Ok, first off, let me warn you that yes this story does include “shipper-esque” material, but I don’t consider myself a shipper. I like the idea of Trent and Daria getting together, but I realize this would never happen on the show, so that’s why it’s written in prose rather than screenplay format. This story stems from an idea I’ve had for sometime now, and I hope you enjoy it, whether you’re a shipper or not. There’s something for everybody, I assure you. I’d also like to mention that I’ll be using a few footnotes here. Sorry, I don’t like breaking up the action of the story by adding those little numbers, but I felt it necessary. I’ll try to keep them to a minimum! My standard disclaimer applies. If you have any questions, comments, gripes, complaints, suggestions, or good lemon chicken recipes, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy!
It was December in Lawndale, and the town was being visited by a frigid winter snowstorm. The wind was howling outside and the snow was thick in the air. Daria sat on her bed in the safety of that little padded cell she called home. She stared blankly at the TV, trying unsuccessfully to cut the boredom. An all-too-familiar male voice bellowed from the television. “Meet the supermodel who designs undergarments made entirely out of ice and snow. Walking in a winter Wonderbra, NEXT on Sick Sad World.” 1 Daria lifted the remote and clicked the TV off, disgusted. She glanced around at her room. Clothing strewn about. Books stacked high on her desk and on the floor by her bed. Papers and notebooks scattered around. The whole scene looked like a disaster zone.
Daria sighed quietly. “Well, yet another New Year’s Eve entertaining the parents,” she mumbled to herself, fully prepared to spend the entire holiday keeping her mom and dad from killing each other. Quinn would have a party to attend, no doubt, leaving Daria to hold down the fort. Or burn it to the ground in a blaze of glory. She hadn’t really decided yet. Daria sighed again, standing from her place on the bed. She walked over to her computer and gave the mouse a little shove, disengaging the screensaver. She stood there motionless behind the chair, staring at the screen before her. She had started typing up a story that morning, but had lost interest even in that, which was unusual. Daria had always found solace in her writing, but even that wasn’t enough anymore. She read through a few sentences of her story.
“The snow continued to fall on the roof of the car, slowly encasing its occupants in a shallow, icy grave,” Daria read aloud. “Their screams went unheard, muffled by the wailing wind and the noise of the traffic on the highway.” Daria shook her head and turned off the computer. It was all crap anyway. The story wasn’t any good. She had tried to write a nice, half-way normal story with a semi-happy ending, and instead it became a blood-bath where everyone died in the end. Big surprise. Besides, it didn’t really live up to her already low standards and she wasn’t in the mood to do any rewriting at the moment. She realized her room held no inspiration, so she ventured a trip downstairs to get a soda.
Daria crept quietly through the living room to the kitchen. Jake was asleep on the sofa, the newspaper resting delicately across his lap, and she didn’t want to wake him. Partially because she knew he didn’t get much sleep these days, but mostly because she was in no mood to talk to anybody, and she knew her dad ALWAYS wanted to talk. She snuck into the kitchen and went straight for the refrigerator. Her attempt to avoid parental conversation was in vane, as sitting at the table, was her mother. Damn, Daria thought, I was so close.
Helen sat there at the table, piles of papers scattered before her. The cordless phone was up to her ear, held there between her cheek and her shoulder, and she was obviously not happy. “Yes, Eric,” Helen said, suppressing her anger as much as possible, “I realize you’re worried about our computers with this Y2K thing. But I already spoke to the computer consultant and she said our computer system is fine. We’ve prepared as much as possible already.” She paused, listening to Eric ramble on the other end. “Yes, of course,” she continued, on the verge of breaking. “I know this thing is unpredictable, but do you really think that’s necessary? It’s New Year’s Eve, for God’s sake!” Daria could hear Eric’s voice rising over the phone, and Helen held the phone away from her ear for a moment, preserving her hearing. Once the voice had calmed down, Helen sighed, defeated. “Alright, Eric, you’re the boss. I’ll be there in about an hour. I have a few things to get together first.” She turned the phone off and slammed it down on the table in anger. “Damn!” she yelled. “The NERVE of that man!”
Just then, Quinn rushed in, her arms flailing around frantically as she spoke. “Mom!” she whined. “Have you seen my black strappies? They’re MISSING!”
Daria grinned at her sister’s predicament. “Gee, Quinn,” she teased, pretending to be shocked. “I didn’t know you kept fish. But if they’re missing, I suppose they could really have gone TOO far...”
Quinn stopped mid-panic to stare at Daria condescendingly. “They’re SHOES, Daria. I guess if you had any interest in appearance at ALL you’d know that.”
“Yeah,” Daria returned. “Good thing I’m not willing to trade in my grey matter for bouncy hair and a halter-top.”
Quinn, totally clueless and caught up in her own crisis, shot back, “You really SHOULD. Grey was SO last season.”
Helen was busy gathering her papers on the table and placing them in her briefcase. She was only remotely interested in the conversation going on, but did manage to catch a few words of it. “Now, girls, that’s enough. Quinn, if you’re talking about your VELVET shoes, I think you left them under the coffee table after you wore them to the Christmas party last week. I put them in the downstairs closet.”
“Thanks!” Quinn turned and exited the kitchen in a hurry, rushing to get ready for the party she would surely be attending. Daria wasn’t a bit curious where she was going, just as long as it was someplace far away. But, Helen decided to enlighten Daria on the subject anyway.
“Quinn has a New Year’s Eve party at Sandi Griffin’s house,” Helen said, standing, briefcase in hand. “That whole family makes my blood boil, but Linda INSISTED it would be fine and that there would be a chaperone present. Sandi even invited Quinn to spend the night.” Helen looked at Daria, expecting a response. Daria looked back at her, bored out of her mind, not caring in the slightest what Quinn chose to do with her free-time. Her mother continued. “And Eric has informed me that I’ll be spending this evening at the office, just in case our computer crashes. He’s so paranoid! I swear the man never takes a day off.”
“Unlike you,” Daria quipped.
Helen paused, glaring at Daria, then glanced down at her watch anxiously. Daria, toying with the tab on her open soda can, took this momentary lapse as her last chance to flee. She turned and started for the kitchen door, but her mother’s voice behind her cut off her escape route. “So Daria,” Helen questioned, “what are YOU doing for New Years?”
Daria turned reluctantly to face her mother. “I’ve been thinking of testing that new guillotine I’ve been building in woodshop,” she said in a monotone voice. “But, it would be more fun if Quinn were going to stay here tonight.”
Helen, not really paying attention, obviously didn’t catch the full impact of Daria’s statement. “I didn’t know you were taking woodshop, sweetie. I’m glad to hear you finally found a hobby.” Then, she simply dismissed Daria, brushing past her, heading for the living room. “Well, have fun. I’d better go. I have a few things to do before leaving for the office.” Daria followed her into the living room, watching her mother at her finest. Helen stopped next to Jake, who was still sleeping soundly, snoring away. She shook his shoulders, slightly aggravated. “Jake! Wake up! I have to go make a few calls before heading to the office. Where did you put my address book?”
Jake groggily returned to consciousness, more or less. “Mommy?” he mumbled through sleep-numbed lips. “Is it time for school already?”
Helen shook his shoulders a little more violently this time. “Jake, wake up! I’m your WIFE! Not your mother!”
Daria decided that the details of her father’s Oedipus complex was a little more than she wanted to know. This was way more family bonding than she could tolerate. She turned around and went back into the kitchen. Crossing to the sink, Daria poured the rest of her soda down the drain and threw the can away. From the living room she could hear her mother’s agitated voice, yelling something about Jake being a useless piece of crap and never listening to her, then storming upstairs.
A moment later, Daria could hear her father flick the TV on and start flipping through channels. Daria just knew she had to get out of that nuthouse. Calmly she walked to the table, picking up the cordless phone. She tiptoed quietly through the living room, not to keep her dad from waking up this time -- as he was now fully awake watching game shows on TV -- but to keep him from noticing her presence, period. Once safely upstairs, Daria made a B-line for her room, locked the door, and dialed Jane’s number.
At the Lane house, Jane was seated in the middle of her bedroom floor. There were newspapers spread out all over the floor and a big wad of brown clay right in the middle of it. Jane’s arms were covered with the brown clay and she was very engrossed in the artistic process. It was obvious by the lack of detail of her sculpture that she had just started on it. Loud music blared from her stereo as she hummed along. This will be...my MASTERPIECE! she proclaimed dramatically to herself as she molded the soft material. Suddenly, the phone rang. “Trent!” she yelled, hardly looking up from her work. “Could you get that? I’m busy!!!” There was no answer, and the phone just kept ringing. Jane, annoyed, got up and walked out into the hallway. “Trent!!!! Could you get that???” Still, the phone kept ringing.
Trent was downstairs in the kitchen, attempting to make a sandwich out of the little food they had in the house. He had set out on the counter an almost empty sack of hardening bread, alongside a jar of peanut butter, a bear-shaped container of honey, and leftover potato salad in a take-out container. He, of course, was completely oblivious to the phone ringing only inches away. Finally, from upstairs, he heard Jane yelling again, practically shrieking, “TRENT!!! PHONE!!!!!!”
Shuffling lazily to the phone he yelled back casually, “I’ll get it!” He slowly lifted the receiver to his ears. “Yo.”
Daria, on the other end, was shocked to hear Trent’s voice. She stuttered momentarily on her words. “Um...oh...hey, Trent. It’s Daria.”
“Hey, Daria,” Trent said, going back to making his sandwich. “What’s up?”
“Just trying not to strangle any of my family members.” Daria could hear Trent laugh on the other end. His laughter quickly escalated into a loud, raspy coughing fit. Daria held the phone out from her ears for a second, grimacing. When he finally stopped, she asked, “Is Jane around?”
“She’s busy. She told me not to disturb her concentration.”
“Big artistic project?”
“You know Janey. When she gets inspired, she can’t be interrupted.”
“Yeah, I know,” Daria said, the disappointment apparent in her voice.
Trent took a bite of his make-shift sandwich, which looked extremely unappetizing, but he didn’t seem to mind. “So what are your plans for New Year’s Eve?” he mumbled through a mouthful of peanut butter and potato salad.
“Either spending the evening playing Trivial Pursuit with my dad or throwing myself off a cliff.”
Trent laughed. “Well, it’s been nice knowin’ ya.”
Daria smiled, despite her bad mood. “Gee, thanks.”
“Look, why don’t you just come over and spend the night? Janey’s been working on her project for hours now, and she could probably use a break from it anyway.”
Daria was a bit uncertain. “You’re sure Jane won’t mind?”
“Would it matter if she did?” Daria couldn’t argue with that. “If you want to throw a few things in a bag, I can come pick you up.”
“Ok...I guess I’ll see you in a few minutes then?”
“Excellent. See you then.” He hung up and Daria gently set the phone down on the bed beside her, shutting her eyes for a moment, thinking. Dear God. What have I just gotten myself into? What was I thinking?
It didn’t take long, though, for that question to be answered. From downstairs, she could hear her father yelling to her in his usual, overly-excited tone. “Hey Daria! You’re missing 'Wheel of Fortune'!”
Daria nodded to herself. “Ah, it’s all coming back to me now,” she muttered, standing and retrieving her duffel bag from her closet. Soon, she was packed and ready to go. She lugged the bag downstairs, but when she reached the living room, she unfortunately wasn’t lucky enough to avoid her father for a third time that day.
“Buy an E, you idiot,” he screeched at the TV, sitting on the edge of the sofa, pounding his fists on his knees excitedly. “An EEEEEE!!!! Oh, for the love of God!” Finally looking up as Daria entered, he smiled. “Hey, Kiddo! Ready for an exciting evening of game-filled fun? I’ve got Parcheesi, Trivial Pursuit, Monopoly...”
Daria interrupted, “Dad, have you forgotten what happened the last time we played Monopoly?” 2 Her dad frowned. “You’re little race car crashed and burned, right outside my Boardwalk hotel. By the way, you still owe me 50 bucks.”
Jake’s frown increased. “Oh, do I hear that. I remember the time MY father made me play poker with him and his scraggly-faced cronies. Staying up until 3 in the morning on a school night just so they could swindle a poor kid out of his milk money.” Daria rolled her eyes; Jake was definitely not stopping now. “ ‘Hey, little Jakey. Get your old man another beer from the fridge, would ya?’ ‘Yo, Jakey! We’re out of pretzels in here!’ ‘C’mon Jakey. All or nothing! Daddy needs a new pair of BOOTS!’”
Suddenly, in the middle of his tirade, Daria heard a horn honk outside. Relieved she headed for the door. “That’s my ride, Dad. I’m spending the night at Jane’s. Gotta go.”
Jake’s trip down memory lane was over just as quickly as it had started. His voice and demeanor was once again gleefully oblivious. “Ok, kiddo. Have fun!” Then, he turned his attention back to the TV.
As Daria was reaching for the doorknob, Helen made her way down the stairs. “Oh, no you don’t, young lady,” she accused. Daria stopped. “It’s freezing out there. You’re not going anywhere without a coat and some gloves.” Daria sighed, but did as her mother asked. The sooner she obliged, the sooner she could get the hell out of there. She grabbed her long brown coat off the coat rack and swung it over her shoulders, thrusting her arms reluctantly into the sleeves. She yanked her beige scarf off the coat rack, wrapped it loosely around her neck, and sauntered to the door. Then, she felt Quinn, decked out in her holiday attire, brush past her.
“Move it, I’ve got a party to go to,” Quinn huffed, grabbing for the doorknob.
Her mother pleaded from the stairs. “Quinn, where’s your coat?”
But, Quinn was having none of it. She flung the door open and pranced outside, onto the freshly shoveled sidewalk, her feet almost slipping out from under her several times. Spotting Joey’s Sedan in the driveway, she smiled and waved flirtatiously. Jeffy and Jamie, who were both also crammed in the front seat, leapt out in a pathetic attempt to open the door for Quinn.
Daria, after a moment of mild disgust, but certainly not surprise, at her sister’s rudeness and shallowness, followed her out the door. Behind her, Helen yelled, “Be back by noon, girls. Aunt Amy is stopping by for lunch tomorrow.” Through her mother’s request, Daria could hear Jake’s voice again, still ranting at the television.
“Bankrupt??” he continued. “BANKRUPT!!! HA! I TOLD you not to spin again. YOU MORON!!!”
As Daria stood on the porch, pulling her coat tighter around her, she smiled inwardly at her father’s ability to achieve complete contentment over such a minor thing. She had never been able to achieve that level of happiness, or ANY level, for that matter. Everything around her seemed so trivial, so meaningless. As she watched Quinn walk down the driveway toward Joey’s car, she wondered how Quinn could put up with it all. Quinn certainly seemed happy on the outside, but didn’t such mindless conversation and vain attempts to attract attention get a bit old after awhile? Daria couldn’t imagine living her entire life that way.
Daria glanced around, expecting to see Trent’s car parked nearby. He was no where in sight. Damn, Daria thought, I hope he didn’t fall asleep before he made it to the front door. Daria, however, knew that with Trent, it was very likely that’s exactly what had happened. At least it had stopped snowing for awhile. She didn’t have to worry about Trent not being able to see the road. Of course, the roads ARE dangerously iced-over. No, she couldn’t let herself think about that. Trying to focus her attention on something less serious, she stood for just a moment, watching her sister work her magic on the Quinn Morgendorffer Fan Club.
Somehow, Quinn managed to push her way past the fighting boys and climbed delicately into the backseat, shivering wildly but desperately trying to hide her discomfort. Once Jeffy and Jamie realized she had already opened her OWN door, they proceeded to climb into the backseat with her, one on each side of her. Joey finally backed out of the drive, irritatingly yelling something about how unfair it was that the other two got to sit next to Quinn. Quinn just smiled contentedly to herself as they drove off, still shivering.
Daria shook her head in amazement. She had to give Quinn credit. She was definitely resourceful and knew just how to take advantage of a situation. A manipulator, Quinn was very much her mother’s daughter. Daria, however, always saw herself as taking after her mother’s sister, Aunt Amy. Thank God we don’t have a sister that takes after Rita, Daria thought with a shudder. We really WOULD be in therapy then.
With Quinn safely down the road and out of her hair for the night, Daria smiled, turning to go back indoors before she got frostbite. Before she could get turned halfway around, she heard a car pull up in front of the house. She turned to see Trent parked at the curb in his blue car, which was practically held together with rubber bands at this point. Daria, mildly surprised that his car would even make it all the way in this weather, took a deep breath and ventured down the icy steps. She was careful not to fall and embarrass herself in front of Trent. No, that would be very, very bad.
She had almost reached Trent’s car when the front door of her house flew open and Helen yelled after her, waving a pair of gloves in the air. “Daria, sweetie! You forgot your gloves!” Daria, startled by this, spun around to face her mother...and just kept right on spinning. She lost her balance on the ice and fell flat on her butt. She wasn’t hurt, physically anyway, and she immediately felt her face changing to the deep red shade of humiliation. Helen, looking extremely worried, tried to run down the steps to assist Daria, almost falling herself. She steadied herself, grasping the handrail, and called out to her daughter from the porch. “Honey, are you ok? Are you hurt?”
“Only my pride,” Daria mumbled under her breath. She glanced up to find that Trent was already out of the car, kneeling by her side. “Don’t worry,” she called back to her mother, “I don't think I hurt the sidewalk too much. It’ll be alright.”
“Ok, sweetie,” Helen said, only half-listening as the phone could be heard ringing within the house again. “But be more careful next time!” She turned and walked back indoors, to answer yet another business call.
Trent helped Daria to her feet. “Are you sure you’re ok?” he asked with genuine concern in his voice. Daria nodded, her embarrassment growing more and more by the second. Trent slid his arms around her waist to keep her from a repeat performance on the ice. Daria closed her eyes for a brief moment, almost wishing she had done this sooner. She smiled ever so slightly as the thought crossed her mind. Trent looked at her, a little worried at the strange expression on her face. “Um...are you POSITIVE you’re ok?”
Daria opened her eyes and forced herself to shake her thoughts about Trent for the moment. “Yeah...I’m fine. Let’s just get out of here before my mother realizes that she still has my gloves.” Trent smiled at this remark, his worries about Daria easing up tremendously. He helped her to the car, opened the passenger door, and lowered her gently into the seat. Daria looked up at him questioningly. “What a minute. How come you don’t have any trouble getting around on all this ice?”
Trent lifted his foot so Daria could see the soles of his shoes. It appeared that he had glued an extremely course sandpaper to the bottom of his shoes. “See?” he said, grinning at his own cleverness.
Daria grinned slightly. “So, Jane’s glue gun finally came in handy after all?” Trent nodded and laughed, shutting the door. He walked easily around to the driver’s side and got in behind the wheel. Finally, he started the car, and they took off slowly down the snow-plowed, salt-covered road.
Just as the two pulled away, Helen emerged again from the house with the cordless phone up to her ear. She was frantically waving the gloves in the air as she trudged down the front steps. “Daria!” she yelled. “I’ve still got your...” and at that moment, she fell victim to the evil sheet of ice on the front steps. Her feet flew out from under her as she flailed around for the handrail. But, it was too late. She landed with a thud on the sidewalk at the bottom of the steps, and the phone flew out of her hand, landing in a nearby snow drift. Helen, obviously in pain, yelled for her husband. “Jake!!!” She sat up and reached forward into the large mound of snow in an attempt to retrieve the phone. Unable to locate it, she winced again at the pain. “Jake!!! Help me! I can’t find the phone!!!!”
Later at Casa Lane, Trent pulled up into his driveway. He again helped Daria out of the car and along the icy walkway. Once inside, Daria shed her coat and scarf by the front door, and Trent sat down on the floor to remove his shoes. Trent looked up at Daria. “You can go on up,” he said, working out a knot in his shoelaces. “She’s probably still here.”
Daria looked down at Trent blankly. “Well, where else would she go in the middle of a winter snowstorm?” she shot back sarcastically. “On a brisk cross-country run?”
Trent, still messing with the shoelaces, completely missed the sarcasm. “Uh...no, I don’t think so.” He slammed his foot on the floor, cursing at the invincible knot in the laces. “Dammit!”
Daria took this as her cue to vacate, immediately. She climbed the stairs and made her way to Jane’s room. Daria stopped outside Jane’s door, hearing whistling coming from inside. Puzzled, Daria wrinkled her nose and stood listening for a moment. Jane? Whistling? That’s strange. And what song is that, anyway? The love theme from Titanic? Daria shivered. Weird. She must be sick...or possessed. Daria smiled momentarily at this thought, and lifted her hand to knock.
Inside, Jane was sitting on the floor, still sitting amid the big mess of newspapers. She was still sculpting, although much more serious now. There was a large dark smudge of brown clay on her cheek. Her concentration was intense and her tongue was sticking out of her mouth a bit as she examined her work. “It’s just not quite right,” she muttered to herself. “It’s got to be perfect for...” Her sentence was cut off as there was a knock at her door. Not even glancing up from her sculpture, she snapped, “Trent, I told you to leave me alone. I’m busy!”
A voice from the hallway wafted through the door, uttering in a monotone voice, “Avon calling.” Holy Shnikeys! 3 Jane thought, panicking. It’s Daria! She frantically gathered the glob of clay she had been working with and set it in her closet, tossing a grey flannel blanket over it.
“Oh...hey, Daria,” Jane said, out of breath. “Just a second. I’m...uh...not decent.”
Daria’s voice, still monotone as ever, shot back, “Jane, you’re never decent. But if you mean you’re as naked as the day you were born, that’s really not something I need to see right now. I have delicate eyes. Maybe I should come back later.”
Jane slammed her closet door shut and rushed to her bedroom door, flinging it open. Daria stood there, duffel bag in hand, in her usual attire. Jane grinned sheepishly, the dark smudge of clay now drying on her cheek cracked slightly. “Hola, amiga!” Jane greeted, over-zealous. “How’s it hangin’?”
Daria, unamused, entered Jane’s room and dropped her duffel bag by the bed. “Long, loose and a little to the left,” Daria muttered, recalling a line from a joke Jane had told her once.4 Jane laughed nervously, closing the bedroom door. Daria flopped down on Jane’s bed, exhausted. “Why so chipper?”
“Chipper?” Jane laughed again, tugging at the buttons on her red jacket. “When have you ever known me to be ANYTHING less than ‘Annoyingly Perky’?” Daria grinned a little, and Jane eased up. She walked over to the bed and sat down next to Daria. “So, what are you doing here? I thought you were spending New Year’s with the Morgendorffer clan.”
“And spend the entire evening letting my dad win at Jeopardy?” Daria mused. “Gee...how could I resist? That’s my second favorite thing in the world.”
“What’s your first?”
“Leaping off tall buildings in a single bound.”
“Oh, please. That is SO overrated. Everyone knows a long walk off a short pier is IN this season!” Daria laughed a little, glancing at Jane’s clay covered arms, giving her a questioning look. Jane, having forgotten she was still covered with the stuff, got up and fetched a towel from a dresser drawer. “Hey, if I had known you were coming, I would have showered,” Jane said, using the towel to wipe off the remains of the brown clay. “So, really. Why ARE you here?”
Daria sighed. “I didn’t exactly relish the idea of spending an evening with ‘Jakey,’ so I called to see what you were doing. But Trent said you were busy. Some big masterpiece. So, out of sheer pity, he invited me to spend the night.” Daria noticed the mischievous grin on Jane’s face growing. “He invited me over so I could escape my parents before I committed patricide. And he thought you could use a break from your suffering artist routine.” Jane wasn’t buying it; she could see that. “Oh, nevermind. You’re hopeless.”
“I’m hopeless?” Jane said, her excitement over the situation was enormous. “I’M hopeless??? Who’s spending New Year’s Eve sleeping only a few feet from the one they’re lusting after? Who’s going to spend the entire night talking about that person but not saying more than two words to them. Who’s NEVER going to get any nookie because she’s too scared to say how she feels when the opportunity is staring her right in the face? Hmm???”
Daria smirked. “I SERIOUSLY hope you were referring to me and Trent, because the alternatives are...less than appealing, and a little frightening.”
Jane sighed, shaking her head in disbelief. “Daria...you’re SO hopeless.” Jane grinned, getting a fantastic idea. “Hopeless...but not helpless. Not if I have anything to say about it.” Jane continued to grin, and Daria, seeing this as a Jane-Plot in progress, rolled her eyes. It was certainly going to be an interesting night.
The snow started to fall again later that evening. The wind moaned outside as the storm grew in intensity. But indoors, at the Lane house, it was warm and cozy. Jane and Daria were sitting at the kitchen table, playing Yahtzee. Daria looked less than thrilled about Jane’s choice of activity.
“You know, Jane,” Daria said, “I could be at my house playing Monopoly right now, winning the keys to my dad’s car and making him cry.”
“Oh, come on,” Jane teased. “You’re just mad because I’m winning. You know you’d much rather lose a game to me than spend 5 minutes with your family.”
“I guess you’ve got a point.” Daria rolled the dice, looking disgusted at the results. “Just my luck. I guess I’ll be adding a score to my 2’s column now.” She scribbled down a ‘4’ on her score-pad and then picked up the dice, tossing them across the table at Jane. “Your turn, cheater.”
Jane cupped the five dice in her hands and blew into her palms. She then closed her hands and shook them up and down, the click click click sound of the dice emanating from her hands. “C’mon, baby,” she chanted, rubbing her winning streak in Daria’s face as much as possible. “Momma needs a Yahtzee. Momma needs a Yahtzee. Momma needs a...”
“Would you GO already!”
Jane threw the dice onto the table. Her eyes followed the five little cubes until they were all at rest. Tossing her hands up in the air, she screeched, “YAHTZEE!”
Daria looked disgusted. “I hate you.”
Jane continued with her gloating by standing up and doing a victory lap around the kitchen. “Oh, yeah, oh yeah! Who’s your daddy?” Daria at that moment happened to glance over to the doorway. Trent was standing there, watching his sister’s antics with a somewhat confused expression. Daria smiled inwardly and waited for Jane to settle down. Finally, Jane stopped by her empty chair and let out an evil, sinister laugh. “Hahahaha! I am the Yahtzee QUEEN!” She then noticed Trent standing there, now with an amused smirk on his face. She immediately stopped and pretended like the whole thing had never happened. “Oh, hey Trent,” she mumbled, not embarrassed, but the bragging spirit was definitely gone from her. “Did Daria wake you? I TOLD her to be quiet, but she just never listens to me.”
Trent wiped the smirk off his face. “I was already awake. Actually, I just thought I should come up here and ring in the New Year with you.” Jane gave him an inquisitive look. “You know, spend some quality time with my little sis?”
“Let me guess,” Jane said, “the heater in the basement is broken again.”
“Well, take a seat,” Jane said, pulling out the chair next to Daria for him. “We still have time to relax before starting our big New Year’s bash.”
Trent’s eyes narrowed. “Uh, Janey. It’s 15 ‘til midnight.”
Daria sat there, wringing her hands nervously. She stared blankly at the table trying to avoid eye contact with Trent and trying desperately not to say anything stupid. “I guess it’s too late to order that keg then,” she mumbled, unaware that Trent could hear her.
Trent laughed, which spawned another coughing fit. “Good one, Daria.” He walked slowly to the table and took a seat next to Daria.
“Hey,” Jane joked. “Wouldn’t it be cool if we lost electricity because of that whole Y2K bug? And then we had to sit here in the dark for weeks. Even months? I heard that could happen, you know.”
“Yeah, Jane,” Daria said, looking up at her friend standing across from her. “That would be real funny. I’d probably die laughing. You know how I love a good, side-splitting chuckle.”
The conversation was interrupted abruptly by a loud popping sound. Suddenly all the lights in the house went off. Daria and Jane screamed out of shock. After a moment of ominous silence, Daria spoke up, in her usual sarcastic tone, “Ha...ha...ha. See, Jane? I’m laughing already.”
Trent stood from the table, stumbled in the dark over to the back door and opened it, looking down the street. Jane turned toward him. Although she couldn’t really see him, she still wanted to yell in his general direction. “Trent!” she bellowed accusingly. “Did you forget to mail the electric bill again?”
“No. All the houses on the block are dark. Hey, cool. The street lights are out, too.” Trent felt a cold breeze wrap around him as a big gust of wind pushed a flurry of snow in through the open door. He closed the door quickly. His eyes were starting to adjust a bit to the darkness, so he made his way to a kitchen drawer, opened it, and pulled out a flashlight. “There, that ought to help,” he said, flipping on the light and pointing it at Jane.
“Well,” Jane said, slightly peeved. “I guess it’s safe to say we just entered the new millennium. Happy freakin’ New Year.”
Trent turned and directed the flashlight at the clock on the wall. “No, look” Trent said, pointing at the illuminated clock, which was stopped at 11:50. “We’ve still got 10 minutes.”
“No way!” Jane pretended to be offended. “How dare they have New Years without us!”
“Contrary to what you may believe, Jane, the world’s clocks aren’t all set to match yours,” Daria quipped, rousing a dirty look from Jane.
Jane shot back, “Oh, yeah? And I suppose the entire world runs on Central Morgendorffer Time!”
Trent made his way to the table and sat down in the chair by Daria again. Jane, who was still standing, finally lowered herself into a chair as well. "You know," Trent said, "it could just be that the storm knocked out some electrical lines somewhere." Trent pointed the flashlight at Jane. Jane was glaring back at him. "Not that it matters," he added.
“So, what now?” Daria asked.
Jane smirked. “I guess another game of Yahtzee is out, huh?”
“Have I told you lately that I hate you?”
“Not in the last five minutes," Jane answered with a laugh. "But, please do...I miss it so.” Suddenly, Jane’s face lit up as a plan hit her. “Hey, I’ve got an idea!”
Daria looked panicked. She knew from experience that anytime Jane got an idea, it was usually a BAD one. Jane continued, “Since we can’t play any board games or watch TV, and I think charades is probably out too, why don’t we play Truth or Dare?”
Ah, HELL no, Daria thought. There’s no way she’s going to trick me into playing this game. Not with Trent in the room. No way. No freaking way. Uh-uh. She can just forget it.
“Sounds cool,” Trent agreed. “You in, Daria?”
The three decided they might be more comfortable in the living room, so they left the dark kitchen behind. Jane settled herself into the sofa with Trent sitting down beside her. Daria, noticing that her choice was either to sit next to Trent or on the floor, opted for the latter. But, as usual, Jane was having none of that. “Daria, why don’t you sit up here with us?” Daria glared at Jane. “We don’t got COOTIES, ya know!” 5
“Yeah, Daria,” Trent said, holding the flashlight to illuminate Daria’s face. “It’s too cold to be sitting on the floor anyway.” He moved over on the sofa to make an empty spot between him and Jane and patted the cushion with his hand. Daria sighed and climbed onto the sofa, ‘accidently’ jabbing Jane in the side with her elbow.
Jane just grinned triumphantly. “So, who wants to go first?”
“Well, since it was your idea, Janey,” Trent suggested, “Maybe you should.” The flashlight in his hands flickered several times, almost going out. “Uh-oh,” he mumbled. “The batteries must be dying.”
Jane, immediately reached across Daria and grabbed the flashlight out of Trent’s hands. “Here, I’ll go upstairs and get the batteries out of my walkman.” She stood from the sofa and started up the stairs, leaving Trent and Daria alone in the dark living room.
Daria was obviously uncomfortable with the situation, but her fidgetting went unnoticed by Trent, as usual. The chill in the air, due to the heaters going out, finally got to Daria, and she started shivering.
“You cold, Daria?”
Daria muttered through chattering teeth, “No, I usually shake like this when I’m uncomfortably warm.” Trent looked at her in silence, mildly concerned. Daria sighed, unnable to hide her discomfort from him. “Yeah, I am...a little.”
Trent rose from the couch and stumbled across the room in the dark. He returned moments later with a blanket. He tossed the blanket gently over Daria’s legs, and Daria reached down and pulled it around her, grateful. “Thanks, Trent.”
“Don’t mention it.”
Finally, a light appeared from the stairs as Jane returned with fresh batteries and a second flashlight. “I found ‘em! Let the party begin!” Jane came around to the sofa and sat down, met with an unimpressed look from Daria. “Well, nice to see you too, Sunshine.” She tossed the second flashlight to Trent, and he caught it effortlessly. “Here, I found an extra one. Now, where were we?”
“I believe you were going to be the first to bare your soul,” Daria said. “Although I’m not so sure I want to know what goes on in that warped little mind of yours.”
“Hey,” Janey laughed, “My life is an open book!”
“Yeah, a sleezy, 10-cent novel,” Daria added.
“Truth or dare, Janey?” Trent asked, flipping on his flashlight.
“Well, you know me. I never can resist a good dare!”
Daria grinned, the opportunity to make Jane do her bidding for a change finally coming her way. “Alright, Jane...it’s payback time.”
Meanwhile at Sandi’s party...
The house was dark, and the eager party-goers were all gathered in Sandi’s living room. Quinn was sitting on the sofa, crammed uncomfortably between Joey and Jeffy, with Jamie balanced on the back of the sofa behind her head. Jodie sat propped on the couch’s armrest, while Mack stood at her side, his arm wrapped loosely around her waist. Kevin was sprawled out in one of the recliners with Brittany sitting in his lap playing absent-mindedly with his hair. Tiffany and Stacy were squeezed tightly side-by-side into the other recliner, and there were various other guests scattered about the room, some standing, others sitting on the floor. There were several candles lit around the room and Sandi stood in front of the group, her hands on her hips, prepared to take charge of the situation. In the cold, dim candlelight, Sandi looked severely intimidating.
“Ok,” she instructed, “Nobody move! Everything is under control.”
“Under control?” Quinn interrupted. Sandi glared at her, but Quinn continued. “How are we supposed to dance if there’s no music? I mean, we can’t even SEE anything!”
“Quinn, DEAR,” Sandi said accusingly, “If you don’t think I can HANDLE the situation, just SAY so!”
“Nooo,” Quinn said in her sickeningly sweet ‘suck-up’ voice. “I’m not saying that AT ALL, Sandi. YOU’RE the leader...not me!”
Stacy, who was getting more and more upset the whole time by the situation around them all, was almost in tears. Panicked, she blurted out, “WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO???”
Tiffany put her hand on Stacy’s shoulder in feigned concern. “There....there....Stacy. It’s....alright.”
“Please, Stacy,” Sandi said, irritated. “Pull yourself together. You don’t want your MASCARA to run all over your dress, do you? That would be SO unattractive.”
Jodie was getting impatient. “Excuse me. I hate to interrupt this fashion moment, but what exactly are we supposed to do now?”
Mack glanced out the front window at the snow falling, which was so thick that only a cloud of white was visible outside. “You can’t expect us to drive home in this mess. We’d never make it.”
Kevin, in his usual brain-dead way, laughed and looked at Brittany grinning. “Hey, Babe. Did you hear that? He said ‘make it’!”
Brittany returned Kevin’s vacant stare with a high-pitched “Yeah!!” She giggled and the two started making out in the recliner.
Mack rolled his eyes, and he and Jodie exchanged disgusted glances. “I guess THEY won’t have any trouble staying warm,” Jodie said.
“You think they’d notice if we set them outside on the front porch?” Mack returned, and Jodie smiled warmly, shrugging her shoulders.
At the front of the room, Sandi continued with her speech. “ANYWAY, like I was SAYING, I’ve got an idea. Since we’re going to be stuck here for awhile with nothing to DO, I thought we could play a game.” She gets a slightly sinister look on her face as the idea churns in her head. “And I thought that since the house is all dark and stuff, it might be fun if we all hide while one of us tries to find everyone.”
Brittany surfaces from her make-out fest with Kevin at the mention of playing a game. “Oooo...I just LOVE hide and seek!”
“And,” Sandi went on, ignoring Brittany, “It might be a good idea to hide IN TEAMS, just in case someone gets lost. I wouldn’t want anything...” she looked at Quinn, her smile widening, “UNFORTUNATE to happen to one of us.”
“That’s a GREAT idea Sandi!” Stacy piped up, about to bubble over with excitement.
“So,” Kevin said, winking at Brittany, “You wanna be my PARTNER, Babe?”
“Oh, Kevvy!!!” she squealled, and they started kissing again.
Quinn, who didn’t think the idea was a very good one, opened her mouth to protest, but was cut off as Joey, Jeffy, and Jamie started fighting over who would get to be her partner. After a moment of bickering between the three, Sandi started to become impatient with them. Quinn still looked unsure about the whole thing, but under the steady, fierce gaze of Sandi, she agreed to go along with it. She didn’t want to cause a scene, especially with Sandi. Sandi finally broke up the feuding boys by making their decision for them.
“Quinn!” she demanded. “You can be my partner in the game. That is, unless you don’t TRUST me or something.”
“Nooo, of COURSE I trust you Sandi. It’s just....well...are you SURE this will be safe?” Sandi shot her a dirty look, as if to say ‘How dare you question my authority’ and Quinn quickly attempted to cover her tracks. “But as long as YOU say it’s safe, it MUST be alright.”
“Alright then.” Sandi scanned the crowd of teens packed into her living room. Finally, she gestured towards Brittany and Kevin. “You two can seek first. The rest of us will go hide.” When the two failed to come up for air, Sandi’s voice rose as she kicked their recliner. “HEY!” Sandi yelled. Brittany, stunned, fell off Kevin’s lap onto the floor. Sandi smiled again, satisfied. “Ok, people. Let’s go. You two close your eyes and count to ten...if you think you can MANAGE that.”
Kevin grinned. “Ok! Cool!” The crowd of people around them got up and walked off in pairs to find their hiding places. Brittany and Kevin looked at each other blankly. “Uhh....Babe? What were we supposed to do again?”
Later that evening, back at Jane and Trent’s house, the game of Truth or Dare continued. Jane had since moved from the sofa and was now sitting by herself in an old wooden, hand-carved rocking chair. Her face hidden by the darkness, she was curled up in a ball with a blue and red flannel blanket wrapped around her. Trent, still on the sofa, was wearing a heavy black trench-coat and a red and black stocking cap. Obviously very tired, he was leaning casually on the armrest. At the other end of the couch sat Daria, still covered up by her blanket, her scarf now wrapped around her neck. She was shivering wildly. We’d better get electricity back soon, or we’ll all freeze to death in here. She glanced down at herself and noticed with mild distaste at how hideous she looked at that moment. I don’t want to start sounding like Quinn here, but if I’m found dead, I DO NOT want to go out like this!
Jane, rocking slowly back and forth in the chair, lifted her flashlight to point upward at her own face. Much to her evident dismay, her entire face was covered with bright blue paint, and the word ‘Smurfette’ was written across her forehead in black paint. She ran a cold, shaky hand over the drying paint on her face and glared at Daria. “I can’t believe you made me do that. That was just mean.”
“And a waste of perfectly good paint,” Daria added, grinning. Trent laughed at this, afterwards coughing into his frozen hands. His cough sounded extremely hoarse, even more than usual, and Daria worried he may have been getting sick. “Trent, are you ok?”
Trent looked over at Daria, sneezed, and wiped his nose with the back of his hand. “Yeah,” he whispered, his muffled voice indicating that he was indeed getting a cold. “I’m fine. Who’s turn is it?”
Jane blew into her hands and rubbed them together to create a little warmth. “Daria’s.” She yawned. All three of them looked exhausted. “Truth or Dare, chica?”
Daria pulled the blanket in tighter around her shivering body. “I think I’m too exhausted to take any more dares, so I guess I’ll go with truth this time. It takes less physical effort.”
Jane perked up at that, as if this was the moment she had been waiting for the whole night. Daria didn’t notice Jane’s sudden enthusiasm; she was too cold and too tired to care. Jane, seeing that Daria’s walls may have been slowly crumbling, took advantage of the situation. “Truth, huh? Alrighty, answer me this one, Daria...” She paused dramatically. “Inquiring minds want to know...who is that special someone you have a crush on?” Daria’s head whirled around in shock and her eyes met with Jane’s. She looked absolutely stricken. “And it’s TRUTH, Daria...so no fibbing!” Jane added, grinning.
Trent glanced over at her out of the corner of his eye, looking mildly more interested than he had been. Daria was speechless for a moment, and she could feel her face reddening slowly, and not just from the cold. In seconds, she was blushing profusely and could think of nothing to say. Trent sensed Daria’s dilemma and glared at his sister.
Jane looked back at him, and seeing him obviously upset by the question, smiled momentarily. “Was it something I said?”
Trent turned back to Daria, who was now staring silently down at her red, frozen hands. “You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.”
Jane shook her head. “Like HELL!” she started, but was shot another death-look by Trent, and chose to keep the rest of her comments to herself for a change. C’mon, Daria, she thought hopefully, say it. Tell him. Now’s your chance! TAKE IT!
Daria couldn’t force herself to speak or even look up. Finally, Trent turned back to Jane again, and flipped the switch on his flashlight. The light went out, leaving only Jane illuminated by her own flashlight. Trent looked down at the light in fake shock. “Oh, look. The batteries went dead again. Janey, why don’t you go to my room? I think I’ve got some batteries under my bed. In the shoebox.” He paused, looking up at Jane, pleadingly. “Please?”
Jane’s eyes widened, and she could think of nothing else to say. She got up without another word and made her way carefully downstairs to Trent’s room. As soon as she was gone, Trent turned his flashlight back on and pointed it at Daria. She was huddled at the end of the couch in a ball, hugging herself to keep warm. Or perhaps to make herself disappear. Either way, she appeared to be lost in thought.
“Daria,” Trent spoke sympathetically. “I know Jane’s your best friend and it’s one thing for HER to know stuff like that. But it’s none of MY business who you like, so don’t feel like you have to tell me. You don’t have to be embarrassed about it. It’s really no big deal.” Daria looked over at him, the light from the flashlight shimmered in her eyes and bounced off her glasses. She quickly looked away. “It’s just some stupid game, Daria. It’s alright if you don’t want me to know who...”
“That’s not it,” she interrupted, whispering, barely audible. Trent leaned closer so he could hear her. Daria was quiet again for awhile, contemplately exactly what she would say. She sighed and continued, avoiding Trent’s intense stare. “The truth is, I DO want you to know. I’m not embarrassed by who it is. What I’m embarrassed about is that I wasn’t prepared for this. I wasn’t ready to say it tonight, but I guess now is as good a time as any.” She looked over at Trent again, and he was squinting, appearing to be confused. “Do you really want to know?”
“Only if you want to tell me.”
She paused again, taking a deep breath, and closing her eyes. “It’s....you,” she whispered, almost inaudibly quiet. The two were silent for a long time. Daria, still with her eyes closed, started to panic. Oh, my God. What have I done? I’ve just blown a perfectly good friendship here. He’ll hate me now. I can’t believe I let Jane force me into admitting that. Frightened by what she would see, she opened one eye cautiously. Trent was leaning back against the sofa, his eyes staring straight ahead into the darkness, the flashlight resting in his lap. Daria opened both eyes then and stared at Trent, who didn’t even seem to notice her looking at him. Oh, that can’t be a good sign. Daria’s heart sank in her chest and she was on the verge of tears. As a tear threatened to escape, she ruefully pushed it back and swallowed the lump in her throat stubbornly.
Daria finally found the strength to speak again, but did so with a quiver in her voice. “Trent?” Trent looked over at her in the dark, his face barely visible to Daria. She couldn’t quite judge what his expression was saying, but she didn’t think it was a positive reaction. Daria felt absolutely heartbroken. Now was the time to cover her tracks, to pretend like this was all just a big joke. She attempted a smile but failed miserably. “Umm....I guess ‘April Fools!’ isn’t exactly appropriate right now. Being the middle of winter and all.”
“Daria...” Trent started, searching for the right words. Daria took another deep breath, preparing herself to take a huge blow. “I don’t really know how to say this, but...”
Just then, the two were interrupted as Jane re-entered the living room. “Trent, I can’t find any more batteries. You’ll just have to...” Trent looked down at the light in his lap, which was still on. Jane stopped and glanced at him suspiciously. “Oh, I guess you fixed it already.” Trent said nothing, just nodded. “Nevermind then.” Jane peered at Daria, who quickly turned her head away, not wanting Jane to see the pain in her eyes. A seemingly endless moment of silence followed as Jane surveyed the situation. Shrugging her shoulders, unable to figure out what had transpired, she sat back down in her chair, and threw the blanket over her legs. “So, where were we?”
Trent spoke up quickly. “It was my turn.” Jane looked at him questioningly, but Trent just glared back at her, his eyes narrowed. “It was MY turn,” he repeated, more firmly.
“Ok, ok...geez! Alright, big brother. Truth or dare?”
Trent looked over at Daria. Daria sat there on the sofa with her head down, her hair falling down limply across her eyes. She glanced up at Trent as he looked back at her with a blank expression. “Truth.”
Meanwhile, once again at Sandi’s house...
Sandi crept quietly down the upstairs hallway. Quinn lagged behind slightly, feeling her way along the wall. Quinn whispered, squinting to locate her partner, “Sandi? Hey...Sandi.”
“Quinn, perhaps you’re not up to a game with such COMPLICATED rules,” Sandi whispered with a hint of sarcasm. “Maybe Chutes and Ladders is more your speed.”
“No, I just....nevermind.”
“Well, hurry up then. I know the PERFECT hiding place.” She abruptly grabbed Quinn’s arm and led her into a dark room, pushing her gently towards the far wall. “There’s a closet over along that wall. It’s the IDEAL place. They’ll NEVER find you in there!”
“Are you sure this is ok? I mean, I don’t want to take the best hiding place. After all, YOU’RE the Fashion Club president. YOU should take it. Not ME!”
“No, I’d NEVER take anything from YOU Quinn. You’re, like, the beating heart behind the Fashion Club. I could NEVER run things without you backing me up! This is just my way of...paying you back...for all the hard work you do.”
Quinn is uncertain and a tad skeptical. “Um...thanks.”
“Go on. Take it. I want you to have it. You, like, totally deserve it, Quinn. I’ll find someplace ELSE to hide.”
“That’s really nice, Sandi.”
“I know. That’s just the type of person I am.” Sandi turned and left the room in a hurry, shutting the door behind her, leaving Quinn alone. As Sandi sauntered back down the hallway, she smiled to herself, extremely pleased. Poor, gullible Quinn. I sure wish I could be there to see the look on your face when you try to open that ‘closet door.’ Her grin widened as she laughed quietly to herself and entered another room down the hall.
Quinn reached down and grabbed the ‘doornob.’ Sandi is SO thoughtful. It IS her house, after all, and she really didn’t have to, like, do that for me. And just as those sweet, naive thoughts crossed Quinn’s mind, she turned the nob in her hand and gasped in horror as a heavy stream of cold water sprayed down on her head from above. Her arms flew up in the air in an attempt to shield her face, and she squealed as the freezing water continued to rain down, soaking her hair and clothes. She squenched her eyes shut as the water ran down her face, her make-up mixing with the water and sliding slowly down her cheeks.
Finally after a moment of paralyzed shock, Quinn reached down, flailing for the nob. She turned it back the other direction and the stream of water became a trickle then slowly came to a stop. Completely taken aback, not knowing what to do or say or where to go, Quinn just stood there, dripping from head to toe like a startled wet puppy.6
“Truth, huh?” Jane repeated, still uncomfortable by the ominous silence around her. I wonder what happened while I was gone. Daria’s never this quiet. Jane looked at her friend, a soft worried expression consuming her blue-painted face. She just couldn’t stand the tension anymore. Perhaps the game hadn’t been such a great idea after all. It’s possible, she thought, “I’ve been wrong before...once or twice. She glanced back over at Trent. “Actually, Trent, I’m getting kinda tired. What would you think of just giving up on the game for tonight?”
“Fine by me,” Trent answered. He stood from the sofa slowly and walked toward the stairs, leaving his flashlight behind on the coffee table. “I need to take a break anyway.” He climbed the stairs in the dark, staggering a little on his way up, leaving Daria and Jane alone in the living room.
Jane stood, crossed the room, and took a seat next to her friend. She broached the subject delicately, putting a sympathetic hand on Daria’s shoulder. “Are you ok?”
Daria looked up at Jane, again fighting back tears. “I blew it, Jane. I just....blew it.”
“You didn’t tell him?”
“No...I DID tell him, and now he hates me. I’ve ruined everything.”
Jane was shocked. “He hates you? How is that possible? You were just being honest, right?”
Daria shrugged, the strength gone from her body. “I don’t know. I can’t think anymore.”
“Well, what exactly did he say when you told him?”
“That’s the worst part. He didn’t say anything really. He didn’t give me an explanation, he didn’t try to let me down easy or say ‘Let’s just be friends.’ There was just....nothing.” Daria, finally succumbing to her overwhelming exhaustion, rested her weary head on Jane’s shoulder, closing her eyes.
Jane looked down at Daria, becoming more concerned by the second, but also still not quite sure what she was dealing with. “But if he didn’t say anything, how do you know how he really feels?”
“I just know. I can tell.” Daria sighed, lifting her head. “Contrary to popular belief, I’m not TOTALLY ignorant when it comes to the opposite sex.”
“Daria, I know my brother. He’s hard to figure sometimes. You just need to give him some time to think. Maybe if you two had another chance to talk...”
“No way. Don’t you DARE leave me alone with him again.” Daria pleaded. “Don’t you do it. Not tonight!”
“Ok, ok, I won’t.” She paused, thinking for a moment, frowning. She felt guilty about starting the whole thing. “Daria, I’m sorry I pushed you into this. It’s all my fault.”
“Gee...for some reason, that doesn’t make me feel any better.”
“Ok. Then how about ‘I’m sorry I ever introduced you to that insensitive, oblivious, unfeeling, poor excuse for a human being’?”
Daria smiled half-heartedly. “It’s a start.” Jane smiled back at her, glad to see her spirits lifted a little. “Actually, I’m kinda hungry. You got any food in the house?”
“It IS a remote possibility, VERY remote, but I’d stay away from the fridge if I were you, since the electricity’s been off for awhile now.”
“Not that you’d have anything in there anyway,” Daria joked. “Except maybe a box of baking soda.”
“And doesn’t THAT sound appetizing! Why don’t you go ahead and see what you can find. I’m gonna go upstairs for awhile to work on my sculpture...if that’s alright with you.”
Daria nodded, and Jane grabbed Trent’s flashlight off the table where he left it, handing it to Daria. Then, the girls split. Jane ventured upstairs, while Daria entered the kitchen and fished around in the cabinets, searching for ANYTHING edible. Upon finding some graham crackers, which were still fairly fresh, much to her surprise, she sat down at the kitchen table.
Meanwhile, upstairs, Jane ran into Trent in the hallway outside the bathroom. Trent stopped, noticing the criticizing look on Jane’s face. Trent looked down at his little sister’s disapproving expression. “What?”
“What do you mean, ‘what’?” Jane snapped. “You know, I just don’t understand you sometimes. You have a good thing right in front of your face and you don’t reach out and take it. You just let the opportunity pass you by, figuring it’ll wait for you. But that’s not the way the world works. When you’ve got something good, don’t let it go!” She turned and walked down the hall, locking herself in her bedroom.
Trent just stood there, stunned and still as confused as before. What is it with the women in this house tonight? I just can’t win. Finally, he made his way back down the stairs in the dark.
In the kitchen, Daria sat at the table, thinking. Calmly, she reached over and turned off the flashlight, welcoming the peace of the dark. She sat there in quiet solitude, munching slowly on a cracker, listening to the wind howling outside. This had been quite a big night for her. She was upset, of course, about Trent’s reaction, but she was also proud of herself in a way. I finally found the courage to tell him. I took a deep breath, collected my thoughts, and just let it out. I’ve never been able to do that before with anybody. Maybe I’m not as hopeless as Jane seems to think.
As she sat there in silent contemplation, nibbling on a cracker, Trent shuffled in, stumbling in the darkness. Daria looked up and quickly flipped on the flashlight. The sudden light startled Trent, who was unaware that someone was already in the room. The two looked at each other for a moment, unable to find the words. Finally, Trent walked to the table and pulled out a chair next to Daria.
“Hey, Daria. Mind if I sit down for a minute?”
She shrugged, setting down her cracker, her appetite gone. “It’s your house.”
He sat down in the chair and propped his elbows on the table, resting his face in his hands. He absently ran his fingers through his hair as he spoke, looking down intently at the table top. “I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to say what I wanted to earlier, but Janey walked in and I...”
Making light of the whole situation, Daria made a dismissing gesture. “Forget about it. It’s ok. You don’t have to say it. I know.”
Trent looked up, shocked. “You do? How long have you known?”
Daria glanced at her watch. “Hmm...about five minutes, I guess.”
“Oh.” He played nervously with his necklace as he spoke. “So...you really meant what you said in there. About liking me?”
Daria didn’t want to talk about it anymore but wasn’t about to lie to him either. “Yeah, but it doesn’t matter. Just forget I said anything.”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that.” Daria looked disappointed and worried again. “So did you tell Janey? About what you said, I mean.”
Trent smiled a crooked, amused smile. “I’ll bet that made her day.”
Daria was at the end of her rope. She could understand Trent trying to be nice about the whole thing, but she was really tired of him dwelling on it. She’d rather just forget the whole weird night ever happened. “Trent, look,” she started, gently. “I know you’re trying to be nice here and let me down easy, but you don’t have to. I can take it. I’m not some naive little child, so don’t try and protect me from the reality of it all, ok?”
Trent squinted, confused. “What are you talking about?”
“What do you mean? Have you been sleeping this whole time? Look, I know you don’t like me, and that’s ok, but there’s no need for you to cushion the blow or treat me with kit gloves to protect my delicate ego. I can handle rejection.” She sighed, whispering to herself, “I’m used to it.”
“Daria, what makes you think I don’t like you?”
“Sorry, let me rephrase. You like me, but not ‘in that way.’ It’s the old ‘let’s just be friends’ line. Am I right?”
“Not entirely. Daria, you’re the coolest girl I know. You’ve always supported me in everything I’ve ever done. I trust you more than anyone...with maybe the exception of Janey. You’re the only one that really seems to understand me. How I think. Nobody has ever believed in me like you do.” He reached across the table and took her hands in his. “You HAVE been a great friend to me. You’re not just ‘my little sister’s friend.’ Don’t ever think that. You’re MY friend too.”
Daria thought about pulling away from him, but couldn’t. She wanted to be strong and not let his words get to her, but it was difficult not to fall for him all over again. She just didn’t want to do that anymore, as she was starting to see that he just thought of her as a friend. At least he doesn’t hate me. Maybe I can somehow salvage our friendship after this whole mess is over with.
After a fit of sneezing, Trent continued gently. “But you’re more than that to me. I can’t even write a song now without you working your way into it.” Trent grinned at the thought. “Jesse and the guys are getting kinda sick of it, actually, but I can’t help it.” He released Daria’s hand, and reached over, tilting her face up with his fingers. Daria, unable to believe what was happening, blushed a little, looking into Trent’s eyes. The glow from the flashlight on the table illuminated Trent’s face, revealing a glimmer in his eyes that Daria had never noticed before. His eyes were simply mesmerizing. “You’ve inspired me in every possible way,” he continued, “and I can’t imagine my life without you in it.”
As Daria was trying to find the words she had wanted to say for so long, the lights in the house flickered momentarily, then came back on in full force. Releasing Trent’s hands, Daria placed her hands over her face, shielding her eyes from the bright lights overhead. Trent did the same, until after a few seconds, they were both able to open their eyes again. Trent looked over at Daria, smiling his crooked, curiously sexy smile. “Perfect timing, huh?”
Daria smiled, her hands and body slowly thawing as the heaters kicked back on. “You think the electric company has been conspiring against us this whole time?”
Jane ran into the kitchen, not expecting to find Daria and Trent in the same room together. “Oh!” she said, shocked, looking slightly guilty at breaking her promise to Daria about leaving them alone together. “So...how are things in here?”
Daria tried to hide her smile, but couldn’t. She grinned up at Jane. “Things are good.” She couldn’t think of anything else to say. The words seemed so completely inadaquate, but all the words in the dictionary could not do justice to what had just happened.
Jane, however, had no difficulty understanding what she meant. “Excellent!” Just then, the phone rang. Jane shuffled over to the kitchen counter and answered, stiffling her excitement. “Yo.” Her smile widened as Tom’s voice greeted her. “Oh, hey Tom.” She made her way into the living room, carrying the cordless phone with her. “Yeah, we lost electricity for several hours. You too? That was weird, but we survived somehow...” Her voice trailed off as she exited the room, leaving Daria and Trent alone once again.
Trent glanced up at the clock on the wall, which had started up again, and now showed the time to be just a few minutes before twelve. “Hey, look! It’s almost midnight.”
Shaking her head in disbelief, Daria laughed. “Trent, the clocks stopped when we lost electricity. It’s probably after two by now.”
“I know that, but we didn’t really get to celebrate New Years before. At least, not in the traditional way.”
Daria gazed back at Trent, raising her eyebrows suspiciously. “Traditional way? What tradition?”
“You know. Where you have to kiss someone at midnight.”
Blushing slightly, Daria smiled. “Oh, THAT tradition.”
After a long silence, Trent glanced back at the clock. Just a few seconds left. “So, wha’dya say?”
Daria smiled playfully and whispered, “Well, I guess since we HAVE to...it being tradition and all...”
Trent leaned in towards Daria and placed his hand gently on her cheek, pulling her closer to him. Daria closed her eyes as she felt Trent’s lips brush hers. After a few moments, she started to feel more comfortable and slipped an arm around his neck. Finally after an phenomenal eternity, Trent pulled away. From the living room, the two could hear Jane yell, “YES!” Daria laughed, knowing her friend could never resist a chance to spy on them.
Trent smiled at the sound of his sister’s approval and gestured toward the doorway. “Those two must be having an interesting conversation in there.”
“Yeah, maybe a little TOO interesting.”
“As her older brother, it’s my responsibilty to pester her while she’s on the phone with her boyfriend.”
“I thought only younger siblings did that.”
Trent stood, grabbing Daria’s hand. “Well, then I’d say it’s time to start ANOTHER tradition!” Daria stood and followed Trent into the living room, intertwining her fingers with his, not wanting to let go ever again.
Later that night, as the TV in the living room blared, the three friends were quiet. Jane, lying on her stomach in front of the couch yawned and wiped a tired hand over her eyes. She turned and looked back at Trent and Daria sitting on the sofa. Trent was asleep, a limp arm flung across Daria’s shoulders. Daria was awake, silently staring at Trent, watching in fascination as he slept.
“He IS breathing, isn’t he?” Jane asked in a whisper, careful not to wake her brother.
“In regular intervals?”
Jane grinned at Daria’s preoccupation with Trent. In her best telephone-operator voice, she calmly joked, “I’m sorry. The girl you are trying to reach has been disconnected. Please hang up and try again...at about ten minutes past never.”
“What?” Daria said, looking over at Jane as if she had just entered the room. “Were you saying something?”
Jane smiled even wider, amazed at Daria’s love-sick expression, and she just couldn’t help but envy Daria a little. It was incredible how much she had changed in one night. Truly astounding. “Nothing at all.” Jane yawned again. “Actually, I’m totally drained. I think I’ll hit the hay.” She stood and headed for the stairs. “You coming?”
“I’ll be up in a minute,” Daria answered. Jane shrugged as if to say ‘suit yourself’ and climbed the stairs. Moments later, Daria could hear Jane’s door close gently. Finally, Daria stood from the sofa, gently lifting Trent’s arm, trying not to wake him.
As she turned to walk away, Trent’s tired, semi-conscious voice drifted from behind her. “G’nite, Daria.”
Daria turned to see Trent watching her, his eyes half-open. She walked over to him and kissed his cheek lightly; he closed his eyes again. “Goodnight, Trent.” Soon, Trent was snoring softly again. Daria turned and started toward the stairs, glancing one more time back at Trent before joining Jane in her room.
Daria glanced over at Jane, who was already in bed, sound asleep. Narcalepsy must run in the family, Daria thought, smiling to herself again. With some effort, she made her way across the dark room to find her duffel bag. On her way, she caught her foot on the edge of something, almost sending her flying to the floor . When she had steadied herself, she knelt down at the foot of Jane’s bed to see what it was she had tripped over. There, on a bed of old newspapers, was Jane’s big masterpiece.
The sculpture was simple. Two people standing face-to-face, gazing into each other’s eyes. The man had his arms raised slightly, cupping the woman’s face gently in his hands. The woman’s eyes were closed, and they both looked completely and utterly content, as if love had consumed every part of their bodies. Daria noticed that it looked like Jane had begun sculpting a pair of glasses on the woman’s face. Upon further inpection she found that the man had tatoos on his arms. As Daria studied the figures thoughtfully, running her hands over the smooth brown clay, she smiled, a tear escaping and running down her cheek. It was all too much to take in at once. After a moment, she wiped the tear away and stood, continuing the search for her duffel bag.
Jane, who was not as ‘asleep’ as Daria had thought, smiled too, one eye open, watching Daria’s expression. Pleased with her work, she closed her eye again and went to sleep, for real this time.
Daria awoke the next morning and stretched reluctantly. She looked around, finding Jane and the scultpure gone. She wondered if perhaps the whole night had just been a dream. How cruel that would be. She couldn’t imagine having a dream that good, but was still not sure what to believe. She quickly pulled on her normal, everyday clothes and black boots and joined Jane in the kitchen. From the basement, Daria could hear loud guitar music being played.
“You’re up awfully early,” Daria said, sitting at the table next to Jane. “For YOU, anyway.”
Jane’s sleep-matted hair fell over her tired eyes, and she lifted a coffee cup to her lips. Not even looking up from the table, she answered sourly, “Trent’s been practicing for hours now. I’m surprised you could sleep through that racket.” Daria shrugged. Jane looked up at Daria and managed a somewhat playful wink through her drowsy state. “But I guess you were having such a good dream that you just didn’t want to wake up...am I right?”
“As much as I hate to admit that you’re right...” Daria started, and Jane looked at her hopefully, relishing the moment that Daria might actually admit that she had been right all along. Daria grinned and finished, “I’d have to say...no.” Jane shook her head and took another sip of coffee. Daria glanced at the clock. “I should probably get home. My parents are expecting me before noon.”
“Big family bonding moment?”
“Unfortunately, yes. But my Aunt Amy’s coming, so maybe it won’t be quite so bad.”
“Are you really in the mood to start another family feud today?” 7
Daria smirked. “Always.”
Jane replied approvingly, “I’ve taught you well, my child.” She stood, setting her coffee mug on the table cautiously. “I guess I’ll have to go downstairs and ask Mr. Hendrix to give you a ride home. Not that he’ll MIND.”
Daria grinned sheepishly. Jane smiled back, both of them in complete understanding of one another. Sometimes, there was no need for words. Jane gripped the basement doornob and sighed, “If I’m not back in ten minutes, send a pose.” And with that, she opened the door and ventured down into the ‘dungeon.’ Moments later, the music stopped, and after a few minutes, Jane and Trent emerged from the basement. “Mission accomplished,” Jane announced, giving Daria the thumbs-up.
In Trent’s car on the way to Daria’s house, the two sat in silence for most of the way. Not because they were uncomfortable after what had happened, but because there didn’t seem to be any words to express what they wanted to say. Finally, Daria dared to break the ice. “So, how long have you been up this morning? Jane said she heard you practicing hours ago.”
Trent turned the wheel slowly as he rounded a corner. “Oh, I don’t know. Since about five, I guess.” Daria looked back at him, shocked. “I just couldn’t sleep last night. After you left, I mean. I kept waking up. I don’t know why. So I figured I should use the time wisely. Spend it doing something constructive.”
“And it was either practice ‘Ice Box Woman’ or fix that busted hose on the dishwasher.”
Trent laughed and coughed, his cough sounding much better than it had the previous night. He wheeled the car easily into the Morgendorffer driveway and shut off the engine. “Actually, we don’t have a dishwasher. And I wasn’t practicing our old material either.”
Daria and Trent opened their doors and stepped out onto the pavement, which had thawed considerably since the snowstorm. Trent rounded the car and gently took Daria’s hand, leading her to the front door. Daria looked over at him and questioned, “Working on a new song? At five in the morning?”
Trent nodded, grinning. “I guess I got inspired.”
“What is it with you Lanes and your damned inspiration?”
Trent laughed, coughing into his glove-covered palms. “It’s a gift.”
Grabbing the handrail with her freehand, Daria climbed onto her porch. Trent followed, standing in front of her by the door. He looked at her with that same, oddly appealing smile and Daria could no longer feel the cold around her. She couldn’t see, feel, or hear anything but what was right in front of her.
Trent leaned down and kissed her goodbye. “I’ll call you tonight, ok?”
“Can’t wait.” He kissed her once more before descending the steps and shuffling back to his car. Daria turned from him reluctantly, stuck her housekey into the lock and opened her front door. Still smiling blissfully over everything that had happened, she walked into the living room hesitantly. She expected her parents to be pacing the floor, worried sick about her. Instead, she found her mother sitting on a foam-rubber donut-shaped cushion on the sofa. She was wearing an old pink robe and crocheted house-shoes. Her father, dressed in his casual weekend outfit, was sitting next to Helen feeding her grapes, of all things. Normally Daria would have been shocked at this unusual turn of events, but after what had just happened at Jane’s house, nothing could surprise her anymore. The sickeningly happy couple finally noticed Daria was home, and Helen turned her head to face her.
“Hi, sweetie,” Helen whispered. “How was your evening?”
Remembering the details, Daria smiled again. No matter how hard she tried, her happiness was something she just wasn’t able to hide at that point. “It was great.” She glanced down at the strange thing Helen was sitting on. “Um...not to change the subject, but what happened to your ass?”
Jake smiled at her, feeding Helen another grape. “Your mother fell down on the steps outside. Bwuised her poor whittle tail-bone.”
“And your father,” Helen continued, glancing back lovingly at her husband, “Was so sweet to take care of me this evening. Weren’t you Jakey Bear?”
“Not as sweet as you, Helly-Bell.”
Oh, please...shoot me now! Daria felt her stomach churn. This was just too much. “Is Aunt Amy here yet?”
“She called and cancelled because of the storm,” Helen said, not really paying too much attention to her daughter. Jake fed her another grape, and they started talking baby-talk to each other again.
So, I came home...to THIS...all for nothing. Damn. I could be at Jane’s right now instead of here on the Love Boat...from HELL. “Well, well, well,” Daria said, totally nauseous at this revolting display of affection, “Look at the time. I think I’ll just mosey on upstairs and...uh...build a house out of popsicle sticks...or something.” She was extremely desperate to get out of there. Not that Helen or Jake either one noticed. They were too busy looking into each other’s eyes and spouting romantic nonsense to each other. I think I’m going to gag. Daria turned and hauled her duffel bag back up to her room. Please God, don’t EVER let me sink to that level...EVER.
At the top of the stairs, she heard the front door open. It was Quinn, and when she spotted the little love-nest in the living room, she emitted her trade-mark protest against all things icky and gross. “Ewwwwww!” She then ran up the stairs past Daria, practically knocking her down on the way to her room.
“Watch it there, Speed Racer,” Daria cautioned. Quinn stopped, turning to face Daria. Her mascara had run down her face and her hair was still a little damp, ratty and matted down against her head. She looked totally disheveled, and Daria knew it was completely unlike Lil’ Miss Fashion Plate to be even the slightest bit sloppy. Daria, for once, was a little concerned about her sister. “Quinn, are you alright?”
“Alright?” she bellowed, as if this was the dumbest question on earth. “ALRIGHT??? Let me explain how totally and completely UN-alright I am. We were playing hide and seek at Sandi’s after the lights went out, and Sandi led me to what she SAID was a closet, but it turned out to be the shower in her BATHROOM!” She continued, swiping a wet stringy strand of hair off of her forehead, “And what I thought was a doorknob was actually one of those cold water faucet...turner...THINGS! I was positively SOAKED and on top of all that, I couldn’t see to find my way out so I spent the next TWO HOURS hiding in Sandi’s bathroom until the lights came back on. I can’t BELIEVE she did that to me. She’s such a heartless witch!” Quinn ceased her explanation and sneezed loudly. “And as if THAT weren’t bad enough, Joey, Jeffy, and Jeremy or whatever couldn’t find me, so they thought I had gone home early. They left without me and I had to walk home and now I’m getting a cold and I wish I were DEAD!”
Daria smiled to herself, rather enjoying her sister’s misfortune. “But why stop there?” Daria suggested. “Why not wish SANDI were dead also?”
At that remark, Quinn became very defensive. “Daria! That’s so RUDE! I can’t believe you’d even SAY that. Sandi’s my FRIEND! How DARE you talk about my friends that way??” In a huff, she turned around and stormed into her room, emitting another pathetic sneeze as she slammed the door behind her.
Daria just watched her go, a triumphant though somewhat pitying look on her face. It was amazing how Quinn could so easily twist words around anyway she pleased. Yes, indeed, Quinn was definitely a lawyer at heart. Daria smirked and entered her own room to begin unpacking her bag. As she stood by her bed, pulling items out of her duffel bag, an idea popped into her head. She walked over to her desk to boot up her computer. After a few moments, she sat down at the desk and started a new story. She smiled as the words rushed through her head, into her fingers, and onto the screen. The longer she typed, the more her smile widened. Finally, finished with her story, she sat back and re-read it, fully expecting it to be more meaningless drivel like the last story she had started. Instead, she was pleased. She scrolled up to the top of the document so she could give it a title. After thinking for a moment, she smiled again, and repeated the title as she typed.
“The Night That Time Stood Still.” Daria stopped for a moment, then hit the “Enter” key and typed one more line. “A True Story.” She read the story one more time, wrapping her arms around herself, remembering every detail of the best night of her life. She turned off the monitor and crossed the room to her bed, throwing a heavy, terry-cloth robe on over her clothes. Grabbing a book off the nightstand, she snuggled down under the covers and tried to read, but simply couldn’t concentrate on her book. As thoughts of Trent again invaded her mind, she closed her eyes, recalling the warmth of Trent’s arms around her. With that one glorious thought, she settled down comfortably into her blankets and fell asleep, completely oblivious to the cold, cruel wind wailing outside.
1 -- “Winter Wonderbra” episode of SSW...I’ve been wanting to do that one for SO LONG...but it didn’t seem appropriate until now!
2 -- The Monopoly game is in reference to the episode “The Big House.” But I’m sure you knew that already!
3 -- It’s something my friend Stephanie and I say all the time! I just had to slip it in somewhere!
4 -- Sorry, this actually isn’t from a joke...it’s straight from Steph’s warped little mind. You can thank her for that one.
Thank...blame...whatever floats your boat!
5 -- A line from the movie Grease. I just couldn’t resist!
6 -- This whole ‘shower scene’ idea came from the movie Clue. If you’ve never seen it, you simply MUST! It’s great!!!
7 -- The rhyme was unintentional, and I realize it may sound kinda stupid, but I couldn’t figure out any way to fix it. So sue me!