It's her therapist's idea. First the journal, now the retreat.
She likes this one much better than the Christian counselor Judy insisted she see during the first year, after everything.
That's what they call Beth around the Fabray house.
The first year, the year after Beth "Everything" Corcoran came into the world, Quinn went to weekly sessions with a guy named Wayne. He wasn't a doctor, just a guy who knew a lot about the Bible and had a "heart for listening and encouragement."
That had been enough into impress Judy.
It wasn't enough for Quinn.
All Wayne ever did was assign her assorted Bible readings and answer questions with Bible verses.
One day, she asked him about post-partum depression. He immediately spouted off, "Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you."
"Okay, but what about medication?"
"You can handle this, Quinn. Sorry, correction. God will make sure you get through this."
Quinn got through it, all right. She got through the door and all the way home before she screamed into her pillow and wondered if she was just destined to drink her life away, just like her mother.
It was after the New York trip and the corresponding break down that she demanded to see someone else, someone qualified to handle an emotional and hormonal teen who endured a pregnancy and the after-effects of giving her child away.
She's been meeting with Dr. Nevins since the end of May. In two months, she's made more progress than in an entire year with Wayne. Also, their sessions don't have that awkwardness where the door has to be left open because it's apparently not appropriate for an adult man and a teen girl to be behind a closed door together, regardless of the circumstances.
Dr. Julia Nevins is a woman, maybe fifty. She's fit and she laughs a lot. In one of their early sessions, when Quinn wasn't feeling talkative about herself, she learned that Dr. Nevins ran track in high school and was scouted for the Olympics.
If there's anything Quinn really respects, it's drive.
By the end of July, she's already filled up two journals.
"How do you feel when you write these things down?"
"Better. Usually. Sometimes I get upset, because then I'm kind of reliving it, you know?"
"But after you experience that feeling, once it's on the page, then what?"
"I calm down."
"Do you detect any themes in what you write? Is there anything that comes up frequently?"
"Right. Anything else?"
"School. Like, what I plan to do."
"You have a lot of big decisions coming up."
Quinn sighs, because she hates talking about this; she'd much rather discuss how much it sucks to be a teen mom with nothing to show for it. "Rachel."
"What about her?"
"I don't know. She exists?"
"Have you seen her since school let out?"
"So, you're just reflecting on the same previous situations."
"Kind of." She really doesn't want to talk about it. Not yet. She steers the subject somewhere else. "I've been doing other writing, too."
"Yeah, like, fiction or something. Short stuff. But I like it." She's already digging into her bag for the pages she printed off before heading to the session.
"Is that some of it?"
"Yeah, I figured you'd want to see it."
"Only if you're comfortable sharing."
Quinn shrugs and passes the papers to Dr. Nevins. "I have to tell you everything else, don't I?"
"You're supposed to tell me whatever you'd like. Not what you feel obligated to say."
"You know what I mean."
Dr. Nevins chuckles lightly and looks over the short story in front of her. "I look forward to reading this later."
"You're not going to read it, now?"
"I'd prefer not to. I don't want to analyze it, I want to read it."
"But after you read it, you'll analyze it to see what I'm actually trying to say, right?"
"Do you feel there's hidden meaning in the story?"
"I don't know. It's about a little girl and a tree house."
"Well, after I read it, perhaps we'll have a conversation about tree houses."
At her next session, they don't talk about tree houses. They talk about cabins.
"Given the interest you've expressed in writing and the fact that you'd likely benefit from some time away from everything else, I'd highly recommend it."
"What is it, like a summer camp?" Quinn unfolds the brochure she's been handed.
"It's a writer's retreat. The first two weeks in August are set aside specifically for young writers. I suppose it is a bit like summer camp, because you're away from some and there are a few camp-like activities. But for the most part, it's you in your own space, taking the time to write. And only consider it if it appeals to you. But I really enjoyed your story, Quinn. I'm confident that others will, too, along with other things you've written. Or will write."
It appeals to her. A lot. "You think my mom will go for it?"
"I'll make a formal recommendation, if you'd like."
Quinn nods. Something on official letterhead from someone named "Doctor" anyone is bound to resonate with Judy.
"Yeah. That would be great." She flips the brochure around and smiles a little. This is the first thing anyone's ever suggested, just for her. "You really liked it?"
The smile grows and she actually feels validated for something other than her perfect facade of a body. "Awesome."
"What about cheer camp, Quinnie?"
"Mom, I'm not even on Cheerios, anymore."
"Can't you rejoin? You did last year."
"I don't want to."
Judy studies the letter from Dr. Nevins. "Is this part of your therapy?"
Quinn rolls her eyes. She knows everything relevant is on the paper in front of her mother. "Yes. It is."
"Then, I suppose you should go." It still take another five whole minutes for "Judy Fabray" to end up looped across the line at the bottom of the page.
The relief Quinn feels when it finally happens is unexpected.
She doesn't plan to tell anyone where she's actually going. She figures she'll tell Santana that she's going to her sister's for a couple weeks. Other than that, there's no one else to tell, really.
Except she doesn't really want to lie to Santana. They've kind of been okay at the friends thing since New York. They don't hang out a lot, but there are moments like, right now, where they're in Santana's car, on their way home from the mall, blasting Amy Winehouse and drinking smoothies and everything feels normal.
Quinn spins the volume dial to the left and the car floods with silence.
"Hey, have some respect."
"For her or your attempt at a solo?" Quinn leaves the radio as-is and glances at her friend.
"Both. What's that look for? Oh god, are you knocked up, again?"
"No! I haven't even had sex with anyone since the first time."
"Q, you don't have to be a fucking nun, you just have to be careful."
"Nobody even wants to with me, so whatever."
"Please. I can make a list, right now: Puckerman, Hudson, Rutherford, Schuester..."
"Been there, not going back. Uh, hung up on Rachel. Lives out of town and when have you even talked to him last? And, ew."
"I'm just saying. You're hot. People think about it. Fuck, I've thought about it. I'd never do it because you're out of your goddamn mind and I don't have the energy to deal with all of your baggage."
"Things I do not need to know about my friends: How much they want to sleep with me."
"Trust me, the sleeping happens after I-"
Quinn drowns her out with the radio. But it's nice to know someone cares. Kind of.
She ends up spilling the truth to Santana over the phone, the night before she's due to leave. An hour later, there's a knock at her front door.
"What is this?" Quinn asks as what looks like a small leftover Easter basket is shoved into her hands. There's still plastic grass in the bottom.
"It's a gift basket. I can't very well send you off to your budding new career as novelist without some kind of bon voyage gesture."
Inside the basket is a fifth of Jack Daniels, a pack of American Spirits, and a book. "The Shining?"
"Well, you're already crazy. And now you're a writer. So... don't get snowed in."
"I'm gone for two weeks. And it's the middle of summer.
"Then you'll probably be fine. Is Judy home?"
"Not for another hour."
Santana snatches the whiskey out of the basket and cracks opens the seal. She takes a slug then offers it to Quinn.
"You know, we have actual Scotch." She tips the bottle and takes a drink before her face contorts and she holds her hand out for the cap. "The kind that doesn't feel like fucking fire when it goes down."
"Give me another couple drinks before you start up with the sex talk, Quinnlivet."
They end up watching Mean Girls and while Regina George fills out her own burn book page, Santana turns and says, "I'll just miss you, is all."
"It's two weeks, San."
"That's, like, six months in Lima years."
Quinn knows exactly what she means.
The first day of the retreat is a Monday and Judy has to work, so Dr. Nevins offers to drive her. The forty-five minute drive serves as a freelance therapy session, though Quinn can tell her therapist is trying hard not to make it obvious.
"Do you have anything in mind about what you might work on while you're up there?" Dr. Nevins asks. She keeps the radio on a top 40 station, but the volume low, unlike Quinn's mother, who seems to prefer to drive in either awkward silence or surrounded by the chattering voices of conservative talk radio.
"Not really. I figured I'd just let it be fresh."
"Sounds reasonable. I really think you'll enjoy yourself."
Quinn nods as she watches out the window of the SUV. "Yeah. Santana's convinced I'll snap and take a fire axe to everyone. But I think I'll be fine."
"Santana seems to have interesting perspectives on things."
"She's just not afraid to say what she's thinking." Quinn considers the situation with Brittany, something she knows about, both from watching everything unfold and a couple drunk conversations with Santana. "Usually."
"How did your other friends react when you told them?"
Quinn laughs, because really, what other friends? "Santana and Mom are the only ones I told. I posted on my Facebook that I was just going out of town."
"Why did you feel the need to keep it a secret?"
"It's not a secret. I just... don't think anyone cares."
She's received three replies on her status message.
One from Santana: "All work and no play makes Quinn a serial killer." One from Puck: "IF U GET ON GIRLZ GONE WILD HOOK ME UP WITH A SHIRT." And one from Rachel: "Travel safely and remember to keep your toothbrush and deodorant in your carry-on if you're flying anywhere! :) (Where are you going?)"
"It sounds like Rachel is consistently invested in your well-being," says Dr. Nevins, when Quinn relays the content of the messages.
"That's just her. She... cares about things. More than regular people."
They've talked about Rachel, how she's always around when things get too intense, like when Beth's paternity was revealed or when everything went to shit on prom night. But she doesn't talk about how she kind of hates that those events are, like, equal in her mind.
"I'm not sure there are limits on how much any of us are supposed to care, Quinn."
Quinn avoids any further analysis by asking questions about the retreat location.
When they arrive, they're met by Adam, a young college-aged guy with curly hair, a bright smile, and black rimmed hipster glasses.
"You must be Quinn Fabray," he says as she exits the SUV. "How was the drive? Julia didn't make you talk too much, did she?"
Quinn shakes her head. "It was nice."
"I'm Adam Martins." He takes the red and black duffel bag that Dr. Nevins removes from the back of the vehicle.
"You don't have to carry that," Quinn says, reaching for her bag.
"Hey, it's cool. I need the tip."
Dr. Nevins laughs. "I need to head back if I plan to be on time for my next session. Adam, tell Lorraine I said hello and I'll catch up with her this weekend. Quinn, enjoy yourself, okay?"
Adam leads her to what he calls the lodge. It's a rustic looking building that sits at one end of a short road. Either side of the road is flanked with four cabins each, extending back maybe a quarter mile.
"So, this is where we have meals and community time," he says as he holds the door open. This sense of chivalry reminds Quinn a lot of Sam. "I know you're here to write, but sometimes hanging around other people helps, right?"
Quinn shrugs. "Yeah, I guess."
On the inside, it looks a lot like a hotel lobby. There's small check-in desk, a sitting area with a fireplace (though, there's no fire since it's summer), and what looks like a small cafe toward the back.
"Breakfast is from eight to nine, lunch from noon to one, dinner from five to six, and there's a dessert hour every night at eight-thirty. You don't have to come to all the meals, there's no requirement for it or anything. But, you know, eating is usually good for you. And the food's good." Quinn wonders if she should be writing this down, but Adam seems to pick up on that and adds, "Don't worry, all of this is in the welcome packet in your cabin. Which, if you'll follow me..." He leads her back outside and up the road until they stop at the last cabin on the left side. "Number seven."
The door swings open and Quinn's met with something that looks much more rustic than the inside of the lodge. Everything's made of dark wood with real grain. There's a small living room with a couch and fireplace (again, fire-less), a table with a telephone, and a counter that holds a microwave and a mini-fridge. Both of the appliances look like they're older than she is. There's a short hallway that leads to a bathroom and a bedroom. The bedroom has two twin beds and writing desks, dorm style.
"Is someone else staying here?" she asks, then notices he's still carrying the bag. "Also, you can put that down, anywhere."
"Oh," Adam sets the duffel at the food of one of the beds. "Not this time. Usually our teen program doubles up, but there aren't that many people this session. Anyway, Julia suggested you might prefer to be alone."
"How do you know her?"
"She's been coming up here twice a year since... a long time. Since before I started, which was five years ago."
"What does she write?"
"You don't know?"
Quinn shrugs. "We don't normally talk about her when we talk, you know."
"Right. She, uh, does mostly short stories. Some have been published in magazines. A lot of them are in our annual collection. Yours could be, too."
"We'll see, I guess. This is kind of new for me."
"Hey, well, just relax and have a good time." Adam looks around. "Am I forgetting anything? Oh! Internet. We definitely have it. Your packet has your sign-in info. But everyone only gets two hours a day on weekdays, as in from midnight to midnight, so use it wisely. Weekends are unlimited. It's just for productivity reasons." He leans in, "But, if you're totally desperate, you can always sign in as a Guest. The signal from the lodge reaches over here. It's pretty weak, though. Still, I know sometimes it's, like, necessary."
"Cool," he repeats with a nod. "I'll let you settle in. See you at lunch."
"Thanks. See you."
He's gone and she has about an hour to kill, but the cabin's super quiet and she's not sure if it's soothing or pushing her toward total madness. Fortunately, the clock radio, despite looking ancient, actually picks up a decent AM signal and she floods the room with the oldies station. so She sets up her laptop on the desk, then unpacks her bag into the small dresser that sits inside the closet. The drawer in the desk is reserved for the remaining two-thirds of the bottle of bourbon and the unopened pack of cigarettes. The novel ends up tossed on the bed, because she figures she'd rather read than try to write in the short span before lunch.
Not wanting to waste her allotted internet time, she checks Facebook on her phone. It takes a little longer than usual, because she can't pick up the 3G network, just the regular one. But at least she has service. She punches out a text to Santana, then one to her mom. They both contain the information that she's arrived, but only one talks about the cuteness of her temporary tour guide.
Santana replies with, "Get laid. Maybe that'll keep you from totally losing it."
Her mother doesn't reply for another three hours, and even then the message just says, "Have fun."
Tucked inside the pages of The Shining is a picture of Santana, specifically a picture of Santana flipping off the camera. The back of photo reads, "Stop fucking around and write something so you can become a rich novelist and take me out to fancy dinners. xoxo, S."
Quinn wonders if they'd get along so well if she had, like, other friends. Probably. They're kind of a lot alike. Except for the part where Santana's incredibly offensive and she dresses like a supervillain. Still, she's thankful for the expression of support, as bizarre as it may be.
If she's being honest with herself, she's also grateful for the stupid reply Rachel left on her status message. Sure, she's annoying. Yes, there's the whole Finn thing. But, the therapy must be working, because she knows her anger's directed at Finn and herself more than Rachel. It was a bad idea to try and date him, again.
There was a whole session with Dr. Nevins where Quinn talked about why Finn was ideal for her. In the entire list of reasons, any feelings for him ranked dead last.
But she's not here to dwell on all of that. She's here to write. Santana and her friend, Flip the Bird, mark the space where she's stopped reading and she drops the book onto the small nightstand.
She still doesn't want to start really working on anything, but she boots up her laptop, anyway. There are a few ideas listed in her journal, so maybe she'll at least settle on something.
The radio signal drops out to static, then right back to Ed Townsend crooning "For Your Love." She thinks she hears the door, so she leans back in her chair to try and see through the living room, but the only view she has is of the edge of the couch and the window behind it.
No answer. Weird.
She figures the cabin is old and she's in for two weeks of strange noises because of nature and wood settling and whatever. With a click, she switches off the clock radio and decides to go hang out in the lodge before lunch. Maybe she'll meet some new people.
When she leaves the cabin, she absently notes that the door sticks a little when she first tries to open it.