There are things in life that you want. Things that you dream about, that you wish for, that you plan and prepare for. Most of the time, they are things that you control—like for me, it's dancing. When I'm carrying out those steps and movements, I'm always in control. It's the same for other people when they do things they're passionate about. We all have dreams, things that we're good at and things that we want to pursue. The ideality of it all is that we're aware of that growing desire inside of us and we can remain the driving force behind it—steering it in the directions we want it to go. It's a good kind of want; when you know what you're doing, when you're strong enough to guide it.
Those were the only kinds of desires I had, the ones I could control. It was simple—when I wanted something, I worked for it until eventually, I got it. I controlled my life, nobody else did it for me. I said how hard I needed to push and when I needed to stop. I could handle my wants, my desires—I was good at that.
But then there was her.
I saw her on the first day of school, sophomore year. I had only caught a glimpse but the image was enough to linger in my thoughts the entire day.
I saw her again the day after that—and the day after that, and the day after that. I didn't know if I was doing it subconsciously, or if it was pure coincidence that I kept ending up in the same places as her. As hard as I tried to stay away, I couldn't fight the strength that clawed at my stomach every time I saw her, like it was begging for more.
There was an invisible bond between me and her, a string that let me run away but instead of breaking, had only the intention of snapping me right back.
She was fascinating. I was only ever close enough to see the vague details of her face but that was all I needed to feel like maybe I wanted more. I was already drawn in, past the point where I could have made the decision to stop myself and walk away. I had never wanted to know so much about something before. There was mystery painted all over her and my entire body had an aching to solve it. If only finding the answers was just as simple as any other set of questions.
I was terrified of her, of what lied behind the protective walls that separated her from the rest of the world. She didn't talk let alone smile or laugh. I knew nothing about her; nothing except that she had only been at McKinley for a week. One week and despite my fear, there was already this growing need tearing me apart from the inside because itwanted to know her—but did Iwant to know her?
I didn't even know her name but I could only imagine it to be something beautiful. It must have complimented the wavy brunette hair that fell over her shoulders so breathtakingly, and the delicious color of her olive skin. I worried that her name would become my favorite word once I heard it as it would be the perfection, the beauty in all she is, in the form of something that I could replay in my head every day, something that I could say out loud into an empty room.
School was never something I enjoyed; particularly because I wasn't the smartest student. I dreaded most of it, especially waking up in the morning knowing an entire day of pointless lectures and teaching moments were just ahead of me. But something changed. Since she stepped foot in McKinley, I had come to find that I had something to look forward to. It was strange how she birthed the butterflies that fluttered violently in my stomach or how she brought out the nervous little girl I didn't even know existed in me.
She noticed me at one point. I was not particularly proud of it because it meant she caught me staring at her but subtle is something that wouldn't go on an 'about me' page if I had to make one.
Still, she noticed me.
It was fourth period English on Thursday last week, and she was called on to answer a question. I thought I'd find out her name that way but it seemed like nobody knew who she was, not even the teacher. He addressed her as "you, in the back row". She answered so quickly and quietly, not to mention correctly, and I couldn't help but glance to the back row of desks where she was hiding. When her eyes left the teacher's, she blinked towards me. I didn't know much about what happened afterwards because I shot back to the front of the room faster than electricity but I did know, however, that she didn't look away for as long as I was staring at her.
I tried to forget about her, to ignore her when she walks down the hallway or when she silently attends my English, History and Math class, but it never worked. It was beginning to scare me because I felt like I could keep trying, maybe until forever only to find out that even then it still wouldn't have been long enough to shake the undeniable and inexplicable desire I had for her.
Walking into McKinley on a Monday morning never used to make my heart beat just a little faster than its normal, steady rate. In fact, it always did the opposite; it slowed everything down, dragging out the day to make it even more miserable than it already was. I spent my time in classes thinking about things like why they haven't invented a hat that feeds people gummy worms like the ones they have for beer. I could probably guarantee that there isn't a thought in my mind that is any less peculiar than that one.
I was never quite sure when it came to her but I wasn't stupid enough to deny that the quickening of my heartbeat wasn't coincidental to when I was in the same building as her. It was a good thing that I hadn't seen her yet, though. Starting off the morning with a fresh memory of what she looked like would only have made me spend the entire day craving for more.
The hallways were crowded with people pulling books out of their lockers and reminiscing about how eventful (or uneventful as nothing ever really happens here) their weekends were. Blocking the voices out wasn't as easy as I needed to be because frankly, I could have gone without overhearing Puck talk about motor-boating a hot chick behind Breadstix. His words, not mine.
I forgot my locker combination again. Numbers did nothing but confuse me and I could never remember them. My textbooks were trapped in there and I needed them for class—but I couldn't stand the way the secretary in the office judged me with her distasteful glare every time I asked for another copy of my locker code.
"It's 2345, Britt."
"Your locker code. It's 2345 remember?"
How Quinn knew what my combination was got the best of me at first until I remembered that she was the one who convinced the school secretary to assign it to me. I presume my constant whining about how I kept forgetting my locker code drove her to go through all that trouble in getting me what should be an extremely simple combination to remember. She assumed it would be easier but I didn't think she understood that changing the order of numbers didn't really do much to help.
"Oh right, yeah. Thanks Q."
"How was your weekend?"
"It was…alright, didn't do much. Yours?"
I was not surprised that not much happened; there really wasn't anything to do in Lima except throw house parties. I often questioned whether boredom was invented here because, while it didn't matter so much when I was a kid, all I wanted to do was get away from the sad excuse of a town.
"Hey, do you know that girl?"
You'd be surprised how quickly I came up with a list of people it could be before I even saw who Quinn was talking about. I would be lying if I said the thought of her didn't cross my mind for the second after she asked the question, but I shook it off because I was starting to think that my thoughts were getting too carried away.
I was hoping it really was just my head playing tricks on me but there she was.
Sometimes I wondered if she knew about the thoughts that plagued my mind and purposely tried to make them even more torturous because I could swear she got more beautiful every day. Her hair curved in the most natural way, like she woke up and all she had to do was brush it. The skinny jeans fit her toned legs perfectly and the low cut tank top she was wearing showed just enough skin to make me remember her for the entire day.
I could hear Quinn calling me but I couldn't bring myself to look away until she turned a corner and disappeared. If I could follow her I would have.
"Do you know her?"
"Oh uh, no…do you?"
"No not really, but she moved in next door to my house. I had no idea until this weekend when the truck with the rest of their stuff arrived."
There was a moment when I felt okay and I would have cherished that small amount of time if I knew that a second later it would disappear. There was an ache, a twisted, uncomfortable feeling in my stomach and it wasn't cramps or gas or anything normal that would happen. It was like I was jealous of her—of Quinn. I had never really been the kind of girl who got jealous, so when all I wanted to do was run home to my parents and ask to buy the house on the other side of hers; I knew I was starting to lose it.
"Yeah, she went out to pick up some of her things before she disappeared back into the house. I remember seeing her around at school last week so…I don't know, it's kinda weird."
I couldn't fight the desire to know more. I wanted to ask her all of my questions, the ones that have been swarming around my thoughts, destroying any idea that had the potential of not being about her. I wanted to find out the answers I was desperate for but I knew that Quinn had just as much of a clue about her as I did.
"...you didn't like, talk to her…did you?"
"No, she didn't seem like the girl who liked to hold conversations, not that I could even if she was because she practically stayed hidden the entire weekend except for that one time when she came out."
There was something about the way Quinn described her that made me all that much more interested. There was a reason behind it all, behind the whole dark and twisted impression she put up for everyone. I didn't have any proof or reason as to why, but I thought it was an act. I thought there was something more and for any other person, I wouldn't really care but at that point, I thought it was safe to say I had concluded that she wasn't like anyone else.
The bell rang for first period and Quinn and I sighed simultaneously because we had History together and there was nothing about the nasally voice of Ms. Helman that we were looking forward to listening to.
Quinn pushed herself off the lockers and waited until I grabbed my history textbook and locked my lock. If it weren't for being on the Cheerios, she'd probably never have considered being my friend. I used to be intimidated by her; she was the undisputed top bitch at the school and people would step aside so her path was cleared. But it was amazing how people could seem like something and then be the complete opposite. I loved Quinn; she was the nicest person I'd ever met. She was the only person, other than Mike, that actually took the time to get to know me, rather than assume I was just the perpetual dumb blonde.
She smiled at me before we started walking towards class and for a moment, I had forgotten about what we were talking about—but then she had to say it. She had to say the one thing that I probably could have gone a little longer without knowing. It didn't help that I didn't see it coming; that I wasn't prepared to hear it. My desire for her was on the edge of controllable, and soon enough it would be pushed over to spiral into this need, this desperate craving for her attention, this irreversible explosion of want, telling me that there was no going back.
"Oh yeah, and her name is Santana Lopez."