The Death of Stacy

By Austin Covello
Based on the characters created by Glenn Eichler and Susie Lewis

Carbon Date: This story was conceived, begun, and written between the third and fourth seasons.

It was a typical Fashion Club pre-class meeting. President Sandi Griffin and Vice President Quinn Morgendorffer were busy exchanging insults disguised as compliments, with no subtle barb going over anyone’s head. Coordinating Officer Tiffany Blum-Deckler contemplated whose side she was going to be on this meeting, even while struggling through reading the fashion scouting report. Even the general topic was ordinary: The best way to get soda stains out of sweaters, with pros and cons of each method.

However, for Secretary Stacy Rowe, the day was far from ordinary or typical. It was a special day for her, and her hands shook with excitement, anticipation, and fear.

As the first bell sounded, marking the official beginning of the school day, Sandi topped the whole thing off with an announcement. "I’d like to close by announcing to everyone that Stacy will be taking her driving test today. On behalf of The Fashion Club, I wish you the best of luck."

Stacy smiled at them. "Thanks, guys. You’re the best."

"No, you," the other members returned the verbal salute.

"I hope you get your license, Stacy," encouraged Tiffany as the foursome started to class.

"Yeah," agreed Quinn. "Then you can drive the kegs to all the parties for us."

"I’ll do my best," Stacy fidgeted.

"That was a joke."

"Yeah," tittered Stacy. "I knew that."

"Of course, you’re going to have to share some of the Cashman’s Car Pool responsibilities from now on," noted Sandi.

"I’ll be happy to, Sandi," replied Stacy.

Quinn rolled her eyes upward as Sandi and Tiffany ducked into their class. She turned to Stacy. "So what did you think about that new line of Brittany Spears wardrobe that was in Waif?" she asked.

"I don’t know. What do you think?"

"It’s okay, I guess."

"Yeah! That’s what I think!"

Quinn stopped walking and stared Stacy down. "Is there ever a time when you’re not agreeing with everything?" she demanded.

"Well, now that you mention it, no. I mean, it keeps me from making the wrong decisions, right?"

Quinn let out an angry grunt as she stamped her foot. "Why can’t you, just for once, show some backbone? You know, if you get into a car with that kind of attitude, it’ll kill you! Ask my cousin!" She stormed off.

It was at that moment that Stacy spied Daria Morgendorffer, Quinn’s cousin (or whatever). Stacy reflected on what Quinn had said, and quickly decided that some last minute advice couldn’t hurt. Timidly, she approached the unfashionable girl.

"Hi. You’re Quinn’s cousin, right?" asked Stacy.

"We have a few DNA strands in common," replied Daria evasively.

"Quinn said that you know a lot about aggressive driving."

"Well… there was that time I drove over that hitchhiker’s suitcase."

Stacy frowned. "That was mean."

"So is coming to me with your petty problems and then judging my actions," retorted Daria.

"Hey!" snapped Stacy as something in her head clicked off. "Maybe this may sound petty to you, but this is the biggest challenge of my life! I don’t know how you felt when you got your license, but to me this is my first big step into adult society!"

"And you figure that just because you’re popular, everyone should be begging to help you."

" ‘Popular’? What does ‘popular’ have to do with anything? I needed help, and my friend referred me to you. So I thought I’d ask. ‘Popular’ doesn’t have a thing to do with it!" Stacy turned on her heel and stalked off. In retrospect, it was the most assertive she had ever been in her life.

Daria stared after the sophomore, lost in thought. "Popular doesn’t have a thing to do with it." Now there’s something you don’t hear everyday. Maybe there’s hope for the fashion freaks, after all.

John Rowe watched from the window of his house as the family minivan pulled into the driveway. The suspense had been terrible. The waiting had been awful. But when he saw his youngest daughter get out of the driver’s side of the van, he realized that it had been all worth it.

Stacy sprinted from the van even as her mother got out of the passenger side. She ran into the house and threw herself into her father’s arms. "I did it!" she cried out. She showed the blue and white plastic card to her father.

"Wonderful, peaches," beamed John. It was Stacy’s crowning moment as a teenager, and words couldn’t describe how proud he was of his daughter.

Stacy’s mother, Ellen Rowe, had already walked in. "This calls for a celebration! I think I’ll bake a cake." She began to rummage around in the kitchen cabinet. "Of course, it would help to have some cake mix," she noted sardonically. "Stacy, why don’t I write you up a list, and you can run down to the store for me."

Stacy’s face lit up. "Definitely!"

"And why don’t you pick up Ted on the way back? I know he’ll want to come over."

John handed Stacy the keys. "You can use the car. Just back out the van and park it against the curb, okay?"

As Ellen handed her the list, she ran out the door. After backing out the van, she got into the sky-blue Acura Probe. As she backed out of the driveway and into the street, she once again felt the sense of freedom and power that all teens feel when behind the wheel. Then she shifted into drive, stepped on the gas, and drove off into the sunset toward the supermarket.

The next day, Quinn glided into English. It was the fourth period of the day, and she still hadn’t seen Stacy. Quinn had planned to apologize to her when she saw her for yesterday. Even if what she said was true, yelling at her about it only made the situation worse. There had to be a way of toning down Stacy’s conformity short of biting her head off. Maybe Sandi would have an idea. For all of her faults, Sandi was really good with people.

Soon Sandi and Tiffany came into the room and sat down in their usual spots in front of her. "Have either of you seen Stacy today?" asked Quinn.

"Oh, sure. Don’t say ‘hi’ or anything…" Tiffany trailed off after a warning look from Sandi. Talking about me behind my back again, Sandi? thought Quinn.

"No," answered Sandi. "I guess she’s sick or something. She wasn’t in History."

"That’s probably it," conceded Quinn. The bell rang, but Quinn ignored it. Mr. O’Neill would be too busy spreading cheer throughout the classroom to notice them talking, anyway. Meanwhile, the seat to Quinn’s left—Stacy’s seat—remained empty. "Have you ever noticed how…conformist Stacy is?"

"So?" remarked Sandi defensively. "What’s wrong with that?"

"Nothing!" said Quinn soothingly. "Except…well, doesn’t it bother you that she agrees with us all the time?"

"Of course not. Would you rather that she disagree with us all the time?"

"No! It’s just that, what if she’s just agreeing with us just because she isn’t comfortable with us, and doesn’t really agree with us; but she’s scared that if she does disagree with us, we’ll blow her off?"

"Huh?" asked Sandi and Tiffany, both effectively confused.

"Oh, forget it!" cried Quinn disgustedly.

Just then, Ms. Li’s voice come over the PA. Quinn suddenly realized that they’d argued all the way through class to the midday announcements. "Attention students." Ms. Li’s voice was terse, heavy. "I have a sad announcement."

She almost sounds like she means it, thought Quinn sourly. Then the thought hit her subconscious. She actually did sound like she meant it. Quinn realized that everyone else must have caught the tension as well, because the room had gone completely silent.

Ms. Li continued. "This is a tragedy that affects the entire student body at Lawndale High. I regret to inform you all that, early last evening, Stacy Rowe was…killed in an automobile accident. Information on burial services can be obtained in the front office, and your guidance councilors are available if you need someone to talk to."

Almost as one, the entire class turned to stare at the empty seat to the left of Quinn.

This can’t be happening! thought Quinn as she walked out of the classroom. No way was Stacy dead. Ms. Li must have gotten the name confused with another girl named Stacy. Probably a senior. After all, Stacy didn’t even have a license! No, Stacy probably ate something that didn’t agree with her, got a McDonalds hangover, and spent the whole night puking. That would be just like her. She decided to call her and see how she was doing. Yeah, that was a good idea. Quinn raced toward the pay phones in the lobby.

Hands shaking, she dialed Stacy’s number. She felt an alien in her stomach ready to break out. Get a hold of yourself, Quinn! she commanded herself. It’s not like she’s dead or anything.

The receiver clicked. "Hello?" Mrs. Rowe’s voice came over the phone.

"Hi, Mrs. Rowe!" Quinn greeted in her perkiest, everything’s-all-right voice. "It’s Quinn."

"Hello Quinn."

"Is Stacy there?"

Mrs. Rowe heaved a quavering sigh. "You mean they haven’t told you yet? No, I guess they haven’t. Quinn, I don’t know how to say this…Stacy’s dead, Quinn."

Quinn dropped the receiver and turned away from the phone. Then she slowly began to walk, stumbling and bumping gently into other students as if she were blind, toward the girls room. Meanwhile, the receiver hung inches from the ground like a hangman’s noose.

Dimly, Quinn became aware that her three biggest suitors—Joey, Jeffy, and Jamie—had surrounded her. "Hey Quinn, sorry about Stacy," said Joey.

"Yeah, it was awful what happened," consoled Jeffy.

"Is there anything I can do?" asked Jamie.

"Go away," whispered Quinn.

"Huh?" said all three of them.

"Just leave me alone, okay? Leave me alone!" Quinn ran into the girls room.

Inside the bathroom, Quinn splashed some water on her face. This can’t be happening! Oh God, Stacy!

It wasn’t like when Tommy Sherman died. Daria realized that as soon as she and Jane stepped into the hall. When Tommy Sherman died, there was gossip all over the school, and though the air was solemn, it wasn’t excessively grievous. It was more like a TV star had died instead of a former student.

But this was different. No one talked. No one gossiped. No couples were making out in the halls. Even when someone closed his or her locker, it seemed muted, as if that student’s strength had been sapped. The silence of death had drowned out the noise of Ms. Li’s faceless machine.

Even Daria and Jane weren’t immune. When news of Stacy’s death was broadcasted over the PA, the topic of the previous conversation was forgotten, and now the Partners in Crime trudged to Mr. O’Neill’s English class.

Daria once again contemplated her last conversation with Stacy. The late Fashion Club member’s assertion that popularity didn’t have to do with her asking for advice was worth looking into. What had she been like away from The Fashion Club? Why had she joined? Had there been more to her than she’d thought?

It was with this in mind that she and Jane entered the classroom. Not surprisingly, Mr. O’Neill wasn’t there. Probably crying his eyes out in the Men’s room, thought Daria. For once, though, she didn’t blame him.

A few heartbeats after she and Jane had taken their seats, Kevin and Brittany walked in, staring at the floor. Both took seats next to each other. Daria watched as Kevin wordlessly handed Brittany a tissue and gently squeezed her hand. My God! I know she was popular, but how many people could she have known?

Daria glanced over to the doorway and saw her most popular friend, Jodie Landon, enter the classroom. Her eyes were red and her mascara was smeared. She sat in the seat in front of Daria. "Hi guys." Her voice was hoarse and scratchy.

"You okay, Jodie?" asked Jane.

"Yeah, I’m just…" she trailed off. "Did you guys know her?"

"Look who you’re asking," remarked Jane.

"What was she like?" asked Daria, and then instantly regretted it. Jodie had just finished crying over it. She didn’t want to put her through any more grief. "You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to." That sounded lame. "But tell me anyway."

Jodie smiled wanly. "She was really nice. Especially when you consider that she was part of The Fashion Club. I don’t think she ever said a mean word about anybody. She would always volunteer for just about everything, and when she couldn’t volunteer, she’d help me find someone who could. And sometimes we’d go for pizza. Me, her, Mack, and Ted…"

"Ted?" interrupted Daria.

"Yeah. Ted Dewitt-Clinton, her boyfriend. You know him, don’t you, Daria?"

"We went out on a date once, and we were in yearbook together," Daria shrugged. "I didn’t know he and Stacy were going out. He never seemed like the type to get involved with someone like her."

Jodie laughed. "They were an odd couple all right. But they really loved each other." She sombered. "He took it really hard. He’s in my fourth period class, and when they made the announcement, he just ran out of the room. I heard that they sent him home."

The bell rang as Mr. O’Neill came in. Woodenly, he began the class.

After school, Daria declined Jane’s offer to go for pizza and went directly home. She had a lot on her mind, and she knew that the best way to sort it all out was to go count ceiling cracks at home. Perhaps the most shocking revelation of Jodie’s was the fact that Stacy and Ted had been going out. "Odd couple" didn’t begin to describe it. Ted was a repressed geek who had never been to a normal school until the age of fifteen. Stacy had been one of the most popular girls in school. By all rights, they should have hated each other. Maybe she hadn’t been as popularity-conscious as everyone had thought.

And if Ted was taking it hard, how was Quinn taking it? Daria didn’t think she could take it if Trent or Jane died. The two had become so ingrained into her life that seeing them was a part of her daily routine. Jane had been Daria’s best friend for over a year and a half, and they had become inseparable in that time. And it seemed like every day brought her and Trent closer together. She could only imagine how Quinn felt.

As Daria walked into her house and up the stairs, she abruptly wondered why she even cared about Quinn’s feelings. Granted, Quinn had become less of a pain in the ass these past three months. Maybe they were mellowing. Or maybe we’re just growing up, Daria concluded. She threw her backpack in her room and then walked down the hall to Quinn.

When she got there, she could hear Quinn sobbing. Daria took a deep breath and knocked on the door. "Go away!" Quinn yelled from the inside the room.

"Quinn, it’s Daria. I want to talk."

"Why don’t you just talk to Jane, then? I’m busy!"

"Trying on outfits, or touching up your makeup?" remarked Daria.

There was a loud crash as something heavy hit the door. Okay. That was the wrong approach. "Look Quinn, I just came to say…I’m sorry that your friend died. I know we’ve had our differences in the past, but if you need someone to talk to, I’ll be here." She started down the hall.

She got about five feet away when the door softly opened. "Daria?" Daria turned to see Quinn, her face completely ravaged by tears and devoid of any makeup whatsoever. And if anyone saw her like that, she’d be the former most popular girl at Lawndale High. Lord, she’s taking it harder than I thought.

Quinn gestured to her room. Wordlessly, Daria entered. Quinn followed her in. Once inside, Quinn threw herself into Daria’s arms in a fresh bout of weeping.

After about a half hour, Quinn managed to cry herself out. "It’s so weird," she started. "I can’t believe she’s gone. I mean, most people say that when someone dies, but I keep expecting that Mrs. Rowe or Sandi or Tiffany or somebody will call and tell me that it was all a mistake, a mix-up or something." She drew a quavering breath. "Do you know what the worst part about this is? The last thing I said to her was just so…so mean. All she was doing was being nice to me, and I started yelling at her, like she’d just insulted me or something. I was a real bitch to her, and I was going to apologize for it today, but…" she trailed off.

Daria sighed. "If it makes you feel better, I was a real bitch to her yesterday, too." Briefly, Daria recounted her conversation with Stacy to Quinn. Quinn stared at Daria, eyes wide in amazement. Then slowly, she began to laugh. "What’s so funny?" asked Daria.

Quinn stifled her laughter. "It’s just that, I yelled at her because I didn’t think she stood up for herself enough. And then she went and stood up to you. It’s just… what’s that word, again? Iro… Iron…"

"Ironic?" guessed Daria.

Quinn smiled. "Yeah, that’s it."

The phone rang, and Quinn moved to answer it. "Hello?" she greeted. "Hi, Mrs. Rowe. Look, I’m sorry about cutting off like that. That was rude of me…Uh-huh…uh-huh…Sure. I’ll be over in a few minutes. Bye." She hung up. "That was Stacy’s mom. She asked me to pick up some things that she thinks Stacy would’ve wanted me to have."

"I can drive you," offered Daria.

Quinn smiled at her. "I’d like that."

Daria pulled up to the Rowe house along with Quinn. If any place contained answers to what Stacy was really like, this would be it. The two sisters got out of the car and walked up to the doorway. Taking a deep breath, Quinn rang the doorbell.

Stacy’s mother answered the doorbell and greeted Quinn with a gentle hug. After pleasantries and introductions were exchanged, Quinn and Mrs. Rowe went into the kitchen to talk, leaving Daria to her own devices. Daria gazed around the house, absorbing the décor. It was weird looking at the nearly circular, one-story house. Without thinking about it, Daria began to wander around. She stopped at an open door just next to the bathroom and peeked her head in.

It was obviously a girl’s room. Daria looked and saw a plain bed in the center of the room. On top of it was a stuffed pikachu. The girl may have been fond of anime, or maybe she had just thought it was cute. To the left of the bed was a dresser with a mirror surrounded by lights, as well as another dresser/mirror by the giant, sliding door clothes closet.

This must have been Stacy’s room, deduced Daria. The clothes closet showed signs of a hasty packing. Daria absently looked at herself in the mirror by the bed, and then began to piece together how Stacy’s day might have been. She would probably braid her hair using this mirror. Then she’d put her makeup on with this compact. And at night, she’d cuddle up to her pokemon while she slept. It was all typically Fashion Club.

Then she went to the other dresser. Hanging on the mirror was a sign that said Shrine to Stacy and Ted. It was covered with framed pictures: Pictures of Stacy and Ted kissing, pictures of them making faces at the camera, pictures of them having a pillow fight. There was even a picture of them dressed up as Mickey and Minnie Mouse for Halloween. There was also a number of wooden ornaments. Handmade trinkets from Ted, no doubt. Daria looked at a wooden mannequin neck with a necklace similar to the one Ted had given her, once. Looking at the two of them, Daria felt a sense of regret. Ted had been such a great boyfriend, and if she had been more careful, she might have had him.

Daria slowly began to open the dresser drawer, and then stopped. What was she doing? Going through a dead person’s belongings, that’s what. This is sick. She began to close the drawer, when she saw the flash of thick paper. Forgetting her previous thought, she opened the drawer and stared at its contents.

Books! She had books! And videos! Honor Harrington on Basilisk Station. Polgara the Sorceress. Star Wars IV: A New Hope. Babylon 5 Volume I. Neon Genesis Evangelion: Asuka Strikes! The Honor of the Queen. The entire Tamuli Trilogy. Stacy, it appeared, was a huge science fiction and fantasy fan.

Daria also noticed one other thing that the books and videos had in common: they all had strong women figures in them. Honor Harrington was the best starship captain of her nation. Polgara was the most powerful woman in her world. Star Wars had Princess Leia, one of the original take charge females of sci-fi. Babylon 5 had Susan Ivanova, and even Daria had stolen from her bag of sarcasm on occasion. And Asuka was one of Japanese Anime’s most willful characters, often reminding Daria of Quinn. Perhaps Stacy often wanted to be like some of the characters in these series.

"I see you’ve found Stacy’s science fiction drawer," said a voice from behind her. Daria turned to see a toe-headed young man with glasses and a blue jacket. "It’s been a while, Daria."

"Hi, Ted," greeted Daria. He hadn’t changed much since she’d last seen him. He still had that boyish innocence about him, almost like an overgrown Gupty. About the only that had changed was his voice. It seemed less squeaky and high-pitched.

Ted sat on the floor next to the foot of the bed. "I didn’t expect to see you here, Daria. I didn’t know you knew Stacy."

Daria sat down next to him. "I didn’t. I just drove my sister here, and then I sort of wandered in here. I didn’t know she was into science fiction."

"Not many people did. But she loved the whole idea of it. Some nights we used to just lie out in the field and just watch the stars. I’d tell her which constellation was which, and we’d wonder if there was any intelligent life on any of their planets."

"As opposed to here," remarked Daria, getting a chuckle out of Ted. "How did you and Stacy meet?" she asked.

Ted smiled. "We met on a science project. Back then, I just thought she was one of those shallow girls that my mother told me about, and so I really didn’t talk to her much. Then one day, she came over, and she was crying about a guy who didn’t ask her out. ‘Bret’, I think his name was. I asked her what was so special about him, and she told me that no one else would ask her out. So the next day, I asked if she’d like to come to the Fencing Club meeting."

"And then she accepted?" guessed Daria.

"No, she rejected me. But she had a good reason. She said that she had to reject me to make sure I’d still be interested."

"That sounds like some of Quinn’s logic."

"Of course. Who do you think taught her?" Ted laughed. "After that, we were friends. We started dating later on."

"You must’ve really liked her."

"Everyone liked her, Daria. Even my mother liked her."

"Your mother?" asked Daria incredulously.

"Yup. My mother."

Quinn and Mrs. Rowe came into the room and turned toward the closet. "You will come to the wake this Thursday, won’t you?"

"Of course," replied Quinn. "We’ll all be there."

"What about you, Ted?" asked Mrs. Rowe.

"If I can get some transportation. My parents don’t believe in cars."

"I can drive you," offered Daria, almost automatically.

Ted smiled at Daria. "Thanks. I’ll be there, then."

Twenty-four hours had passed since the announcement had been made. In Sandi’s mind, it seemed much shorter. She had been tight lipped, stoic, when she had found out that Stacy had died. She hadn’t been able to sleep last night when she went to bed. But then, she didn’t cry, either. Sandi was never one to show much emotion, and besides, she had an image to maintain, after all. But as she peered into her locker to get her books, she couldn’t help but see the picture of all of the members of The Fashion Club, and the girl right above Quinn. She hadn’t changed much in the ten years that Sandi had known her. She’d always worn pigtails, and even in the group photo she looked as if she should have a stuffed animal or a blanket of some sort. Unable to bear the photo any longer, Sandi slammed her locker door shut.

Shutting the door revealed a blonde, big-eyed, busty girl. If it weren’t for the fact that she looked fairly intelligent, Sandi would have sworn that she was Brittany’s sister. But definitely a freshman, she concluded.

"Sandi?" the freshman greeted. "I just came here to say that I’m sorry about Stacy. I know you and she were great friends."

"How did you know that?" asked Sandi. The last thing she wanted was false sympathy right now.

"Oh, everyone knows. You’ve always been pretty famous around here."

"I guess," conceded Sandi. She knew how to appeal to her vanity at least.

"I was wondering, with Stacy dead and all…Could I be The Fashion Club’s new secretary?"

A red haze clouded Sandi’s vision as a white-hot ball of energy in her stomach exploded upward. Her hand flew on its own and sent the freshman sprawling. This was what she needed right now. A good catfight.

It was about this time that Quinn and Tiffany came down the hall. Tiffany ran over to Sandi. "Sandi, what are you doing?" she asked.

"I’m going to teach this little whore a lesson!" cried Sandi.

Quinn came up and put a restraining hand on Sandi’s arm. "Sandi," she said calmly. "This isn’t going to help. You’ll just get suspended. It won’t change anything. Why don’t we go for a walk?"

Sandi turned her head toward Quinn. "A walk?" she asked. Meanwhile, the freshman scurried away.

"Yeah…you know…a walk, maybe out to the courtyard. Just us three."

Sandi pulled her arm away from Quinn. "Okay," she replied softly.

The courtyard was devoid of all humans, and the only sound that could be heard outside was the wind moaning in the trees. The three surviving members of The Fashion Club came just outside the doorway. "God, Sandi. Are you all right?" asked Tiffany.

"Yeah, Tiff," replied Sandi bitterly. "I’m just fine. I’m great, in fact! If I wanted to, I could run from here to the Pacific Ocean and back! But Stacy can’t!" Sandi’s tears were flowing freely, now. Now that her pent up anger and bitterness had been released, she could finally grieve.

She sat down on the knee-high stone wall to her right. Quinn and Tiffany sat on either side of her. "You know, I finally figured out what you were trying to say to me yesterday, Quinn," Sandi started. "About Stacy’s conformity. She’s always been that way. When we were in elementary school, we’d go over each other’s houses to play. We both used to play ‘follow the leader’. I was always the leader. And the thing was, she never asked to be the leader, and I never offered. It was assumed. Until one day…I guess it was just so ingrained in us that it wasn’t a game anymore. It never even occurred to me that Stacy might not want to do the things I wanted to. I always took her for granted. And now…she’s gone. Even if she really did agree with me, the least I could have done was asked."

She turned to Quinn. "Look, I know that you and I haven’t always been on the best of terms, and I haven’t been the friend I should have, but…I really need you right now. I really need a friend."

"You’ve always had me as a friend, Sandi," replied Quinn. With that, the two of them hugged.

A gloomy drizzle heralded Thursday and the wake. Daria, Quinn, and Ted got out of the car and began to walk toward the funeral home. They saw that Sandi and Tiffany were there, waiting for them. Quinn greeted them, and together, they went inside.

In the chapel, Daria looked at the settings. Roses of all colors lined the catafalque just below Stacy’s coffin. The coffin was open, and Daria could see that Stacy’s face looked flawless in her endless repose.

Sandi, Quinn, and Tiffany went up to the casket. For what seemed like an eternity, they looked over her wordlessly. Then Sandi spoke, softly. "That isn’t the kind of lipstick she usually wears."

"I know," replied Tiffany. "And what’s with this burial dress? Where did they find it? J.J. Jitters?"

"Yeah, and why is her hair like this?" remarked Quinn. "Stacy would never wear her hair down like that. She always puts it in pigtails. It’s so cute like that."

"And her nail polish totally clashes," said Sandi.

At first Daria was shocked to hear them turning Stacy’s wake into a fashion critique, but then she realized what they were doing. They were, in their own way, saying good-bye to Stacy. It was the only way that they could handle their grief, and in its own way, it was appropriate. As The Fashion Club continued to gab about the general bad taste of Stacy’s wake in general, she saw that Sandi’s eyes were bright with held back tears. A stray tear drop flowed down Tiffany’s cheek. Quinn dabbed her eyes with a tissue.

Hastily, Tiffany began to rummage around in her purse. She pulled out a heart-shaped makeup kit and gently laid it next to Stacy’s elbow.

"What’s that?" asked Quinn.

"Oh, that? It’s Stacy’s," explained Tiffany. "She let me borrow her compact when we were twelve. I…I never returned it." She sniffed. "I…I’m sorry. I just…excuse me." She ran out of the chapel. Sandi and Quinn went after her, leaving Ted and Daria alone.

Ted gave Stacy a long, loving look. Then he took a small beeny-baby bear out of his jacket and placed it next to Stacy’s head. Then wordlessly, he too left the chapel.

Daria stood there alone with Stacy’s body. "Hi," she said to it. Boy, is this morbid, she thought. "You didn’t know me. Or maybe you did. I know I didn’t know you, but from what I’ve seen since you died, I can tell that you managed to touch just about everyone in Lawndale.

"I was thinking about our last conversation, about how popularity didn’t have a thing to do with your asking for advice. I just wanted to tell you that I’m sorry that I was so rude. You weren’t such a bad person, after all. Thanks for pointing that out to me." With that, she turned and went back into the lobby.

After the wake, Daria dropped Ted off at his house and then returned home. When they got home, Daria let Quinn out. "I’m going over to Jane’s," she explained.

Quinn nodded. "Thanks for driving me, and stuff."

Daria broke into a Mona Lisa smile. That "and stuff" had a lot attached to it. She sped off toward Jane’s.

As she drove in the rain, she realized that while The Fashion Club had been Stacy’s friends, they hadn’t known her. They only had a perception of who they thought she had been. And even though Daria had snooped around and discovered things that The Fashion Club didn’t know about, even she didn’t know exactly who Stacy was. The fact was that no one alive knew the real Stacy. And that was a shame.

Daria pulled up to the Lane residence on Howard Drive and got out of the car. She went up the front porch and rang the doorbell. Jane answered it. "Well speak of the devil! Trent just found an old Parcheesi game in his closet, and since Tom and I were just hanging around anyway, we thought we’d play. Of course then Trent suggested that we call you. What do you say?"

Daria smiled. It was just like Trent to think of her, and equally just like Jane to read into it. "Well, the idea of blocking the board so lover boy can’t get to you sort of appeals to me."

"Be nice," chided Jane as they both walked into the kitchen where the game was set up.

"Hey Daria," greeted Trent. "How was the wake?"

"Wake-ish," remarked Daria.

"They tend to be like that, or so I’m told," remarked Tom. "Did you know the deceased?"

Daria sat down and contemplated the question. "A little bit," was her answer.

Epilogue: From the collected memoirs of Daria Morgendorffer:

Things went pretty much back to normal after that. The Funeral was for the family only, so none of us wound up attending. It’s just as well. I’ve always thought that those things are supposed to be for just families, and I agreed with their decision. I also heard that they buried her to that stupid n’sync/Gloria Estefan song.

Sandi decided that Tori Jericho should succeed Stacy, and from what I hear, she does a good job. Not necessarily with the secretarial duties, but she makes sure that Sandi and Quinn are away from one another’s throats. Of course, now The Fashion Club has to schedule meetings around Tori’s Field Hockey, too.

The Rowes moved away about a month after that. With their eldest daughter living with her boyfriend and their son a USAF enlistment, there really wasn’t much reason for them to stay, and a lot of reasons for them to leave. No one’s moved into the house yet. I once heard a couple of middle-schoolers saying that it was haunted, that Stacy’s ghost was roaming the halls. Kids.

If Stacy’s ghost was haunting anyone, it was Ted. He visits her grave almost daily, and he always puts flowers there. I even heard he planted a tree at the intersection where Stacy died. He was thinking of quitting school and studying abroad again, but Quinn and I convinced him to stay. Quinn is very persuasive when she wants to be, I’ve noticed. Not that Ted has.

Meanwhile, I’m just getting through life the same as always: sarcasm, cynicism, the occasional realism, whatever. Stacy was a special person, and everyone who knew her will always remember her, but you can only mourn a person so long. In hindsight, though, I still wish I’d known her better. Stacy was a thinker, a dreamer, an activist, and above all, a true friend. In short, she’d have made a great outcast.
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