Daria's normal week is full of drama, pain, and shopping. (Part I)
Part 01: Actions
Disclaimer: Daria and associated characters are owned by MTV and Viacom. This is fan fiction written for entertainment only. No money or other negotiable currency or goods have been exchanged. Special thanks to the Outpost Daria for the Transcripts available there, they were invaluable tools for the development of this chapter, and in the future I hope I can be less reliant on them.
This is the first half of ‘chapter 05: A week in the life…’ and since the end result was bigger than expected I decided to divide it from Monday to Thursday, and from Friday to Sunday.
This chapter is dedicated to peetz5050 for his invaluable efforts proof reading making it legible.
* I II III IV *
Monday, for most people both young and old, is a day of doom, the day when the weekend’s fun is officially over and it is time to face harsh reality once more. For Daria and Jane Monday held no particular aversion. They were realists, they knew beyond any reasonable doubt that most days will suck to a greater or lesser extent, not just the first working day.
“So how did you do on Mr. Demartino’s quiz?”
“Surprisingly good, it's quite amazing what you can learn when doing a term paper on Civil War Photography for a Masters in Humanities.” answered Jane.
“Yeah, I suspected that you did well when your cries of fear and doom didn’t join the ones from the rest of the class.”
“A shame we can’t expand the business to the school, such an enormous unexplored market full of unexplored heads.”
“Well, you know that ancient proverb, ‘Never piss in your own pool’, plus most teens are poor and unable to match our rates.”
“Better this way, the workload we already have is already cutting into my allotted slacking time, if I keep going like this, Trent will start checking for Pod People under his bed.”
* I II III IV *
Professor Anthony Demartino’s freshman class wasn’t as happy with their results as the couple of cynical sophomores, in fact the teacher’s red marker had run out when marking the grades.
“…and the final qUEStion, who was HeRNAn CorTEs? I will give you a clue… He wasn’t part of the EnGLIsh parLIAment.” Demartino wasn’t satisfied at all with their quiz, not happy at all.
“But, like who would knows who that Hector guy was? I mean, he is like kinda dead, so who cares?”
“Hernan Cortes, Miss Morgendorffer, not Hector. And maybe if some people cARe to pay atTENtion IN class instead of reaDIng usELess teen maGAZines they would get something higher than baREly a C. “
The rest of the rant that Demartino had ready for the fashion conscious girl was interrupted by the timely ring of the bell for next period. Quinn hastily made an exit to the cafeteria to meet with Sandi and the rest of the Fashion Club.
At the table that the Fashion Club had reserved for themselves at the beginning of the year Sandi was already waiting for her to start their meeting.
“Secretary Stacy, please annotate the late arrival of the vice-president and the opening of this session of the Fashion Club” It seemed that Sandi wasn’t in a good mood.
“Now the first topic of the day is the official inquiry into the involvement of Vice-President Quinn in unfashionable activities.”
“But Sandi, the first topic is supposed to be Tiffany’s, I mean the Accessories Committee report.”
“Yes… I was about to… talk… about laces.”
“Well, as the president of the Fashion Club it is my duty to choose which matter is more important, and at this time I've decide to discuss Quinn’s transgressions.”
“Wait a second, what transgression?” This was bad, Sandi would never have said something like that unless she was pretty sure of herself.
“Remember that you missed last week's second emergency reunion of the Fashion Club?”
“The one where we were going to punish Tiffany? I did ask for a special exception due to parental intervention, and turned my vote to you as a proxy, all legal.” Where was she going with all this?
“Yes… I remember… Stacy voted no on the nightcap… Sandi voted yes… and Quinn voted yes…”
“You forgot to tell us what you were supposed to do Quinn. Stacy, could you please tell me what the cousin of the sister of the friend of your neighbor said.”
“Well he said that he bought Quinn a phone card last week to call her aunt Sissy in Miami, and then he told me that he bought it for a good cause, to open that student coffeehouse. Oh, and then he asked me for her number.” Stacy was feeling guilty for ratting on Quinn, but she could never withstand the arctic gaze of Sandi, at least not for long.
“Exactly, you abandoned your responsibility to the Fashion Club to help raise money for that geeky, smelly place Quinn. That is a most serious crime.”
“Look, I am innocent, innocent I tell you, my geeky sister told my parents that she was helping there, and they forced me to go and work in the sun… it was horrible.”
“Sandi, could we be merciful? She didn’t want to do it.” Poor Quinn, to be all sweaty in the sun, isn’t that punishment enough already?
“We could if this was the first incident. But this is the third time that your geeky sister has affected your judgment in relation to Fashion Club Business.”
After taking a moment to enjoy Quinn’s suffering, Sandi began to enumerate the Sins committed. “First you lie to your fellow comrades of the Fashion Club about your relationship with that freaky glasses girl.”
“Really freaky… she doesn’t even wear… make-up… and her clothes are… ugly.”
“Can you blame me for trying to cut all ties with her? She is a nightmare, a curse…”
“Then your sister disrupted a party, not just any party, the party of a popular cheerleader, threw water at members of the football team, and then you left with her, just like that.” This part was particularly sweet for Sandi, to have three big football players fighting for the red haired girl was so infuriating, so the moment that the boys were drenched and Quinn was dragged out of the party in shame became a favorite memory, one that told her that Quinn had a weak point to poke with a stick as much as possible.
“She didn’t give me an option, she kidnapped me from the party. I’m the victim here, victim of her disgusting lack of fashion.”
“It doesn’t matter if you were forced or not, we cannot allow her freakiness to infect the rest of the members of the Fashion Club. I propose a vote to put Vice-President Quinn on probation. If she does not find an adequate Fashionable activity for us to enjoy by the end of the week, she is to be put on an indefinite Sabbatical. Votes in favor?”
“Ewww… freakiness.” With that insightful comment Tiffany raised her hand.
“Well I think that maybe we could give Quinn a chance…” Then she felt rather than saw the deathly glare that Sandi throw in her direction and folded like a house of cards in the middle of a hurricane. “Eppp!” Her hand was raised too.
“It is decided. You have until Friday to justify your position in the club.”
* I II III IV *
Quinn was already dreading meeting Daria by accident in the halls, so when at the end of the last period she saw the infamous green jacket coming through the door of the English classroom, she almost had a heart attack there and then.
“Ohh Ghaud! What are you doing here, are you trying to ruin me?!” At the scream and subsequent resurgence of her slight and mostly forgotten Texas accent, the remaining students (thankfully none of them part of the Fashion Club) turned towards her in curiosity and confusion.
“Quinn, despite what you think, you are not the center of the universe, and much less the center of my universe. I just need to talk with Mr. O’Neill about Café Lawndale.” The teacher’s eternal look of confusion at the scene playing in front of him was, at least on this occasion, partially justified. Daria was wondering what was happening to her sister today, usually she wasn’t that high strung.
“Just stay away from me ok. Nobody and I mean nobody can see me with you this week.” Having said those words Quinn ran out of the classroom as fast as possible.
“Wasn’t that your sister Delia, I mean Daria?” He did manage to correct himself in time, after all the experiences of the last week, he had finally learned the names of some of the most troubled and troublesome students of his career.
“Yes, she is probably worried about her individuality, lately we have been so close together that maybe she wants some 'Me' time.” The sarcasm was so intense in the sentence that even a six year old could have detected it…
“Yes I think I see.” …so of course O’Neill would believe every word. “Well, what’s the matter with the Café, have you reconsidered making a second appearance?”
“Surprisingly enough yes, I wish to participate this Thursday night with the conclusion of my Melody Powers story.”
“Oh Daria, I’m so proud to see you opening up to your peers in such a bold way. However, don’t you think that the Saturday would be a better time? You could show your work to a wider audience. And talking about your work, maybe something more… or less… something… maybe better?” The words failed the teacher when trying to describe what he wanted without hurting the feelings of his now favorite student.
“Better?” thought Daria, then twisting her face into a hideous parody of a bright smile she enthused “Umm… I think you’re right, on Saturday I could use the football team to organize a mob like the one that almost formed at my last performance. And I think that my Melody Powers story lacks blood and violence and is too hopeful… Maybe if I transformed her into a cold war spy, one of the ones that has a kill count in the hundreds... Yes, that would drive the rest of the patrons into a killing frenzy...”
“Oh my… I think that having you in the Thursdays is an excellent idea, plus your Melody Powers shows a social problem in a... an… original way, that’s it, an original way.”
“Well, the second reason I came here is for you, the Director and academic supervisor of the Café Lawndale, to sign these for me.” As she said this to Mr. O’Neill she extracted a bunch of papers from her backpack.
“What are those? Did I forget to sign something related to the contractors, or about the budget?”
“Relax, you didn’t forget anything, however it is related to the budget and other activities of the Coffeehouse that Jane and I realized.”
Now that O’Neill was certain he didn’t screw up something this time he relaxed again.
“These are a series of letters of recommendation for both Jane and I. The first one is related to the efforts we both made relating to the restructuring of the budget for Café Lawndale, as well as the administrative work we did prior to the opening. For me there is one where my participation with my story on stage is properly detailed and for Jane this one shows her decorations in the coffeehouse and the posters and banners designed for it. You need to sign the papers and endorse the pictures and posters on the back please.”
At this exposition O’Neill was so dazzled that he complied without comments or complaints. Daria realized that she or anyone else at school could have any kind of paper signed just by confusing him with words. If Quinn ever found out…
Finally O’Neill finished with the papers and recovered the ability to speak once more. “So Daria? What do you need these letters for? Not that I think it's a bad idea, you deserve some recognition for your hard work…”
Daria picked the papers from the desk before answering in one of her most evil monotones. “Well, from time to time there is a little voice in my mind that tells me weird things, things like be good, play nice with others, eat your vegetables. It is bothersome, so from now on every time that little voice sounds in my head I will show it these papers that demonstrate beyond any doubt that I have done so, then that little voice will stop talking and I will be free to kick as many puppies as I desire.”
With that parting comment she left the classroom with a terror stricken teacher behind.
* I II III IV *
Quinn was worried, this time Sandi had managed to catch her with her pants down, and led her into a conundrum, while the Fashion Club was not that important for her already well established popularity, it was still necessary in a number of ways. It gave her an excuse to frequently buy new clothes, and that was an excuse that wouldn’t work as well in, let’s say the ‘Pep Club’ where she would need to wear the school colors all the time, and that was like so out of fashion. It also prevented her mother from forcing her to find something to do with her evenings, allowing her to basically live in Cashman’s and have dates almost everyday.
And there was the fact that it gave her the power to say We instead of I; no matter how popular someone is in the school, there are limits to how much people will listen to a single person, the example was Tori Jericho, the single announcer for the popularity of the LHS students, but she was only allowed to comment, not to designate. However a group, even one as small as the Fashion Club, can lend weight to one’s words, they can tell the world what to wear or who is popular or not, and people would listen.
And there were penalties for getting thrown out of such an exclusive club, while she could easily joint the ‘Pep Club’ or any number of popular teams and clicques, the stigma of expulsion would limit her ability to reach the top; people would be wondering what exactly happened to get her ousted, and the rumor mill would be working overtime as well, probably fueled by Sandi, she shuddered to think what kind of terrible things could emerge from the collective imagination of an entire high school.
But the worst thing was to lose her fellow fashionettes and the fun activities they did together. Things like checking the latest arrivals at Cashman’s and commenting on how bad they look, or comparing a particular tone of blush on all of their skins. Even the constant political battles with Sandi were fun and useful, plus they allowed her to sharpen her claws for use against more dangerous opponents like her mother, or Daria.
She needed to find a way to get out of this mess, like right now.
* I II III IV *
Quinn spent the night checking through her fashion magazines and catalogues, but any idea she got had either been used in previous sessions of the fashion club, or was too bland, or not fashionable enough. The only decent idea she'd had until now was a charity makeover project to help unfashionable people not to choose the wrong clothes and stuff. However Sandi probably wasn’t feeling too charitable, but maybe she would like to have someone new to boss around so maybe it could work… unless she demanded that Quinn get her sister as the first test subject…
Fearing her impending doom Quinn went downstairs to the kitchen to eat her breakfast, as usual she was the last of the Morgendorffers to arrive to the table, Dad was cooking some fried eggs full of fattening grease, while Mom was already on the phone with that guy Eric, her geek of a sister was as usual reading that newspaper at the table, doing her best to ignore everyone as if she was someone too important to worry about things that mattered, like boys and clothes.
“No Eric, the deposition is on your desk… No I will not go to the office and bring it to your home… well, you will have to go to the office and get it, and I’ll arrive in 45 minutes. Goodbye.”
As her mother finished chastising her boss, Daddy came to the table with the first batch of fried eggs for Helen. “Here you go sweetheart, fried eggs with a piece of bacon on the side. Now kiddo, how do you like your eggs this morning?”
Daria didn’t look up from the morning paper when giving her answer. “I would like my avian embryos mangled and semi-congealed please.”
“That’s disgusting Daria.”
“Dammit, where can I get all that stuff? I don’t know what half of those things are.”
“Don’t worry dad, I just asked for scrambled eggs.” Quinn could feel her infuriating half smile behind that cursed newspaper.
“Scrambled eggs, I can do that. And what about you Quinn, how would you like your eggs?”
“Like I can’t afford even an extra ounce this week, so give me only the white of the egg.”
“The white of the egg? That doesn’t sound very filling, and what am I supposed to do with the yolk?”
“I don’t know Daddy, throw the yolk in the trash or something.”
“Quinn, you cannot throw food in the garbage just because you don’t want it.” ‘Oops, Mom is not happy.’
“Dad, why don’t you add it to your own scrambled eggs, that will give more consistency to your chili.” Daria’s face was still hidden under the paper.
“Good idea, thanks kiddo.”
Her father prepared her eggs just as she wanted, as well as Daria’s mess and his own stomach bomb, then the whole family started eating in an uncomfortable silence until Helen decided to break it with a question.
“And Quinn, how was your day yesterday, we didn’t have a chance to talk last evening, were you doing homework?”
‘Homework, homework? There are more important things than homework.’ thought Quinn.
“No Mom, everything's wrong at the Fashion Club, my position right now is at risk. I was trying to find a solution.”
“And what’s the problem dear?”
“The problem is that yesterday I was impeached by Sandi due to D…” At that point Quinn stopped for a second to think about what she was going to say. ‘If I say anything about me denying that Daria was my sister mom is going to put me on her lap and spank me for the first time since forever, If I tell her about the time she interrupted the fight the Three J’s were having over me then dad might forbid me for dating the guys again, and no more football players at my beck and call, and with all the praises they had been singing to Daria, complaining about the fundraiser might not be a good idea either.“…stuff. But now I’m on probation and I need to find a reason to keep me in.”
“Well Quinn in my career I have found that the best way of being kept on the job is to become indispensable.” The moment she said that last word the phone started ringing again. “Dammit Eric, can’t you find your own socks by yourself.”
“Thanks Mom, always teaching by example.”
“Hey Dad, can you lend me your credit card, I think I need to buy a few accessories for the rest of the members of the Fashion Club, maybe some jewelry.”
“Dammit Quinn, I’m not made of money, ask your mother.”
“Quinn, you are not going to bribe your way into the Fashion Club, if you need to give them gifts in order to keep them as your friends, then you're better off without them.”
“But then if she applies your advice Mom, she would have no boyfriends at all.”
“Daria, if you’re not helping then shut up.”
‘It’s clear that Daria doesn’t care about my social demise' mused Quinn. 'She's just there, drinking hot cocoa from that mug, and flipping the pages of that thrice damned newsp…'
It was then that Quinn, forgetting about everything else, just stood up and snatched away the paper from her sister’s hands, taking a single sheet and returning the remaining mess to Daria.
'This is it, now I can show Sandi that there is a way for me to contribute to the development of fashion in the school. Now where exactly is this?'
By the time the rest of the table got their wits back Quinn was already at her computer printing maps and ads from the internet with far more zeal than when doing any kind of school work.
* I II III IV *
A little later she realized that she'd lost all sense of time and it was getting late for school, so in her rush it was no wonder that she both forgot to turn off the computer and that she'd left Mr. Demartino’s Quiz on top of the books from the previous day.
* I II III IV *
For Daria Tuesdays were a day of untold exertions and endless pain, a day of humiliation and shame, a day of Physical Education under Mrs. Morris. The girls’ class wasn’t divided between brains and populars, it was divided between the fit and the unfit. While Jane and Brittany were definitely part of the first group, Daria was clearly part of the second, and it showed.
Since it was still early on the school year, Morris put the girls through a series of calisthenics to ensure they were fit enough for the team sports that would be played later. That meant an almost unlimited number of sit-ups, push-ups and pull-ups would be done by the students, often preceded and followed by laps. At least it was a safer program that the infamous focus on agility (cheerleader practice) that would be applied in the beginning of spring.
As always Jane and Daria were paired together to withstand the misery this class gave them, in the case of Daria the physical misery of completing a series of painful exercises while using equipment that didn’t quite fit, in the case of Jane, who was by all accounts a remarkable athlete, the moral support to face the bane of all three previous Lanes, Coach Morris. Said torturer approached at the moment when Daria was holding Jane’s legs for her sit-ups while counting out loud.
“Ladies. Are you lazing around or are you working?”
“No, I’m not doing sit-ups…” Jane's dislike was inherited from the terror stories of her sisters, and then ratified in the first five minutes of the first class more than a year ago.
“… And I’m not holding… ten… her properly holding her legs so that she… fifteen… can exercise the abdominal muscles.” Daria on the other hand learned to hate the authoritarian and rude woman all by herself as soon as she heard her attitude towards Jane.
“Jane Lane, you're a comedian just like your sister Penny, aren't you? Unable to fit in with the team, just coasting around.”
“Are you coasting around Jane? I thought that you… twenty-five… were doing the required exercises in the proscribed… thirty… manner, just the kind of thing that the school demands… thirty-five…, nothing more and nothing less.”
“You Miss Morgendorffer usually work yourself to death on these exercises and the ensuing punishments when you run your mouth off, you're never going to end up in any team but at least you give your 100% unlike Jane here who squanders her ability. You should learn not to hang out with people like Lane, she is a rotten fruit, and she will spoil you too. I’ll be watching.” Then the teacher left to harass a different student.
“Well, that was fun, now I know why Summer used to have her boyfriends throw stones at her windows. Thanks Daria, this particular dog never stops barking so soon unless you’re here.”
“No problem, after all P.E. teachers… forty-five… are my natural foe, to fight one is as natural as air to me, especially one that treats their students… fifty… worse than old Coach Buzzcut.”
“You'll have to tell me later, ‘cause I finished my series, and that means it's your turn.”
“I guess that it is true that life is suffering, and this is hell’s door. Please start counting, I’m afraid I’m going to need the air to survive.”
As Daria started her own series of sit-ups at a much lower pace than her partner in crime, Jane thought that old Morris did get something right in her latest rant, Daria always put a 100% of herself into the things that she believed mattered, even in physical activities that she utterly detested and in which she would always be unable to match the efforts of others. Her reasons when asked were that she didn’t want to lose her vacations to some sort of sport camp that her parents would surely send her to if she ever failed P.E.
She also used the classes as a way to burn away their frequent afternoon pizzas, it seemed that while both Quinn and Daria shared the excellent metabolism of their father they still needed a little extra to kept themselves at an ideal weight, in Quinn’s case that was done by dieting, in Daria’s case it was done by long walks home in her heavy boots and the school’s mandatory exercises.
The end result however was an utterly tired and pained girl, who was ready to collapse after each set, and that would only end that segment of class on pure willpower. And just when the last of the calisthenics was over it would be the time to run laps, and this part would be done without Jane, who at her friend's insistence would let herself go and do the laps at her best speed just to infuriate Morris a little more.
Minutes later said Coach was checking the progress of the students and saw Jane Lane running Jennifer Oaks, the second best of the female track team, into the ground. Lane was probably the best runner she ever saw in the last ten years, only her sister would be close in ability, and here she was running like that and unwilling to support the school and bring glory to herself and the team, and that was Morris's definition of a loser.
* I II III IV *
Later that day Quinn used her capacity as Vice-President to call for an extraordinary session, the venue for the meeting was in Pizza King where she bought Cheeseless Pizza and Diet cokes for the fashionettes while she expounded her contribution to the goals of the Fashion Club.
“Stacy, please note that the Fashion Club has responded to the Vice-President’s call for an emergency meeting, and that if it is not important enough she will be put on a sabbatical way sooner.”
“…ay sooner. Ready Sandi.”
“I asked for this emergency meeting of the Fashion Club to propose a Fact Finding Mission to the latest, biggest, cutest place in like ever, the Mall of the Millennium.”
“The Mall… of the Millennium, it is… really big…”
“Oh, I always wanted to go to the Mall of the Millennium, they've got a skorts only shop.”
“Wait a second, as the President of the Fashion Club I need to make sure this is not a half baked idea, Quinn, do you have a plan for this fact finding mission?”
“…and they've got… shops nicer than Cash…”
At that point Quinn got an assortment of printed papers from between her books “Yes Ms. President, I have here a map of the mall and prints of the most chic shops in the place, we could use them to choose the order we visit the different shops.”
“Umm, Quinn, I mean Vice-President Quinn, how can we go there? I don’t think that my parents will give me a ride, they are kind of angry about Mr. Demartino's last quiz.”
“Good question Secretary Stacy, how are we getting there Vice-President?”
“I’ll have dad drive us in the SUV, so that we have enough space for us and the shopping, we can let him go to a camping shop or something, while we experience the Mall.”
“Acceptable, all in favor of Vice-President Quinn's plan of action, pending date and mode of transportation?”
This time the hand raising was immediate and unanimous.
* I II III IV *
Earlier that day Helen had arrived sooner than expected to Schloss Morgendorffer, Eric had finally let her deliver the deposition for the Free Food case, and she wasn’t surprised it had been much faster that way, rather than explaining every little detail to her boss for him to explain it to the client.
When she went up the stairs to put on some more comfortable shoes she heard the soft sound of the computer in Quinn’s room.
“Quinn honey, are you there?” When no answer came she went inside the room and found that Quinn was nowhere to be seen and her computer had been left on.
“Dammit Quinn, electricity doesn’t grow on trees.” As she went to turn off the PC she saw Monday’s Quiz.
“Umm… History… Hernan Cortes… C!”
* I II III IV *
Meanwhile Jane and Daria were in Casa Lane doing the most recent commissions from Middleton, and for once Jane had bitten off more than she was able to chew.
“Who would have thought that any teacher in Middleton would be sadistic enough to ask for a paper on the mathematics of Leonardo Da Vinci’s paintings?”
“Who would have thought that there would be a teacher in Middleton capable of even understanding the question, not to mention the answer?”
“Who would have thought that… Argg!! I cannot do this Daria, I know I can actually do a fairly good imitation of the Last Supper if I have a canvas big enough, but this thing about a golden rectangle and the mathematical formula for vanishing points is too confusing, those I usually just do.”
“Well it shouldn’t be that hard, they didn’t have a computer in the Renaissance, so it should be possible to do it on a paper, at least it's not Fractal Art, for those we would need about a forest worth of notebooks.” If anyone else would have made that comment, Jane would have been going for the jugular by now, but her friend’s voice didn’t have a shred of sarcasm or mockery in it, and over the last few weeks she had become adept at detecting those.
The next two hours were expended on an improvised class on the relationship between Leonardo Da Vinci and mathematics and something called the Golden Ratio. At the beginning it had been slow and painful, with each new concept making Jane more confused, so after a while Daria decided to tackle the problem from a different angle, she took one of her father's art books and put a piece of paper in front of it, then asked Jane to reproduce the basic effect that they were investigating, and then giving the arithmetic or geometric rationale for the action. Once Jane was able to link the concepts to their practical application things went smoothly.
* I II III IV *
After discussing with the Fashion Club the likely targets for their assault on the new hunting grounds they were about to visit, Quinn returned home far more confident in her ability to continue as an active Vice-President. It was only when she interrupted the middle of dinner that she found a fatal flaw in her plans…
“Hey Dad, hey Mom, I’m sorry but I already ate with the Fashion Club, we were in a special meeting.”
“Well, dear did you make peace with the rest of your club?
“Yes I took what you told me about making myself indispensable Mom, so I thought that maybe a Fact finding mission would be the best way to do it. So I was wondering Daddy if you would take us there this weekend for shopping.”
“Not a problem sweetheart, where is this Mall of the Century?”
“Its called the Mall of the Millennium, and it’s here.” At this point she got the newspaper article she'd stolen from Daria that morning and pointed to an address.
It took a few seconds for Jake to calculate the distances involved, but when he did the response didn’t take long. “A hundred miles? To go to a mall? Dammit, there's a mall five minutes away!”
“Sit down, dear. We're not going.”
Her parents were putting their foot down, and she wasn’t going to get her way for once…
“Ohhhhh. Oh.” Cooling down Jake managed to sit back in his chair and do his breathing exercises.
“It's not a mall, it's a super mall! The Mall of the Millennium. Shop there forever!” Quinn was still trying to change her parents’ opinions; there was a lot of stuff at stake.
“If you play that John Lennon song backwards, it says, ‘Imagine all the people, browsing in a mall.’ Isn't that weird?” Daria, who didn’t have a reason to keep quiet, and was enjoying Quinn's suffering, had decided to add her two cents worth to the conversation.
“It's too far away, Quinn, and you've done enough shopping for this quarter.”
“Muh-om! As vice president of the Fashion Club, I need to know what's out there!”
“Vice-president? Did you know she was vice president, Helen?”
“Of the Fashion Club!”
“Yes, Jake. Vice-president of the Fashion Club.” She did tell them at least once a week after all, but then by the same token Jake was always tuning her out.
“Do you think this tie works?” He then showed a tie to his daughter for close inspection.
“Hmmm. It's nice, Daddy, but I think a mandarin collar would really set off your strong jaw line. Now, if you drive me to the Mall of the Millennium...” Quinn didn’t waste the chance to change one of the parents' minds.
“No more malls until you bring up your scores, I already saw your Monday Quiz, and I hope you can do better.”
“Exactly. What's wrong with her scores?
“She had a history paper where she got a C, Jake.”
“How will I hold my head up in the Fashion Club?”
“A traction pulley?” Daria was truly enjoying the fact that her parents weren’t laying down the law on her.
“Just because you're not interested in what's new and attractive and popular...”
“Oh, I'm interested. But why go a mere 100 miles away? I bet they have some fascinating malls in Southeast Asia.”
“Southeast Asia? To go to a mall? Dammit!” Jake's usually abysmal sarcasm detector was even more broken than usual after the revelation of the mall location and Quinn’s C.”
“Sit down, dear. It was a joke. And as for you young lady, we are not taking you to this Mall, you will have to live with what you've got here in the town.” Helen was ok, but she was still mad at Quinn so she let her eldest's comments pass.
* I II III IV *
It was on her first class on Wednesday that Daria truly learned the meaning of irony… well, not really, she knew from long before the meaning of the word and she had been on both sides of many practical examples, however the events in Economics class did fit perfectly with her previous experiences on the subject.
“In economics, we call this flow. We have a scenario of supply and demand, where a new demand is created by a previous supply. Does everyone follow?” Mrs. Bennett was one of Principal Li’s protégées, who, in addition to her teaching duties, was in charge of drafting the budget for the School District, therefore wielding considerable power.
“Can anyone give me a concrete representation of this abstract theory?“ She was also a less than stellar teacher whose greatest fault is an inability to properly explain the lessons to the students, especially using visual aids.
“Daria?” Therefore she depended on the few students that did understand her ill advised graphics to translate for the rest in terms they’re able to comprehend.
“If we're talking concrete, I'd have to go with that repository of human greed and debasement: the mall.” In this case her example harked back to the previous night dinner’s topic, a place to which even the most idiotic member of the classroom was able to relate.
“Very good, Daria. The mall is a very beautiful illustration of all these economic principles. In fact, it would make for an excellent field trip.”
“All right! Field trip!” Kevin was a simple guy, so simple things like doing something new provoked enthusiasm in him, at least until he found himself bored again.
He leaned over to Daria to ask her something that may or may not be important. “Where are we going, man?”
“The field.” Daria had already started her now standard procedure of transcribing the delusions of the teachers whenever they are about to abuse her words, like right now.
“Cool.” ‘And if Kevin was an indication, there were not going to be many complaints from the rest of the classroom.’ Daria fumed in silence.
“We'll visit that brand new Mall of the Millennium. It's a perfect emblem of a modern day economic structure.” Another perk of being in charge of the budget was the fact that you’d always know whenever there are available buses and the money to pay for the gas. And since she didn’t want to drive the full distance to the place, well Angela wouldn’t mind a new learning experience.
“Um, I think that's a really bad idea.”
“Don't be silly, Daria. It's your idea and it's perfect.” ‘Two for two, are all the teachers here able to use selective hearing like this?’ Daria thought after hearing the teacher's response to her complaint.
“I second Daria. The mall is a dangerous influence on today's teens and the fluorescent lights give you seizures.” Jane was showing both solidarity and her unwillingness to go to a place where she was going to be harassed by sales people.
“We'll take a vote. All in favor of a class trip to the mall next Friday instead of our usual surprise quiz?”
When the vote was worded that way, there was no surprise to hear the entire group of teens cheer in approval…
…With a couple of exceptions, of course.
“This is great! Kevin and I love going to the mall during school. Noting her slip of the tongue Brittany amended her initial response. “I mean, between classes. I mean... what do I mean, babe?” …Without success.
“What's the difference, babe? You look hot.” On the other hand Kevin didn’t even realize the problem in the first place, but supported his girlfriend none the less.
“I'm sorry, Mrs. Bennett. I can't go to the mall. I have a condition.”
“What are you talking about, Daria?”
“If I'm in an enclosed space for too long, I get hives.”
“But you're in an enclosed space now.”
“Yes... and I'm really itchy?” By this point she was indeed looking a little pale and pained.
“These hives get bad, Mrs. Bennett, I've seen them. They drip with puss.”
That last statement from Jane provoked the class to act with the decorum of elementary students, screaming in revulsion. Daria responded to the gruesome description by giving Jane a half hearted glare, looking a little worse for wear.
“Just trying to help.” Jane shrugged without an ounce of shame.
After that the class continued as normal, with some of the students chatting animatedly about the trip whenever Bennett turned to draw her infamous graphs on the board. Daria never stopped her ill act until all of the students left for the next class and Jane realized that it wasn’t an act.
“Hey, are you okay? Do you really get hives whenever you think about a Mall? That would explain so much.”
“Ha, ha, Lane, you’re a comedian. No, I don’t have hives, just some really nasty cramps. I think I’m a little earlier than usual.”
“Sucks to be you, want to go to the nurse office for a Midol?”
* I II III IV *
While Quinn’s parents refused to take her to the Mall of the Millennium, they hadn’t forbidden to go there either, a fact that she interpreted as tacit approval to get her own ride. For that reason she began searching for the Three J’s.
The plan was perfect, while their cars were smaller than her mother's SUV, they would have three cars instead of one to get the Fashion Club there, plus they would serve as pack mules to carry the bags on the shopping trip; she would travel with Joey on the ride to the mall, Jeffy on the ride home, and Jason… well she would surely think about something for him not to feel left out.
Finally after wandering in the halls for a while she found her desperate suitors approaching from the gym.
“Hey, Quinn, good morning, can I escort you to your next class?” Jeffy decided to take the initiative against his friends.
“Hey, Quinn, this is a lovely day, can I carry your backpack?” Joey on the other hand tried to be more of a gentleman.
“Hey, Quinn, I could carry you to wherever you want, so that you don’t have to walk.” Jamie’s approach could be described as unconventional at best.
Quinn, happy to see her usual thralls said hello to them and then “Hi, Jeffy, hi Joey, hi Jackson…” “Jamie” he corrected. “…Whatever. I need a favor.”
“Whatever you want Quinn.”
“I need to go to the Mall of the Millennium this Saturday, and I’m hoping I to go with one of you.” ‘This trip is in the bag already.’ Quinn gloated to herself.
“Don’t we have football practice on Saturday, and maybe even a practice game?”
“If we miss practice Coach Gibson is going to use us for tackle practice.”
“He’ll have our hides and use them as towels for the weight training.”
“He might kick us out of the team.”
At this last statement Quinn finally realized the real problem. ‘If they’re kicked from the team, then I'll not have football players to date, everyone else is taken.’ “I see, it's a shame, I think I'll have to search for someone else, thank you anyway guys.”
“Wait Quinn I can take you there.”
“Who wants to be part of the football team anyway?”
“Less contusions this way.”
* I II III IV *
Wednesday afternoon was supposed to be a relaxing affair for Jane and Daria. It was the day they usually met their associate and sometime friend Heather Ingram. Time to both receive their weekly pay and to get the latest news on College Life. However Bennett’s little bomb had already soured the day for them.
“Hi there, have you ordered already?” Heather always did her best to propagate the rumor about most undergraduates being starved by the college dinner hall.
“Yep, Meat Eater for Jane and I. You may order whatever you can afford to pay.” Today Daria wasn’t feeling like sharing, and her sales agent did earn more than enough from their little side business to afford her own food.
“So there is nothing for moi? You know I’m poor and my family is big and still growing.” ‘For some reason this particular excuse had never worked on those two before…’ Heather mentally questioned herself.
“Yeah, so what? I have another four brothers and sisters, all of them artists of one kind or another, all starving.” The snarl came with a little more force than intended.
“Oh my, you are testy today, did something happened at school?”
“Just the usual stuff, an incompetent teacher decided to twist my words again and use an example from class to get us into another worthless trip to a Temple of Vanity.”
“She means the new Mall of the Millennium.” Snarked Jane.
“They are giving you a school trip to the mall? And you’re angry about it?” ‘I would have cheered all the way.’ The undergrad thought.
“Don’t take it wrong, I like shopping as much as anyone else…” She received a raised eyebrow from Daria at this point. “…almost everyone else. To go to a store by yourself is tolerable, to go to a store with a friend can be fun in certain circumstances. But to go to the latest, most fashionable shops with the rest of the morons that compose our economics class is well…”
Daria ended the sentence before Jane could. “Torture, pure and simple.”
“I see, then take this advice from someone older and wiser than you, or at least older. If life gives you lemons, then for god sake make lemonade, or squirt the juice in the eyes of your enemies or something.”
“Thank you for your wisdom oh my wise old woman, we will record this advice and others for future generations.”
“Ha, if this is the treatment I get for helping a couple of friends in need, then maybe I shouldn’t invite you to our newest party.” Her smile betrayed her mock anger.
“Is it going to be a Keg Party like the other one? Because we discovered that for some reason fraternities suck the intellect out of anyone for a five block radius, and I need my smarts to survive in this wretched world.”
“No, anything but, our good friend the P.H. broke up once more with her boyfriend so the girls of the dorm are doing a ‘*, you don’t need Him’ party, basically a girls night, you know, spin the bottle, truth or dare and similar *. The only requirement for entry is going to be a party trick of your own.”
“Is there going to be makeovers or something?”
“What, do you think we’re in elementary? We use that stuff every day, after a while it loses its charm.”
“Then I guess it's ok, what about you Daria?”
“Let me check my agenda…” She then got her notebook from her jacket and made a show of opening it. “… Let me see, I think I can fit it between the reception for the Nobel Prize for Literature and my coronation as the Crown Princess of Morovia.”
“Then it's a date, and now that you’re not as willing to rip my head off, let's talk business.”
* I II III IV *
After the pizza, the pair went to their respective homes. Daria went to her notebook to write some ideas she had for stories, but after a while the pain of the cramps resurfaced once more, so she just gave up and lay down on her bed. She didn’t even have the necessary energy to try to read a book, so she turned her TV to the latest rerun of Court TV. Later in the evening her mother called her for dinner. When Daria didn’t come down, Helen went to her room.
“Daria, dinner's ready.” When she didn’t get an answer after the third knock, she opened the door and saw her daughter curled in her bed, pain evident on her face.
“Sorry mom, but I think I’m going to pass tonight.”
“Are you okay honey?”
“Just peachy, just having some… ugh, forget it I’m too pained to come up with a witty analogy, I got cramps, and the Tylenol is not working.”
“Oh dear, let me go for a cup of tea and a hot water bottle, that'll help.”
Her mother returned to the room a little later with a red rubber pouch filled with warm water, and a cup of chamomile tea. As far as Daria was concerned, she'd returned with the Holy Grail and Prometheus’ fire.
“Thanks Mom; that was just what I needed.” After helping her drink her tea Helen sat on her daughter’s bed.
“No problem, but I think I should make an appointment with a gynecologist for you.”
Daria wasn’t expecting that. “Mom, it’s really not necessary, the cramps are not that common, just a little stronger than usual.” Now Daria was almost frantic, this was an embarrassing enough conversation without bringing professionals into play.
“I know that, but we need to find a new one locally for us three anyway, so this is as good a chance as any.”
Daria wanted to argue a little more about the matter, but she was just too tired and sore, so slowly she just felt asleep.
Her mother just sat there for a while and then carefully rose from the bed, turned the TV off and went down for dinner.
* I II III IV *
Daria woke in the morning feeling sore and less than well rested, but at least the pain had subsided enough for her to function once more. During breakfast she stuck to her routine, reading her paper, drinking a tea instead of her usual hot chocolate, and hoping that the last part of yesterday’s conversation with her mother was part of a bad dream.
“Good morning Daria, how are you feeling today?”
“I cheated death once more Mom, thanks.” And that was all she was going to say about yesterday, it was something she really didn’t want to discuss in front of Quinn, or worse, her dad.
She decided to change the topic to something fairly safe and interesting enough to prevent her mother from talking about doctors and cold tables. “By the way, tonight I’m going to the coffeehouse, maybe this time I can stir up a large enough mob to destroy Cashman’s.”
“Down with the capitalist pigs, give them hell kiddo.” Jake was obviously reliving his hippy days, but then thought better of it. “I mean, ‘make love, not war’… I mean…” Not much better…
“What your father means is that if you get arrested for starting a mob we aren’t paying bail.”
“Don’t worry mom, they’ll never be able to prove anything.” For some reason neither parent looked reassured by the answer.
“Daddy, if Daria destroys Cashman’s we’ll have nowhere to buy clothes, so maybe you should take a few experts from the Fashion Club to the Mall of the Millennium so that we can tell you which shops are better to buy from.”
“Hey Princess that’s…”
“That’s not happening Quinn, stop messing with your father, and stop asking, or maybe you’ll find yourself banned from Cashman’s too.” That particular comment froze the girl’s mouth for the rest of the morning.
Usually at this point Daria would have added her pinch of salt and rubbed it into the fresh wound, or even better, she would have bragged a little about going that Friday to a place that Quinn wanted to go and couldn’t. However this time she let the chance go by, worrying more about the night at Café Lawndale, her unfinished conclusion to the Melody Powers’ story and her still sore abdomen.
“Hey, guess who Morgendorffer Consulting’s new golden egg is? No idea? Well it seems that Clucky Farm Products decided to nest in my office yesterday.”
“Jake, that’s great!”
“Daddy, maybe you should do a research trip to the Mall of the Millennium, I can get you four volunteers to help you.”
* I II III IV *
The second period for sophomore class was English under O’Neill, and for Daria, who knew the material better than the teacher time passed as slow as a river of molasses. She tag teamed with Jane to drive the teacher into insanity by using the bloodiest and meanest references to illustrate his explanations of Shakespeare. It was easy because the Bard was quite revengeful and bloody minded himself, no matter how much the weak minded professor tried to spin, gloss over and just plain ignore that part of his works. The only thing that did disturb the class was the arrival of Mrs. Bennett with the parental approval forms needed for the trip to the mall. Soon after that the class was over and the students left for lunch.
“Daria, could I talk with you for a minute?” Daria sighed and prepared to speak with the teacher, mostly by getting her pen and the thin stenographer notebook from their place in her jacket. Since her arrival in Lawndale her expenditure on paper had gone through the roof, at this rate she'd have to buy her notebooks in bulk.
“I’ll be in the cafeteria choosing the poison of the day, see you later.” And with that Jane departed, answering the call of her stomach.
“Well Daria, I wanted to know if I can expect you tonight in Café Lawndale for your performance, and if you wouldn’t mind changing it to something less… exciting, like poetry.”
“Well, I could try to do a poetical face off with Andrea, I bet I can make one of those touchy feeling Emos start cutting himself with a razor faster than her. In fact I’ll go seek her out right now to have it tonight.”
“NO… Umm, what I mean is that it wouldn’t be fair for your regulars to miss the end of your story, I think that you left them with quite a cliffhanger.”
“You’re right, the story comes first, I’ll wait until it's over before I start pushing people towards the Angst Threshold.”
“Good, let me put you in todays agenda. Where is it? Here it is” Daria watched the man get a white organizer decorated with rainbow stickers and motivational slogans everywhere.
If this last moth had showed her something it was that any chat with Timothy O’Neill was a potential train wreck, and those aren’t fun when you’re inside that particular train. So when he was writing on the schedule she took a peek, and managed to recognize the budget amid a large number of doodles and incoherent notes in the margins. Then she decided to pull the Emergency Stop before the inevitable collision.
“Mr. O’Neill, may I have a look at your notebook?”
“I don’t know Daria; it has some private things on it.” Daria didn’t wait for the professor to keep finding an excuse, and just grabbed it and began flipping the pages searching for something.
“Please tell me you didn’t do the accounts for the coffee shop on the same page as you did the schedule of the class.”
“Well, you see I didn’t want to waste space…”
“And for some reason I doubt that the place earned 350,000 dollars in less than a week.”
The teacher took the notebook and tried to read it. “No, I think those are drops of cocoa?”
“Do you have a proper ledger somewhere?”
“I've got some other papers on the coffeehouse.”
‘I think I’m going to regret this later, but I really don’t have a choice, I've already sent my scholarship applications with the name of the place and that I helped with the budget…’ Daria’s mind was calculating her chances of getting even into Middleton if the café was closed by the IRS.
“Look, I’ll pass by later, just have everything ready for me to check, OK.”
* I II III IV *
It had been a hard enough first period, she had to hide from Sandi the entire class, making sure to keep at least one person between each other all the time in order to prevent questions about the trip. In the end she was barely saved by the bell, and then forced to hide in the parking lot, hoping that she wouldn’t be found by the President of the Fashion Club and subjected to another official enquiry.
Quinn was officially desperate. The weekend was getting closer and there was still no one to take the Fashion Club to the mall. She couldn’t ask for any woman to take them, for the Fashion Club to shop with outsiders there were many regulations that specified everything from lower and upper levels of cuteness to credit card limits.
Most of the male members of the junior class at Lawndale didn’t have access to vehicles to begin with, and of those remaining many had other plans for Saturday, or were too unpopular for her to even try.
The members of the sophomore class were just as committed to prior obligations, plus most boys in that grade expected a little more physical contact that she was willing to allow for a first date. And if that wasn’t enough, she had to avoid at all costs the boys from Daria’s class, her sister would need only a sniff of her plans to figure it out.
And no matter how much popularity she had at the moment, a junior like her was beneath the eyes of the Seniors, only the bottom of the social ladder would even acknowledge her, and only the creepiest amongst them would be willing to slave themselves to four gals on a shopping trip.
Talking about creepy guys there was that guy, the one that had asked first for a date then just to hang with her before being spooked by the Three J’s. He was walking to one of the cars and getting a few books from the trunk. Seeing that he was about to pass her by, Quinn finally understood the depth of her desperation.
“Hello umm… Guy, how’re you doing?” Desperate times called for desperate measures.
‘She’s talking to me? She is talking to me.’ The boy frantically thought. ‘Quick, say something, anything.’
“emm… umm… a… Quinn, hello.”
Quinn turned on her sultriest voice and dialed it up to eleven; she had only one chance, and there was no way she'd waste it. “I was wondering if you wanted to hang out with a few friends and ME this Saturday, while we go shopping, I would love to take a ride in your car.”
“To hang out with you and your friends? Yes, yes!” ‘I can believe it, I must be in heaven this can't be real, there’s no way that…’ “DAMN, I can’t I need to help my dad on Saturday and he’s not taking no for an answer. Damn, damn, damn…”
Quinn was almost as devastated as the unpopular guy in front of her, she had used her best voice in front of a loser and even then she was unable to get the needed ride.
‘Think, think, think…’ Said loser was trying not to lose this chance so he made a truly desperate attempt. “Quinn maybe you would like to come with me tomorrow?”
‘Tomorrow? that would mean cutting school, but who cares about school anyway, this is far more important, it might work, I just need to sell it to Sandi.’ Quinn mentally calculated.
“Ok, this is what we’re gonna do, you'll take us to the Mall of the Millennium tomorrow, you will not talk, you will not have any kind of physical contact with any of us. Give me your phone.” Once the ride was secure and she had a plan in mind the sultry voice and most of her nice disposition had evaporated.
“What?” He was still reeling from a number of shocks, but to have the most popular sophomore asking for his number was a dream out of heaven.
“I said give me your phone, I need to arrange a few things with the Fashion Club and once I do I’ll call you with the instructions. I’ll call; you won’t say a word about this to anyone. Understood?” The guy was too busy ripping a page from one of his textbooks and writing his name and number on it but he frantically answered anyway. “Yes Quinn, whatever you want.”
* I II III IV *
For the second time in a week Quinn used her special privileges to call for an emergency meeting of the Fashion Club, this time in a classroom after the end of the last period.
“Now what Vice-President Quinn?”
“I asked you to come because I have a ride for the Fact Finding trip to the Mall of the Millennium.”
“That’s great Quinn, I can already see those skorts.”
“And that couldn’t wait until tomorrow's regular session why?” Sandi was as enthusiastic as the rest of the girls, but she hid it better, at least in front of her rival.
“Well, there is a slight problem; I couldn’t secure a ride for Saturday, so the trip will need to be tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow? But the mall is too far, if we go after class we aren’t going to get there on time for checking everything on our list before they close.”
“I know, and that's why we must go there early, so I propose that we skip class in the name of the betterment of the Fashion Club.”
Now there was silence, the Fashion Club reeled in shock from the bold proposal of their Vice-President. Knowing that the silence wouldn’t last Quinn started giving additional incentives for her plan.
“If we go early on Friday we'll avoid a good number of the weekend buyers, which means that our favorite shops are going to be almost empty and the assistants will have more time to help us, neither will we need to fight against the crowds to go from one place to another.”
“No crowds? …Good…”
“And instead of going to school we can have a dietetic breakfast in ‘100% Slim’ and then go straight to the mall.”
“Oh, a breakfast meeting, it’s like, so chic.”
“And do you remember who we have a class with tomorrow? Morris.”
“Ugg… Sweating is so not fashionable. I guess you have a point Vice-President, we will do the Fact Finding Mission tomorrow. All in favor?”
* I II III IV *
After classes were over Jane and Daria went straight to the drugstore to get herself all the necessary supplies for her cycle, although the cramps had decreased in intensity they still hurt from time to time, and who knew what other little surprises her screwed up biology would show later?
After doing that, Daria and Jane went to the former’s house. They were, for once, free of additional papers to write so they didn’t feel the need to hide from the rest of the Morgendorffers and that was far more relaxing than they would have expected.
Daria wanted to finish adapting the Melody Powers’ story to be understandable by her audience, so Jane started throwing herself at the padded walls of Daria’s comfy cell as a way of making the best use of them, however after a while it lost its value as an entertainment an she started looking through some of her friend’s weirder magazines.
“General Buck Conroy, Editor of the Brutal Mercenary Magazine: We’re looking for people who like… to kill!” Jane was reading the cover of one such magazine, half amused and half puzzled by the content. “While I did expect to find violent writings in your room Daria, I thought you were less of a machine gun and more an arsenic kind of gal.”
“Yeah, I usually prefer my dosage of violence to be more elaborate than a crazy guy shooting at random and blowing up things that usually aren’t inflammable to begin with, but that particular number had a more or less accurate article about Colombian Drug Cartels and I want the real Melody Powers to be as well researched as possible. And talking about Melody, here is the conclusion of the Crystal Cove adventure, the morons’ edition of course.”
Jane took the offered papers, and began to read, it didn’t take long; the story was as short and straightforward as possible. “Well, there are lots of shots, lots of fire and an anatomically impossible escape, all in all a story that a seven year old would not have trouble following.”
“In other words, perfect for the target audience of jocks and slackers with too much free time.” Satisfied with the end result Daria started gathering her stuff for the Night’s Show.
“Hey Daria isn’t it a little early for you to get your stuff?”
“Yeah, but O’Neill is messing with the accounting of the coffeehouse again and since I don’t want to lose the easiest extracurricular activity of the year I need to prevent him from exchanging the place for magic beans.”
Jane was skeptical about Daria’s motivations “Isn’t that a bit too much work for an easy credit?”
“It is if only for the credit as an extracurricular activity, but it's got another advantage…” At this point Daria got a folder from her desk and showed it to her best friend.
“… O’Neill is willing to sign letters of recommendation for any class, including some for you.” Jane then examined the papers more carefully, noticing that some of them were the poster she designed for Café Lawndale, and some were photos of the place, all of them signed by O’Neill in the back.
“Daria, what is this?” Jane's voice was incredulous and a little irritated.
“Well, all the work you did with me last week is worth more than just a piece of paper that will never leave the school records, so when I did my own letter I decided to ask him for a similar one detailing your first commissioned work, so that in the future when you elaborate a portfolio you can add the appropriate references.”
“That is surprisingly thoughtful, God knows that I was more than satisfied with all the extra supplies I swindled from Mr. Crybaby. Just one thing, do not do this behind my back again, understood?”
“Loud and clear.”
* I II III IV *
When Daria arrived at Café Lawndale, it was almost empty, just the barista and a couple of students drinking some of the more exotic brews from the fancy Espresso Machine. Since Professor O’Neill wasn’t among the patrons Daria decided to write some ideas she'd had in her notebook, a full sized one instead of her habitual stenographer one. She drank a cup of tea while awaiting the teacher and the promised information.
Almost twenty minutes later said teacher arrived, embarrassed and with a folder overflowing with scraps of paper. At the sight of the mess Daria was barely able to hold in a curse.
“Is this all?” Daria sounded a little exasperated, which considering the circumstances and the uncertainty of the response she was given was more than natural. “Yes, I think so.”
“Ok professor, you've got three options; the first one is to ask for help from another member of the school staff, someone who knows about numbers, maybe a math or economics teacher.”
“Mrs. Bennett was supposed to assist me with the budget, but Angela…” At the curious expression of his student he amended. “Principal Li told me that right now she is too busy to help me with it.”
‘Yes, she's too busy preparing shopping trips on school bucks to worry about other concerns.’ Daria thought before continuing to list options. “Second option; you get either a full time administrator or a half time accountant, for the former a college undergraduate would be enough, and for the latter there are many recent graduates who would work for peanuts and coffee.”
“I wish to do that, but well, the PTA has a ban on me hiring anyone other than students, if I need to get an accountant I must pass the petition through them.” He did look a little scared of the prospect of facing the PTA.
“I get it, the PTA would love to put one of their members as the accountant and authorize him some outrageous amount of money despite the hypocrisy of getting control of this project to prevent misuse of funds in the first place. Well, then there is the third option: Me.”
‘Just how often does O’Neill have that face of confusion when talking to me?’ Daria was enjoying the surprise she'd sprung on the teacher. “Yes, me. I will come here once a week to put order to these papers.” She was derisively pointing at the mess on O’Neill’s hands. “For my services I will get the same weekly salary as the barista there plus a monthly bonus.”
“Isn’t that a little too much? You’re doing just a day for every six of his, and I don’t know about the bonus thing.” Daria’s smirk then almost forced him to find a new set of pants.
“More like an hour or two, but that’s not the point. The point is that the extra money will allow me to pay for an accountant under the table.” As her teacher’s face lit in understanding, the student rejoiced for different reasons. ‘Or I could ask Heather to get me a decent accounting undergraduate to do this in exchange for a paper. Or even better ask for tips from Dad, he does his own accounting, doesn’t he?’
“Oh, also I need something for my curriculum, maybe another letter of recommendation?”
* I II III IV *
“…cops and paramedics were doing their jobs in the light of the burning mall, getting the former slaves to ambulances and the slavers into patrol cars, to book them and hopefully lock them in a tiny cell for the rest of their pathetic lives, Melody however was not worried about that, for her job wasn’t to punish the guilty, no, her job was to fight for the innocents, and while her actions here were more than worth the bruises, she still had to free a client from his unfair detention, and that was a battle she would have to fight in the courts, not in the streets.”
“This concludes ‘Melody Powers and the Crystal Boutique’, thank you for the attention, now you can go back to coffee and depressing music.”
The audience for the latest installment of her Melody Powers story was just a fraction of the one from the past Saturday, which was part of the reason of reading it on Thursday, less people, less chaos and less tension for her. Of the attendants Daria could only recognize three persons amongst the crowd; in the first place there was Jane who just as promised had come to listen to her performance after spending a few hours painting, sketching and just plain doing artistic stuff in order to keep her creativity in at its peak. The other two were surprisingly enough Kevin and Brittany who'd come for the only reason of hearing the end of the story, and while they weren’t exactly the literary critics of the New York Times, she appreciated the honest gesture… even with the kisses, cries, fights and other childish behaviors they demonstrated.
Once off the stage Daria went to her friend’s table, where the black haired teen was eating a half a baguette, while the other half has waiting for her. Pizza would have been better for both but while the kitchen was well provided, it lacked the same kind of oven that Pizza King had so the only pizza available was microwavable which tasted to Daria just like frozen lasagna, or as sawdust to the rest of the people. Having spent the previous part of the evening separating the coffee receipts and notes and trying to make sense of the teacher’s sloppy bookkeeping she had forgone eating until now, so her half did taste far better than expected.
Lacking anymore acts, they put the radio on the sound system, and since Z93 wasn’t a station for quiet music, talk was all but impossible so Daria paid the bill and then the girls walked home together, using the time to talk about the day events.
The night had already cooled a bit so Jane had her red jacket tightly closed. Daria, who until recently had lived in Texas and went everywhere with a jacket to begin with was feeling the cold in her tiny body even more, and therefore walked at a fast clip to keep herself warm.
“Well how did the meeting go, blood, gore or at least a few tears?”
“Plenty of tears, even if I did limit myself to only psychological and financial abuse.”
“Financial abuse eh, then he did rope you into something.” Jane’s voice was dripping with inquisitiveness, and a little bit of suspicion.
“I roped myself into something this time, but at least I’m getting paid a half time job rate for two hours work.” Daria’s voice sounded resigned, at least as much as her monotone could do so.
“And how did you get such a sweet deal?”
“Easy, I offered to take care of the coffeehouse books, and to use part of my salary to get someone who knows what he's doing and isn’t in the PTA's pocket… like for example my father who can help me for free.”
“I still find it a little suspicious that you’re going to so much trouble for O’Neill’s little pipe dream.”
“Well, morons like him are a rare commodity, and those must be preserved.”
“Are you kidding? Last week you told me that morons are dime a dozen.”
“Yes, but how many morons you know are willing to sign almost anything a student gives them without checking it first?”
“Point, plus extra bucks are always well received.”
“Well, there's your house, I'll see you tomorrow for our outing to that place of horror and frivolity.”
“I’ll bring my camera, who knows? Maybe Heather is right and we’ll be able to make something out of it.” Jane wasn’t sounding too confident about the last part.
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When Daria arrived at home, the whole family was still seated on the table, just about done with the dinner with Helen washing the dishes and Jake chatting with an uninterested Quinn about poultry, even then he was the first to notice her arrival.
“Hey kiddo, how did the night go, did you break a leg?”
“Dad, to break a leg is good luck only to thespians, but I did manage to avoid getting hit by the rotten greens.”
“Very nice Daria, I’m glad that you did, tomato stains are so hard to get out from clothes.” The humor in Helen’s voice was very clear, almost as clear as the seriousness in her next words. “Jake, the girls and I are going to have a chat. Maybe you should read your paper on the couch.”
“Nah, I’m all right here.”
“Jake, that wasn’t a suggestion, out of the kitchen now!” Finally sensing the upcoming storm for what it was he retreated to the safely of the living room.
Once there were only women in the kitchen the eldest of them made her announcement. “Girls, since I was overdue for a check up for a while now I've scheduled an appointment with a gynecologist for this Saturday and took the liberty of making one for both of you.”
Daria was speechless, last night’s conversation hadn’t been a dream, this night however was slowly turning itself into a full on nightmare.
Quinn was far more vocal in her protest. “But mom, I've got things to do on Saturday, better things than to be… Could I take a rain check on this one please?” The last part was more of a plea than a question.
Daria couldn’t blame Quinn for her nerves, Dr. Wheeler, her mother’s obstetrician had been the one to do all of their examinations in Highland, and while he was a kind man he couldn't help but brag to the girls about helping with both their births and their respective sisters during the most embarrassing parts of the examination was creepy to say the least. The fact that his answer to her many menstruation problems had been little more than a couple of aspirins and two years of ‘It will level out soon, better let it be’ hadn't left her with a lot of affection for him.
“Quinn, it's better if we get to know Dr. Northman now that all we have to worry about is a routine check up than later if we need to see her. Plus she is recommended by Marianne, so she cannot be that bad.”
“Better not start talking about pregnancies and how I didn’t want to get out…” Quinn left the room muttering half angry and half concerned.
Once her sister had reached the stairs Daria dared to talk. “Mom, thank you for not telling Quinn why we’re going to the doctor.”
“Dear, I have an older and a younger sister, and Granma Barksdale wasn’t what we could call diplomatic. Believe me I have been in similar situations before, and I know what it's like.”
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The next part is already on progress.
As always opinions, comments and criticisms are extremely appreciated.
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