a Daria ficlet

by wyvern337

"Hey, Dad!...Dad?" called Daria.

"Mom?", a little more doubtfully.

"Quinn?" well no, probably not. Daria was pretty sure her younger sister was at a Fashion Club meeting at one of the other members' houses, though she wasn't quite sure which one. Not that Quinn would be of much help with what she needed, anyway.

One last try. "Anybody home?"

When Daria had arrived home, she'd noticed her mother's red SUV was missing from the driveway. Jake's Lexus was still there, but it now seemed obvious he and Helen had gone somewhere together.

"Ah, crap," said Daria, staring bleakly at the calendar. They'd all forgotten except her. Not that she could entirely blame them. This had been going on for so long now that it must have become background noise to the rest of her family. And now that very fact had just assured that it would continue to go on for...well, who knew how much longer? She trudged wearily up the stairs to her room, shrugged out of her backpack and tossed it into a corner, then herself onto the bed, lying on her back, her head hanging off the edge, arms spread wide.

As she stared at a loose button in the padding of the opposite wall, Daria found herself slowly becoming first irritated, then angry. Dammit all, maybe she should blame them! Both her parents, hell even Quinn had known about this afternoon weeks in advance...and it wasn't as if it didn't affect them too! And they'd forgotten! They'd forgotten. The part that made Daria seethe, though, was the realization of how helpless she was to solve this on her own.

After a little while, Daria got up off her bed and began pacing the room, frequently looking at the clock, getting more agitated every time she did.

And I made sure I got home in plenty of time, she thought bitterly, just so I'd have that much longer to torture myself as I watched the appointed hour come and go.

And then another thought hit her...Jane! Daria had picked up the cordless phone and started to dial when she remembered her best friend was still at school, helping Ms. Defoe inventory art supplies. In fact, Daria had left her there to go home, to keep this appointment...Jane would be home later this afternoon, of course, but there was no way of telling exactly when, and there was already only about a half-hour left before she needed to be there.

Then, suddenly, another thought spun off on a tangent from the first: Jane. What would Jane do if something like this was happening to her?

Moments later, Daria was rummaging through the drawer where she knew the spare keys to the Lexus were. When she had them, she walked out to the driveway, unlocked and opened the driver's side door, slid into the driver's seat, clicked the seatbelt on, closed the door, squeezed the steering wheel hard in a futile attempt to stop her hands from shaking, took a deep breath, reached down and turned the key in the ignition.

She accelerated unsteadily down the street, trying to pay attention to where the needle was on the speedometer, suddenly realizing she was paying too little attention to the road and looking back up, remembering she hadn't checked the rear view mirror in...how many seconds?..and glancing up at it (damn -- forgot to adjust it before I started) her hand crept up towards the mirror, then jerked away as she caught a blurry flash of movement out of the corner of her eye and her head whipped around as she tried to catch what it was.

You'd better keep looking around, Daria...remember what almost happened with that dog?

Daria became so absorbed in checking the periphery of her field of view and the (imperfectly adjusted) rear view mirror that she almost missed the stop sign, and had to stomp hard on the brakes to get stopped in time.

"Gaaah!" cried Daria as the Lexus screeched to a halt. She checked the mirror. No cars behind her. Good. She sat there for several seconds, breathing deeply, trying to will herself calm.

Finally, Daria looked both ways, saw that there was no other traffic at the intersection, suddenly remembered to flip the turn indicator on and started to turn right...oversteering and swerving into the wrong lane as she did.

And so it went. Finally, Daria was just around the block from where she needed to be. She pulled over to the curb and stopped. Put the car into park and tried to collect her thoughts. This was hopeless. There was no way she was going to pull this off. She should just turn around and go home. Maybe if she was lucky no one would ever notice or figure out that even this much had happened. There'd be other days...eventually...maybe....

Daria put the Lexus in gear, checked over her shoulder, prepared to make a U-turn and head for home

Like Jane would do?

Daria clenched her teeth, pulled away from the curb and turned the final corner to her destination -- not even noticing that she did so flawlessly.

The thin, balding, bespectacled man looked up from his clipboard. His four-thirty should be here by...ah, that must be her now. Again. As he approached the car, he noticed something unusual...there was only one occupant in the vehicle this time. He bent down and looked questioningly in the window.

Daria felt herself edging towards panic.

Girl, you are just not cut out for this.

Frustrated, desperate, she'd tried being reckless and impulsive...and had only succeeded in painting herself into a monumental corner. She didn't even want to think about how much trouble she was in. Daria's face reddened. She opened her mouth to say something -- anything -- but no sound came out. She gulped, started to try again...

"We've, uh, gotta stop meeting like this?" she offered weakly.

The man heaved a deep, exhausted-sounding sigh.

"Look, I'll tell you what," he said, "if you can parallel-park this time, I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary when you arrived here."




Disclaimers: Daria is owned my MTV/Viacom, I just borrow her for a little while now and then, for strictly non-profit purposes. As for what Daria did in this story, the obligatory "kids, don't try this at home" applies; what Daria did is illegal in Real Life(tm).

Acknowledgments: Thanks to Rich at the PPMB for starting the thread that led to this, and to D.T. Dey for giving me the idea to expand my post there into a ficlet.