Suffering in Silence


Daria sat at the breakfast table reading the arts section. As usual, Jake sat next to her reading a different part of the newspaper. A few seconds later, they heard Quinn’s voice as she ran through.


“That’s my ride. There’s another emergency meeting of the fashion club at Sandi’s tonight so I won’t be here for supper. Bye.”


Jake pulled his paper down slightly and looked toward Daria.


“Was that Quinn?”


Without moving her section, Daria said, “I would say yes. But that would be playing into her hands.”


This confused Jake.


“Huh? Was that Quinn or not?”


Sighing, Daria decided it wasn’t worth the effort.


“Yes. That was Quinn.”


“Oh. Okay then.” He said and went back to reading the paper.


A minute later their routine was disturbed again as Helen blew into the kitchen.


“Sorry. No time for breakfast. I have a deposition in forty minutes then I have to be in court in two hours.” Blowing them kisses as she ran out the door, she said,  “Love you two. Bye.”


Once more the whirlwind of activity confused Jake. Setting the paper on the table, he looked at Daria again.


“What just happened?”


This time Daria set her paper down. Folding her arms, she looked back at Jake and said, “Tuesday.”


Later that day Daria was sitting in Mr. DeMartino’s class. It was the usual mind-numbing grind. She sat at her desk doodling in her notebook as Mr. DeMartino tried in vain to explain to Kevin why France couldn’t have won the Civil war. Occupied in their pursuits, it took everyone a second to notice Ms. Li enter the room.


Looking up, Mr. DeMartino turned toward her.


“Ms. Li. To what do I owe this visit?”


Ms. Li said, “Mr. DeMartino? Would you please follow me?”


As the two left the room, Daria thought it was unusual. Ms. Li seemed unusually nervous and if she had something to share she said it in front of the entire classroom. Whatever it was it had to be very important to warrant these measures. A minute later the pair re-entered the classroom.


Looking over at Daria’s direction, Ms. Li said, “Ms. Morgendorffer. Would you please come with me?”


So this involved her. What could it be? Deciding it was better than the routine of another twenty minutes of tirade, she put her book in her pack and followed Ms. Li. 


Once they were in her office both sat down. For a moment neither said anything. Eventually Daria spoke.


“Did I do something?”


Shaking her head, Ms. Li said, “No.”


“So what is this about?”


Holding up her hand, she said, “Just a moment.”


A minute later, a very emotional Mr. O’Neill led Quinn into the office. Looking at her sister, Daria was very curious what was happening. Taking a minute to expel Mr. O’Neill from the room. Ms. Li gestured for Quinn to sit next to her sister. After everyone was seated there was another brief period of silence. Finally Ms. Li cleared her throat and spoke.


“Um Ms. Morgendorffer, Ms. Morgendorffer. I just received a call from your father.”


This got Daria’s attention. He never called the school.


“Yes?” she said.


Ms. Li nodded. “Yes. Um. This is difficult for me to say. It seems that your mother had an incident today and has been taken to the hospital.”


Quinn put her hands to her mouth, “Oh no! What Happened?”


Ms. Li shook her head.


“I don’t know.”


“Is she okay?” Daria asked.


Once more, Ms. Li shook her head. “I can’t say.” Pausing for a second to collect her thoughts, she continued,  “You’re father is sending a cab to pick you up and take you there. It should be here soon. Until then you can wait here.”


As they sat there, neither spoke. Daria and Quinn both wondered what had happened, if their mom was okay, and why Ms. Li was being so nice. Eventually the taxi showed up and they were headed to the hospital.


The ride seemed to take forever. Soon though they pulled up to the entrance of the emergency room. Rushing in, they found Jake sitting in a chair. Running over to him, both stood there waiting for him to tell them what happened. In spite of being right next to him, Jake never acknowledged their presence. Finally Daria asked, “Dad?”


Looking up, Jake finally noticed his girls standing there. Smiling he pulled them close to him and held them tight. This was a major indication to Daria something was seriously wrong. Separating, she looked down at Jake.


“Dad? What happened?”


Jake couldn’t speak. He just looked at her for a second and then pulled her close once more.


Daria asked again. “Dad. What happened?”


After still no reply, Daria and Quinn looked at each other. Jake’s behavior had them both concerned. If things were okay he would have said something by now. Shortly they heard a familiar voice.


“Daria? Quinn?”


Turning around, they saw Marianne. Both noticed she had been crying. As they stood there, Eric walked over and stood next to her. Turning her attention to Marianne, Daria spoke.


“What’s going on?”


Marianne was shocked.  “You mean you haven’t heard?”


Quinn shook her head, Daria said, “No. What’s happened?”


Looking down at Jake, Marianne saw he wasn’t saying anything. Deciding she had to let them know she gestured for them to come with her. After prying themselves from Jake’s grip, they followed her to another set of chairs. Sitting across from them she just looked at the two girls.


Getting upset at nobody telling her what happened, Daria snapped at Marianne. “What’s going on?”


Taking a deep breath for strength, Marianne began. “Your mother was interrogating a witness at the courthouse this morning when she collapsed.”


Quinn remained silent. Daria looked at Marianne again. “Collapsed? What happened?”


Marianne closed her eyes. “She had a major coronary.”


Daria’s eyes grew very large. “What!?”


Marianne opened her eyes and looked at her. “A heart attack.”


Quinn suddenly reached over and grabbed Daria’s arm and squeezed. Getting an angry expression, Daria glared at Marianne. “I know what it is. Are you sure it was a heart attack?”


Marianne nodded.


“Well how is she?” Daria asked.


Saying nothing, Marianne just sat there and started crying.


This was too much. Daria was getting angry. Leaning forward, she stared Marianne in the eyes. “HOW IS SHE?”


The loud voice was enough to get the attention of a nurse. Walking over, she said to Daria. “Please be quiet. This is a hospital.”


Daria quickly turned her anger toward the nurse. “I’ll be quiet as soon as someone tells me how my mom is.”


Suddenly the nurse realized what was happening.


“Are you the Morgendorffers?”


Nodding, Daria said, “Yes.”


“Would you please follow me?”


Turning, she started walking to a small room. Getting up, Daria and Quinn followed her. As they continued, Daria noticed Quinn hadn’t let go of her arm. Once they were in the room the nurse said for them to wait. A minute later, Jake came in with a doctor. Once Jake was sitting next to the girls, the doctor began.


“I’m Dr. Packard.”


Daria had had enough of introductions.


“What’s happened to my mom?”


Having done this more than he cared to remember, Dr. Packard began his grim duty.


“Your mother came in with a massive heart attack. The bailiff was an EMT and began treatment almost immediately. Unfortunately the damage was too severe and by the time she got here there was nothing we could do.”


Daria looked at the doctor.


“You mean she’s…?”


Dr. Packard nodded.


“I’m sorry.”


Quinn’s silence was finally broken as she broke down in a fit of tears. Reaching over, Jake held his youngest daughter and shared her grief. Daria stood up and looked at Dr. Packard.


“I want to see her.”


Shaking his head, Dr. Packard said, “I’m sorry. They’re about to take her to downstairs.”


Looking him directly in the eyes, Daria wasn’t about to be pushed away.


“I want to see her now.”


Reaching up, Jake put his hand on Daria’s shoulder. “Daria please, not now.”


Twisting to remove herself from his grip, she looked at him. “Dad. I want to see her now!”


As Quinn reached over and hugged Jake tighter the truth slowly sank in that this was really necessary for Daria. Looking at the doctor, he asked, “Is it possible for them to wait a minute?”


Dr. Packard nodded. It wasn’t procedure but there were times when an exception had to be made. Looking at Daria, he said, “Follow me.” Turning his attention to Jake and Quinn, he asked, “Would either of you like to come?”


Jake shook his head no. He had already seen Helen and Quinn never stopped crying enough to say. After Dr. Packard got his answer he led Daria down the hallway to a treatment room. Pausing for a second, he gestured for her to wait a moment then went behind the curtain. A second later he came out and looked at her.


“Your mother is in here. In a minute or two someone will come her to take her downstairs. Before they come in you’ll have to leave. Do you understand?”


Daria nodded.


Dr. Packard led her behind the curtain. Standing between her and the table to block her view, he said, “I’ll be in to get you in a minute. Okay?”


Once more Daria nodded. When he turned to leave, Daria finally saw Helen lying on the table. As she stood there, Daria couldn’t believe this was her mom. It didn’t look anything like her. The face had absolutely no expression to it. Her hair was all messed up and there was a tube sticking out of her mouth. Stepping closer, Daria carefully pulled back the sheet covering Helen’s body and picked up her right hand. She noted there was no response to her actions. The hand was flexible but didn’t grab back. It was true. Her mom was gone. Putting the hand down, she returned the sheet and stepped back to get another look at Helen. She then noticed one of her shoes was under the table. She guessed it fell off while they were treating her. Going over, she reached down and picked it up. Standing there, she wondered what she should do with it. Before she could decide, Dr. Packard came back in.


“I’m sorry. You’ll have to leave now. Okay?”


Giving no sign of acknowledgement, Daria turned and left the room.


At the end of the corridor, Jake and Quinn were waiting for her. When she and Dr. Packard got there Jake reached over to put his arm around Daria. As he did Daria twisted to avoid contact and stood next to him. Looking at Dr. Packard, Jake said, “Thanks for trying to save her.”


Dr. Packard looked at Jake. “I’m sorry we couldn’t do more.”


Dividing his attention between both of his daughters, Jake said, “Let’s go home. We have a lot of work to do.”


Back at the house, a still crying Quinn opened the door to see Jane standing there.


Raising Daria’s pack, Jane said, “Daria left this at school. I figured she’d need it before class tomorrow.” Noticing Quinn’s red face, she asked, “What’s happened?”


Wiping her eyes, Quinn said, “Mom died.”


Jane dropped the pack.


“You’re kidding. Please tell me you’re kidding.”


Quinn couldn’t say anything. She just shook her head.


A wave of sadness swept over Jane in an instant. A hundred questions ran through her head. What happened? When did it happen? How could it be true? Finally she managed to ask one out loud.


“Where’s Daria?”


Quinn pointed upstairs. Leaving the pack on the stoop, Jane rushed to Daria’s room. Stopping outside the door, she knocked. When there was no reply, she tried again. After still no response, she opened the door slightly and peeked inside.


Daria was sitting on the bed staring at the floor. Deciding it was safe to enter, Jane went in. Walking over, she knelt next to her friend.


“I just heard. I’m so sorry.”


After no response, Jane put her hand on Daria’s shoulder. Just like at the hospital, Daria twisted to get away. While she had never been one for too much contact, Jane had never seen a response like that.




She turned to look at Jane. What she saw in her friend’s eyes bothered her more than the news from earlier. The spark that was in her eyes was gone. Those who didn’t know Daria wouldn’t recognize it but Jane was close enough to her to see it had vanished completely.


“This is worse than I thought.” Jane thought. Standing up, she looked at Daria and said, “I’ll be right back.” and left the room.


Jane finally found Jake and Quinn in the kitchen sitting at the table. Walking over she looked at Jake.


“I’m so sorry.” Jane said.


Jake smiled back to let her know he appreciated her condolences.


Jane asked, “Mind if I use your phone for a second? Tom needs to know.”


“Of course not.” Jake said, and handed her the phone.


As Jane took the phone, it rang. Pressing the answer button, she said, “Hello?”


She immediately recognized the voice. Handing the phone to Quinn, she said, “It’s for you.”


Taking the handset, Quinn said, “Thanks.” Putting it to her ear, she asked, “Hello?”


“Oh hi Sandi.”


“No I can’t make the meeting.”


I just can’t. Okay?”


Jane noticed the irritation in Quinn’s voice. She wondered if Sandi or any of the fashion fiends knew yet. From all indications they didn’t.


“Sandi. I’m not coming! This is an emergency meeting I’m going to miss. Goodbye!”


“Fine! I’m out of the club! Goodbye!”


Hanging up, she set the phone on the table and ran upstairs in tears.


Getting up, Jake said, “Excuse me Jane.” and ran after his youngest daughter.


Deciding she had better call Tom before Sandi called back, she dialed his number. A second later a familiar voice answered the phone.




“Elsie?” Jane asked.


“Yea. Hey Jane.”


Sitting down in one of the chairs, Jane asked, “Is Tom in yet?”


“Uh huh. He had to drive me home.”


“I need to talk to him.”




Jane was getting irritated. The emotions were catching up to her now.


“Elsie. This is no time to play. I need to talk to him now.”


Realizing Jane was serious, she said, “One second. I’ll get him.”


A moment later Tom picked up the phone.






This was unusual. While he and Jane were still friendly she hadn’t called the house since they broke up.


“Hey Jane. What’s going on?”


“I’m at Daria’s. You need to get over here now.”


From the tone in her voice, Tom could tell something wasn’t right.


“What’s happening?”


There was no polite way of telling him the news so she went with the direct approach.


“Helen died.”


Without a second’s delay, Tom said, “Stay there. I’ll be there in a few minutes.” Hanging up the phone, he grabbed his keys and rushed out the door. As he ran past Elsie, she asked, “What’s happened?” He didn’t pause to answer.


When he got to Glen Oaks Lane, Jane met him at the front door.


“Thanks for getting here so fast.”


Tom got straight to the point. “Where is she?”


“Upstairs. In her room.” Jane said.


“How’s she doing?”


Jane shook her head. “Not good. She’s taking this harder than Jake or Quinn.”


Looking at Jane, he asked, “Is it safe to go up?”


Shrugging, Jane said, “Hard to say. She’s virtually shut down. Perhaps she’ll react to you.”


Nodding, Tom said, “I’ll try.”


The two went upstairs. Standing in the doorway, they saw Daria still sitting on her bed with her hands in her lap.


“She hasn’t moved since I got here.” Jane said.


Walking over, Tom sat next to Daria and proceeded to put his arm around her to try to provide some comfort. Just like with Jane, she moved in an attempt to avoid contact. Stunned, Tom said, “Daria? Can’t I hug you?”


Reaching over, he tried one more time. As he moved toward her, she scrambled into the corner of her bed and wrapped her arms around her legs just above the top of her boots. Hiding her head behind her knees, she stared at him.


While Tom usually seemed in control of his feelings, this was one time when he was frustrated. His desire to be here to comfort Daria was being thwarted by her shutting him out completely. Not wanting to make matters worse he refrained from trying to touch her again. Sitting there, he tried to figure out what he should do next. After some time, he got up and looked at Jane. Motioning for her to follow him, they went into the hallway.  Once out of the room he turned to look at Jane.


“This is worse than I could have imagined. I can’t believe she’s closed down so severely.”


Jane nodded. “I know. According to Quinn she hasn’t uttered a word since they left the hospital.”


“You know her better than anyone else.” Tom said, “What can we do?”


Shaking her head, Jane said, “I don’t know. This is a new one to me. I’m staying the night. I talked to Jake and he said it would be okay. I need to call Trent to see if he could bring some things over. I don’t want to leave her like this.”


Knowing how unreliable Trent could be, Tom offered a different solution.


“Would you like me to go get your stuff instead? I can be back pretty quick.”


Shaking her head, Jane said, “No. You stay with Daria. I’ll go downstairs and call Trent. He’ll come over soon enough.”


Tom said, “Okay.” and went back into the room to sit with Daria.


Jane entered the kitchen again. Jake was on the phone and Quinn was nowhere to be seen. Guessing she was still in her room, Jane went over to the table to sit next to Jake. Sitting there, she waited for him to hang up before talking. Soon he finished the conversation. Looking at him, she said, “Hey.”


Holding the phone in his hands, he turned to look back at her. “Hi Jane.”


Leaning forward and resting her arms on the table, she said, “I’m sorry, but I need to borrow the phone again. I need to call Trent and have him bring my stuff over.”


Giving her a brief smile, he said, “No need to apologize. I understand.”


Just then Quinn returned with Eric and Marianne.


Turning his attention from Jane to his new guests, Jake said, “Hi.”


“Hey Jake.” Eric said, “How are you holding up?”


Jake wanted to explode at him for asking such a question. His wife had just died. How was he holding up? He was just barely holding on to the last shred of sanity he had. Realizing that this wasn’t the time for a scene he decided to at least try to play it calmer.


“It’s not easy, as you might well guess. There’s just so much to do.” Turning to look at Quinn, he continued, “I just got through talking to your Aunt Rita. She’s coming in tonight. Aunt Amy should be here in the next few hours.”


“What about Grandma?” Quinn asked.


“Amy said she would call her before she left. “ Jake said. “I called Mom before calling Rita. She should be here tomorrow too.”


Walking over to Jake, Marianne asked, “Is there anything we can do?”


Taking a deep breath, Jake figured she might be the one to ask. Marianne was a confidante of Helen’s. If there was anyone at work she trusted it was the two people in the room right now. Looking up at her, he said, “I don’t want to impose but…”


“Yes?” Marianne asked.


“Well I need to leave to start making arrangements but I don’t want to leave the girls alone right now. Would you mind staying here until I get back?”


Not even pausing to think, she said, “Of course. Let me just call my husband and let him know.”


That jogged Jake’s memory. Looking at Jane, he said, “Oh right. You needed to use the phone too. As soon as Marianne is done…”


Eric interrupted. Pulling out his cel phone, he handed it to Marianne. “Here, use mine.” Turning to look at Jane, he said, “Young lady. The phone is yours.”


Jane looked at him. “Thanks.” she said, then picked up the phone and left the room to speak in private.


Sitting on the sofa in the living room, Jane dialed her number. As it rang, she thought, “C’mon Trent, answer.” After several rings she finally heard her brother’s voice on the other end.




“Hey Trent.”


Rolling over on his back. He used his free hand to rub his eyes. “Hey Janey.”


Putting pleasantries aside, Jane got straight to business.


“Trent, I’m at Daria’s. I need you to go to my room and get a few things and bring them over here. I’m staying the night.”


“Okay. I’ll get them there in a few hours.”


Jane was about to tell him what to get but the mention of his timetable switched a light in her head. She and Tom had not been able to get a reaction from Daria but perhaps Trent could be different.


“Trent. I need you to come over as soon as possible.”


“Okay. I’ll be there in a couple of hours.” he repeated.


Jane was annoyed.


“When I said I need you here soon I meant right now.”


Trent asked, “What’s the rush?”


“Daria needs you.” Jane said.” Swallowing the lump in the back of her throat, she continued, “Helen just died.”


That was all he needed to hear. “I’ll be there in ten minutes. What do you need?”


Jane gave him a list of the basic items and told him where her case was. After hanging up, she went into the kitchen to return the phone. When she got there, Marianne and Quinn were alone. Apparently Jake and Eric had both left to take care of different matters. As she went to give the phone to Quinn, it rang. Instinctively she pressed the button to answer.




“Um. Is Quinn there?”


Jane knew Sandi’s voice instantly. Putting her hand over the mouthpiece, she looked at Quinn. “It’s Sandi.”


As she offered the phone, Quinn waved her off. It seemed she wasn’t in the mood to deal with the fashion club right now. Putting the phone back to her hear, she said, “Quinn can’t come to the phone right now.”


Her gut told her this could get nasty so she walked back into the living room as she spoke. Quinn got on her nerves but this wasn’t a time to upset her any more than she already was by hearing an argument.


“If she’s there. I really need to speak with her. If I don’t, tell her she’s no longer in the club.”


“I don’t really think she cares right now Sandi.” Jane said.


“Who are you to speak for her?” Sandi asked.


“I’m the one in this conversation who knows what’s going on.”


“And that is?”


While she had difficulty telling Trent the news, Jane’s irritation made relaying the information to Sandi much easier.


“Helen just died.”


On the other end, Sandi’s eyes grew big.


“Oh. Her aunt died. Why is she that upset? It’s not like it was her mother or anything.”


Jane’s anger at hearing that almost shut her down. Lashing out at Sandi, she said, “You idiot! Helen’s her mother! How can you be that stupid and not be in kindergarten!?”




Gritting her teeth, Jane repeated the information in one-syllable words Sandi might actually understand.


“Quinn’s mom just died. Do you get it now you jerk?”


Sandi hated being yelled at but finally got what had happened. “Oh I see. I guess she’s excused this time. Just tell her to call the next time she has to miss an emergency meeting.”


That was all Jane could stand. Saying, “Go to Hell Sandi.” she pressed to button to disconnect.


Going back to the kitchen, she put the phone on the table then went upstairs to check on Daria.


When she looked in she saw Tom sitting on the bed looking at Daria who was still in the corner. Noticing Jane, he shook his head to indicate no change from when she had left. Figuring she was in good hands, Jane went downstairs to wait for Trent.


True to his word, Trent showed up fast. When he saw his sister, he couldn’t help noticing how upset she was. Reaching out, he hugged Jane. That was all it took. The stress of the past hour suddenly released and tears poured. Holding his sister, he said nothing. He knew there was nothing he could say. Eventually, Jane calmed down. Looking at the case, she said, “Thanks for bringing my stuff.”


Looking at Jane, he asked, “How’s Daria doing?”


Shaking her head, Jane said, “Not good. She’s shut down completely. It’s like she can’t hear us and she won’t let anyone touch her.” Wiping away the last few tears, she continued, “Do you want to see if you can break through to her?”


Trent wasn’t sure he could do any more than them but Daria was a friend, it was worth trying.


“Sure. I’ll try.”


Regrettably his attempts were met with as much failure as Tom and Jane’s were. As he and Jane left the room, he said, “You’re right. It’s bad. She’s never been like this. What can we do?”


Jane shrugged and shook her head.


“I honestly don’t know.”


It was a little after dark when Jake finally returned home. Thanking Marianne for staying, he went upstairs to check on his two girls. Knocking on Quinn’s door, he heard an invitation to enter. Opening it, he looked inside. Quinn was sitting on her bed surrounded by a pile of clothes. All over the floor, the remainder of her closet lay scattered.


“Quinn? What happened?”


“I can’t figure out what to wear.”


“Where?” Jake asked.


“You know where. Don’t make me say it.”


Jake knew what she meant. He didn’t want to think about it either. Guessing this was her way of coping, he went closer.


“I’m sure you can find something. As a matter of fact you might need to help Daria. She doesn’t know as much about this as you. Perhaps you could find something for her.”


Nodding slightly, Quinn said, “I’ll try.”


Finally reaching the bed, he carefully sat down so as not to mess up the clothes. Looking at Quinn, he said, “The next few days are going to be very difficult. Things will be very hectic and I might not always be around but if you need me please try to find me. I want you to know you and Daria are the most important part of my life now that…”


Before he could say any more, Quinn broke down. Unlike at the hospital, she avoided his arms, preferring to cry alone this time. Standing there watching the scene, Jake felt helpless. “Is this the result of my behavior over the past few years?” he thought. Sitting there he waited for her to calm down. When she was quieter he asked, “Is there anything I can do?”


Quinn shook her head. “No Dad. I’m trying to be strong but it hurts so much. Why did it happen?”


Reaching out, he slowly put his hand on her shoulder and squeezed slightly. “I don’t know Quinn. I just don’t know.”


Standing up, he looked at Quinn.


“I need to check on Daria now. If you need anything just ask.”


Looking at him with the puffy red eyes, she nodded again. “Okay Dad.”


As he went through the door she heard Quinn call him. Turning around, he said, “Yes Quinn?”


“I love you Dad.”


Gripping the trim around the door for emotional strength, he looked at his youngest daughter.


“I love you too Quinn.”


Going down the hallway, Jake stopped outside Daria’s room. Noticing the door was open he looked in. Daria was still sitting on the bed. Her back was resting on the pillow. Looking off to the side she saw Tom sitting at the computer desk and Jane sitting on the floor with her legs crossed. As he entered the room, both looked up at him. Going over he, sat on the bed near Daria’s feet. As he did, Daria pulled her feet toward her and crossed her legs. In a slow, gentle voice he said, “Hey kiddo. How are you doing?”


Daria didn’t acknowledge him in any way. Staring forward, she just sat there. As he looked at her she crossed her arms. Turning to look at Jane, he asked, “How long has she been that way?”


“As long as I’ve been here.” Jane said.


Looking back at Daria, Jake said, “Kiddo? Come on. Talk to me.”


Daria remained silent.


Jake continued. “Please say something.”


Once more, Daria pulled her legs up to her chest and wrapped her arms around her knees. Unlike earlier though, she buried her face between her knees and her chest until all anyone could see was the top of her head. Jake got up. Not wanting Daria to hear what he was saying, he asked Tom and Jane to follow him into the hallway.


Once all three were outside the bedroom, he looked at them.


“She’s taking this harder than I thought.


Jane nodded. “Yea. I can’t believe this. She’s always been strong. This isn’t what I figured she’d be like.”


“Well she and Helen had a unique connection. I never knew it was this powerful.” Jake said.


“What can we do?” Jane asked.


“Just give her time.” Jake said. “I’m sure she’ll come out soon.” Turning to look at Tom, he continued, “Thank you for coming but it’s getting late. Why don’t you go home?”


Tom looked at Jake. “If it’s all the same to you I’d prefer to stay. I’d like to be here in case she needs something.”


Jake smiled. “I appreciate it and I’m sure Daria does too but there will be plenty of people here very soon. If she asks for you we’ll call you. Otherwise you need to go home and get some rest.”


“If you insist.” Tom said.


“I do. You can see her tomorrow.”


Just then the doorbell rang.


“You go get that.” Jane said. “I’ll stay here with Daria.”


Jake said, “Okay.” When he and Tom went downstairs, they saw Quinn hugging Aunt Amy. Going over, Jake waited until they were done to greet her.


“Hey Amy. Welcome to our home. I’m sorry your first visit was for this.” 


Going over, Amy hugged him.


“Oh Jake. I’m so sorry.”


Separating, he smiled and said, “Thank you.” Pausing for a second, he continued, “The guest room is ready. I hope you don’t mind sharing the bed with Rita.”


“She hasn’t called you?” she asked.


Jake shook his head. “No. What’s happened?”


“She called before I left.” Amy said,  “She’s going to pick up Mother and be here in the morning. It will be easier for Mother that way.”


Jake said, “Okay then. I guess you’re alone tonight.”


“That’s fine.” She said. “How are you holding up?”


“As well as I can right now.” Shaking his head, he said, “There’s been so much to do so I haven’t had too much time to think about the reality. “


Amy reached over and took his hand.


“Well if there’s anything I can do, just let me know. I want to help make this somewhat easier for you and the girls.”


It was then she noticed someone was missing.


“Where’s Daria?” She asked.


“Up in her room. She hasn’t come down all night.” Jake said.


“How’s she doing?”


Jake closed his eyes.


“Not good. She hasn’t said a word or left her room all night.”


“She’s taking it pretty hard then.” Amy asked.


Nodding, Jake said, “Yea.”


Amy asked, “Mind if I go up to see her?”


Shaking his head, he said, “Of course not. I’ll be up in a minute too. I just want to talk to Tom for a minute.”


It was then that Amy noticed Tom standing off to the side. Turning, she introduced herself. “Hey I’m Amy. Helen’s sister.”


Shaking her hand, Tom said, “Hello. I’m Tom Sloane, Daria’s boyfriend.”


“Ah.” Amy said. “It’s nice of you to come to be with her. I’m sure she appreciates it.”


Tom smiled and nodded. “Thanks.”


Looking at his watch, he continued, “It’s getting late. I hate to go but I’ll be back as soon as I can tomorrow.” Looking at Amy, he said, “It was nice meeting you. I’m sure I’ll se you again.”


Amy gave him a quick smile. Turning to Jake, she said, “Which room is Daria’s.”

Before he could tell her, Quinn spoke. “I’ll show her Dad. I want to see Daria too.”


“Thanks.” He said, and went outside with Tom.


The two walked to Tom’s car. Stopping at the curb, Jake turned to look at Tom.


“I want you to know I do appreciate you coming over. I’m sure Daria appreciates it too.”


“Thanks.” Tom said, “I just wish she would talk to us.”


Putting his hand on Tom’s shoulder, Jake said, “I’m sure she’ll come out of her shell soon. When she does I know you and Jane will be there for her.”


“I hope so.” Tom said. “I’ll be back before I go to class in the morning.” Pausing for a moment, he continued, “If that’s okay with you.”


Jake said, “Of course it’s okay. Before you go, I want to ask you something.”


“What is it?”


“Helen and I have been very happy with how you’ve helped Daria be more social. Your influence in her life has been nothing but a good thing for her.”


Tom said, “Thank you.”


Jake smiled. “You’re welcome. I’d like to know if during the funeral you would be willing to sit with the family. I’m only going to ask you and Jane to do that. Both of you are very important to Daria and that makes you very important to all of us.”


Tom was stunned. It took a second for what he heard to sink in. Finally he managed to speak.


“I’m honored.” Pausing to think for a second, he asked, “What about Trent? Isn’t he a part of the family. I mean in his own way.”


Jake nodded. “Don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten him. I have something very important for him. I hope he’ll agree.”


Going over, Tom opened his car door. Looking at Jake, he said, “I’m sure he will. He really likes your family.” As he slid into his seat, he continued, “I’ll see you tomorrow. Bye”


Jake said, “Bye Tom.” and went into the house.


Upstairs, Amy, Jane, and Quinn stood in the hallway.


I can’t believe she’s taking it like this.” Amy said.


Quinn nodded. “Yea. When dad had his attack, she was the one who kept a cool head.”


“Well Jake recovered.” Amy said. “This is different.”


As the pain came back, Quinn said, “I know.” Reaching out, she wrapped her arms around Amy and started crying. Amy just stood there and hugged her niece back.


Standing off to the side, Jane felt completely helpless. Helen’s death had completely shut Daria down. Now Quinn’s pain was beginning to take its toll on her as well. She wasn’t really close to Quinn but she didn’t hate her and seeing her in grief was almost more than she could stand. Closing her eyes, she tried to find her composure before she had to speak again. Soon, she felt she was ready to open her eyes again. When she did the scene was the same as when she closed them but she accepted it easier.


Leaning past Amy and Quinn, Jane peeked into Daria’s room. She was still sitting on her bed motionless. Waiting for the two to separate, she said, “It was nice meeting you Amy. I’ll see you later. Right now I want to be with Daria some more.”


Amy smiled and nodded. “Of course. I understand.”  Shaking Jane’s hand, she continued, “I’m pleased to know she has a friend as concerned as you are.” Looking at Quinn, she said, “Let’s leave them alone for now. I want to see your dad again.”


Quinn shook her head. “You go without me. I didn’t know how bad Daria was.” Looking at Jane, Quinn said, “If you don’t mind. I’d like to stay with Daria for a while too.”


Jane nodded. “Of course. Let’s go.”


As the two returned to the bedroom, Amy went downstairs.


Sitting in the living room, Jake was so wrapped up in the events of the day and the days to come that he didn’t hear Amy come in. When she sat next to him he jumped a little.


“Sorry.’ Amy said, “I didn’t mean to startle you.”


“It’s okay. I was just thinking.”


Amy leaned forward slightly. “So how are you holding up?”


“It’s tough.” Jake said. “I mean. I have to be strong for the girls. There’s so much to do and they aren’t prepared to help me.”


Amy reached over and took his hand. “Well if there’s anything I can help with just let me know.”


Smiling, Jake said, “Thanks. I’ll probably have to take you up on that.”


“Anytime.” Amy said. “So what arrangements have you made?”


For the next few minutes Jake told Amy what he had done and what he still needed to finalize. After he was done, Amy said she would stay with the girls in the morning so he could leave and take care of the rest of the details. Jake thanked her and looked at his watch. Realizing it was getting late. He excused himself saying he needed to try to get some rest before the stress of tomorrow began. Amy said she understood. Knowing the next day would be difficult; she agreed they all needed some rest.  


When they got upstairs both went to Daria’s room first. All three girls were still sitting there in silence.


Standing in the doorway, Jake said, “Quinn.”


Turning to look at Jake, Quinn said, “Yes Dad?”


“It’s getting late and you need to try to get some rest. Why don’t you go to bed?”


“I will Dad.” Quinn said. “Let me just stay here a little longer.”


Jake nodded, “Okay. Just don’t stay too long.”


“Okay Dad. Goodnight.”


“Goodnight Quinn.” Turning to look at Daria, he said, “Nite Kiddo.”


Daria didn’t respond in any way. Closing his eyes, Jake bit his lower lip and walked away.


After a while Quinn got up and excused herself. After she was gone, Jane figured that was a good sign it was time for then to try to get some sleep. Opening the dresser, Jane took out Daria’s bedclothes and set them next to her. Going over to the chair, she picked up her case and got out her toothbrush. Looking at Daria, she said, “I’ll be back in a minute.”


Leaving Daria alone, Jane went to the bathroom to take care of her nightly routine. When she returned she was shocked to see Daria’s clothes in a pile on the floor. While she was gone, Daria had managed to change into her nightclothes and get into bed. Shutting off the light, Jane changed in the dark and crawled into the sleeping bag. Once her eyes adjusted to the dark, She lay there feeling helpless seeing her best friend in such pain. As she watched Daria lying motionless on the bed, a tear ran down her cheek.


Jake lay on his bed staring at the ceiling. It seemed odd being so silent. The chaos of the day had kept him going so much he hadn’t had time to think about what really had happened. Instinctively, he reached over. When he felt the other side of the bed was empty the truth finally completely sank in. Helen was gone for good. Rolling over, he buried his head in his pillow and sobbed for hours.


Later in the night, Amy was still tossing and turning in the bed. She always had a difficult time sleeping in a strange bed and the events of the past few hours made any concept of rest seem almost impossible. Rolling around, it took a moment for her to hear the faint knock on the bedroom door.


Looking at the door, she said, “Come in.” 


It took a second for her to recognize the person entering the room.


“Quinn? What’s wrong?”


“I can’t sleep.” Quinn said.


Amy nodded. “I understand.” Motioning for Quinn to come closer, she said, “Come here.”


Quinn walked over and sat next to Amy.


“I know this seems like small comfort now.” Amy said. “But things will eventually get better. It may not seem like it right now but they will.”


Quinn looked at her aunt. “I know. But it hurts so bad. I mean. The last thing I said to her was in an argument. She wanted me to do something for Daria and I refused. I left early so I wouldn’t have to see her at breakfast. Now I’ll never see her again. Now she’ll never know I wasn’t really mad at her.”


Amy gave her a faint smile and brushed some hair away from Quinn’s face.

“She knew you weren’t really mad at her. She was your age once you know.”


Quinn looked puzzled.




“You should have seen us as kids. We were always after each other. She was never happy when I was around. It didn’t mean we didn’t love each other. Helen knew you love Daria and she knew you weren’t mad at her.”


Quinn sniffled. “Do you think so?”


Amy pulled Quinn closer. “I know so.”


Wrapping her arms around Amy, Quinn said, “I just wish I had told her I loved her.”


Rocking Quinn in her arms, and said, “She knew Quinn.” Separating, she looked at Quinn.


“If you don’t mind. I’m alone in here. Could you stay with me?”


Quinn saw through the ploy but didn’t feel like being alone either. Deciding Amy was really okay, she said, “Okay.” and crawled under the covers.


Dawn came early for everyone. Since nobody could sleep, they were all up and about the moment sun came through the windows. Since it was so early, Jake was surprised to hear a knock on the front door. Getting up from the couch, he went to see who it was.


When he saw Trent, he was relieved. He figured he was there to check on his sister but was happy to see him. He wanted to discuss something with the young man.


“Hey Mr. Morgendorffer.”


“Hi Trent. Come in.”


Entering, Trent said, “Thanks.” Stopping just inside the foyer, he said, “How’s Daria and Janey?”


“I peeked in on them a little while ago.” Jake said, “They both seemed to be sleeping. I didn’t want to disturb them.”


“That’s cool.”


Amy walked over to where Jake and Trent were standing. Looking at Jake, she asked, “Who’s this handsome young man?”


“Oh right. Amy this is Trent, Jane’s brother. Trent, this is Amy Barksdale, Helen’s younger sister.”


“Hey Trent. It’s nice to meet you.”


“Yea. Nice to meet you too.”


Before a conversation could get started, Jake interrupted. “Um Trent. I need to talk to you. Could you come with me?”


Trent shrugged. “Okay.”


Going into the kitchen, Jake pointed for him to sit at the table. After pouring two cups of coffee, Jake joined him. Taking a mug, Trent looked at Jake.


“Thanks.” Taking a sip, he put the mug down and asked, “So what did you want to talk about?”


Jake knew this wasn’t going to be easy. Taking a deep breath for courage, he exhaled and began.


“Trent. Helen really liked you. She appreciated how you took care of Daria and she always felt protective of you.”


This was a surprise. Trent liked the whole family but never figured Helen gave him much thought.




Jake nodded. “Yes. Which is why I’m asking you this.”


“What?” Trent asked.


“Well I wanted to let you know how much we care for you and Jane and how much Helen thought about you. So I was wondering if you would be willing to be one of the pall bearers at the funeral tomorrow afternoon.”


Now Trent was almost speechless. This was something truly unexpected. He knew this was an honor and wasn’t too sure he was right for it. He sat there thinking about what Jake asked for a second. Finally his thought process was interrupted.




Turning his gaze toward Jake, he said, “Huh?”


“Will you?”


Without thinking, he said, “Yea. I’ll do it.”


Jake gave him a brief smile. “Thank you. You don’t know what this means to me and the girls.”


Suddenly, Jake realized something.


“This means you’re going to need a suit. If you don’t have one let me know. I have some that don’t fit me any more. One of them would probably just about fit you.”


Trent shook his head. “That’s okay. I have a suit. Thanks anyway.” Taking another sip, he asked, “When’s the funeral?”


Jake set his cup on the table and turned it with his hands. “I haven’t set the time just yet. I’ll know in a few hours. Just come by the funeral home early tomorrow. You’ll need to be there anyhow.”


“Okay.” Trent said. “That’ll work.”


Sitting there, the two finished their coffee in silence.


In the living room, Amy saw Quinn coming downstairs in her bedclothes.


Smiling at her niece, Amy said, “Morning Quinn. Decided to get up early I see.”


Nodding, Quinn looked at her aunt. “I wasn’t sleeping and just couldn’t lay there any more.”


Patting the cushion next to her, Amy said, “Well come sit down. It’s still early and I could use the company.”


Going over, Quinn sat next to Amy.


“Thanks for letting me stay with you. I didn’t feel like being alone last night.” Quinn said.


Amy smiled at her. “I felt the same way. Thanks for staying with me.”


Just like in the kitchen. The two women sat there in silence waiting for the day to really get going. After a while there was another knock on the door. Getting up, Amy said, “Stay there. I’ll get it.”


Opening the door, Amy greeted Tom.


“Hi. You’re here early.”


Nodding, Tom said, “Yea. I have to get to school. I wanted to stop by and see how Daria was doing before I went to class.”


“That’s nice.” Amy thought. “She’s still in her room with Jane.” she said. “Do you want me to get them?”


Tom shook his head. “No. They need their rest. It’s going to be a busy few days. I’ll be by after school to see her.”


Just then, Jane came downstairs. Seeing Tom, she said, “I thought I heard your voice. Hey.” 

Turning his attention from Amy to Jane, Tom said, “Hey Jane. How’s Daria doing?”


Sighing, Jane looked at him. “About the same as last night. She’s slightly more functional. After you left she got up and changed into her pajamas. She still isn’t talking or reacting to anything though.”


“Do you think I should see her before I go?”


“No.” Jane said, “I don’t think she would react. Come by later. Hopefully she’ll have come back by then.”


“Okay.” Giving Amy a piece of paper, he said, “Here’s the number of my school. If you need me for anything please call. They’ll let me know as soon as possible.”


Amy looked at the paper for a second, then said, “Okay. We’ll let you know if anything changes.”


Tom swallowed a lump in his throat. He hated not being able to stay there with Daria but his parents insisted he attend his classes first. Turning to leave, he looked back. “Okay. I’ll see you all after school.”


Amy said, “Bye. Thanks for stopping by.” and closed the door.


Turning to look at Jane, Amy asked, “She really hasn’t said anything?”


Shaking her head, Jane said, “Nothing. She’s never been much of a talker but this has hit her harder than I ever expected.” Stopping for a moment to collect her thoughts, she continued, “I never expected she’d be like this.”


Amy Gave Jane a sympathetic look. She could see this was really bothering her.


“I’m sure she’ll say something soon. I know she’s grateful to have as good a friend as you.”


“Thanks.” Jane said. “If you’ll excuse me. I need to get back upstairs and check on her.”


“Mind if I join you?” Amy asked. “I’d like to know she’s okay as well.”


“Sure. Follow me.” Jane said.


The two went up the stairs and down the hall to Daria’s room. To their surprise, she wasn’t there. At first, both were worried she might have run off. Their concerns were soon relieved when they heard a flushing noise from the bathroom followed by the sound of the shower running.


A few minutes later both sat in Daria’s room as she re-entered wearing a towel. Standing there, she did nothing. Eventually they got the hint. Looking at Jane, Amy said, “I guess we should get something to eat. Would you like to help me make some breakfast?”


Jane stood up and said, “Sure. Let’s go.” Looking at Daria as she passed, she reached up to put her hand on her shoulder. Daria once again dodged Jane’s attempt to touch her. Pulling her hand back, Jane said, “Sorry. We’ll be in the kitchen if you need us.”


Daria didn’t acknowledge Jane’s comment in any way. Sighing, Jane followed Amy out of the bedroom and closed the door behind her.


A short while later Amy had managed to make a small but nice breakfast using the few items in the refrigerator. As everyone sat at the table nobody touched the food. After a minute, Amy spoke.


“I know nobody is in any mood to eat right now but it’s going to be a tough day. You need your energy.” Picking up Jake’s plate, she put some eggs on it. “This will get you started.” Turning to look at Quinn, she asked, “Do I have to make you eat too?’


Quinn hadn’t had anything since breakfast the day before so she was actually hungry. Shaking her head no, she started putting food on her plate. Before Amy could serve them, Jane and Trent shrugged and got a little food as well. As everyone ate nobody noticed Daria enter the kitchen until she sat down.


“Hey Kiddo.” Jake said.


Daria looked down at the table and said nothing.


“Are you hungry?” He asked. “Amy made enough breakfast for us all.”


Daria remained silent.


“C’mon Daria.” Quinn said. “I know you haven’t eaten since yesterday. You need to eat too.”


Once more Daria didn’t react.


“Here. Let me fix your plate for you.” Amy said, and reached across to get Daria’s plate. As she did, Daria slid her chair away from Amy’s hand. Shocked, Amy retreated to her side of the table. This action had everybody sufficiently freaked they didn’t say anything for a while. Eventually Daria slid her chair back under the table. Slowly she reached over and picked up a piece of toast and started eating. Upon seeing this, everyone breathed a sigh of relief.


After eating, Jake left to take care of the final details. Not too long after leaving, Rita showed up with Grandmother Barksdale. After greeting Amy and Quinn, she looked at her youngest daughter and asked, “So where’s Jake?”


“He had some things to finish up before tomorrow.” Amy said. “He should be back before noon.”


Grandmother Barksdale scowled. “It should have been him. Helen was the responsible one. Marrying him was her biggest mistake.”


Amy was stunned.


“Mother! I can’t believe you said that. Jake and Helen had a great marriage. Of all of us they’re the only ones who’ve managed to stay together. I’m just glad Daria and Quinn didn’t hear you say that.”


Grandma Barksdale was unrepentant.


“I don’t care if they do hear it. Jake only held her back from the day she met him.”


Amy stared her mother straight in the eyes. “And I don’t care how you feel. Jake and the girls are hurting. If you can’t be civil just don’t say anything. It’s difficult enough now without you making matters worse.”


Glaring at her daughter, she realized Amy was right. Closing her eyes, she bowed her head and relented.


“You’re right. I’m sorry. I guess the shock has got me upset.” Looking at her youngest daughter, she asked, “So how are the girls?”


Leading them into the living room, they all sat down. Turning to look at her mother, Amy said, “Quinn is very upset but is handling it okay. I think she’ll be okay. Daria, on the other hand, is taking pretty hard. She’s not talking to anyone. I’m afraid it’s going to be a tougher road for her.”


“Well I’d like to see them.” Grandma Barksdale said. “Are they in their rooms?”


Getting up, Amy looked at Rita and her mother.


“Yes, but let me go get them. Their rooms are kind of messy right now. It would be better if they came down here.”


Both women nodded.


Going upstairs, Amy went to Quinn’s room first. Not seeing her there, she went to Daria’s room. Sure enough Quinn was there with her sister and Jane. Quinn appeared to be going through Daria’s closet. Not knowing Quinn that well she didn’t realize how odd that was. Clearing her throat, she asked, “Quinn? What’s going on?”


Amy’s voice surprised Quinn. Turning, she peeked out of the closet.


“Oh I’m trying to find something for Daria.”


“What?” Amy asked.


“Well she’s going to need something to wear at…” Quinn stopped short of saying funeral. She wasn’t ready to say the word yet and she didn’t want to say it in front of Daria. It was obvious, even to her, that anything could set her sister off now and she didn’t want to be it.


Nodding slightly, Amy said, “Ah. Gotcha. So have you found something?”


Quinn followed Amy into the hallway. Once they were where Daria couldn’t hear them, Quinn said, “Her wardrobe isn’t that great. I haven’t found anything that would be proper for tomorrow.”


“Well how about tonight?” Amy asked.


Quinn looked at her aunt with confusion. “Tonight? What’s going on tonight?”


Amy looked back at Quinn. “The funeral home?”


“Oh right.”


Once more Quinn hadn’t thought about what was coming. Amy couldn’t blame her. This wasn’t something either of these girls should have to experience.  Suddenly she was swept with a wave of regret for not trying to get to know both Daria and Quinn better when they were children. Both were nice young women who she was quickly realizing were people she would like to know better. Shaking her head to try to eliminate the sadness, she smiled at Quinn.


“Is there anything you have she could borrow?”


“No.” Quinn said. “My stuff doesn’t fit her very well and we don’t have time to get something altered.”


Amy put her arm around Quinn. “Tell you what. We’ll go to a department store in a little while and find something for her.”


Much to her surprise, Quinn heard herself saying, “I don’t really feel like shopping right now. I’d rather stay here right now in case anyone needs me.”


Amy smiled. This was a very different Quinn than the one she met at Erin’s wedding. It was comforting to her to know that Quinn did have the capacity to think of others. Turning Quinn to face her, she put her hands on both of Quinn’s shoulders.


“Well Daria needs you right now. She needs something to wear. We won’t take long. We’ll go just long enough for you to pick something out she can wear tonight and tomorrow.”


Realizing, Amy had a point, Quinn said, “Okay. Just let’s not go to Cashman’s. I don’t think I can find anything appropriate for Daria there.”


Once more, Amy looked at her niece and smiled.


“We’ll go wherever you want. You know more about her tastes than I do. I’ll trust your judgment. Now, Rita and your Grandmother want to see you. Think you’re up to it?”


Quinn nodded. “Yea. I guess.”


Putting her arm around Quinn shoulders again, Amy said, “Fine. Let’s go. I’ll come up to get Daria in a minute.”


Once downstairs, Amy was relieved to see that her mother was behaving herself around Quinn. Jake had yet to return but this was a good sign she would treat him nice as well. Seeing that everything was going okay, she went back upstairs to see if Daria would come down.


Standing in the doorway, Amy saw Daria sitting back on her bed. Jane was sitting next to her on the edge of the bed watching the television. Going inside the room, Amy said, “Hey.”


Pressing the button on the remote, Jane shut the TV off the turned her attention to Amy.


“Hey.” Jane said.


Amy looked at her niece. “Daria?” Just like every other time, there was no response. Sighing, she continued. “Rita and your grandmother are downstairs. They would really like to see you. Would you come to the living room?”


Daria slowly raised her head and looked at Amy for a moment then turned her attention back to her boots.


Turning to look at Jane, Amy asked, “Has she said anything yet.”


Jane said nothing. She just shook her head to indicate nothing had changed.


Turning to look at Daria again, Amy said, “Well if you decide to come down. We’ll be in the living room. We’d all like to see you. Okay.”


The three Barksdale women sat in the living room sharing their memories of Helen with Quinn. Learning about her mom when Helen was her age made Quinn feel better. Everybody was so involved in reminiscing they didn’t see Daria until she sat down in the only empty chair.


“Hello Daria.” Rita said.


Once more, Daria said nothing. She simply sat there and stared at the floor.


Grandma Barksdale decided to try getting her to respond.


“Daria?” After getting no reply either, she asked again, “Daria?”


Getting up, she went over and stood near Daria. As she bent down, she accidentally touched Daria’s knee. Suddenly, Daria jumped out of the chair and ran upstairs. A few seconds later, everybody heard a door slam.


Standing there in shock, Grandma Barksdale said, “Well she’s always been strange. I guess that’s just another one of her oddities.”


This was more than Quinn could stand. How could she say something like that? Standing up, she looked at her grandmother.


“She’s not strange! Mom died yesterday and she’s hurting! Can’t you see that?” Crying, she ran upstairs. A moment later, everyone heard another door slam.


Looking at her daughters, she asked, “What did I say?”


Rita was too stunned by the outburst to say anything. Taking a breath, Amy looked at her mother. “Nothing. Everyone’s very edgy right now. Emotions are high at the moment. It could have been anything that set Quinn and Daria off.”


Sitting in the chair Daria had just occupied, Grandma Barksdale started crying. “I’m just making things worse. Helen’s gone and all I can do is start arguments. What am I doing?”


Both daughters went over and hugged their mother.


“It’s okay Mother.” Amy said. “It’s not your fault. We’re all sad right now.”


When they separated, she looked at her daughters.


“Do you think we should go check on them?’


Amy shook her head. “No. They need some time alone to work things out. When they feel better they’ll come down again. We just need to wait.”


The two sisters looked at each other and sat down on the sofa. For a brief moment nobody said anything. Eventually Amy took the initiative and started reminiscing about Helen again. It wasn’t long until all three women were once again sharing their grief at the loss of their child and sister.


Soon everyone heard someone enter through the kitchen. Since it wasn’t the usual entrance for company Amy figured it was Jake returning from his grim chore. Sure enough, before she could get up to check, he came into the room where they all were.


Walking over he kissed his mother-in-law on the cheek. Standing up, she hugged Jake.


Amy and Rita looked on in amazement. If she was still angry with Jake she was hiding it well. Going over, Rita waited until they were finished and greeted Jake in the same way. After all the hugs were over everyone returned to their seats. Once they were comfortable, Amy turned to Jake and asked, “So is everything set?’


Nodding, Jake said, “Yes. The viewing will be today from 5pm until 10 pm. Then the funeral will be 2pm tomorrow.”


“So what can we do?” Rita asked.


“You’re doing it.” Jake said. “It’s enough that you are here to be with us right now. I appreciate it and I’m sure the girls do too.”


All three women looked at each other. Silently each decided it was probably better Jake didn’t learn about the outburst earlier. There was enough emotion right now. To add to the pile would serve no purpose.


Now that Jake had returned with the basics, Amy figured this was the time to take care of a chore. Standing up, she turned toward Jake.


“If you’ll excuse me. I need to leave for a little while. It shouldn’t take long.”


Jake looked up at her. “That’s fine. I appreciate you looking after the girls while I was out.”


Amy smiled. “It was no problem at all.” Realizing this was a good way for her to get Quinn without raising suspicions, she said, “If you don’t mind, I’ll see if Quinn would like to come along. It might do her some good to get out of the house for a little while.”


“If you think she’ll go. Sure.” Jake said.


“Fine.” Amy said, “I’ll go ask her.”


Going upstairs, she stopped at Quinn’s door. Knocking, she asked, “Quinn? May I come in?”


A second later, Quinn opened the door then went back to her bed.


Walking over, Amy sat next to her.


“Mother didn’t mean anything by what she said. It’s a difficult time for everyone. Sometimes people say things that they don’t mean to say. She loves you and Daria. She’s just hurting too.”


Quinn sighed. “I guess. It just bothered me when she said that about Daria.”


Seeing this as the opportunity she needed, Amy spoke.


“Speaking of Daria. Why don’t we go see if we can find her something to wear? The fresh air might do you some good as well.”


Taking a tissue, Quinn blew her nose. “I don’t know. What if Dad returns and we’re gone? He’ll want to know where we are.”


Getting up. Amy turned to face Quinn. “Don’t worry about that. Jake’s back now. You can see him before we leave.”


Looking up at her, Quinn asked, “What if he wants to know where we’re going? He might get upset if he knows we’re going shopping.”


Amy smiled. “You only have to tell him if you want to. Even if he does find out, I’m sure he’ll understand when you explain it’s to get something for Daria to wear.”


Quinn took a deep breath and sighed. “Okay. Let’s do this.” Standing up, she straightened out her shirt. “I never thought I’d not be in the mood to shop.”


Putting her arm around Quinn, the pair went downstairs. When they got to the living room, she saw Grandma Ruth had finally arrived. Quinn went over and spoke to her and Jake for a few minutes before excusing herself. Nobody ever asked where she and Amy were going and Quinn never offered the information. After the brief conversation ended Amy and Quinn got in her convertible and drove to an outlet store a few miles from the house.     


True to her word, Quinn only focused on trying to find something for Daria to wear. Between Amy’s and her selections they soon found a dress that Quinn felt was Daria’s tastes and would look good on her. As she hung the rejected selections on the rack, Amy asked, “Now what about some shoes?”


Quinn shook her head. “Never mind. She’s been wearing boots as long as I can remember. The only time she doesn’t wear them is when she’s sleeping, in the shower, or gym class. And if she could get away with in gym…”


Before Quinn could go any further, Amy interrupted. “I got it Quinn. Her boots will do fine with this one. Let’s pay for this and get back to the house.”


Quinn said, “Okay.” and they headed for a cashier.


As they went to the counter, Amy thought she noticed someone familiar. Turning to get a better look she saw Trent. He was standing in the menswear section looking confused. Curious as to what the problem was, Amy said, “One second Quinn. There’s Trent. He looks lost. Let’s go see if we can help.”


Quinn didn’t want to do it but, before she could voice an objection, Amy was halfway there. When they got to him he was turned around looking at a rack of coats. Tapping him on the shoulder, Amy asked, “Trent?”


Turning around, Trent recognized Amy but couldn’t remember her name.


“Hey. Um…”




Trent nodded.


“Yea. Amy.”


“Are you having a problem?” Amy asked.


Trent nodded again. “Yea. I need a suit for tomorrow but I can’t find one and nobody will help me.”


Amy turned to look at Quinn.


“We can spare a few minutes can’t we Quinn?”


Realizing he meant he needed something to wear to the funeral, Quinn nodded in agreement. She didn’t want anything to make the day any worse than it would already be.


“Okay.” Amy said. “Let’s go see if we can find you a suit.”


It took a little longer than Amy had anticipated but after several false starts the trio soon found a suit that would be acceptable for him. Looking at the tag, Trent said, “It’s too much. I can’t afford this.”


Kneeling down to adjust the cuffs on the pants, Amy said, “Don’t worry about that. This is on me.” Standing up, she looked at him. “Now go change back into your regular clothes. Just be careful not to mess the cuffs up. We’ll get them hemmed up before we leave.”


Trent said, “Okay. Thanks.” Then went back into the changing room.


Soon all three were outside going to their respective vehicles. As they stood there getting ready to part, Amy spoke.


“Okay Trent. You need to be at the funeral home no later than 10am tomorrow. It’s important you be there on time. Do you want me to come get you?”


“No Maam.” Trent said. “I’ll be there.” 


Trent meant it. This was one time he wouldn’t let anyone down. Everybody was depending on him and he was going to do the adult thing no matter what. Looking at Amy, he said, “Okay then. Thanks for the suit. Later.”


Amy said, “My pleasure.” Turning to Quinn, she said. “Let’s get back to the house. We’ve been away longer than we should have been.”


“Okay.” Quinn said.


Back at the house, Amy and Quinn managed to sneak the dress upstairs without anyone noticing. Looking at Quinn Amy nodded. They had devised a plan to hide where they had gone. As Quinn went up to Daria’s room Amy went into the living room to keep everyone else occupied. The plan worked just as they figured and Quinn made it upstairs unnoticed. When she got to Daria’s room the door was still closed. Knocking, she heard Jane’s voice.




“It’s me.” Quinn said. “Can I come in?”


A second later, Jane opened the door. “Sure.” she said. Noticing the garment bag, she asked, “What’s that?”


Quinn walked over and hung the hangar on the knob of the closet door.


“I couldn’t find something of mine for Daria to wear so Aunt Amy and I got Daria a new dress.” Pausing, she figured she should let Jane know that was the only reason they went. “And that’s all we got.”


Jane was stunned. Quinn always seemed very self-centered. This was very generous of her. “Well okay. You got here just in time. We’re going to leave for the funeral home pretty soon.”


“How long?” Quinn asked.


“In about an hour.” Jane said.


Quinn’s eyes got very large. “Oh then I need to get changed too.” Turning to leave she said, “The dress should fit okay. I found something to match her boots.”


After they were alone, Jane unzipped the bag and inspected the garment in question. Quinn had done a good job. The dress would look very nice on Daria. Deciding it was time for her to change, Jane turned to look at her friend.

“We’re going to have to leave soon. Quinn got this for you to wear. I’ll leave you alone now. I can change in the bathroom.” Picking up her case, Jane said, “I’ll be back in a little while.”


Leaving the room, she closed the door. Going to the bathroom, Jane proceeded to get dressed for the evening. Once she was ready, she returned to Daria’s room. The door was open and Daria was sitting on the foot of her bed dressed in the outfit Quinn had picked out.


Jane smiled. “Quinn did a good job. You look nice.”


Daria raised her head for a second, looked at Jane then returned her gaze to the floor.


Looking at her watch, Jane continued. “We need to get downstairs. Everyone will be leaving soon. Are you ready?”


Slowly, Daria got up and walked toward the door. As she approached, Jane got out of the way so she could avoid contact. The events of the past day and a half had indicated Daria would be okay as long as she had plenty of room. When both of them got downstairs, Jane noticed they were the last ones to show.


Seeing her daughter, Jake said, “Daria. You look nice.” Walking over, Jane motioned for him to stop before he got too close. Once he was next to his oldest daughter, he said, “We’re all here. I guess we need to get going.”


Everyone agreed and soon they were all heading to different vehicles. Because of Daria’s reluctance to be touched, Jane suggested she ride in the front seat and Jane would sit next to Quinn in the back. All three nodded and when Daria came out they were all seated where they would be riding. Once Daria was buckled in, they began the journey to the funeral home.


Once they all were there, the funeral director gave them a moment alone with Helen before the public showed up. Opening the casket, she left the room so they could have the privacy they needed. As was expected, once everyone saw Helen laying there the emotions ran very high. Whatever differences they all had were temporarily gone as each shared their grief.


Unlike the rest of the family, Daria never went to look at Helen. Sitting there, Jane wanted to go pay her respects but didn’t want to leave Daria unattended. Looking around, she saw Tom come in. When he saw Daria and Jane sitting on the couch he went over.


“Hey.” Jane said.


“Hey.” Turning to look at Daria, Tom didn’t know just what to say. Finally he blurted out something. “That’s a nice dress.”


Tom rubbed his forehead in embarrassment; he couldn’t believe he had said something so ridiculous. Shaking his head, he said, “I’m sorry. I just didn’t know what else to say.”


Daria remained expressionless. Jane decided it would be up to her to let Tom off the hook.


“It’s okay. Quinn picked it out for her. She did a good job.”


Deciding this was the right time to ask, Jane looked up at Tom.


“I hate to impose on you but I was wondering if you could do me a favor.”


Tom smiled. “Of course. What do you need?”


“I was wondering if you would stay here while I get up for a few minutes? I need to take care of something.”


Nodding, Tom said, “Of course. Take your time.”


Getting up, Jane said, “Thanks.” and left to go see Helen.   


Standing at the casket, she waited for the others nearby to walk away. Once she was alone, she leaned closer and whispered, “Goodbye Helen. Thanks for treating me and Trent so nice. I’ll miss you.” After she said her piece, she turned and went back to sit with her friend.


After she returned, Tom got up to pay his respects but quickly came back to stay with Daria too.


As the evening progressed, friends, associates, and former clients all came in to pay their respects. All the nice things people said about Helen made Jake and Quinn feel better. They still were hurting but the kind words did ease their pain a little. While Daria stayed pretty much out of the way, a few people went over to see her too.  Most seemed to realize she was having a difficult time and left after saying a few kind words. Eventually Jane saw a familiar face approach.


“Hey Daria.” Jodie said. “I’m so sorry.”


Knowing this was a difficult time, Jodie wasn’t too shocked not to get a reply right away from Daria. After a few seconds passed, she began to get a little concerned.




Getting up, Jane motioned for Jodie to follow her. She had slowly realized the events of the past day had made her start referring to her best friend in the third person while she was in Daria’s presence. To avoid doing that any more she wanted to explain the situation out of Daria’s range. Once they were in the foyer, Jane spoke.


“I’m sorry for getting you out here but I didn’t want to say anything in there.”


“I understand.” Jodie said. “So what’s up with Daria?”


“She’s been like that since yesterday. It’s as if she’s completely shut down. She won’t talk and nobody can touch her.”


This came as a genuine surprise. This wasn’t the Daria Jodie knew. She never expected Daria of all people to react this way.


Looking at Jane, Jodie asked, “She’s a basket case?”


Shaking her head, Jane said, “No. She seems to be functioning. She’s eating without us forcing her and she’s doing the routine things but she just won’t communicate with us in any way.”


“Well what can we do?” Jodie asked.


Jane shrugged. “I really don’t know. Just ride it out I guess. She’ll have to come back soon.”


“I hope so.”


Changing the subject, Jane asked, “So did Mack come with you?”


Shaking her head, Jodie said, “No. I rode here with my parents. Mack is staying with Kevin to keep him from showing up and making a scene. There’s enough emotion right now without him making things worse. He said he would come by later.” Pausing for a second, she continued, “After I show up to keep an eye on Kevin and Brittany.”


Her comment made Jane have a welcome chuckle. True enough, if anyone could make the situation worse it was those two. She was grateful that Jodie and Mack had thought about keeping them away. As she laughed, she said, “Gotcha. Thanks.”


Sure enough, later that evening, Mack showed up. Jodie had briefed him on Daria so he only said a few words to her before excusing himself. As the evening came to an end and everyone was getting ready to leave, Quinn came over.


“Daria. We need to go home now. We’ll be back in the morning.”


Jane was amazed to see Daria stand up and walk towards the exit. Going to the car she buckled herself in. Once they were home she repeated her routine from the night before and got changed into her bedclothes. Unlike the night before though she and Jane were so exhausted both managed to find a few hours of sleep.


As the sun came through the window and shone on Jane’s face she winced and looked over to check on Daria. When she didn’t see her in the bed, Jane panicked. Where had she gone? In her state, Daria could be capable of anything. As she rushed into the hallway she saw the bathroom door open and Daria exit with a towel wrapped around her body. As Daria went to her room, Jane said, “Oh Daria. You had me worried for a minute. I didn’t know where you had gon…”  


Before she could finish her sentence, Daria walked into her bedroom and closed the door behind her leaving Jane standing in the hallway wearing her pajamas. Reaching down to turn the knob, Jane soon discovered Daria had locked the door behind her. Figuring Daria was getting dressed, Jane took advantage of the early hour and went to the bathroom to take care of her morning ritual.


When she emerged, Jane noticed the bedroom door was now open. Figuring Daria was now dressed, she went to get her clothes to so she could change for the day. Entering the room, she was once more shocked to find Daria was missing. Rushing out of the room she ran downstairs. Going through the living room, she made a quick scan looking for Daria. Not finding her there, she went into the kitchen. To her relief she saw Daria sitting at the table as Amy and Quinn were making breakfast.


Looking up from her activities, Amy said, “Hello Jane. Is there a problem?”


Pausing for a moment to catch her breath, Jane finally managed to say, “No. I just wondered where Daria was.”


Amy nodded. “Oh. Okay.” Picking up a spatula, she handed it to Quinn who proceeded to turn some eggs.


“Well breakfast will be ready in a little while. Are you going to want something to eat?”


“Sure.” Jane said. “Just let me get changed. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”


By the time she got back to the kitchen, everybody had shown up and there wasn’t much left. Looking at the slim pickings, Jane went to the refrigerator and got some of the chicken a neighbor sent over the night before. Eating carefully so she wouldn’t get grease on her clothes, Jane almost dropped her meal on the floor when she saw who was standing in the corner.


Going over to Trent, she looked him over from head to toe. Standing there stunned, she thought about her words carefully. Finally she had the right thing to say.




Looking at his sister, Trent said, “Yea?”


Jane smiled. “It is you!” backing up slightly to inspect him again. “You look good. It’s a nice suit. Where’d you get it?”


“I bought it yesterday. At the store.” He said.


Picking up a napkin and wiping her hands so she wouldn’t stain his suit, Jane turned him around to get a full view.

“Well you chose well. You have better taste than I thought.”


Trent shook his head slightly. “Well I had help picking it out.”


Jane raised an eyebrow. “Really? Anyone I would know?”


Looking around, Trent tried to find Amy. When he couldn’t see her, he said, “Probably.”


“Well, whoever helped you has good taste then.” Jane said. “So why did you buy a suit? I think Dad might have one you could have used.”


Trent said,  “He does. But I wanted something special. I’ve got an important job so I wanted to look right. It’s why I’m here right now. I didn’t want to be late.”


Now Jane was impressed. First the suit, now he was making an effort to be on time for something. This wasn’t the Trent she grew up with. It comforted her to know he could be responsible when the need arose. Looking at her brother again, she said, “Cool. I want to see Daria for a moment. I’ll catch up with you later.”


“Sure.” Trent said.


Looking around, Jane couldn’t see Daria anywhere. Walking over to Amy, Jane said, “Hey”


“Yes?” she said.


“Have you seen Daria?”


“She got up a few minutes ago.” Amy said. “She probably went to the living room or her room again.”


Nodding, Jane said, “Okay thanks.” and left to find her friend.


As she walked away, Amy called to her. Looking back, Jane asked, “Yes?”


“We’ll be leaving in an hour. When you find Daria please stay with her so she won’t get left behind.”


Jane nodded, “I will.”


When Jane didn’t see her downstairs, she went up to her room. Sure enough, Daria was once more sitting on her bed in silence. Going inside, Jane went over to the bed. Sitting far enough to make sure Daria didn’t withdraw again, Jane picked up the remote, cut on the TV, and waited for someone to come get them.


Before long, everybody once again made the journey to the funeral home. In a repeat of the previous evening, Daria remained away from the coffin and the public that came to pay their respects. Shortly before the funeral was to begin, Tom came in with his parents and Elsie.


The first person they visited was Daria. Apparently Tom had briefed his parents about Daria’s behavior because they offered their sympathies without trying to touch her. After a brief visit, Tom stayed with Daria while the rest of his family went to offer their condolences to the rest of the family.


Eventually the time came and everyone entered the chapel. Tom kept his word and sat next to Daria during the service. While Jane wanted to be next to her best friend she knew Quinn should be on one side and accepted the fact that Tom was now as important to Daria as she was.


The service was not very long. The pastor gave a nice eulogy followed by several kind words from Eric. When the pastor asked if anyone else had words to offer everyone was surprised when Amy stood up. She began by saying the things that the Reverend and Eric had said were very kind but she wanted to share the Helen she knew all those years ago. Over the next several minutes she shared several stories of her life with her big sister. Because of her honesty some of the stories were not entirely flattering but many were also extremely kind. A few stories even brought laughter from everyone. Eventually she felt she had presented a better portrait of her sister and sat down. Walking back to her seat, she saw Jake, Quinn, Rita, and her Mother smile. Seeing their expressions, Amy knew she had done Helen justice.


The reverend said a few more words then everyone went to the cemetery. Per Jake’s request, Eric and Trent led the pallbearers as they carried the casket from the hearse to the grave. Once the coffin was in place, all the family sat next to the grave as the pastor said a few more words. Soon the funeral was over and people left to get back to their lives.


Most of the family stayed on a little while longer, but eventually everyone had to get back to their lives as well. The first to leave was Ruth who left the next morning. Not too long after her departure, Rita left with Grandma Barksdale. Amy was the first to make it there and the last to go. She stayed until Sunday afternoon. Before she left, she went to see Quinn. Hugging her, she said if she needed anything to let her know. If there were any way possible she would try to help her. Next, she went to see Jake. Just like with Quinn, she said for Jake to call if he needed anything. Finally, she went to see Daria.


Standing in the doorway of the bedroom, she saw a scene that had become too familiar over the past few days.  Daria was sitting on the bed with the same blank expression she’d had since Amy first saw her. Jane and Tom were sitting in chairs keeping her company, so to speak. Going into the room she greeted the three.




Turning to look at her, Jane and Tom said, “Hey.”


Looking over at Daria, Amy spoke again. “Daria. I’m leaving now.”


Looking up at her aunt, Daria said nothing. After a brief moment, her gaze returned to her feet. Amy closed her eyes to hold in the sadness she was feeling at seeing her niece hurting so badly she couldn’t react to anything. After regaining her composure, she went over to sit next to Daria. When she was seated, she once again looked at her niece.


“Daria. I know you’re hurting. I just want you to know everything will eventually be okay. It won’t be the same. But things will get better. If you ever need to talk I’ll be there. Just like I’ve always been.”


Standing up, Amy took one last look at her niece and turned to leave the room. Before she left, she asked Jane, “Could you come with me please?”


Nodding, Jane got up and followed Amy into the hall. Once they were outside, Jane looked at Amy.




“Before I leave, I want to say you’re a great friend to Daria.” Amy said. “I’m leaving here comforted in the fact that you’ll be there should Daria need anything.” Amy reached into her bag to retrieve something. “Which is why I want you to keep this with you.”


Jane was curious. “What?”


Amy handed Jane a small card. “Here. This is my phone number. On the back I’ve written my home number as well. If you need anything, feel Daria or Quinn need something, or there’s a change in her please don’t hesitate to call.”


Inspecting the card, Jane turned it over to read the phone number.  Placing the card in her pocket, Jane said, “No problem. I’ll be sure to call only when necessary.”


Smiling, Amy said, “Well please call with progress reports. Daria and Quinn both mean a lot to me. I’d like to know how they are doing from someone else.”


Finally understanding, Jane nodded again, “Gotcha. Will do.”


“Thanks.” Amy said. “Well I’d better get going. It’s going to be a long drive home.” Sticking her head in the door she looked at Tom. “Hey Tom. I just wanted to say it was nice meeting you. I just wish it had been under better circumstances.”


“It was nice meeting you too.” Tom said. “Have a safe drive home.”


Leaving the three friends alone, Amy went downstairs and said goodbye to Jake one more time. Getting in her car, Amy began the long journey home. After about an hour on the road the reality of the past few days finally hit her. Pulling off the road, Amy cried the tears she had prevented herself from shedding while she was with the rest of the family.


Later that evening, Tom’s parents called and told him to come home. The next morning was a school day and he needed to return. After excusing himself, Jane knew it was her turn. She had already missed several days of school. It would be difficult enough to catch up as it was so she had to go back tomorrow. Before she left, she went to sit next to Daria one more time.


“I have to go home now. I’ll see you tomorrow after school.” Looking at her silent friend, Jane continued. “I guess you’ll be coming back in a few days. When you do I’ll try to have everything you missed together so catching up will be a little easier. Okay.” Now accustomed to Daria’s lack of reaction, Jane looked at her friend and said, “Later.” then turned to go.


As she walked down the hallway, she saw Quinn sitting in her room on her bed. She had straightened up the clutter from the days before and was now reading a book. Hearing Jane clear her throat, she looked up.


“Hey Jane.”


“Hi Quinn.”


“Does Daria need something?”


Shaking her head, Jane said, “No. I’m getting ready to leave.” Motioning her head toward Daria’s room, Jane continued, “I was wondering if you could check in on her from time to time.”


Quinn nodded, “Sure.”




Before she could leave, Quinn said. “Jane?’


Turning back to Quinn, Jane asked, “Yes?”


“I just wanted to say I think it’s great the way you and Tom stayed with Daria over the past few days.” Pausing for a second, Quinn took a deep breath, “I was just wondering something.”




“I know you spent most of your time with Daria but…”


“But what?” Jane asked.


Quinn got a nervous look on her face. “Did you see Sandi, Stacy, or Tiffany anytime over the past couple of days?”


Jane thought hard. As far as she could recall she hadn’t see any of the fashion club members at any place since this all began. Shaking her head, Jane said, “I’m sorry Quinn. I didn’t”


Sighing, Quinn said, “I didn’t think so. Thanks for confirming it for me.”


Trying to ease Quinn’s mind some, Jane said, “That doesn’t mean they weren’t there. I was very busy with Daria most of the time. They could have been somewhere I didn’t see.”


Quinn gave Jane a weak smile. She appreciated her trying to not hurt her feeling but she knew the truth. Those she thought were her friends had abandoned her at a critical time. “Thanks.” she said. “You’re probably right.”


“So when are you and Daria coming back to school.”


Quinn shrugged. “I don’t know. Not for another few days. It’ll be soon though.”


“Well I’ll probably see you before you go back.” Jane said. To comfort Quinn, she offered her help. “If you need anything, help around the house, someone to talk to, or anything else. Just let me know. Okay?”


This time Quinn gave her a better smile. Jane was reaching out and she truly appreciated it. “Sure. Thanks.”


“No problem.” Jane said. “Bye.”


Quinn gave Jane a small wave. “Bye.”


Going downstairs, Jane found Jake in the kitchen eating a sandwich. Going over, she once more offered her condolences and said she’d be back later to check on Daria. Jake said he appreciated her staying with Daria and to come by anytime. Both she and Trent were welcome members of the family. Giving him a smile, Jane left the house and started the journey home.


Once back in her own room, Jane sat on her bed. Sitting there, the reality of what had occurred finally hit her and, just like Amy, she let the tears she had been holding back finally flow. Hearing the noise, Trent got up and went to peek in on his sister. Realizing this wasn’t a time to interfere, he went back to his room. There would be plenty of time to comfort his baby sister later. 


Back at Glen Oaks Lane, the events of the past few days had taken their toll. Quietly, everybody went to bed. They would begin life without Helen in the morning.


The next morning, Jane returned to school. It seemed weird to return to normal routine after the frenzy of the past few days but before long she fell back to what was familiar. In spite of having plenty of makeup work to do, she found the familiar surroundings slightly comfortable.


The same time Jane was walking to school, Quinn came downstairs and looked around the living room. Over the past few days housekeeping had been a low priority. Now that everyone was gone she saw how out of order everything was. Dad had left to take care of some business and Daria would be no help. Sighing, she began the task of cleaning up. Over the next few days, she realized Jake would be too busy to do much around there and Daria was probably not coming back soon. The more she did, the more Quinn fell into the roll of lady of the house. In spite of not having any desire to take the roll before, she now found it comforting taking care of her Dad and sister.


Although Quinn was a flurry of activity, Daria remained the same. Tom and Jane visited her every day to check on her progress but saw no change in her behavior. Trent even came by on a regular basis but nothing anyone could do seemed to elicit any reaction other than an occasional blank gaze.


Soon the week came to a close and the next day everyone would have to return to their normal routines. Jake would be going back to his office and the girls would be going back to school. Lying in her bed, Quinn stared at the canopy. She wondered what the morning held for her. How would people treat her?  With the exception of the three J’s who came around for a couple of minutes a few times to check on her. She hadn’t seen any of her friends since the taxi took them to the hospital. What would they have to say to her and how would they be around her?  Add to that the fact she would have to keep an eye on Daria all the way to school so she wouldn’t accidentally walk into traffic or get hurt some other way and tomorrow was going to be difficult. As her mind raced through all the possibilities, she didn’t sleep at all that night.


A few hours later, the sun came through the window of Quinn’s room. Since she couldn’t sleep, she got up and dressed for her return to Lawndale High. After getting dressed, she looked at the clock. It was still two hours before they would have to leave. To try to fill the time and keep her mind occupied at the same time, she went downstairs and started making breakfast. Before too long, Jake came downstairs followed a few minutes later by Daria. Because everyone had things on their mind, breakfast was mostly a quiet affair. In spite of it still being very early, Jake excused himself to leave for the office, Complimenting Quinn on her food, he left to return to work. Quinn took her time getting the kitchen cleaned up so that by the time she finished it was late enough they could leave for school. Looking over at Daria she said, “Okay. Lets get going.”


Quietly, Daria got up and put her pack on. After they were outside, Quinn locked the door and they started the walk to Lawndale High. As they walked along Trent and Jane pulled up in his car. Leaning out the passenger window, Jane asked, “You guys want a ride?”


Quinn smiled and nodded. “Sure. Thanks.” Walking over, she opened the back door. Looking at Daria, she said, “Okay. You first.”


Once both were in the car, Trent began the short drive to school. Soon they were in the loop in front of Lawndale High. As they got out, Quinn and Jane thanked Trent for giving them a ride. Standing there as he drove off the two looked at each other for a moment. Finally, Jane spoke.


 I have first period with Daria so we’ll see you later. Okay?”


“Sure.” Quinn said, and turned to start back to classes.


Just like Quinn had done earlier, Jane looked at Daria and said, “Okay Let’s go.”


Silently, Daria fell in behind her and followed her to Mr. O’Neill’s room.


As class began, Mr. O’Neill looked over at Daria.


“Daria. It’s nice to see you back here with us. I just want to say we’re all saddened by your recent loss and if there’s anything you need please feel free to ask.”


Sitting in her desk, Daria stared blankly at him. In spite of Jane’s warnings about Daria’s behavior, Mr. O’Neill couldn’t resist the need to get closer to see if he could help bring Daria out of her shell. Jane saw what was happening but it was happening so quickly that she had no way of warning him to stop. As he rushed over to Daria, she jumped up and ran out of the room.


Standing there stunned, all he could say was, “Oh dear.” Jane just looked up at him and shook her head at his foolishness.


Eventually, he pulled himself together and began teaching. After a few minutes, Daria returned and sat back at her desk. Looking over, he wondered if he should say something. Before he could, he saw Jane waving him off. Fighting his urge to greet her again, he continued teaching.


Sitting in his office, Jake was finishing up a phone call.


“Okay Eric. I appreciate your help with all this. Goodbye.”


Hanging up the phone, Jake felt guilty about his jealousy of Eric. Eric had been very dependent on Helen when she was alive. Now that she was gone he was beyond value helping Jake sort out the details that needed clearing up. This phone call was a doozy too. It seemed Eric had managed to expedite the processing of Helen’s life insurance policy. In a few days Jake would be getting a check for a million dollars.


That eased his mind slightly. The insurance settlement made the mortgage a thing of the past and the girl’s college fund was now more than enough to guarantee all the education they needed but there was still the nagging question of what they were going to live off of. Helen had been the major breadwinner in the household. The consulting firm was making money but just barely enough to keep it operating properly.  If he was going to keep paying the bills for his family though things had to change. Sitting there thinking, he finally made the decision he had been considering for months. Picking up the phone, he dialed the number. A moment he heard a familiar voice answer the phone.




“Hello. Marie?” Jake said.


Marie immediately recognized the voice. “Hey Jake. How are you holding up?”


Jake sighed. “It’s tough but I’m holding on.”


“That’s comforting.” Marie said. “Is there anything I can do for you?”


The moment of truth had finally come. Jake took a second to work up his courage before speaking again. “Actually that’s why I called you.”


“Really. What can I do?”


“Well you can tell me if your offer still stands.” Jake said.


On the other end of the line, Marie smiled. “Of course it does.” Realizing what that meant she asked. “Are you really going to take the position?”


Sighing again, Jake said, “Yes. I’ve decided to shut down the office and get back to what I do best.”


“Well Channel Twelve can definitely use you.” Marie said. “You were a legend of broadcast sales in Highland. When can you start?”


Jake looked at the ceiling to think for a moment. “Give me two weeks to get things mostly straight. Then I’ll need a little time after that to hammer out some of the final details.”


“That sounds fine to me.” Marie said, “Come by tomorrow though so we can start working out the details of your new position.”


Jake smiled, “That sounds fine to me. I’ll call you later for an appointment.”


“Great. Bye.”


“Goodbye.” Jake said and hung up.


While he had dreaded the though of closing shop, once the decision had been made he suddenly felt a wave of relief he hadn’t experienced in a long time. He wasn’t the boss anymore. Now he was once again working for someone else and letting them worry about paying the bills. Realizing the decision was the tip of the iceberg; he picked up the phone and started calling the few clients he had left.


While Jake didn’t have many clients, they were all very happy with his service and hated to see him quit. Most were very understanding of his reasons and wished him well. All of the clients willingly accepted his offer to find them a new consultant. Before too long’ everyone in the building knew he was closing down and started to wish him well in his new job.


Back at Lawndale High the day was almost over. Quinn was walking through the hallway with the rest of the fashion club. As they droned on, Quinn heard her name.


“Quinn. Hello!” Sandi said.


Stopping and turning to look at Sandi, Quinn said, “Um. Oh sorry. What?”


Sandi put her hands on her hips and gave Quinn a stern look. “I was saying you need to get together with Stacy soon to go over everything you missed while you were away.”


“Oh Sure.” Quinn said. “Perhaps sometime Saturday.” Turning to look at Stacy, Quinn continued, “Okay?”


Stacy smiled at Quinn. “Sure.”


Scowling at Quinn, Sandi said, “That will not do. We have a meeting scheduled for tomorrow afternoon and you will be lost of you don’t review the notes.”


Pulling the book she was carrying closer to her chest, Quinn got a nervous look on her face.


“Um Sandi. I can’t make the meeting tomorrow. I have something important to do.”


Sandi Glared at her. “And what might that be?”


“I need to make dinner before Dad gets home. Plus I need to walk with Daria so she won’t get in trouble.”


“That’s more important?” Sandi asked. “Can’t your cousin find her way home by herself and you can just order a pizza.”


Now Quinn was getting upset. “She’s not my cousin. She’s my sister. And no, I can’t order a pizza. I want to make supper.”


Getting completely indignant, Sandi pointed her finger at Quinn. “Well you had better decide what’s more important. Some food or your friends.”


That was it. Lowering her books Quinn lashed out at Sandi. “What friends!?” Turning to divide her gaze between Sandi, Stacy, and Tiffany, she asked, “Where were you all the time I was gone?”


Stacy and Tiffany wisely remained silent. Sandi thoughhad to say something.


“We were taking care of important matters.”


“What’s more important than being with your friends when they need you?” Quinn asked. “Daria’s friends never left the house all week. I never saw any of you since…” Trailing off for a second, Quinn couldn’t bring herself to say it. Finally she decided to ask again. “Where were you all the time I was gone?”


“I already told you. We had things to do.” Sandi said.


“Like what?” Quinn asked.


All three tried to think of something but they all drew a blank. Finally Quinn had enough of their silence.


“You couldn’t even make it to the funeral?”


“We had classes.” Tiffany said.


 “ Yes. It was during school hours.” Sandi said. “Had you scheduled it after classes let out we might have been able to make it.”


Working hard to restrain herself, Quinn counted to ten before saying something else.


“You MIGHT have been able to make it!?”


And you couldn’t make any meetings?” Sandi asked.


This question took Quinn completely by surprise. “Of course not.”


“And why was that?”


Quinn glared at Sandi. “Because my Mom just died!”


“That was two weeks ago. We excused you for that one.” Sandi said. “You could have made the one last week had you tried.”


As Quinn’s eyes grew wider, her anger rose higher than it ever had. Using every bit of control, she fought the urge to slap Sandi. Standing there in shock at the most insensitive thing she had ever heard she let her rage calm down. When Quinn felt she had her emotions more in check, she looked her straight in the eyes and said, “Go to Hell Sandi.”


As she walked away, little did she realize that was the last time she would ever speak to her former fashion club associates.


That evening everyone sat quietly and ate their dinner. Daria was her usual silent self, Quinn was thinking about her argument with Sandi earlier, and Jake wondered how he should tell the girls he was closing the doors to his business. Finally Jake decided he had to let Daria and Quinn know what was going to be happening. Clearing his throat, he began.


“Girls. I need to tell you something.”


Quinn turned to look at Jake. “Yes Dad?” She said.


Daria gave no sign of recognition. Sitting there, she continued eating her meal.


Jake looked at his oldest daughter for a moment. Hoping she was at least listening, he began.


“Um Girls. I should let you know your mother was the real provider for the family. My business contributed very little financially.” Pausing for a second, he looked at both of his daughters. Carefully he chose his next words. “Now that she’s gone I’ve had to make some serious decisions.”


“Like what?” Quinn asked. “Are we broke or something?”


Jake shook his head. “No Quinn. We’re okay right now. But that’s why I made a big decision today.”


Quinn gave him a smile. “Don’t worry Dad. I can stop buying as many clothes for a while. It’ll be tough but I can wear what I have with no real problem.” Turning to look at Daria, she said, “And Daria’s wardrobe almost never changes.”


Smiling back at his daughter. “That’s Great Quinn. It’ll help but what I was going to say is…”


 Jake stopped again. This was tougher to say than he thought. When he told his clients, the news came easy. Now that he had to tell his family, things suddenly got tougher. How would they take it? He was quitting a business he worked hard to make a success. Would they be relieved or would they view him as a failure? Deciding he had no choice, he swallowed and continued.


“What I was going to say is I’ve decided to close Jake Morgendorffer Consulting. Starting in two weeks I’ll be a member of the Channel Twelve sales force.”


Looking at Quinn, he waited for her response. After a few seconds with no reply, he asked, “Quinn? Are you okay?”


Realizing she hadn’t said anything, she looked at Jake. “Um sure Dad. I’m Okay. Are you really closing the office down?”


Jake nodded.


“Wow.” Was all Quinn could say.


“So you’re okay with this?” he asked.


Shrugging, Quinn said, “I guess. Are we going to be okay?”


Smiling, Jake said, “We’ll be okay. It’ll be tough for a little while. We’ll be fine financially but I’ll be working more hours at first. At least until I build my client list. But I’ll still be around whenever you two need me. Okay.”


Nodding, Quinn couldn’t help being a little nervous. This was another major change in everyone’s life in less than two weeks. Figuring there was nothing she could do, she said, “Okay Dad. If you say so.”


“Great.” He said. Turning to look at Daria he asked, “How about you Daria?” Soon after asking, he realized he would get no response. Looking at her, he said, “It’s okay Kiddo.”


Quinn got up and started gathering the dishes. Seeing this, Jake said, “You probably have a lot of homework. I’ll do the dishes. You two go upstairs and get started.”


Setting her plate down, Quinn said, “Okay.” And started to leave. Stopping, she turned around and looked at her sister. “Daria we need to do homework now.”


Slowly, Daria stood up and followed Quinn upstairs.


It was getting close to bedtime when Jake peeked into Quinn’s room. Seeing Jake standing in the doorway, Quinn smiled.




“Hey Quinn. Have you finished up?”


Quinn nodded. “More or less. There are a few things I’ve only started but I’ve got a few days to finish them. Everything for tomorrow’s done.”


“Great.” Jake said. “I forgot to tell you earlier that dinner was great. You’re really a good cook.”


After the argument with Sandi earlier, these few nice words made her feel better. Looking at Jake, she gave him a brief smile. “Thanks.”


“You’re welcome.” Looking at the clock, he said, “It’s getting late. Don’t stay up too much longer.”


“I won’t Dad. Goodnight.”


Smiling, he said, “Goodnight Quinn.”


Going a few doors down, Jake noticed Daria’s door was closed. Knocking lightly, he got no reply. Opening the door, he peeked in. What he saw shocked and saddened him. Daria was already in bed. She had never gone to bed this early in her life. He had hoped by now she would start coming back to them but it seemed she wasn’t ready yet. Closing his eyes, he shook his head and shut the door.


The next morning Daria and Quinn walked all the way to school. Going into the room for her first class of the day, Quinn saw the fashion club at their normal seats. Looking at them for a moment, she went over to one of the empty desks and sat down. After getting her book out, she noticed Mr. DeMartino coming over. When he got to her, he spoke.


“Ms. Morgendorffer.”


Looking back, she said, “Yes.”


Handing her a slip of paper, he said, “You’re excused. Please take your books with you. You’ll probably not be back before class lets out.”


Looking at the paper, she nodded and gathered her things. As she left the room nobody looked at her. Apparently Sandi had started letting people know about the argument yesterday and was using it to her own benefit. If that was the case she had done a good job. Even the three J’s weren’t paying any attention to her. Walking down the hall, Quinn figured that was something to worry about later. Right now she had to see Ms. Manson.


Sitting in the office, Quinn waited to be called. Seated next to her was another young lady who was reading a book. Noticing Quinn, she put the book down and said, “Hey.”


“Hi.” Quinn said. “Are you new here?”


Nodding, the girl said, “Yea. This is my first day. I’m supposed to have some sort of test before I can start classes.” Closing the book, she smiled. “My name is Amy.”


Quinn smiled back. “I have an Aunt Amy.”


“That’s cool.”


“Yea. She’s great.” Quinn said. “My name’s Quinn by the way.”


“That’s a cool name.”


For the first time in weeks, Quinn perked up and turned her head slightly to the side.




Just then Ms. Manson came out. Looking at Quinn, she said, “Ms. Morgendorffer, come with me please.”


“Getting up, Quinn said, “Okay.” Walking past Amy, she stopped for a second. Looking at her she said, “Maybe I’ll see you around.”


Amy smiled and nodded. “Sure. That’d be nice. Good luck.”


Once in the office, Ms. Manson closed the door. Going behind her desk, she said, “Quinn. Please sit down.”


Going over, Quinn sat in one of the chairs across the desk. Once she was seated, Ms. Manson asked, “Are you comfortable?”


Quinn nodded.


“Good.” Ms. Manson said. Leaning back in her chair, she asked Quinn. “Do you know why you’re here?”


Considering the events of the past few weeks, Quinn figured it could be for nay number of things. Deciding one guess was as goods as any other she went with the most obvious choice.


“I guess because of my Mom.”


Looking down at her file, Ms. Manson said, “In a way. But there are some other concerns as well. I understand yesterday you got in a fight with another student. You haven’t displayed any other violent tendencies before this.”


Quinn was shocked. Fight? How could her argument be considered a fight? Suddenly she realized Sandi had really stretched the truth further than she expected. Figuring she had better get her side of the story out to start damage control, she said, “It wasn’t a fight. We got in an argument. She said some mean things, I said some things back then I left. There was no fight.”


Looking at the report again, Ms. Manson said, “That’s not the story going around school.” Looking up at Quinn she continued. “What should I tell Ms. Li?”


Quinn looked her directly in the eye. “Tell her the truth. There was no fight.”


Taking a pencil, Ms. Manson wrote something on the report. “Very well.” she said. Looking at her watch, she said, “We have a little time. Would you like to talk about anything else?”


“Like what?” Quinn asked.


“Perhaps about your sister. Dara.” She said.


Quinn quickly corrected her. “It’s Daria.”


“I’m sorry. Daria.” She said.  “She was here yesterday afternoon. I have to say it was a quiet several minutes. She seems to be taking the recent events hard.”


Nodding, Quinn said, “Yea. I’m worried.”


Leaning back again, Ms. Manson smiled. This was the time when she really felt like she was doing her job. Giving tests to see whether or not students would be a problem wasn’t why she became a psychologist. For the first time in weeks she was finally going to get to try to help a student with a real problem. Looking at Quinn, she asked, “What’s got you concerned?”


For the next half hour Quinn relayed the details of the past two weeks. As she told her story, Ms. Manson listened intently to every word. Occasionally she made notes of what Quinn said and offered a little advice. Finally looking at her watch, Ms. Manson said, “I’m sorry, but I have other students to see.” Standing up, she looked at Quinn. “If you need to talk some more just let me know and I’ll set up an appointment. Perhaps in study hall so you won’t miss any more classes.”


Shrugging, Quinn said, “Sure. Whatever.” Gathering her things, Quinn figured study hall was as good as any other time. Considering how mad Sandi was and all the lies she had likely told everyone she would have plenty of free time as people figured out she was innocent of whatever act Sandi was accusing her of. Since the only other option would be to study, she guessed counseling would be a better alternative. Leaving the room, she said, “Thanks.”


Ms. Manson smiled. “You’re welcome Quinn.”


Leaving the office, Quinn saw Amy was still waiting. Looking at her as she walked by, she said, “See you around.”


Looking up, Amy smiled, “Sure. Later.”


Quinn’s concerns about being alienated were soon put to rest when she made it back to class. While Sandi had managed to intimidate people for a short time, once Quinn got her side of the story out people were disappointed she hadn’t actually hit Sandi. It seemed everyone would have respected her more had she done it rather than merely telling her off.

By lunch Quinn’s new table was filled. Even the three J’s had returned to her side. Sitting there enjoying the company, Quinn noticed Amy sitting at a table alone. Standing up, she said, “Excuse me.” and went over.

Amy looked up to see Quinn standing next to her. Smiling, she said, “Hey.”


“Hi.” Quinn said, “I saw you sitting here alone and wondered if you would like to come over and sit with us?”

Glancing over at the already crowded table, Amy shook her head. “Nah. That's okay. I appreciate it but it looks pretty full already.”

Picking up Amy’s tray, Quinn said, “Don't be silly. There’s plenty of room. Plus I’d like to introduce you to some of them. I think you’ll like them.”

Seeing she had no option, Amy shrugged and smiled. “Okay.” she said. Getting up, she followed Quinn to her new table. Quinn’s associates sat there in stunned silence as they watched her carry Amy’s tray. When they got there, Quinn looked around for another chair, soon someone got one from the table next to them. Once Amy was seated, Quinn looked at all those around her.


“Everybody this is Amy…” Pausing, she turned to look at Amy. “Um. You never told me your last name.”

When the final bell rang, Daria and Jane stood in the lobby waiting for Quinn to show up. Glancing at her watch, Jane noted that Quinn seemed to be running late. A few minutes later, Quinn showed up with Amy. Looking at Jane, she said, “Sorry I'm late. I was talking to Amy and lost track of time.” Realizing Jane hadn't met her yet Quinn continued, “Oh right. Amy this is Jane. Jane this is Amy. She’s new here.”

Jane looked at Amy and nodded slightly. “Hey.”

Amy nodded back, “Hi.”


“Anyhow.” Quinn interrupted. “Amy invited me to come over for a while. I won't be too late but I was wondering if you would walk home with Daria today.”


“Of course.” Jane said. “How late do you think you’ll be? I mean just in case Jake calls or something.”


“Not too late. I still need to make dinner and there’s plenty of homework tonight. I’ll call if I'm delayed too long.”

Looking through the window in the door, Amy said, “There’s my Mom.”  Turning to look at Quinn, she said, “We better get moving. She still needs to pick up my little brothers.”

Quinn said, “Okay.” Looking back at Jane, she continued, “I really appreciate this. Later.”

Turning to look at Daria, Jane said, “Well let's get going.”


Back at the house, Jane sat on Daria’s bed sketching. Looking at the figure sitting at her desk doing her homework, Jane struggled to put what she saw onto paper.  It was always easy for her to draw Daria before, she seemed to be able to sense what her best friend was feeling but as Daria became less responsive to the world; Jane found it difficult to capture the essence of Daria in paper. Sitting there struggling with her dilemma, it took her a moment to hear the phone ring. Finally
picking up the receiver, she said, “Yo.”

The voice on the other end said, “Jane?”


“Oh hey Tom.”


“Hi Jane. Are you with Daria right now?”

Glancing over to look at her, Jane said, “Yea. We’re in her room.”


“How’s she doing? I haven’t seen her since Sunday afternoon.”

Sighing, Jane said, “No change. She’s sitting at the desk studying but hasn’t said a word.”


“I couldn't make it yesterday. Do you think I should come over?”

Jane thought about it for a moment. “Nah. Not today. It’s getting late. You can come by tomorrow. Quinn will be here then too.”


“Are you sure I don’t need to come by?” he asked. “I wouldn’t be too long.”


“Tomorrow will be just fine. I'll be home then. That'll leave you some time with her by yourself.”


“Okay.” Tom said, “Thanks. Bye.”

Jane said, “Later.” and hung up the phone.

About an hour later, Jane heard some noise downstairs. After a minute, Quinn came into the room. Seeing Daria was studying, she turned her attention to Jane.


“Hey. I'm back now. How’d things go?”

Jane got up and walked over to where Quinn was.


“Okay I guess.”


“Great.” Quinn said. “Well I need to get started making supper. If you want to stay there should be plenty.”

Looking at her watch, Jane said, “No. Thanks anyway but I need to get back home. Trent has rehearsal tonight so I need to wake him up so he’s only two hours late.”

Not knowing Trent very well, Quinn was confused. “If you say so. Thanks for walking Daria home.”

Jane smiled. She was beginning to like this new Quinn. Perhaps some good was going to come out of this tragedy after all. Looking at her, Jane said, “No problem. Anytime you need me just ask.”


“Thanks” Quinn said.


Standing at the front door, Jane stopped and looked over at Quinn. “Uh Quinn. I need to ask you a favor.”


“Sure. What?”

“If there's any change in Daria. Either way. Would you call me?”


“Of Course.” Quinn said.


“Thanks.” Jane said, opened the door, and left.


The next afternoon, Tom stopped by for a while. Much like with Jane, he merely sat on the bed while Daria stayed at her desk doing homework. Patiently he sat there waiting for her to do anything. After a while he finally decided to say something. Staying put on the bed, he turned slightly so he could see her better and began.


“Daria. I know you’re having a hard time dealing with things right now. Nobody’s saying you don’t have a right to be sad or angry or whatever you’re feeling right now. We’re just concerned that you’re not going to come back to us. We all care for you deeply and want to see you like you used to be.” Pausing briefly, he looked to see if there was any reaction. When he saw no response, he continued,  “However long that takes is up to you but be assured, we’re all here for you. All we ask is you don’t take too much longer.”


Once more he waited for some response. Like before, he saw his words go unnoticed. Sitting there feeling helpless, he silently waited until Quinn called them down for dinner.


As the week progressed, things began improving for Jake and Quinn. Jake began the process of finding other consultants for his clients. As luck had it the job was easier then he had anticipated and in a few days he had managed to have everyone taken care of. With that load off his mind he could begin the task of handling all the other details involved with closing shop as well as the many things left to take care of regarding Helen.


Quinn slowly started realizing the benefits of not being associated with the fashion club any more. While she was part of that small group, she had never realized how disliked they were by most of the student body. In hindsight she could see how bad her and their behavior had been. This humbling discovery made her act much more civil to her fellow classmates. Added to the pleasure of gaining more respect from her peers was her growing friendship with Amy. She really liked Amy and saw someone who she could be true-friends with.


So she wouldn’t ruin any chance, she took things slowly at first. Unlike the relationship she shared with Sandi, Quinn made sure she didn’t try to force anything on Amy. If a friendship developed it would be because of each of their personalities. Not out of an attempt for one of them to force their will on the other. To put it bluntly, Quinn wanted a friendship like the one Daria shared with Jane. And to her credit she seemed to be starting one.


As the next few weeks passed, things really did begin to get better. Quinn and Daria managed to get caught up with their schoolwork, Jake started his new job and was doing well, and Tom and Jane managed to come by and keep Daria company on a regular basis. Quinn even began dating again although not like she used to. She was the lady of the house now and that carried responsibility. She limited her dates to weekends only and never before a school night.


Although everyone was changing, Daria remained the same. Her routine was: go to school, come home, go upstairs and study, go to bed, then repeat everything the next day. In spite of her lack of communication, her grades for the most part never suffered. The only exception was Mr. O’Neill’s class. While Daria had always had a flair for writing, her recent projects suffered from any real impact. All assignments she wrote were very technical exercises with no hint of what she was feeling. It appeared to Mr. O’Neill as he read her assignments she had truly shut off all lines of expression. While he cut her some slack during the first few weeks he soon realized if she didn’t improve soon he would have to become stricter in his grading of her work.


It had been close to two months since Helen had died. Early one evening, Daria and Quinn were in the kitchen having dinner at the bar when Jake came in with a medium sized box. Going over to the table, he set it down and looked at his girls.


“Hey Kiddo. Hi Quinn.”


While Daria continued eating, Quinn smiled and said, “Hi Dad. What’s in the box?”


Looking down at the container, he sighed and said, “It’s your mom’s personal possessions. The coroner’s office called me this morning and said we hadn’t picked it up and asked if we wanted it. I went by and got it earlier.”


Putting her fork down, Quinn went over and sat next to Jake. Staring at the box, she asked, “What are you going to do with it?”


As he stared at the box, he shrugged. “I guess we need to see what’s in there.”


Looking around, he didn’t see anything he could use to open it. Getting up, he went to the drawer and got a small steak knife. Slowly he slid the blade along the seam until all the little pieces of tape were cut. After returning the knife to the counter, he sat back down and stared at the box a few seconds longer. Finally working up enough courage, he said, “Well here goes.” Lifting the lid, he and Quinn looked inside.


The first thing they saw was the suit Helen had been wearing the day she died. It had been neatly folded and looked almost as if they had even cleaned it. Carefully Jake lifted the jacket and skirt out of the box and set them on the seat of the chair next to him.


Peeking in, Quinn looked up at Jake and said, “I don’t see her blouse.”


“I guess it was too messed up for them to return it.” Jake said. Looking in again, he reached down and picked something up. As he handed it to Quinn, he said, “They did return her earrings. Would you like to keep them?”


Taking them, Quinn looked at the tiny pair of diamonds. They had been Helen’s favorite pair. As the tears welled up in her eyes, she said, “Yes. Please.”


Smiling, Jake said, “I know Helen would’ve wanted you to have them.”


Knowing the moment could easily get out of hand emotionally. Jake changed the subject from earrings by reaching into the box again and taking out a shoe. Setting it on the table, he looked inside to find its mate. As he fumbled around, Quinn looked up.


“What’s going on?”


“I can’t find Helen’s other shoe.” Jake said.


“Well maybe it’s like the blouse.” Quinn said. “They might have lost it somewhere.”


“You’re probably right.” Jake said and continued fumbling around in the box to see what else they returned.


While he and Quinn were occupied neither noticed Daria come over to where they were. Standing next to the table, Daria slowly picked up the shoe. Staring at it, she rubbed the toe. Turning her back to Jake and Quinn, she lifted the shoe and pressed it tightly against her chest. As she held it close as she could, a tear fell.


Sitting there thinking about how much the earrings had meant to Helen, Quinn’s concentration was interrupted by the sound of someone sniffing. Looking up she saw Daria’s back moving up and down rapidly. Concerned that something was wrong. She got up and went see what was going on.


When she finally saw what was happening, she was amazed. Daria was crying! Looking at her sister she said, “Daria?”


That was all it took. Before Quinn could say anything else, the floodgates opened. As weeks of grief finally erupted, Daria flung her arms around her sister and nearly collapsed. Not knowing what else to do, Quinn hugged Daria as tightly as she could. Once the shock finally wore off, Quinn could hear Daria whispering in her ear. “Why did she have to die Quinn? Why?”


Standing there, Quinn continued holding Daria as she kept asking the same question. Fighting hard to find the strength not to break down too, Quinn said, “I don’t know Daria. I don’t know.” As they continued to hold each other, Quinn spoke again, “Go ahead and cry Daria. It’s going to be okay.”


Looking at the moment with astonishment, Jake finally managed to get up and go over. When he put his hand on Daria’s shoulder, she immediately let go of Quinn and hugged him. Just like with Quinn, she asked him the same question.


“Why did she have to go?”


Holding her as tightly as she held him, he smiled slightly, “I don’t know Daria... but welcome back.”


Quinn stood there a second. What she saw filled her with a mix of emotions, She was happy that Daria had seen her way back to them but the amount of anguish she was witnessing was too much to bear. As she witnessed the scene, she realized her promise to Jane. Going over to the stand, she picked up the phone and dialed the number.


Jane was at her easel when the phone rang. Setting her brush down, she picked up the receiver.






“Oh hi Quinn.” She said. “What’s up?”


“It’s Daria.”


Jane stopped completely. “What’s wrong?”


“Nothing. She’s back.”




“Daria. She’s coming back.”


“I’ll be right there.” Jane said. “Bye.”


Not giving a chance for Quinn to say goodbye, Jane hung up the phone and shouted.




A second later Trent stuck his head in the doorway. “What’s up Janey?”


Taking a moment to toss her brush in the solvent, she looked at him and said, “See if you can find your keys. We need to get to Daria’s now!”


Suddenly Trent got concerned. “Is something wrong?”


Wiping the brush, Jane smiled and said, “No, exactly the opposite. For the first time in weeks something’s right.”


Finally understanding, Trent said. “Oh. Cool. I’ll be right back.” 


Knowing it would take him a minute or two to remember where he had put his keys, Jane remembered her promise. Reaching into her bag, she took out the card and dialed Amy’s number.


Back at Glen Oaks Lane, the outburst had taken its toll on Daria. After releasing so much pent up emotion, she could barely stand. Jake and Quinn slowly helped her to her room. As she lay on the bed, Jake noticed she still had Helen’s shoe. Reaching down to get it from her, she turned away to keep him from getting it. Deciding it wasn’t worth risking her going into a relapse, he said, “Okay Daria. You can keep the shoe.” As he and Quinn left the room, he turned to look at his oldest daughter.


“It’s good to have you back Kiddo. You get some rest. I’ll check on you later.”


Turning out the light, he shut the door.


Daria lay there a few minutes. Her tears had slowed down some but were still coming. After a few minutes she got up. Bending over, she reached under the bed and pulled out a small brown box. Removing the lid, she placed the shoe next to the one she had picked up off the hospital floor. Returning the box to its hiding place, Daria lay back down and stared at the ceiling trying to make sense of what she was suddenly feeling.


After a while, Jane, Trent, and Tom showed up at the house. After checking to see if it was okay, the three went upstairs. Knocking lightly on the door, they heard a familiar answer.




“Daria?” Jane asked. “Can we come in?”


Sitting up in the bed, Daria said, “Sure.”


Once inside the room, Tom turned on the light. In spite of her face being red and puffy from crying, all three thought she never looked better. Their relief at seeing their friend back made them silent while they tried to work through their emotions. Finally, Trent said, “Hey Daria. How are you feeling?”


Taking a deep breath, she sighed, “I’m doing okay. Just tired.”


Looking at each other. They realized she wasn’t going to retreat into her shell again. Quietly they nodded at each other. Turning to look at her, Jane said, “Well you need your rest. We’ll come back later. When you’re feeling better.”


Lying back down, she said, “Okay. Would you mind turning off the light again?”


“Of course not.” Tom said. As he pulled the door shut, he reached over and flipped the switch.


The next morning Quinn went to school alone. Going to see Ms. Manson, Quinn told her about the events of the previous evening. After assuring Quinn that Daria’s outburst was a sign she was on the way to acceptance, She suggested it might be a good idea if Quinn could convince Daria to see her a few times. She said she felt she could help Daria come to terms with what had happened if Daria would let her.


Saying she would see what she could do, Quinn thanked Ms. Manson for helping her and left to go to homeroom.


Not wanting to leave Daria alone, Jake stayed home most of the day. There was plenty of paperwork to handle and he could take care of much of his other business over the phone. Plus he wanted to be there if his oldest daughter needed him. About mid-morning, a dressed Daria came downstairs and sat next to him on the sofa. Putting the folder down, he looked at her and smiled.


“Hey Kiddo. How are you feeling?”


Taking off her glasses, Daria rubbed the bridge of her nose.


“Better. I’ve at least stopped crying… for now anyway.”


Reaching over, he wrapped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer. Normally she avoided contact but for once it felt very comforting. Leaning closer, she wrapped her arms around him and hugged back.


“It’s okay to cry Daria.” Pausing for a moment, he continued. “I was worried you never would cry. I’m just glad to have you back.”


Separating, she looked at him. “Yea. I’m sorry about that. I don’t know what happened.”


Smiling again, he said, “It’s no problem. You reacted in they way you felt was right. We were concerned but now that you’ve returned to us it’s a thing of the past.”


“But I wasn’t here when you needed me.” Daria said. “I don’t even remember the funeral.”


“Well you were there. You can rest assured you got to say goodbye.”


Leaning over, she hugged her dad again.


The next day, Daria and Jane were sitting at the lunch table. Jane noted that while Daria was communicating more, she still wasn’t talking as much as she used too. Trying to hold up the conversation, she asked, “You really don’t remember anything?”


Shaking her head, Daria said, “That last thing I remember is going to my room and putting the shoe...” Deciding that was something she didn’t want to share she stopped for a second. “After that my next recollection is hugging Quinn. I think that’ll stick with me. I’ve never hugged Quinn. Not even for revenge.”


Chuckling, Jane said, “I guess that would be traumatic. Of course she’s changed a good bit over the past few weeks.”


Taking a sip of her drink, Daria put the glass down. “So I’ve heard. I can’t believe things changed so rapidly.”


“Well they did.” Jane said. “After school wanna grab some pizza? My treat and I’ll catch you up on recent events.”


Daria said, “Sure. Sounds great.”


That Friday evening, Daria and Tom sat in the swing on the back porch. Sitting there holding hands, Daria said, “I just want to thank you for sticking with me through this. I know it couldn’t have been easy.”


“It had its tough moments.” Tom said. “I was mainly concerned with what you were feeling. I knew you were going to return eventually and I wanted to be sure you knew I was still here for you.”


Giving him a smile, she said, “Well I appreciate it.”


Leaning forward, she gave him a kiss.


Saturday morning, Daria, Jake, and Quinn were sitting at the table. After finishing off her plate, Daria turned to her sister.


“I have to admit I’m impressed. That was really good. Where did you learn to cook?”


Looking back at Daria, Quinn smiled and said, “Well you might not take home economics. But I’ve been taking classes for two years.”


Nodding. Daria said. “Oh.” Looking at the clock, Daria continued. “I want to get going. I’ll be back soon.”


As Daria stood up and got the keys, Jake asked, “Are you sure you want to do this alone? I’d be happy to go with you.”


Shaking her head, Daria said, “Not this time Dad. I need to do this by myself.” Going out the door, she said, “I’ll be back soon.”


Stopping the SUV. Daria got out and walked the short distance to the grave. Kneeling down on the dewy grass she looked at the headstone. Reaching over she brushed some dirt off the base. After a second she finally spoke.


“Hi Mom. Sorry I haven’t been by until now…”


The End


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