"The Next Step"


This is the first of what I hope will become a series of stories going through the summer and into Quinn's senior year at Lawndale. A lot of setup for the future went on in this story, and I deliberately left a lot of loose ends.

The title is a reference to the movie "American Pie" where the lead characters, having graduated from high school, toast to the Next Step.

I feel that this story serves as something of a bookend to my other story "Is Summer Over Already" which delves into Daria and Tom's relationship at its beginning rather than its end.

My next story will be entitled "Committed" and will carry through most of the rest of the summer, focusing mostly on the Morgendorffer family and how they react to a sudden, unexpected curve thrown their way. Expect lots of extended family to make appearances.

Questions, Comments, Reviews, Illustrations (especially Illustrations)? Send mail to MikeYamiolkoski@msn.com. Also, visit my website at


I encourage readers to check out my other stories:



"Is Summer Over Already?"

"Community Disservice"

"Outside the Box"

Thanks to:

My wife Rachel, who read the first draft and sent it back dripping in blood.

The webmasters who posted this story – whomever they are.

All the people at MTV, especially Glenn Eichler, who made Daria possible.

Disclaimer: Daria, et. al., are not my creations. They belong to MTV. I'm just borrowing them for a bit.

This story, with its words chosen exactly so and put together in the proper order, is my creation, © 2002 by Mike Yamiolkoski, and may only be distributed in its entirety with the above information, name of the author, and E-mail address of the author intact.

And, for those who bothered to read through all the endnotes, I present…


Tom lifted the last box into the U-Haul, slid it shut, and locked it. He looked one last time down the street with a hopeless optimism, thinking maybe, just maybe, she'd be there.

She wasn't.

With a sigh, Tom walked around and started to climb into the cab. He'd already said his goodbyes to the family, and anyway his father would be dropping by in a week to see how he was settling in.

"Tom? Wait up a moment!"

He looked back. It wasn't Daria, of course. It was Elsie.

"Hey, Elsie," Tom said. "Hoping to get in a parting shot?"

Elsie held out an envelope. "This is for you," she said.

Tom looked at the envelope. "How long have you had this?" he asked angrily.

"She gave it to me two days ago. Don't get all riled, she made me promise I wouldn't tell you about it or give it to you until you were just about to leave." Elsie twisted her toes on the driveway. "You know," she said, "I'm going to miss you, big brother."

Tom tore himself away from the envelope and smiled at his sister. "Yeah, I'm going to miss you too. Write to me, okay? Maybe our relationship will go a little smoother with a few hundred miles in between us as a buffer zone."

Suddenly, Elsie hugged him. Tom was startled at first, but hugged back. She was a pain-in-the-neck, spoiled little brat, but he really was going to miss her. She was one of the few people who really kept him on his toes.

"See you later, sis," he said.

Elsie gave him a wink and a smile, and ran back into the house. Tom climbed into the cab of the truck, took a deep breath, and opened the envelope.

A single piece of paper fluttered out. On it was a single word: