That’s it – right now – how her soul clings to her bones: it feels like nails on glass. She scratches grooves down the surface and it’s so sad how the second time she’s actually fighting for something, it’s her life.
The first time it was Brittany.
She’s not sure they’re different things, now.
Somehow she always thought she’d be dying with Brittany’s lips on her forehead and a bold line of history snaking out behind the two of them, but right now it’s as smudged as her name was the first time she wrote it in marker while holding Brittany’s little hand.
When she thought of dying, it was always after engraving her name into Brittany’s heart the way it’s engraved in her own – it was always after telling Brittany I love you after years of waking up next to her. When she thought of dying, she always thought she’d have had time to live.
Somewhere in the distance, a strangled voice calls out her name and it sounds foreign, which is how she knows death is winning. Like it’s a battle and her soul’s the prize: Here and There fight a tug-of-war with her everything.
Death is winning. A garbled choking noise startles the settling fog and it’s her – it’s her begging for another chance.
She’ll do it right this time.
Just- Brittany. God, she needs Brittany.
If she’d known none of it would’ve mattered, just that she be holding Brittany’s hand as glass slivers snake down her spine… if she’d known how small everything really was… She feels small right now. And the kind of hot that burns cold.
She wants to go back and tell everyone to love who they love before it’s too late. To love openly and without shame, like love was supposed to be, all along. She wants to tell them that soon she’ll be dying and thinking of clichés but even that doesn’t matter when her eyes can only focus on the empty pill bottle an inch from her face and her freezing hand that’s not in Brittany’s.
If she could, she’d apologize to her pinkie for losing its mate.
Because… loss. She thought she’d lost everything only now she’s losing everything and Brittany’s still not with her so why the hell did she think it would get better after this? There is no after this. There’s no Brittany after this.
She can’t do anything but choke on the froth building up inside her so she chokes a little louder, a little heavier, in hopes of being heard.
This is loss. This is losing everything and she needs to tell-
What is that noise?
A sheet of glass crashing down from above, sending shards sprinkling everywhere – that’s what it feels like, stepping into the tiny basement bathroom.
Suddenly he’s on his knees and a name tumbles out of his mouth like a prayer; over and over and Santana, Santana, Santana, and no one answers – no one ever answers a fuck-up like him but Santana.
She looks so small.
He screams when he wonders if she’s already dead.
He screams and it doesn’t stop because this is the first girl he ever loved; the first girl who ever looked him in the eye and told him to man the fuck up and cry if he needed because she wasn’t going to take another statue in her life; the first girl he ever slept with, and it was magic, and he wishes, more than anything, he would’ve at least once told her how beautiful she is when she lets herself smile.
He’s never going to see that smile again. The scream dies in his throat as he tries to check her pulse because her fingernails are so blue and she looks so much like that body they found when they were ten…
He’d swore on his little sister’s life to never tell a soul about how hard the two of them cried after finding that poor man’s body, all curled up in the creek by his grandma’s house.
He should’ve made her swear to never let it get like this. He should’ve made it clear she was never this fucking alone.
It’s only as the weakest patter of some type of hopeless drum beats from the inside of her wrist that he lets the tears fall because he’s not too late this time; he’s not that fuck-up from juvie – he found her in time.
His hands shake as he dials three somber numbers, but he found her in time.
He strokes her damp hair until the ambulance comes.
It drops out of her hand and shatters over her bare feet as she gets the call – and she never thought she’d love Puck again, but she’s blubbering it through the phone as he sobs from the back of the ambulance.
Her feet are freckled with blood so she skips shoes; only bothering to grab her purse and a blanket before jumping in her car.
The hospital beeps with as much guilt and fear as it did last time she was here, when they sent her home with her hands rubbing an empty belly, and this time the guilt is even worse because here’s a life ending before anyone could let it begin.
She can’t remember the last time the two of them even so much as looked at each other, but she’s trembling in Puck’s arms the moment he whispers her name and the two of them shake in plastic chairs while somewhere in a bed too big for her tiny form, their best friend’s stomach is being emptied out in hopes of saving her.
Neither knows how to do anything other than freeze.
So they sit there – cold as ice in those plastic chairs – and wait.
He notices the blood and bruising on her feet and pulls them into his lap, gently wiping the blood away with his sleeve – and she knows he’s only doing this because of everything he can’t do for Santana.
She wishes there was blood for her to clean right now as well and wonders if it’s incredibly selfish of her, being relieved she wasn’t the one who found Santana’s dying body.
Her chest is tight – the way it was the first time she witnessed her dad throw a glass of whiskey straight at her mother’s face and the sound of ice in a drink still makes her jump a little now, but at least she never once had to wait in the fluorescent waiting room, praying for her mother to survive the way she’s begging everything and anything to let Santana pull through.
Right now, she believes in God. Right now she believes in every god, no matter what that means for church on Sunday, and right now is a holy day because in that giant bed, Santana’s heart is still beating.
She promises to build a temple in every place she’s ever witnessed hate if Santana makes it.
Puck catches her as she starts crying out how willing she is to trade her own life.
This is what love is.
She will never love another as she loves her friends – so fiercely and so raw that the mere thought of losing any of them stops the air from entering her lungs… and here she is. It’s a miracle she’s breathing, with every thought that passes through about the life that clings desperately to a beeping monitor. She wonders if she can sell that miracle for a long life ahead for Santana.
She will do anything.
This is love.
She hates it took her something like this to realize it.
She stares at her reflection in the stretch of it that runs along this wall – the window that shields all the sleeping babies from the rest of this harsh world. She hasn’t been up here since the night Quinn had her baby, but the tiny swaddled infants hold more promises than the waiting room downstairs.
She was dancing, when she got the call. She was dancing to that playlist called My Songbird and every new song brought tears to her eyes because of how long it’d been since she’d actually kissed her songbird…
She screamed at Quinn through the phone.
She hasn’t said a word since.
The babies are all asleep, unaware of the giant empty canvas they’ll soon have to fill with life. They sleep not knowing of the pain downstairs; of her silent tears that seem so much more prominent in her reflection.
When she prays she falls asleep, so she wishes and hopes and bargains for Santana to wake up.
This isn’t Sleeping Beauty. Even so, she has to physically restrain herself from barging into that hospital room and covering Santana’s face with kisses. Her love won’t help, here. Maybe before, but… But her head’s been a playlist stuck on repeat of everything she should’ve said before it was too late.
Her hands rise to the glass as she wishes, for the umpteenth time since finding herself up here, that it isn’t too late.
It can’t be.
She hasn’t had time to love Santana properly.
Her phone buzzes and she jumps like she’ll never be able to answer a call again without her heart throwing itself into a blender – because you can never unhear the words she tried to kill herself and every day for the rest of her life she’ll wear that worry in the creases around her sad eyes.
Quinn’s checking up on her, with that voice that sounds like thin crystal.
She can’t find a lie to fill the conversation so she sobs into the phone and Quinn breathes unevenly on the other end and somewhere downstairs, Santana’s heart beats out jagged green lines on a little black screen.
It’s sitting on the side table, full of water and a promise to cure the thirst that would drown her if it wasn’t so dry.
That’s all she thinks for a second, water, until she sees a consistent dipping and rising line that spells out the pattern of someone’s heart – of her heart. She watches her life play out on the dark screen and wonders why exactly she ever thought it was a burden to be alive.
The linear mountains speed up as someone says her voice.
She hasn’t even had time to tear her eyes away from the little machine when a kiss is pressed into her temple and she’s suddenly so home that everything else in this world fizzles off into a wisp of smoke on the horizon.
The bed around her feels like an ocean that refuses to cure her thirst until Brittany climbs in next to her and places the straw between her parched lips.
Others filter in now.
The two hold each other like she clings onto Brittany’s teary smile and this is home: this frazzled mess of somber kids.
She’s not sure why it was ever okay to leave.
The questions write themselves in the three pairs of eyes that are fixed to her, as if in this massive bed she might disappear completely like the star she saw with Brittany that suddenly went out.
Secretly, she’d hoped dying was a little like losing a star; now, here, she realizes she never wants to know.
This is pain.
This is the pain that burns hot-cold straight to her heart and she laps it up like she’s never tasted anything so sweet because Brittany’s hand is in hers and water fills her Grand Canyon hole of thirst in so many more ways than one.
Her skin glistens with love like the mirror after a shower and she wants to kiss the glass so Brittany will see how beautifully it hurts.
She can see herself in the glass – years from now – happy.
Brittany’s holding her hand.