Slip Up


Daria walked through the dormitory lobby heading to her room. Her first year of college was coming to a close. Just one more exam tomorrow morning and she would be heading home for three weeks until the summer session started. She didn’t know for sure why she was determined to attend the summer sessions and get her masters in four years rather than the traditional six. Her best guess was the Helen gene got switched on and she wasn’t sure how to switch it off. Regardless of the reasons she was actually looking forward to getting back to Lawndale for a short break. 


As she got to the hallway she noticed the “elevator in service” sign. Since she lived on the fourth floor she decided to just take the stairs rather than go all the way to the other end of the hall to ride the other elevator.


Walking into the stairwell she started her climb. As she approached the last set of steps before her floor she took off her pack to get her key out. Because she was distracted she didn’t see the pencil on the top step. As she set her foot on it she lost her balance and went backwards.


When she regained consciousness she wasn’t sure how long she had laid there. All she was certain of is that she was in pain. Shortly another student started up the steps. When the girl saw Daria she freaked. “Oh No! Daria are you okay?”


She moved her eyes and saw Fran. Fran lived in the room next to hers. Daria was glad to see her. She at least seemed to have a head on her shoulders. Daria spoke up. “No Fran. I fell. If you could please call someone to…” Before she could finish Fran said to stay still and ran down to the next floor to call for help. 


Daria was rushed to the emergency room. The fall had broken her arm and she had several cuts and bruises but there were no life threatening injuries. In spite of not wanting to stay she was admitted overnight for observation. As she went to sleep she wondered where her family was. She knew they had been notified but she hadn’t heard a word from them.


She woke when someone sat on the bed. As her eyes focused she saw Helen crying. Looking at her mother she said, “Mom?”


Helen tried to compose herself. “Oh sweetie. I’m so sorry.”


Daria slowly sat up and put on her glasses. “Don’t worry. It looks worse than it actually is. I’ll recover.”


Reaching over to hug her daughter she said, “But it could have been so much worse.”


As Helen hugged her Daria winced in pain. “Ouch.”


Helen quickly let go. “Oh. I’m sorry.”


Just then Jake came over. “Heya kiddo.”


Daria gave her dad a brief smile. “Hi Dad.”


“So do you know what happened?” he asked.


She looked at him. “I guess I tripped on something. I don’t know for sure.”


Helen spoke up. “Can you tell what you do know? If you don’t want to talk about it right now that’s fine.”


Daria turned to her mom. “No. It’s okay.” She related the events until the fall. After she finished her story she looked at her parents. She knew Mom was figuring out what to do legally but wasn’t certain about what her dad was thinking. This was nobody’s fault but hers. Who could he be mad at?


Suddenly she thought about her exam. “Oh crap! I’ve got a test today. Professor Phillips won’t do a makeup for anyone.”


Jake joined in again. “Phillips? Is he a tall guy with gray hair?”


Daria nodded.


He was in the hallway earlier. He heard you had been hurt. He said he would come by later to talk to you.


“Huh?” Daria thought. Speaking up she said, “Okay.”


Looking around she noticed her sister was missing. “Where’s Quinn?” she asked.


“She had to stay behind. Graduation practice is this evening.” Jake said.


Daria looked at her parents. “And you left her in the house all alone? That’s either the bravest or craziest thing you’ve ever done.”


Helen smiled. Her little girl seemed to be okay. “No. She’s staying with the Griffin’s.”


Daria didn’t want to laugh. It would hurt too much but she was very amused at the thought of Quinn staying with Sandi again. They got along like gasoline and fire. 


Helen reached over and brushed a little hair away from her daughters face. “Look we need to talk to the people at the university. You get some rest. We’ll be back in a little while.”


Daria nodded. “Okay.”


After her parents left she laid there wondering just what would happen. She had one more exam to finish and then had to pack everything to get back to Lawndale. A few hours later Professor Phillips came by to visit. Sticking his head in the door he said, “Daria?”


She looked up from her textbook. “Professor Phillips?”


Entering the room he saw her studying for her exam. Smiling he said. “So you ready for the big test? I have it right here. You have a pen?”


Daria’s eyes got as big as her glasses. “Uh. I guess.” Closing her textbook she looked up at him. “Could you roll the table over here so I have something to write on?”


Laughing he said. “Daria. I was just kidding. Don’t worry about the test. You have a valid excuse.”


She just looked at him. “Huh?”


Walking over to her bed he sat in a chair next to her. “It’s not like most of my students who miss my tests because of hangovers. This is more than a valid excuse. It’s not my normal practice but because of your exceptional performance this semester I’ve decided to exempt you from your final exam. Is that okay with you?”


Daria was shocked. This was definitely not what she expected. As she looked at him all she could say was. “Uh sure. Thanks.”


He smiled at her. “Your welcome. If anyone deserves this it’s you. Now you get better soon. I want to see you in some more of my classes next year.”


Still surprised she said, “I will. Thanks again.”


Turning to leave he looked back at her. “Goodbye. Now you get rested up. And don’t get brain-dead on me during your break.”


“I won’t. Bye”


Putting her textbook on the stand next to her she couldn’t believe what had happened. He let her off from having to take a test. Apparently some teachers did have souls.  That was it then. Her freshman year was now over. She wondered what she was going to do now. Since she didn’t have another book she turned on the television and waited for her parents to return.


That evening Jake and Helen returned to the hospital room to see their daughter staring at a tray. As they entered the room Jake spoke. “Something wrong Kiddo?”


Still staring at the tray in front of her Daria said. “I’m not sure. Is this supposed to be food?”


Jake walked closer and looked at the tray. “C’mon Daria. It doesn’t look that bad. What’s so bad about it?”


Handing her Dad the fork she said. “See for yourself.”


He reached down and got a small portion of the meal. “It looks okay. I don’t see what could be so bad.”


He put the food in his mouth. As he chewed he realized why Daria was unsure what she was supposed to do with her meal. After forcing himself to swallow all he could say was, “Uh Kiddo, would you like me to get you a burger?”


Shaking her head Daria said, “No. That’s okay Dad. I’ll be fine.”


“Well I need to go get a drink. I have to do something to get this taste out of my mouth.  I’ll be back in a minute.”


As Jake left the room in search of a drink machine Helen moved the chair closer to the bed, sat down, and looked at her daughter. “So has the doctor been around?”


“He was here earlier. He said he’d be by one more time today.”


As if on cue the doctor came in. As he saw Helen he spoke up. “You must be Daria’s mother. I’m Dr. Franks.”


Standing up Helen greeted him. “Hello.”


Daria turned to look at the doctor. “So when can I go home?”


“Not for another day. We want to do a few more tests to be sure there are no internal injuries.”


This concerned Helen. “Is there something wrong?”


“We don’t think so but she took a nasty fall and the x-rays showed some things we want to be sure aren’t more injuries. Before we let her go we’d like to keep her here another night just to be sure she’s fine.”


Helen didn’t like the sound of that but all she could say was, “Okay.”


The next morning Daria woke up to hear Helen’s voice talking to someone in the hallway.  A minute later she saw her enter the room with the doctor. Looking at the pair she asked. “So when can I leave?”


Dr. Franks turned to Daria. “We’ll let you go in a few hours.”


“So all the tests turned out okay?”


“You don’t seem to have any further injuries due to your accident.”


“Good. I’ll be glad to get out of here.”


Dr. Frank laughed. “I understand. You’re not off the hook yet. They will be bringing breakfast in a few minutes.”


“Thanks for the warning.”


After the doctor left Daria turned toward Helen. “So what were you two talking about in the hallway?”


Helen looked at her daughter. “Your test results and getting you home.”


“Oh. So where’s Dad?”


“He went to get some donuts.”


Daria leaned back in the bed. “I hope he brings a few extra. I really don’t want to eat hospital food again.”


Helen changed the subject. “After we check you out we’ll go to the dorm and get you moved out.”


“That sounds like a plan.” Daria said.


When they got to the dorm they didn’t have to do anything. The university was so concerned about their liability they provided staff to move all of Daria’s property out of the room and into her car. Because Daria was in no condition to drive Jake took her car and Daria rode back to Lawndale with Helen. For the first hour of the drive neither said anything. Eventually Helen spoke up.


“Daria, I wasn’t entirely truthful with you today.”


Turning to look at her mom Daria asked. “What do you mean?”


“Well when I said Dr. Franks and I discussed your tests they weren’t about the accident.”


“I don’t understand.”


Pausing to collect her thought Helen finally spoke up. “He said there were a few anomalies. He felt we should get you to a specialist.”


“What kind of anomalies?”


“Well he wasn’t completely certain but he felt like it could be….” For the next few minutes Helen told Daria all she knew. When Helen was done she looked at her daughter. Daria was expressionless. This wasn’t her usual deadpan appearance. It was a different look unlike anything she had ever seen before. To try to comfort her daughter she said, “Let’s not jump to conclusions. Dr. Franks said it could be nothing. Until we see the specialist let’s try to be optimistic.”


“I’ll try Mom.” Daria knew that would be impossible. It didn’t sound life threatening but what kind of life would she have if it was true?


Helen spoke again. “I’ll make an appointment for you in the morning.”




The rest of the trip was spent in silence as both thought about what would happen over the next several days.


The next day Helen managed to pull several strings and was able to get Daria an appointment that afternoon. The tests were unpleasant to say the least and lasted for several hours. After everything was done the doctor said she would have the results in a day or two. When she had news she would call them to set up another appointment.


When Daria and Helen got home Daria went up to her room. Sitting on the bed she looked around. For the last few weeks she had really looked forward to returning to her sanctuary. College had been rough and she had to admit to being a little homesick. The events of the past few days had changed her attitude though. No matter what the results were she had just been dropped headfirst into the world of adulthood. The things that surrounded her seemed to belong to a different person now. Sitting there in thought it took a second to hear a familiar voice.


“I said Hey Daria.”


Turning toward the voice she saw Quinn looking at her. “Hey Quinn.”


“So how’s the arm?”


“It’s okay. It doesn’t hurt anymore.”


“Mom made me come up here to ask if you wanted to go out to the movies with me and the rest of the fashion club. I said you probably wouldn’t but she insisted I ask you anyway.”


“Don’t worry. I won’t be around to embarrass you in front of your friends.”




This comment really irritated Daria. She had hoped Quinn might have grown a little during the past year. They might not have much in common but she was always wished they could get along a little better. Daria had to admit she didn’t do too much to try to close the gap between them but separation had made her realize she actually missed seeing her sister.


Quinn looked at Daria. “So will you feel well enough to come to my graduation Saturday?”


“I should. And don’t worry. I’ll sit in the back.”


“Don’t be silly Daria. You can sit with Mom and Dad. They have a section for all of you.”


“That’s good to know.”


As she left the room Quinn said, “Well I’ll see you later.”


Once again Daria was alone. Sitting there she thought about her room some more. After reaching a decision she got up and went downstairs to find her mom.


Helen was sitting in the living room going over some papers when Daria came in. As she saw her daughter sit down she grew extremely sad. The past few days had been almost too much for her to handle she couldn’t imagine what Daria was going through. She put her work down and looked at Daria.


“Hey Sweetie. How are you feeling?”


“I’m okay.”


Both sat here in silence not knowing what else to say. Each wanted to share what they were feeling with each other but the years had given them a routine that made sharing a tough process. After several moments Daria spoke up.


“Uh. Mom. I need to ask you something.”


“Of course dear. What is it?”


Daria took a few seconds to collect her thoughts. Finally she worked up what she wanted to ask. “I really don’t want to stay in my room right now.”


“Yes?” Helen said.


Daria looked uneasy. This was going to be tougher than she thought. “I was wondering if you would mind if I stayed in the guest room for a while.”


“That’s it?” Helen thought. She wasn’t sure why Daria wanted to stay in the extra room but she didn’t see a problem with it. “Of course you can stay there.” She said.


“Thanks.” Daria got up and started to go upstairs. About halfway up the steps Helen called her.




“Yes Mom?”


“If you want to talk about anything else I’m here okay?”


“Okay. Thanks.”


The next day was miserable for Daria. Helen and Jake were both at work and Quinn was out trying to find a dress to wear to graduation so she was alone all day. Each time the phone rang she expected it to be the doctor’s office but it was either her parents checking in to see how she was feeling or someone wanting Quinn. That afternoon she was sitting in the living room watching television when there was a knock on the door. When she opened it she was happy to finally see a friendly face.


“Well it seems I can’t leave you alone for a second.” Jane said.


“Hey. It’s nice to see you too. Come in.”


Sitting down they talked about all the things that had happened to them since the last time they saw each other. Jane had been attending an art school close enough to Lawndale that she stayed home but Daria hadn’t been back since Christmas. Jane had been out of town when Daria had the accident. As soon as Jane heard what had happened she came right over.


The pair sat there for hours. They were both happy to be together again. While Daria never would admit it Jane’s visit really raised her spirits and let her forget some of her problems for a while. Eventually Jane looked at her watch.


“Look Daria. I hate to do this but I have to go.”




“Yea. I have a date.”


Daria raised an eyebrow. “That sounds dangerous.”


Jane laughed. “Nah. I’m done with romance for a while. This is just a fun time with a nice guy.”


“Sure.” Daria thought. “So what’s he like?” she asked.


“He’s a welder. We met when he was brought in to help with an installation at the school.”


“So he’s he an artist too.”


Jane smiled. “Nah. He just takes their money. I understand he demanded payment up front.”


Daria nodded. “Smart move. So what’s his name?”




“Roy? You need to start dating guys with more than one syllable in their name.”


“Funny Daria. Look, I’ll come by tomorrow okay?


“Sure. Have a good time. Come by anytime. The doctor said I shouldn’t attend the first summer session in order to have some time to recover. Since I really can’t use my writing hand right now I felt I had to agree. I’ll be here for ten weeks.”


Jane stood up. “That’s great! Don’t get up. I’ll let myself out. You get some rest.”


The next day Daria was once again alone. Toward the middle of the morning she finally got the call she was expecting. The doctor wanted them to see her that afternoon. Hanging up she called her mom to let her know. Helen said she would pick her up and take her to the office.


When they got to the clinic the Doctor saw them pretty fast. As she went over the results she said everything led to the diagnosis she had suspected. She assured Daria that other than this condition she was healthy and could lead a normal life in every way. After she finished relaying the diagnosis she gave Daria some information about support groups that might help her cope with her problem.


Daria thanked the doctor and took the information. A few minutes later she and Helen left the clinic. All the way home neither said anything. The moment they got to the house Daria went upstairs and locked herself in the guest room. Helen blew off work and stayed at the house in case Daria needed anything. After about an hour she went up to see how her daughter was doing. As she approached the door she heard sounds. Standing outside the door she stopped for a second to listen. When she realized what was happening her heart broke. This was the first time she had ever heard her oldest daughter cry. Overwrought at the thought of this she went to her and Jake’s room and broke down in tears as well.


That evening Helen was sitting in the kitchen going over some paperwork when Quinn came in. “Hi Mom.”


“Hi dear. How was your day?”


“Great. I finally found the right dress to wear at graduation.”


“That’s nice.”


“Yea. The fashion club will be coming over in a little while so we can try everything on. Did Dad change the light in the guest room? We’ll be needing it so two of us can change in there.”


Helen looked up. “Um Quinn. You can’t use the guest room right now.”


“Why not?”


“Daria’s staying in there right now.”




“She just is. Let’s leave it at that.”


“It’s not right. She has her own room. Make her stay there.”


“Quinn quit acting like a spoiled child. Your sister is staying there for as long as she wants.”


“It’s not fair. Why is she getting special treatment? Her accident wasn’t that bad.”


Helen looked at Quinn. “Quinn sit down. We need to talk.”


Quinn sat at the table across from Helen. “What is it?”


Helen fought hard to hold her emotions in. “Your sister is going through a rough time right now. She needs you to be understanding.”


Quinn didn’t understand. “What do you mean?”


“She got some bad news at the doctor today.”


Quinn started to become concerned. “Did the accident hurt her worse than we thought?”


“No Quinn. It wasn’t the accident. She’s….” Helen stopped. She wasn’t sure if she should tell Quinn.


Quinn was really worried now. “Is she sick?” Pausing for a second. “Is she dying?”


“She isn’t dying and she isn’t sick.” Helen said.


Quinn asked. “Well what is it.”


Helen stopped. She wasn’t sure if she should say anything. Quinn was her sister but it should probably be up to Daria to share this. “Perhaps you should ask Daria.” She said.


Quinn looked her mom in straight in the eyes. “She won’t tell me. You should know that by now.”


Helen thought about this for a second. Quinn had a point. Sharing wasn’t an easy thing for Daria to do. After a few moments Helen decided it was worth the risk to tell Quinn the truth. Helen bowed her head and took a deep breath. Looking up she said.


“Very well Quinn but you have to swear not to tell anyone. This is for you to know only. Until Daria shares this you have no right to tell anyone. Okay?”


“This is serious.” Quinn thought. “Okay Mom. What’s going on?” She asked.


Helen reached across the table and took Quinn’s hand. “Honey, at the hospital the doctor noticed something unusual with Daria. She had some tests done the other day. Today we learned the results and they weren’t good.”


As Helen spoke she kept squeezing Quinn’s hands. To Quinn this wasn’t a good sign. She managed to separate from Helen’s grasp and sit back. “What do you mean?”


There was no way to get out of telling the truth now. A tear came down Helen’s face. Looking at her youngest daughter she said. “Daria can’t have children.”


This wasn’t what Quinn had expected to hear. She asked several questions. Helen did her best to explain what was going on. Eventually Quinn had a fair understanding of what was happening. In spite of how she behaved around Daria she had always had feelings for her. At least she never wanted anything bad to happen to her. The more she thought about what she learned the more upset she became.


Daria was sitting alone in the guest room. She had cried herself out and was reading when she heard a knock on the door. Putting the book down she said, “Yes?”


Quinn stuck her head in the doorway. “Hi Daria. Can I come in?”


“I guess.”


Quinn entered, walked over to the bed, and sat down next to Daria. “So how are you feeling?”


“Okay I guess.”


Quinn shifted her weight a little to get more comfortable. This was new territory for her. She wasn’t sure what she should do next. Finally she decided the best thing was to just start talking.


“Um Daria. Don’t be mad at Mom but she told me what happened today.”


Daria couldn’t believe it. “What!?” was her only reply. How could Mom betray her trust like that?


Quinn put her hand up. “No Daria. It’s okay. I’m glad she did.”


“So you will be able to brag about how you’re not like your defective cousin?”


Quinn was hurt. “Daria how could you say something like that? I’m not going to tell anyone unless you want me to.”


Daria calmed down. “So why are you here?”


“I wanted to tell you how sad I am. I wish this hadn’t happened to you.”


Daria looked at her sister. She could always tell when Quinn was being normal and when she was sincere. This was a truly honest moment between them. All Daria could say was. “Thanks.”


Quinn moved closer to her sister. “Look Daria, I know we haven’t ever gotten along that well but I want you to know I always respected you. I may not have acted like it but I do. You seemed to be able to handle anything. You’re smart, have great friends who truly care for you, and almost never lose your head.  I could never figure out how you managed to do it but was always envious.”


Daria couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Normally she had a reply for everything but Quinn’s sincerity threw her for a loop. As she sat there Quinn continued.


“When you left for college I was relieved. I would finally be out of your shadow. The truth is after you were gone I missed you more than I ever thought I would. I was looking forward to seeing you come home. I hate to say it but I was mad at you for having the accident. It meant I was going to have to live under your shadow again while you recovered. That’s why I didn’t go with Mom and Dad to see you in the hospital.”


“Oh.” Daria said.


Quinn continued. “When Mom told me what you discovered today I was ready to be even angrier. The truth is I can’t be mad at you. You have had such a rough time lately and none of this is your fault. I just want you to know if you ever need me just ask. I’ll try to be there. This is new for both of us but I want you to know I do care.”


Daria was speechless. This was the most honest Quinn had ever been with her. As they sat there neither said anything. Soon there was another knock on the door. Helen stuck her head inside to see Quinn sitting with Daria.


“Quinn. The fashion club is here.”


Turning to Helen, Quinn asked, “Could you let them know I can’t be with them right now?”


Helen came inside. “Are you sure?”




“What should I tell them?” Helen asked.


Quinn turned to look at Daria. “Tell then I’d rather be with my sister right now.”


The End


As usual Daria belongs to MTV. This was written for my amusement.