Jane leaned forward tapping Trent on his
shoulder. "There it is," she said pointing toward a small strip mall. It was
indistinguishable from any of the thousands of its ilk that sprouted from the
asphalt loam of America. Eight businesses and one vacant 'ready for lease'
hugged a parking lot all under a marquee that grandly proclaimed it the 'Oaktree Plaza.' A lone pin oak, the namesake for the bastion of free enterprise, grew from
a struggling patch of grass prudently protected by an iron fence in the midst
of the blacktop.
"What are we looking for again?" asked Trent lethargically as he steered his car through an opening in the traffic.
"That place there," Jane answered. "Millie's
"Are we gonna eat?" Jesse asked hopefully.
"Yeah, sure," Jane replied tossing a knowing
look at her husband that sat beside her on the backseat. Chances were neither
her brother nor Jesse had more then a couple of bucks in their wallets. She
would be picking up the bill. "You are wearing shoes, aren't you?"
"Uh, boots," he said after looking at his feet.
"Close enough," replied Jane.
Millie's was an old-fashioned greasy spoon.
Fifteen backless stools bolted into the blue and white linoleum floor fronted a
long counter dotted with salt and pepper shakers, ketchup bottles, napkin
dispensers, and laminated menus. There were six tables designed to accommodate
large parties but most of the seating was four person booths.
The size of the restaurant surprised Jane. From
the outside, it did not look very large. The crowd surprised her even more. She
had never heard of Millie's but most of Lawndale must have. The place was
packed. The cliental was a lazy pollster's dream. College students and
professors from nearby Lawndale State sat next to factory workers from the
plants of the industrial park. Several uniformed police officers mingled with executives
and secretaries from the office building across the street. Politics,
relationships, school, the economy and the pitiful play of the Orioles fought
for conversational dominance.
"Party of four?" asked an overly ripe brunette
who bustled up to hostess station where Jane and the others were standing. The nametag
on her pink dress and frilly white apron that was the uniform of the wait staff
announced her name to be Gloria.
"Yes," Jane answered. "Could we have Daria as
"Daria? Let's see," said Gloria arching her neck
looking over the patrons. "Lucky you, one booth just became free in her
section. Follow me, please."
"Daria works here?" Trent asked as they fell
into step behind the hostess.
"That's what she said," replied Jane. "I wonder
what her scam is."
"Maybe she just wanted to earn some money," Trent said.
Jane snorted. "Her? No way. If she got any
lazier, she'd have to join Mystik Spiral."
A short, burly young man sporting a sandy
flattop gave the tabletop one final swipe with a towel as Gloria led the foursome
to the booth.
"Cleaned, dried, and ready to go," he announced,
lifting a heavy plastic tub of dirty dishes and glasses with understated ease.
"Good job, Wes," Gloria said. She placed menus in
front of each of them as they sat. "I'll let Daria know that you're here.
She'll be with you in just a moment."
"Thanks uh, Gloria," Jesse stammered.
"You're welcome, sugar," she replied gaily. She
winked at him before sashaying to the kitchen. Jesse twisted around watching
her every step.
"She's got it goin'," he said at length. "I
wonder if Daria knows her number."
Gloria's telephone number was
likely written on the men's room wall Jane thought but did not say so. Even
from a distance, she kept an eye on Trent's girlfriends but what the other
members of the band ran around with did not concern her. Jesse had a liking for
brash women but as long as they did not try to kill him, Jane did not care.
After a few moments, Jane spied
Daria, clad in the Millie's pink and white uniform emerging from behind the
counter holding a laden tray aloft. She stopped briefly for a word with Wes.
What ever he said to her brought a small grin to her face. Her smile became
larger as she as she maneuvered toward Jane.
"I'll be with you shortly," she
said scooting on past.
Jane craned her neck, watching her
friend at work. Daria was quick, efficient, and friendly as she unloaded the
plates while talking to the consumers. If she was self-conscious about wearing
the bubblegum-colored nightmare, she gave no hint of it.
"Bon appetit, Donna, Mr DeMartino.
If everything is not to your liking, let me know," Daria said. "Is there
anything else that you need?"
"I'm good. Tony?"
"Unlike the slack-jawed zombies that
is my usual misfortune to be served by, Daria, you have forgotten nothing," Mr.
DeMartino said. "Thank you."
"Mr. DeMartino," Jane mumbled in wonder.
"On a date, even. Who's Donna?"
Donna was a stocky, whiskey-voiced
redhead on the far side of thirty if she had not already hit the big four-oh.
The yellow sundress that she wore exposed heavily freckled shoulders and
muscular arms. Who ever she was, Daria seemed to be on good terms with her. The
smiles they bestowed on each other were genuine.
Daria sat her tray down on Jane's
table. "It's great to see you again," she said sincerely while placing glasses
of water and cutlery rolled in napkins before each of them. "This, I take it,
is the man himself."
"The one and only, Ryan Sullivan
Merrill," Jane said breezily. "Ryan, this is Daria Morgendorffer."
"Hello, Daria," Ryan said. "Please
excuse me for not standing."
"I am pleased to meet you," she politely
replied shaking his hand. Her first impression of him was more favorable then
the e-mailed photographs that Jane sent to her earlier in the year with a brief
synopsis of his life and their elopement. Despite the quickness of their
courtship and the eighteen-year age gap, Daria's intuition said that Ryan was a
good one. Jane had chosen well.
"Okay, that's out of the way, now
start explaining, Daria," Jane replied.
"Hey, it says here you serve
breakfast anytime," Trent piped up from behind his menu. Jane shot daggers at
her oblivious brother but Daria turned her attention to him.
"That's right, we do," she
confirmed. "Have you already decided on what you want to order?"
"Yeah, a western omelet with
home-style potatoes, toast, and coffee, black," he replied.
"Where's breakfast at? I don't see
it," Jesse said flipping his menu over. "Do you have blueberry pancakes?"
"A stack of those and a vanilla
shake," Jesse said.
"And what would you like, Jane?"
Daria asked writing down the orders on her pad.
"I would like to talk," she replied.
"Geez, Daria, make time," Jane shot
back. "Eighteen months ago you drop out of Raft because you had a nervous
breakdown and during in that interim you have scarcely spoken to me. Now, I
find out that you've been slinging hash in a roadside joint for most of that
"First and foremost, I did NOT have
a mental breakdown of any sort," Daria snapped. She blushed as several heads
turned toward her. She lowered her voice when she continued. "It's a bit
involved and this is not the milieu for such a conversation."
"You have been dodging me for a
year and a half," Jane said. "I'm not leaving town without some answers."
Daria looked at her for several
moments. Jane could not read her friend's suddenly stoic face. "I wasn't
dodging you. I simply did not have the answers that you and everybody else
wanted from me."
"If you have them now I would like
to hear them." Jane demanded.
Daria nodded. "I don't work tomorrow."
Jane got the hint. "I'll be
knocking on your door."
there," promised Daria.
still glistening on the grass when Ryan eased their pickup truck to the curb
before the Morgendorffer residence.
place," he said looking over the house.
is," Jane replied. "You don't mind, do you?"
"No," he assured.
"You want a heart-to-heart with Daria and I'm a stranger to her. I'd only be a
hindrance. We can get to know each other later."
to get to the bottom of this," Jane said. "I can't let her throw her life away
working as a waitress."
honest work," Ryan said.
is," Jane acknowledged. "But Daria's way too intelligent and far too anti-social.
She has to be going nuts dealing with the public for minimum wage."
noncommittally. "She means a lot to you."
and Daria are the only people in the world I really give a damn about," she
replied. "I guess that doesn't say much for me."
being too hard on yourself again," her husband said. "You're a far better
person then you give yourself credit for."
"I can't help thinking that if I hadn't transferred from BFAC maybe I could
have seen the signs and done something before everything fell apart for her."
maybe not," he said diplomatically. "But then we would not have met. Forgive me
for being selfish but I don't like that scenario."
I," she replied kissing him lightly. He had a knack for saying the right things
to dispel her gloom.
breach with you," Ryan said.
not an apt metaphor," replied Jane opening the door.
it, Honey?" he asked when she did not exit.
"Do me a favor,"
Jane said seriously. "While I'm with Daria, start to work on Trent for me, will
ya? He likes and respects you and you're subtle."
Trent was twenty-seven. He had no job, no training, no education, and Mystic Spiral getting
a recording contract was a pipedream that was drifting further and further out
of reach every day. Jane was increasingly worried for her brother and his
future so had been trying to get him to find another direction. She would
willingly take care of him but she did not want that to become necessary, if
only for Trent's sake.
Ryan pledged. "But Jane, you must remember that Trent and Daria are adults.
They must make their own way. Even if we don't agree with their choices, we
must respect them. You can give them advice but you cannot force them to do
what you want them to do."
know," Jane replied. "But Trent needs a push."
her head. "Right now, all I want from Daria is an explanation."
grinned at her husband's persistence. "No, that's not all. I want is her back
in my life. She's the best friend I ever had. There's been a hole in me ever since
she took a bongo."
laughed. "Took a bongo. I haven't heard that expression in years."
"What can I
say? I'm a beatnik's daughter," Jane said hopping out of the car. "I'll call
when we done. Love ya, mean it."
"I love you
too," replied Ryan. "Good luck," he added before pulling onto the road.
Jane took a
deep breath then resolutely strode across the still wet grass. The time for elucidation
A wobbly, blurry-eyed,
blue robe and slippers wearing Helen Morgendorffer answered Jane's knock. She
stared at Jane for a moment before recognition.
she happily said opening the door wide. "Please do come in. It is good to see
you again. Let me congratulate you on both your marriage and earning your
you," replied Jane wiping her feet. "I'm sorry if I woke you."
call me Helen, one old married woman to another and don't fret. You didn't wake
me up," Helen responded leading the younger woman to the kitchen. "The coffee's
done. We can have a cup while you wait for Daria to return."
not here?" Jane asked with concern.
on her morning run," Helen replied.
minute," Jane said. "Daria runs? Daily?"
chuckled at Jane's astonishment. "Yes, she does, ever since she's been back. It
was reassuring those first few weeks. I took it as a sign that what ever was
wrong with her, she was not clinically depressed."
personified willingly runs every day and works a hectic job," Jane said. "Have
you checked for electronic nodes, barcodes, or antennae?"
laughed heartily. "I questioned her about that shortly after she started
running and working. She lifted her hair baring her neck and said 'Look Mom. No
implants.' You two have a similar sense of humor."
what initially brought us together," Jane said accepting a cup of coffee. "We
laughed at the world to keep from screaming."
gestured toward the kitchen table. "Please be seated, Jane. Why are you here?
"No, I want
some answers from her," Jane said easing down onto a chair carefully watching
her mug. She had a habit of spilling coffee, something that amused her husband
to no end.
nodded taking a chair opposite Jane. "Daria and I are closer now then ever
before but she still doesn't open up very much and when she does, sometimes
what she says makes little sense to me."
geniuses can be like that," Jane replied.
not a genius," Helen said after sipping her coffee. "I think that it is more a part
of her simply having an unconventional worldview."
out must have been a shock to you," Jane said. "I know that I was floored."
shook her head. "Utterly stunned would have been putting it mildly. Academics
were the focal point of Daria's life even before she began school. She could
read when she was three and had a thirst for words even before that. She would
sit quietly for hours as a toddler as long as someone was reading nursery
rhymes aloud to her. In that light, I didn't know what to think when she
announced that she wasn't going back to Raft."
say why?" asked Jane.
satisfactorily at any rate," Helen replied.
exactly happened?" Jane asked. "You told me that she had a nervous break down
but Daria denied that."
would you call it?" Helen asked in return. "A few days before she was going to
drive back to Boston, I found her on a crying jag curled up before the
Christmas tree. Jake had to carry her to her bed where she stayed for two days,
crying most of the time. When she finally calmed down, she dropped her little
bombshell. Her only explanation was that she was miserable to the depths of her
soul as she put it."
confirmed. "Rape was the first thing that leaped to my mind but an examination
proved that false, thank God. Then I thought about alcohol, drugs, academic
pressure, romance, all of the usual things that can affect a young person's
mental well-being. Daria denied all of that. I'm just unhappy became her
she told me," Jane said. "She asked me to leave her alone for a while. I was
crushed but Daria swore that she was not angry with me in any way, shape, or
wasn't," a perspiration-soaked Daria said slipping ghost-like into the kitchen.
Jane exclaimed. "What did you do? Run all the way to Annapolis?"
"I only put
in five miles today," she answered snagging a bottle of Gatorade from the
refrigerator. "I thought that you would get here early but I did not expect you
really want to talk to you," Jane said.
Daria drolly replied. "But you'll have to wait until I shower."
leaned over and kissed her mother on the cheek. "Good morning, Mom. I love
"I love you
too, sweetie," Helen replied wrinkling her nose. "But you do reek. Go bathe."
be a few minutes, Jane," Daria said exiting the room as she chugged her drink.
laughed lightly when she caught sight of an astounded Jane's dropped jaw. "My
reaction was much the same when she started doing that. It was weeks before I
stopped waiting for the other shoe to drop. That's a terrible thing for a
mother to say, isn't it?"
leopard and its spots," Jane stammered.
Helen replied. "So tell me able this lucky man you married. Daria says that
he's a wealthy artist, two words not normally associated with each other."
"Do I know
you?" Jane asked running an eye over Daria's ensemble as she and Daria as she
and Daria exited the Morgendorffer house. It was stylish, a far cry from her
high school uniform. Daria was chicly dressed in a smart white cotton
short-sleeved blouse, and a knee-length dark brown skirt. A pair of brown flats
adorned her feet. A white visor protected her face to which cosmetics had been
lightly but skillfully applied.
ever knows the heart of anyone else," Daria quoted.
"That's a buzz
kill," Jane replied.
line from a Nanci Griffith song, Late Night Grande Hotel," Daria said.
"And like a lot of song lyrics, it nails it on the head."
saying that I cannot know you," replied Jane.
absolutely. We cannot do Vulcan mind melds so there will always be secrets,"
Daria sighed. "Even among the closest of friends, even between husbands and
secret drove you from college and into the food service industry?" Jane bluntly
asked. "Your mom said that she was afraid that you had been raped or
in dramatic terms," Daria grumbled. "I understand why she was worried and I
appreciate the concern but it did get annoying especially when she would not
believe what I told her and I certainly could have done without a vaginal exam
that I knew I didn't need."
her mind," Jane said.
suppose so," Daria replied before chuckling. "Although I'm not sure that the
doctor telling her that I was virgo intacta didn't raise some other
think that I would have told you if I had?" Daria asked.
I don't know," Jane replied. "You have done a good job of shutting me out
lately. You have your midlife crisis twenty years early and all you have ever told
me was that you were unhappy, as if that was explanation enough."
sighed in exasperation. "Why wasn't that enough? Surely, you must have had a
friend at BFAC or Hudson Valley that told you that she was unhappy at one time
or another. Did you jump to the immediate conclusion that she had a nervous
what would you say to them then?" Daria asked.
"That she needs
to get laid," quipped Jane.
snorted. "You're the one that demanded this tête-à-tête."
okay, sorry," Jane replied. "Seriously, I knew that you were Grumpy Bear but I...what?"
Daria was laughing,
"I had a Grumpy Bear when I was a little girl. I picked him out as a fifth
eh," Jane said. "I had Wish Bear. Getting back to the subject, I know that we
thought that the world was screwed up and that we were subjected to daily
torments thanks to the brain dead drones that were our classmates but
all-in-all, I'd have to say that you had it good. You had no reason not to be
"So why wasn't
know, Daria. You tell me," Jane retorted. "I cannot know your heart, remember?"
"I was not happy
because I did not know how to be happy," Daria said as if it were the most
obvious thing in the world.
at the shorter woman in disbelief. "Daria that makes no sense what so ever. You
don't learn to be happy. You are or you are not. Geez, you geniuses come up
with the strangest ideas."
thing, I'm not a genius," Daria said. "Far from it."
what your mother said but I'm not buying it," Jane replied. "C'mon, Amiga, you
were a straight 'A' student in high school and a four-oh student who was on the
dean's list every semester at Raft. If you aren't a genius then what are you?"
who applies herself, someone who knows how to study correctly, someone who has
learned a multitude of problem-solving shortcuts and someone with a very, very
good memory, the last of which is part of what makes me an excellent waitress,
by the way," Daria replied ticking the points off on her fingers. "I have taken
both the Stanford-Binet and the Wechsler. I test above the median but not that
far beyond it. In other words, Grumpy Bear is 'smarter then the average bear' but
not by all that much."
over what Daria said before shaking her head vigorously. "Okay, that's a
discussion for another day. Let's stick to the topic. So...great, now you have me
confused. I don't even know what to ask."
smiled raising her face to the sun. "The question would be are you now happy
and the answer is yes I am."
confuse me some more, Daria," Jane emphatically complained. "I mean, you're being
happy is the bomb but why? Because you quit college? Because you became a
waitress? Because you took a vow of celibacy? What? I have tied my stomach up
in a knot over this mess. I keep blaming myself for leaving you in Boston."
looped her arm around Jane's. "I have told you before that you had nothing to
do with it. Please, believe me."
you, mostly" Jane replied. "Still there's some guilt. Just, you know, would've,
no reason for you to feel that way. To sound perfectly trite and fatalistic,
things happen for a reason," Daria said.
of the school of thought that sh...stuff happens," Jane said.
chuckled. "I'm going to take a wild flyer and say that Ryan doesn't like
doesn't," Jane acknowledged. "I've been working on cleaning up my language. I'd
really like to become the woman he thinks I am."
probably are already, Jane," Daria said. "Ryan gives me the impression of being
a solid man who knows what he's about. I'm sure that he sees you warts, webbed
toes, and all and still loves you."
Jane agreed. "I don't know what he sees in me but I wake up every morning
thanking my lucky stars. I can't believe that I am married to such a great guy."
there are days now that I actually believe in God and that he truly cares for
us. I know that all the crap is still with us but there is a lot of good and even
cause for hope. Things work out in such a wonderfully mysterious manner."
"Such as me
and Ryan, you mean?" asked Jane.
thinking on a bit grander scale but yes," Daria replied. "Look at the winding
road that brought the two of you together. You did not want to go to college
yet you did."
because you badgered me incessantly," Jane laughed.
very welcome," Daria laughed in return. "But then you get to BFAC only to find
that you did not like it there."
a good fit," Jane replied. "Too many of the professors were like the
self-absorbed idiots I met at that summer art program that I went to."
nodded. "But instead of quitting completely, you transferred to Hudson Valley
Institute. Fate, serendipity, hand of God, call it what you will. You bounced
from Maryland to Massachusetts to New York, earning your BFA and getting
married in the bargain to a man that you would have never met if you hadn't made
saying the same thing when he dropped me off at your house," Jane said. "Looking
at it that way, it does give you a sense of wonder."
been another day," Daria sang. "I've might have looked the other way and
I'd never been aware."
laughed uproariously. "Daria, in the past few minutes you have managed to quote
the Beatles and Yogi Bear. I have really missed you."
missed you too," Daria said almost timidly. "And I want to be a part of your
life again, if you will let me. I think that I can now be the sort of friend
frowned, the humor ebbing from her features. "Daria, of course, I want you as
my friend. Why would you think otherwise?"
"Because I have
never been a good friend to you," Daria dejectedly replied. "I never supported
you. I carped when you joined the track team. I whined when you got boyfriends.
I rubbed it in your face when Tom dumped you for me. I bitched when you
transferred from BFAC. I treated you as if your only purpose in life was to
catch the pearls that flowed from my mouth. I can't undo any of that. I can only
apologize and try to be better in the future."
taken aback. She knew that Daria held everybody up to a very high standard,
herself most of all but never knew that Daria was that hard on herself, that
she viewed herself through the harshest of lenses, subscribing her actions to
the most unflattering interpretation possible.
again, that's something I am going to put on the back burner," Jane said. "No, no,
I'm not. Look Daria; in whatever way you might feel that you have wronged me in
the past, forget about it. I forgive you. Let's get on with our lives."
you," Daria said with naked gratitude as her eyes immediately misted.
Daria," Jane pleaded. "Don't cry on me. It would shatter too many images and
probably destroy the time-space continuum. Just explain Millie's Diner."
shakily chuckled as she swiped at her tears with the back of her hand. "Have
you ever read any of Spider Robinson's Callahan's Saloon stories?"
have," Jane said. "But I'm surprised that you know them."
secrets," Daria quipped. "Anyway, as you know, in the stories, people were
drawn to Callahan's because they needed to be there. They needed the support
that Callahan's could give them."
is a time-traveling proprietor of a bistro sent here to heal the tortured souls
of Lawndale?" Jane quipped.
"No but I
did find the key I needed to be happy there when ironically all I was doing was
looking for a job, any job, to get me out of the house and away from Mom's
constant questions for a few hours a day," Daria said seriously. "I started
running daily for the same reason."
way this conversation has gone, I know that this answer is going to be weird,"
Jane said. "But pray tell, Daria, how did Millie's help you?"
the value of people."
narrowed her eyes in thought. "Okay, the value of people," she said slowly. "Daria,
you're a waitress. You must deal with dozens of jerks every day. If anything, I
would have thought that your job would have made you even more anti-social."
jerk I encounter, I met a score of pleasant people," Daria said. "And often,
with the right words, you can bring a jerk around."
imagine the words you use," Jane chuckled.
never sarcastic with a customer, no matter how rude they might be," Daria
replied. "It's bad business."
Daria, I can't believe that," Jane said. "You never took crap from anyone."
"It is not
about taking crap. Think about it, Jane," Daria replied. "What was my major
motivator in high school?"
yes. My base pay is not very much," Daria said. "So it did not take me long to
figure out that the better the tips the more money I got. And being friendly
helps get me better tips."
happy you is just a front to make more money?" asked Jane who failed to keep
the disappointment from her voice.
responded. "Often when you begin to do one thing, you end up accomplishing
something else entirely. As I said, I have a very good memory, which gives me a
leg up on most of the staff. I do not get orders wrong which the customers
appreciate. I do not forget the details like water or silverware and I remember
names which goes a long, long way in establishing a good rapport with people."
that still sounds mercenary," Jane said. "Just a means to an end."
it was. My thinking was that if I was going to be a waitress, I was going to be
the best. I was going to have every customer in Millie's clamoring to have me
serve them. I wanted every possible dime," Daria admitted. "But an odd
metamorphous took place. As the regulars became more relaxed around me, they
began to talk to me more. Simple things like their jobs, their families, or if the
Ravens would ever get a decent quarterback. In the beginning, I would smile and
nod and not care yet somewhere down the line, I found myself looking forward to
certain customers coming in. People that I would have passed by without a
second glance just a short time earlier, I discovered were interesting."
dawned on me that I liked talking to people, I began trying to expand that
pool. I tried to draw out more and more customers. Often I got a 'just take my
order, missy' but far more often I found that people were willing even eager to
talk to me. Some were naturally sociable types but many of them were truly
lonely people, disconnected souls who appreciated that someone, even if it was only
a lowly waitress acknowledged their existent and treated them as if they had
some worth after all. With a simple hello, a smile and a sincere 'how are you'
I could make someone feel better and it would flow back to me ten-fold. The
upstart is that I woke up a few months ago and realized that I was happy."
because you talk to people?" Jane asked skeptically.
"No, by bonding
with them," Daria said. "By sharing myself as they gave me a part of
sorry but that sounds too much like O'Neil's warm and fuzzy pop psychology,"
adage of business is that the world's greatest product can be sabotaged by poor
marketing," Daria chuckled. "O'Neil is a perfect example of that. He couldn't
sell sunscreen at a nudist colony. He made himself so unappealing to his target
demographic that his message was rejected by extension."
saying he was right, are you?" asked Jane.
to say that he was not entirely wrong," Daria replied after a moment. "Much of
what he espoused was banal pap, feel-good utopian nonsense that was completely
divorced from the realities of life."
was a Care Bears fan too?" Jane joked.
not surprise me."
Daria said. "However, that not withstanding, he was right in that my
anti-social attitude was not good for me. It did ultimately make me very
miserable. Where he failed in reaching me was in his championing the notion
that socialization meant conformity."
didn't you go for that?" quipped Jane.
when you look at it, most of us are by and large conformers," Daria replied.
"We adhere to the social contract and expected mores but with the exception of
the O'Neils of the world we like to retain at least a vestige of individuality.
We don't want to be faceless goose steppers parading before Big Brother but
working at Millie's, I've learned that joining the community does not mean I sacrifice
Mr. O'Neil should become a waiter at Millie's," Jane said.
be a terrible waiter," Daria said. "He doesn't listen."
is the big thing?" Jane asked.
Daria replied. "Eye contact. Smiling. Maybe flirting a little."
please, please tell me that you never flirted with Mr. DeMartino," Jane begged.
would have been awkward for the both of us," replied Daria. "But I did
introduce him to Donna. They're getting married next month. She's asked me to
be her maid-of-honour."
too," Jane exclaimed. "That's it. You are an alien who has taken the place of
the girl I knew. Where have you hidden her, intergalactic fiend?"
"I did not
hide her. I pray to God that I've truly buried her," Daria replied passionately.
"I don't want to go back to being that miserable again. I don't think that I
could handle it now."
her arms around Daria and hugged her close to her. She always knew that Daria's
cynicism hid a lot of pain. "I don't want you to be unhappy either. Damn, this
puts me in a difficult position."
to her for a few more seconds before breaking apart. "How so?"
going to try to talk you into quitting," Jane replied.
way to say this without coming across as condescending," Jane began
uncomfortably as she resumed walking. Daria had to pick up her pace to keep
abreast of her. "But I think that you are wasting your life, your intelligence
and your talent by being a waitress but if that's what keeps you happy then by
all means, stay a waitress."
missed the point, Jane," Daria said. "It is the lessons of humanity, the
ability to accept people in an attitude of openness, patience, tolerance, and
forgiveness, all of the facets of kindness that I learned on the job that are
important, not the job itself."
why are still at Millie's?"
"I won't be
after the summer is over," Daria said. "I am quitting in August. I'm resuming
replied with a shake of her head. "I'm transferring to Maryland State University."
there?" asked Jane.
too far from Lawndale for one thing," Daria said. "I no longer wish a great
distance between me and my parents, literally or figuratively. For another
thing, MSU offers a Technical Writing minor. That will give me a marketable
skill to complement my English degree. Furthermore, Quinn is at Potomac Basin University which is only fifteen miles from the MSU campus."
rebuild some burnt bridges," Jane guessed.
I made our peace a while back," Daria said. "It's just that I would like to be
near enough to her where I can conveniently spent some time with her. Our
interests are too different for us to hang out together all that much but being
able to have lunch or dinner with Quinn a couple of times a week does have an
appeal for me."
to see the two of you friendly," Jane said. "I never was close to my sisters. I
always felt that I missed out on something important because of that."
nodded. "And I'll come up to New York as often as I can."
stopped dead in her tracks. She opened her mouth several times but no words
would come out.
laughed. "Daria, you look like a goldfish out of water. When I said 'no need', what
I meant was that it won't be necessary. Ryan and I are moving back here. We are
buying a farm outside of town on the road to Oakdale."
Daria exclaimed. "But why? I was sure that you two would stay in New York."
reason we were still there was that Ryan wanted me to finish my degree,"
explained Jane. "His family which, with his parents dead, means a couple of
aunts and some cousins have let Ryan know in no uncertain terms that they think
that I am nothing but a gold digging tart that he was a damn fool for marrying
especially without a prenup. They call me a hippie a lot for some odd reason."
sorry," replied Daria.
Jane said. "Ryan knows that I love him and that I didn't know how rich he was
before we tied the knot. I don't like to see families break apart but none of
them are worth losing a moment's sleep over."
will you be back?" Daria asked.
of weeks," replied Jane. "A month on the outside. Yes, soon the terrible
twosome will be terrorizing Lawndale once again, at least for one last summer.
What do you think about that?"
her head slowly. "I don't do how wealthy you are now..."
didn't think that they used that many zeros this side of the national debt,"
Daria smiled. "But right now, I feel like the richest woman in the world."
The Beatle lyrics quoted by Daria was from the song
I've just seen a face by John Lennon & Paul McCartney, 1965