Have you ever just stood outside in the middle of a snowstorm and watched the pattern in the wind, or the swell of the clouds? Maybe the thick flakes of chemically altered water swirling in a whirlwind of white? …. No?
In that case, I highly suggest it.
In fact, it's what I'm doing right at this very moment.
The cold doesn't even burn once you've been out there long enough; instead it kind of just numbs everything…even my mind. Which is honestly the best part.
Right now, I'm standing in the middle of the abandoned McKinley parking lot watching the snowflakes catch beneath lonely iridescent street lamps. There's a melancholy to snow storms that I'm accustomed to. I find melancholia much too relatable nowadays.
My lashes are heavy with the weight of flakes burdening them, and I have to squint my eyes against the graininess of the wind. My hands are freezing in my pockets…but I don't particularly care, I'm just standing here in our high school's empty parking lot at ten o'clock in the evening, leant up against my much warmer, and highly more accommodating car.
His name is Henry by the way…the car that is. He's a 1965 Ford Mustang Fastback SHELBY GT350. – And while it's customary to name inanimate objects after women…misogyny at it's finest…I think Henry suits him.
Camel Blue. That's the brand of cigarette I managed to cop off of Alan tonight at the Grab N' Go off of Avery. I don't particularly smoke – It was Santana who got me started on a dare over a year ago, and now when I'm particularly stressed out, I manage to bum a few every now and then. It's a terrible habit, and I'm much too good at hiding it – in fact, I'm good at hiding a lot of things. Henry knows first hand.
And while my fingers tremble from the wind as I take a particularly long drag, I close my eyes to the smoke. Smiling as I feel snow touch my skin.
For the one millisecond before the flakes all melt away from the heat of settling on my heated flesh, I almost feel invincible. My lungs finally cave from the smoke, and with an inevitable exhale all of that invincibility is gone, replaced by a weary resoluteness. Once again, I'm just a scared girl leaning against an old car in the middle of an abandoned parking lot.
I have to open my eyes again, and when I do, I already know exactly what I'm about to see. Her car is blue, and it's a simple Toyota Camry – but the personalized plates are unmistakable, both in passing and in familiarity. She's already parked whilst I've distracted myself with the swirling snowflakes. I blink a smirk away from my lips and watch her ascent.
Her boots are laced and leather…or non-leather. I really could care less regardless of the textile. And her skirt from earlier classes forgotten, is replaced with a pair of particularly dark-washed cuffed jeans – the tips of her thick boot socks peeking under the tongues.
She isn't wearing the Otter sweater that she had fancied earlier in the day, and I appreciate her sense of style. The scarf wrapped around her neck is black and thick, and I can almost see the rosiness in her cheeks against the fluorescence of the street light she's just passed.
I like her hair like this when we meet. It's down around her face, and it swirls with inflections of snow as the wind takes it.
She's a completely different person on days like this, and it reminds me that I'm not the only one with secrets in this town. Henry knows much better than me.
She's right in front of me now, and when we meet I nod to her and she smiles back reflexively. She pulls a hidden bottle of Seagram's from her coat, and I unlock the car. She crawls into the backseat after me, and she shuts the door.
I stare at the window. The storm raging around us, and Henry – our little bubble away from everything, stranded in the center of all this chaos. The cigarette is still cradled between my blue lips, and I don't particularly care that the doors and windows are closed.
She's staring at me from across the backseat. I watch her boot tapping idly against the leather. She isn't waiting for me exactly – I can tell that she's thinking. About nothing of importance I'd say. But it makes her look perceptive.
I lean over the center console and turn the keys in the ignition, hitting the heat and the radio before shimmying out of my coat, scarf and fingerless gloves. My sweater is overlarge and worn, the sleeves reaching down past my palms. I toy with the buttons at my collar, the V of my collarbone and chest visible through the open buttons of cotton.
I have on skinny jeans much like her. And my boots are covered in snow on the heels as I reach down to pull them off. One of them gets stuck and she leans over and pulls for me as I inch my foot out. It's right at this moment that I realize that she's discarded her coat and scarf as well.
Her father's old Stanford hoodie sits lopsidedly on her tan shoulders – I can count her birthmarks.
The gin surfaces again. And I have to smile at her tactics. She's quite skilled in the art of thievery and deception…but who can blame her. I watch her unscrew the cap and take a swig unflinchingly. The bottle passes to me, and our fingers skim as I take the proffered drink, sighing as it hits my throat and burns me from the inside out. We each take a few more sips, and as the alcohol swirls in my bloodstream and begins to make my eyes glass over I realize that she's here for a reason. Much like I am – and I laugh humorlessly into the air between us.
She joins in, and now we're both laughing at nothing. Our pathetic attempts at whatever this is? I'm not quite sure but somewhere in the middle of all of that her small hands find my shirt and tug.
I sprawl forward and almost land in her lap. Instead clumsily catching my balance in my misappropriated laugher and catching myself on my palms. She's sitting up with one knee tucked beneath the other as my hands claw the leather seat at her sides. I'm on my knees too, and our eyes are locked onto one another as we sway.
Henry is tuned on to an oldies station, and "Big Girls Don't Cry" by Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons starts playing faintly in the background. What can I say? I'm a sucker for the oldies, but I know she doesn't mind. She's told me she likes this station before.
"Big girls, don't cry-ay-ay…"
I can hear her laughter ringing in my eardrums as I join her. The taste of gin is strong and thick against my tongue, and I can smell it beautifully on her breath as she bites her lip.
And then I'm leaning forward, as she does the same. Her breath tingling me quickly against the cheek before her lips are right there meeting my own.
"My girl, said goodbye- ay- ay…"
See, this is exactly why I fucking love snowstorms. Because I get this. And I can feel the electricity of her fingertips brushing the back of my neck as I tilt my head. It's funny how quickly the laughter stops, and how the car is suddenly filled with gasps and moans to take their place. The laugher is not missed…and Henry readily agrees.
It's quite circumstantial how this egregious affair came to be. You could say it's all Lima's fault. I also blame Henry, and snow, and cigarettes, and gin. But mostly I blame myself for letting this happen every fucking time she asks it of me.
"Please stay this time…"
I don't like to resort to begging. And I can feel her teeth sink into my bottom lip as she grabs for the hem of my shirt, pulling it quickly over my head and throwing it quietly to the floor. I'm not exactly sure what's compelled me to ask this of her – I already know the answer.
She smiles into me, and laughs dryly before tearing my bra off of my shoulder and skirting her tongue out against a nipple. I flinch at the sudden heat, warming my limitlessly cold skin.
"You know the rules Quinn."
My eyes flash behind my lids. I had to close them while her tongue defiled me. And now as the words that have tumbled out of her beautifully occupied mouth traverse my muffled ears, I can't help the frustration that stings the backs of my eyes.
And maybe it's this snowstorm – or perhaps it's the fact that I'm feeling particularly vulnerable, but that anger flashes across my face before I can reign it back – and I'm suddenly losing control over a situation that I never had control in in the first place.
"Fuck our rules…just say with me."
Her hands still at my ribcage, and I can see the walls encroaching behind her darkened eyes. She moves back away from me, and the music is suddenly much too loud as her eyes rake over my face. She can taste the anger rolling off of me in waves – I can see it on her face when she scratches her eyebrow and bites her lip.
"No…you know I can't do that. We agreed –"
I laugh humorously in her face now – because she can't possibly hold on to the notion of an agreement we made over twelve months ago. An agreement that never entailed the emotions that I'm feeling right now; our agreement can go fuck itself.
"And we also agreed that we would never turn into this. What happened to it being a one-time thing? Why do we never talk – and why do we steal from your dads' liquor cabinet in order to numb it all down? Don't think this arrangement only affects you – you can't be that self-serving."
Her eyes narrow as she watches me, and I can see her jaw working as her lips purse. Fantastic. I want her angry. A year of this… and what do either one of us have to show for it? A bigger closet than the one we walked out of before, a wavering nicotine addiction, and crippling complex. My life is redeeming me in spades.
"You're no better than me."
"Perhaps you're right Rache. But I at least have the courage to admit it…you're just a coward."
Her eyes flash briefly before she turns to grab her coat off of the seat. Her scarf and belongings come next. She glances at the empty bottle of gin and frowns, leaving it where it rests dejectedly against the floor.
"I think I should leave."
And as she makes her way out of my car, the wind whips me hard in the face, freezing my cheeks as I watch her walk away.
The snowflakes swirl with a vengeance reminiscent of our affair. It's as if the world knows our plight, and is etching it beautifully in the sky. I slam the door shut, and crawl over the center console to the drivers seat, punching off the radio quickly before grabbing another one of my camel's from a coat pocket.
And as I take one drag after another, I watch Rachel climb into her own car, her lights never turn on, and her door shuts quietly. I can swear from here that I can feel the tears that I know must be on her face – because they are most definitely on mine.
Neither of our cars makes a move to leave. And we've been sitting here for at least forty minutes, the snow accumulating quickly on the concrete. I've gone through four cigarettes and ten songs. And she's still sat there in her Camry. My phone rings once and stops. I glance down at it and pick it up – knowing our signal when I hear it.
I call the number back – and when her voice comes across the line on the first ring, my jaw tenses and my eyes relax.
"Meet me at my house…follow me."
I nod into the phone, and she can't hear me, but I know she understands because the phone clicks, and from across the way I can see her headlights come on. I already know where I'll end up tonight, I've always known. And I can't say that I won't regret it in the morning.
But as Henry and I follow her down the white roads of Lima to a room and a bed we know better than our own – I already know my answer. And as the snow falls outside of her bedroom window four hours later I can't help but curl further into her side and squeeze my arms around her tighter as she sighs into my hair.
Because one thing I know, and one thing that I will always know for as long as she'll secretly have me. Is that I could stand outside in a snowstorm for hours and watch the wind. I could blink my eyes against the melting flakes with an anticipatory happiness. I can feel the cold in my fingertips burn with heat. And no matter where I am, when the first snowflake falls on my reddened cheek, I know I'll find her waiting for me.
And in return. I'll wait for her, right back.