Quinn Fabray was stuck in something more than a mild traffic jam.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” she mumbled under her breath as she observed the idiocy of the Friday afternoon mass exodus from the city.
With a press of a button, she rolled her car windows up; with another gesture, she spun the volume knob on the dash. An enthusiastic voice filled the vehicle, and Quinn passively propped her elbow up and began twirling a piece of her wavy blonde hair around her index finger.
“All right, folks! We here at Z101 know y’all are doin’ the weekend shuffle on home, and we are plenty familiar with that devil of a commute outbound. So it’s time for our weekly Friday Rush Hour Trivia Challenge!”
In Quinn’s mind, the words did little more than wash over her. She was too preoccupied with an ever-present and somehow endless list of things to accomplish. Dry-cleaning, grocery shopping, dinner planning, little league practice. Luckily, she didn’t have to handle it all on her own; but it still existed as a ceaseless ticker tape of duties, eating up the scant twenty-four hours that made up each day.
“We’re about to play three songs for ya, and in between each song, we’ll give you a bit of a hint about the person in question. No answers will be accepted until the third song has completed, so don’t try callin’ in until we give you the cue! And no cheating with your damn smart phones either—you’re driving, you numbskulls!”
Quinn’s phone vibrated, and a new text appeared on her dash’s console.
Dinner at 7 sound good? Pizza and a movie with the kid?
A smile, and Quinn had sent back a short response with the hands-free system—having long ago learned that lesson the hardest way possible.
“So here is Hint Number One: the answer to today’s question is a songwriter, and this particular songwriter has had three top ten hints in the last six weeks, all by different musical artists! And the first of those hits is coming to your speakers next. This song debuted ten weeks ago, heroically climbed the charts, and has held strongly in the top ten for three weeks now! We know you love it, and here it is: singing ‘Cue the Rain’, Demi Lovato!”
The smile had not disappeared from Quinn’s lips. And now, it grew. Of its own accord, her mind wandered as her body remained in the slowly creeping rush hour traffic.
The city was on fire for us,
We would’ve died for us…
She saw herself in college again. Performing plays on nights and weekends. Picking up paying gigs when she could get them, fulfilling her scholarship obligations the rest of the time. And every night, she felt a strange urge to scan the audience for a face she knew wouldn’t be there. They hadn’t kept in touch, not the way they’d promised they would. And the feelings inside Quinn’s heart, instead of puttering out in a pathetic puff of self-pity, had only fanned brighter in the negative space formed by absence.
Up in flames,
Cue the rain…
Night after night, day after day, time moved on, but Quinn did not. Holidays passed. Summer breaks, that were really anything but restful. She stopped visiting home, stopped hoping for chance meetings. Years flew by, and still her thoughts were consumed by the one she had always tried to be so brutally honest with. The person she had been most honest with…
The person she hadn’t quite been honest enough with.
In my heart, little sparks, everywhere that you are…
Her senior year in college, Quinn had rightfully won the lead in the final big production of the school year. She knew the lines, she knew the blocking, she knew the subtle emotions—and also the obvious ones—that her character would be exhibiting throughout the coming two and a half hours. It was the final show, the last time she would be on this stage before entering the real world, whatever that meant. Nervous, she certainly was, but confidence was also on her side. As she took her first steps out onto that familiar stage amongst the quiet tension of a watchful audience, nothing could have shaken her.
Nothing, of course, except catching those shining brown eyes in the dim theatre light.
And I find myself looking for you,
Yeah, I find myself looking for you.
Quinn had hesitated. It was only a moment; a brief, passing instant in the universe’s unwavering course. But it was probably the most significant moment in her entire life. Her breath had caught, her heart had stopped yet somehow raced forward simultaneously, and tears had pricked at the corners of her eyes. But a radiant smile had sped her along. And the moment was left behind, but not forgotten.
Quinn crept a few more car lengths forward. She could almost make out the sign for her desired exit up ahead. Her fingers drummed along the steering wheel grip, and she let herself be immersed in the past for awhile longer.
The final notes of the song faded away, and the announcer was back.
“Gotta love it! Demi really nails it, bringing home all the subtleties of that one, don’t ya think? All right, this next song is a real lovely track that made it to the number one spot for a couple weeks last month. And here’s Hint Number Two…”