs things. She just likes to be in charge of everything. She thinks it’s preparing her for her future or some such shit. Brianne is her enforcer. Like in the hockey sense of the word.”

“You make the ongoing saga of the super preps sound exhausting.” Ellie smiles. “How do you keep everyone’s roles straight?”

“Seriously, Ellie.” Stevie wraps her good fingers into Quinn’s. “It’s why I asked you not to go after her. Do you remember back in grade ten when Becs got really, really sick?”

“When she blew chunks all over Mrs. Roscoe?” Quinn laughs. “Who could forget that? That was the smelliest homeroom ever.”

“Oh god. The smell. That smell still haunts my dreams.” Ellie gags. “But what does the stomach flu have to do with Brianne?”

“Not the stomach flu.” Stevie pushed the button to raise her bed into a sitting position. “Brianne and Fresco had just broken up that week. She caught Becs talking to him the night before pukestravaganza. Nothing serious. Just a little harmless company. He was sad. Becs was just trying to make him feel better. I think they were talking about Degrassi or something. Brianne was so pissed off that she poured ipecac in Becs’ morning smoothie.”

“No way!” Ellie crosses her arms over her chest, thinking. “That’s…”

“Insane. The word you’re looking for is insane. The girl has a short fucking fuse.” Stevie nods. “So, while the thought of you punching her in her much deserving face makes me extremely happy, remember the smell of that classroom next time the urge moves you.”

“Aye aye.” Ellie salutes. “Girl is bat shit crazy. Message received.”

“Enough talk about Brianne.” Quinn traces her finger along Stevie’s new cast. “You look so much better.”

“She does? You do?” Ellie’s forehead crinkles. “Dude, you must have looked like ass!”

Stevie laughs loudly in response and gingerly touches her ribs. “I did. I feel better, but I’m not fixed yet. They are talking about letting me go home though.” She turns to Quinn with a giant smile on her face.

“For real? When?” Quinn’s excitement is uncontainable. “Are you sure you’re ready to go?”

“Couple of days maybe. They’ve said that everything is healing well, and with medication and stuff, and Dad being a doctor, I can probably do pretty well at home.”

“I cannot wait to get you out of here.” Quinn hugs her gingerly. “It’ll be so much easier to visit you there. And it’ll smell better.”

“Jesus, no kidding.” Stevie wrinkles her nose. “I may not look like ass anymore, but this place certainly smells like it.” The three girls start laughing as music begins to pulse from Ellie’s purse.

“Sorry, guys. It’s Jason.”  Ellie cradles her phone between her ear and shoulder. “Hey baby.” She falls silent for a second. “Are you shitting me?” Her tone snaps Quinn and Stevie from their quiet conversation. “When? What? Why?” She pauses again, “Yeah, sure. Okay.” She tosses the phone back in her bag.

“What’s up?” Quinn attempts to be casual, but with everything that’s happened recently, she’s having a hard time controlling her anxiety.

“Geoff’s been arrested.”

Chapter 24

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