Gray Hearts by Raspberry | Content Warnings
Quinn spends the next couple of days on my couch, face-timing some of the friends she’s going to meet up with when she finally flies into Heathrow. I try not to think about how she’s going to be leaving me soon. Or how she still hasn’t asked me for a ride to the airport. I don’t know if it’s because she expects me to offer, or if she’s not planning on going with me. Maybe she’ll just call a ride and disappear while I’m asleep or at work, since she won’t need me anymore.
I find myself picking up extra shifts to avoid going back home. Anything to avoid walking in with leftover pastries in case she needs a pick-me-up and seeing her laughing so hard she’s slipping off the couch while talking to people I’ve never met and laughing at jokes she says I “probably wouldn’t get” if I give her a questioning look.
I force myself to go home after my third day of working late. It feels like so much effort putting the key into my door and turning the handle, knowing that Quinn probably didn’t even notice I was gone.
It’s silent for once, and I wonder if Quinn’s finally sleeping. Except the lights are still on.
“Hey,” I say cautiously, swinging the door open. “Are you on the phone?”
Quinn’s on the floor next to the couch, hugging her knees and staring at her phone, but it doesn’t look like she’s talking to anyone right now. She glances at me, and I can see her eyes are puffy again. I close the door quickly and go to sit across from her.
“What happened?” I ask.
“My parents,” she sighs, burying her face into her knees and letting out another sniffle. “I forgot they had access to my bank accounts.”
The fact that they were the ones who set them up and were primary account holders slipped my mind until just now, hearing her talk.
“They emptied it,” she says morosely. “All my money is gone.”
My jaw drops.
“That… that must be illegal, right? They stole it from you,” I say, standing up. “What if I call the bank and—”
“They’re on the bank account,” Quinn replies, her voice muffled as she burrows deeper into her cocoon. “I can’t do anything about it.”
I move to sit next to her and wrap my arms around her. She leans over and buries herself in my shoulder. She’s silent, except for the occasional sniffle. I let out a deep sigh and try to think about how we can fix this.
“What if…” I begin slowly.
“It’s no use,” Quinn mumbles. “I won’t have enough money to last more than a day abroad. I talked to a lot of the girls, and they basically told me it’d be best to save up and they’ll see me when I get there… eventually.”
I hate myself for feeling a wave of relief before the guilt slaps me. This isn’t how I wanted Quinn to stay.
“Okay, well, then we can get a refund for your flight,” I say. “You can contact your old store and ask for your job back. It’s almost the holiday season, so everywhere is hiring.”
“My ticket was non-refundable,” Quinn says.
“I got the non-refundable ticket. I didn’t think there was any reason I’d cancel it.”
I sigh again and press my fingers to the bridge of my nose. I can’t say I’m surprised. This is exactly how Quinn lives her life: all risks, no safety net. Whereas I’m the ‘get insurance for the insurance and don’t take stupid risks’ kind. I don’t want to say my way is better, especially right now, but I’m definitely thinking it.
“You’re upset, aren’t you?” Quinn asks, glancing up at me.
“It’s not your fault,” I reply automatically. “None of it is. Since we can’t change the ticket, we’ll just move on, okay? No use in dwelling on things we can’t change.”
Quinn nods and slowly pulls herself upright. Her fingers fly to her hair, detangling her ginger strands and reworking them into a French braid.
“I don’t think I can go back to Hobby Lobby,” she says with a shake of her head. “I might’ve called the manager an asshole right before I left.”
Another sigh escapes me. Once again: all risks, no safety net. I’m pretty sure that means she can’t get a reference from him either.
“Well, lots of places are bound to be looking for employees,” I say matter-of-factly. “I’ll get my laptop, and we can start filling out some applications tonight, okay?”
Quinn nods, and this time it’s her sighing.
“I know this isn’t the best outcome,” I say, and my voice trails off.
What am I supposed to say? At least we’re still together? At least this means you’re not abandoning me?
Quinn’s phone buzzes, and she snatches it up. I guess this means she’s ready to be done with our conversation.
“Sorry, it’s a group call from the girls,” she says, sparing me an apologetic glance. “Do you mind?”
“I’ll, uh, put in some headphones,” I say, pulling myself to my feet. “We can look into applications later.”
She barely nods as she accepts the call. I find my headphones and try to drown out the mix of voices from her phone. And her own voice, which still pierces through the collection of ABBA.
“No, I know. It’s the literal worst.
“I feel like I’m going to die if I stay here longer.
“Honestly, I wish I could just burn this whole place down.”
I know she’s talking about her family. About our town. She’s not talking about me, though, I tell myself. Somehow that just makes it sting more. I can’t decide if it’d be better if I was one of the things she was complaining about being trapped with… or if she just forgot about including or excluding me at all. I shouldn’t be surprised, though. I stopped talking to her for months, and she barely seemed to realize it.
“I honestly don’t know what I’d do without y’all.”
I turn the volume up higher and decide to scrub at the bathroom tiles for a while. It’s better than listening to her gush to her new friends about how amazing and supportive they are and wondering why every compliment towards them feels like an insult to me.
She finds me a couple hours later. I turn off my music and look up at her. She hasn’t been crying more, but the smile she had for her phone call has faded into a frown again.
“Hey—” she begins slowly, like she’s not sure where to go after that first word.
“Hey, are you getting hungry?” I ask, putting the spray cleaner away and jumping up. “Why don’t we make some pasta?”
“I’m not hungry, actually,” she replies. “I think I might just lay down for a while. You should eat though.”
“Oh, okay,” I say slowly. “Well, we could, um, fill out some applications when you’re feeling up to it, okay?”
She shuffles off without another word, and I give up on trying to make the tiles look less yellow. I debate on cooking extra pasta for her, but she’s asleep when I finish. I throw the leftovers in the fridge, in case she gets hungry later. I can see her phone light up every few minutes, and I have a feeling it’s her queer travel chat. Or The Girls, as she calls them. I wonder what she calls me. Does she mention me to them? Do they know I exist, that she’s staying with me?
I try to push that thought out of my head. There’s no point in getting jealous of a bunch of faceless, nameless people who aren’t even here.
Quinn spends the next few days on the couch under a blanket. I haven’t seen her calling her other friends, or anyone really. And she’s definitely been in my sweatpants for almost a week. I finally sit down next to her after what feels like an eternity of her moping.
“Hey,” I say, holding out a bowl of ice cream. “How’s the job application going?”
Quinn takes the bowl and slowly pushes herself up. Her hair is so oily that it’s less frizzy than usual, and I can smell the layers of faded deodorant on my old sweatshirt.
“No one’s called me yet,” she says with a sigh. “I’ve filled out, like, dozens of applications too. I guess no one wants me.”
She says the last sentence bitterly, and I wonder if she’s only talking about job applications. Maybe she had a problem with ‘the girls.’ I feel a sour churning in my stomach and don’t want to ask about them, so I try to shift the focus.
“What if we try Antique Alley?” I ask. “I don’t think the cafe is hiring, but a bunch of the antique shops are always looking for some extra help.”
“I don’t know.”
“No, it’ll be great,” I say with a nod, wondering why I didn’t think of it before. “And then we can maybe carpool if we work at similar times. Look, I have the day off tomorrow. Let’s just go store-to-store and fill out as many applications as we can, okay?”
“They’re just going to reject me,” Quinn mutters, taking a large bite of Cookies-and-Cream. “They all do.”
“Well, it’s better than moping around,” I say with a sigh. “I’ll loan you some decent clothes, but you have to take a long, hot shower, okay?”
Quinn reluctantly agrees and pulls out her phone, basically dismissing me. I can’t resist peeking at her screen though.
“Still talking to the girls?” I ask, unable to repress the sour feeling from spreading in my tone.
There are a bunch of pictures of a group of girls on the beach, in museums, and at train stations.
“Kinda,” she says, turning her phone away from me. “They’re just updating everyone on where they are and what they’re doing.”
She sighs and doesn’t offer more of an explanation, so I finally pick up on her hints and excuse myself. I tell myself I’ll just let her wallow in pity for one more day before getting her back into society.