A Young Daria Christmas story

By Galen Hardesty


Daria trudged homeward from Highland Elementary. It was quite warm for

the last school day before Christmas, but at least it was cool enough to wear

her jacket comfortably. And the dumb class Christmas party was history,

until next year.

Daria thought glumly of the present residing in her backpack. A plastic

snowman pin to wear on her blouse. Riiight. She’d be sure to wear it the day

of the next heavy snowfall in Hell. Daria liked the box it came in better. A

small pasteboard box with fitted lid, it had a red-and-green holly design

printed on it so it didn’t require separate wrapping paper. It suited Daria’s

Christmas present philosophy. Least possible effort without actually insulting

the recipient.

As she semi-attentively scanned the way ahead, Daria’s eye was caught by

an object that truly epitomized Texas to her. She stopped and looked at it

for a moment, and a small smile came to her lips.

Later that afternoon, Quinn was cutting out a party dress she’d just

finished coloring, being very careful not to cut off the tabs. She turned at a

soft knock at her door.

Daria stood in the doorway. "Hey, Quinn, I got you a pre-Christmas

present." she said as she held out a small box.

Quinn’s eyes lit up and she reached to take the box, but pulled her hand back.

"You open it." she said suspiciously.

Daria looked hurt, but lifted the holly-printed lid off the likewise-decorated

box. A large brownish - green pellet was inside, nestled in cotton batting.

"What is that?" Quinn wrinkled her darling little nose reflexively at the

unfamiliar object.

"It’s a reindeer bait pellet." Daria sniffed noisily. "Smell that? The

fragrance of the meadows of northern Lapland, where the reindeer roam free

till Santa’s elves round them up for the Christmas run. It’s compressed moss

and wildflowers. The reindeer love it."

Quinn took the bait. "What do you do with it?"

"Set it out where the reindeer land. The idea is to make them stay in one

spot longer so that Santa can unload more presents off the sleigh."

"Oh, cool! You mean like in the yard? Out in the street?"

"If you put it in the yard, something else might get it. I’d put it on the

roof. That’s where they landed last year. Just throw it up there so it lands

on the flat bottom side and it’ll stay."

Daria went back to her room, and Quinn charged out right behind her. Daria

heard the front door open and slam. Smirking, she shook her head. Not so

much as a "thanks" had she gotten.

Dragging her chair into her closet, Daria closed the closet door, braced the

back of the chair against it, and began the tricky climb to the attic access

hatch. She was pretty sure Mom and Dad had forgotten it was here, if they'd

ever noticed, and she wanted to keep it that way.

A few minutes later, Daria, seated at the small attic dormer window,

watched her sister’s continued attempts to get the reindeer bait to stay on

the roof. Yet again it rolled back down to the edge and dropped off. Daria

stifled a giggle as Quinn’s lips formed a word that Mom and Dad didn’t know

she knew.

Quinn picked it up. It had broken in two, exposing its soft, moist center,

and Quinn was squeezing it together again. Drops of green liquid oozed

between her fingers. Daria held her sides and tried to laugh quietly.

Just then, a car pulled into the driveway and Helen got out. Quinn went over

to her, apparently asking for help. Helen held Quinn’s wrist and examined

the reindeer bait. Daria bit the base of her thumb to keep from cracking up so

she could hear the punch line.

"Quinn, that’s a horse apple." Helen said.

"A what?"

"It’s horse doodoo. Throw it down and wash your hands."

Quinn gazed in horror at the brownish-green gak on her hands, then her face

hardened into a mask of fury as she headed for the door. "Sure. Just as soon

as I thank Daria!

"Quinn, you wash your hands right now! At the outside faucet!"

Daria rolled on the attic floor, convulsed by laughter, both hands clamped over

her mouth, occasional tears running into her ears. Down below, she heard

Quinn telling Helen about the "reindeer bait", and Helen calling her name.

Daria knew better than to answer just yet. Helen would soon cool down.

Then she’d tell Jake the story, and they’d have a laugh over it, somewhere

away from Quinn. Only then would she come down. As she recovered from her

fit of laughter, Daria reached over and pulled a book out of the box the last

tenants had left up here. She’d read a chapter or two of... she looked at the

cover.. "Girl of the Limberlost" by the light of the setting sun, and then

sneak down, very quietly. Christmas couldn’t be a total loss this year. A

little piece of it had been merry already.

La la LA la la.


Merry Christmas from Lawndale Stalker.




"Daria" and all related characters are trademarks of MTV Networks, a division of Viacom International, inc. The author does not claim copyright to these characters or to anything else in the "Daria" milieu; he does, however, claim copyright to all those parts of this work of fiction which are original to him and not to MTV or to other fanfic authors. This fanfic may be freely copied and distributed provided its contents remain unchanged, provided the author's name and email address are included, and provided that the distributor does not use it for monetary profit. (as if.)

Galen Hardesty []