Title: Seize the Day, Daria!
Rating: Rated T
Disclaimer: Daria is owned by MTV Networks, a division of Viacom International, Inc. All the copyrights associated with Daria belong to them. Only the ideas contained within this story are the property of the author. No profit is being earned by the writer of this story.
"Um, Jane? Thanks for the lift. And sorry I called on such short notice," The auburn haired girl climbed into the passenger seat and buckled her seat belt. She caught her breath once the car screeched as it accelerated and departed from the curb.
"No problem, amiga. My sculpture won't go anywhere, I hope. I left the door unlocked and Trent won't be back for a few days. Not like that matters, but, yeah."
Daria Morgendorffer placed her wet, folded hands in her damp lap. She flinched at the ding a big raindrop made as it splattered against the passenger side window. The wipers squeaked everytime they rubbed across the front windshield to remove unneeded water out of the way. Daria eventually relaxed once the car continued to race down the road. Its loud motor roared over the loud thunder that cackled periodically throughout the night. Daria slipped her glasses off and wiped the unneeded moisture off the lenses with her shirt.
Jane, who had one hand on the wheel, turned to smirk at Daria. "What a beautiful night. Only thing missing is a giant tornado and a few cows trapped inside. That would make a perfect Kodak moment."
Daria put her glasses back on and smiled. "Add Bruce Campbell for perks," She turned to observed the blurry cars with their bright red rear lights zoom by, an occasional slow car left behind in their dust. "I imagine Hell is less drab than this." Daria noted of their arrival into stormy Boston.
"Either Hell or Lawndale, take your pick."
"Hmmm. Do I get to use a lifeline?"
The car slowed down as they were stuck in a little traffic. More rain splashed down and the hissing of the wind made the dark evening more mystic. Daria reached into her jacket pocket and stumbled upon her silver cell phone, the one she received yesterday from her parents. She pulled it out and flipped it open, the white glow illuminating the dim cabin of Jane's car.
"Good. No new messages."
"Whoa. Explain the cell phone, Morgendorffer. Now."
Daria closed it and put it away. "Lane, I know what you're thinking. And no, I won't charge more than $50 an hour for my services."
"Awww, wittle Dawia is gwoe'ing up!"
"For that, you get no referrals," Jane's smile remained on her face. "But seriously Daria, this is a sign of independence from your obsessed lawyer mother, shell shocked father and the vainest one of Lawndale."
"This is true. But Jane, I regret to inform you that I unfortunately have to keep tabs with Ms. Gloria Allred every week as part of our agreement to have the phone in the first place."
"It's okay, I forgive you."
"Bless you, Father."
After a half-hour of bad traffic on the highway, Daria sat up from her short nap. Her eyes came upon the Raft University buildings to her right through the rain spotted window. Jane drove around the block to the Dormitory parking lot, juxtaposed to Daria's a few minutes' walking distance away. She opened the trunk, stuffed with a few small boxes marked with Daria's name on the side. They both carried them through the foyer, up the stairs, down the hall and into Daria's room toward the end to the left. The echo of their footsteps carried on throughout the hallway as they stepped inside, only to come across an empty red room. The red sofa against the wall, a bunk bed against the opposite wall, a small entertainment system and Daria's dresser that was brought in earlier by Jane and a surprisingly helpful Trent and Jesse were the only other things in the room.
"So much for the warm welcome," Daria dropped her box on the sofa, as did Jane.
"Even a graveyard would be more excited to see us than this," Jane turned on her heel and went over to stick her head out the door. The empty hallway stretched for what felt like miles. She returned to Daria, who already made herself comfortable on the sofa and did likewise. "But hey, good news is it looks like you've got the whole room to yourself."
Daria smirked. "The less, the merrier."
Jane came across the TV remote between them in the sofa and grabbed it. "You know what? No dorm room christening would be complete without a Sick, Sad World marathon." She pressed the power button and the TV turned on, bringing light into the dark room.
"Right. There's nothing like sick, sad news to make our world happier than it was."
Jane grinned. "That's the spirit."
"How does one deal with computer viruses framing them of possessing child pornography, in turn ruining the relationship with their spouse? 'Underage Sex, Lies and Videotape', next on Sick Sad World!"
The alarm clock on the bedside dresser buzzed its piercing tones. A hand reached out and slapped the snooze button with haste. Daria still remembered it was a few hours ago that Jane was over to watch endless episodes of Sick Sad World and digest pizza and soda until their stomachs burst, only to return to reality by a silly alarm.
Daria pulled her comforter to the side, the cold air having no remorse on her body once it was exposed. She ducked while getting out to avoid the wooden bar coming off the side of the top bunk and went through the top drawer in her dresser. She pulled down on her Mark Twain shirt before she walked out and entered the communal bathroom a few doors down with toothbrush and toothpaste in hand.
"Thank God I don't have to hear 'Which is my good side?' anymore."
Daria flinched and her eyes grew wide upon the sight of the clean bathtub, sinks and stalls in the middle of the mirrors placed around the entire room. She moved past the girl by one of the sinks nearby, applying makeup to her face. Daria turned on her faucet to begin brushing her teeth. She felt a nudge from the blond next to her, a worried look on her face.
"Hey, which is my good side?" She asked, taking her time to turn her head side to side.
Daria sighed, her eyes looking down at the floor. "Crap."
"Students," The Psychology 101 professor dropped his textbook on his desk, which caused the murmuring from various students to cease. His name, 'Dr. Frye' written in red ink on the whiteboard behind him stuck out like a sore thumb. "Please open your textbook to page three."
Everyone including Daria did so, but she looked up at the professor and noticed he had no notes with him, nor did he open his book. The professor straightened out his red tie and adjusted the lapel of his gray sports coat.
"And now, if you will," He grabbed his book and tossed it to the side as it landed with a loud smack, surprising some of the students. "Throw your textbook away!"
"What?" A redhead girl next to Daria asked, a confused look on her face.
"You heard me! Throw it away!" He got up to her desk and threw it behind his back to smash into the wall with a loud thud. "Everyone! Throw your texts away!"
Numerous texts proceeded to be discarded, some placed back into students' backpacks. Daria looked on, stunned. Without another thought, she put hers away.
"Not so fast, Dr. Frye. This can be extra pizza money," She mumbled as a textbook flew by her head with a quiet whoosh. A smirk crept upon her face. "Wait 'til Jane hears about this."
Once everyone's books were gone from their desks, the professor returned to stand behind his podium. "In this class, you will only use your minds!" He took his number two pencil and snapped it in half. It made a ping once it dropped to the floor. "Do you think students used notebooks and binders and all this other technical, money wasting crap way back when? No! Today will be the start of a new lesson! The most important lesson you will ever have to learn in your life! And that lesson is: seize the day! Live in the moment!"
"All right!" A male student shouted from the back of the room.
Daria stayed still among the other jovial students as the professor threw his broken pencil to the side. "Oh joy."
"And that's not all. For our midterm we have to go on a two-mile hike and dive into a lake while proclaiming our appreciation of our loved ones to the man upstairs."
"Now that is something I must capture on canvas," Jane picked up her slice of pizza and shoved it into her mouth. Daria sat across from Jane in the booth, staring at the last piece of pizza pie in the middle of the table. "And for sharing that titillating story, you deserve the last slice. The next pie's on me."
Daria's eyes wandered over to a few students from her class who entered Pizza King, then returned her focus to Jane. "How gracious of you. So, how is BFAC?"
"I actually imagined the ole Inferno below would be worse. But I'm fine with being a 'sellout', or rather I was accused of being one by someone who shall remain nameless, specifically Trent," Jane paused for a minute but continued once she picked up the hint Daria would not butt in. "But it's definitely better than Ashfield. No oddball chicks confusing one's sexual orientation at the drop of a hat, or a lustful art teacher chasing after their voluptuous, overexposed students. No classes for a month. Plus, no strict curfew."
Daria gave a hint of a smile. "I'll switch schools with you."
"The offer's tempting but I refuse. So, there's no homework in that class?" Jane took another bite of her pizza. From the tone in her voice, Daria could feel that Jane wished to be in her shoes.
"There's only one assignment the entire semester. We have to give an example of 'seizing the day and living in the moment' in front of the class to receive an A. Otherwise, we'll receive an F."
"Sounds easy to me."
"Jane. Do I look like someone who seizes the day and lives in the moment, let alone 'seize' anything?"
"Depends on what context 'seize' is used in," Daria's 'You know I'm right' glow in her eyes gave Jane a good idea of what she was thinking. "Well, maybe you're onto something."
Daria sighed. "I can't think of anything. We have until the end of the month to show him our assignment."
Jane slipped out of the booth to order another pie. "Well, Morgendorffer, better get started," She said before walking off.
Daria pulled out her cell phone and stared at it a few moments, deciding whether she should make the call she had told herself she would not make so soon. "I guess I'd better keep my end of the bargain. I'm really gonna hate myself in the morning."
Quinn Morgendorffer wiped her handkerchief under her eyes as she sat on the sofa in the Morgendorffer residence. Gone with the Wind came to a conclusion on TV before her eyes. She sniffed, unable to keep her lips from quivering. "Who knew a saga about our fair nation being torn apart could be so sad?"
Meanwhile, Helen paced back and forth in the kitchen, the phone lodged between her shoulder and her ear. She walked over to the counter to write on a notepad with a pen. "Mmm hmm. Okay. All right. Yes, but make sure those papers get to my desk tomorrow morning! I must have them for that meeting! All right, goodbye!" She hung up the phone and turned to her husband, sitting at the dinner table.
"Damnit Helen! This morning I caught those brats knocking over our trash cans! But they won't get past ole Jakey next time, oh no they won't!" Jake slammed his cup of hot chocolate on the table, some of it spilling on the table cloth.
Helen frowned and put her notepad and pen down on the table. "Jake, calm down. They backed into them on accident. They even apologized."
Jake's eyes became narrow. "You never know Helen! It may have been a lie to cover up their rotten plans of ruining this neighborhood, like last time with those damned dogs! Those kids should be glad they don't have to deal with Corporal Allenbogen! Always bragging about this and that and how his show tunes were so great and how mine stunk! My show tunes didn't stink, damnit!" He said, which resulted in an exasperated sigh from his wife.
As soon as the phone started to ring, Quinn picked up the phone resting in front of her and placed it to her ear. "Hello, Sandi? Oh, hi Daria. I thought it was going to be Sandi. We have to finish our discussion of whether short sleeves are in this season so we can write it in an article. It would be so icky if we put out our fashion newsletter and our tips turned out to be wrong, like the last time with the Fashion Club and we gave out that newsletter to the students that was so totally off, so after that, we promised to look at the latest edition of Waif first before putting the newsletter out."
Daria looked at Jane, who stuck a finger in her mouth and made gagging noises. Daria contained her laughter for a few seconds and regained her composure. "Hmm. I'll make sure to mark that debate in my planner. It will definitely put Roe vs. Wade to shame. But I'd like to speak to someone with somewhat more significance. Is Janet Reno there?"
"Yeah, she's here," Quinn covered the phone and looked over her shoulder. "Mom! It's Daria!"
"Thank you Quinn, I'll take it in here," Helen smiled and grabbed the phone in the kitchen. "Hi, Daria!"
"Hi Mom," Daria looked up at the arrival of their fresh pepperoni pizza pie, its steam still rising. Jane kept an observable eye on Daria and remained quiet.
"I know it's only been two days, but it feels like it's been forever since I last heard from you."
"Yeah, I know the feeling. But, I need your help with something important."
"Honey, I'm glad you took the time to talk about this. Now I understand you may have certain feelings about boys, especially at your age. But remember that it's perfectly normal for a young woman like yourself to feel the way you do."
"Um, Mom. I'm talking about a homework assignment."
"Yeah. We have to share a moment about how we seize the day, live in the moment and maximize opportunities. I figured since you're an attorney, you would have an idea about this kind of thing, horrible rumors and accusations brought on by your occupation notwithstanding."
"Right. Well, um, the only way to seize the day is to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way and make the best of it. It's a learning experience, something that makes you and everyone around you better."
"And now I see why you became a lawyer."
"Daria, I'm serious. Maximizing your life and achieving happiness is something we should all try to do."
"Yeah, if your last name is Rogers and you have your own neighborhood of make-believe."
Helen frowned. "Just take time to think about it, Daria. You never know what'll happen until you try."
After a brief moment of silence, Daria nodded. "Yeah. Um, thanks for the help."
"You're welcome, sweetie."
"So, any luck?" Jane said after she finished chewing a bite of pizza. Daria ended the call and put her phone away. Silence along with Daria's blank stare told Jane everything she needed to know. "Guess not."
Daria sat alone in the booth at Pizza King, unconsciously fiddling her thumbs in her lap. It had been almost three weeks since the first day of classes and no idea for Dr. Frye's assignment had popped into her head. She reached into her backpack by her side and stopped rummaging through its contents at the touch her fingers received from the hardcover book she desired to read. Daria yanked it out and placed it on the table. Road to Madness by H.P. Lovecraft would definitely pass the time until Jane arrived, she thought, as she skipped ahead to the first chapter. She didn't get past the first sentence when a familiar presence sat down across from her.
"Jane? Oh, um, hey Trent," Daria lifted her head to see his chilled out face staring back at her. He stretched his arms out across the back of the booth. "Wait, aren't you usually asleep right now?"
Trent's eyes moved from side to side and then back to Daria. "Yeah, but the club manager wants an early rehearsal, you know, to check out our sound. I hope this doesn't mess with our creative spark we've got going."
"Don't worry. When he hears your updated rendition of Icebox Woman backed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, he'll definitely have a change of heart."
Trent's laughter segued into stifled coughs. He smiled. "Good one, Daria."
"Yo! Did I miss anything?"
Daria and Trent turned to see Jane standing beside them with one eyebrow perked. Daria paused until Jane sat next to Trent. "Let me recap. Pigs are flying, we spotted a giant snowball in Hell, and the world hunger crisis has screeched to a pleasant yet surprising halt."
"Jeez, it's about time! I figured those starving children in Africa and Asia lacked something important."
"And can you believe it only took a few all-you-can-eat buffet chains to solve our problems?"
"The more you know..." Jane smirked as their pepperoni pizza pie arrived along with their plates. She moved the pie to the direct center of the table. "So, I figure you've got your assignment all planned out and ready to go on Tuesday?"
Trent looked at Jane, puzzled. "Whoa. An assignment?"
"Yeah, you know. Teachers? Homework? To prepare for tests? You know, ordinary school stuff?"
"Yeah. Right. What's it about, Daria? Maybe I can help you," Trent's sincere concern got Daria's attention, noted by her raised eyebrows.
Daria took her first slice from the pan. "Well, I have to present an example of seizing the day, living the moment, maximizing your opportunities; you know, stuff that makes me sick to my stomach just thinking about it."
Jane winced, her hand over her stomach. "Please, Daria. That was more than enough."
Jane and Daria stared at a silent Trent, apparently oblivious to what Daria said. Daria and Jane shook it off and partook of their pizza before Trent finally spoke.
"Seizing the day, there's no other way, I'm trying to learn, but…"
"I'm waiting my turn?" Daria asked after his small moment of silence.
"You gave me freezer burn?" Jane got out before she took a bite of her pizza.
"There's money to earn…"
"Well, Daria, at least you helped Trent come up with a new song," Jane said, unaware of Daria's exasperated sigh that came after she finished her slice of pizza. "That should get you at least a C."
"Hey, I'd better run. Mystik Spiral needs me," Trent slipped between Jane and the table. He faced Jane and Daria, his hands shoved into his front pockets. "Catch you later, Janey. Daria."
Daria gave a small smile. "Bye Trent."
"Right," Jane said, looking over her shoulder to see Trent's departure. After he left, she brought her attention back to Daria. "So…"
Daria tapped her hand on her H.P. Lovecraft novel. "Jane?"
Daria grinned. "I think I've got it."
"I can't believe I'm doing this," Jane sat next to Daria in class. Watching two students give their presentation at the front of the class, her face molded into a frown, her arms folded tightly against her chest. "Give me one good reason why I should still be here, Morgendorffer."
"Getting this A will fulfill my goal of a good transcript. That transcript will get me one step closer to my extra credit tutoring gig. That tutoring gig could lead to extra money, with a portion set side for the 'Here Jane, this pizza pie is on me' part of my allowance."
"Okay amiga, this gal knows when she's beat," She patted her chest. Everyone else in the class gave an applause and the two students returned to their seats. Dr. Frye stood up from his seat behind his desk, clapping.
He stopped his applause and the class became silent. "All right, class! Next to present is Ms. Morgendorffer!"
Daria and Jane approached the front of the room. The class was quiet, save a cough or two.
Dr. Frye smiled. "Ms. Morgendorffer, please show us an example of seizing the day and living in the moment."
Daria gazed at the students watching her, her eyes trying their best not to appear astonished. She took a breath and faced Jane. "At Lawndale, where I grew up, one would say it was nothing but a giant hellhole."
Jane nodded. "I can definitely vouch for that, although that comment was a little too kind."
"But it didn't suck as much with Jane here and my family. Here at Raft, well, to be honest it still feels like a giant hellhole except, it's a much bigger hellhole," She stopped to allow a few students to finish their laughter. "Especially because your mother, father and sister continue to bug the hell out of you even more than when you lived with them. A few weeks ago I talked to my mom about seizing the day, and she surprisingly gave me advice for the assignment. After I took that advice in consideration, a few weeks later Jane and I treated ourselves to a pizza pie. At that moment I realized one thing remained constant throughout my four years of hell in Lawndale that made it feel like the fourth level of Hell instead of the fifth. And that one constant thing is you, Jane," Daria looked out the corner of her eye to see Jane's grow larger in surprise. Daria did not expect those words to come out of her mouth, but she knew she had to go on with her spontaneous presentation.
From Jane's confused expression, Daria began to have second thoughts. "Daria?"
"Jane, you know I wanted you to go to BFAC for your own sake, but deep down, it was for something bigger."
"This is getting interesting," Dr. Frye whispered, writing some notes in his college ruled notebook.
Daria approached Jane and stopped once she was a foot away. Daria could feel her hands tremble in response to what was going through her mind. "I'm not good at saying this kind of stuff, but, Jane, I wanted you out here not just to go to BFAC, but…I felt like I'd be missing a part of me if you weren't here, because basically…JaneIloveyou."
Dr. Frye finished writing in his notebook and grinned. "Day, seized." He thought out loud, quiet enough so no one could hear.
Jane stood frozen, looking at Daria who grimaced with her eyes closed and turned to the side, not wanting to see her best friend's reaction. However, the warmth that surrounded her body made her gasp. Daria opened her eyes to feel Jane's arms wrapped around her, her hands patting Daria's back. "Same here, amiga." She said, neither of them aware of the class's applause.
"I mean, like-"
Jane released Daria from her embrace and stood back to look at her. She smiled. "Daria, don't worry. I know what you meant."
Daria turned to face her professor, her cheeks warm and feeling like they were glowing. "So…do I get my A now?"