A challenge was issued to me a while ago by TAG: in "The Daria Diaries", there's a note in her planner that says "Oct. 25 Saturday- Last day of Carnivorous Plant Expo, Mom and Dad at Fun Run (explore dresser drawers?), Sleepover at Jane's (bring own pajamas this time)" to which he wrote his own snappy little tale called "Snowflakes" , but asked me to write a ficlet about what Daria found in the drawers. So here you go.


The Hourglass

Awakening to squint blearily at the clock, Daria realized she was only three hours away from meeting up with Jane for the Carnivorous Plant Expo. Afterwards, they'd undoubtedly head for pizza, then back to Jane's for a full evening of really bad tv, followed by a long night of even worse movies. Daria wouldn't have to go home until some point the following day. As she was alone in her curtains-shut-against-the-morning-sun padded room, Daria allowed herself to smile. Really smile. It would be a great day.

Swinging her legs out from under the warm covers, Daria stretched and yawned, wondering if any of her family was up. Brushing the tangled mess of hair out of her eyes, she slipped on her glasses and padded to her desk to turn on her computer. Perhaps she'd get some writing done before she left to meet Jane. The notes scribbled in her daily planner reminded her of a potentially more interesting endeavor and she headed to the bathroom to brush her teeth before embarking on the mission. Her story could wait a bit longer. Truth was stranger than fiction after all, and her parents were nothing if not strange.

Enjoying the minty freshness of Quinn's special 'Smile-Brite Tooth White' toothpaste ($15 a tube), Daria pondered the mysteries of her parent's bedside drawers. The brief notion she might discover something… romantic made her almost abandon the idea, but with a shrug and spit, Daria figured if she saw anything truly scary, she could just shut the drawer and leave.

"Makes me wish I had some latex gloves, though," she said to her reflection.

Once back in the hall, she noticed her sister's door was wide open. Curious as to why her sister had gotten up so early, she remembered Quinn was sleeping over at Stacy's. The whole house to myself, Daria thought, and more than enough time to search Quinn's room for blackmail material after I finish with Mom and Dad.

Oh, yes. Today was going to be a great day.

Still in her pajamas, Daria headed to her parent's room. The bed was made, surprising since her parents must have gotten up at the crack of stupid to be on time for the 10K 'Fun Run' Daria's mother had signed her and Jake up for. The image of her mother power walking while on the phone with her boss, followed by a lagging and wheezing Jake, made Daria almost smile again. She didn't because though she was pretty sure she was alone, one never knew.

Her dad was usually an easy target for a favor anyway, so Daria thought she'd start with the bedside table on his side first. The open cubby on the bottom was fairly uninteresting: several books about business planning, a half-finished crossword booklet with a chewed-up pencil marking a page in the middle, the sports section of the Sun-Herald from the previous Tuesday, and a small bottle of cuticle cream.

The single drawer above wasn't nearly as full or interesting as she'd hoped. A few pens (also chewed) minus their caps rolled around as she slid the drawer open. There was a keychain ring that had nothing on it, a silver string of beads that looked like it might have once been attached to a pen to keep people from taking it from its tether, a political thriller novel (half-finished judging by the breaks in the spine), a nail clipper, and an emery board.

A sardonic look crossed Daria's face. "Well this was totally worth it."

Just before she shut the drawer, she saw something wedged way in the back. Prying it free carefully, Daria saw it was a small top-bound spiral notebook. Now this could be interesting. Flipping it open, she saw mostly lists. On closer inspection, it was revealed to be ingredient lists.

"Oh, no, Dad's going to start cooking again."

Skimming along, Daria had to admit some of the combinations sounded good- the shrimp pasta with lemon and basil sounded tasty. Only the fact that every list included some kind of hot pepper made her wince. Well, at least she was forewarned. Just as she was flipping the notebook closed, she saw the back of the booklet was also filled with lists followed by checkmarks). Turning the book over and upside down, she read:

Captain Cutlass (five checks)
Batman (three checks)
Math professor (one check)

Daria stopped reading, feeling nauseated. Closing the book quickly, she tossed it back in the drawer. That was more than she ever wanted to know. Dare she move on to her mother's drawer?

"Therapy's therapy," she said to herself.

The bottom of her mother's nightstand was predictably filled with manila folders overflowing with printouts and documents. A yellow highlighter missing its cap lay on the rug in front of the dresser. A book titled 'Sugar and Spice' had fallen behind the stack of legal papers, only its spine showing. Daria chose to imagine it was a cheesy romance novel and didn't pick it up. A few pens (unchewed) were interspersed among the papers.

Her mother's drawer was bursting with clutter when Daria finally managed to pry it open. Papers were wrinkled and crimped from being drug along the inside of the drawer as it had been opened and closed repeatedly. The papers were pretty much in one stack and Daria gingerly lifted it out, making sure not to mix anything with the papers from the cubby underneath.

Behind all the legal mess Daria's mother's drawer didn't look any more interesting than her father's. More pens, a tube of plain Chap Stick, the fancy hand lotion Quinn had given her or Mother's Day, a spare set of keys to something, bobby pins (?), a small carved wooden box that turned out to hold nothing more interesting than paperclips, and the card Daria had given her mother on the same Mother's Day as Quinn's lotion.

Daria felt a twinge at that. Somehow, even though it had been lost under a pile of work, it felt nice her mother had kept the card. Picking it up to read it again, Daria's happiness died when she saw a list of phone numbers scrawled over the back of the card.

So much for that.

Somewhat angered at the downhill slide the day had taken, Daria picked up the pile of papers to drop them back in the drawer. A rumble in her stomach gave her more than enough motivation to end her disappointing treasure hunt. Yet, once again, something shoved to the back of the drawer caught her eye. Fishing out the small cardboard box, Daria wondered if she should open it. It was small and rectangular, the shape could conceal something she would rather not think about her mother ever owning, much yet using, and the inscription that said it had been a gift from her dad wasn't encouraging.

"In for a penny…" Daria mumbled as she opened the box.

To her surprise (and infinite relief), a simple wooden hourglass was all that slid out. Not sure what it was for, Daria shrugged and tried to put it back in its box so she could go have breakfast. When it didn't go back in easily, she looked in the box and saw a piece of paper had been curled around the hourglass. Pulling it out, she opened it.

Helen,

Now you have all the time in the world.

Love,
Jake

Ignoring the sharp pang and the lump in her throat, Daria carefully replaced the loving note and the hourglass in its forgotten box and put it far back in the drawer where she had found it, recovering it with mountains of paperwork. Wishing the streaming morning sunlight would change to a more appropriate gloomy rain, Daria plodded down the stairs and to the kitchen.

As she was about to pour herself a bowl of cereal, she stopped. Running back upstairs and changing quickly, she grabbed her backpack and went back to the kitchen. Packing up the cereal, a carton of milk, and her mom's special stash of gourmet mint-chocolate chip, fudge-dipped cookies, she locked up the house and headed to Jane's.