Synopsis: Daria discusses sexuality with jane. Set after Is It College Yet?
Strange how a cheap mattress could provide such a sense of comfort. Staring up at the cracked olive green ceiling, Daria half-heartedly wondered why it had been painted. It seemed strange, but staring up at those small lines while listening to the faint scratching sound of acrylic and bristle and canvas meeting was placating. It almost made her feel tired, tracing those fingernail lines on the ceiling to the noises Jane's brush made.
"Going to tell me what's been bothering you?" Jane asked suddenly. Daria turned her head. Jane's arms were plastered in an array of blue and green acrylics. Still painting, Jane had not even bothered to turn her head to see if she got a reaction. Daria almost smiled. They knew each other too well by now, it seemed. Daria had not mentioned anything for the couple weeks she had been contemplating this, and it did not disturb her enough to cause any recognizable signs of depression. But Jane had known something was wrong, and Daria was confidant that Jane knew that she was depressed as long as she herself had.
It was amusing how much she appreciated this setting. So many days head been spent exactly like this one. Daria lying on the bed, Jane standing at her easel, both of them pulling solace from each other's existence, and meditating in the silence. She felt protected. None of the daily social transgressions against her at school or home mattered, as long as they both stayed behind the protective shell of these walls. There were no windows in Jane's room. Daria easily recalled the days and night that they had spent almost thirty hours under this cracked olive roof. Sometimes talking, sometimes sleeping, sometimes simply existing. By the end of that period, it had seemed that there was no reality outside of these walls, humanity just a work of fiction. And strangely, that had been comforting as well.
Daria gave a sigh as she sat up. Jane was more of a friend than she could put into words. The love and hate that had passed between them throughout the years had lacerated any psychological defenses that may have stood between them, leaving both naked before the other. All the shit with Tom had finalized that. She remembered the strain between them at the beginning of that summer. Merely thinking about Jane had almost made her want to gag with self-loathing. Any comfort or interest she had in Tom was burned like an insect against a sun when compared to the regret she felt for hurting Jane. And the fear that she would lose Jane.
But the feeling between them now was amazing. The anger that had welled up between them like a cancer, was suddenly eaten alive by their friendship. Daria was not artistic. She had a hard time picturing visuals, instead embracing concepts and speech. But she could clearly imagine some kind of cord stretched between herself and Jane, connecting them. Almost humming from the intensity. Daria severely doubted that she would ever meet another someone who she would care for as much as she did Jane. Which meant that despite her awkwardness, she might as well talk to her now. If she could sense Daria was unhappy through nothing but the atmosphere, she was going to find this out eventually. Still, it was a shame. Talking meant waking her brain, and that would lead to losing the illusion she held of sanctuary.
"I've been thinking." Daria started tentatively. Jane looked over at her, quirking her left eyebrow with a slight smile on her face. "Really? You never struck me as the thinking type." A slight tremor of her lips, and Daria came as close to smiling as she could. Jane began wiping her arms with a filthy rag, stained so deep with paint that it almost seemed brittle. "Still upset about breaking up with Tom?" Jane continued, finally sitting down beside Daria. So, not only was it obvious that she was unhappy, but Jane had immediately leapt on the subject of relationships. Not family, or worrying about college. Daria wondered if it had been a good guess, a biased assumption, or if this mental connection she had toyed with might exist. "Not really. In fact, not at all. Tom and I just weren't right for each other. But I've been thinking about relationships, and that's been worrying me."
Jane closed her eyes, and gave an over exasperated sigh. It was very theatrical. "Okay Daria. See, when a man and a woman love each other very much-" "Funny." Daria said dryly. Jane made eye contact with her, and sat looking at her for a moment before her face settled to a more thoughtful expression. "Alright, I'll be serious now. What's bothering you?" What a bizarre exchange that had been, Daria thought to herself. Jane makes a joke, which signified that she was trying to take a light hearted approach at whatever Daria's problem may be, and likely thought that a confidence boost was what Daria was looking for. Lack of an appropriate comeback by Daria sent the message to Jane that this was a serious issue to her, not a quick gloss over topic. And both of them had read between the lines.
Daria grimaced. Why did they play this game? People had good reason for thinking they were both callous. Sending their feelings to each other like heavily encoded military files was pointless. But Daria could not make herself sound like she cared. Eighteen years of emotional repression was impossible to undo, and she was not sure if she even wanted to. She gave an exasperated sigh. As long as she did care, then it was all right. And people she knew closely understood, she hoped. Slowly, Daria looked down at her boots, while resting her elbows on her knees. After a final pause of silence, she spoke up.
"I was never really comfortable kissing Tom." She said finally. Jane directed a confused look towards her. Obviously, she caught the importance. But it would be impossible for her to understand the meaning. True to form, Jane gave her a prodding retort. "Care to elaborate?"
"It isn't that I find him ugly, or him being a bad kisser or anything like that. I didn't even know what it was until I got to thinking about why I broke up with him. I never felt I really loved him. He was nice, but there was no deeper connection. I can't bring myself to feel sexually attracted to someone I don't feel mentally stimulated by." Jane made a clicking sound with her tongue. "I'm sure the intelligence bar will be higher at Raft than it was at Lawndale High." Daria nodded reluctantly, but not at the comment. Un-coded, Jane had said 'Smart people exist. Why is this a big deal?' Both of them knew that this was just a set up for the problem. Daria was stalling.
Shrugging, Daria tried to roll under this comment and continue along with what she had been saying. "You don't understand. You've kissed a few different guys, and it was normal. Nothing wrong with it. But I have never been able to find boys even the slightest bit attractive." Jane stood up in a shocked manner. "Daria! Are you coming out of the closet, so to speak?"
"No. I've never really found girls attractive either." Daria looked up to where Jane stood. Both seemed at a loss for what to do, and neither noticed that they remained in this honest gaze until the muffled noise of a guitar being tuned snapped reality back into place a few minutes later.
"Um. Do you want to go get some pizza?" Daria asked, and winced internally as she did. Jane would easily identify such an obvious attempt to avoid any hazardous areas and retreat behind her mental walls. Jane gave her a look that seemed to know what Daria was in the process of thinking, and sat back down. "I think I'd rather finish this conversation before going out." Daria sighed.
"Think about anyone who is supposed to be attractive. I'll use Kevin and Brittany as an example." Jane shuddered. "If that's attractive, I'm drinking my paint thinner and ending the madness."
"Technically, they are attractive. Kevin is a muscled football player, and Brittany has very large.. Assets. But because of their mentalities, I find them to be a couple of the most physically unattractive people in Lawndale. I would wear gloves to avoid touching either of them."
"I'm not quite following. Why does this upset you?" Daria looked away. She tried to see what Jane had been painting, but Her easel was angled away from her. Daria realized she could still smell the paints drying. She suddenly felt very uneasy, wondering what had compelled her to engage in this conversation. It was emblazed in her brain that talking to Jane was what she should do, but there was always a flood of screaming voices telling her to turn back whenever the possibility of ruin lay ahead. This is how she felt when she told Jane she had kissed Tom, only with less guilt. She couldn't control Jane's reaction to what she had to say.
A flood of invalid urges crashed through her mind in an instant. What if she punched Jane in the face and ran home? What if she kissed Jane? What if she just stood up and screamed gibberish? An abstract part of her mind was singing that anything would be better than these boring conversations that led to emotional unraveling. But Daria was used to this. Nothing wrong with thinking about pushing someone off a building if you knew how to differentiate that thought from the real ones.
"..Daria?" Jane said, with a touch of anxiety on her voice. Daria snapped to attention, realizing that she had been staring at the floor for an awkward amount of time. "Sorry." She mumbled. "I just got distracted." Jane's posture indicated that she was worried. Daria found it amusing that she could sense Jane's emotions by seeing how she sat out of the corner of her eye. "Going to answer my question?" Jane asked quietly.
"Think about it." Daria bluntly replied. "If I find terminal idiots to be as ugly as they are stupid, then the alternative must be opposite. Vice versa, to balance out." She was trying hard to lead Jane into drawing her own conclusion without actually saying anything, but Jane was smart enough to play the fool with a confused look. Or maybe Daria was talking vague circles in order to dance around saying what she should. Probably the latter, She admitted. Yes, that was pretty much a repetition of what she had first said, only worded much more confusing. She was trying to misdirect Jane off the topic. Confusing her worked, but steering her away did not. "Could you maybe run that by me in layman's terms, professor?" Jane quipped.
Daria sighed. "What I'm saying is that following this line of reasoning, I'd find someone intelligent who I could relate to.. To me, that would be attractive. In a sexual way, following on the heel's of finding them interesting in a mental way." Daria looked at Jane, slightly tilting up her head, from being shorter. "So, what are you saying?" Jane asked, in a failed attempt to pretend that she didn't understand.
Daria grimaced. She didn't like the fact that this was being slowly dragged out of her. It reminded her of the medieval torture device that slowly pulled the intestine out of a living person. She took as long as possible to gather herself before continuing, and a brief idea for a short story based on death row flitted across her brain. "Well." Daria said, hesitating. "I feel closer to you than anyone else I have ever known, Jane. I can't even think of a better way to describe it than that, and I'm supposed to be a writer."
Jane's head jerked up in momentary surprise, but quickly settled back. She had to have been expecting Daria to say something along those lines, after all. She wondered how long ago Jane had actually caught on, and how much of this conversation had been useless. Yes, neither of them was well equipped for saying how they felt.
"So, you're saying.. jeez, Daria. First my brother, then my boyfriend, and now me?" Although she said this jokingly, Jane's eyes had a look of fear, and her voice faltered weakly. Daria knew how she felt, but honestly felt much better than she had expected. Jane had not cut the umbilical cord between them, told her to leave in an un-accepting tone. Jane wanted to hold onto their friendship as much as she did, and that made Daria believe things could end all right.
"I didn't say I wanted to go out with you." Daria said flatly. This surprised Jane into jerking her head again. Daria continued before what she had said could be taken as some sort of offensive statement. "I admit that I find you to be the only attractive person I know in Lawndale. But finding someone attractive doesn't mean you have to go out with him or her. I don't want to throw a wrench in our friendship, Jane. Even if there was some chance of you feeling any sort of interest in me, I'm hesitant to say that I would want to try. Our relationship right now is.. perfect. I'm completely happy with how things are now. I just thought I needed to tell you this, and it's been bothering me."
Jane stared into Daria's eyes pitifully. Finally, she choked out some words. "I don't know how to respond to this. I feel awkward. But I'm glad that this won't change our friendship." The way she ended seemed to make what she said sound like more of a hopeful question. "It won't." Daria agreed.
Both of them sat quietly on the bed, next to each other. Neither of them had anything to say. They simply stayed where they were, and listened to the cracks on the ceiling. Slowly, the tranquility of the room returned.
Disclaimer: Daria belongs toMTV.
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