Heather

in

Cherry Bomb

 

 

No one knows what it's like / To feel these feelings
Like I do / And I blame you
No one bites back as hard / On their anger
None of my pain and woe / Can show through

 - The Who, Behind Blue Eyes (Heather’s Song)

 

 

            All encompassing darkness, warm and soft and comforting until the silence was shattered by a loud, nerve twisting buzz.

            “Gahdammit,” Heather muttered, slapping at the alarm clock. “Shaddup, gahdammit.”

            “Heather, Damsel,” their mother called from the hallway. “Wake up girls, you don’t want to be late on your first day at your new school.”

            “Oh no,” Heather muttered, crawling out of bed. “Wouldn’t want that.”

            Freshly showered and dressed, Heather walked downstairs to the dining room. Her mother was already there, staring into a cup of coffee. She motioned vaguely at a plate with eggs and toast on it.

            “G’morning, Mom”

            “Mmm.”

            “Had your coffee yet?”

            “Mmm-nnm.”

            “Did you cook this?”

            “Mmm-huh.”

            “Thanks. Didn’t sleep well, eh?”

            “Mmm-nnm.”

            “Are you and Dad getting a divorce?”

            “Mmm . . . what!?” Daria looked up at her daughter in shock. Heather wasn’t really sure why she’d asked the question, except that it had been prowling around in the back of her mind ever since she’d overheard the argument on the phone . . . the argument over her.

            “You fight a lot. You’re hardly ever both home at the same time. I just wanna know.” Heather paused, and forced herself to finish. “I wanna know if it’s because of me.”

            “No. Absolutely not,” her mother answered. “Sometimes we do argue about you. Sometimes we argue about Damsel. Sometimes we argue about things you don’t need to know about.”

            Heather winced and looked down at her eggs.

            “But the topic of the argument is not the cause of the argument. We’re both very strong willed people, and your father doesn’t like to admit it when I’m right.” Daria let a small smile out to lighten the mood. “However, the point is that I don’t want a divorce. Also, you’re using sloppy English again.”

            Heather thought about this for a couple of minutes while she chewed her toast. Honesty was one of the prime foundations of the Morgendorffer household, and her mother would never tell her a lie. There were times, however, when she didn’t tell all of the truth.

            “Does Dad want a divorce?” Heather asked, forcing a nonchalant tone. There was no answer, and after several seconds she looked up at her mother. Daria was staring into her coffee cup again.

            “Mom?”

            “I don’t know.”

            “How can you not know?”

            “Because I don’t, I have to talk to your father. Topic over. Do not discuss this with your sister.”

            Heather lost her appetite and pushed away her half eaten breakfast. They sat in silence for a few minutes before Damsel walked in, looking chipper and well rested.

            “Good morning! Oh, breakfast!” Damsel sat in front of her plate and quickly polished off the food, then glanced over at Heather’s leftovers. After a few seconds of puppy dog eyes, Heather motioned to her plate and Damsel pulled it across the table and finished off that breakfast as well.

            “You’re gonna turn into a house, Dam.”

            “Am not. You might if you don’t get out from in front of the holo and get some exercise.”

            “I don’t need exercise; I don’t eat other people’s food.”

            The sisterly sniping was cut short when Daria pointedly thumped her coffee cup onto the table.

            “I’ll be driving you to school today. You aren’t on the bus route yet, and I want a chance to talk to your principal this morning. If you’re done discussing health and beauty tips we can get started.” Everyone stood up from the table, and Damsel stacked the dishes to be carried to the kitchen. “Leave them, sweetie. I think I’m going to hire a maid today. I always wanted a maid.”

            Heather and Damsel exchanged amused looks and grabbed their coats to head outside.

 

***

 

            “It looks smaller than I remember it,” Daria observed. “And the surveillance cameras are gone.”

            “Surveillance cameras?” Damsel asked.

            “Yes.”

            “Freaky,” Heather said.

            “Indeed.”

            The girls and their mother walked past the students loitering around on the steps and into the main building. A short walk later they found themselves in the office, and a secretary motioned them towards a door marked ‘Principal.’ Daria knocked and entered, the girls still following her.

            The grey haired man behind the desk looked up from his paperwork and grimaced at them. After a second Heather realized that he was trying to smile, but the effect was all wrong somehow.

            “Hello, Mrs. Morgendorffer,” the man said, occasionally shouting a syllable or two while speaking. His right eye bulged in its socket every time he raised his voice. Heather stared openly while Damsel tried to hide behind her sister.

            “Hi, Mr. DeMartino. What happened to retirement?”

            “Are you aware of the monthly income generated by the typical pension offered to a career educator in this state?”

            “No.”

            “Suffice to say that I couldn’t feed a bull dog on that shameful pittance. However, that’s enough chatting about my financial situation. I believe you are here to enroll your daughters into this, your revered alma mater.”

            “Yes.”

            “Well, I’ve already looked at their transcripts. It appears the students of Lawndale will be facing yet more academic humiliation at the hands of the Morgendorffer family. On the other hand, I am a little concerned about the multiple discipline problems attributed to your oldest daughter, Heather.”

            When the principal shouted her name Heather jumped, accidentally coming down on one of Damsel’s little pink boots. Damsel responded with a high pitched ‘eep!’ and shoved Heather off her foot.

            “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you ladies. Perhaps you might join the rest of the student body while I talk to your mother.”

            Damsel yanked the door open and fled. Heather shrugged and sat down next to her mother, leaning back in her chair and propping her boots up on the edge of the principal’s desk.

            “Nah,” she said with an air of forced calm, “it’s chilly.”

            Mr. DeMartino stared at the soles of her boots, his eye bulging and twitching with his heart beat. “I’m aware that you also have certain medical problems, Miss Morgendorffer.”

            Heathers boots hit the floor with a thump as she sat up straight. “I don’t like to talk about it,” she answered coldly.

            “You may be surprised to learn that I have a certain amount of sympathy for your condition. As long as you don’t repeat any of your previous disciplinary infractions you should have a calm and proftable tenure at Lawndale High School.”

            “Thanks. I think.”

            “You’re very welcome. Now please join your sister and the rest of the students outside until the bell rings. I would like to discuss some things with your mother.”

            Heather wandered out of the office and back outside, stopping just past the door to observe the rest of the students as they socialized. It looked to her like the usual divisions between the popular pretty people and the various subcultures of the unpopular freaky people. She spotted Damsel in the distance, already chatting amiably with a pack of trendophiles. Heather sighed to herself, pulled a pair of sunglasses out of her jacket pocket, and leaned against the wall next to the door.

            “Hey you,” someone called from nearby. “Kung-fu girl. Come here, I wanna talk to you.”

            Heather looked over and saw a knot of thuggish looking boys wearing garish outfits and black leather trench coats. There were wings stenciled on the backs of their coats with white paint and a spiral design drawn below that, right about butt level. In the middle of the pack stood a tall, skinny girl with black spiky hair wearing a fire engine red mini-dress over black leggings. Her combat boots were old, battered, and almost completely wrapped up with duct tape. She was grinning saucily at Heather.

            “Muay Thai,” Heather said, and sauntered over to the group. The boys moved aside slightly, giving her room to approach the other girl. “Not kung-fu.”

            “Whatever you call it, it was righteous. Nate has had an ass kicking like that coming for a long, long time. So, who the hell are you and why the hell did you move to Yawndale?”

            “Heather. My mom moved me and my sister here from New York because the Big Apple is quote too dangerous unquote for young girls. You?”

            “I’ve lived around here since my parents got divorced, I live with my uncle.”

            “What’s your name?”

            “I’m the Wicked Witch of the West. Allow me to introduce my minions,” she gestured at her entourage. “These are my Flying Monkeys, from left to right: Chaz, Luke, and Sam.”

            “Nice. So, how’s your sister?”

            “Some flatlander bimbo dropped a house on her. You have knowledge of classic cinema. I am further intrigued by you and your mysterious ways.”

            “I am interesting, aren’t I? In light of your tragic loss, I presume you have an opening for a Wicked Witch of the East?”

            “Maybe. You interested?”

            “Maybe. Do I have to herd midgets?”

            “Let’s call it a trial membership. The midgets are negotiable.”

            “Chilly.”

            The two girls shook hands, grinning at each other. Abruptly the Flying Monkeys started making high pitched screeching noises and jumping around like their namesakes. Before Heather could react to this strangeness the principal’s strident voice cut through the din.

            “What have I told you boys about your howler monkey impressions on school property?”

            The boys calmed down and managed to look embarrassed. Heather looked over and saw Mr. DeMartino standing with her mother. Daria was staring at the scene with her usual detachment, but Heather could tell she was highly amused by the spectacle. Mr. DeMartino took a step towards the group and noticed that Heather and Cherry were still holding hands, having stopped in mid shake. His eye bulged at them and he started making a scary rattling sort of noise. After a moment, Heather realized the old man was laughing.

            “This is going to be a very interesting four years for Lawndale High,” he said, and turned towards Daria. “You have a nice day, madam.” Still chuckling and wheezing, he returned to his office.

  

            “Good morning, class. We have a new student with us today; I’d like everyone to say ‘kajitsu’ to Morgendorffer Heather-san.” The teacher was a small Japanese woman, fitting the porcelain doll stereotype perfectly. The class muttered, several of them mispronouncing the word.

            “Watashi no kurasu no nakama no chisei ha igai dearu. Iie,” Heather said, and smiled at the rest of the class.

            “No need for an attitude, Heather-san. Your Japanese is decent for an American, but your accent is very rough. Did you take classes in middle school?”

            “Iie, sensei. Watashi ni nannin kano Nippon no yuujin gaatta.”

            The teacher’s eyebrows went up. “Interesting choice of phrasing for what I assume you meant to mean ‘friends’, Heather-san.”

            Heather blinked, not knowing what sort of response was required for that.

            “In any case, welcome to Japanese One. I am your teacher, Takahashi Shiori. You may call me Shiori-sensei, or just sensei as you prefer.” the teacher turned her attention to the rest of the room. “Today we’ll be going over the vocabulary words I assigned last Friday. I hope you studied some this weekend.”

            The students began flipping through notebooks or keying up the text book on a PDA, and Heather felt a tap on her shoulder. Glancing around, she recognized Luke the Flying Monkey.

            “What?”

            “You speak Japanese?”

            “Apparently not as well as I thought I did.”

            Luke snorted with amusement. “Get out your PDA and I’ll beam you the books for this class.”

            “Chilly, thanks.”

            “No difficulties, your Easterliness.” After a moment of pointing and clicking the data was streaming across the IR connection between the two devices.

            “So what’s up with the Oz stuff?” Heather asked, watching her screen as the little computer digested the new information.

            “Cherry likes it, she thinks old flat screen movies are fabu. The rest of us pretty much go along with whatever she says, ‘cause her ideas are always iced.”

            “Cherry?”

            “Yeah, that’s her Wickedness’ real name, I think. It may be just another nickname, though . . . you never can tell with her. It’s what her uncle calls her, anywho.”

            “Ah.”

            “Did she tell ya about the band?”

            “No, what band?”

            “Oh, we’re a band. I play drums. We don’t really need any more musicians, so I bet she wants you to do security. We saw you at Pizza King when you took out that jackhole, Nate. It was so pretty I almost cried.”
            “What did he do to make you guys hate him so much?”

            Before Luke could answer the teacher walked by their desks and gave them a reproving glare. Heather turned around in her seat and started reading ‘Japanese for Beginners’ on her PDA.

 

***

 

            Heather plunked her lunch tray down on an empty table and sat. As she was tearing open a ketchup package for her burger Cherry and Sam sat down across from her.

            “So how are you liking Yawndale High so far?” Cherry asked, reaching for a salt shaker.

            “I can’t decide yet. The antics of the students and teachers amuse me, and then I remember I’m gonna be stuck in this circus for the next four years and feel all confused and depressed.”

            “Ah, yes. First the confusion and then the denial. Soon you’ll have caught up to me, I’m at shock and outrage.”

            “Eh.” Heather looked a little uncomfortable. “I’ll skip the outrage, if it’s all the same. I don’t like losing my temper.”

            “Maybe, but it’s fun for the rest of us.”

            “You say that now.”

            Cherry’s only response was to smile widely with feigned innocence. Sam chuckled quietly and shook his head.

            “So, Luke said band.”

            “Oh, yeah! We’re called ‘Taronado.’ It kinda rolls up the whole magic tarot deck in with a tornado, which ties into the whole wicked witch and flying monkeys thing. Plus it’s a sort of homage to my uncle’s old band Mystic Spiral. I sing and play a couple of instruments, Sam here is on bass. Chaz plays lead, and Luke drums.”

            Heather nodded and took a bite from her burger. She immediately spit the food out into a napkin. “What the hell is this!?”

            Cherry poked the mostly intact burger with her fork. “Burger.”

            “Yeah, with the nastiest tasting meat I’ve ever put my teeth into.”

            “Meat?” Cherry snickered. “Oh, honey. Where did you go to school before that you got meat on your burger? That’s prime soy right there. Well, soy at any rate. If it was prime you couldn’t tell it ain’t meat.”

            “Note to self. Lunch, brown bag.”

            Cherry continued snickering at Heather as she ate her own burger. After a minute or two Heather made herself take another bite, trying to get used to the odd flavor and texture. It was actually ok after she stopped trying to think of it as meat.

            “Anywho,” Cherry continued, “this morning you said you had a sister. That her?”

            Heather looked where Cherry was pointing. Sure enough, Damsel was happily conversing with a small group of equally pretty and chipper looking girls at a nearby table.

            “Well, I see Damsel is already off to a great start here.”

            “Your sister’s name is Damsel?”

            “Yeah, Dad named her. Said it was deep or existential or something. It means ‘girl’ basically, but has connotations of nobility. I think it’s bullshit, but then I’m not big into the history of language.”

            “Nobility, huh? She’s gonna get on great with the Rennies then.”

            “Rennies?”

            “The folks she’s sitting with.”

            “What’s their deal?”

            “It’s a pretty complicated story, you should ask my uncle to tell it since he was here when it happened. I’ll intro you to him later, he’s the music ed teacher. Anywho, the simple version is that some fruit bat English teacher decided to host a field trip to a Renaissance Festival and then have everybody spend a week in class acting renaissancey.” Cherry paused and looked thoughtful. “Is that a word?”

            “I’ll ask my mom, she writes for a living.”

            “Chill. Anywho, all the beautiful people decided they really liked the idea of titles and nobility and ordering around serfs so the whole social pecking order mutated into ‘what was Lady Jane Grey like in high school?’ without all the deep thinking needed to pull off the really good social intrigue.”

            “So my sister is joining a clique of neo-feudalists?”

            “Pretty much.”

            “Can this place get any weirder?”

            “God, I hope so. It’s too easy for me to stand out here. I need a challenge.”

            Heather rolled her eyes at Cherry and turned to Sam. “Hi. Sam, right? What’s your sitch?” Sam smiled at her and nodded his head in greeting. He tapped his forehead and chest, and then gestured towards Heather.

            “He says hello and that he thinks he likes you,” Cherry explained.

            “Oh, I’m sorry,” Heather said to Sam, “I didn’t realize you were mute.” He shook his head and shrugged, then pointed towards Cherry and made a flapping motion with one hand.

            “He says no apology needed since he isn’t, it’s just that I talk enough for me and him both.” Cherry elbowed Sam in the ribs, who grunted and looked offended. “Sam only talks when he thinks he has something important to say. I let him watch too many of the New Jersey movies.”

            “Oh, with the one guy that didn’t talk and the other guy that didn’t ever shut up?”

            “That’s them. Hey! Are you insinuating something?”

            “Not at all.”

            “Hmm. So what are you doing after school?”

            “No plans. You?”

            “Also no plans. You wanna come over and watch holo or maybe screen some old DVDs?”

            “Yeah, that’d be great!” Heather paused to consider. “Also, probably impossible. My mom is in super mother hen mode right now and I don’t think she’d be happy if I decide not to come home from school.”

            “Bah, parents.” Cherry smirked, trying to hide her disappointment. “I do just fine without ‘em, bet you can too.”

            “Why don’t you come over to my place? I bet she’d be chill with that.”

            “Excellent. So let it be written, so let it be done. So why did your Dad name you Heather? That’s a flower or something, ain’t it?”

            “You’re awful nosey.”

            “Yup. It’s one of my most charming qualities.”

            Heather snorted. “My mom named me. It’s supposed to be a Bible name.”

            “Have you ever read the Bible?”

            “No, why?”

            “There ain’t no Heathers in there.”

            Heather’s eyebrows went up. “You sure?”

            “Pretty sure.”

            “She said it came from the Rant of St. Hicks, so I figured it was in the New Testament or something.”

            Cherry shrugged and glanced over at Sam, who held up his hands as if to say ‘what, you think I know about this?’

 

            Heather and Cherry met on the steps after school let out. They sat on a convenient bench and waited for Heather’s mother to pick them up.

            “You sure she’s coming?” Cherry asked for the third time.

            “Yeah. She told us this morning that we’re not on the bus route yet. It’s too far to walk home, and she knows I don’t have cab fare.”

            “But she didn’t actually say she was going to pick you up?”

            “No, but I highly doubt she would move all the way to Lawndale for dire reasons of safety and security and then forget to come pick up her daughters at school.”

            “Speaking of pluralities, here comes your evil twin now.”

            “I’m the evil twin, get it right.”

            “Ah, sorry. My mistake.”

            Damsel walked up to the pair and then sat next to Heather, repeatedly nudging her sister with her hip until Heather finally scooted over.

            “Ack! Quit bruising me, Dam. There was plenty of room next to Cherry, you know.”

            “Yeah, I saw. I just don’t want to sit next to your weird friend.”

            “Hey!” Cherry exclaimed.

            “Nothing personal. I can sit next to Heather and it’s ok because she’s my sister. But you’re a freak and if I sit next to you my nascent popularity takes a nose dive.”

            “She uses big words, yet makes small statements,” Cherry observed, scowling.

            “Congratulations, you now understand my sister.” Heather smirked and Damsel rolled her eyes. “You know where Mom is, Dam?”

            “Yeah, she’s busy. Didn’t you check your email?”

            “Forgot. What’d she say?”

            “That she’s busy. Aunt Quinn is staying over another day and she’s gonna pick us up from school, take us out to dinner.”

            “I wonder where?”

            “Ask her, she’s here.” Damsel pointed at the hot pink sports car that was whipping around the parking lot. The car came to a stop in front of the bench with a slight skid and barking of the tires, and the convertible top folded back.

            “Your aunt drives the Barbie convertible?” Cherry asked.

            “It’s a rental,” the beautiful redhead in the driver’s seat responded. “I usually don’t drive at all, I have people for that.”

            Cherry stayed on the bench and was uncharacteristically silent as Damsel and Heather climbed into the car.

            “You coming?” Heather called back to her.

            “I dunno, am I?”

            “Hop in,” the redhead invited, “if my nieces think you’re good people then you’re good enough for me.”

            “She’s Heather’s friend,” Damsel said, buckling herself into the front seat. Cherry climbed into the back next to Heather, and shot her new friend a look that was one part confusion and one part aggravation.

            “Since Heather has no manners, allow me to introduce myself. I’m Quinn,” she turned and held her hand out to Cherry. After a second, Cherry took it and shook gingerly.

            “Cherry. Sometimes known as the Wicked Witch of the West. I always wanted to meet the Mighty Quinn.”

            Quinn looked confused for a moment, then said, “Um, cool. So where do you girls want to eat that isn’t Pizza King?”

            Cherry sat quietly while the other three dickered over various eating establishments. Ok, so what’s the deal with my cool new friend? Her aunt is apparently pretty wealthy, and from Heather’s reaction to the cafeteria food her parents must be rich, too. She realized that Heather and Damsel were both looking at her with expectant expressions.

            “Um. Yes?”

            “Ok, good. It’s decided then,” Quinn said. “You’d think I’d get less flack on where to eat when I’m paying. You girls should follow Cherry’s example.”

            What the hell? I guess I just agreed on where to eat. Goddess, I hope she doesn’t think I’m being agreeable because she’s got money.

            “Um, Miss . . . um.”

            “Just Quinn,” she flashed a smile in the rearview mirror. “I’m away from the office and with my family so I get to be just Quinn. You can call me Aunt Quinn if you want to, everybody else does.”

            “Oh, ok.”

            Heather leaned over and whispered to Cherry, “She says she doesn’t want kids of her own, that she has too much fun being the bad aunt that spoils her sister’s kids. Mom thinks she’s kidding.”

            “You’re lucky. I’ve got three aunts and I rarely see any of them, let alone get spoiled.”

            Heather shrugged, and settled back in her seat.

 

            The maitre d’ looked up with a bored expression when they entered. “Bon jour, welcome to Chez Pierre. You have reservations, oui?”

            “Phillipe, since when have I needed a reservation?” Quinn asked.

            “Mon dieu!” he exclaimed, scrabbling for menus and a wine list. “My deepest apologies madam, my worthless eyes are going blind in my old age. This way, s'il vous plait.”

            He led them to a nearby table, currently occupied by a teenaged couple. He picked up the kids’ plates and said, “This table is needed. Your dinner will be boxed, no charge. You may go now.”

            Cherry’s eyes were huge as the two confused teenagers were herded away from the table by a nearby waiter, and a pair of busboys descended to clear away the glasses and silverware. She felt a little better when she glanced at Heather and saw the same dumbfounded expression. As soon as the table was cleared, they sat and began looking at the menus.

            “A very great deal of money was spent on me here when I was your age,” Quinn said with a nostalgic smile. “I think the owner had a small shrine to me in the back at one point.”

            Damsel giggled, while Heather chuckled quietly. Cherry just shook her head and kept staring at the menu.

            “None of this stuff has prices,” she observed.

            “Oh, it has prices,” Quinn answered, “but it’d be gauche to put them on the menu. Just order what you want, I don’t mind.”

            Cherry folded the menu and took a deep breath. “Ok, look. I just want you to know that I’m not here because you have money. I didn’t even know Heather had rich parents or relatives or whatever when I talked to her this morning. I don’t want you to think I’m a leech or something.”

            She glanced around the table, and for once felt uncomfortable to be the center of attention. Heather was looking at her with confusion, and Damsel looked faintly curious but otherwise detached. Their aunt was giving her a frankly appraising look.

            “Most people your age would have kept their mouths shut and enjoyed their good fortune,” Quinn said. “You didn’t. You seem to be both honest and self aware, two traits that are rare at any age.” Quinn glanced at Heather, then back to Cherry. “Heather has become a good judge of character. I trust her opinion of you, so order something.”

            “Well, I suppose a little expensive French food won’t hurt my self respect,” Cherry said with a small smile.

            “So,” Damsel asked after the food had arrived, “what’s Mom so busy with you were willing to stick an extra day?”

            “Yeah, won’t the housing industry collapse without you or something?” Heather said.

            “She wanted some time alone with your father.” Quinn’s normally cheerful tone flattened out. Cherry sensed a certain amount of disapproval, which was confirmed by the uncomfortable looks Heather and Damsel shot each other across the table.

            “Dad’s home?” Damsel asked quietly.

            “I didn’t stick around to find out. For all I know it’s more marriage by holo-conference.”

            Cherry noticed that Heather had stopped eating, and actually looked a little green around the edges.

            “Did Mom say what they were talking about?” Heather murmured.

            “No. I didn’t ask as your mother’s marriage is none of my business. She was kind enough to inform me so last time I tried to talk to her about it.”

            “Oh.”

            The table was wrapped in silence for several long seconds.

            “So!” Cherry said in an overly energetic tone with a huge fake smile. “Who do I flag down to get a dessert menu around here?” Everyone at the table stared at her. “And if that doesn’t break the very uncomfortable tension, I can always pull out my recorder and play a jaunty tune. Possibly something French.”

 

            Quinn’s car pulled into the driveway of the Morgendorffer home and stopped. Quinn shifted the car into park and turned towards her passengers.

            “Ok, girls. I’m going to have to go hit the friendly skies, I’m afraid. They’re going to want my head on a stake at the office in the morning.”

            Heather and Damsel hugged their aunt and said goodbye, Damsel a bit tearfully. Cherry shook her hand and also said goodbye. As everyone was piling out of the car, Quinn put her hand on Heather’s shoulder and motioned for the others to go ahead.

            “I hate to ask this, Heather, but is everything ok with your Mom?”

            “Yeah, I guess.” Heather looked at the floorboard, then over to where Damsel and Cherry were waiting by the front door. “You know she’s not happy.”

            “I know.” Quinn sighed and shook her head. “You know I love you and your sister, right?”

            “Yeah,” Heather squirmed in her seat, feeling uncomfortable. “We love you too, Aunt Quinn.”

            “Here, take this.” Quinn handed Heather a business card. There was nothing on it but a phone number. “You’re one of four people that have this number. It reaches me anywhere, anytime. If you need me, if Damsel needs me, if your mother needs me . . . whether she’ll admit it or not . . . you call me.”

            Heather nodded and stuck the card into the wallet of her PDA case.

            “Hey, Aunt Quinn?”

            “Yeah?”

            “How did you get by when you were a kid? According to Mom your parents were even crazier than her and Dad.”

            “Oh, I got by mostly on my looks. Until I got slapped in the face with the fact that I was wasting my perfectly good mind.” Quinn smiled. “Your mother had it harder than me, the smart ones always do.”

            “How did she get by?”

            “Sarcastic wit and a couple of close friends. Oh, and our Aunt Amy.”

            “So this aunt-niece thing is traditional, huh?”

            “You’re the seventh generation. Although I think everyone expected it would be Daria mentoring my kids. Guess we fooled them, huh?” Quinn laughed quietly, then nudged her niece in the ribs.

            “Go on. Your friend will worry and Damsel will get jealous.”

            Heather leaned over and hugged Quinn again. “Thanks,” she whispered, and climbed out of the car. Steeling her nerves she walked towards the front door of the house, and her family.

 

 

            Disclaimers: Stereo Hifi font is ©1997 by Cathy Davies. This story based on characters and situations created by Glenn Eichler and Susie Lewis. The Daria TV show is a trademark of MTV Networks, a division of Viacom International Inc. and is referenced here without permission, and without profit. Original characters and situations created by the author are under (K) – all rights reversed. Hail Eris.

 

            Author’s Notes: Very clunky Japanese provided by a combination of Babel Fish and http://www.animelab.com/anime.manga/translate. Heather’s first comment to the class is “The intelligence of my classmates is surprising. No it isn't, I’m lying.” Her second comment is “No, teacher. I had some Japanese friends.” Oh, and the bit there at the end where Quinn comments on the legacy of aunt-niece relations is indeed a small smile and a nod to C.E. Forman. Thanks go out for the helpful commentary from RLobinske, Digisim, Brandonoh, and Vlademir1 on dealing with DeMartino’s dialogue (and the right spelling of his name, natch). I’d also like to thank The Angst Guy for general encouragement.

 

            Author: the NightGoblyn