This is my second effort at Daria fan fiction. Thanks to all those who sent their comments on my previous fanfic. Your opinions and observations are much appreciated. And now . . .
( . . . la la LA la la . . .)
Daria in "Don't Know Jake"
Written by Jon Kilner
BEGIN ACT 1.
EXT.: MORGENDORFFER RESIDENCE. MORNING.
(We hear the buzzing of Daria's alarm clock.)
INT.: MORGENDORFFER RESIDENCE. KITCHEN.
(Helen is already seated at the table eating a bagel with cream cheese and a cup of coffee. Daria is walking away from the refrigerator with a bowl of cereal in one hand and a glass of milk in the other. Her backpack is slung over one shoulder. Halfway to the table, she is nearly run over by a frantic Jake, who enters from the side.)
JAKE: Oh. Sorry, Daria. (He turns to his wife.) Helen, have you seen my briefcase?
HELEN: (She's been watching him with a bemused expression.) I believe it's in the family room, Jake.
JAKE: Thanks. (He turns around and almost flattens Daria a second time. He side-steps her and keeps going back the way he came.) Oh. Morning, Daria.
(Daria says nothing, but watches Jake rush out of the room. Then she walks to the table, setting down her breakfast and putting her backpack on the floor. She sits down at her usual place. We cut to a front view of Helen and Daria sitting side-by-side.)
DARIA: What's dad so worked up about?
HELEN: He has a second meeting with that potential client he spoke with a few days ago. It looks as if he might get the account. (She lowers her voice to a conspiratorial tone.) He's a little nervous.
DARIA: How can you tell? (She turns her attention to her breakfast.)
HELEN: (Watching Daria.) So, do you have anything interesting lined up for this week?
DARIA: (Doesn't look up.) Nope. Same old stuff.
HELEN: No new projects or activities?
HELEN: (Disappointed expression.) Daria, perhaps if you . . .
(Helen is interrupted by the frantic arrival of Jake. We pull back to the full-kitchen view as he enters the kitchen, briefcase in hand.)
JAKE: Helen, have you seen my wallet?
HELEN: (Sighs and looks at Jake.) It's probably upstairs on your dresser, Jake. That's where you usually put it.
JAKE: Thanks. (Looks at Daria.) Oh, good morning, Daria.
(Jake rushes for the stairs. Daria and Helen watch him go, then Daria returns her attention to her cereal. Helen looks at her. We return to a close up of the two of them.)
HELEN: As I was saying, perhaps if you took an interest in some new activities, things wouldn't be so boring for you every week.
DARIA: I sincerely doubt that. Besides, I didn't say I was bored. I just said nothing new is happening this week.
HELEN: What I mean is . . .
(Helen is interrupted again by Jake. We pull back to a full kitchen view as he walks quickly through the room, briefcase in his left hand and wallet in his right. He's stuffing his wallet into his back pocket as he walks.)
JAKE: Got everything this time. Bye, honey. Bye, Daria.
(Helen watches him go before turning back to Daria. We return to the close up of the two of them.)
HELEN: (She is perturbed at Jake's interruptions and it spills over onto Daria.) What I mean is, perhaps you'd have a little more interest in school if you participated a bit more. It never hurts to get to know your schoolmates a little better.
DARIA: Maybe not in the physical sense, but psychologically it could scar me for life.
HELEN: Daria, a little participation never hurt anyone and . . .
(Helen is interrupted by the arrival of Quinn. We pull back to a kitchen-wide view. Quinn sweeps through the room on her way to the door, talking all the way. Daria uses the distraction to pick up her emptied bowl and glass and walk toward the kitchen sink.)
QUINN: Morning all. Gotta go, no time for breakfast. The Fashion Club is having an emergency meeting on how to deal with the rumors going around about Ms. Li instituting a school dress code. Can you imagine anything more horrible that taking fashion advise from Ms. Li? Oh, well. We'll put a stop to it. I may be late for dinner tonight. Bye.
(Helen watches her youngest breeze through the room and out the door. Then she turns back to Daria, who has finished rinsing her dishes and has returned to the table, reaching for her backpack.)
HELEN: As I was saying, Daria . . .
DARIA: (Slings her backpack over her shoulder and turns for the door.) Sorry, mom. Can't talk now. Gotta go.
HELEN: But I . . .
DARIA: (Deadpan.) Later. Can't be late for school. I don't want to miss any opportunities to bond with my schoolmates.
(Helen watches Daria go out the door, her expression one of disappointment. Shaking her head, she turns back to her bagel and coffee. Then we hear the sound of the door open and Jake walks into view, briefcase in hand. He looks decidedly sheepish.)
JAKE: Um, Helen? Have you seen my car keys?
HELEN: (Leans forward and covers her face with a hand.) Oh, Jake.
EXT.: LAWNDALE HIGH. MORNING.
(We hear the sound of the school bell ringing.)
INT.: LAWNDALE HIGH. MR. O'NEILL'S CLASSROOM.
(From the classroom view we see Mr. O'Neill standing by his desk. We see Daria and Jane in their usual seats, one row back on the left. Kevin and Brittany are in the front row as always. Mr. O'Neill is looking at Kevin and shaking his head.)
O'NEILL: No, Kevin. I can't accept the fact that the Lawndale Lions are playing an away game this Saturday as a valid excuse for not having your paper finished by Monday.
KEVIN: But Mr. O., I really have to spend some time with the play book between now and Saturday. Coach says I'm not familiar enough with the new plays.
O'NEILL: I'm sorry, Kevin. You'll have to find time to work on your paper. It's important to place your priorities in proper order.
KEVIN: But what could be more important than the game?
O'NEILL: I believe that your education should take precedent, Kevin.
KEVIN: (Looks confused.) Buuut . . . I'm the QB, not the president.
(Before he can continue the deteriorating discussion, Mr. O'Neill's train of thought is derailed by the arrival of Ms. Li. Ignoring Mr. O'Neill entirely, she enters through the open door and stands before the class.)
MS. LI: Attention, students. I have an announcement. The superintendent of schools has informed me that our school district will be participating in a state-wide essay competition. The theme will be "The Advantages of My Home School." The student chosen to represent us will be called upon to extoll the virtues of an education at Laaaawwnndale Hiiiighhh.
(Cut to a front view of Daria and Jane.)
DARIA: (Aside to Jane.) Virtues?
JANE: (Looks to Daria, smirking.) Yeah, you know. Tedium, daily humiliation, free parking. Stuff like that.
DARIA: Ah. The building blocks of a secure and rewarding future.
JANE: I bet you can't wait to get started on your essay.
DARIA: (Puts a hand to her temple, as if suffering from a headache.) I feel an abstention coming on.
(Cut back to the classroom view.)
MS. LI: Unfortunately, due to a theft of the school's mail some weeks back -- a matter currently under investigation -- I have learned of the competition somewhat late. There will be no time for a school-wide essay contest to determine our representative.
JANE: (Feigning disappointment, she bangs her fist lightly on her desk.) Awww, damn.
MS. LI: I have been forced to choose a representative on the basis of grades received in English class and demonstrated writing skills to date. I am pleased to announce that the person I have chosen is in this very class. Our representative in the state-wide essay competition will be . . .
DARIA: (Eyes directed to the heavens.) Please, God. Let it be Jodie.
MS. LI: . . . Ms. Daria Morgendorffer.
DARIA: (Still gazing upward.) You just don't like me, do you?
MS. LI: Congratulations, Ms. Morgendorffer. I know you will do your very best to bring honor and acclaim to Laaawwnndale Hiiighhh.
DARIA: Excuse me. But I don't think that I . . .
MS. LI: (Lifts both hands, palms out.) No, no. This is no time to indulge in self-doubt. Our very best and . . um . . brightest must be thrust to the forefront. Your grades to date, as well as your recent publication in Teen Thoughts Magazine, place you in that category.
DARIA: Umm, my story hasn't actually been published yet . . .
MS. LI: But it has been accepted for publication. And you have maintained a straight-A average in English. You're the writer for the job. After all, we can't afford to take chances. The price of failure is just too high.
MS. LI: The winner of the competition will earn thirty-thousand dollars worth of educational supplies for her school and we need that money for new textbooks.
DARIA: But aren't new textbooks provided for in the school budget?
MS. LI: (Eyes shifting restlessly.) Normally . . um . . yes they are. But this year we seem to have run into a small financial snag.
JANE: (Smirking.) Let me guess. Barbed wire barriers for the detention hall?
MS. LI: (Glances at Jane.) That's none of your concern, Ms. Lane. (Back to Daria.) We will all be depending on you, Ms. Morgendorffer. The education of your fellow students is in your hands. And you'd better get cracking. There isn't any time to lose.
DARIA: Exactly how much time do I have to write this essay?
MS. LI: All essays must be submitted to the committee by Friday.
DARIA: Excuse me. But I don't think . . .
MS. LI: No time for further chit chat. (She turns toward the door.) That's all. Everyone return to your studies. (She exits the room.)
DARIA: (Looks down and shakes her head, her voice as dry as the Sahara in summertime.) Five days.
JANE: (Smiling, she looks sidelong at Daria and playfully swings her fist at the air.) Hey, noooo pressure.
INT: LAWNDALE HIGH, HALLWAY.
(Daria and Jane are walking together past a row of lockers.)
DARIA: Five days to write a competition-winning essay. What a horrible turn of events.
JANE: Hey, I tried to convince you that a 'C' is a perfectly acceptable grade for English class, but you always have to do things your own way.
(They reach Jane's locker. Jane starts trading books between her locker and her backpack.)
DARIA: And what a topic. The Advantages of Lawndale High. What can I possibly write about?
JANE: Aww, c'mon. There's loads of advantages to good ol' Lawndale.
DARIA: (Prompting.) Such as . . .
JANE: Such as . . . (She glances skyward, thinking. Then she looks to Daria and smirks.) Well, what other school compiles a complete dossier on its students, right down to fingerprints and DNA samples?
DARIA: Oh, I forgot about that. Well, I suppose we can all take comfort in the fact that if we are ever burned beyond recognition in a school-related accident, our families will still be able to positively identify our remains.
JANE: (Pauses in her book changing and looks off screen to the left.) And there are other advantages as well. Such as being seen with the popular and the vapid.
(The Fashion Club walks into view, deep in conversation. As deep as they ever get. Like wading in the shallow end.)
QUINN: So then Mr. O'Neill said that I couldn't do my book report on the latest issue of Waif. He said it isn't, like, a real book. But it's the annual double issue, with a complete rundown of the past year's looks and a preview of next year's fashion trends. How could that not be a book?
TIFFANY: That's soooo heinous, Quinn.
QUINN: Yeah, I know. For crying out loud, the issue is, like, an inch thick.
SANDI: Well, that's what you get when the school allows classes to be taught by the fashion- impaired.
(The Fashion Club walks off screen to the right. Daria and Jane watch them go.)
JANE: (Faux enthusiastic.) Eureka! There's your angle, Daria.
DARIA: (Deadpan.) Lawndale High's greatest advantage. In-house fashion fiends.
(As Jane resumes exchanging books, Jodie walks up to join them.)
JODIE: Hi, guys. Daria, congratulations on getting to do that essay. It's too bad it's such a rush job, but it's quite an opportunity.
DARIA: Yeah. I was just thinking that I didn't have enough pointless activities lined up for this week.
JODIE: (Smiling.) C'mon, Daria. Think of how good it will look on your transcript if you win. You're the one who wants to be a writer.
DARIA: I never wanted to be a writer of drivel. And let's face it, that's just what this is. A love letter to Lawndale High.
JODIE: It's not that bad. Besides, it's for a good cause. It's been years since this school has seen new textbooks.
JANE: (She opens one of her books.) I'll say. My history book lists George Washington as a loyal British officer who served in the French and Indian War.
(Jane looks up, a smirk on her face. Jodie smiles at the joke, but Daria grimaces. It is a look of uncertainty.)
INT: OFFICE, JAKE MORGENDORFFER CONSULTING. MORNING.
(Jake is sitting behind his desk looking intently at a scattering of papers within an open blue folder. A man is seated facing Jake. Dressed in a grey suit, the man has black hair cut in a short, business-friendly style. He smiles as he talks to Jake, the sort of smile that would look at home on the face of a python.)
MATTHEWS: As you can see, Mr. Morgendorffer, the profits of our company have leveled out over the past few years. What we're looking for is someone who can help us remold our image. Someone who can present our products in a new light, a light that the public will find not only acceptable, but forward-looking. Are you that sort of a man, Jake?
JAKE: (Not looking up from the papers.) Well, I'm sure that I can help you, but I have a few questions first if you don't mind, Mr. Matthews.
MATTHEWS: Fair enough. Fire away.
JAKE: First of all, I'd like to ask you about these fines your company has been paying. (Squinting, he looks closely at a particular page.) It says here something about environmental violations?
MATTHEWS: (Python smile.) Oh, that. We've been having a bit of trouble with the EPA recently. It's just a minor matter, really. Apparently they've been concerned about the byproducts of our manufacturing processes. You know the EPA. Always concerned over petty details.
JAKE: Still, I'd have to check out the EPA reports before we continue. I wouldn't want . . .
MATTHEWS: Look, Jake. I've assured you that it's no big deal. We pollute a little, the EPA slaps us with a piddling fine every six months and life goes on.
JAKE: But it appears that your company is making no effort to comply . . .
MATTHEWS: Why would we, Jake? The fines are minimal compared to the price we would pay for bringing our manufacturing plants up to code. And compared to our profits, the fines are a drop in the bucket. So we just include the fines as part of our operating cost.
JAKE: But don't you think it would be better to . . .
MATTHEWS: (Smile disappears.) What's the matter Jake? Don't you want our account?
JAKE: (Now openly nervous.) I didn't say that. What I meant was . . .
MATTHEWS: Because we can always find another consultant if that's what you want. (He reaches over and gathers up the folder.) Perhaps that would be for the best. I may have been wrong to think that your small firm could handle an account of our size. I'm sorry I wasted your time, Mr. Morgendorffer.
(Mr. Matthews turns away and starts for the door. Jake gets a panicked look and stands up. He holds both hands out in a mollifying gesture.)
JAKE: Mr. Matthews? Wait. Don't leave. I can help you. I'm sure I can help you. Let's discuss it some more.
MATTHEWS: (He stops and turns to Jake with a look of conniving concern.) Are you certain, Mr. Morgendorffer? I wouldn't want you to do anything you don't believe in.
JAKE: Of course you wouldn't. I understand that. Come on back and let's talk. I'm certain we can find some common ground.
MATTHEWS: (His python smile returns. Mission accomplished.) Very well, Jake. Let's talk it over.
(Mr. Matthews returns to sit across from Jake. As he sits, he tosses the folder back onto Jake's desk. Jake looks down at the folder, a nervous smile on his face. Slowly the smile melts away and a look of concern takes over, tinged with a bit of disappointment in himself.)
INT: LAWNDALE HIGH. STUDY HALL.
(MUSIC: Something in a gentle acoustic guitar solo, I think.)
(We are looking from the classroom view. Ms. Barch is sitting behind her desk, reading a book. The title is 'Women are From Venus, Men are from Hell.' Cut to a front view of the classroom. We see Daria sitting three rows back in the middle with Brittany to her left. Brittany is scribbling flower pictures in her tablet. Jodie is sitting on Brittany's left, buried in her studies. Mack is just behind her, also studying. Kevin is sitting in the back, batting a paper football back and forth on his desk. Several unknown students are scattered about, most reading or doing homework. A couple are staring blankly into space. Daria has a tablet open in front of her. She is holding her pencil poised over the paper, but she isn't writing anything. We cut to a close up on the tablet, Daria's hand and pencil in view. The page is titled, 'The Advantages of Lawndale High.' Beyond that, the page is blank. We cut to a front view of Daria as she sighs and lowers her pencil.)
DARIA: This is going to be a long week.
(Brittany looks up from her drawing. She lifts her tablet to show Jodie, who offers a tolerant smile and goes back to her work. Brittany turns to Daria, but Daria is too distracted to even look up. Brittany lowers her pad to the desk and leans over to look at Daria's writing. She sees that the paper is all but empty and she frowns.)
BRITTANY: What's the matter, Daria? You aren't writing anything and that's not like you.
DARIA: (Deadpan.) I'm suffering from the worst mental block of my life.
BRITTANY: (Twirls a strand of hair around her finger and tilts her head to the side.) Ohhh. Mental block. That sounds serious. I hope it isn't catching.
(Daria looks sidelong at Brittany. Her expression tells us that schools of sarcastic remarks are swimming in her thoughts, but she restrains herself. Shooting down so easy a target will bring her no satisfaction today.)
DARIA: It just means that I can't think of anything to write.
BRITTANY: Ohhhh. I know what you mean. That happens to me all the time.
DARIA: (Sarcastic.) You're kidding.
BRITTANY: (To whom sarcasm is a foreign language.) It's true. What are you trying to write about? Maybe I can help.
DARIA: (Her expression turns dubious.) I'm trying to put down some ideas for the essay that Ms. Li is forcing me to write. (Blank stare from Brittany.) The one about the advantages of going to school here at Lawndale. (Still blank.) The one she talked about in Mr. O'Neill's class this morning.
BRITTANY: (Houston, we have comprehension.) Ohhhh. I remember. What's the problem? Can't you decide which advantages to write about?
DARIA: (Deadpan.) Yes. That's it. There are so many advantages to choose from, I just can't make up my mind.
BRITTANY: Well, maybe I can figure out a way to help you decide. Let me think.
(Brittany puts a finger to her cheek. She tilts her head and looks up, obviously putting the full power of her awesome intellect into solving Daria's dilemma. Daria watches, her face impassive. Finally, Brittany snaps her fingers and turns back to Daria.)
BRITTANY: I've got it. When I'm trying to decide something, it sometimes helps me to write down all the advantages and disadvantages. That way I can, like, add them up at the end and see which way I should go.
DARIA: (Her eyes widen for a second, surprised that Brittany actually came up with something.) Well, I'm not sure if that would help me, Brittany. I just need advantages, not disadvantages.
BRITTANY: (Looks disappointed.) Oh, well. Sorry I couldn't help. If I think of anything else, I'll let you know.
DARIA: Thanks, Brittany.
(MUSIC: Same guitar solo.)
(The passage of time is indicated by a montage of scenes within the study hall. We see Ms. Barch raise her eyes from her book to scan the class, then return to her reading. Cut to a close up of Jodie as she finishes her homework in one subject, sets the book aside, selects another and sets to work anew. Cut to a close up of Brittany filling a fresh page with smiley-faced flowers growing under a smiley-faced sun. Cut to a close up of Mack reading a textbook. Cut to a close up of Kevin asleep in his chair, his head tilted way back. Return to a close up of Daria, still staring blankly at her tablet. We can see that it still contains only the title. Daria looks heavenward in exasperation. Then she looks sidelong at Brittany. She considers for a moment, then looks to her tablet and raises her pencil. We cut to a close up of her tablet as Daria turns her pencil around and erases the title. She quickly scribbles 'Advantages' on the left side of the tablet and 'Disadvantages' on the right. Cut back to a front view of Daria. She holds her pencil poised and ready, but seems reluctant to begin.)
DARIA: (Glances skyward and mumbles.) I have now entered the realm of the truly desperate.
( . . . la la LA la la . . .)
END ACT 1
(COMMERCIAL LEAD IN: In slow motion, we see the scene in Mr. O'Neill's class when Daria is bemoaning the fact that she has only five days to write the essay. Jane swings her fist playfully at the air and mouths 'hey, no pressure'.)
BEGIN ACT 2
EXT: MORGENDORFFER RESIDENCE. LATE AFTERNOON.
INT: MORGENDORFFER RESIDENCE. FAMILY ROOM.
(Daria is sitting on the sofa. Her tablet is resting on her knee and she is scribbling. Helen walks through the room, headed for the kitchen. She pauses behind the sofa and looks down at Daria.)
HELEN: Well, you certainly seem to have found something to keep yourself busy.
DARIA: (Doesn't raise her eyes from the tablet. Keeps scribbling.) Ummm. Yeah.
HELEN: (Voice sweet.) Care to tell me what you're working on?
DARIA: (Distracted.) Essay. Due Friday.
HELEN: An essay? How interesting. What's it on?
DARIA: (Mumbles.) Advantages . . . Lawndale High.
HELEN: (Raises an eyebrow at her daughter's distracted tone.) Well, I'll leave you to it. I've got to get dinner ready.
(Helen vanishes into the kitchen. Daria continues to write, stopping only to flip over a page of her tablet. As she resumes her scribbling, Jake enters the room in his work clothes. He seems more than a little distracted himself as he sets his briefcase down on the love seat and sits down next to it. He stares straight out, lost in thought. A moment passes before Daria notices. First she glances his way. Then she glances a second time. Finally, realizing that nothing has changed between glances, she pauses in her writing and looks at her father.)
DARIA: Hi, dad.
JAKE: (Continues to stare blankly.) Hi, Daria.
(Daria's brow creases. It isn't like Jake to be so lost in thought. She lowers her pencil.)
DARIA: Are you all right?
JAKE: What? (He shakes his head and looks at Daria, seeing her for the first time since sitting down.) Oh, hi kiddo. What makes you think something could be wrong?
DARIA: I don't know. You seem distracted.
JAKE: (Fakes up some happiness.) Of course nothing's wrong, kiddo. I'm just thinking is all. It looks like I got myself a new client today.
DARIA: Well, that explains your delirium. Is it the big client you've been talking about?
JAKE: Sure is. It could mean some good money for the family, Daria. Yes, it could be a very good thing.
(As he finishes his sentence, Jake's face falls a bit from his false happiness. He obviously has something on his mind. Daria narrows her eyes and looks piercingly at him. Jake notices and quickly re-establishes his happy expression.)
DARIA: So you've definitely got the account?
JAKE: All but. We still have to sort out a few things. You know. Smooth out the final details.
DARIA: (Her piercing look unwavering.) Is there anything you want to talk about?
JAKE: Course not, kiddo. (He gets up.) I guess I'll go and see if your mother needs any help in the kitchen.
(Jake leaves before Daria can say another word. She watches him go, a concerned expression on her face. Once he is gone, she shrugs and returns to her writing.)
INT: MORGENDORFFER RESIDENCE. DARIA'S ROOM. NIGHT.
(Daria is sitting on her bed, still writing in her tablet. The phone rings and she picks it up. Cut to a split screen view, Daria on the left, Jane on the right. Jane is painting with the phone on her shoulder. We see her from a front view, so we only see the back of the canvas.)
JANE: Hey, Daria. I just called to see how the essay is coming. (She smiles an evil smile.) Finished yet?
DARIA: (Frowns.) Very funny. This may be the hardest assignment I have ever been burdened with.
JANE: Aw, c'mon. What about the time that DeMartino assigned a four-page essay on the Mexican-American War and said he wouldn't accept papers that included the letter 'e.'
DARIA: That doesn't count. He came down off his cold medication the next day and altered the assignment.
JANE: Oh, yeah. (Smiles.) Seriously, how's it coming?
DARIA: It wasn't at all for a while. Then Brittany made a suggestion and at least I've been able to scribble something down.
JANE: (Surprised.) Brittany made a suggestion? Tell me, are you going to do this essay on Lawndale cheerleading or is it going to be an exposé on the school's best makeout spots?
DARIA: Neither. I'm still not sure what it's going to be about, exactly.
JANE: Whatever. I'm glad to hear its moving for you, anyway.
DARIA: (Flips back over her pages.) Well, it's half moving anyway.
JANE: Better than not at all. See you in the morning?
DARIA: Sure thing. See you tomorrow.
(The split screen closes on Jane's side, leaving the view of Daria as she hangs up the phone. She looks down at her tablet and starts flipping through the pages. Cut to a close up of the tablet and Daria's hand as she flips the pages. We can see that she has filled the left side of every page with the disadvantages of Lawndale High. The advantage sides are blank. Cut back to the view of Daria. She lowers her eyes and shakes her head. Then she rips the pages out, crumples them up and throws them over her shoulder.)
EXT: SIDEWALK. MORNING.
(It's another sunny day in Lawndale. Daria and Jane are walking to school, each wearing their backpacks.)
JANE: I thought you said the essay was moving.
DARIA: Half moving, I said. And I was wrong about that as well. The whole thing collapsed last night. Now I'm back to square one.
JANE: (Looks over at Daria.) You're really having trouble with this, aren't you?
DARIA: I'm trying to write something I absolutely do not believe in. Wouldn't you have trouble with it?
JANE: I'd never let myself get into such a mess in the first place.
DARIA: (Glares at Jane.) Well, it's a little late to bring my English grade down to the point where it can sneak under Ms. Li's radar.
JANE: Funny. What I mean is, Ms. Li had no right to push you into this assignment. She spent the textbook money on God-knows-what. She lost the competition notice. Now she's putting all this pressure on you to bail her out. You should just tell her you don't want to do the essay.
DARIA: I could do that. Then she would spend the next three years making my life one long living hell.
JANE: More of a hell than she's making it now?
DARIA: (Lifts a hand to her chin.) Hmmm. Good point.
EXT: LAWNDALE HIGH. MORNING.
(We hear the school bell ringing.)
INT: LAWNDALE HIGH. MR. DEMARTINO'S CLASSROOM.
(Mr. DeMartino is seated at his desk. Daria and Jane walk in. They are the first to arrive for class. Mr. DeMartino sees them enter.)
DEMARTINO: Ah. Miss Morgendorffer and Miss Lane. How good to see you this fine morning. I trust you are prepared for today's quiz.
DARIA: (Deadpan.) I'm ready.
JANE: I'm as ready as I'll ever be.
DEMARTINO: How comforting. At least I can be assured that the two of you will be awake for the quiz. There are others with whom I cannot be so assured.
(Mr. DeMartino looks toward the door. Daria and Jane follow his gaze. Cut to Kevin and Brittany, who are just arriving for class. They walk together into the classroom and head for their seats.)
BRITTANY: Mr. O'Neill was rough on you today, babe.
KEVIN: He sure was. I don't know how I'm going to learn the new plays and get my English paper done by Monday.
BRITTANY: (She winds her arm around Kevin's and moves closer to him.) Don't worry, Kevvy. You can come over to my house tonight and I'll help you with the paper.
KEVIN: Awww. Thanks, babe.
(Cut back to Daria, Jane and Mr. DeMartino.)
JANE: (Smirking, she turns to Daria.) Brittany tutoring Kevin in English? That could be dangerous.
DARIA: (Glances at Jane.) Our native tongue may never be the same.
DEMARTINO: Miss Morgendorffer. I hear that you'll be submitting the essay for the state- wide competition. Is this true?
DARIA: (She and Jane turn back to Mr. DeMartino.) That's right.
DEMARTINO: (Smiles.) Good. Then there may actually be a chance of getting new history texts this year. Our current texts are getting to be outdated.
(Cut to a front view of Daria and Jane. Daria's eyes narrow at the pressure being put on her. Jane raises an eyebrow as she looks over at Daria, the hint of a smirk on her face.)
INT: LAWNDALE HIGH. MR. O'NEILL'S CLASSROOM.
(Daria and Jane walk into class. Most students are already seated. A few more straggle in with our heroes.)
O'NEILL: (Enthusiastic.) Daria. How's the essay coming?
DARIA: Ummm. It's sort of not.
O'NEILL: (Distressed.) Oh, no. What's the problem?
JANE: (Looking sidelong at Daria.) She just can't decide on which of Lawndale's many attributes to focus on.
O'NEILL: Is that true, Daria?
DARIA: (Glares at Jane.) Kind of. (Turns back to Mr. O'Neill.) I am having a lot of trouble deciding what to write about.
O'NEILL: I see. Well, perhaps it would help to make a list of the possibilities. That sometimes helps me.
(Jane looks at Daria, smirking. Daria remains impassive, but glances at Jane.)
DARIA: (Deadpan.) No, I don't think that would work for me.
O'NEILL: Oh, that's too bad. Well, let me know if there's anything I can do to help. After all, we're all counting on you. The English department sure could use new textbooks.
(Daria's expression turns angry. Mr. O'Neill sees this and he hastily raises his hands in a mollifying gesture.)
O'NEILL: Not that I want to put any pressure on you, Daria. I'm sure you'll do your very best. In fact, you shouldn't give the prize money a second thought. Put all thoughts of those new textbooks right out of your mind. Just relax and write naturally.
(Cut to a front view of Daria and Jane. Jane is smirking as she looks over at Daria. Daria lowers her eyes and looks uncomfortable.)
INT: LAWNDALE HIGH. LUNCHROOM.
(Daria and Jane are sitting at their usual lunch table. Before each sits a tray containing a hamburger, fries and a can of soda. Jane is munching fries. Daria is sitting with her forehead resting in one hand, her elbow on the table.)
DARIA: I don't know how much longer I can put up with this.
JANE: Eat something. You'll feel better. (Daria lowers her hand and glares at Jane. Jane shrugs.) Hey, I'm just giving you the benefit of my grandmother's advise.
DARIA: And does she offer any other pearls of wisdom?
JANE: Nope. That's pretty much it.
DARIA: (Sighs.) Everyone is counting on me to get the school new textbooks. At least now I know what it takes to be popular.
JANE: Yep. All you have to do is have control over something everyone wants and viola, you're the center of attention.
DARIA: Much more of this and I'm going to need attention. Professional attention.
(Both girls look up as Kevin and Brittany walk up and join them.)
KEVIN: Hey, Daria. How's the essay coming?
JANE: Why would you care?
KEVIN: Because of the training manuals. Why else?
JANE: Training manuals?
DARIA: (Deadpan.) Please rewind and start from the beginning.
JANE: (Slowly, accentuating each word.) What training manuals are you talking about, Kevin?
KEVIN: The ones coach told us about. He said that if you won the essay competition, he'd make sure part of the money is used to get new weight training manuals for the football team.
BRITTANY: And Ms. Morris said that she'd get us some new cheerleading handbooks. Just think of it. A whole book of brand new cheers.
JANE: (Deadpan.) Hooray.
DARIA: Look Kevin, Brittany. Don't get your hopes up too high. This competition is open to every school in the state. I might not win.
KEVIN: (Goofy smile.) Aw, c'mon Daria. Everybody knows that you're the best at this brain stuff.
BRITTANY: Really, Daria. Don't be so modest or whatever. The whole school knows you can do it.
DARIA: (Deadpan. Perhaps even painfully so.) Thanks. That's just what I needed to hear.
JANE: (Reaches out and pats Daria's shoulder.) Steady, girl. It will all be over soon.
BRITTANY: Is something wrong, Daria?
JANE: Oh, no. She's just feeling the pressure of an entire school's expectations.
KEVIN: (Turns to Brittany.) C'mon, babe. She probably needs to be alone to think or something. You know. Brain stuff.
BRITTANY: Okay, babe. (To Daria.) Good luck. And don't let it bother you in the least that the whole school is counting on you.
(Daria returns her elbow to the table and hides her face in her hand. Jane watches Kevin and Brittany leave, then she turns to Daria, smiling.)
JANE: My, you are the popular one.
DARIA: This is too much. It's just too much.
JANE: (Resumes munching her fries.) Eat up. You'll feel better.
(Daria looks up, a disgusted look on her face. Jane just smiles all the more.)
JANE: Who knows. Maybe if you eat enough fries, you'll trigger a cholesterol-induced stroke before Friday.
INT: LAWNDALE HIGH. STUDY HALL.
(We see Daria sitting at her desk. Her pencil is poised for action, but the tablet beneath is blank. Cut to Jodie, who is hard at work on her studies. Cut to Mack, who is face-down asleep on a textbook. Cut to Andrea, who is drawing pentagrams and mystic symbols in her notebook with extraordinary care. Cut to Kevin, who is asleep with his head way back. His paper football teeters on the edge of his desk. Cut back to Daria, who is still sitting before a blank tablet. Suddenly her face turns cross and she scratches dark lightening bolts on the page. Then she rips the page out and throws it over her shoulder. The ball of paper bounces on Kevin's desk, knocking the teetering football to the floor and waking Kevin up.
KEVIN: (Sees the football fall.) Aw, man.
BARCH: (Looks up from her book.) Quiet, you lazy male or it's detention for you.
KEVIN: Aw, man.
DARIA: Excuse me. I believe that was my fault. I accidently woke Kevin up.
BARCH: Well, somebody should. (After a final glare at Kevin, she turns to Daria.) Is something the matter, Daria?
DARIA: No. I'm just having trouble with my essay.
BARCH: Well then, you just get right back to it, dear. After all, you're working on something important for the entire school.
DARIA: (Sighs. Then she looks back down at her tablet, faced once more with a blank sheet of paper. The scene ends with the ringing of the class bell.)
INT: LAWNDALE HIGH. HALLWAY.
(The sound of the bell fades and we see Daria and Jane walking past rows of lockers. Daria is downcast and Jane is looking at her with concern.)
JANE: I just don't get it, Daria. This isn't like you.
DARIA: I know. Usually when I write, the ideas just flow. Now, there's nothing. I'm definitely not having fun.
JANE: (Shakes her head.) No. That's not what I'm talking about. I mean it's not like you to let someone pressure you into doing something you don't believe in.
DARIA: I've never had the whole school depending on me before.
JANE: Why does that matter?
DARIA: It matters because this school is in desperate need of new textbooks and I've been maneuvered into a position where I can get them.
JANE: (Stops walking and looks hard at Daria. Her voice turns wry.) I think the operative word here is 'maneuvered.' Though I would characterize it more as 'shanghaied.' I never thought I'd see the day that Daria Morgendorffer let herself be used.
JANE: Face it, Daria. Ms. Li is using you. When has she ever shown the slightest interest in your writing abilities? When has anyone else around here? But now they all want something and you can get it for them and it's 'Hey, Daria. You're talented and you should use that talent to get us what we want.' (Lowers her voice to a more serious tone.) You're being used. The goal may be laudable, but they're still using you.
(Daria is silent for a moment, her eyes reflecting the depth of her thoughts. Then her eyes turn angry and she turns back the way they came.)
DARIA: Wait for me, Jane. There's something I have to do.
JANE: (Smiling.) Sure thing.
INT: LAWNDALE HIGH. HALLWAY OUTSIDE OF MS. LI'S OFFICE.
(Daria walks up to the door of Ms. Li's office, a determined look on her face. Without hesitation, she walks into the office and closes the door behind her.)
( . . . la la LA la la . . . )
END ACT 2
(COMMERCIAL LEAD-IN: We see Daria and Jane in the lunchroom. Daria is resting her forehead in her hand, elbow on the table while Jane is munching fries.)
BEGIN ACT 3
EXT: MORGENDORFFER RESIDENCE. MORNING.
(We hear the buzzing of Daria's alarm clock.)
INT: MORGENDORFFER RESIDENCE. KITCHEN.
(Jake, Helen and Quinn are seated around the kitchen table having breakfast. Quinn is eating a bowl of cereal, the nearby box proclaiming her repast to be Sugar Free, Fat Free Bland-O's. Helen is working on a bagel with jam and a cup of coffee. Jake has a cream cheese-adorned bagel and coffee before him, but they are untouched and he looks gloomy. Quinn is chattering away and Helen is listening, trying to look interested.)
QUINN: So this new girl just moved into town and started in our grade on Monday. When I heard about it last week, I thought that maybe she'd be cool and thought about talking to Sandi about expanding the fashion club for her, but then I got a look at her this week and she's, like, so totally unfashionable. Thank God I didn't actually talk to Sandi or I'd have suffered from unfashionability spill-over or something.
HELEN: (Desperate for a change of subject.) Jake. How are things going with your new client?
(Daria enters the kitchen in time to hear this question and she listens as she gathers up her breakfast from the cupboard and fridge.)
JAKE: (Tentative.) Well, he's not exactly my client yet. You know, we're still clearing up the loose ends.
HELEN: Well, this seems to be dragging out a bit, don't you think?
JAKE: (Anxious.) No. Not really. After all, we both have to be sure that the other understands our position and there are so many details and what-have-you . . .
HELEN: Nonsense. Jake, what have we been telling the girls all these years? When an opportunity presents itself, you have to grab for it. Opportunities don't just hang around waiting for us to make up our minds. They're gone before you can blink an eye. You have to be quick and decisive or you get left behind in life.
(As Helen is talking, Daria walks up to the table with an empty bowl, an empty glass and a box of Sugar-Laden Cocoa Bombs. She puts down her back pack, sits down in her usual place, pours her cereal and helps herself to the gallon jug of milk which is sitting on the table. Helen turns her gaze to Daria as she is talking.)
HELEN: And speaking of opportunities, Daria, Ms. Li called me yesterday about the essay that you were supposed to write. Apparently she's under the impression that you don't want to write it. How do you think she got that idea?
DARIA: (Deadpan.) Probably from me telling her that I'm not going to write the essay.
HELEN: But, honey. Why would you possibly want to pass up such an opportunity?
DARIA: (Sighs and puts down her spoon.) Look. Extra-curricular activities are supposed to be voluntary, but I didn't volunteer for this. I was just told out of the blue that I had to represent the school in an essay contest and, by the way, I had exactly five days to produce this masterpiece. I was being used and I don't like being used.
HELEN: But this is an opportunity, Daria. A chance to show off your writing skills in a state- wide forum.
DARIA: (Deadpan.) A chance to show the entire state that I can produce written garbage on short notice.
HELEN: Daria, you just can't afford to pass up a chance like this. It may not come again.
DARIA: I hope not. (Turns to look at Helen, her eyes showing her anger.) Can't you see that if I write this essay, I'll be letting Ms. Li pressure me into doing something I don't believe in? I told myself long ago that I would never let that happen.
(As Daria talks, Jake takes an interest in what she is saying. Unnoticed by anyone else, he watches Daria closely and takes in her words. Meanwhile, Helen is getting exasperated.)
HELEN: Daria, sometimes I think you come up with these moral dilemmas just to get out of doing unpleasant tasks. The world isn't all fun and games, you know. Sometimes you have to buck up and do what has to be done, no matter what your personal feelings.
(Jake hears this and his intense expression fades back to gloom. Daria gets up from the table and lifts her backpack. She slings it over her shoulder and starts for the door.)
DARIA: My morality is not for convenience sake. If that's all the better you think of me, then there's no point in talking at all. I'm going to school.
(Helen is visibly angry. Quinn sees this and makes a hasty exit.)
QUINN: Gotta go. Don't want to be late.
(With Quinn's departure, only one recipient remains for Helen's anger. Jake realizes this and takes on an expression of dreaded anticipation. Helen spears him with her gaze.)
HELEN: And you, Jake. Close that deal. There's no excuse for all this milling about. Why, when I set my goals on acquiring a client . . .
INT: LAWNDALE HIGH. MR. O'NEILL'S CLASSROOM.
(Mr. O'Neill is standing before the class, looking down at Kevin.)
O'NEILL: And how is your essay coming, Kevin?
KEVIN: Don't worry, Mr. O. I'll have it finished up by Monday. Promise. (He looks over at Brittany with a goofy smile.) Brit is helping me out.
(O'Neill looks skyward, his face displaying his lack of hope for Kevin's upcoming essay. The
class bell rings and the students head for the door. Cut to a front view of Daria and Jane, still seated.)
JANE: Hmmm. Maybe Mr. O'Neill will allow Kevin to read the fruits of his and Brittany's labor aloud to the class.
DARIA: (Deadpan.) I hope so. I could use a prolonged period of unconsciousness.
(Daria and Jane gather their backpacks and head for the door. Mr. O'Neill gestures for them to wait up before they can make good their escape.)
O'NEILL: Daria. How's the competition essay coming?
DARIA: It isn't. I decided not to do it.
O'NEILL: (Distressed.) Oh, no. But why, Daria?
DARIA: I felt I was being unduly pressured. Five days. You know.
O'NEILL: Oh, I understand. The notification was a little short, I must admit. (He turns downcast.) Still, it's a shame though. We really could have used those textbooks. (Daria's eyes turn angry. Mr. O'Neill holds his hands up and hastily backsteps on his own words.) Not that the prize was the most important thing. Oh, no. Far from it.
(Daria's anger turns to a look of discomfort. Jane looks at her and frowns herself. In spite of her decision, Daria is obviously feeling guilty about withdrawing and Jane's concern is plain to see.)
INT: LAWNDALE HIGH. LUNCHROOM.
(Daria and Jane are just walking away from the lunch line, their trays laden with a chicken sandwich, a candy bar and a soda each.)
JANE: (Sarcastic.) Wow. Four teachers, four guilt trips. You've had yourself quite a morning.
DARIA: (Deadpan.) There's always hope for what the afternoon will bring.
JANE: (In her 'Dolores in prison' persona.) You just keep thinkin' that, kid. Whatever gets you through the day.
(They approach their usual table to find Jodie sitting there. Her lunch is untouched and she is hard at work on some project or other. Daria and Jane set their trays down and sit in their usual places.)
JANE: Excuse me, busy student. But in order to derive nutrition from one's lunch, one must actually ingest the food.
DARIA: What are you working on?
JODIE: (Looks at Daria, angry.) You ought to know.
DARIA: (Taken aback.) What does that mean?
JODIE: It means that Ms. Li stuck me with the competition essay. Now I have just two days to somehow produce an essay that could win a state-wide competition.
JANE: Boy, Ms. Li doesn't waste her time, does she?
DARIA: Why would she when she's so good at wasting everyone else's? (She turns to Jodie.) Why didn't you just tell her you didn't want to do it?
JANE: Sure. It worked for Daria.
JODIE: Because I don't have that option. Unlike you, Daria, I put a lot of time and effort into
JANE: And look where it's gotten you.
JODIE: (Glares at Jane, then turns back to Daria.) I like being involved in the school. I like being on student council and in the French Club and in the other things. But the down side is that when Ms. Li comes to me with a project like this, I can't refuse without jeopardizing my standing in those clubs. I have to write this essay now. I don't have a choice.
DARIA: Look, Jodie. You do have a choice. Maybe you just don't want to face the consequences of that choice, like ticking off the teachers and Ms. Li.
JANE: Having people disappointed in you or mad at you isn't the end of the world, you know. It passes. And if it doesn't, screw 'em.
JODIE: Well, maybe that works for you guys, but I'm different. I have to maintain my place in the school or I don't know what might happen. I don't want to think about it. (Shaking her head, she starts gathering her papers and stands up.) If you'll excuse me, I'm going to the library to get some work done.
DARIA: What about your lunch?
JODIE: (Glances at her food and turns away.) I'm not hungry. See you later.
(Daria and Jane watch her depart. Daria's expression shows how upset she is at placing her friend in this position. Jane notices and her eyebrows knit.)
JANE: Don't tell me. She got to you.
DARIA: Okay. I won't tell you that she got to me.
JANE: Oh, c'mon Daria. You didn't put her into that position. Ms. Li did and truth be known, she did herself. Jodie could get out of doing that essay if she was strong enough to face the music, but she isn't. You can't let yourself take the heat for that. (Jane points over her food at Daria.) You made the right decision.
DARIA: Yeah. The right decision.
(Daria continues to look upset. Jane raises an eyebrow. She knows Daria too well to think that this is over.)
INT: MORGENDORFFER RESIDENCE. DARIA'S ROOM. NIGHT.
(Daria is asleep, but tossing and turning in her bed. We see her clock sitting on a stack of books. The red numbers read 4:05 A.M. The scene dissolves and we enter Daria's nightmare. She is walking down the hallway at Lawndale High, but everything is twisted as if seen through a distorted lens. She is walking alone and everyone is ignoring her. Then Ms. Li is standing before her and Daria stops. Ms. Li is holding out a tattered old textbook. Daria takes it, but Ms. Li continue to stand there, her hands held out expectantly as if waiting for something. Then the students in the hallway turn to Daria one by one, holding out their ragged textbooks. They all hand them to her and soon Daria is staggering under a pile of textbooks, her face confused and fearful. She shakes her head violently and throwing the books aside, she runs down the hall. After a few steps, she catches her breath and takes on an expression of relief. Then she notices a commotion back where she had been. She turns to see a crowd of students surrounding a desperate Jodie, who is already staggering under a huge pile of tattered textbooks. The students are relentless, tossing still more books onto Jodie's burden. Jodie's expression turns to one of fear. Unable to support the growing burden, she falls to her knees and the pile collapses on her. Cut to close up of Daria's look of horror. Suddenly Daria jolts awake in bed, her face a matching expression of horror.)
INT: MORGENDORFFER RESIDENCE. FAMILY ROOM.
(Daria enters the darkened family room, a glass of milk in her hand, but the room isn't empty. Jake is sitting on the sofa, holding a cup of coffee. He is staring at the TV, but the set is not on. Jake looks miserable. Daria comes forward and sits down on the other side of the sofa. She sips from her glass, then looks at her father. Jake has taken no notice of her.)
DARIA: Dad? Are you okay?
JAKE: (Rouses himself and looks to Daria.) Oh. Hi, Daria. What are you doing up?
DARIA: (Evasive. She glances away, then back.) Bad dream. How about you?
JAKE: Couldn't get to sleep. Too much on my mind.
DARIA: About your new client?
JAKE: (Narrows his eyes.) How'd you know that?
DARIA: Well, I've noticed you've been kind of down the last few days and I know you've been talking to that potential client of yours. I just put two and two together.
JAKE: Yeah. It's the client. (Sighs.) Sometimes it isn't easy being an adult, Daria.
DARIA: As opposed to being a teenager?
JAKE: (Brief smile, but it fades quickly.) What I mean is, sometimes you have to make decisions you'd rather not make.
DARIA: (Looks down.) I can understand that.
JAKE: I guess you probably can. You've been on the down side yourself lately. Care to share with ol' dad?
DARIA: (Hesitates. She'd rather not, but maybe it would feel good to unload.) I'm kind of in a situation I thought I was out of, but I'm really not. See, there's something the principal wants me to do, but it's something I don't want to do. But I can't help feeling that it's something I should do because it could have benefits for the whole school. You see?
JAKE: (Another brief smile.) Not really.
DARIA: I guess I didn't put it very well. (She meets Jake's gaze.) What about you? Are you having some problem with this client?
JAKE: With him, or maybe with myself. This account is a biggie and it would be really good for the family if I got it, but I've learned that their manufacturing process is harmful to the environment and they've got a way around the EPA. Dammit, I like the environment, Daria. Back in college, your mother and I protested against people like this. But this is now and if I don't take on this account, it could endanger my business.
DARIA: So you don't know what you'll do?
JAKE: Oh, I know what I'll do. I'll take the account. I have no choice. I have the family to think about.
DARIA: You're right. That really sucks.
JAKE: Don't I know it.
(There is silence for a moment between them, each sipping their drink. Then Daria stirs, her thoughts set free on a new problem for a change.)
DARIA: If only there was some way to make the deal, but fix it so there was no down side. Isn't there any way you could get these people to clean up their act?
JAKE: I doubt it. These are the kind of folks that won't do anything unless it means a healthier bottom line for them.
DARIA: Well, you are going to plan an advertising campaign for them and I imagine they've taken some heat over this pollution thing. Maybe you can work with that.
JAKE: (Looks up, staring at the TV but seeing something else. He smiles. The wheels are turning.) Yeah. Turn their disadvantage to an advantage. That might just work, Daria. Thanks.
DARIA: (Still downcast.) No problem.
JAKE: (Sees that her problem remains. His smile fades.) Oh, sorry Daria. You've still got your problem to deal with.
DARIA: I'll figure something out.
JAKE: (Smile returns.) You always seem to. You've always had the ability to turn things around, Daria. You look at a situation and twist it until it fits your vision of the way things should be. It's a shame that you can't turn this project or whatever that way. You know, fulfill your obligation, but do it your way.
DARIA: (We move to a close up of Daria and see the hint of a smile. The wheels are turning.) Maybe I can. I think I have an idea. (We pull back to the front view of Daria and Jake.) Thanks, dad.
JAKE: Thanks yourself, kiddo.
(They each hold out their drinks and clink them together, toasting each other.)
INT: MORGENDORFFER RESIDENCE. DARIA'S ROOM.
(Daria is dressed for school. Her clock reads 7:35 A.M. She is shoving books into her backpack as she holds the phone on her shoulder. The phone at the other end rings once, then someone answers.)
DARIA: Hello, Jodie? Yeah, it's Daria. Forget about the competition essay. I'm on it.
A MUSICAL MONTAGE.
(MUSIC: "Junk" by Monaco, instrumental opening.)
(We see Daria in Mr. DeMartino's class. While he lectures, she is scribbling in her tablet. Cut to Daria in Mr. O'Neill's class. He shakes his head at Kevin, obviously having received another one of Kevin's patented answers, and he looks to Daria. But rather than call on her, he sees that she is writing feverishly in her tablet. He smiles and calls on someone else. Cut to the lunchroom. Jane is eating her lunch, watching Daria write. Cut to Daria at home, asleep on the sofa with her tablet and pencil in hand. Quinn walks behind the sofa. She pauses, looks at Daria, shakes her head and walks on. Cut to Daria at work in her room, busily typing on her computer. Through the windows we can see it's dark outside. Cut to Daria and Jane walking to school the next morning. They are talking, Daria carrying a sheaf of papers. Cut to Daria entering Ms. Li's office. She walks up to Ms. Li's desk and sets her essay down before her. Cut to a close up of Daria, still in the office, just the hint of a devious smile on her face.)
INT: LAWNDALE HIGH. HALLWAY. THE FOLLOWING WEEK.
(Daria and Jane are standing in the hallway, each looking at a copy of the Lawndale Lowdown.)
JANE: (Reading from the paper.) And there is no limit to the encouragement one receives at Lawndale. Just when you think you've been faced with a project that seems insurmountable, that is when your instructors unleash a torrent of unrelenting enthusiasm. Soon you are forced into the realization that you not only can do the project, but you must do the project.
DARIA: And truer words were never written.
JANE: (Looks up from the paper.) This is great, Daria. And I'll bet anything that it went right over Ms. Li's head.
JANE: Do you think it'll win?
DARIA: I don't care. The point is, I fulfilled my obligation and I did it in a way that let me make a point about the way I was treated.
JANE: (Smirking.) Gee. That sounds way better than 'I caved in to pressure.'
(Daria glares at Jane. Then their attention is caught by Jodie, who arrives holding a copy of the school paper. Jodie looks at Daria, a wry grin on her face.)
JODIE: Hey, Daria. I just read your essay. It's really something. How did you ever have the nerve to hand it in?
DARIA: I was never in any danger. Ms. Li only sees what she wants to see.
JODIE: So you wrote a biting commentary on the pressure you were put under to produce this essay and disguised it as a ringing endorsement for Lawndale High. That's pretty subtle, Daria.
JANE: Hey. Daria can be subtle when she has a mind to be.
DARIA: Yeah. Sometimes its better to cut with a scalpel than with an axe. Sure, there's less blood, but the satisfaction remains intact.
(Daria and Jane look at each other and trade half-smiles. Jodie shakes her head, but she is smiling too.)
INT: MORGENDORFFER RESIDENCE. KITCHEN.
(The family is gathered around the table for supper. Daria and Quinn are concentrating on their food. Jake is talking and Helen has paused in her eating to listen.)
JAKE: So I suggested that they clean up their manufacturing process and then headline that fact in their advertising. They didn't go for it at first, but then I pointed out that the increase in business that such positive advertising could bring them will more than make up the cost of updating their equipment.
HELEN: So you got the account?
JAKE: I sure did. We signed the contract this afternoon.
HELEN: That's wonderful, Jake. (She turns to Daria.) And I understand that your essay was well received.
DARIA: (She looks up from her supper.) I suppose so. At least Ms. Li didn't rip it up and throw it away.
HELEN: Oh, Daria. Don't be modest. (Switches to lecture mode.) But the point is that you both got up off your duffs and seized the moment. You saw an opportunity and grabbed it. Moral positions and beliefs are very well, but sometimes in life you have to put all issues aside and . . .
(As Helen talks on, we cut to a front view of Daria and Jake. Daria looks sidelong at her father. Jake looks back at her, a smile on his face. Daria offers up a half-smile of her own. A quiet, secret moment is shared between father and daughter.)
( . . . la la LA la la . . .)
(MUSIC: "Don't Get Me Wrong" by The Pretenders.)
THE CLOSING CREDITS ROLL AS ALTER-EGOS OF THE CHARACTERS ARE DISPLAYED.
(Hope you enjoyed the show. Please contact me and tell me what you liked and didn't like. You can reach me at Sehala@Aol.Com. Feedback, comments and constructive criticism are always welcome. Thank you and good night.)
(Disclaimer: Daria and her cartoon cohorts were created by Glenn Eichler and Susie Lewis Lynn and are trademarks of MTV Networks, Inc., a division of Viacom International, Inc. All rights reserved by trademark holders under U.S. National and International Law and Convention.)
("Don't Know Jake" is a work produced purely for fun, not for profit. The author will be quite vexed if it is distributed in any way that creates a profit for anyone. This story is copyright © 1999 by Jon Kilner. It may be distributed freely to Daria fans everywhere, provided that it is distributed in unaltered form and the author's name and e-mail address remain intact.)
(This is a work of fiction. All characters, settings and situations are fictitious, hence the name 'fiction.')
(Whew. That should about cover it.)