Pairing: Santana-centric (Brittany/Santana)
Word Count: 1004
Summary: Based on the poem For an Album by Adrienne Rich
Notes: This is just over the minimum. I'm sorry it isn't longer. This wasn't where I had originally planned to go with the fic, but it caught hold of me and forced me to run with it. I really hope that you like it.
She’s older now. Her sister’s children visit sometimes, and some days they bring their own children, though these little ones remain wary of the old woman in he wheelchair who refuses to tell the stories of the past and who looks into their eyes and sees only reflections of who she once was.
It’s not that she doesn’t care. It’s not that she doesn’t want to reach out and tell stories and feel love, but after so many years of silence, she isn’t sure how to form the words to tell her story (and if she told her story if anyone would be able to listen without shrinking away in horror), and after so many years of shutting herself off from the world, she isn’t sure if she knows how to be open and if she can let herself open enough to feel anything. The last time she let it in, all she received in return was pain and anxiety and fear and a maelstrom of hurt. She doesn’t want to go back to that, so she remains a shell, a ghost, incomplete. She read something once that said that it’s feelings that make us human and our ability to feel that makes us so creative and inventive and different from other creatures, and if that’s really the case, then Santana has been a shadow of a human for too many years to count.
Sometimes when her nephew visits, he’ll leave the radio on when he leaves. He sister must have told him about how his Auntie used to love to sing, and maybe he hopes that she’ll smile if she starts singing again. He’s one of the few she thinks has hope for her. The rest are just waiting for her bitterness to overtake her completely until one day they’ll arrive to do their duty and she’ll be gone. Maybe if she was someone else, she’d try to inspect that belief, maybe she’d try to see if it was accurate, maybe she’d open her mouth and try to connect, but as it is, she keeps her lips pressed in a tight thin line and waits for them to leave.
Jack, he’s called. Jack leaves on the radio one day in June. She can see the light streaming in through her curtains – Curtains he tried to open before she raised to voice to croak out a frustrated admonishment. This is still her house and she’ll keep it how she likes. She’s not sure why she doesn’t try to stop him when he turns on the music, but maybe it’s just that she’s too overwhelmed by memories to try to fight it. On comes ABBA’s Dancing Queen and it’s like she’s been transported. Back in time. Across the cornfields. Through the front door and twisting hallways of lockers, and teenage optimism and pessimism, and the ambivalence of growing up on Lima, Ohio, and suddenly she is there with the rest of New Directions.
It’s not Rachel, Mercedes, and Tina singing the melody, or Puck and Artie’s backing vocals, and it isn’t Mike’s breakdancing that catches her eye; it’s Brittany.
She’s spinning too fast to be real, but somehow this doesn’t bother Santana because this memory doesn’t burn in the pit of her stomach and make her think she needs to run off to the bathroom. Her blond hair is free of any constraints, and as she twirls, it whips around like a flag, proudly proclaiming that this is Brittany S. Pierce; free of cares as she moves and lets the music work its way inside her soul. She can see her smile shining though and she wants to stop everything and live in this moment forever.
Brittany dances like a tree sprite or a faun from The Chronicles of Narnia that her mother read to her as a child. Brittany is too graceful and too alive for this to be real and it should be unnerving to Santana but whatever edge of unease she is experiencing is overwhelmed by her feelings of joy and longing and the ache in her belly that was her constant companion though out her years at WMHS.
She wishes she could take a picture or a video recording of this at least, and stare at it until she knows it better than the lines of her face, better than her name, better than the creaking of her joints that never leaves her anymore. But Brittany moves too fast, flitting all over the room, twirling around each new partner; making faces at Mike as they duet, smiling sweetly at Artie (in a way that makes her start to feel sick again), before running over to pull Lauren up out of her seat.
She never even looks at Santana. There’s a part of her that knows how unrealistic this memory is. Brittany never really ignored her like that, even if some days, after her tearful outpouring by their lockers, it felt like Brittany was looking everyone except her in the eye. She can understand that; Santana remembers the way she pushed Brittany away from her, built up her walls again and buried her heart in a safe more secure than Fort Knox.
Dancing Queen has stopped playing, and the mental image of Brittany dancing is has disappeared. She wants it back. Wants everything back. She never thought she’d be one of those people who remembered high school as being the best time in her like, but somehow, the only things she really likes thinking about these days are the strange hours spent in the classrooms of William McKinley High School.
Santana has no photographs from high school. She keeps no pictures of New Directions or the Cheerios, or even of Brittany. All she has is the fraying and fading images in her head. Is anyone going to remember Brittany’s vitality and beauty when she’s gone? It seems unlikely.
She moves over to the radio and shuts it off, cringing at the crackle that resounds through the air before the familiar silence.