All recognizable Daria characters are the intellectual property of Glenn Eichler and MTV/Viacom.
This is fan fiction, written for fun and no money is being made.
Mrs. Manson popped her head outside her office door. 'Now I'll take the two Morgendorffer girls together next. Come along quickly.'
'Do I have to come in with her?' Quinn whined. 'I don't want people thinking we're related.'
'Now why is that Quinn? Do you not like your sister?' Mrs. Manson asked, a little concerned.
'She is NOT my sister! Who told you we were related? It's a lie!'
'Is she not... I mean are you not sisters?' She addressed the elder girl now who seemed mildly amused by the redhead's distress.
'No Mrs. Manson. Quinn is correct in her assertion. We are not related consanguinously.'
'But you have the same last name and the same address...?'
'Allow me to explain. I was adopted by Michael Morgendorffer and his wife, Quinn's grandparents, so I suppose in a way I am her aunt, but not by blood.'
'I... see... so how do you come to be living with your... I mean with Quinn's family, may I ask.'
'Of course. My adopted father died five years ago and my adopted mother, Ruth, is now quite elderly and in need of constant medical care. Quinn's parents, Helen and Jake, were kind enough to offer me a home.' Daria replied in an unemotional monotone.
'Nobody asked me.' Quinn muttered petulantly.
Daria turned to her and raised a puzzled eyebrow. 'I have apologized for my intrusion and my impact on your lifestyle is minimal. Why are you still complaining?'
'Because every time I turn around, there you are! At the table, in the bathroom, in front of the TV. Why don't you go back to wherever you came from?'
'I truly wish I knew where that was.' Daria replied with a hint of sadness. 'Once again I apologize. I must apologize to you also Mrs. Manson, I hope our little disagreement has not impinged negatively on your opinion of us as a family. I will continue to endeavor to minimize any friction between us here in Lawndale High.'
Margaret found herself almost mesmerized by Daria's complex sentence structuring and had to remind herself she was speaking to a student. 'Perhaps it might be best if I interview you separately after all, Dara, would you mind stepping outside?'
'Of course I do not mind. May I point out that my name is Daria, "I", "A". It's spelled similarly to Maria, your middle name, I believe.'
'How did you know that?'
'It is written on the diploma on the wall behind you.' Daria replied and left the room.
Margaret peered at the spidery copperplate on her old diploma, barely legible nowadays even at this range. 'They must be pretty good glasses she's wearing.' She muttered, almost to herself.
'She's always doing things like that, she gives me the creeps!' Quinn announced.
'Now Quinn, tell me a little about your home life, you just moved here from... where was it again...?'
A little while later Quinn emerged from the office. Daria started to go in but Quinn stopped her. 'She wants you to wait until she calls, I think she's going to call Mom... look just... try not to make things any worse OK? It's hard enough having to build your popularity from scratch without you like a vulture around my neck.'
'I believe you might mean an albatross, but your point is well made, if it is your desire I shall eschew your company save when family commitments dictate that we be together. Will that suffice to assuage your resentment of me?'
'Would you for gawd's sake learn to speak English! You may as well be speaking Swahili half the time!' Quinn shouted.
'-Oh No, Swahili sounds like this-' Daria replied in perfect Swahili. 'You can tell the difference, the phonemes are more guttural and...'
'STOPPIT!' Quinn yelled. 'You're giving me a headache!'
'Hey! Four eyes!.' Some boy shouted. 'Head's up!'
Without taking her eyes from Quinn Daria caught the thrown ball in her left hand and tossed it casually over her shoulder where it landed in a trashcan.
'I am really sorry to have discomfited you.' Daria said sadly. Quinn turned on her heel and practically ran away.
Only then did Daria turn her attention to the group of boys. She walked straight up to the one who'd thrown the ball and stopped just inside his comfort zone. From this range the unusual high sheen of her lenses was lessened and he could see her eyes. He wished he hadn't. He recoiled back from her and bumped the back of his head against the wall. 'Ow!'
She said nothing for just a little too long and then quietly said. 'Do not do that again.'
From further down the hallway Jodie turned a questioning look at Mack who looked back and shrugged, just as stunned as she was. They turned back just in time to see the new girl, a tiny, skinny little thing who'd just faced down the football team's entire defensive line go back into Manson's office and shut the door.
'Now Dara... Daria... this is a picture of two people talking, can you make up a little story about what they might be discussing?'
The girl seemed unsure. 'But I do not know these people, how can I know what they are saying? That is only a silhouette, I cannot identify them from that, there is insufficient data.'
'You don't need to identify them, just make up two imaginary characters and try to think what they might say to one another.'
'Can I pretend they are people I know? Helen and Jake for instance?'
'No, for this exercise it's better if you try to invent new characters.' Margaret answered with a reassuring smile, though she was beginning to worry about this girl's intelligence. Having a big vocabulary didn't imply she had a well formed psyche, autistic savant perhaps?
The girl seemed to think for a few moments then began. 'Very well. The male figure is Richard Simpson from Des Moines, Iowa and he is a software engineer with a degree in computer science from M.I.T. in Massachusetts, he is twenty-seven years old, unmarried, and lives in an apartment on the third floor of a nineteenth century brownstone in...'
'Stop, stop, stop. Are you trying to tell me you've imagined a whole life for this person?' Manson interrupted.
'You asked me to invent characters, did you not?'
'Yes but not every detail of their lives.'
'But I do not understand, how can I imagine what they might say if they do not exist as people in my mind?'
Manson gazed at the youngster in front of her, considering. 'What's the girl's mother's birth name?' She asked suddenly.
'Josephine Elizabeth Schmidt aged forty-eight and...'
'That's enough... I think... I feel we've done enough for today Daria. Just a couple of questions. You were home schooled I believe?'
'Yes, the Morgendorffer's farm was a great distance from the nearest school and MamaRuth was an elementary school teacher before she retired so it seemed to be for the best.'
'So you've never been inside a school before?'
'Not as a student, no, I did attend concerts and the like at the school in Lubbock where MamaRuth used to teach.' Margaret noticed something else strange about the girl as she spoke. She sat still, perfectly still. She didn't fidget or mooch around in her chair or slouch back. She sat up, attentive as a guard dog, so studiously polite she reminded Margaret of her brief visit to Japan. Margaret hadn't witnessed the scene with the football players so she was thinking to herself 'They're gonna eat you alive!' Aloud she said. 'Well all right then. Take this hall pass and go along to your first lesson. I hope you enjoy yourself here in Lawndale.'
'I shall certainly try. Thank you Mrs. Manson.'
Anthony DeMartino was about to try to instill the basics of American history into this bunch of meatheaded poop factories one more time when he was interrupted by a tap on the door followed by the entry of a short, thin girl with thick brown hair and black rimmed glasses.
She excused herself for intruding and handed him the hall pass from Mrs. Manson. He pointed her to an empty desk near the front of the room. 'Now class.' He began. 'It seems we have a new student joining us today, raise your hand Daria Morgendorffer.'
The girl put her hand up. Anthony grinned ferociously. 'Well... seeing as how you have your hand up I may as well ask you a question or perhaps you feel it's unFAIR to be asked a question on your first day?'
'Excuse me? I do not understand in what context it could be construed as unfair for a teacher to ask a student a question, perhaps if you could clarify...'
'Perhaps I should just ASK the question, hmmm?'
'Now, last WEEK we began our module on WESTward expansion, can you calmly and uneMOTIONally explain the concept of Manifest Destiny?'
Daria took a breath and began to recite. 'Journalist John L. O'Sullivan, an influential advocate for Jacksonian democracy and a complex character described by Julian Hawthorne as "always full of grand and world-embracing schemes", wrote an article in 1839, which, while not using the term "manifest destiny", did predict a "divine destiny" for the United States based upon values such as equality, rights of conscience, and personal enfranchisement "to establish on earth the moral dignity and salvation of man".
This destiny was not explicitly territorial, but O'Sullivan predicted that the United States would be one of a "Union of many Republics" sharing those values.
Six years later, in 1845, O'Sullivan wrote another essay entitled 'Annexation' in the Democratic Review, in which he first used the phrase "Manifest Destiny". In this article he urged the U.S. to annex the Republic of Texas...'
'Whoa, whoa, stop. 'DeMartino interrupted. 'That's word for word what it says in the textbook, did you memorize the entire thing?'
'You asked me did I memorize the textbook, I answered "yes". Is there a problem? I believe my answer was correct if incomplete, shall I continue from where I...?'
'No, that's enough for now. Let's see if any of the other students even opened the book despite being given this chapter as an assignment last week! How about you Kevin?'
'Aww man, I had football practice!'
Any thoughts would be most welcome. I'm introducing Jane in this part. I'm hoping the friendship works even though Daria is at this point a very different personality. For the purpose of this story Jane is also highly intelligent but with something of a blind spot when it comes to math. She's the weird "brainy" art chick.
'So girls, how was your first day?' Helen asked as she portioned out the lasagna.
'Very pleasant thank...' 'GAWD it was awful! SHE threatened a football player and it's all over the school that she's some sort of freak! Thank gawd nobody knows she's related to me, I mean she's not related to me, I mean dammit!'
'Quinn sweetie, what are you shouting about? Surely Daria didn't get into any fights on her first day, did you Daria?' Helen asked, concerned and not a little annoyed at her daughter's behavior.
Mildly surprised Daria answered. 'A fight, no, not at all. A football player threw a ball at me, probably some sort of prank or perhaps a hazing ritual, I asked him not to do it again, that is all.'
'Is that it, Quinn? Why are you making such a fuss then? Did you see the boy throw the ball?'
'Well of course I saw Jeffy throw it!' Quinn asserted. 'He was probably trying to impress me, now he'll never ask me out! SHE scared him away!'
'Now Quinn you're being ridiculous, how could Daria have scared a footballer. Now if you can't behave you can eat your dinner in your room.'
'Be quiet Quinn, we're trying to eat. So Daria, how was your first day of school?' Helen attempted a smile as she turned to the older girl.
'It was an interesting experience. Unfortunately I have already covered all of the course material for sophomore year so there was nothing new in my classes. Most of the teachers seem to care very little whether the students pay attention or not, they simply repeat their notes and ask the occasional question, I answered a few and then they seemed to prefer it if I let the others answer instead, even though they mostly got them wrong. Mr. Demartino suggested I should look into changing to a more challenging school such as Grove Hills.'
'What?!' Jake spoke up for the first time. 'Does he have any idea what that place costs? Mom's money wouldn't come close to paying for a ritzy private school like that, may as well try and get you into Fielding Prep - after we win the lottery!' He turned grumpily back to his food.
Daria appeared perplexed. 'I am sorry if I have caused discord. I have no desire to attend any other school, I can continue my studies by myself, the teachers were content for me to engage in private study once they were satisfied they had nothing to teach me.'
'Jake.' Helen said, warningly. 'Your mother asked us to see to it that Daria had the best possible education, we have to look into anything that will help her. The educational standards here are much higher than in Highland so both girls will benefit from the move. Perhaps when I make partner in the firm we can consider private schools... for both of them. Meanwhile if Daria is content to stay in Lawndale High I don't see any point in having an argument about it. Now, who'd like more lasagna?' Helen was interrupted by the phone ringing.
'Hellooo, yes she's my daughter, did she? Oh I see...' Helen hmm'd and nodded through the conversation only asking the occasional question. At the end she said. 'Do you really think... Well I suppose it wouldn't hurt to try, yes, thank you, good night.'
'Who was that Helen?' Jake asked.
'The school Principal. You girls took a psychological test today?'
Daria answered first. 'I would not have characterized it as a psychological test, after all, Mrs. Manson's diploma does not qualify her to... '
'I'm sorry Daria, but that's not what I asked. You both took a test?'
'Hah! Yeah, I suppose she diagnosed her as a freak, well I'm not surprised, call the men in the white coats to...' Quinn was ranting again.
'Quinn!' Helen interrupted. 'Ms. Li had no problem with Daria except to apologize because she had so few advanced placement courses available. No, Mrs. Manson seems to feel that the way you're so concerned that Daria's presence in the school could negatively affect your popularity indicates a lack of self-esteem. Fortunately the school runs a course to help young people like you, it's run by a Mr. O'Neill, you start after school tomorrow.'
'Daria? it is Daria isn't it? Is that how you pronounce it?'
'Yes Ms. Defoe, that is the correct pronunciation, the name is Persian in its etymology and originally would have... '
'Yes I'm sure but I wanted to ask about your painting - if I can call it that. That's a very unusual technique, if you don't mind me saying so.'
'You said we were to create a facsimile of the objects on the table, did you not? Have I erred in my representation?'
'No. No you haven't, not even a tiny little bit, that's just it though. Your painting is more like a photograph than anything else, it's accurate, precise and... and... utterly meaningless. It expresses nothing about how you feel about these items.'
'Feel? I am sorry Ms. Defoe, I do not understand, how should I feel about a bowl, a flower and a toy soldier?'
'I don't know! That's just it, I can't tell you how to feel, only you can. You explore your feelings and then try to represent them on the canvas.' Claire could tell even as she was speaking that the girl did not get it. 'Come and look at this Daria.'
They crossed behind a number of other students, most of whom were sketching the still life with varying degrees of success and paused a few feet behind another girl about Daria's age. The other students had given this girl a wide space all to herself and it wasn't hard to see why. She was attacking the canvas furiously, paint flying in all directions. What at first glance seemed to be random abstract shapes were gradually resolving themselves into a poor little flower using the bowl to defend herself against the looming menace of the toy soldier. It was the still life morphed into something worthy of Hieronymus Bosch.
Daria stood watching in awe for the rest of the lesson. Claire left her to it, hoping the girl would learn some truths about art. When the bell rang the girl at the easel jerked as if she'd been shot and seemed to wake up out of her frenzy, stepping back to admire her work and standing on Daria's toe.
'Oh, sorry 'bout that, didn't see you there. So... whaddya think?'
'I must say I am terrifically impressed by your artistic talent. I could not have conceived of this if I lived for all eternity but as I see what you have done your interpretation was always present given the cultural memes associated with each of the items on the table, particularly the femininity of the flower juxtaposed with the bravadaccio of the tin soldier.' Daria replied earnestly.
'I have no idea what you just said but I want you to write the reviews for all my paintings from now on. Jane Lane... oops, sorry, I'll clean my hand first.'
'There is no need Jane.' Daria replied, taking her hand and shaking it firmly. 'I need to wash up myself. I am Daria Morgendorffer'
'Pleased to meetcha, c'mon, you've seen mine, now show me yours.'
'I am afraid Ms. Defoe is not very happy with my creativity.'
'Holy cow Morgendorffer! How did you do that?' Jane enthused, touching a corner of Daria's picture with her finger to verify it wasn't really a black and white photograph.
'I simply draw what is in front of me. Ms. Defoe says it does not express my sentiment about the subject. I must confess that after seeing what you have done I fear I am too literal minded for art.'
'No, no, look there's a lot of talent in this - though it is a bit photographic. Have you studied art before? I mean the history of art and all that?'
'I confess I have not, it did not figure largely in MamaRuth's interests. Can you perhaps recommend a book I could read?'
'I can do better than that, come over to my house after school, I have lots of books, we're an artistic family us Lanes, we've been collecting for years.'
'Dust mostly, but we have a ton of books too, lots of them are art books, we even have Madonna's Sex.'
Daria was quiet for a while, then asked. 'I assume given the context that you were referring to a book?'
'Of course!' Jane replied. 'What did you think I meant?'
'Well at first I thought... well never mind that but may I ask...? The Madonna has been a popular subject for artists for centuries I believe but I have never heard of her being depicted having sex. Surely that would be pornographic in nature and unsuitable even for persons of our age group?'
'Well for starters it's a different Madonna.' Jane asserted while trying not to laugh. 'This one is by that pop-star and although it's not pornographic it's certainly not aimed at kids. My Dad went bananas when he caught me coloring it in when I was nine, then he went on to give me a two hour lecture about the poor lighting set-up for the studio shots and how the photographer wasn't a patch on Annie Liebowitz in his treatment of nudes... and you have no idea who any of those people are, do you.' Jane added sadly, it was a statement, not a question. Then she waved her hand back and forth in the air a couple of times.
'Why are you doing that?' Daria asked, genuinely curious.
'One hand clapping - symbol of my life, look if I'm boring you you don't have to...'
'You are not boring! In fact I must state that other than a couple of the teachers you are the singular most interesting person I have met since I left the farm. Please tell me who you are referring to, I really want to know.'
'What, are you Amish or something?'
'No, I am not Amish - or any kind of Mennonite. I was home schooled on a remote farm which, I hope, may explain my idiosyncrasy. Please be patient with me.' Daria entreated the taller girl.
'Are you messing with me? Is this some sorta joke cos if it is I'm...'
'I assure you Jane, I am not making a joke with you, please...'
Jane looked around and noticed they were the only ones left in the art room. 'C'mon then, let's get outta here - oh damn, damn, damn, damn dammit!'
'What is it Jane?'
'I forgot, they've condemned me to that dumb self-esteem class again this year, waste of my damn time. Look, it's an hour, can you wait?'
'Certainly, I have my constant companions.' Daria easily picked up a backpack that looked surprisingly heavy and slung it over her shoulders. Jane reached over and attempted to lift a strap.
'What the hell have you got in there? Bricks?'
'No. Books. If you do not mind I will not come with you to the class room. A member of my adopted family is also attending and she has requested that I avoid her wherever possible. I will wait for you outside the school.'
'Ouch! That's cold. That must hurt, huh?'
'It does, I have attempted to befriend her but I feel she resents me and fears I will usurp her place in her parents' affections. She is wrong of course but she suffers from many insecurities. She is moderately intelligent but hides it for fear of being labelled as a 'brain'. It is patently absurd.'
'Not around here it's not.' Jane replied sagely. 'Jocks good, brains bad! That's the motto.'
'An Animal Farm reference?'
'You've read it?'
'Yes of course, it's a classic of literature although the allegorical elements are a little heavy-handed and the anthropomorphization of the animals defies credulity. I mean the fowl especially have brains the size of walnuts so there is no way they could ever vocalize their...'
'Daria.' Jane interrupted. 'Don't get me wrong, it's fun and all but sometimes you do go on a bit, you know?'
'I did not know. I apologize.'
'There's no need to apologize just... I don't know what I mean but it's like talking to an encyclopedia... or Webster's dictionary or something, it's a little weird, you know?'
Daria looked at her as they walked down the corridor together. Eventually she almost whispered. 'I am sorry.'
'No. I'm sorry. Listen kid, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings it's just... I spend most of my time on my own and sometimes I just say the complete wrong thing. Look, later I'll treat you to pizza to make it up to you, OK?'
Daria smiled a tiny smile. 'Thank you Jane. I am looking forward to it.'
As they walked down the empty hallway Jane noticed something odd but couldn't quite put her finger on it. It was only later as she tried to sleep that it came to her. Daria wore boots only slightly smaller than her own but she had only heard one set of footsteps echoing back to her.