I am constantly told that I am so much like Daria. I don't have the trendy sister or the same outfit day in and day out, but I do have the parents who worry about my attitude and the cynical edge to everything I do, as well as the brown hair, glasses, and unwillingness to lower myself to the level of most of my peers. So I asked myself one day … what would happen if I woke up one morning and found that I actually WAS Daria?

I AM (not) DARIA
By Canadibrit

Monday Night

Ah, television; the constant joy of sitting in front of the tube and not interacting with any human being in any way. Instead of the torture of my parents constantly telling me to be cheery, I arranged myself on the sofa so that I could spend all evening watching my back-episodes of Daria on the VCR. Halfway through watching The Invitation for the seventeenth time, my mother walked in and scowled at me. "Are you watching that again?"


"I'd say that show was a bad influence, but you were a smart-alec long before it came out, so I don't know who to blame. Did I teach you to behave like this?"

"No. The world did. It is a cynical, dog-eat-dog place full of idiots who aren't worth my time, and I adjusted my personality in order to keep myself sane."

"Why aren't you at one of your friends' houses?"

"What, you mean friends, plural?"

My mother sighed. I don't know why she tries anymore, but if she insists on making futile attempts to drag me bodily out of my shell, she deserves all she gets. "Then why aren't you at Leanne's?"

"She has a life other than me. She's baby-sitting."

"Then do your homework!"

"It's done. Unlike the Neanderthals that I attend classes with, I work in study hall."

My mother sighed; another battle won. "All right, I give up. Just don't stay up too late; you have school tomorrow." She stalked out without a backward glance.

Finally, blissful solitude. I pulled my notebook out from under the sofa and did a little writing while watching my back episodes of Daria.

Everyone thinks that I'm a lot like Daria. I have the brown hair, the glasses, the interest in writing and the cynicism. Some people think I'm putting it on to be cool, but those who really know me know that it's just how I am and I've been like this since before even Beavis and Butt-Head, never mind the Daria spin-off. I could care less if anyone likes me or not. In fact, judging by the morons I go to school with, I'd much prefer to be uncool.

The one saving grace in my life is Leanne. She is the Jane-character in my life, and she kind of enjoys it. She's an artist, just like Jane. No cute narcoleptic band-leading brother, though, and that's a pity. I wouldn't mind a little more unrequited love in my life.

I fell asleep to the sound of Daria debating whether to get her navel pierced, thinking of my life as a Daria-like.

Tuesday Morning

I woke up in bed, but didn't think anything of it. After all, I often fall asleep in front of the television and get back to my room half-asleep at about three in the morning.

What I did think something of was the way my room looked when I grabbed my glasses off the bedside table. I never much liked the dιcor of my room, and thought it must have been decorated by a colour-blind schizophrenic, but I would have remembered the padded walls.

I got up and went to my closet, wondering what the hell was happening here. Had I done something so mad in my sleep that they were locking me up? No, that couldn't be right – no asylum room was furnished like this … or at all. But I had a suspicion…

My closet had five items of clothing in it: a green jacket, a black pleated skirt, a pair of blue jeans, a yellowish T-shirt, and a black T-shirt. Daria-wear.

Oh, my God.

I found a mirror on the door of the closet. There I was; glasses with thick, round black frames instead of my bright purple wire ones, brown hair to my shoulders but with the fringe I grew out years ago, a plain T-shirt as a nightgown. My eyes were brown rather than blue. This was the face of Daria Morgendorffer as it might have looked if it weren't animated.

I was Daria!

* * *

I pinched myself black and blue to make sure it was no dream. Then, shocked into resignation when all I got for my efforts were bruises, I got dressed in Daria's traditional outfit and headed for the outside world that I had only seen via MTV. I grabbed a rucksack and went down to breakfast, wondering how I was going to cope with this.

"Oh, Daria!"

I knew that voice; I had heard it often enough coming out of the speakers of my television. I saw a slim, pretty girl maybe a year younger than me sitting at the table I knew so well from my TV – Quinn.

She carried on as if she didn't see the shock on my face. She probably didn't, Quinn being the self-possessed type that would make Narcissus look oblivious about himself. "Look, I need you to read this stupid book for me, maybe make a few notes about what the stupid main character's supposed to be doing … if you want to write the paper too, that's fine, but try to sound a bit more like me than you or they'll think I cheated. It's due Monday, so you can do it over the weekend … like you have anything better to do."

"And we wouldn't want that, now would we?" I looked at the book – The Scarlet Letter. "I don't like this one," I told her. "So sorry, but no way."

"But Daria, you have to! I am booked solid all week – and most of the dates are with upperclassmen! I can't read some stupid book! You like reading, and you have no life! You have to do this for me!"

I raised an eyebrow. "Flattery will get you nowhere, sunshine. You should read this, you know; prepare for you future as the one wearing the big red A. And anyway, I have plans for the weekend myself."

"You? That's a laugh," Quinn mocked. "Who with? That other grubby friend of yours?"

"Maybe. I could be robbing a bank and then crossing the border to Mexico to escape the law. I could be stealing your senior away from you. You never know. When they put me in the psycho's room, I could have developed homicidal tendencies and am planning the murder of the family, Quinn. I'd lock my door if I were you."


Oh, God, it was Helen … and did she ever look like my mother. On the other hand, my mother had the sense not to wear that shade of pink.

"Mom, she won't help me with my paper!" Oh hell, I let Quinn get the first licks.

"In that I won't read the book, do the research and essentially write the paper for her, true enough."

"Quinn, do your own homework," said Helen. "But Daria, you could give a little more help to your sister when it comes to her academics. You know how she struggles."

"Mom!" I never knew that the word 'mom' could have four syllables. "I just have different priorities than Daria, that's all. I think that good looks and popularity should come first, and Daria … Daria just doesn't care!"

"I'm spending the weekend at Jane's, anyway, Mom. You know, the same way I do every weekend." I could say this with authority. It was ritual by now for Daria to spend the weekend at Jane's and have "Bad Movie Nights". It was written in "The Daria Diaries", so I ought to know. "In fact," I added in true Daria style, "I might cut out the daily trip home to collect my stuff and just move in full time."

"Daria, don't joke. And of course I remember, I'm just so busy right now. I'll be home late anyway, girls, but your father will be home early. Try to be nice to him; he's been so down since he lost that client."

"Isn't that your job, Mom?"

Helen gives a glare nearly as good as my mother's; I was favoured to it just before she turned on her heel and left. Quinn left soon after, in total disgust.

* * *

Well, that went well, I couldn't help thinking as I walked down the walk of the Morgendorffer house. If I had to be Daria, which seemed to be the case, although God only knew why, then it would probably be better for me if I got on with being Daria. I reasoned that it wouldn't be too much of a problem to keep up the charade, given that I was renowned for being Daria anyway…

Then I had a moment of horrible realisation … I had no idea how to get to Lawndale High School! The show often pictured Daria and Jane walking to and from school together, but they had never exactly given explicit directions. I didn't even know how to get to Jane's to meet her. How the hell was I supposed to get to school? Why didn't I memorise that damned map of Lawndale in my copy of the Daria Diaries? Probably because the junk pile that is taking over my room at home ate it a few weeks after it got delivered – why am I such a slob? I kicked myself mentally while I ambled towards the end of the walk, not sure how to handle this new problem.

I was rescued. I looked up at the sound of a car horn to see a figure with short black hair and a red top leaning out the window of a very beat-up car. "Hey, Daria! We got a ride!" I waved. This must be Jane Lane, and behind the wheel of the car … Trent.

I shivered in anticipation despite myself. Cool, collected Daria had the biggest crush on Trent Lane, so he must be something special when not a cartoon. I walked up to the car, reminding myself not to run and make an idiot of myself. Daria would never run anywhere.

Jane was about what I had expected. The hair was different - no one's hair could be that angular in real life - but her eyes were as blue as mine used to be and the lipstick she wore as her only concession to makeup was as bright as her shirt. "Hey, Daria," she said, then looked at me closely as I got into the back seat of the car beside her. "Hey, you okay?" she asked. "You look kind of stunned."

Oh no. I hadn't realised that Jane was as observant as all that … but I should have known that an artist would be. "Um…" How was I going to get out of this one?

"Hey, Daria. I've had days like that; you wake up not knowing who you are."

You don't know how right you are. Thank God for Trent, that incurable narcoleptic. Who I hadn't really had a good look at yet, I realised as the car started moving. I was supposed to have a crush on this man, after all; I should at least know what I was supposed to be staring at.

Yep, he was as good looking as I assumed he would be. The hair was spiky and tousled, his eyes were dark and soulful, and his body… He was slim and lithe, kind of like the pictures I'd seen of Jim Morrison. Oh, he was gorgeous, and the crush was now understandable, because I had it.

Say something, you idiot! He's talking to you! "Um … hi, Trent." Oh, brilliant. And you think you're a writer? My inner self hadn't had such a laugh at me in years.

"So, you ready for this weekend?"

I turned back to Jane, fully aware that I was blushing. Trying to control myself, I realised that the expectant look on her face demanded more than the usual response. I racked my brain before realising that there was no way I was going to be able to get away without asking, so I said, "What are we doing again? It's been one of those days."

"That bad, huh?"

"Quinn's double-booked herself every day this week – and schoolwork comes second."

Jane's eyebrows went up. "How much did she offer this time?"

"There was no time to talk compensation; Mom turned up."

"Oh, that would explain the rabbit-caught-in-headlights look on your face. But I still don't see how you could have forgotten. Trent's taking us to that all-weekender at Jesse's."

Wait a minute. An all-weekender, as in a party that lasts all weekend? And Trent will be there? Jane, what are you getting me into? I was damned if I'd say that in front of Trent. The inner me was being shrilly hysterical, and Trent could not hear Daria being that uncool. "Are you sure no one minds high-school kids at this thing?" I finally asked, and my voice was normal, thank God.

"Like anyone will know. Anyone but Trent, and he won't tell, will you, Trent?"

Trent grunted from behind the wheel.

I had to ask. "Are you sure he's awake up there?"

"Probably. Anyway, what does it matter? We're here. Stop the car, Trent!" she yelled. If I didn't think that Trent already had tinnitis from the whole Mystik Spiral thing, Jane would have given it to him then.

Trent stopped the car. Lawndale did look like my high school, and that was something. The only problem was, how was I going to find my classes … or rather, Daria's classes?

* * *

It turned out that, along with Daria's picture of the Hindenburg and her multitudinous books, Daria had had a copy of her schedule taped to her locker door. I stayed quiet and let the teachers tell me what answers I needed to have for any other classes I would have with them. Thankfully, because it was a Friday no one seemed too interested in giving pop quizzes, and they seemed to be teaching most of what I was learning in my own school anyway. Even so, I decided to stay quiet, figuring that I didn't want to try my luck as Daria in a classroom setting just yet. Most of the teachers ignored my silence – maybe they were happy enough for the peace and quiet for a change, I don't know – but after my English class, Mr O'Neill asked to see me.

"Daria, are you all right?" he asked me.

Oh, hell. Now what am I supposed to say? "As well as usual, Mr O'Neill."

"It was just that you seemed, well, sort of quiet today."

"Just giving my brain a rest. It starts to ooze out your ears if you overwork it, you know."

Mr O'Neill gave me what he probably thought was a penetrating stare. He looked like a hungry golden retriever. "Daria, sometimes we feel like no one cares. We get lonely, and that makes us sad. We draw into ourselves, and when people do that enough … sometimes they do bad things to themselves."

Oh, boy, we're going to have the 'suicide is not the answer' talk. I've got to get out of this.

"It's not drugs, is it, Daria?"

Oh hell. "I don't have the right personality to be a drug addict, Mr O'Neill. A heroin high might cheer me up too much. I wouldn't take the risk."

Mr O'Neill sighed, and I nearly did too. This meant that our conference was nearly over; I must have convinced him that I was about as normal. "I just want you to know that you can always come to me if you're in some sort of trouble. We could have a rap session."

"That would mean that I would have to wear a baseball cap turned backwards and really baggy jeans … and say things like 'Yo'. And that simply cannot be."

That was the turning point. He smiled a little and said, "Just so you know that my door is always open."

I turned, left, and pointedly shut the door behind me.

Then I had to lean against the wall for a minute, controlling the hysterical laughter that threatened. I had just convinced Daria's mother, sister, best friend, big love interest, and most enthusiastic teacher that I was Daria, and I couldn't blow it by bursting out laughing in the middle of the hallway. I was triumphant; I was Daria!

It probably should have galled me that all my friends were right, but it didn't. I also had no idea how long I was meant to stay in Lawndale living this alternative life, but I didn't care. It would be good not to be compared to some cartoon for a change; there was no longer anyone to compare me to. I was who they were comparing me to. I felt freer than I had in months … maybe years.

Tuesday Lunchtime

"So, what did O'Neill want?"

"Self-esteem meter-reading. He was worried that I didn't say anything in class."

"While everyone else is just sitting back and enjoying the silence. How civic-minded of him."

"Funny girl. I suppose I really should go back to outsmarting the teachers. I might wind up in that Esteemsters class again if I keep giving them a break."

"At least you could pass whenever you felt like it. I still have my notes, you know."

I felt a little calmer about my triumphs now that I knew that some slightly aberrant behaviour could be explained away with such ease. "Yeah," I told her, "and think how much fun it would be to sit through the body image talk again." Jane had been studying me intently all through lunch, and I finally decided to call her on it. "Have I grown horns?"

"Nope; now that would be cool. I was just thinking about what you're going to wear this weekend."

"Clothes, I hope."

Jane gave a smutty smile. "Maybe not all of them, all the time."

"What are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about Trent, you idiot. He insisted I invite you to this thing, so I have a feeling this crush of yours might not be as unrequited as you seem to think it is."

"He probably had you invite me so you wouldn't be the youngest person there. And I never said anything about having a crush on Trent." I am as subtle as a brick. Daria is as subtle as a brick. This is a hopeless conversation and I should shut up right this minute before I say something incriminating. Leanne does this to me all the time.

"Anyway, I didn't mean what you should wear generally; I meant specifics. You can't just wear that."

I looked at the green jacket, black skirt and burnt orange T-shirt that constituted Daria's everyday attire. "Why not? It's what I always wear."

"That's the point. You have to wear something new for a change."

"I'm sure there's a logical reason you're being such a hypocrite, but it escapes me for the moment."

"I wear different clothes."

"You wear a jogging outfit while jogging. You wear that," I pointed out, gesturing to the red shirt, black T-shirt, black shorts, black tights and black boots, "all the rest of the time. When we went to that festival last summer, I wore jeans and a black T-shirt. You wore that." I noted a rubber band on her wrist. "What are you wearing that for?"

"Art project. They make great nooses for action figures, if you tie them right. Anyway, stop changing the subject. This is a party. This is different."

"I haven't got any other clothes." This conversation is more stupid and pointless than the last one. Please shut up and let me eat my God-awful school food.

"Then either you dip into that Montana cabin fund of yours and we go shopping sometime this week, or I'm loaning you some of my stuff. Or Trent's, if it fits. You are not wearing that to the weekender, and that's final, young lady!"

I was expected to find this mother-tone funny, I expect, but I didn't.

Trent's clothes … they'd smell of him…That could have been a great thought if it hadn't been followed by Yeah, great; sweat and whatever he spilled on his shirt since the last washing.

I sighed. There wasn't much to say to that. "If you're going to take that attitude with me, fine. Just don't expect me to enjoy it."

"And you're wrong about Trent. He really likes you."

Stop blushing, you moron!

* * *

It didn't take me very long to find a use for Jane's rubber band. As we went back to our lockers after lunch, I saw a scenario that couldn't have been more perfect if I had written it myself. Brittany was doing her lipstick in a compact mirror, leaning against her locker. Kevin was a few feet away, talking to Mack (Mack, as usual, looked annoyed with Kevin, so I can only assume that the great dumb jock called him 'Mack Daddy' again). Ms Barch was at the other end of the hallway, screaming at a bunch of freshman boys. And Upchuck was chatting to some girl, seconds away from being slapped right into Brittany. I felt the evil grin cross my face as I grabbed Jane's wrist and pulled off the rubber band, aiming it carefully for Brittany's right nipple.

Jane was a little annoyed at my theft of her rubber band, but soon became intrigued when she saw me about to snap it at someone like the pro that I was even if Daria was not. "What are you doing?"

"Watch." I maintained my aim, thinking back to the other times I had done things like this. My aim had always been above average, mostly due to my childhood spent in snowball fights. Leanne had always thought it was the height of humour, especially the day when I caused a fist-fight between the captain of the school's football team and our wrestling team's MVP. I'd hit the wrestler on the butt when the captain of the football team passed by, and I guess he thought what the rest of the school did – that the football captain's dating one of the cheerleaders was just a cover-up for something he'd rather keep in the closet. Now I was going for a similar reaction to that. I don't know why. I think I was just in the mood for a bit of action.

Ms Barch stopped yelling at the freshmen and started down the hall. Kevin finished his conversation with Mack and turned Brittany's way with a stupid smile on his face. Upchuck went a little too far with the girl and got slapped; I could hear his typical comment "Feisty!" even from that distance. And he collided with Brittany.

I released the rubber band, and it hit its target dead on.

Brittany screamed and started whacking Upchuck over the head with her over-cute bunny book bag, convinced that Upchuck had taken advantage of his proximity to her to pinch her nipple. Kevin ran over and, without asking questions (this is Upchuck we're talking about, remember) tackled Upchuck to the floor and started beating the crap out of him. Upchuck could probably be heard screaming for miles.

Then Ms Barch arrived and, as I'd hoped she would, assessed the situation at once. She grabbed one of Upchuck's ears with one hand and one of Kevin's ears in the other, and she dragged both of them to their feet. "All right, you filthy men," she snapped. "Which one of you beer-swilling pigs decided that it was appropriate to harass this girl?"

"It was Upchuck!" Brittany squealed in the shrillest tones I could have imagined, clutching her breast protectively as if it were a small child. "Upchuck rammed into me, and then he … ooh!" She wouldn't go on.

Upchuck started to plead his case. "But Ms Barch, I…"

"Shut your lying, infested mouth, Charles! It's time you learned that women are not mere objects, made simply for satisfying your lusts before you go home to your long-suffering wife who's been your slave for the best years of her life! And you, Kevin," she hissed, digging her nails into his earlobe so it bled. "Do you think it's appropriate to treat a woman, human in her own right, as an object to possess like a toy car, who you can keep from ever having a life of her own until you decide to trade the poor, hard-working fool in for a younger model in a leather miniskirt and stiletto heels?"

"But Ms Barch, I…" Kevin began.

"Shut it! Both of you are going to detention right … now!" Kevin and Upchuck were marched away, while Brittany simpered for a moment before scuttling off to the comforting arms of her fellow cheerleaders … or whatever. In all the commotion, no one had noticed the inconspicuous dirty rubber band lying on the floor in front of Brittany's locker … lucky for me.

I turned to Jane uncertainly, not sure how she would take this. As far as I was able to tell, Daria was not known for her aim … although I'm sure she must have had some, being into video games at times. But causing that kind of havoc was not really Daria's style, and that rash act of mine might have blown my cover.

Jane, however, was doubled over to clutch her stomach, laughing herself sick. "Oh, God, Daria," she said when she could finally talk again, "that was great! Next time tell me if you're planning something like that; I'll bring my camera! The look on Brittany's face was so priceless! I could paint for weeks and not capture all of that! I didn't think your aim was that good!"

I blew on my index finger as if it were a gun. "Fastest rubber band in the West," I deadpanned, then gave a Mona Lisa smile. This doubled Jane up all over again and she laughed until she cried.

Tuesday After School

"Sooo…" said Jane, turning from her painting to look at me.

Oh, hell, what now? "So what?" I asked.

"So what brought on that spontaneous burst of delinquency, Annie Oakley?"

"Excuse me?"

"Oh, who cares. What I really want to know is, what's next, you twisted little cruller?"

"Excuse me?"

Jane stepped back from her painting – a surprisingly realistic rendition of the mayhem that I had instigated with my little rubber band. "So you're the sort of person who shoots rubber bands at people's intimate bits on a whim; you learn something new every day. I think that's really cool. But you can't tell me that you're going to stop at that!"

I shrugged, staring at my book. "It wouldn't be hard, considering that doing so would mostly involve words of less than two syllables. Kevin might not be able to manage it very well, but…"

"Come on, Daria! You've instigated an attack on more or less innocent people just because you felt like it. It's not right to just stop before you cause mischief to those who really deserve it."

"By making an isolated attack on people who only irritate me by being alive, I am making some sort of statement?"

"Pretty much."

"And therefore, by leaving those that truly deserve to suffer unpunished, I am doing a disservice to myself and to all those whose lives have been made hell by the wicked."

"That about covers it."

I thought about it. I had a few ideas on the back burner, ideas that I had always said I'd love to implement if placed into Daria's shit-kicker boots. For instance, I always thought that it would be great to get Sandi and Quinn tearing each other's bouncy hair out by the roots over the bitchy things they say about each other to empty receptacles like Tiffany. More importantly, I'd like to see how Ms Li would take being busted for misappropriation of funds. Now that Jane was actively backing Daria's aberrant behaviour, was there any reason not to? "Well…" I mused, mainly to tease Jane.

"So you do have an idea? Well, don't keep me in suspense!"

"Right. You wanted us to go shopping tomorrow afternoon, didn't you?"


"So, if I spend tomorrow night over here, and I bring a few of the things we'll need for the big plan, do you think Trent would drive us down to the school?"

"So this involves Trent now," Jane leered.

"Not like that, you yenta. We need transportation. Just trust me. Would he drive us?"

Jane thought about it, then nodded, reminding me, "He helped us deface that poster we did, didn't he? I think he likes it when you're evil."

"Jane, take that smirk off your face."

Tuesday Night

This was the hardest thing I'd ever had to do, but it was going to have to be done. I had no wish to interfere with Daria's Montana cabin fund for something so trivial as clothes. So it was going to happen at long last – Daria was going to do a Quinn and borrow her mother's credit card for a shopping spree. The things I do…

I walked up to Helen, who was talking to that Eric person on the phone. "No, Eric, the man is not going to get off on an insanity plea if he goes into court wearing his underwear on his head. No, not his wife's either. Look, call me when he comes up with a credible act, okay?" She hung up, then looked up at me. "Hello, Daria, what can I do for you?"

"You can stop talking to me like one of your clients, for one thing."

Helen glared at me. "Okay, Daria. So how was school?"

"Total hell on earth, so about the same as always. Look, can I ask a favour?"

Helen looked suspicious; I didn't blame her. Daria didn't ask for favours, preferring to blackmail people into what she wanted. Then again, what I was about to ask was sort of emotional blackmail, if you thought about it. "What favour?"

"I need to borrow your credit card."

The look of suspicion intensified, and horror crept in alongside it. "What do you want it for? I don't just lend out my credit card without thinking, you know." She had the grace to lower her eyes after realising that her statement wouldn't bear up to her credit card bills for stupid suede boots and inappropriate short skirts as purchased by Quinn.

At this point I lowered my eyes. Daria would not be able to look anyone in the face if asking this. "I want to go clothes shopping with Jane tomorrow after school." My eyes went straight back to her face, wondering what reaction this would get.

A gleam of hope entered Helen's eyes – 'thank God, my daughter's normal after all' – but she still looked suspicious. "Sorry, Daria, but I can't help wondering if this is some sort of joke."

"No joke, Mom," I said, looking at my boots again. I placed the most shamefaced, disappointed look I could manage on my face before sighing and saying, "I guess I'll understand if you say no. Your credit card bills must be pretty high, what with the amount of clothes Quinn buys…"

That pushed Helen over the edge. The emotional blackmail combined with my shamed expression and my desire to go with my best and only friend convinced her that Daria was serious about wanting new clothes. Her eyes lit up and the suspicious expression vanished as she reached for her handbag. "Don't be silly, and I shouldn't have said that; it's just that you've never expressed an interest… Never mind. Here, use my platinum card and have a wonderful time."

"Would it be okay if I stayed at Jane's tomorrow night?"

Helen was nearly crying with joy at Daria finally acting like a normal teenager. I was nearly ashamed of myself. "Of course! I'm leaving early tomorrow so I probably won't see you, so have a lovely time and don't worry about the expense, just get yourself a few nice things for school and parties and whatever!"

I took the credit card. "Thanks, Mom," I said, treating her to a Mona Lisa smile before walking out.

Wednesday After School

"So she gave you her credit card – her platinum credit card – and told you to go nuts?"

"Basically. Quinn's the one who'll be going nuts if she ever finds out. But it's amazing what a mother's love for a child will get you when backed with a healthy dose of emotional blackmail."

We were on in some shop on Dega Street and Jane, self-appointed fashion consultant, was picking out clothes for me to try on. And, of course, she was intent on getting me into the most attractive clothes that my somewhat substandard figure could accommodate. She shoved me into a dressing room with an armload of clothes, blocking the doorway so I wouldn't run out and avoid trying on some of this stuff.

"It's all red."

"I like red. Anyway, it's not all red."

"Fine. It's all red and black. You dress like a checkerboard, Jane. Why is the hem on this skirt so crooked?"

"It's not crooked. It was made that way. Try it on."

"I'll look like an idiot."

"No more than usual."

"Thank you, Ms Congeniality." I put on the skirt. It was red velvet, edged in black lace. It showed off one of my legs and hid the other one. I felt decidedly strange in it. Daria had never worn anything like it … nor had I, for that matter. "I feel like an idiot. I feel like a fake. I feel like Quinn. Please shoot me now."

"Don't be silly. Quinn wouldn't wear that."

"If Waif said it was in fashion, Quinn would wear a loincloth and paint herself blue."

"Daria, just wear the skirt. And try this with it."

"Is there a point to these sleeves?" I held up an arm. The sleeve, tight from shoulder to elbow, proceeded in a bell shape so that about a foot of material hung down from my wrist.

"They're supposed to look Gothic and interesting."

"I just hope there's not a strong wind. I'd blow away. And I don't think I could handle the 'over-the rainbow' bit. I'd shoot the Munchkins of Munchkin-land and the Wizard would have a house dropped on me."

"It shows off your boobs."

"I don't have any boobs."

"You should have brought your fake ones."

"Upchuck never gave them back."

Jane went very thoughtful at this. "Oh."

I saw the question. "No, I don't know what he's doing with them. He paid me enough to keep my silence."

"Like the Mafia."

"Or the FBI."

"Next outfit."

I looked at the black lace ... thing. "You don't actually expect me to wear that top, do you? I've seen more material in bridal veils."

"Spoilsport. How about the leather skirt?"

"Yes, I want everyone at that stupid party to know that I wear frayed blue panties, Jane."

"Then get some new underwear. Or … I know! How about those leather trousers we saw out there and my good red shirt?"

I thought about it. No flesh was going to be bared, so this couldn't be a totally bad idea. I sighed. "Fine," I muttered, "but I think I have to get a few more things so Mom doesn't have a fit."

"Funny," Jane mused. "Most girls your age would kill to be in your position. Here you are, actually having to spend money on clothes so your mother won't hassle you, and yet you manage to maintain quiet dignity."

"My glee is being kept strait-jacketed and heavily sedated so it is not a danger to itself or to others."

* * *

"We're going to Cashman's? Daria, are you feeling okay?"

I gave a Mona Lisa smile. "Look, I told you I had a couple of ideas for mischief, so you're going to have to trust me."

"Yeah, but Cashman's? That's where your sister and her trendy friends hang out!"

"That's exactly what I'm counting on."

Jane gave me a knowing nod. "Oh, I get it. You're going to flaunt your mother's platinum card and then those snots won't be able to call you Quinn's cousin."

"Or whatever," I amended. "Good thinking, but I have something better in mind. Have a piece of extortion equipment," I offered, handing her one of Helen's old Dictaphones.

"What's this?"

"I'm going to shop … but what I'm really going to do is shadow Sandi and Tiffany. You do the same to Quinn and Stacy. Leave the Dictaphone running and hope they say something incriminating. Meet me at the food court in an hour to compare notes."

"What makes you think they'll say something incriminating?"

There was no way of explaining my certainty without going into detail about how many episodes of Daria I'd seen where Sandi cuts Quinn to Tiffany or Stacy and Quinn does likewise. I wasn't even going to try. "Trust me. Go on."

Jane looked at me, obviously thinking I'd gone insane. Then she pushed 'record' on the Dictaphone and wandered into Cashman's as casually as she was able. I did the same, ever on the lookout for Sandi and Tiffany, the Dire Duo.

* * *

I picked up things basically at random, only looking at the items closely enough to see that they were in my size. I was listening to Sandi and Tiffany talking and God, did I ever hope that the Dictaphone was getting all of what I was hearing.

"So, like, what does Quinn think she's wearing, anyway?" Sandi asked. "I mean, those jeans of hers are practically bell-bottoms, they're so flared. And with the smileys – that is, like, so Seventies."

"I know," said Tiffany. I had to wonder if she had ever had an original thought, and what medication she was taking to prevent such a thing from happening again.

"And this is the girl who thinks she can replace me as President of the Fashion Club," Sandi continued.

Bitch, bitch, bitch, that's all she ever does.

"That is so wrong."

"I mean, her cousin or whatever – that Darla girl – is a brain. That sort of thing has to run in the family."


"That is so true."

"One day," muttered Sandi in tones I'd heard used for contemplating murder, "someone's bound to knock Quinn off her popularity pedestal – how she ever got on one in the first place is beyond me. And then … I think the saying is, 'last hired, first fired'.

"Right," said Tiffany in what I think she thought was an intelligent tone. "You are so smart, Sandi."

"That's why I'm still the President of the Fashion Club."

I let them wander on; I'd got what I wanted. I just hoped that Jane had got something equally good.

* * *

"I mean, she wears that shirt with the horizontal stripe across the bust for a reason, Stacy," came a tinny version of Quinn's voice out of the Dictaphone I had given Jane.


"Stacy, everyone knows that horizontal stripes have a widening effect. And we all know why Sandi might want to widen her bust area, don't we?"

"Gosh, yeah!"

"I mean, it's clever and everything, but I guess what we have to ask ourselves is, do we really want someone in need of such … well, unnatural aids to be leading us into the future of fashion? Not that I think I could do a better job or anything, but…"

"That's a wrap," I told Jane. "This is even better than the pore stuff."

"What are we doing with this again?"

"Can you forge handwriting?" I had a suspicion that she might be able to; Leanne could, mostly due to her skills in the arts.

"Sure. How do you think Trent graduated high school without my mom noticing his D-minus average?"

"Your mother?"

"My point exactly. Mom didn't want to bother signing things – she was entranced with the pottery bunker at the time, like a kid with a new toy."

"Well, then I need three things. The first two are easy." I fished out a copy of the Fashion Club's job descriptions – hand-written by Sandi – and Quinn's hand-written first draft of "Academic Imprisonment", which I'd swiped from Quinn's room the night before. "I need two notes saying 'play me', one in each handwriting. The next one's just a signature. Can you do Ms Li's signature?"

"No problemo," Jane said. "What on?"

"That," I told her, "comes tonight. I'm hoping I won't need to forge anything for that one, but it's nice to be prepared."

"This is great!" Jane looked thrilled. "From nobody to delinquent in three easy lessons, Professor Daria Morgendorffer presiding! So," she went on after a minute, "what'd you buy?"

I looked at the bag, which was filled with the pieces of clothing that I had picked out at random. "I'm afraid to look," I admitted.

Jane grabbed the bag and started going through it. "Whoa! Designer labels ahoy!" I flinched. "This stuff Quinn would kill to own! Daria, you've done your mother's credit card proud."

"I don't think I can bear the humiliation."

"Press-on nails!"

I slammed my head onto the table. "We burn them in effigy tonight."

Wednesday Night

"You did the right thing coming to me."

We were sitting in Trent's battered car, approaching Lawndale High School with all the stealth we could manage. Given the state of Trent's muffler, that wasn't a whole lot. We were both wearing black for fear of the surveillance cameras that Ms Li had running all over the school. "Thanks for driving us, Trent."

"So I'll wait here with the engine running, ready to peel out if we need to make a quick getaway."

Here we go again. I beat Jane to it. "We'll do it like last time, Trent. Park to the side of the school and remember to turn the engine off in case you fall asleep."

"Alternate plan. Cool."

Dιjΰ vu. Nauseating.

* * *

I looked at the window in Mr O'Neill's English class. Unlike most of the other windows in the place, it had no real security measures, just a plain lock. Either Mr O'Neill had put his foot down (Yeah, right…) or Ms Li realised that the last thing most thieves have on their minds are tissues and a few forlorn-looking copies of The Tempest. I pulled out Helen's platinum card. It looked sturdy enough, and I thought I stood a fair chance at being able to pick the window lock with it.

Jane was amazed. "You're not actually going to try that, are you? What happens if Ms Li has silent alarms on this place?"

I shrugged. "Like anyone would realise that it was us. Being unpopular as hell is the perfect cover." I started on the window as I explained. "When a guy thinks about dates for Prom, does he think 'Daria and Jane'? When a girl thinks about slumber parties, does she think 'Daria and Jane'?" I got a bit of leverage and started wiggling the lock upwards. "No. They think any other names but ours. Therefore, if the school gets broken into and there's talk of naming suspects, are they going to think 'Daria and Jane'?"

Jane got the idea just as I got the lock. "Oh, right! Cool!"

Then we were in.

* * *

Once we were back in Trent's car and accelerating safely away from the school, I pulled my hair out of the bun I'd used to conceal most of it and put the glasses back on. "How do you think it looked?"

"Well, spending two minutes writhing in agony with a polygraph machine going loco in the background is pretty impressive as an artistic statement, but I still don't know what you're going to do with it … or those letters you took out of Ms Li's desk."

"You'll see." I started scrawling a note out on a bit of plain paper and jammed it into an envelope I'd swiped from the office. Then I called to Trent, "Do you know where the television station is?"

"We're there," said Trent. We accelerated. "What's this thing for, anyway?"

"How fond of Ms Li are you?"

Trent gave a choked laugh. "She's not one of my favourite people. Personality conflict."

"Then it might gladden your heart to know that she's probably not going to be the principal of Lawndale High for very long."

Thursday Morning

"The Dictaphone and note?"

Jane nodded. "Taped to Sandi's locker, just waiting to be played. So what did your mother say when you got home with the credit card all scratched?"

"She didn't notice. Quinn brings it home like that all the time, only it gets that way through over-use."

"Did she like your choices?"

"Sweated a little over the leathers, but didn't really think she could complain. She gave me free rein, after all."

"What about the purple angora crop-top sweater?" Jane smirked. I wondered why I couldn't hit her. Probably because she had too much incriminating information on me.

"She loved it. I'm trying to figure out how to feed it to the dog next door."

Jane looked like she wanted to torment me further, but she didn't get the chance. My master plan – the ultimate attack on Ms Li – had come to full fruition. Several men with television cameras were swarming the building, and right behind them marched a set of uniformed police officers. "What the hell?"

I hadn't explained my plan to Jane – I hadn't needed her forged Ms Li signature after all, so I hadn't seen the point. Now she was looking confused at the events taking place … confused, but very interested. "My insidious scheme has worked," I smirked, following the television people and the police down the corridor to Ms Li's office.

Just then, we heard a voice ring out. "Detention, suspension … or should class-cutters ride the lightning? A principal's shocking decision as she experiments with capital punishment, next on Sick Sad World!"

Jane stared at me, realisation finally dawning. "You're getting Ms Li busted for electrocuting students?"

"Not exactly." It was going to be hard to explain how I'd known that there was enough information floating around to hang Ms Li if put into the wrong (or right) hands, but I would have to try. "I found out about a couple of pieces of information that would do Ms Li's career some serious damage. One of them was that memo Ms Li sent out about her stolen 'World's Greatest Disciplinarian' trophy the year after a few seniors hacked the school records." I knew about that from reading "The Daria Diaries" … before my room ate it.

"Oh yeah," Jane mused. "That's the one going on about urine tests and stuff. That didn't look so bad."

"It did if you removed the word 'voluntary'."


"The other document was a letter to Governor Bush about taking pictures of the electric chair used in Texas for capital punishment. Doctored in a certain way, it could be taken to mean that she wanted to build a real working model."

"Wow. How did you know to look for that?"

"The Daria Database" … before my locker ate it. "Just luck. Anyway, with that tape, those letters make Ms Li look like fascist scum of the earth. Sooner or later, they'll find out about the misappropriation of funds that made the polygraph machine possible in the first place. Any way you look at it, she'll never work in this town again."

As we spoke, Ms Li was dragged out of her office and down the corridor by the police. She wore handcuffs – a set of bracelets that really suited her, in my humble opinion. "You can't do this to me," she cried. "I'm an administrator! I'll see you hanged, young persons!"

"That'll help her case," I muttered.

Jane was laughing again. "Daria, you are some piece of work!"

Then the screams of teenage girls reached our ears … in stereo. Sandi was storming down one corridor, Quinn the other. Murder was in their eyes as they reached the intersection. Jane and I observed.

"How dare you say that about my … attributes?" Sandi shrieked, outraged.

"My clothes are not Seventies!" Quinn was quivering with rage. "And my cousin or whatever is barely related to me!"

"You brazen little bitch, how dare you blacken the President of the Fashion Club's name like that?"

Quinn spat in her face. "It deserves blackening, you no-tit Nazi tramp!"

Sandi wasted no more words. She simply curled up a fist and smashed Quinn across her cute little nose. Then, while Quinn was still reeling from the blow, Sandi tackled her to the floor and began pummelling her. Quinn began fighting back almost immediately, and grabbed a huge handful of Sandi's hair, tearing it out by the roots. Bits of scalp and lots of blood followed, and Sandi bellowed like a foghorn. Quinn followed up by punching Sandi between the eyes.

Jane doubled over and leaned against the lockers. Her high-spirited laughter of a moment before had become hysterical mirth, and we stood watching the denouement. Joey and Jeffy tore the two girls apart and held them back from each other and Jaime stood there like a mute, mentally-deficient referee as Quinn and Sandi struggled, shouting obscenities. Quinn's nose was bleeding and her shirt was torn; Sandi had quite a bald spot on one side of her head and a press-on nail embedded in her cheek, and they were using language that would have embarrassed LA hookers.

Mr O'Neill tore towards the fracas, looking like he was about to cry. "Listen, Daria, Jane … school's going to have to be shut down until we can get this unfortunate incident with Ms Li straightened out. Hopefully, we'll reconvene a week on Monday and all of this will just be … some unfortunate mistake. It must be a mistake, mustn't it? I mean, Ms Li wouldn't…"

Jane, who had finally managed to control herself. "I wouldn't be able to tell you, Mr O'Neill," she said. "But then again … they do say electric shocks destroy the memory, don't they…" She turned to me, faking a look of confusion. "What's your name again?"

I followed her lead. "I was hoping you'd be able to tell me. Nice speaking to you again, Mr Onassis."

Mr O'Neill, his frayed nerves obviously shot, fell to the floor, where he curled up into a little ball and started weeping. Quinn and Sandi had broken free of the boys and were back at each other's throats. Mr DeMartino tried to intervene. "Will you two hellions please DESIST!" They ignored him, and when he tried to pry them apart, one or the other of them (by that time, they were so much into their rumble that it was hard to tell) smacked him one in his bad eye. He bellowed and then grabbed at his chest. Teachers and students ran up … but the students seemed more interested in passing bets on whether Mr DeMartino would survive the heart attack he was obviously having than helping either of the three sufferers.

Jane and I left, and we managed to get out of the building and halfway down the block before laughing so hard we couldn't breathe.

"Hey, Daria," Jane said, pausing to gasp in a little air. "I didn't even think you were capable of laughing. This is so cool!"

I forced a deadpan expression as I pointed out, "Well, Quinn's going to have to be hospitalised and her popularity is shot, school's out for a week, Ms Li's going to jail, Mr O'Neill's having a nervous breakdown and I may have orchestrated the death of Mr DeMartino. Best of all, you could paint for the rest of your life and not capture this week. What's not to laugh at?" That set Jane off again, while I just smiled indulgently. My dreams of creating havoc at Lawndale High had become a reality, and I was terribly proud of myself. Who says fantasies don't come true? If all my time as Daria Morgendorffer could be that much fun, I didn't care if I never saw home again.

Friday Lunchtime

"So how's Helen coping?"

I was lost in thought, so I didn't really understand what she was talking about at first. "Well," I finally replied, "Quinn's not talking, so I don't think my mother will ever find out what I did, but she came home in nose-splints and might have to have surgery. Mrs Griffin's threatening a law suit but Mom says that she'll just cross-sue if she does, so Mrs Griffin's just resorting to nasty phone calls. Oh, and both parents ask if I can stay here for a week or so … just until all this 'unpleasantness' blows over."

"Not a problem," said Jane with a grin. "Mom and Dad are touring Afghanistan for the next month so they won't mind if I have a bit of company. Trent'll be happy about it too."

Crap. "Oh?"

"He wants to hear all about the plot that laid Lawndale low. He stayed awake for nearly an hour when I told him what happened."

"That's pretty impressive. Why does he want to hear it from me?"

Jane leered. "He said it was because you're a writer and so much better with words than I am. I don't believe him, though."

"I don't believe I'm friends with you either, but it's so." I was secretly pleased. After all, this was the first time that Trent had actively sought Daria's company and I was feeling a bit full of myself for having captured Trent's attention where Daria had failed. Hey, from stranger beginnings had sprung great empires.

"So, come on!" Jane threw a red satin blouse at me. "Try on the outfit."

"It's hours yet before the party, Jane."

"So?" Jane raised her eyebrows in a way that was really beginning to piss me off. "If you want to tell that story to Trent, you really should look your best."

"You can't judge a book by its cover, Jane."

"And that's why people buy trashy romance novels with attractive half-dressed people on the front."

"I hate you." I didn't move to get changed, though.

Lucky for me I didn't, because a knock on the door came after my statement. "Hey, Janey, Daria. Can I come in?"

"Sure, Trent!" I scrambled to find a comfortable and unprovocative sitting position that did not in any way suggest that my heart was beating so hard it was probably about to burst out of my chest like the alien in the Sigourney Weaver movie. That's harder than it looks, because usually the best attempts to look casual just look like blatant attempts to look casual. Somehow I managed to attain a calm seating position on Jane's bed, my back to the wall and a book in my lap, before Trent entered the room.

"So," he said, sitting at the foot of the bed about a foot from my feet, "Daria, what's this I hear about inciting a riot at Lawndale High?"

"It wasn't really a riot," I explained. "I just got Ms Li arrested and Quinn and her trendy friend Sandi beating each other up in the hallway. Next thing I know, Mr O'Neill's having a breakdown and Mr DeMartino's having a heart attack. No big deal."

"Come on, Daria, I want to hear it. Some of this stuff would make great song material."

A song … he wants to write a song about this – about me? Wow.

I never could resist an audience. I told the whole story, fudging how I came by the clues that had led me to think that my plan to have Ms Li busted would work. Trent looked at me, utterly amazed. I finished off with, "We left Mr DeMartino having his attack on the floor and students placing bets on his survival, Mr O'Neill curled up in a sobbing ball on the hallway floor, and Quinn and Sandi killing each other. I have to stay out of the house for a week or so until the Quinn/Sandi thing blows over, but no one suspects a thing." I gave a brief Mona Lisa to Trent, who returned it in a way that kind of melted me. I managed to add, "Why would they, when I'm such a model student?"

Trent laughed. "Good one, Daria. I just wanted to hear it told properly. Janey couldn't tell a story to save her life." Jane stuck her tongue out at him, but she kept her mouth shut, thank God. "Anyway, I'm gonna practice…"

"Or sleep," shot Jane.

"Whatever," replied Trent with a sheepish grin. "We're gonna leave at seven. Or eight. Or after. Or maybe…"

"We should just leave it loose," I finished.

Trent looked at me. "Yeah, cool. Later." Then he sauntered off.

"Somebody seriously likes you," smirked Jane.

"You know what I'm capable of, Jane. Don't test me."

Friday Evening

"Try the shoes?"

We were finishing the final preparations for the party, and Jane's attempts to make me into something towards which I was not naturally inclined was getting to me more than her smirks and leers and stupid comments about Trent … if such a thing were possible. I had put on the red satin blouse and, at Jane's behest, tied it under my breasts to make it a crop-top thing. I had donned the leather pants, thankful that Daria's hips were more slender than my own – I had no wish to be sat on when mistaken for a leather sofa. But this was going far too far. "No. I am not a Barbie doll and I don't intend to let you dress me like one. My feet are not naturally that shape."

"No," Jane said, looking at the stiletto heels she was trying to press on me, "you can't really dance in them, so there's no point. And don't tell me you can't dance; you've never tried."

"Um…" Go on, tell her you can dance. Tell her that, although she is Daria's best friend and knows everything about Daria, YOU have danced. "I'm not dancing. That would be officially getting into the party spirit. I don't even know why I'm going."

"One word, starts with T."

"If I didn't think you'd take it as a compliment, I'd tell you I hate you."

"Good. Now, makeup."

Oh, shit. "I am not going to be a canvas for you, Jane. I've seen your art."

"I did that stupid painting for the Students at the Dawn of the New Millennium thing. That wasn't abstract."

"You don't wear makeup - except the lipstick. I didn't even know you owned makeup. How can you use on me talents that you never use on yourself?"

"Daria, shut up and let me do this. I can do makeup. Trust me."

I was going to cave, and I knew it. But I went down with all guns blazing. "I'm sure Nixon said that."

Jane went to work. I would have loved to see what she was doing, but I couldn't. Daria's vision was a lot worse than mine. All I got was a blur and the odd bit of cursing from Jane. "Damn."

"Ow! Watch out; I only have two of those, you know."


I sighed. "This is stupid. Why am I letting you do this?"

"You want to impress Trent."

"You want me to impress Trent. Anyway, Trent does not seem to notice fashion; if I wanted to impress Trent – and I don't know why you keep insisting I do – this wouldn't be how I'd do it. I could turn up to this party naked and he wouldn't notice."

I could feel the smile coming from Jane, and my face got red. Daria would not say that; for the love of God, shut up!

* * *

A few minutes later, Jane let me put my glasses back on, and a Daria-face I had never imagined stared back at me. "Whoa."

Jane nodded smugly. "I told you to trust me."

"You're telling me Trent likes this sort of thing?"

"Every girlfriend he's ever had looked like this." (Whoa! I don't even know this man personally, but the jealousy is nasty already!) "Anyway, you said you weren't out to impress Trent."

I am going to ignore that. "When are we leaving for this thing?"

"We wait for Trent to wake up."

"We might never get there, then." I couldn't help but smile a little. Even Daria would have smiled a little at that.

"Right; that's it." Jane barged out of the room shouting, "TRENT! Wake up, you narcoleptic loser! We're going to party!"

I could feel Daria not wanting to party. I could feel me not wanting to party. I did not want to face Trent looking like this any more than Daria would have. I wanted to change my clothes, and I suddenly understood why Daria had so little in the way of a wardrobe. If you dress up for someone, it proves you care. Daria wasn't supposed to care.

Jane came in, leading Trent. "Hey Daria; nice outfit." (My face is not going to spontaneously combust; it only seems that way.) "Great leathers. Saw a pair like them on Dega Street. And that's Janey's good shirt, right?"

My God, the boy notices. "Yeah. She wanted me to fit in with the other people who don't fit in."

"Good one, Daria."

God, he has a nice laugh. He must smoke, though, or else he wouldn't cough like that.

"Are we going?" Trent and I turned to look at Jane. She was also dressed up and ready to party. Trent looked underdressed, but he was wearing black jeans with no holes in and a black top. I had a feeling, with all this black and red, that this was going to be some Goth/Rock thing.

"Take it easy, Janey. The party's only starting. We've got all weekend."

* * *

Jane, in her excitement, sounded like a whiny five-year-old. "Do we eat first? I'm hungry, Trent. Can we stop for some food?"

"Sure, Janey. Pizza King sound okay?"

"Great! Step on it, Trent!"

"How about you, Daria?"

"Um … sure. Haven't filled my grease quota today, and I'm about a quart low."

"Good one, Daria."

There's that laugh again. If he doesn't stop, I'm gonna do something completely un-Daria, like kiss him. I wonder if he has any cigarettes. My body doesn't want them, but my mind's going nuts!

"Damn it, put some music on, Trent! We're going to a party, not a funeral!"

"I've got the Mystik Spiral demo. Want to hear, Daria?"

If God strikes me deaf at this very moment, I could say yes without laughing. He'd like it if I did that, I think. Please, God, strike me deaf right now, because I'll never be able to otherwise.

Jane rescued me. "Oh, come on, Trent. I have to put up with it at home … whenever you're awake long enough to practice, anyway. If you play that, I'll pull the tape out and strangle you with the ribbon, understand?"

"Okay, okay. Zappa?"

"You want to die, don't you?"


"What is this obsessions with Zs?"

"Didn't catch enough of them this afternoon. You woke me up."

"Haven't you got anything decent?"


"I can live with that."


I shrugged, digging through my mental stores and coming up with a quick one-liner. "Sure. How much noise can shrubbery make?"

"Good one, Daria. You're on a roll tonight."

I am not going to die. People do not die of pleasure and happy embarrassment. And if I do not wipe this grin off my face right now, I will have to cut my face off.

* * *

Jodie and Mack were already at Pizza King when we got there. I got looks from both, and they came over immediately. It was the outfit, I was almost sure.

"Hey, Daria. Wow, you look great."

"Yeah, what's the occasion? Someone die?"

You, Mack Mackenzie, in about two seconds. Both of you, if I get the chance before they drag me away. "I'm going to a party."

Jodie laughed. "You? Sorry, Daria; I'm just a little surprised. You never struck me as a party person."

"I'm not. I am being taken against my will by a sadistic friend."

Mack eyed my ensemble dubiously. "Wearing that?"

If you do not shut up, I will take steps. "Okay, you found me out. It's a disguise. I murdered Quinn and my parents set the law on me. My accomplices are taking me to Texas, where I will drift across the border and start my new life as a tour guide for the Inca temples in Peru. I'd appreciate it if you kept your mouth shut for a few days until I get into El Paso."

Jodie, thank God, seemed to understand. "Right, Daria. Look, Mack, the movie starts soon; can we get out of here?"

Jane ambled over. "That's it, Jodie, yank the leash. There's a good boy. Sit, Mack, sit!"

"See ya, Daria, Jane."

"Come on, Daria, we're eating. We got pepperoni!"

She seemed unusually exuberant, which caused me to raise an eyebrow. "Have you been drinking Jolt cola again?"

"I want to party! I also want to get Jesse while he's drunk enough to be a bit uninhibited while not so drunk he can't stand up," Jane leered. "Come on, Daria, get some spirit!"

"I haven't got any spirit. What spirit I once had was driven from me by living this life and is now haunting manor houses in England."

Jane rolled her eyes at me, exasperated at the deadpan wisecracks. "Then borrow someone else's!"

"I'll think about it."

* * *

Full of pizza grease, we continued on our bouncy, cynical, or half-asleep way towards where Jesse presumably lived. I had no idea what to expect; I had always had the idea that Jesse should live in a trailer park. At the very least, some kind of condemned building. Instead, we parked in front of a house that looked a lot like the Morgendorffers' and the Lanes'. The only difference was that this one was subtly vibrating … that and all the cars parked on the front lawn. It looked like the used car lot from Hell. The Tank had a space of honour in the driveway. Trent blocked it with his little heap, giving a little grin. "I don't move this baby until Max pays me my twenty bucks."

A statement guaranteed to throw someone who has only ever seen Trent borrowing money from Jane. "You once had twenty bucks?"

"Gig in Swedesville. Twenty bucks each. He took the money and I never saw my share."

We got out of the car. My god, I'm shaking. Well, even if I weren't so damn nervous, I'd still be shaking. Vibrating in time with the house, anyway. Why am I here?

"Come on, Janey, Daria. We party until one of us dies, remember." He started down the walk towards the house. Jane and I exchanged a look and followed.

* * *

I realised when I got into Jesse's house that I was not totally unfamiliar with this scene. Leanne and I had crashed a senior's keg party once – her for the photo opportunities and me for the story potential – and it was a lot like this. Only the music was better at this party – the keg do had mainly Bryan Adams and other assorted crap. The vibrations of the house and anything within a hundred yards of it were being caused by Coal Chamber's 'Bradley', and this was a good thing in my opinion. Mystik Spiral had obviously decided to take a bit of time off.

The crowd, however, were pretty much the same as at the keg party, apart from the excess of black clothes, leather, tattoos and body piercing. A group of limp puppet dancers jerked spasmodically in the middle of the living room floor while others bounced and waved long hair like maniacs and occasionally hit the light fixture in the ceiling. Guys poured beer on themselves, the carpet, the walls and anyone within five feet of them because they were too drunk or stoned (or both) to get it into their mouths. The noise was horrific.

Then Trent deserted us. I saw him approach some skinny guy who I sort of recognised as Max, the drummer for Mystik Spiral, and after a moment they were taking wild swings at each other. Jesse joined in and within minutes there was a fight in progress.

Jane and I were interrupted in our contemplation of the scene by a skeletal girl whose hair was the same colour as a traffic cone, who thrust plastic cups of red wine at us and said, "You don't look like beer chicks. Have a blast!" before wandering away again.

Jane and I looked at each other. Jane studied the wine for a moment, then looked at me again. "Your call," she told me.

I had drunk wine before. In my old life, Leanne and I had been in possession of fake IDs by virtue of her photographic skills and our combined latent talents as pertaining to forgery. We had occasionally gone on binges when one set of parents or the other were out of the country and we could think up a suitable alibi to give the other set for a weekend away … rather like this weekend. And Jane had told me to get some spirit; why not get drunk and see how a Daria-like dealt with the situation? I raised the cup. "To a weekend where we won't be reprimanded for being cynical outcasts."

"To a meeting of the minds, lips, and any other body parts we choose with Trent and Jesse."

I just couldn't resist a smirk. "Incest is a sick thing."

"I meant you and Trent, you freak!"

"One night, while you sleep, I will gut you with your own pallet knife. You'll be sorry, but it will be too late."

"I'll drink to that." We drank the wine in one gulp and threw the cups over our shoulder, shuddering at the taste of wine that had been fermented courtesy of a healthy dose of antifreeze and served from a box. Then we wandered into the living room to assess the situation at one less remove.

* * *

I found the kitchen about half an hour later. By that time I had got beer drizzled in my hair and stepped in something that looked suspiciously like vomit, and there was a painful cigarette burn on the back of my right hand – one of the wraithlike girls had brushed past a little too close. I ran cold water on the burn, knowing for sure that there would be a scar. There were worse things. At least none of the leaping slam-dancers had hit me yet.

I then went cruising in search of a drink. There was a keg of beer on ice in a big washtub on the floor in the corner, but I avoided that – I hated beer. I saw the boxed wine too, and gave that an equally wide berth. There was a punch bowl, and I took a cup of that, wondering what it was spiked with. My first sip told me that it was a sort of Long Island Cherry Kool-Aid – strong as hell but not bad for that. I kept sipping, hoping the alcohol would numb the burn on my hand where the cold water had failed. I grabbed a handful of the ice from the keg tub and wrapped it in a towel, sitting the makeshift ice pack on my hand as I sat at the kitchen table, listening to the music. More mellow music tastes had taken over the stereo and I was listening to Everclear.

"Hey, Daria. I didn't know you could sing."

Shit! Trent! "Um, hi, Trent. Didn't realise anyone was listening." Didn't realise I was singing along. Forgot that Daria's not the singing type. Would really like an earthquake to open up the floor and swallow me now. But that's not going to happen - I'm not that lucky. All the earthquakes happen in Los Angeles where no one appreciates them.

"You've got a pretty good voice. Maybe you could jam with Mystik Spiral sometime."

"Are you asking me or telling me?" That was intelligent; how much more obvious can you be?

"Little of both. Whatever. What're you drinking?"

"Kool-Aid with kick, I think. Go for it."

He ladled some out of the punch bowl, coughing on the first sip. "Man, this stuff is strong. You must have serious taste buds, Daria." (Damnit, don't blush.) "What happened to your hand?"

"Cigarette burn."

"Yeah." As if reminded, he rummaged around on countertops until he found a pack that someone had discarded and shook one out, then offered the pack to me.

I had to think about this for a moment. I smoked before, but Daria had probably never touched a butt in her life. There were no physical symptoms of withdrawal, but my psyche was tormenting me rather badly by this point. Persuaded by the nicotine centre of my brain, I accepted one. "Thanks."

"Didn't know you smoked, either."

"You learn something new every day, I'm told." Shut up, shut up, shut UP!

We puffed away companionably for awhile, sipping on the punch. I had discarded my ice pack and it lay melting on the table between us. It was a nice moment. It was a good kind of quiet.

Jane burst in. "Hey Trent, have you seen … oh. Hi, Daria. Am I interrupting something?"

Can I interrupt your heartbeat for awhile, please, Lane? "Um … no."

Jane did not look convinced. I couldn't blame her. I was giving her uncontrollable evil looks, and when I checked on Trent, he was doing the same. I did not see that. No good getting overconfident. "Anyway, I was looking for Jesse. Last I saw, you had him pinned to the carpet."

Trent thought about this. "I think he went out for some … um … refreshments."

"What, you mean a keg?"

Trent actually looked embarrassed. "No."

We would have won the gold medal if there had been such a thing as a synchronised raised eyebrow event in the Olympics. "Oh. Well, why aren't there any dealers at this thing, then?" Jane demanded. "I mean, most parties I hear about come complete with specially invited drug pushers."

"Well, our normal contact kind of got arrested yesterday, so Jesse's looking up a friend of his on Dega Street."

Jane seemed to accept that. "Oh. Hey, Trent, are we going to have designated sleeping arrangements, or are we just going to pass out and sleep where we lie all weekend?"

"Um … any stuff you brought should go in the attic. That's, like, chick way-station. Us guys just sort of fall over."

"I thought so. Come on, Daria; let's offload our stuff. What's this stuff?" she asked, looking at the punch. I was pretty fed up, so I grabbed her hair, tilted her head back, and poured the mixture down her throat so that she would have to swallow it or choke on it. At that point, I didn't really care which. Jane sputtered and gasped as the extremely strong drink hit her taste buds. "Damnit, Daria, what the hell is in this stuff? And how are you drinking it without puking?"

"It's not so bad."

Trent kind of grinned at me. I nearly fell over. I refilled my glass, grabbed one for Jane, and followed her upstairs.

* * *

"So, what was I interrupting really?"

"Jane, nothing happened. We weren't even talking. We drank, smoked and…"

"Whoa, hold on, stop the presses. You were smoking? What happened to not doing anything stupid to impress guys anymore?"

Busted. Now what am I going to do? "Umm … I thought I'd try something new, that's all."

"Sure, Daria. And fix your lipstick."

"Thanks, Jane."

Jane nodded. "You didn't do anything, did you." It wasn't a question.

"No. And now you believe me, when you didn't just a second ago."

"Well, if you had been up to something, you would have become your usual gibbering wreck when I told you to fix your lipstick."

"You mean the implied reference to my kissing Trent would have reduced me to incoherence?"

"Yeah, pretty much."

"You know me that well, you think?"


"I think I'll use that glue gun of yours to Super-Glue your mouth shut one day. No offence, but I can't ignore my opportunity to give the world such a wondrous gift as your perpetual silence would be."

"That's the spirit."

* * *

Hours passed in a sweaty, thumping blur. Jane and I drank, and another hour into the party I saw her slip off with Jesse. I wondered if it would be laundry room (drunken make-out session) or Jesse's bedroom (drunken sex session) for those two, and hoped that, if the latter, they would use protection. And as for me … I spent another hour after Jane went being Daria. I stood by the snacks, listening to the music and not making any moves of a dancing nature save the tapping of my foot. After a few more drinks, however, I had to admit that even Daria would be pretty uninhibited by now, so I let myself off the leash enough to allow a guy I didn't recognise to drag me out onto the dance floor.

I danced with some people, being spun and sometimes held by guys too drunk to know better, and every now and then I saw Trent looking in my direction with a disapproving look on his face. He looked like he was hitting the punch pretty hard, and I wanted more than anything to go to him and make sure he was all right, but every time I tried to leave the dance floor I nearly got floored by one of the many head-banging lunatics that flanked the dancers and repeatedly knocked over the furniture. No one knew me; if I went up to the girl who pointed at my leather trousers and gave me a thumbs-up sign and told her that I was not Daria Morgendorffer, she wouldn't have cared or even noticed. It was actually kind of lonely, even in the midst of all those people.

My luck finally ran out some unknown span of time later; I was trying to escape to see if Trent was okay when a careless hair-waver decked me in the face and sent me flying towards the sofa, in the opposite direction to my glasses. Cursing lightly, I hit the arm of the sofa and I must have greyed out for a minute, because when I opened my eyes again, Trent was staring at me, my glasses in his hand. "God, Daria, are you okay?"

"Fine," I replied groggily, sitting up and rubbing my head. "Can I have my glasses? I don't feel right without them." I felt them pressed into my hand at the same time that Trent's other hand grabbed my wrist and pulled me to my feet. As I got into a standing position in front of Trent, I heard a complete aberration for a rock party – a slow song. The young man behind the decks looked smugly, not at Trent and I, but at Jesse and Jane, who had emerged from hiding and were cuddled close together. Several other couples grafted onto one another on the floor as the music played.

I wanted to walk away, but I couldn't seem to manage it. This was the moment; it had to be! Every sitcom or cartoon show did something like this. Two people hide their feelings for each other for the longest time, so all the spectators get aggravated, and then they're put together in some situation where one party gets rescued in an act of unprecedented tenderness. And the way Trent was looking at me… I'll get a kiss, at least. I've always wondered what those lips would feel like, but never so much as now. If it's going to happen, it's going to happen!

Trent pulled me towards him and we began to sway to the music. I felt his chin lean on the top of my head, and it felt wonderful. Nearly giggling with requited crush and triumph, I just let it happen. No good being too eager; that wasn't Daria's style. This went on for a minute, maybe more. I was enjoying it too much to keep an exact count.

Then it happened. Trent pulled away slightly, just enough to allow himself to bend his face towards mine. Even when it seemed on the verge of happening, when Trent was actually about to kiss Daria, I couldn't believe it was happening. That was probably a good thing, I decided as he leaned in. If this had ever happened to Daria, she would have been too stunned to move … but probably not too stunned to enjoy it when it happened. I prepared for the inevitable.

Then he puked in my face.

It was so far from what I had expected that I literally couldn't move. Warm, beer-scented vomit was oozing down my face, sticking in my hair, reducing my visibility to nil as it coated my glasses. I could feel trickles seeping into my cleavage, and I still couldn't move. As I stood there, wanting to scream, wanting to cry, wanting to do something, Trent slithered into a drunken heap at my feet, and the song ended. That was the moment that Daria was supposed to treasure all her life. Wasn't that just typical.

A Ministry track came on the stereo, and people started the stampede of slam-dancing once again. I got a hold of myself enough to drag Trent out of the way, hauling his negligible weight behind the sofa so no one would step on him, and then I looked at him for a moment. As an afterthought, I turned him into the recovery position. As outraged, disappointed and depressed as I was at that moment, I couldn't bear the thought of Trent choking on his own vomit. Then I turned on my heel and left the room, heading for the kitchen and the nearest faucet. The scent of Trent's puke was making me nauseous now.

Jane caught up with me in the kitchen. "My God, Daria, did what I think I saw happen just happen?"

"I got puked on by your brother, Jane. That's what you saw. That's all you saw."

Jane's face was quite a picture; concern, annoyance, and glee in one perfect package of bright blue eyes and very smeared lipstick. "Oh, come on, that's not all I saw, Daria, and you know it. He was dancing pretty close to you in there."

"He was drunk, Jane. I was the only thing available to lean on." I turned to the kitchen sink and proceeded to scrub my face. I felt dirty, and not just because of the vomit on my face.

I was reaching for a tea towel when the fact that Jane was still talking finally registered. "Anyway, he wouldn't have made a move to kiss you if…"

I turned on her, displaying a temper that Daria had never had. "Look, Jane, knock it off! Your yenta act is over, okay? He would have tried kissing Jesse or Upchuck or anyone in that room, because he was too drunk to see! It's just so typical of the life of Daria Morgendorffer; disappointment and disillusion! It's just … it's just a fiction, that's all, one big fiction made real for no good reason, and to no good purpose … and I'm sick of living it!"

I left without looking at the expression on Jane's face, completely unaware of how my statement, true though it was, could be taken by the uninitiated. I fled to the attic and dropped myself onto my sleeping bag, wanting nothing more than to sob until I was too exhausted to do anything but sleep. In the morning, I would decide what to do.

* * *

My throat had other ideas a few hours later, though, when I had finally cried myself hoarse. Alcohol and tears had dried me out completely; I felt as dry as an old tortilla chip. The house seemed pretty quiet; everyone else seemed to have managed the oblivion I had so wanted to achieve. I changed my clothes, thankful that I had packed the Daria-gear after all, and wandered downstairs for a glass of water.

I found when I reached the bottom of the stairs that my sense of solitude was false; there were voices in the kitchen. One of them, very familiar, grumbled, "Well, I hope you're proud of yourself, Trent."

"Janey, leave it alone; my head hurts."

"Come off it, Trent," shrilled Jane. "Do you have any idea what you've done?"

There was a pause. I stood at the door, transfixed by this conversation. The one thing I had never heard before was Trent and Jane discussing Daria; this was privileged information that I had always wanted to have. Then Trent said, "Total blank. Must have puked. Mouth tastes like a mouldy gym sock. What else?"

"You ruined my best top," Jane said pointedly.

It took a minute to dawn on Trent. "Your top looks fine."

"This isn't my best top, Trent."

There was a silence, and then he said, "Oh, hell. Daria?"

"Yes, Daria."

There was a groan. "What did I do?"

"You were dancing with her," Jane recapped. "You were going to kiss her, and then you puked. Right … in … her … face."

I'm not thrilled with Trent, either, but he doesn't deserve that tone.

What Jane said next gave me my third horrible shock of the weekend; "When I told you she liked you, I thought you'd deal with it in a mature way. Hell, you've had girlfriends – you know how to behave. And what do you do? Make advances drunk and puke in her face."

"I wasn't going to…"

"She sounded really upset, Trent. I'm really worried about her. She was talking like life was all one big fiction and how she didn't want to live it anymore. She might do something to herself. If you didn't want her, why didn't you just leave her alone instead of doing that to her?"

"Janey, I …"

I'd heard enough. I had to get out, but my eyes were blurred with tears and lack of sleep, and I banged into the kitchen door. The noise startled me and I ran, hearing both Jane and Trent scream Daria's name after me as I hurried into the dawn with no thought of my luggage or of Jane's odorous clothes, lying at the bottom of my bag.

* * *

I wound up on Dega Street.

If I had remembered anything about Lawndale from the map in the Daria Diaries, I would have found a bridge, or a cliff, or a very high building, and then I would probably have thrown myself off it. Even if I hadn't, it would have made me feel better to know I could have done. At that point, I would have been extremely happy to have the option of an easy suicide.

Jane had told Trent about Daria's crush; I couldn't believe it. If she had said nothing, I could have gone on my cynical way after Trent puked in my face and there would have been no harm done. But no, Jane had to go and spill that sensitive information, and how was I supposed to look Trent in the face again when he thought that Daria liked him so much that she went all suicidal if he just puked on her once?

And as for Jane … well, my disappointment in her was beyond belief. What kind of friend was she if she could betray a confidence like that? Daria had worked for so long under the assumption that Jane would say nothing of her crush on Trent to anyone that it threw me. I was bitterly angry and terribly miserable all at the same time, because I knew that things could never be the same with Jane again…

But why the hell was I so upset about all this? It wasn't like it was actually my life that was being ruined. Trent, Jane … I had only met them in person a few hours ago. There was no sense in feeling this way, this embarrassed and angry and miserable, over people who weren't really my friends, so why? Or was it…

I was losing myself, I knew suddenly. I was Daria Morgendorffer now, and would probably be Daria Morgendorffer forever. That was why I was so upset – although I had only known Jane and Trent for a few hours, I had actually known them for months, or years, or however long had passed for them in the series. I would never see Leanne again, or my mother, having to make do with Helen instead. There was no hope of my ever getting home. And now I had to face a shattered friendship with Jane and face-simmering embarrassment with Trent.

It was too much for my brain to take. How could I possibly cope with being two people? I sat on the kerb on a corner of Dega Street, near Axl's piercing emporium and tattoo parlour, and miserably picked up a bit of broken bottle that lay in the gutter by my side. It was jaggedly sharp and it glinted like a knife in the pale light of dawn. Could I do this? Was there any point in living if I wasn't going to do it as myself? Had Daria ever felt like this? I raised the bottle, sick of the doubts, tired already of questioning my every move, comparing it to what Daria would have done.

Something grabbed my wrist and twisted, firmly but gently, so as not to harm me. The bit of bottle flew across the road and shattered when it hit the ground. I didn't turn or speak, not caring who had come to my rescue so long as they went away. They didn't. "Hey, Daria," said a voice I never wanted to hear again.


I heard him sit down beside me. I still didn't look at him. Time passed in total silence. Then he said, "I'm sorry I puked on you, Daria."

"You couldn't help it."

More silence, taunting me, making me want to break it just so I would not have to endure the buzzing of my own thoughts. "Sorry if I hurt your wrist just then," Trent finally said.

"You didn't." I wanted to ask why he'd stopped me, but that would have been a stupid question; no decent human being would let a perfectly healthy teenager kill herself … especially when the teenager in question happened to be his sister's best friend. I let the silence run on.

"Daria," Trent forced himself to say after a minute, "I didn't really believe what Janey said … about you liking me. I thought she just wanted to run my life. But I wanted to … know what I mean?"

I wasn't going to rise to this. I waited.

"I wanted to ask you straight this weekend. If you'd called Janey a liar, I would have dealt with it, but if you'd admitted liking me, we could have dealt with that too. But I got scared, and I thought I could get up the courage to ask you if I had a few drinks. Guess I had a few too many, huh?"

I kept my silence, though part of me wanted to cheer and the other part wanted to cry.

Trent swallowed and went on. "Look, I wanted to kiss you. I was just too drunk to do it. So I'm sorry."

I sighed. Did any of this really matter now? "I forgive you," I told him, "but it doesn't really make any difference."

Trent sighed. "You still feeling it's pointless?"

"It is pointless."

Trent sighed. "I know; you've always said that. But you've never tried to cut your wrists with a bit of broken bottle on Dega Street."

I couldn't help but smile a little. "Not my choice of method, true enough, but hemlock's not exactly abundant around here and…"

Trent's control snapped. He grabbed my shoulders and forced me to turn and face him, yelling, "Don't joke, damn it!"


He shook me … hard. "You think it's funny to scare people like this? Janey's crying on Jesse's shoulder right now, worried sick about you! She really took that stuff you said to heart! Now I find you here, going for your wrists with broken glass … and then you make jokes about it! As if it wouldn't matter if I'd got here to find you dead and bleeding in the gutter instead of… Shit, Daria, I don't know whether to hit you or…"

"I'm not trying to scare anyone," I told him truthfully. "I'm just…" Just what? My mind stopped my mouth just in time. Just tired of living someone else's life for no apparent reason? Just tired of trying too hard to be something I already am? Just trying to figure out who I really am? How the hell am I supposed to tell him all that without him having me committed? "… I'm just fed up," was the most honest way to finish.

He let me go, and there was more silence. I suppose there was nothing to say to that. Trent had brought out cigarettes and we each had one. "You okay?"

"Not really. Thanks, Trent."

"No problem. What for?"

Funny, how people accept your thanks so automatically before they ask what you're thanking them for. Is politeness so ingrained into people that it doesn't matter what you're being thanked for so long as you tell them 'you're welcome'? "I don't know. Just thanks."

"Sure you won't tell me about it?"

"You wouldn't believe me."

"I'd try, Daria."

I considered doing it. I actually considered opening my mouth and saying 'I am not Daria.' But I couldn't. I was afraid he'd laugh, say my drinks had been spiked with more than just alcohol and take me back to Jesse's to sleep it off. I was afraid he'd think I was nuts, tell Jake and Helen, and I would wind up in a padded room for real. Worst of all, I was afraid he'd believe me, and stop looking at me with the love and concern that I saw in his eyes right then. "No."

He made me look at him again, gently this time. "Might help to talk, Daria."

I gave up. Someone had to know; it was too big a burden to carry alone, and Trent was being so kind… "Let's start with that, Trent."

"With what?"

I took a breath, my nerves taut as E-strings. "I'm not Daria," I told him in a rush. "Daria doesn't exist, and neither do you. You're all just television characters. I fell asleep in front of the TV on Monday night and when I woke up in the morning I was in this body with this life, and it isn't mine. I am not Daria Morgendorffer, even though all my friends where I used to be told me that I practically was. I can't live her life anymore, no matter how similar it is to mine. Now that you think I'm insane," I told him without a pause, "I'll go."

I stood up, listening to him call out "Wait!" without paying much attention. I walked out into the road an instant before I saw the van roar around a blind corner too fast to stop.

* * *

Uncool as it is to admit to things like this, I woke up screaming.

Thankfully, the squeak I let out was pretty much drowned out by the white noise hissing from the TV speakers. The tape was over and the TV was broadcasting snow. And I was still in my own living room, in my own house, and I was not Daria. Again.

That … was … bizarre.

Too bizarre not to write about, I realised, reaching for my notebook and pen.

* * *

"It's not fair," Leanne told me the next morning as we walked to school. "I'm the artist; I should be having the vivid dreams."

I shrugged at her. "I'd happily trade off with you. Must have been one of those anxiety dreams. All those jokes have finally driven me nuts."

"Short trip."

"Very funny."

Leanne looked speculatively at me. "And you wrote it all down." I nodded. "Well, it doesn't make much of a story; I mean, it has no end."

"Excuse me?"

Leanne rolled her eyes. "Ending with '…and she woke up to find it was all a dream' is really overdone. Couldn't you rewrite it or something?"

I thought about this. "And how do you propose I end it?"

"I don't know! I'm not the writer! Maybe … maybe you could have been taken to the hospital and people could have thought you were demented! Then they'd put you in the wacky ward and try to make you believe that you really were Daria and…"

I held up my hands in a 'whoa there, partner' gesture. "Leanne. It's not an issue anyway. I mean, does it matter if I end this story? Who's going to see it? It's based on characters owned by MTV; I'd never get it published anywhere. And even if I did find people who were big enough fan-types to want to read it, I'd get sued."

"Okay, okay. But I still think the ending is a copout."

"Tough. Life's like that."



There's a story behind this one. In … it must have been mid-1997 … a friend of mine called me up and said, "You have cable, right? Well, turn on MTV right now because there's this cartoon on and there's this character and she is you, I swear!" I did – and there was Daria. After several months of teasing over this, I wrote the bare bones of this fic.

Now, this was years before I discovered the Daria fanfic community (hell, it was years before I even got into the Internet much), so it was never going to be posted. And once I found out what fanfic was, I considered posting it, but I wasn't convinced it was fanfic, so I wrote something that was fanfic, borrowing certain unmissable bits from this one when I did so. That turned into "The Look-Alike Series". You'll recognise the 'Trent being stupid while drunk' bits and, of course, Ms Li's arrest.

But of course, I couldn't keep my mouth shut about this one, and there was nagging to post it. But I'd never ended it, so I had to come up with an ending. The ending I have Leanne suggest was the original one, but it didn't seem right, so I left it to its unsatisfactory conclusion. Hey, life's like that – some stories just fizzle out and die.

If you have comments … well, if you hate it, you have only yourselves to blame – you badgered me into posting this and it would have happily mouldered. If you like it … why?