Lima, Ohio. A modest city with... well, nothing to do. But Lima is also the home of William McKinley High, known for its famous Cheerios cheerleading team, several sports teams worth no note beyond said cheerleaders (they never win, it's really pretty sad), students who want to get the heck out of this city, just as many kids who have no aspirations to ever go anywhere, and more school programs aside from that than you can shake a stick at.
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I was taught to be tough
That the best that you can be ain't enough...
You know this heart of mine
Had made some big mistakes
I guess that when it comes to love
I just don't know what it takes.
Don't get me wrong, I am not a fan of Cher. I gotta say, though, this song really resonates with me. Every time I hear it, even when I was in high school, before all this trouble with Greg, I always cry. I wonder whether it was some sort of self fulfilling prophecy, where I expected to fail and so I did. All I know is that I can't listen to it without wanting to curl up into a ball and weep until I don't have any more tears left. I feel like I'm eight again, my Mom coming into my room stinking of God knows what kind of liqour, slurring her long, complicated speech about how I should never fall in love.
"Frannie, baby, come meet your new sister!"
Being three years old, Frannie had not been exactly sure why Mommy had been yelling in pain the night before, nor why Daddy had hastily bundled his little angel into the neighbour's house before screeching off in the car with his heavily pregnant wife. However, she'd had it drummed into her over the past few months that a baby sister was a good thing, and so when she heard her Mommy's voice calling she abandoned her breakfast of soggy cheerios and went running towards the voice in a blur of blonde hair and pink nightdress. The girl was immediatly scooped up by her father, and a kiss planted firmly on her forehead.
"Look baby. She's called Quinn." Frannie glanced down into the bundle of pink blankets her Mommy was cradling. Inside was a tiny baby, much smaller than Frannie's dolls, fast asleep and making soft snuffly noises. At that moment, Frannie became the Elder Sister, the wise, magestic creature who was going to do her best to make life amazing for her younger sibling.
"Don't call me that! Don't ever call me that!"
It all seemed so stupid. Frannie couldn't even remember how the argument had started and was willing to bet that Quinn didn't either, but somehow it had escalated into the old routine of screamed accusations, careless words and rejected apologies. The older girl stood, stock still in the doorway of the younger's bedroom.
"Fine, Quinn. I'm still not leaving until we've sorted this out." Quinn rolled her eyes and threw her hands up to the heavens, seemingly giving up. Frannie smirked.
"Geez, Frannie, have I ever told you how irritating you are?"
"Well thanks. I love you too"
"I love you too Greg."
"Of course. Haven't I told you often enough?!"
Safe in her boyfriend's arms, being swept elegantly around a totally transformed school gym, Frannie had never been happier. She and Greg had been dating since they were fourteen, and being voted King and Queen of their final prom of high school was the cherry on top of the delightfully iced cake. Sure, he was her first boyfriend, sure, they'd break up, she'd move on, maybe forget all about him. But here, now... now this was perfect. The perfect end to a perfect year.
"In that case, Frannie... I have something to ask you."
"Frannie, can I ask you something?"
"Umm... sure Quinn. Mom, you go on ahead, we'll be down in a few."
Judy Fabray cast a disapproving look at her youngest daughter, before fixing her navy jacket and pinning an enormous smile on her face.
"OK darling. Be down soon though, yes?"
"Of course Mom. I'm not gonna miss my own wedding. Go on." As their mother left the room, the sisters looked at each other and burst out giggling. Maybe it was the eostrogen rush of the perfect white wedding, maybe it was nerves. Either way, it was a good five minutes before either of them could speak.
"C--c'mon Quinn, Mom's right, we're gonna be late. What did you want?"
"It's not so much what I want Frannie... uh... it's more what you want. Are you sure this is it?"
"Of course I am Quinny. I wouldn't be marrying him otherwise, would I?!"
Frannie's hands were trembling as she linked arms with her father. He smiled at her, a full, beaming, proud smile, the perfect fatherly grin. She wondered if he would still smile at her like that if she ran out screaming now. It had never been part of the Plan to get married straight out of high school, skipping college for wife- and motherhood. But Greg had asked. It had been expected of her. She was the perfect bride in the perfect wedding ceremony, with the perfect groom who had the perfect connections. Wasn't she supposed to be happy?
"What about me, aren't I supposed to be happy?!"
This was the first time in a very long time that Frannie had screamed like this. The last time was probably when she was seven, and she doubted it had anything to do with anything too serious. But this was. This was her LIFE. Her life. Not her dad's, not her mom's, not even Greg's. Her's. That fact had become startlingly clear to her when she saw that little blue cross on the pregnancy test. According to her doctor, she was about two months gone, and there was no way in hell she was telling Greg.
"I--I can't do this anymore Greg. I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, but I can't pretend to want this life anymore. And I don't even know if I want you. I'm... I'm sorry. I'm moving back to Lima."