Abandon substance, all ye who enter here. :) For this is an ode to Quinn, my cherry-flavored lip gloss-wearing muse. If you love her as much as I do, or even a little bit, then this is your place. By all means, PM me if you have any requests! I'm always open to a creative idea or a challenge.

Almost Like Depth



Today was a good day for green.

Quinn slid her closet open like she had a thousand mornings before this one. Her dark eyes scanned the hangers, almost laser-like, for the appropriate shade.

Bright green? No, it reminded her of broken bottles and discarded plasticware from her family's overturned recycling bin. Dull green was like the stuffed dinosaur on her bed that a boy had given her. Forest green. Now that was something you didn't see enough of. Like trees and leaves…and her sister's jacket.

I wonder where Daria is now, she thought. But no, there was no point in thinking about that.

She put on a forest green fringe skirt. Now if only she had a matching top…but you couldn't have everything. She paused at a pastel yellow tank, and it seemed just right.

Yellow and green reflected a basic rule of fashion: stand out, in a good way. She would be all the sunshine that might not show through, and all the plants that had died in the last few weeks. She slipped into the tank and went to the three mirrors set up in the corner. Quinn smiled at herself. She was the cutest thing in Lawndale. Maybe the world, now.

With that done, it was time to think about the day. Parting the bright red curtains to peek out her bedroom window, Quinn saw the same thing she always did. She quickly closed them back up. Next she switched on the radio and turned the knob slowly, listening for something good. Static seemed to rule over all. "Damn," she muttered fretfully. "Oh well. It's better than those 'mental in the morning' guys."

She took her time going downstairs, ignoring the dirty windows in the family room. No school again today; winter break had started early. What was Christmas going to be like this year? She would just have to get herself something nice and go from there.

The basement was small, dingy and lit by a single bulb. Still, it was now Quinn's favorite room in the house. She was grateful for Dad's military background; he had crammed the wooden shelves with survival gear and a wide assortment of canned food. Naturally the supply was not unlimited. She decided on some corn today. She would read the ingredients for breakfast, look at the picture for lunch and eat it for dinner. Too bad there was no one around to get her a soda.

She grabbed one of Aunt Amy's old records and started up Dad's record player. It was a pop song with an exuberant beat, and her foot started tapping as she read the can. "Whole kernel corn, water, sugar, salt," she read. What a letdown. At least there was a recipe for Quick and Easy Potato Corn Chowder.

"When the world is running down," someone sang on the record. "Running down…running down…" It was stuck.

She finished reading the can and began to eye the telephone handset sitting on the dusty table. Like the radio, she tried it every day and with similar results. Might as well get it over with. Grab receiver, dial random number, no answer, roll eyes, turn off and put back on the table. Done. No more friends ever called wondering what shoes to wear or which holiday sale to hit first.

So what was she going to do today? Quinn had exhausted her supply of fashion magazines long ago, and in desperation was plundering her sister's room for books. Most of them were inscrutable, but a few had been surprisingly good. She was starting this really long poem about an angel who got thrown out of the big fashion club in the sky or something, maybe because God was jealous of his unerring color sense. But reading all day could be boring, and of course there was nothing on TV. Literally.

"Running down," the record player still taunted her. "Running down."

Her lip curled. "Shut up." She knocked it with her elbow.

"…You make the best of what's still around," the singer finished the chorus at last.

An ironic smile crossed her pretty face. What was still around? Just the same old stuff that was driving her stir-crazy. Quinn was afraid even to open the front door. She had tried it, once. What she saw, heard and smelled had sent her reeling back inside, sick to her stomach. Not only was that totally unfashionable, it was a luxury she couldn't afford now.

"What's still around…" Stuck again. The phrase repeated endlessly, like a question. "What's still around?"

She turned off the record and was about to leave when she saw a long metal case on a bottom shelf. It was an ugly shade of brown, so she hadn't really noticed it before. But something about it was familiar.

She opened the case, and there was a set of brand new walkie-talkies.

"Dad," she whispered. "You bought these after what we saw on the news. We never had a chance to use them, though."

Or had they? One was missing.

For a moment, Quinn stood frozen and stared at the three remaining handsets. A tiny flicker of excitement, long extinguished, lit up inside of her. Which of the Morgendorffers would have kept one of those ugly things on their person?

Quinn fumbled for one of the handsets. She switched from one channel to another, gasping out nonsense, random memories, anything. Just the pretense of possibly talking to someone was overwhelming. She must have babbled for minutes on end before finally giving up and throwing the thing back on the shelf. Nobody was there.

Quinn's lip began to tremble. Crying seemed kind of pointless when there was no guy to use it on, but she couldn't help it now. And maybe it would kill a good fifteen minutes. She sat at the table and buried her head in her arms. This must be how her sister felt all the time. Or used to feel.

"Maybe if I had a breath mint before I talked into it," she made a sound between a laugh and a sob. Static crackled somewhere in the room. Nothing special about that. She'd been hearing static for weeks.

"Quinn, sometimes your shallowness is so thorough," a sardonic voice said from the walkie-talkie, "It's almost like depth."

A thousand twelve-year-old girls getting their first makeup sets on Christmas morning could not have compared to her joy as she leapt up from the table.

"Daria!" Quinn screamed.

Hope burned within, melting her candy shell.


I don't own Daria or the song "When the World is Running Down," by The Police.