Hello Daria


Daria got home from her date early. She’d had a good time but she figured this was the last date they would have. He was a nice guy but they definitely weren’t right for each other. It wasn’t the first time for this and likely wouldn’t be the last. Going into the kitchen, she got a bottle of water. When she returned to the living room she sat down to watch a little news before calling it a night.


As she sat there the phone rang. Pressing the button, she answered. “Hello?”




“What’s wrong?”


“Please slow down. I can’t understand you.”








“Are you sure it was them?”


“Is Quinn alright?”


“I’m leaving right now. I’ll meet you there.”


Daria pressed the button to shut off the phone. She couldn’t move. The shock was too much. Neil and Quinn were dead.  How could that happen? She sat there for a few seconds as the news sank in. Suddenly the truth hit her hard and she broke down in tears. She didn’t know how long she cried but eventually she was calm enough find her keys and leave.


The drive to Neil and Quinn’s took less than two hours but tonight it seemed like it took twice that long. All the way there she thought about everything they had gone through growing up and how close they had become. Now that was a memory. Finally she got to their house.


Pulling up, she ran from the car to the front door and knocked. She hoped it would be a mistake and her sister would answer with an angry look for Daria for waking her up so late. The reality was Jake opened the door with the saddest face she had ever seen.


When he saw his other daughter he broke down in a fit of tears. That was all it took to get Daria going again. For several minutes the pair embraced in the doorway sharing their grief. When they separated the pair went into the living room and sat down. Daria looked at her dad.


“So it’s true.”


Jake nodded and said, “Yes.”


“What happened?”


“According to the police officer they were pulling out of the theater when another car ran the red light and struck them. He said it looked like they were killed instantly.”


Daria bowed her head. “It can’t be.”


Jake leaned over and put his hand on her shoulder. “It is.” He paused. “It is.”


Daria looked around. “Where’s Mom?”


“She’s upstairs with Quinn.”


“Oh Quinn.” Daria couldn’t imagine what her niece was thinking right now. She was only six years old. This is something she should never have to experience. Sadly that wasn’t an option. She wondered how she was taking the news. She looked at Jake.


“So does she know?”


“We talked to her but I don’t think she really understands.”


“What did you tell her?”


“We said her parents were gone.”


“Is that it?”


“Well we tried to explain but she’s so young. It’s hard to tell her this in a way she can understand.”


Daria shook her head.


“She’s going to figure it out before this is over. What are we going to do when that happens?”


Jake bowed his head. “I don’t know.” Thinking about his granddaughter for a second, he repeated. “I just don’t know.”


Just then, Helen came down the stairs. Daria immediately got up and went to her. What followed was a replay of what she and Jake had experienced earlier. Eventually she and Helen went over to the couch and sat down. Daria turned to Helen.


“So how is she?”


“She finally went to sleep.” Helen said. “I’m glad. The next few days are going to be difficult. She needs her rest.”


“What do we do now?” Daria asked.


Helen looked at Daria. “We wait until morning. Then we make arrangements.”


It was still a few hours until dawn but nobody slept. As the hours passed, they hardly spoke. Each was wrapped up in their thoughts trying to make sense of what had happened. Eventually the silence was broken by the sound of a soft voice.




Daria looked up to see Quinn standing at the foot of the stairs in her pajamas. She got up and went over to hug her niece.


“Hello Quinn.”


As they separated Quinn looked at her aunt.


“You look sad.”


“I am Quinn.”




“Because of your Mom and Dad.”


“What did they do? I’m sure they didn’t mean it.”


This innocent comment made Daria smile for a second.


“I know they didn’t.”


Helen came over to where they were standing. She didn’t want to interrupt but it was going to be a tough day. If she could delay some things a little she would.


“So Quinn. Would you like some breakfast?”


“I guess so.”


“Well come into the kitchen with me. I’ll show you how to make french toast.”




With tha,t the pair went into the kitchen. Daria went back over to the living room and sat next to Jake. As they sat there Jake put his arm around her and pulled her close to his side. They stayed that way until Helen called them in to eat.


Breakfast looked good. Over the years Helen had really become a great cook but nobody was really in the mood to eat. They knew they should but it was hard to think about that when there was so much to be done. After a while they all just left the table and went back to the living room.


Eventually the time came for them to start their grim tasks. Somebody needed to stay with Quinn while the others went to make the arrangements. Daria volunteered to stay behind. She wasn’t ready to see her sister yet and felt she would be better off taking care of Quinn.


After the pair left, Daria went back to the living room. Quinn was sitting in the floor watching a cartoon. She sat next to her niece and watched with her. After the show ended she turned the TV off and looked at her.


“Quinn. Why don’t you go upstairs and get changed? It’s going to be a busy day so you need to get dressed.”




As Daria watched Quinn go upstairs she realized she still didn’t understand what had happened. Sometime over the next few days she would have to have it explained to her. The question was how.


In order to keep her mind occupied, Daria went into the kitchen to clean up. She wasn’t very domestic but she hoped this would help her cope for at least a little while. It didn’t work. As she searched for where to put everything she was constantly reminded of her sister. When she finished, she went back into the living room.


She had expected to see Quinn sitting on the floor watching cartoons again but she wasn’t there. Guessing she must still be in her room she upstairs she went to Quinn’s room and looked inside. Sure enough, Quinn was sitting at a small table working on a puzzle. As Daria entered, Quinn looked up.




Daria walked over and knelt down next to her.


“So what are you doing?”


“Putting a puzzle together.”


“What is it?”


“It’s supposed to be a hummingbird and a flower. See?”


Quinn held up the box lid to show her aunt.


“It’s pretty.” Daria said.


“Yea. Dad got it for me last week.”


Daria fought not to break up again.


Looking at her aunt, Quinn noticed her expression had changed, “A.D. you look sad again.” she said.


Quickly regaining her composure, Daria said, “I’m sorry.”


“It’s okay. I get sad sometimes too.”


Daria just looked at her. “She’s so innocent.” She thought.


Quinn looked at Daria.






“Can I ask you a question?”




“Grandma and Grandpa said Mom and Dad were gone.”




“When are they coming back? I want to have this finished before they do so Dad can see it.”


Daria wasn’t sure what to say. As she sat there trying to decide the best way to answer, Quinn just looked at her. Finally she spoke up.


“Quinn would you come with me.”


Quinn got up and went to sit next to Daria on her bed. After they got positioned, Daria looked down at her.


“I’m sorry Quinn but they aren’t coming back.”


Quinn started crying. Daria pulled Quinn close to her. As she held her she spoke up.


“Go ahead and cry. It’s okay.”


Quinn pulled back and looked at her.


“No it’s not. I didn’t mean to do it. It was an accident. I didn’t want them to leave me.”


“What do you mean?”


“Yesterday. I spilled a bottle of orange juice in the kitchen. They were really mad. I didn’t think they would leave me because of it.”


Daria realized she really didn’t understand what had happened. She should try to clear things up a little. She hoped she wouldn’t make things worse.


“No Quinn. It has nothing to do with you. They were in an accident last night.  It’s because of that they are gone now.”


“What kind of accident?”


“They were driving home when another car hit theirs. They got hurt so bad they didn’t….”


Daria couldn’t continue. She didn’t want to break it to Quinn alone. She needed someone else there. Quinn looked at her.


“They didn’t what?”


There was no way of putting it off. She had to say something.


“They were hurt too bad.”


“What do you mean?”


Daria closed her eyes. It hurt to say it but there was no other way.


“They didn’t live.”


Quinn’s eyes got larger than Daria had ever seen them before. “You mean they died?”


Daria bowed her head.


“Yes Quinn.”


There was silence. After a second Daria looked over to see what was going on. She wished she hadn’t. What she saw was her niece in so much pain that Quinn couldn’t do anything. Daria spoke up. “Quinn?”


That was all it took. Quinn wrapped her arms around her aunt and cried tears that didn’t stop. All Daria could do was hold her. As Daria hugged and slowly rocked her niece, all she said was. “It’s okay Quinn. Cry.”


After a while Jake returned to the house. Helen was still at the funeral home taking care of the details. The stress was getting to be more than he could handle. He felt there had to be something he could do here. He didn’t know what it was but he would find something.  When he didn’t see Daria or Quinn he called out their names.


After he got no answer he wondered where they were. He knew they hadn’t left because Daria’s car was still outside. Remembering she was taking care of Quinn, he went up to her room. Opening the door, he peeked in. What he saw almost broke him up. Daria was sitting there holding Quinn as tight as possible. They weren’t moving or saying anything. They were just holding each other. He stuck his head in and in a soft voice said. “Daria?”


Daria looked up. She lifted a finger to indicate he should wait. She let go of Quinn so she could look at her.


“Quinn. I need to get up now. Why don’t you lie down for a while? You need some rest.”


Quinn looked at her.


“Don’t leave me. Please?”


“I’m not going far. I’ll be right here if you need me. Okay.”




“Now you lay down.”


As Quinn reclined on her bed she reached over and grabbed the bear Daria had given her for her birthday last year. A.D. may have left but she still needed something to hug. Daria stood up and went into the hallway. After she closed the door Jake looked at her.


“So what happened?”


“She figured it out.”




“She kept asking questions. Eventually the truth came out.”


“Oh Daria. What happened?”


“She cried and I held her.”


“For how long?”


“What time is it?”


“About 11:45.”


“Almost three hours.”


“You’ve been holding her that long?”


“I didn’t know what else to do. I just knew she was hurting and I wanted to help her. Holding was all I could do. Why are you home?”


“Helen is still making arrangements. There was nothing I could do there so I came home to do something.”




“I don’t know. What should I do?”


Daria thought for a second. “We should probably start contacting people.” she said. “I’m sure very few people know yet.”


Jake nodded and said, “You’re probably right.”


Going downstairs, the pair went to the kitchen to start the grim task of relaying the terrible news. Jake decided to call family and Daria took their address book and started calling their friends.


The calls seemed to go on forever. Daria knew Neil and Quinn had lots of friends but the list was larger than they anticipated. The task was made even worse by having to repeat what had happened to everyone they spoke with. Daria broke the unpleasantness of the job by checking in on Quinn from time to time. Eventually Helen returned. When she walked in, Daria was the first to speak.


“Did you take care of everything?”


Helen sat in a chair.


“Yes. The funeral will be at 2pm Monday.”


Jake spoke up.


“When will they be ready?”


“The director said everything should be ready by 5pm. I set the viewing for 8 to 10pm and all day tomorrow.”


Nobody said anything for a second. Finally Helen asked, “Where’s Quinn?”


“In her room. She’s finally sleeping.” Daria said.


“What do you mean?”


“She figured it out.”


“Oh my. How did she react?”


Daria looked at her.


“How do you think she reacted? She cried for hours.”


“I’m sorry. That was silly question.”


“It’s okay. None of us are thinking right at the moment.” Daria said.


“Do you think we should go up there?” Helen asked.


“It would probably be a good idea.” Daria said. “She needs comforting and the two of you could use some as well.”


“Okay. Do you want to go up with us?”


Daria looked at her mom and shook her head.


“No, you two go. I’ll stay here and answer the phone. You don’t need to be disturbed.”


“Okay but if you need us come on up.”


“I will.”


Jake and Helen stood up and left the kitchen. As she heard them climb the stairs she sat there alone with her thoughts. When they came down a little while later, Daria looked up at them.


“Stacy called. She said she was flying out in the morning. I couldn’t get the rest of her fashion club friends. She said she didn’t know if she could find them but she would try.”


Helen sat down. “That’s good.” she said. “Have you heard from anyone else?”


“Jane called.  She’s leaving as soon as Roy can get home to take care of Lane and Grace.” Daria said.


Everyone sat there in silence for a moment. Finally Daria spoke again.


“I need to leave tonight. I’ll be back in the morning.”


Jake looked at her. “Why are you leaving?” he asked.


“I left immediately after hearing the news.” Gesturing at her dress, she continued. “This is all I have to wear. I need to go home and get some more clothes.”


“When are you going to go?”


“In a little while.”


Helen asked, “Do you have to go?”

“What do you mean?”


“Doesn’t Jane have to drive through your town to get here? Couldn’t she stop off and get what you need? We would really like you to stay with us tonight.”


Daria hadn’t thought about that. Hoping she could catch Jane before she left, she dialed the number. Luckily she was still there. Jane said it was no problem so Daria gave her the code to get in through the garage along with what to get. When she hung up, she looked at Helen.


“Jane will get the stuff. I can stay here.”


“That’s good Sweetie.”


“So how is Quinn doing?”


“She’s not crying right now but is still upset. I don’t know what we’re going to do about the funeral.”


Daria didn’t understand. “What do you mean?” she asked.


“Well I don’t think she should attend.” Helen said. “She’s so young. It might be too much for her.”


“But she needs to say goodbye Mom.”


“She can still do that but it would probably be better if it was a little later. When emotions were a little lower.”


“But she’s hurting now.”


Jake looked at Daria.


“Helen’s right Daria. She’s too young to experience this right now. We need to help her get through this very carefully.”


“So what are we going to do during the funeral home and the funeral itself?” Daria asked.


Helen interrupted, “We’ll have a sitter stay with her when we’re not here. It will only be a few times.”


Jake joined in the conversation again.


“After that we’ll figure out how to help Quinn.”


Helen resumed, “Until then we will have to be careful so we don’t upset her too much.”   


Daria bowed her head.


“I guess you’re right. I just wish we could do more for her right now. This does bring up another question.”


“What?” Helen asked.


Daria looked at her parents.


“What’s going to happen to her now?”


They sat there in silence looking at each other. Nobody had an answer.


The funeral home was difficult. Before the public was allowed in, Jake, Helen and Daria were given some time alone with Neil and Quinn. This was the first time Daria had seen them since the accident. Seeing them in their coffins, the reality of their loss finally hit her and she broke down completely. It turned out to be more than she could handle. Running out of the room, she found the restroom and locked herself in a stall to cry. By the time she returned, people had started showing up to pay their respects.


Daria couldn’t believe the sheer volume of people who were there. As people came up to give their condolences she saw Jane. She immediately went over.  When she got to where Jane was, the two hugged. While still in their embrace, Jane said, “Daria. I’m so sorry.”


“Thank you.”


They went to a more isolated part of the room, found a sofa and sat down.  Jane turned to Daria.


“Roy wishes he could come but he needed to stay with kids.”


“That’s fine. I understand.”


“So how are you holding up?” Jane asked.


“Okay I guess.” she said. “Mom and Dad are holding up as well as can be expected.”


“So how’s their little girl?”


“Quinn? She’s not doing very well right now. She finally figured out her parents were gone for good. It’s been understandably rough for her.”


Jane shook her head slowly.


“I can’t even imagine.”


“I’ve been with her all day and it’s tough for me accept. I can’t even begin to guess how she’s feeling.”


“So what’s going to happen to her?”


Daria bowed her head. “We don’t know.” Pausing for a moment, she said, “We really don’t know.”


“I hate to run but I need to get to the hotel and check in before they give away my reservation. I know this isn’t a good time to ask but do you want to get your clothes now?”


Daria looked at Jane. “Don’t worry about the hotel.” she said. “Please stay with us. It would be nice to have a friend near.”


“Are you sure it’s okay?” Jane asked.


“It’ll have to be. You just stay here and we’ll go there later okay?”


Jane nodded.




After everyone had left. Jake, Helen and Daria got ready to go back to the house. Daria went over to her parents.


“I asked Jane to stay with us tonight. She can stay with me. Do you mind?”


“Of course not. She’s welcome.” Helen said.


When they got back to the house, Jake took the sitter home. Helen went up to stay with Quinn while Jane and Daria stayed downstairs. As they were alone they reminisced about growing up and all the things they had gone through with Quinn. After all those years the incidents seemed silly now. Eventually Jake got back and they all decided it was time to try to get some rest.


Sleeping arrangements turned out to be difficult.  Nobody wanted to stay in Neil and Quinn’s room and there was only one extra room in the house. Eventually Daria realized the couch folded out into a bed so she and Jane decided to sleep there.


During the night, Jane thought she felt the mattress move but she didn’t really notice until she rolled over and realized she was on Daria’s side of the couch. She wondered where Daria had gone. Getting up, she went into the kitchen. Not finding her there, she went upstairs. As she went down the hall she noticed the door to Quinn’s room was open. Peeking inside, she saw Daria sitting next to the bed looking at her niece. There was nothing she could do so she went downstairs.   


The next day was a little easier for Daria to handle. More people showed up to give their respects. That afternoon, Stacy finally made it in. She had really become a confident young woman. Even though she was stronger and more confident she still had a hard time when she saw her childhood friend lying in the coffin. When she saw Daria, she went over and explained she couldn’t find Sandi or Tiffany.  It seemed that she would be the only one to show.


Once more, when the day was over, everyone resumed the sleeping arrangements from the previous night. Just like the night before Jane was eventually alone in the bed. She figured Daria was with Quinn again and didn’t go look for her.


The next day was the funeral. As everyone sat in the chapel, Daria finally noticed the lack of mourners from Neil’s side of the family. His mother had died when he was very young and his father had passed away a few years ago but she figured someone would come to show their respects. Just before the service started, one elderly man came in and sat down. Later, Daria would learn it was his only surviving uncle.


After the funeral Jane had to leave. She explained she had responsibilities that she needed to finish and apologized. Daria said she understood and thanked her for everything she had done. After Jane left it was once again just the Morgendorffers in the house. Now that the funeral was done came the unpleasant task of handling all the legal details. Nobody was ready to start that so soon after the service so they decided to wait until the next morning.


The next day, as they were trying to get everything together, the phone rang. Helen answered, “Hello.”


“I’m Helen Morgendorffer.”


“Yes Quinn’s mother.”


“You are?”


“They did?”


“I see.”


“Yes please.”


“How about 1pm tomorrow?”


“Very well. See you then.”



As she hung up the phone, Jake looked at her and asked, “What was that about?”


“That was a Mr. Richards.” Helen said. “He was Neil and Quinn’s attorney. It seems they had a will. He wants to come by here tomorrow for the reading.”


Daria spoke up. “Why here? I thought they would want to do that at their office.”


Helen looked at Daria.


“Neil and Quinn insisted it be read here. They wanted this to be done in familiar surroundings.”


“I can’t believe they had a will.” Jake said.


Helen turned to him.


“I can. Neil was always the kind to make sure things were taken care of.”


Both Jake and Daria nodded in agreement. He wasn’t the kind to leave things to chance.


The next afternoon, Mr. Richards showed up at the house. Before everything got started, Quinn went upstairs with the sitter. This wasn’t for her to hear. After Quinn left, everyone went into the dining room and sat down. The first order of business was to designate Helen as the executor of the estate. After that came the official reading. Some of their possessions were distributed to various people but most of the estate was to be placed in a trust to be sure that all of Quinn’s needs would be met. The last part of the will involved Daria. When she heard what they wanted her to have she didn’t know what to do. She had never assumed this would happen. She had to think about this.


Apparently Neil and Quinn had figured this might be the case. Mr. Richards produced a letter that they requested be read by Daria in private. As he handed her the letter, everyone got up and went into the living room. After the door was closed, she was alone.


Sitting there, she looked at the envelope in front of her. She was afraid to open it. Whatever it contained it would be the last time her sister spoke to her and she wasn’t sure if she could handle that.


She figured she had no choice. Taking a deep breath, she picked up the envelope and opened it. Inside was one piece of paper. As she unfolded it she immediately recognized Quinn’s handwriting. After another deep breath, she started reading.


Hello Daria,


If you are reading this it means Neil and I never got around to discussing this with you. For that we apologize. We meant to but never seemed to find the time. In spite of that we hope you will honor our request.


You ‘re probably wondering why we want you to take Quinn. The answer is very simple. You two belong together. Ever since the first time you two met there was a connection. Over time it became clear to Neil and me if something happened to us you should be the one to take care of our little girl.


That isn’t the only reason though. When I was pregnant with Quinn, you were so wonderful. Whenever I needed something you were always there. I know how much you didn’t like doing many of the things we did then but you never complained. I treasured the time we spent together. However, after every visit, I cried for you. You were trying to be so strong but I could see the hurt in your eyes. I knew if there was any way I could help you become a mother I would.


Now is your opportunity. Take our child and raise her. You’re her aunt but she needs a mother so become one. You will be a wonderful parent but be prepared. It won’t be easy. Raising a child has its frustrations but those are far outweighed by the joys you will experience.


I know this is a lot to ask of you right now but please do this. We know we made the right decision. Don’t question it. We didn’t.


I love you Sis. I always did.






Daria didn’t cry. Tears had flown freely over the past few days but this letter filled her with so many different emotions she couldn’t react in any way. What her sister and Neil had done was amazing. She didn’t know what to do. Daria didn’t know how long she sat there but she had to think about this. After some time she read the letter again. This second reading gave her the answer she needed. Carefully she folded the letter and returned it to the envelope. Standing up she went to the door. Pausing for a second to compose herself, she went into the living room. Everyone just looked at her. Finally Jake spoke up.  


“So what did the letter say?”


Daria turned to look at him.


“I can’t talk about it.”


Before he could say something else, Helen interrupted, “Did it help you decide?”




“What are you going to do?”


“Respect their wishes.” Daria said.


Jake and Helen looked at each other, then back at Daria.


“Are you sure you’re ready for this?”


“No, but this is what they wanted. I need to try to honor their request.”


Helen nodded. “We understand.” she said.


“Now if you’ll excuse me I need to talk to Quinn.”


“Of course. Could you tell the sitter to come down? Jake will drive her home.”




Daria went upstairs to Quinn’s room.


The End    


As always, Daria belongs to MTV. This was written for my own amusement.