The Red Maid

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

Daria Morgendorffer gazed into the mirror as she once again adjusted the straps of her red bridesmaid dress. A small flicker of a smile crossed her face as she remembered her Aunt Amy’s words at Erin’s wedding: "I hate myself in a formal dress. And everyone else, too."

How appropriate.

Still, the dress wasn’t too bad, accentuating her figure without being uncomfortable. And besides, getting dressed up wouldn’t kill her. It was the least she could do for Trent and Monique.

Monique… Daria’s eyes trailed over to the duffel bag lying on her bed and made a mental inventory of its contents: Her purse, jeans, compact, sponge, spare dress… and a butcher knife.

Daria heard a horn honk and reflexively knew that it was Jane Lane, sister of the groom. Jane had agreed to pick her up and take her to the wedding. Grabbing the duffel bag, she headed out the door.

"Yo," greeted Jane as Daria got in.

"What’s new?" asked Daria.

"Not much. Just sold a few paintings." They stopped at a light, and Jane turned to Daria. "I can’t believe you’re going through with this."

Daria shrugged. "I almost can’t. Kind of funny how life turns out, isn’t it?"

"Any last-minute regrets?"

Daria shook her head. "No. It’s better for everyone this way."

Jane sighed. "Yeah." Then she smirked. "If you do a good job here, maybe I’ll use you."

"Oh? Speaking of which, where is young Thomas?"

"At the jewelry store," replied Jane casually.

"I take it you’ll be needing my services sooner than I’d thought."

Jane shrugged. "Maybe. Depends on how you do with Monique."

Daria didn’t reply, but rather sat back in her seat and began to remember…

Daria sat on the curb in front of her house, remembering the phone call that she had just received five minutes ago.

"Hey, Daria. Sorry, but bad movie night’s been canceled."


"Yeah, Tom and I and some friends are going bowling tonight."

"Gee. That’s nice."

There was a short silence and then, "Want to come?"

"No, thanks. Have fun with your friends."

"Is something the matter?"

"Well, at the risk of sounding like a controlling bitch, you did say that you would make some kind of effort to make time for me as well."

"What’s the big deal? I invited you, didn’t I?"

"Only as an afterthought. I’ll see you later." She hung up the phone, not waiting for a reply.

"Hey. Daria, right?" Daria looked up to see a tall, lanky woman with black hair and black eyes. Around her neck was a dog collar, and her nose was pierced. She wore black jeans, a black jacket, and a green shirt. These last two were about five sizes too small. Daria recognized her immediately.


Trent’s girlfriend.

This week.

"That’s what most people call me," said Daria. "The ones who acknowledge my existence, anyway."

Monique sat down on the curb next to her. "Still in high school?" she asked.


"You got that right," said Monique. "Of course, the rest of your life isn’t that great, either."

Daria looked around. "Where’s your car? Dega Street is a little too far to walk from here."

"Broke down a few blocks back," answered Monique. "Why? Thinking of stealing it?"

"No. I’d like to keep my life criminal record free, thanks."

She laughed, a musical, entrancing sound. "So, I take it I can’t convince you to steal it?"


"Then can I at least use your phone?"

"Well… that depends." Daria flashed her a Mona Lisa smile. "You might be able to wrestle it from my mom, assuming my sister doesn’t get to it, first."

Monique laughed again. "Oh man, one of those families. And I thought my life sucked." She got up. "I don’t suppose you’ll help me with this?" she asked tentatively.

Daria got to her feet as well. "Why not? I’ve got nothing better to do."

Fortunately, both Helen and Quinn were nowhere in the vicinity, and Monique made her phone call. "Hi, Jim… it’s Monique… My car broke down… Yeah, well you can buy me a new one, because I can’t afford it… Yes, as a matter of fact, I’d like you to pick me up… Come on, it’s really important… 1111 Glen Oaks Lane… You’re the best! Thanks!… Love you, too… Bye." She hung up.

Daria’s eyes narrowed. "Who’s Jim?" she asked. Lady, you’d better not even be thinking of cheating on Trent.

"My brother," replied Monique, gliding toward the sofa and sitting down. "I love him but man, does he get on your case." She smiled. "Why? Did you think I was cheating on Trent or something?"

"Well…" Daria felt a warmth spreading across her cheeks as she sat down next to her. "It’s just that you guys are always breaking up."

Monique smiled at her. "You’re not very experienced with relationships, are you?"

"Not really," conceded Daria. "It hasn’t always been convenient."

Monique snorted. "They never are. Well, just to let you know, whenever we’ve broken up, it was never on account of infidelity."

"Well, as long as we’re on the subject, why do you break up with him?"

"Stuff," replied Monique evasively.

"What kind of stuff?"

"Just… stuff." She sighed. "You know, we’ve all got problems. And sometimes it’s hard for people to deal with those problems… and sometimes those problems get in the way with your love life. Then your boyfriend really doesn’t want to deal with them… or something like that."

"So Trent always dumped you, then?" asked Daria.

"Most of the time, yeah. You can’t really blame him. I mean, he’s got own problems, his band, his music… and even when we aren’t dating… I know he cares. Sometimes he does it because he cares."

"You’re in a band, too. Right?" Daria wanted to change the subject, primarily because Monique’s mood had taken a downswing, but also because she was afraid. Afraid that Monique would reveal something about Trent that she didn’t know about. Something that would cause her to hate him.

"Uh-huh. The Harpies. I’ve been thinking of leaving but… I’m not sure if I can. I mean I want too, but… they won’t let me. It’s kind of like… like…"

"The Mafia?" quipped Daria.

"Yeah!" laughed Monique.

A horn honked. "Well that’s my ride," said Monique, getting up. She looked at Daria. "Thanks."

Daria smiled at her. "Don’t mention it."

Monique smiled at her before going out the door.

Daria went up to her room. Laying on her bed, her mind drifted. So that was her rival…

Daria leafed through her copy of Brutal Mercenary Magazine.

Poison is too inaccurate. You could kill everyone at the reception, or worse, just make them sick.

Strangulation takes too long. Anyone could walk in.

A shotgun is too conspicuous. And you can put a silencer on a pistol, but you can trace the bullet back to the registration.

Defenstration, only good if it’s on a high floor. I can’t count on that.

Well, it looks like the knife. But it’s messy… I’ll have to plan for that.

Daria and Jane pulled up to the house. Trent and Monique had decided to have a household wedding during the late afternoon. The wedding colors were Red and White, which explained the color of her dress.

Red and White. Like blood on a wedding dress.

Trent opened the door, and greeted Daria with a friendly embrace. "Hey, Daria."

Daria looked at Trent and tried to remember what she’d felt for him all those years ago. Nothing. No love. Not even lust. Just… nothing.

But this wasn’t about love. It wasn’t even about lust.

It was only about revenge.

Daria clutched her duffel bag tighter. "Hey, Trent," she returned his greeting, looking at him. He was dressed in a black and white tux, his hair combed and his goatee neatly trimmed for the occasion.

"Monique’s in her room. Been holed up in there all day. I know she wants to talk to you." He cocked an eyebrow. "Wonder what she’s doing up there? Maybe I should check…"

"Not so fast, young man!" admonished Jane. "You aren’t going anywhere near that room. You know what they say about grooms who see brides before the wedding."

"Aww, Janey," whined Trent. "You know I’m just concerned…"

"…about Monique. Don’t worry about it! Daria’ll make sure she doesn’t do anything she’d regret later. Short of marrying you. Right Daria?"

"Exactly. On both counts," smirked Daria.

Trent’s laugh trailed off into a cough. "Thanks, Daria. You know how protective I am of her. I probably should have said this sooner, but… you been like a sister to me. I just want you to know that."

"So I nag you constantly and get all of your hand-me-downs?" quipped Daria.

"Hey," said Jane, "for the record, I never got any of his hand-me-downs."

Daria left the two siblings and proceeded up the stairs, trying hard not to think of their eroding friendship…

Another night alone, thought Daria as she stared up at the ceiling cracks. I used to enjoy being alone. But now I hate it. Why? I guess it’s because I finally found a person who understands—or at least seemed to understand me. Well, now I remember why I hate friendships. It’s the growing apart.

The phone rang. Probably for Quinn. Or Mom. Another ring. Come on and stop ringing so I can do something. Another ring. Like read a book. Another ring. Can’t read with this ringing. Another ring. Oh, hell with it. She picked up the receiver. "Hello?"

"Daria?" the voice on the other line sounded familiar, but Daria couldn’t quite place it.

"Yeah. Who’s this?"

"Hey Daria. This is Monique. You remember me?"

Daria remembered, all right. "Yeah. Uh… What do you want?" she asked bluntly.

"Well, I was wondering if you were doing anything tonight."

"Huh?" Daria’s eyes widened.

"See, I was thinking about going out tonight, but most of my friends made other plans—or so they told me—and I was thinking if you didn’t have anything to do… you and I could go do something?"

"What about Trent?" asked Daria.

"He and the band are rehearsing. Look, if you don’t want to, I understand. I mean, if someone that you barely know asks you if you want to go hang somewhere, I know your first reaction is, ‘God, is this girl weird or what?’ It was just that I didn’t feel like going out alone, and I was hoping that… you know… since you’re Trent’s friend… maybe we could get to know each other a little better?"

Daria smiled. So, you’re lonely, Monique? Well, I guess I can relate to that. "Why not?"

"Great!" Monique’s musical laughter permeated the receiver. "I’ll pick you up in about a half an hour?"

"Sure," said Daria.

The interim time seemed to drag on for some reason, and when the horn honked, Daria practically ran out of the door…

…to stare at a car so crappy that it made Tom’s look classy by comparison.

Tentatively, Daria stepped into the car.

"Don’t be scared," reassured Monique. "It doesn’t look like much, but it runs." The car backfired. "Most of the time," she added with a smile.

"I take it you tend to live on the edge," remarked Daria.

"Of town," finished Monique. "So, what do you want to do? I guess the bar’s out of the question."

"Obviously," agreed Daria. "Well, when Jane and I go out, we usually go to Pizza King."

"Pizza sounds good. I just got paid from our last gig, so I’ll treat."


Pretty soon Daria found herself in her usual spot at the pizzeria. Rather than taking the seat across from her, however, Monique opted to sit next to her, closing her off from the booth’s exit.

"So how’s high school? Sucky as ever?" asked Monique.

"Probably worse," replied Daria. "The people around me are complete idiots, my teachers are all nuts, and the principal acts like she’s our warden. When she isn’t embezzling the funds for more security equipment."

Monique snorted. "I take it Ms. Li’s still in charge, then."


"Man, I’m glad I’m out of high school. I’d probably be one of those kids who snaps and comes in with a gun or something."

"You couldn’t. They strip search you once you get in the door."

Monique laughed. "But I guess it must be hard being an outcast, huh?"

"Not really. All I have to do is be myself, and there I am."

"You know what I mean."

"Yeah. I’m kind of alone these days. My best friend… she just got herself a new boyfriend, and now he’s introducing her to all of his friends… I guess she just doesn’t have time for me, anymore."

"That’s the problem with friendship," said Monique sagely. "You have this really great thing going on, and then one day… it’s over. That’s how it is with everybody. Believe it or not, you’re actually one of the lucky ones. You can sort of break it off with your friend, if you want. Not like… forget it."

"What?" asked Daria.

"Well, the thing is, when the Harpies and I first joined up, it was… great. We were just another garage band. But then we started playing, and we got our paychecks, but… It just stopped being fun. I don’t even like them anymore. It’s like, the band’s my ‘other’ job—besides my real job—and they’re my co-workers."

"Then why don’t you quit?" asked Daria.

"I can’t. I mean… I say I’ll start my own band, but it’s hard. You have to get people together, hope they have their own equipment, and the club owners are usually interested in their regulars. It’d be hard finding work."

"Well, why don’t you just not play?"

"I need the money," said Monique.

Daria frowned. "I didn’t know that playing in a band generated any cash that was worth it. Especially after seeing Trent barely being able to scrape up enough dough to live off of."

Monique’s eyebrows raised. "Nothing gets by you, huh? I guess I just like it too much. Even with all the crap. But what about you? I mean, I’ve been whining about myself for the most part. What do you want to do with your life?"

"Well, I wouldn’t mind writing for a living."

Monique smiled. "That sounds good. Have you written anything yet?"

Daria nodded. "Some poetry, a few short stories, a political commentary here and there."

"You think I could read them sometime?"

Daria looked at her. It was the first time anyone had actually asked to read her material. Even Jane only asked to read her stuff on certain occasions. But Monique actually wanted to read them. "Well, they are a bit on the heavy side."

Monique laughed again. "Daria, do you actually think that I’m afraid of that kind of stuff? I mean, look at me. I’m a goth girl. I’m supposed to love that stuff."

"Well… okay, I guess."

"Sure. And maybe I can invite you to a few of our gigs."

"Well, if I can stomach the Spiral, I suppose I’ll be able to keep from gnawing off my legs at one of your shows."

"Gee, thanks," deadpanned Monique. "The scary thing about that is that’s probably the biggest compliment anyone besides Trent ever paid us."

Daria felt a sharp pang in her stomach. She hadn’t really thought about the remark before saying it. She was getting more comfortable around Monique, almost thinking about her as a friend, and didn’t want a stray remark to mess things up. "I’m sorry."

"No biggie," Monique smiled.

The twosome talked like that for what seemed like hours. Finally, the pizza parlor closed, and Daria and Monique were driving home.

Monique pulled up to the Morgendorffer household, and the twosome got out. "I really had a great time, tonight," said Monique. "Better than I’ve had in a long time."

"Same here," replied Daria. "Of course, that isn’t saying much." The twosome laughed.

"See you around?" asked Monique.

"Sure," said Daria. "I’m free pretty much whenever."

"Great!" cried Monique. She grabbed Daria and pulled her toward her in a sisterly hug.

Daria strangely found herself returning it. It seemed like such a long time since she’d had a friend…

Daria sat in her room, absently watching television. The heart is the quickest and most effective way to kill her, but she can still scream. If she screams, it’ll attract attention. That is unacceptable.

The lungs, on the other hand, will take longer, but she won’t be able to get enough air into them to cry out. But it’s possible that someone will show up.

It’s a risk, but an acceptable one. Very well, the lungs it is. But I’ll have to remember to hold the knife parallel to the ground, otherwise it could become lodged in the ribs.

"Daria!" Daria looked up the steps to see Monique’s brother on the landing. "How’ve you been!"

"Oh, getting by," replied Daria as she reached the top of the steps.

"Good to hear it!" said Jim. "You should see Monique. I’ve never seen her so happy. She’s practically glowing."

"Well, it is her wedding day."

"I know. I can’t believe it. I mean, I never thought I’d see the day when Monique would get married. And I know she can’t wait to see you." He began to walk down the stairs. "I’ll be in the kitchen. Let me know if you need anything, okay?"

Daria pondered some of Jim’s words. Practically glowing…

The Zen was nearly half empty, and there were only a few people who were actually listening to the music. Bouncers lined the stage, glaring threateningly at the clientele and moving in on anyone even attempting to dance.

But it didn’t seem to matter to Monique, who was singing her heart out as if she and the Harpies were playing to an SRO audience.

As Daria listened, she couldn’t help but compare and contrast their sound to Mysik Spiral. Actually contrast seemed to be the key word: The Harpies were clearly superior lyrically, but that comparison didn’t do them justice. Their words were better than most of the crap on the radio. But as far as music went, they were slightly less angsty, more melodic, and a bit lighter. They weren’t above a "silly song" or a cover now and again—they seemed to play one of each every set—but for the most part their songs centered around some form of political or feminist satire.

And made fun of high school girls. Needless to say, Daria liked those best.

"You put your makeup on oh, you’re just so pretty," sang Monique between riffs, the sarcasm coming through her voice. "The boys all love you and you think you’re so witty. You think boy bands are hot and you worship Britney Spears… And then you wake up pregnant after too many beers!"

"Hey, Daria."

Daria turned to see Trent standing next to her. "Hey, Trent. Did you come down to see Monique?"

"Yeah. And to talk to the manager about our next gig. I didn’t know you were a Harpies fan."

"Well, with this kind of a song lineup, it’s hard to resist."

"Yeah," agreed Trent. "Monique really should consider leaving, though. She could probably start her own band. Who knows? Maybe she’d make it big."

Daria turned to look directly at Trent. "That isn’t the whole story, is it?"

Trent’s laugh trailed off into a cough. "Never could put anything over on you. No, that isn’t the whole story. I really don’t like those girls in that band. They aren’t exactly the most wholesome people in town."

"What do you mean?" asked Daria.

Trent scratched his head. "I don’t know," he frowned at her.

Daria sighed. He’s obviously holding something back. What is it? Are those girls doing something to Monique? What’s she in to?

The music stopped, followed by some scattered clapping. "Okay um… hey could you guys get down off of that?" asked Monique, looking off to her left. "Because if you don’t, the sound guy’ll get pissed and we’re liable, so could you come down, please? We don’t want you getting hurt… Okay, the owner just told me that if we play one more song, we’ll get arrested."

Ragged cheers. Some of them were generic "defy authority" and "screw the system" chants, and others were just drunks who didn’t understand what was going on, but slurred loud encouragements at them anyway.

"Are you kidding? I don’t wanna get arrested!" cried Monique. "So that’s it. Don’t forget to come back for Mysik Spiral this Wednesday. Good night, Zen!" She took off her guitar and got off the stage.

She quickly spied Daria and Trent among the thin crowd. "Aww, Trent!" she cried, throwing her arms around him and giving him a small kiss on the lips. "I see you and Daria hooked up real quick."

"Aw, stop," Trent smiled at her.

Monique’s eyes flicked off to her left. Daria looked over in that direction and saw the other members of The Harpies looking at them with a frown on their collective faces. "So what are you doing here? You know how the girls don’t like it."

"I just bet," interjected Daria sardonically. She and Trent exchanged a smirk.

"I just had to see the manager about Wednesday’s gig. He wanted to go over some things with me," said Trent. "I hope you can forgive me," he joked.

"We’ll see," said Monique. Daria turned her head away from the couple as they kissed again.

One of the Harpies cleared her throat. "If you’re finished swallowing his tongue, Monique?"

Monique tittered. It seemed so weak; a contrast to her usual rich and musical laugh. "Sorry, guys." She smiled at Trent. "Later." With that, she went off to join her band.

Trent cocked an eyebrow. "Now what do you suppose was so important that they had to go outside? Without their equipment?"

Daria’s eyebrows rose. "A freak equinox?" she quipped. Then her tone became more firm. "Why are you so suspicious?"

Trent gave her a long look. Then he laughed. Daria noticed that it didn’t trail off into a cough, as usual. "Yeah, I guess I am getting a bit possessive. Daria, would you watch Monique’s equipment for a sec? I wanna ask the manager if we can hold the meeting by the stage. Stuff around here has a tendency to walk, if you know what I mean."

Daria agreed, and five minutes later Trent came back with the manager. Daria left them to their business and went outside.

As she walked around to the back of club, she spied The Harpies’ van. Muffled giggles came from the back of it. Daria’s eyes narrowed. She was going to find out once and for all just what was going on between the foursome. Grimly, she walked up to the van and opened the door.

Inside she saw the four girls sitting bent over a table. She climbed up into the van, listening to the sniffling sounds coming from the girls. Suddenly, Monique, who was sitting opposite the van’s doors, sat up, pinching her nose. Her eyes widened. "Daria!" she cried out. The other girls turned to see her. Frowning, Daria turned, hopped down, and stalked off.

God, I’m such an idiot, thought Daria as she walked away from the van. Well, this explains a lot. Like why she and Trent are always breaking up. And why he doesn’t like the Harpies. One of them is probably the dealer, or knows the dealer. Hey! For all I know, Monique could be the one who supplies them. But even if she wasn’t, she didn’t exactly object to it, did she? Damn it, Monique! How could you do this to me?

"Daria, wait!" Monique called after her. Daria just went on walking. What did she think she could possibly say to repair this damage?

"Leave me alone," said Daria. "What, are you afraid I’ll call the cops?"

Monique turned Daria around to face her. "No, I don’t care about that, just… don’t tell Trent, okay?"


"Please, Daria! Promise me that you won’t tell Trent."


Monique’s eyes began to tear up. "Daria, if you tell him, he’ll dump me again! I know it! I couldn’t take it if he did that."

"Okay, I won’t."

"Promise me," insisted Monique, tears running down her cheeks.

"Okay, I promise. Now get back in your van. He might catch you, you know."

"Thanks, Daria," Monique cried, grabbing her and hugging her tightly…

The tailor who outfitted her was a sharp contrast to the woman who’d made her dress for the Chambers-Danielson wedding. For one thing, she seemed to be fairly nice about the whole thing, and didn’t criticize Daria’s body. But then, it’d been years since anyone had done anything of the kind. "My, that dress looks lovely on you, even if I say so myself. Red’s your color."

"Thanks," Daria smiled at her. Of course, she couldn’t stand red on her. She’d always preferred jade, or another shade of dark green. She hated bright colors.

But this woman didn’t know that. "Actually, I like it so much, that I think I’ll buy one."

"Buy?" repeated the tailor incredulously. "Are you sure? These things are expensive, you know."

"That’s alright," replied Daria. "Money’s no object."

The woman laughed. "If I didn’t know better, I’d swear you were going to murder the bride!"

Daria forced a chuckle.

In retrospect, it would have been better to tell Trent, back then. Trent would have broken up with her, and Monique would have hated her for the rest of her life. Which probably wouldn’t have been that long, all things considered…

Daria pulled up to Monique’s apartment building on Dega Street and got out of the car. She hadn’t seen or even heard from Monique in a while. A small, nagging suspicion began to grow in her mind, until it finally forced her to come here. Grimly, she went in.

Since Daria had found out about Monique’s drug use, she’d been seeing less and less of her. In fact, the two had hardly talked with each other for a month. Every time she saw Monique, her stomach jumped into her throat. After all, what if Monique tried to pressure her into trying drugs herself?

But the main problem was that Monique didn’t pressure her into drugs. She respected the fact that Daria didn’t want to be into that sort of thing, and the twosome never talked about it when they did get together. It was Daria’s own middle class prejudices that were causing her to pull away. Or maybe I want to pull away no matter what, and the fact that Monique’s a junky is just a convenient excuse.

Daria stopped a few feet away from Monique’s door. What was she even doing there? Why did she care if Monique did something to hurt herself? She was the girlfriend of a guy who Daria had a crush on. By all rights, they should have been at each other’s throats.

And yet, here she was at Monique’s doorstep, wondering how her friend was doing.

Daria knocked tentatively on the door. "Monique?" No response. She’d noticed her car out in the parking lot, and there had been a light in her window. Monique had to be home. "Monique?" she called, knocking again. Again, nothing.

Suddenly, Daria looked down to see that she was standing on a doormat. I wonder… She stepped off of the mat and lifted it up. Sure enough, there was a key underneath. Oldest trick in the book. Monique, you’re gonna get robbed one of these days.

Using the key, she went inside the apartment. A small hallway led into the living room. A bean-bag chair and a television were the only pieces of furniture in it, with guitars resting against the walls. An odd, unpleasant odor like burning plastic permeated the room. "Monique?" Daria’s voice echoed through the empty living room.

From its doorway, Daria could clearly see that she wasn’t in the kitchen. Another short hallway went out of the living room. Daria followed it to see two rooms, one which had its door open a small crack. With a creak, Daria pushed the door open, and then covered her mouth to keep a scream from escaping her lips.

Monique lay in a heap on the floor, blood trickling from her nose and her eyes closed to slits. Daria rush over, knelt down, and put her fingers to her neck.


Daria quickly calmed herself. Getting emotional would only hurt the situation. Quickly, she spied the phone on the dresser. She ran over and dialed 911. "Hello… I need an ambulance at 106 Dega Street… My friend looks like she just ODed… No, I don’t… Yes, I do… Okay, I’ll do that… Thanks."

She went back to Monique and began to rhythmically pump her chest, berating herself as she did. Damn Monique and her promises! I should have told somebody. Mom… Dad… Even Jane! Why didn’t I? Monique, you’d better not die, because I’m sure not coming to your funeral.

Daria began to beat on her chest. You hear me? Don’t you die!


Daria turned to see an EMT and a police officer. Daria quickly got up and let them do their jobs, hoping fervently that they could save her. Meanwhile, she told the officer what had happened.

An hour later, Daria sat in the hospital room, looking at Monique’s comatose form and clutching her hand. It seemed that Daria had just arrived in a nick of time. If she had been even a minute later, Monique would have been dead by now. Not that she looked very lively. An oxygen mask covered most of her face. An IV needle protruded from her left hand. And the cardiac monitor really got on her nerves.

"Daria?" Daria looked up to see Trent standing in the doorway. Wordlessly, he went over and took a seat next to her.

Daria lifted up Monique’s hand. "Here. I think you may want this."

"Thanks," Trent smiled wanly at her. "How is she?"

"Her prognosis is good," explained Daria. "The Doctor’s are reasonably sure that she’ll come out of it."

"Lucky thing that you came along when you did." Trent sighed. "I really don’t understand why she does this to herself. You know, she’s really a lot better off than I am. She’s really smart, she’s got a great voice, and even if it doesn’t work out, she can still hold down a regular job. I mean, she doesn’t just live off of her gigs, you know? So why drugs? She knows they’ll just make things worse."

"You’re thinking of breaking up with her again. Aren’t you?" asked Daria.

"Yeah," replied Trent.

Daria’s stomach sank. No. I’m not going to win. Not like this. Not when Monique can’t even defend herself. I’ve got too much respect for her to do that. Besides, she’s…a friend.

"I mean, I know it’ll be hard on her, but I have to do what’s best for the both of us," Trent continued.

"Oh, I see," said Daria acidly. "Are you going to dump her now, or are you going to save abandoning her until she’s fully conscious?"


"How can you think of breaking up with Monique?" demanded Daria. "Can’t you see that she needs you now, more than ever? Boy, I’m glad I’m not your girlfriend. The first time I ever got in trouble, you’d be gone."

"Janey thinks…"

"Forget what Jane thinks! If you really do care about Monique, you’ll stay with her and help her through this! It’s not going to help her to just dump her whenever she does something that’s harmful to herself. She’ll probably just do something worse, next time."

Trent looked at her. "I guess you’re right. Maybe…maybe if I stuck by her to begin with, she wouldn’t be in this bad of shape right now. I’m just going to have to ride it out with her."

Daria nodded her approval and then looked down at her friend, wondering if she had done the right thing…

Between Jane and Tom’s relationship intensifying and Daria’s own studies at college, the times that Jane and Daria could see each other were now few and far between. So when Daria did get an invitation to the Lane residence, she eagerly took it. This was such a time, and Daria went up the stairs to her old friend’s bedroom.

Daria quickly reached the top and went down the hall. The old house hadn’t changed much since the last time she was there. Even Trent’s room was probably the same.

As she approached Trent’s room, she heard heavy breathing, followed up by a small moan.


Grotesquely fascinated, Daria just stood there, listening to the sounds coming from the room and feeling her gorge rising. She wanted to get away from the noise, but yet she was immobile, transfixed with the idea that only a thin wall separating her from whatever indecencies were going on in there.

It was only after hearing Monique mutter a small "I love you" that Daria’s resolve crumbled, and she ran into the bathroom with her hand over her mouth.

Daria continued her inexorable trek toward Monique’s room. If it weren’t for Daria, Monique would be dead by now. In fact, it was safe to say that Monique owed Daria her life. And Daria had come to collect.

Daria picked up the ringing phone. "Hello?"


Daria smiled. "Hey, Monique."

"Daria, could you come over?" Monique’s voice was scratchy. "I really need to talk to you."

"Why? What’s the matter?" asked Daria. "Trent didn’t break up with you, did he?"

"No, nothing like that. It’s just… I can’t talk about it over the phone, okay? Just come over."

"I’ll be right there."

"Thanks. Bye."

"Bye." She hung up the phone and got in her car. Fifteen minutes later, she was there.

Daria went up to Monique’s apartment and knocked on her door, trying not to remember the last time that something was wrong.

The door opened to reveal a tear ravaged Monique. "Thanks," she sniffled. "Come on in."

"What’s wrong? You look like crap," said Daria.

"Yeah," agreed Monique. She walked into her bedroom, and Daria followed. She gestured to the paper. "Did you see the entertainment section today?"

Daria shook her head.

"Read the page three article," prompted Monique.

" ‘Local Girl Band Bass Player Fatally…’ Oh, God!" Daria read on. " ‘Harpies Bassist Julianne Slovotski—better known as Julie Serendipity—was found dead of a cocaine overdose…’ Monique, I… I’m sorry."

Tears began to run down Monique’s cheeks. "I knew her… I knew her since we were five. We were inseparable. We did everything together. We grew up together, we joined the Harpies together… we snorted together. And then… I finally left, and it was over. We’ve hated each other ever since. And I thought… ‘I don’t care about them. They can just drop off the face of the earth for all I care.’"

Monique grabbed a tissue and dabbed her eyes with it. "And then this happens. Why her? Why her and not one of the other ones? Or why not me? Why did she have to die and I was saved? What makes me so damn special?"

Impulsively, Daria pulled Monique toward her. Monique buried her face in Daria’s chest and wept, her tears soaking Daria’s jacket. Daria held her tightly, doing her best to comfort her friend.

After about a half hour, Monique managed to cry herself out. "Daria?" Her voice was hoarse. "Could you stay the night?"

Daria nodded wordlessly.

It was her senior year of college, and Daria had never been so content. She and Monique had gotten an apartment right by the school, and the two roommates had settled into a domestic tranquility. Ever since that night, the two had grown closer and closer, until it only seemed natural that the two should move in together.

Monique had never seemed happier, either. Her new band, Monique and the Angles, were really beginning to take off, and she and Trent had been steadily dating for over four years, now. And caffeine was the only drug in her system.

Daria still needed to hit the books, though, and for that reason, her bedroom door was closed. It was her own signal to say, "I’m studying."

There was a knock at the door. "I’ll get it," called Monique. There was the sound of Monique’s footsteps, and then… "Aww, Trent! Hi sweetie!"

"Hey, Monique."

"You got some good news for me?"

Daria smiled. Mystik Spiral (or whatever they were calling themselves these days) was being courted by several independent labels, and it was only a matter of time until they had a contract.

"Yeah, as a matter of fact. We just signed a deal with Panic Button…"

Daria heard Monique let out a whoop. She picked up her book and walked expectantly to the door.

"…Anyway, we just signed with Panic Button, and they decided to give us a six album deal. Ben even said he’d give us a cash advance, and he never does that."

"That’s great! So what are you gonna use it for? You guys are probably going to want some new equipment or something like that, right?"

"Well, actually, I sort of already spent my share."

There was a short silence and then Daria heard Monique gasp.

"Monique… will you marry me?"

Daria snorted. Yeah, right! They didn’t even live together. Besides, Monique was happy as it was. She just wasn’t the marrying type. Like Monique would really marry…


Daria’s mouth gaped open as the book fell from her grasp. It landed with a huge clatter.

Monique hefted the last box into the Tank. "Hard to believe that this thing still runs," she commented to Daria.

"Don’t worry. If Max is driving, I’m sure he’ll total it somehow."

The twosome laughed. "‘The Tank is indestructible!’" cried Monique in an imitation of the bald headed drummer. She sobered. "Are you sure you don’t want to drive over with us? You’ll miss a lot of fun…"

"…doing backbreaking labor from unpacking," retorted Daria.

Monique merely responded by sticking her tongue out at her. "So there." She closed the door.

"Are you reverting back to infancy, now?"

Monique smirked. "Never too late to have a happy childhood!" she remarked, eliciting another chuckle out of Daria.

"Daria, I was thinking. You and I have been friends for nearly five years now. You’ve been there whenever I’ve needed you. Hell, you even saved my life, once. I was wondering… would you be my Maid of Honor? At the wedding?"

Daria smiled. "I was wondering when you were going to ask that. Sure, count me in."

"You’re the best!" cried Monique, impulsively hugging her, not knowing of the plans Daria was already forming in her mind…

Daria had finally reached her destination, and now stood in front of Monique’s door. Taking a deep breath, she knocked. "Monique? It’s me. Daria."

"It’s open," said Monique. Daria went in and quietly closed the door behind her. "Daria!" she cried. She once again threw her arms around her and kissed her on the cheek. "I’m so glad you made it!"

"Traffic was a bitch," quipped Daria.

Once again Monique laughed that musical laugh of hers. She stepped back. "How do I look?" She gestured at her wedding dress. It was a low cut and long sleeved, with the hemline cut midway across the thigh.

"Monique, you look… gorgeous!"

"Yeah, but you’re probably going to steal the show tonight. Look at you! I wish every guy from your high school class was here, just so they could all drool."

"I don’t. It’d ruin the carpets, after all."

"That’s true." The twosome sat down on the bed. "So how’s work?"

"It’s good. My first novel just came out in hardcover. Now let’s hope that somebody buys it."

"Well, you’ve got one person who will, at least." She once again took Daria’s hands. "Daria… I can’t tell you how much it means to me that you’re here tonight. I don’t think I could go through this without you. I mean… I know this sounds corny but… you’re the best friend I’ve ever had."

In spite of herself, Daria felt a warmth spreading across her cheeks. "Um… thanks."

The two began to stare into each other’s eyes. Then Monique slowly released Daria’s hands. "You can put your stuff in the bathroom, okay?" She gestured to the bathroom adjacent to the bedroom.

"Sure," said Daria. With that, she got up and went into the other room.

Once there, Daria opened her duffel bag and began to rummage around in it. Slowly, she drew out the knife. Then, she went back into the bedroom.

Monique stood gazing at the mirror, blissfully oblivious of everything around her. It was the happiest day of her life, and Daria knew it.

With deliberate concentration, she raised the knife…

"You’re the best friend I’ve ever had." Daria started. No one had ever said that to her. Not even Jane. But it was true enough: During the past five years, they had been inseparable, at first rivals, and then friends.

She slowly lowered the knife.

With a smile, she walked over to her. Gently, she turned her around…

…and sank the knife deep into her lung, right below the right breast.

Monique’s eyes widened, and her blood began to spray onto Daria’s dress. The blood wasn’t that much redder than the dress itself; but it was warm, like a soothing bath. Monique began to gasp, to try gather her voice for a scream, but she couldn’t. All that came out were small gurgling noises.

In her death throes, Monique lurched forward, embedding the knife further into her. She grabbed Daria by the shoulders in an iron grip, pulling herself toward her in one final embrace.

However, Daria was easily the stronger of the two, with Monique’s life ebbing from her body, and she gently lowered the bride-never-to-be onto the bed. Daria knelt over her, free hand supporting her back, gazing at her. Monique’s lips moved in silent words, and then her hands slid off of Daria’s shoulders, never to move again.

Daria slid the knife out of Monique’s body, and saw that she was still bleeding, the red blood sullying the white dress. Then she turned from the body and went back into the bathroom.

Putting the knife near the sink, she took off her gloves and took the matching dress and sponge from the duffel bag. Next, she changed into the identical dress. Then she put the bloody garments and weapon in the bag, and used the sponge to wipe up the excess blood. Her work completed, she went out into the bedroom.

She took one last look at Monique before leaving. Monique lay there, eyes frozen in amazement, disbelief, and most of all, sadness. Sadness, because her best friend was a friend no longer. It seemed that the loss of her life was trivial when compared to the loss of her best friend. Unable to stand the sight of Monique’s eyes any longer, Daria pulled her eyelids down over them and held them down until they stayed shut. Then, taking everything with her, she opened the door and went out of the room.

Daria closed the door, her thoughts melancholy. Sometimes the best of friends make the worst of enemies.