I advise the reader NOT to skip directly to the end of this one. Give it a chance, and follow it through to the end. The VERY end. You might be surprised.

(This is a work of fanfiction, created for the pleasure of the author. Characters from "Daria" are the sole property of "Viacom" which owns MTV.)

 

"The Last Word"

by

Admonisher

 

*ring* ... *ring* ..

Hello.

Um ... hello. Aunt Amy?

Hi! My favorite niece! This is my favorite niece, right?

Um ...

Relax! Of course you're my favorite niece! Just my little way of throwing people off guard.

It works.

I know. So what can I do for you?

Well ... I just needed to talk to someone. I mean ... is it okay to call you?

Anytime. I take it you've already tried talking to your parents?

They haven't been helpful, exactly. You know how parents are. Mom had the nerve to compare me to my sister, of all people. After what *she* did tonight. Dad just doesn't have a clue. But I needed to talk to someone. I wouldn't even talk to my closest friend right now, though. So I thought I'd call you. I hope I'm not bothering you.

Never. What's on your mind.

I'm ... confused. I don't like to admit it, but I am. About a guy, of all things.

Oh, one of those problems. Is he cute?

Aunt Amy ...

Okay, okay, just kidding. I'm all ears.

I'm not really sure where to start.

Start at the beginning.

That would take a while. I'll just start with the date.

Fine.

It was with my friend's older brother. He shall remain nameless. Anyway, it's not really important. So it was a date. We went out for dinner. At "Chez Pierre".

Sounds expensive.

It is. But, I mean, you don't exactly go to "Burger World" on a first date, do you?

The neon lighting and the smell of boiling fat don't help the mood. Or the idiots that work there.

Exactly. Anyway, we went to "Chez Pierre". Things were going great. Until my sister showed up with a bunch of people from the High School. I don't know why. They were celebrating something or other. Some of her friends were there. God knows why this had to happen the exact same night I was there. She probably did it on purpose.

Maybe it was just an unlucky coincidence?

Maybe.

So what did she do?

She humiliated me. She made some loud comment about my social life as they passed our table. Everybody heard it. My date heard it. He pretended not to, but I know he did. Everybody laughed. I guess she got the attention she wanted. Like she needs attention.

Your sister said something stupid about you in front of friends. I know how that feels. I grew up with your mother, remember? Doesn't sound like that was enough to wreck your date.

You don't understand. This wasn't "just a date". I cared about this date. More than she knows. Or thinks she knows. I hate her. It gets worse, too. I was so embarrassed I had to excuse myself.

What else did she do?

I ran into her at the bathroom. She made some stupid comment and I got mad at her. I asked her why she did it. All she could do was get angry at me and tell me I'd never know what a real relationship meant. So I left.

You left the bathroom?

I left the restaurant.

With your date just sitting there?

I couldn't go back to my date.

Why?

Because ... because she might be right.

About what?

About ... well, relationships. She seems so confident she knows exactly what she's talking about. What if I've been fooling myself? What if I don't know what I'm thinking or feeling, or even saying.

None of us do.

That doesn't make it any easier.

No it doesn't. Let me tell you about siblings.

You're not going to compare us, are you? That could get ugly. Mom tried.

Let's speak in hypotheticals. Bear with me, okay? We'll talk about two other sisters.

...

You called me, remember?

Okay, okay.

Don't worry. I'm not going to say anything stupid or embarrassing like your mom would. Deal?

Deal.

Alright. The mythical sisters, then. One of them is popular. One of them is a brain. Are you following me?

I'm following you.

Let's look at things from the popular girl's perspective. She has date after date, relationship after relationship. It comes easy to her. But the brain is different. She doesn't want to be popular. So if she gets interested in a relationship it's usually for different reasons, right? Do you think the popular girl understands this? She knows her relationships are shallow ... usually, anyway. But to her they're important. Does she know why her brainy sister does the things she does?

I guess ... no, probably not.

But the brain sees her popular sister. And she sees confidence. Confidence in a field where she has a lot of self-doubt. Is that possible?

Yeah.

Self-doubt can turn into bitterness and jealousy as well. She sees her confident sister and doubts herself. Isn't it possible that the brain is jealous of her popular sister?

I wouldn't go that far.

But it's possible?

... Yeah. I guess so.

And think. That means that the popular one could be jealous of the brain as well, right?

Oh? How is that?

The brain limits her relationships. On one hand, she has less experience. On the other hand, she only has a relationship if itís really got something special going for it. It's hard not to be jealous of that.

Yeah, but how do I know if my relationship really is special? Or if I'll ever even have one? It's like ... well, I know what I want, and I'm going after it the best way I can! So why the hell am I so confused?

If you're looking for "love" odds are you aren't going to find it. Especially not at your age. One of society's myths is that love happens all at once ... eyes meet, lips meet, romance blossoms, all that nonsense. It happens, sure, but it's unreliable and usually transient. Don't spend so much time worrying about it. The real kind of love, the kind of love you're worrying about, doesn't happen that way. It can take years to develop. It certainly isn't created or destroyed on the first date. What you're thinking of is vegetable love.

What???

Vegetable love. No, I'm not crazy, it's from a poem I read in college. Hang on a second, I'll find it for you ... just a sec ... I have got to organize this bookshelf ... okay, here it is. It's by Andrew Marvell, from "To His Coy Mistress."

"My vegetable love should grow; Vaster than empires, and more slow; For, Lady, you deserve this state; Nor would I love at lower rate."

You get that?

I think so. You're saying that the better kind of ... of love, the kind I'm ... concerned about is something that takes longer than I'm giving it.

It might take your whole life. So it's no use moaning about it. But my point is that vegetable love takes so long because of what it means and represents: a true devotion that will last you your whole life.

But I can't just sit around waiting for it forever!

No, you can't. That's why it's so important not to shrink from the world right now. You have to start building somewhere if you ever expect to reach the top. And don't get so concerned about having a meaningful relationship with every guy you date that you stop having fun. Trust me ... you do not want to build a relationship that way. I had to find that out by trial and error. Well ... and watching my sisters go all to pieces.

I'll keep that in mind.

Good. And go easy on your sister, okay? She's struggling too, whether you know it or not.

I'll try. Thanks, Aunt Amy. And goodnight.

Goodnight, Quinn.

*click*

 

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Qualifications, explanations and miscellaneous apologies.

This is the part where I take advantage of my authorship to insert my personal views on this unusual fanfic. Iíll start with the (hopefully by now) obvious. You were supposed to be fooled into thinking that it was Daria on the phone. See, this fic was intended to make you stop and think. About Daria and Quinn. About Aunt Amy. Agree or disagree, this fic was designed to shake up a few conventions.

CONVENTION #1: Daria always gets Aunt Amyís advice, which makes everything all better. Well why not Quinn? Sheís got problems too! Serious ones!

CONVENTION #2: Quinn is completely shallow. Okay ... I know, this is NOT a popular convention. As most of us have discerned by now, Quinn is not a total loss. She could probably be as smart as Daria if she put her mind to it ... in the same way Daria could be just as popular as Quinn ... if she wanted to. Itís a choice, and itís a choice sheís aware of.

CONVENTION #3: Daria completely despises everything Quinn and vice versa. I say that wherever there are siblings there will be sibling rivalry. Every sibling will posses attributes the other desires, whether they consciously realize this or not. There are no 100% absolutes ... everyone has insecurities. Daria and Quinn should be no exception.

So anyway ... my point is, DOES Quinn ever think about the direction her life is taking relationship-wise? I think itís a given that all Dariaís tormenting canít help but hit the mark eventually. Who would Quinn turn to if she ever experienced self-doubt? Her sister? The probable cause for it? Nah. Helen or Jake? Well, given their previous attempts at family counseling .... So who does that leave? Quinnís friends? Yeah! Like sheíd lay herself wide open to them! And, as we established, she doesnít have a man in her life she actually trusts or cares about. Sheís gone to Jane for help in the past, but that might be hitting to close to her sister in this case. I see Aunt Amy as a logical choice for a sympathetic ear.

Trying to express this in writing, however ... it presented some unusual challenges. Would it force me to compromise the story? You, the objective reader, will have to decide. See, in order for my idea to work I had to tweak a few things. First I had to replace every instance where I would have used "Daria" with "my sister" or "sibling" or just "her". The suspicious reader would start wondering there. Second, I had to bank on the theory that the reader would assume "Daria". I threw in the decoy reference to dating "a friendís older brother" (which Quinn has surely done) to reinforce this.

Thirdly, I had to make sure that every line of Quinnís was something she could conceivably say, without sounding like something Daria wouldnít say. I tried to do this without sacrificing any of her character. Consequently, not everything Quinn says is in her usual thoughtless tone. Hope that didnít ruin it for anybody.

I was originally going to title this story "Vegetable Love", from the poem, but decided to reserve that title for a later story Iím working on (so hands off!) The new title refers to how a single thing in the present can affect oneís entire perception of the past.

Feel free to e-mail me at *DELETED* if you have any thoughts on the subject, or this fic.

Oh ... wait! You were expecting apologies at the end of this segment, werenít you? Um ... okay. Iím sorry this segment didnít live up to your expectations ;-)

10/6/99