|What Beautiful Battlefields You Are
Author: possibilist PM
'Artie gives you a pair of racing gloves. Rachel sings to you during Glee. It is not nearly as bad a day as you had anticipated.' The twelve months after Quinn's accident. Quinn-centric, definite hints of Faberry.Rated: Fiction T - English - Hurt/Comfort/Romance - Quinn F. & Rachel B. - Words: 3,973 - Reviews: 14 - Favs: 36 - Follows: 3 - Published: 02-23-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7865980
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Summary: 'Artie gives you a pair of racing gloves, even though Puck insists on carrying your bag and wheeling you to all of your classes. Brittany tells you that her favorite scar of yours is the one on your forehead, because now you're probably a wizard. Santana laughs. Rachel sings to you during Glee.' The twelve months after Quinn's accident. Quinn-centric, hints of Faberry.
AN (1): Welp, I loved writing Glee. So I did what any sane person with an 18 hour course load would do and wrote some more! haha. Anyhow, this is longer than most things I kick out in one setting, and I'm playing with conventions a little here, so hopefully you enjoy those things. Please please leave a review! They're lovely :) Merci!
AN (2): Recommended listening: "Candles" by Daughter (probably one of the most beautiful songs in the world, in the universe, ever.)
what beautiful battlefields you are
come closer. come into this. come closer. what beautiful battlefields you are. you are quite the beauty. if no one has ever told you that before, know that now. you are quite the beauty. there is joy in how your mouth dances with your teeth. your mouth is a sign of how sacred your life truly is.
— anis mojgani
february: falling from the heartbeat of this girl
These are the things you know:
1. The Hundred Years War lasted 116 years.
2. An octopus will eat its own arms if it gets hungry enough.
3. In Croatia, there's a museum of broken relationships.
4. Rachel will be there when you wake up.
You don't get to five, because the anesthesia works miraculously fast. But four is enough.
She is, blurry, still in her wedding dress, mascara on her cheeks, holding your hand. She tells you that your parents are there, but everyone else has gone home for the night.
"Stay?" It's muffled and scratchy, because you'd been intubated during surgery, but Rachel smiles a little.
"Of course," she says, and curls up in the chair next to you.
"You're an idiot," you slur, incredibly high on morphine. You could get hit by another truck right now and not feel it. "A goddamn fucking idiot."
"Quinn," she admonishes.
"I love you," you tell her. (You will claim to never remember this.)
(That will be a lie.)
You can't feel your legs. The first time you know this, the entire rest of your body lights on fire, your brain making up for a shortage somewhere else. Breathing and blinking seems like holding the world on your shoulders.
As Atlas, you only manage by sobbing into Santana's shoulder. She rubs your back.
"You'll be okay," she says. Santana promises, "You're going to be okay."
Your left leg, the one that broke, is hoisted up in a weird contraption after the doctors operate on it. This is when your sister arrives, from California, still pale and tall and thin. She's cut her hair short but her eyes are the blue of the sky like always as she she looks at your skin, dotted with staples. Someone comes in behind her, a man, scruffy and handsome, and he puts his hand on the small of her back.
Then they look at you.
Your sister's heart breaks in her smile and she says, "I'm sorry it took me so long."
1. To get here.
2. To act like your sister.
3. To forgive you what I hated about myself.
4. To let myself fall in love with people who will love me back.
You struggle your very hardest to sit up as best you can, so she'll think you're less hurt than you actually are, but you can tell she doesn't believe your feeble attempts. "You're here now," you tell her.
Frannie nods and sniffles, and then gestures to the man with her. "This is Robert," she says. "My boyfriend."
He smiles, and they sit down beside you, then Frannie leans over and kisses your forehead.
It's the most you've ever felt in your entire life.
march: they were kids that i once knew
You get released from the hospital. When your parents drive you home, you are so terrified you start shaking, and little technicolor dots pixilate your vision.
Frannie holds you tight to her, runs her thin fingers through your hair, whispers mumbled reassurances, and you frantically, desperately press your ear to the hollow between her breasts and swell with each thump of her heart.
When you finally get to your house, Frannie releases you without a word and the front of her Stanford T-shirt is soaked with your tears.
Later that night, from your room, you hear Frannie sobbing through the thin wall.
You imagine Robert holds her and wipes her tears and you hear him say, "I love you."
Frannie says it back.
You go to school, still in pain and still healing, with fresh, vivd scars that you are so irrationally and staunchly ashamed of, and you're still in a wheelchair, even though you'd been progressing during your frequent, torturous physical therapy sessions.
Artie gives you a pair of racing gloves, even though Puck insists on carrying your bag and wheeling you to all of your classes. Brittany tells you that her favorite scar of yours is the one on your forehead, because now you're probably a wizard. Santana laughs.
Rachel sings to you during Glee.
The day is not nearly as bad as you had anticipated.
Frannie and Robert go back to California, because they are, after all, going to school there and can't stay gone (from their home) forever. They're beautiful together, really wonderful, and you honestly can't remember ever seeing your sister's eyes look so young.
She promises to come back for a weekend next month, and she promises to call, and she promises to Skype you every Friday at 3 her time.
This time you really do believe her.
Kurt and Blaine visit you and bring a pretty spring dress from Anthropologie, because it's a beautiful warm day outside: "the first day of spring!" Blaine declares. Kurt smiles and helps you change — although you insist on trying to do it yourself first, holding back hot tears of frustration when you're unable to — and then they walk together as Blaine pushes your wheelchair down the pretty sidewalks around your house.
They take you to a park, the one you used to go to when you were a little girl, when you still believed in princesses and magic and rabbit holes.
They stop at a bench next to the play structure and you all sit and watch the children for a few minutes, the squeaks of the swings' hinges and the patter of small hands against metal a wonderful melody.
"When did I get so old?" you ask, and Kurt and Blaine look at each other and then smile knowingly, and Blaine picks you up — though you protest as best you can — and carries you to a swing.
You cannot pump very well, but Blaine pushes you gently and Kurt comes and swings beside you and the sky is so blue and the air is so perfect, and you squeal with delight as the skirt of your green dress billows out around you, and your hands are tight around the chains and you do not fall.
You admit to yourself that you might still believe in Wonderland.
Or happy endings, at least.
april: we still 'are' human beings, now. or can be
An Incomplete List of the Things You Wish For:
1. Fat free chocolate, which also includes Nutella.
2. Perfect vision.
3. Patti Smith on vinyl.
4. For David Foster Wallace to still be alive.
5. A small dog, whom you would name Vernon.
6. Public transportation in Lima.
7. To live on the Left Bank in Paris.
8. To walk again.
9. Someone like Robert.
10. A lifetime supply of blueberry scones and Earl Grey tea lattes (skim, with vanilla, no whip) for breakfast.
Rachel brings you breakfast on the first day you use a walker — instead of a wheelchair — at school.
Of course she knows your order.
Frannie beams when you go out to lunch and you're able to walk to your table.
"You're so fucking strong, you know that?" she says.
Kurt can't help but tease you a little when you hobble into Glee. He smiles and tells you, "You're going to be the cutest old person ever."
You think about giving him the finger for good measure, but you end up hugging him instead.
You are alive. This is what matters.
may: depths and shallows. quicksilver changes
You're Valedictorian. Writing your speech consists of laying on the floor of your bedroom and listening to Bon Iver and Youth Lagoon and St. Vincent on vinyl (presents from Frannie, because she knows they're your favorites), and having writer's block that is so intense you actually fall asleep.
You dream in color.
When you wake up, you've been crying. But you sit up and gather yourself and climb carefully up, off of the floor, and your back pops and cracks, but you stand.
You take your Moleskin journal and a fountain pen out onto the porch and write your entire speech in the fiery glow of the sunset.
We're constantly reinventing ourselves. We must know that we are changing, forever. We are all paradoxes. We must be brave. We must reach out and catch this change in the breeze, in the hurricane, that is constantly bringing us devastation and reform. We must hold it. We must learn it. We must know it together.
We must love. We must let ourselves be loved. We must sleep and wake in contradictions. We must be all of Whitman's multitudes. We must breathe them, we must wake and sleep in them. We must fill our bones and brains and chests with them.
We must evolve into something better.
june: and i was the wild and daring one
You go visit Frannie. Her apartment in the Mission is tiny and wonderful and bright. It's falling apart and decorated with a tiny origami crane mobile in the corner of one room, and has old, pristine hardwood floors, and she has more books and records than you've ever seen one person own before. She has half of a bathtub as a couch (and only your sister can manage something as quirky and nuanced as this: To be both exactly and nothing like Holly Golightly.)
She and Robert take you on adventures: You see M83 and She and Him play at Golden Gate Park. You go shopping in Union Square and you eat in Japantown and Chinatown and Little Italy and at a Peruvian place in the Tenderloin, you go to the Wharf and eat the best clam chowder you've ever had, and you have rich French souffle for dinner and dessert. You see Monet in De Young.
Frannie gives you an original first edition of Joan Didion's Slouching Towards Bethlehem and also American Beauty by The Grateful Dead on vinyl the morning you leave.
"I know I'm not as cool as them," she says with a smile, "but maybe these will keep you company until you go to New Haven."
You fling your arms around her neck and she hugs you back, and you imagine the peace of low tide stilling her features. "You're the coolest person I know," you tell her, and it's like you're four again and she's teaching you how to ride your bike.
She laughs. "You're pretty cool too, Quinn."
"I dare you. Dare," Santana says, raising her brows, already in the bright turquoise of the pool, her skin even darker since the beginning of summer.
You and Rachel stare at your feet. It's dark but the moon is full and the stars are perfect, and you'd needed help to get through the hole in the fence, but they'd happily assisted you without mention.
"C'mon," Santana tries again. "Brittany's in and I don't think she even knows how to swim."
Rachel looks at you. "It'll be okay," she says.
You nod and pull your shirt over your head, slip out of your skirt, slowly take your underwear off, then your bra.
Santana whistles and splashes water at you, and Brittany cheers, and Rachel — a ghost in the moonlight — smiles beside you.
As you jump into the warm water, you hold hands.
july: rain & ashes seal my lips
These are the things you don't know:
1. What you want to be when you grow up.
2. Why cheese melts differently on a sandwich than it does by itself.
3. How to play the trombone (although you'd secretly love to learn).
4. Why Roman Holiday makes you cry.
5. If you'll ever not be in pain.
6. How your parents could be so awful at the one thing they were supposed to be good at.
7. If you've ever actually finished a game of Monopoly.
8. How lighters work.
9. If someone will kiss your scars one day.
10. Why Amazon River Dolphins are pink (at some point you used to know this, but you forgot).
You get so sunburned one day that, for a few hours, the skin of your back is so red you can't see the scar that runs all the way down your spine.
You decide that not having it there seems strange now.
(This is probably a good thing.)
august: we're all traveling heavy with illusions
The sheets smell like Chanel No. 5 and something you really will never have again.
"I'll miss you," you say.
Rachel tells you, "I'll miss you, too."
You close your eyes. "I meant it," you whisper into the night.
The little voice in the dark says, "I know, Quinn."
Orientation is boring, but you easily make friends.
In your dorm, you set aside a corner for your record player, and you put up a small print of Felix Vallatton's "The Ball" that you'd bought at De Young, because the girl chased by shadows is yourself.
My name is Quinn Fabray. I'm a freshman, majoring in English, and I'm from Lima, Ohio. I love to sing.
No one suspects you should be dead right now.
september: dear heart, don't stop fighting
Frannie comes to visit one weekend, and as you go to meet her in the airport, and after she hugs you tightly, she picks up her vintage suitcase. There's a beautiful diamond on her ring finger, and you squeeze her arm.
She meets your eyes and then grins.
"I had to say yes," she tells you.
I suppose I could have given up. Maybe I could have let go.
But I didn't, and this is what I try to think matters now.
You don't ever read this part of your memoir to your class, but when you go visit your professor during office hours, she smiles at you over the top of maroon glasses. "Writers are the strongest, most stubborn people I know," she says.
In that moment it occurs to you that you're talented enough to be considered a writer.
His name is Charlie, and he knows about Allen Ginsberg and Regina Spektor, and also he's studying to be a doctor. He's a friend of your roommate's, and he's a sophomore from Essex, in England, and he wears silly cardigans and has eyes that very much remind you of the sky.
He makes you laugh.
october: i'm the hero of this story, i don't need to be saved
You go to New York City over fall break. Kurt and Finn and Rachel are there, and it's New York, after all.
It reminds you of San Francisco in a wonderful way, and you go to Central Park and sit on the steps like Blair and Serena in Gossip Girl. Kurt insists on being Blair, which makes you and Rachel laugh.
An Incomplete List of Your Favorite True Facts:
1. At the top of the Empire State Building during a thunderstorm, lovers' lips will crackle with electricity when they kiss.
2. For a few moments, you were the youngest person in the world.
3. It's scientifically proven that people will believe anything if you whisper it to them.
"You're really happy with him, here, aren't you?"
Rachel takes your hands. She whispers, "Yes."
You look down at your intertwined fingers.
She squeezes. "And, Quinn, you deserve the same."
"—You have to be brave enough to let yourself."
november: —time is a tree(this life one leaf)
You start to notice that you're much more sore because of the cold weather. This is because you have metal screws and rods holding you together in various places throughout your body, and you're grateful for these things, but some mornings it's a fight to even get dressed without crying.
Charlie notices. He looks at you with immense and wonderful concern, but he doesn't say anything, for which you are grateful. He merely offers his arm and walks you to your classes on days when things are especially hard, carrying the unsteady and uncertain steps when you limp with ease.
You go home for Thanksgiving. Frannie and Robert stay in California to celebrate with his family, so you're just with your parents.
You have no desire to ever come back again, but you smile and play along anyways.
New Haven is stunning after the first snow. It covers the fallen leaves and everything else, sparkles off the rooftops when you glance out of your window in the morning.
It is — literally — hell, though, to attempt to get dressed and actually function in it. You can feel the metal in your leg, a rod in the middle of your bone, and you debate emailing your professors that you're going to have to miss class.
But then Charlie knocks on your door and offers to take you to breakfast before your 10am lecture.
We must be brave. We must love. We must let ourselves be loved.
"You know something happened to me," you say, standing in your doorway, leaning against the frame, one knee-high sock haphazardly pulled onto your foot and the other still in your hand.
"I was in a car accident. Ten months ago."
He waits. He never looks away.
"The cold makes it worse, so today's especially bad," you say, "but I'd love to get breakfast."
december: and the trick of it is, don't be afraid anymore
What You Think About the First Time Charlie Kisses You:
1. That it's so cold outside you're almost in tears every time you take a step.
2. That he tastes like coffee and chocolate.
3. That after about a minute, things stop hurting so badly.
4. That no one's ever breathed life into you like that before.
5. That you want to do it again.
For Christmas, you write Frannie a story. It's about brothers. It's sad, but it has a happy ending.
When she reads it, she cries in the good way.
You drift off in a pile of old friends and new presents, your head on Blaine's stomach, Brittany's fingers weaving through your hair, Rachel's breath against your temple.
You sleep so well you don't even dream.
january: to start infinity again
Charlie brings you large ziplock bags full of real Earl Grey tea leaves from England when you get back from break.
"They look like pot," you say, laughing.
"I had to sneak them past customs."
You stuff them into a dresser drawer and try to understand how he could have possibly known how to make one of your wishes come true.
You watch Rachel sing on YouTube. She has no idea how immensely gifted she is, and this is why she is remarkable. You cry.
You are profoundly proud to call her your friend.
You take your clothes off yourself, and Charlie touches your scars like he's learning all about everything that's ever hurt you, so that he can make sure it never happens again.
"I'm a very damaged person," you say, amazed at how matter-of-fact and objective you manage to sound with his body covering yours in the small dorm bed.
"I think you're beautiful," he says, picking up your right hand and kissing a little slash on the underside of your wrist. "And I think you're the most interesting person I've ever known."
His head dips down to your chest.
"And besides," he whispers, just above your heart, all of your skin erupting with goosebumps at the ghost of his breath, "without your scars you'd be dead. So I like them."
It's the first time you're certain he's right, because he gives you no choice but to believe him.
Your leg has healed well enough that they can take the rod out, which will make this winter — and all of the others you plan, very much so, on being painfully and fantastically alive for — much less painful.
You have the surgery at Yale-New Haven Hospital.
These are the things you know:
1. Our eyes are always the same size from birth.
2. The average American breaks about five laws a day.
3. The Beatles used the world "love" 613 times in all of their songs.
4. Charlie, Frannie, Robert, Rachel, Finn, Kurt, Blaine, Santana, Brittany, and your parents will be there when you wake up.
You don't get to five, because the anesthesia works miraculously fast. But four is certainly more than enough.
You're not so groggy the next morning, and your physical therapist suggests you walk around a little.
Charlie brings you one of his softest jumpers and you wear a pair of his boxers, too, and hoist yourself up, leaning on the walker set in front of you with a groan.
He smiles at you (though his eyes look scared and sad, too, which is perfect), and he says, "This is probably the sexiest you've ever looked."
You roll your eyes and your physical therapist laughs.
You make it down the hallway and then back to your room, gratefully climbing back in bed. Your hip aches and you're exhausted, but you do already feel better.
Charlie climbs in bed beside you. You curl into his chest. He kisses your forehead and your eyes droop and you can't help but think that sometimes things begin again.
"I love you," you tell him.
"I love you, too," he says, as easily as that, and you will always remember this.
It is the truth.
References (and more things I love):
february: "And The Boys" by Angus and Julia Stone.
march: "Dead Hearts" by Stars.
april: David Foster Wallace's interview with Review of Contemporary Fiction.
may: Blue Nights by Joan Didion.
june: "Best Mask" by Shel Silverstein.
july: "Angelic Black Holes" by Andrew Voznesensky, translated by Allen Ginsberg.
august: The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie.
september: "Riot Rhythm" by Sleigh Bells.
october: "Hero" by Regina Spektor.
november: "as freedom is a breakfast food" by E.E. Cummings.
december: "Bible Belt (Field Recording)" by Dry the River.
january: Sonnet XLIV, Cien Sonetos de Amor by Pablo Neruda.