'Cause you were made for me / Somehow I'll make you see / How happy you make me
I can't live this life / Without you by my side / I need you
So stay with me / You look in my eyes and I'm screaming inside that I'm sorry
And you forgive me again / You're my one true friend
And I never meant to hurt you
- Evanescence, Forgive Me (Jane’s Song)
“So,” Damsel asked. “Is there life before coffee?”
“Well, maybe for some of us,” Jane answered, grinning at her semi-animated wife and daughter. For their part, Daria and Heather scythed the breakfast table with glares that promised swift and brutal destruction as soon as their brains woke up enough to figure out how they were being mocked.
“Well, I think it’s nice to have a family breakfast before we all head our separate ways,” Damsel said, spooning scrambled eggs onto everyone’s plates. “Everybody help yourselves to bacon.”
“Bacon good,” Heather muttered.
“Nice toast, Damsel,” Daria agreed.
The family ate in silence for a few minutes, until they were interrupted by the doorbell.
“That’ll be Trent,” Jane said, standing to go to the door.
“Let the maid get it,” Daria said.
“Amiga,” Jane said gently. “We don’t have a maid.”
“We do have a Damsel,” Heather said. “That’s kinda the same thing, right?”
Damsel rolled her eyes and left to go open the door. A moment later she returned with Cherry in tow.
“Good morning, Morgendorffers. Ooo! Toast!” Cherry grabbed the last piece of toast from the plate and started loading it down with butter and jam.
“Please,” Damsel said dryly, “have some breakfast with us.”
“Thanks, don’t mind if I do,” Cherry answered around the mouthful of toast. A second later she added a stray piece of bacon to her haul.
“Gotta go get school stuff,” Heather mumbled, and wandered off with her coffee cup.
“Going to go get.” Heather called back from the stairs.
“Me, too.” Damsel headed out to collect her own school supplies. Cherry sat in one of the abandoned chairs and helped herself to another slice of bacon.
“Cherry?” Daria asked.
“Yes, Mrs. Morgendorffer?”
“Please, just call me Daria.”
“Um, ok. Um, Daria. What can I do for you?”
“You spend a lot of time with Heather, right?”
“Um, yeah.” Cherry looked over at Daria, then at her Aunt Jane. They were both looking back at her fairly intently.
“I supposed you’ve noticed that she has a certain lack of impulse control.”
“If you mean she has a wicked temper and a habit of scaring the hell outta anybody she doesn’t just put in the hospital, then yeah. I’ve noticed she has a certain lack of impulse control.”
Daria sighed and reached under her glasses to rub her eyes.
“We want you to keep an eye on her,” Jane said. “Try to keep her away from people or situations that might cause her to lose her temper. We don’t want her to get into trouble at school.”
Cherry sat in silence for a moment as she considered this.
“We’re not asking you to break any confidences,” Daria said. “Nor are we asking you violate the teen girl ethical code. She’s your friend. Keep her out of trouble.”
“Sure. I’ll do my best.”
A moment later, Damsel and Heather came back in carrying their backpacks.
“We’re ready,” Damsel said.
“Yeah, thanks for the lift Cherry.”
“Don’t thank me, thank Uncle Trent.”
“Girls,” Daria said as they were about to leave. “I want the two of you home promptly after school today. I’m going to be visiting your grandparents, and if they feel up to it I’ll be bringing them here for dinner.”
“Aw, Mom!” they chorused.
“No ‘aw, Momming’ allowed. You haven’t gotten to see your grandparents very much, and now that we’re living in the same town there’s no excuse not to visit.”
Jane muttered something under her breath that earned her a small glare from Daria.
“Ok, Mom,” the twins said together.
Trent parked in the faculty lot and everyone piled out of the car. He headed off towards the music room while the girls walked around to the front of the school. As they came around the corner, Damsel cut left to meet up with the other Rennies gathered outside. Heather and Cherry walked on, stopping at their usual loitering spot to wait for the guys in the band to show up.
“So,” Heather said, leaning against the railing.
“Never learned how. My cousin Courtney does some amazing embroidery work, though. She’s won awards.”
“Punning should be a capital offense,” Heather said with a sigh.
“Mmm,” Cherry said, straightening and focusing her attention through the crowd of students. “Goddess bless me, that’s a sight that makes me glad to be a girl.”
Heather stepped forward and tried to follow Cherry’s point of view. It seemed to be pointed at a tall, lanky boy with dark skin and dreadlocks. He was wearing a letterman’s jacket, identifying him as an athlete of some sort. Heather couldn’t make out any other details before the crowd shifted and blocked him from view.
“Who is he?”
Cherry gave a dopey grin and took her turn at leaning on the railing. “That, my dear, is the boy who makes all the freshman girls’ hearts go pitter-pat.”
“Funny. Mine seems to be thump-thumping like normal.”
“That’s because you have no appreciation for the masculine form. I mark your disinterest as evidence that homosexuality is genetic after all.”
“You can’t tell me that Steve MacKenzie doesn’t get you a little warm under the . . . ah . . . collar.” Cherry paused to measure the wattage in Heather’s gaze. “Hmm. Well, you haven’t gotten a good look yet. He’s the classic triple threat: tall, dark, and handsome.”
“As a junior he’s far more worldly and experienced than we poor sheltered freshgirls.”
“Well, some more than others,” Cherry smirked. “He’s the star running back for the football team.”
“I dunno. I’m really just not interested in guys or relationships.” Heather sighed and shook her head. “That and I’m fifteen. A little young to be worried about that sort of thing anyway, isn’t it?”
“You really are sheltered, aren’t you?” Cherry grinned at her friend before her eyes flicked towards something over Heather’s shoulder, and then suddenly widened. “Heather!” she shouted.
Instinctively, Heather ducked and spun in place. She barely saw the wooden shaft as it missed the top of her head and struck Cherry full in the face with an ugly crunch. Cherry made a high pitched noise of shock and pain, then dropped like a puppet with her strings cut.
From her vantage, Heather saw a pair of male legs and the bottom of a Lawndale High letterman’s jacket. One of the legs was in a heavy knee brace. Heather swiped the good leg out from under her attacker, bringing all his weight to bear on the bad leg. He gasped in pain and crumpled to the ground in front of her. As she suspected, it was the guy from the Pizza King.
“Hi,” she said with a nasty smile. Before he could react she straddled his stomach and leaned forward, grabbing his biceps and pressing her weight onto them. “We haven’t been introduced yet,” she growled, leaning forward until they were nose to nose. “My name is Heather, and I’m the girl that keeps kicking your ass. I’ve been told your name is Nate, and you’re the guy who just plowed my best friend in the mouth with what I believe was a crutch.”
“By nobe,” Cherry said from behind her. “Dot by bouf. Dat sum una bik hid by nobe. I tink id’s bokken. Dambit.”
“Sorry, my mistake.” Heather sat up and lashed out with the heel of one hand. She felt the satisfying crunch of Nate’s nose breaking. “Now we’re all even,” she said calmly. “Next time you decide to pick a fight with me, don’t do it when you’re already hurt.”
Heather stood and looked down at the bloody faced teen at her feet. His hateful glare met her cold look for several seconds. “And bring friends,” she finished.
“Morgendorffer, office,” Mr. DeMartino said from the school doorway. “Feldman, office. Lane, quit bleeding everywhere.”
Cherry pinched her throbbing nose and scowled at the principal as he led the combatants away. “Dambit,” she muttered. “Bissus Borgendorffer is gonna kill be.”
“So,” Mr. DeMartino said, taking a seat behind his desk.
“Never learned how. My cousin Courtney does some amazing embroidery work, though. She’s won awards,” Heather said, deadpan. “Cherry was telling me about it just before thug-boy here tried to break his crutch on her pixie nose.”
“Your droll attempt at humor is noted, Ms. Morgendorffer.” He looked back and forth between the two trouble makers. “Would you care to attempt some amusing banter, Mr. Feldman?”
“She’s a bitch,” he muttered.
“Thank you for that enlightened observation. I feel as if I finally understand the rigorous stress that today’s youth must be under.”
“Looked to me like you were the bitch, thug-boy,” Heather said, smirking at Nathan.
“Enough.” Mr. DeMartino stood and leaned over his desk, looming over the teenagers. “Mr. Feldman, three days of detention and if you cause another disturbance you are off the team. Ms. Morgendorffer . . .”
Heather could hear the clock on his desk ticking as the seconds passed. Mr. DeMartino’s gaze settled on her like a weight. She began to fidget and clamped her hands together in her lap.
“You will wait here while I escort Mr. Feldman to the nurse’s office. I will return in exactly five minutes.” Stomping around the end of the desk, Mr. DeMartino grabbed Nathan by the sleeve of his jacket and led him away.
Exactly five minutes later, he returned to his office. The office looked the same as it did when he left, with the exception of a box of tissues which had moved across his desk to sit near Heather.
“How are you feeling?” he asked, returning to his own chair.
“Still shaky,” she muttered. “How did you know I was about to break down?”
“I am passingly familiar with situations similar to yours.” He waited a moment, gauging the emotional state of the young woman sitting across from him. “I would like you to see the school councilor.”
Mr. DeMartino nodded. “I can’t make you go, and even if your mother’s lawyer hadn’t made sure of that I wouldn’t make you anyway. History teaches us that force has never truly solved a problem.” He gave her a pointed look.
Heather looked back at him suspiciously.
“Back on the issue at hand, I spoke to Ms. Lane while I was in the infirmary. She and her nose corroborate your story. You are free to go, but don’t make a habit of this sort of behavior.”
Heather stood and turned towards the door.
“When you decide to see the councilor let me know. I’ll arrange it.”
“Don’t you mean if?”
“You don’t want to be late to class, Ms. Morgendorffer.”
“Yes, sir.” She paused again at the door. “Sir?”
“Thank you,” she slipped away quickly, not waiting for a response.
Heather and Cherry sat together on top of the bleachers, watching the students on the gym floor below them do aerobics. Neither had dressed out for class. Heather never did, and Cherry had an exemption note from the school nurse for the day.
“How’s your nose?”
“Id’s fine. Id’ll be mostly healed by domorrow, just sore. I’ll have black eyes for days, dambit.”
“I shouldn’t have ducked.”
“Naw. If he’d have hid you, you’d have killed him. Dis way I get to see him wid black eyes and you don’t go to jail.”
Heather looked glum, and continued watching the students exercising below.
“Anywho, how much drubble are you in?”
“I’m not. I don’t think Mr. D liked it that I broke the guy’s nose, but he started the fight.”
“Oh. Well dat’s good. I get a free gym day, ad least. Hey, can I ask you someding?”
“How come you never have da do nuffing in gym?”
“Doctor’s excuse plus mandatory PE credit means I get a free period. Happy me.”
“Oh. So whads your excuse about?”
Heather straightened in her seat and pointed towards the gym door. “Isn’t that the guy you were drooling over this morning?”
Cherry looked over and saw that Heather was correct. “Uh oh. I godda book. I doan wan him to see me like dis.” Cherry abandoned Heather and quickly climbed down the back of the bleachers and ducked into the girls’ locker room.
“Vanity, thy name is Cherry Lane,” Heather muttered to herself, grinning. She pulled out her PDA and started flicking through a few files, thinking of getting a head start on her reading for English Lit. After a moment, she felt someone walking up the bleacher steps towards her.
She looked up and recognized Cherry’s crush. As he walked up to her she gave him a once over and decided Cherry was understating his appeal. He had a firm step, broad shoulders, and strong, chiseled features. His skin was coffee colored, and as he got closer she could see that his eyes were several shades darker.
“Hi,” he said, offering her a dazzling smile. “This seat taken?”
“So, you’re Heather Morgendorffer?” he asked, sitting down next to her.
“I’m Steve MacKenzie. Nice to meet you.”
“You don’t talk much, do you?”
“I talk lots. To people. Who aren’t here right now. Damn it.”
Steve just grinned.
“Kill her,” Heather muttered under her breath.
“That sounds kind of final.”
“Yup.” Heather took a deep breath and tried to clear her head. “Look, I’m normally not a drooling moron. I promise.”
“It’s ok. My ego needed a little buffing.”
“Anything else I can buff for you?” Heather mumbled, blushing. Realizing what she’d said her eyes got wide, “I didn’t mean that!”
“I did want to talk to you about a couple of things.” Steve said, struggling to hold down a laugh. “You’re really nothing like what I expected you to be.”
“What did you expect?”
“I’m not sure anymore.”
Heather smiled a little. “What do you want to talk about?”
“Well, first I wanted to ask you to quit beating up our quarterback.”
“I know he’s a jerk, but we need him if we’re going to beat Oakwood at the homecoming game.”
“It’s chill. I kinda promised Mr. D I’d find a new hobby anyway.”
“Good. I’m sure Coach Thompson will be happy to hear it.”
“Well, I also wanted to ask your opinion about something. About the homecoming dance.”
“Yeah?” Heather felt her heart lift a little.
“Uh, well, do you think your friend Cherry would go with me?”
Her heart dropped back into its usual place, or perhaps a bit lower. The ecstatic squealling noise coming from the door to the locker room did cheer her up a bit, though.
“Signs point to yes,” she said with a smirk.
“Great. I’m going to catch flack for asking a freshman, but she seems like a really interesting girl.” He leaned over and dropped his voice a little, “Just between us, I’m getting tired of dating girls that are more interested in the mirror than me.”
“Yeah. I know one of those types pretty well. I used to have to fight her for mirror space.”
“Hey, don’t be so harsh on her. She’s working really hard, taking advantage of the opportunities here at Lawndale.”
“Taking advantage is what she does best.”
Steve sighed and shook his head. “I’m not getting involved in whatever problems you two have.”
“That’s probably best.”
“Look, tell Cherry I’d like to ask her out. Sorry if I upset you. Maybe you’ll be in a better mood next time I see you.”
“Don’t bet on it.”
Steve sighed and walked off. Seconds later, Heather heard the clanging of Cherry climbing up the back of the bleachers.
“I’m gonna die! He really wands do dake me do da homecoming dance?”
“That’s what he said.”
“Dis is gonna be great!” Cherry executed a little victory dance around Heather before dropping back into her seat. “We just godda find you a date now. Maybe one of de guys in de band.”
“I’m not going.”
“I don’t do dances, Cherry. In case you didn’t notice, me being around other people usually just causes problems.”
“But you godda be dere! We’re playing during da dance.” Cherry’s eyes widened. “Ah, crap. I bed Sdeve doan know dat. Maybe he won’t ask me oud if I knows I godda run off for an hour in da middle of da dance.”
“Tell him he can be your favorite groupie. Guys love that.”
“Look, he’s on student council or something. I’m pretty sure he knows your band is playing. He’s probably been stalking you or something.”
“Wha?” Cherry looked askance at her gloomy friend. “Whad’s eaddin’ you, Hedder?”
“Oh. You’re mad ‘cause he’s friends with Damsel. I heard whad he said aboud her.”
“Nah, it didn’t bother me.”
“Yeah, you’re righ’. You’re dot shallow enough to led dat bodder you. Dat’s why you’re gonna go do da dance and show everybody dat you’re a bedder person dan dat, righ’?”
Heather looked at Cherry with narrowed eyes. “Lane?”
“I hate you.”
Heather and Damsel got off the school bus at the Crewe Neck gates and started trudging home. After a moment, Damsel leaned back a little and started rolling forward on the wheels set in the heels of her boots. Heather watched as her sister started looping around her in the street, eventually settling beside her again and rolling along backwards.
“I’m gonna laugh when you bust your ass, Dam.”
“Eh.” Damsel shrugged. “So you think the grands are gonna show for dinner tonight?”
“The last time we visited them Grandma got into a big argument with Mom. You were asleep, so you missed it.” Heather shrugged. “They don’t get along.”
They traveled along in silence for a few steps.
“What did they argue about?”
“Stuff. Don’t worry about it.”
They traveled along in silence for few more steps.
“Damsel, are you going to the dance?” Heather asked nervously.
“I guess. I’ve already been asked by four different guys, I just have to pick one.” Damsel frowned. “I don’t want to make the wrong choice, who I’m seen with is important.”
“What, you can’t just pick a guy you like and dance with him?”
“It’s just not that simple, Heather.”
“Sure it is. Dates aren’t like hotels or movies, you’re not supposed to rate
“Like you’re an expert.” Damsel rolled her eyes. “Who are you going with, if it’s so simple and easy?”
“Dunno. I wasn’t even gonna go but Cherry painted me into a corner about it.”
“Go with her, then.” Damsel smirked.
“I’m not gay. She’s not gay. And we’re cousins, so yuck. Also, she’s going with Steve MacKenzie.”
Damsel rolled along in silence for a moment, then ran into a mailbox and spun out into someone’s yard.
“You ok!?” Heather asked, helping Damsel stand up and brush herself off.
“Yeah, yeah. Just . . . who is she going with?”
“Steve MacKenzie. Guy about this tall, plays on the football team, drop dead gorgeous.”
“I know who he is. He asked her out?”
“He said he was going to. He came and talked to me about it, first. He likes you, by the way.”
“Really?” Damsel looked hopeful.
“Yeah, just not as much as he likes Cherry.”
“Oh.” Damsel looked less hopeful.
“Something about being tired of girls that stare in the mirror all day.”
“Oh.” Damsel sighed and shook her head. “This is going to kill his popularity. I feel bad for him, but maybe I can gain some power in the court over it.”
Heather looked irritated. “Could you be more shallow and self centered?”
“Look, Cherry is really happy about this. And besides, maybe he’ll set a new trend and gain popularity. Maybe Cherry will become popular, too. What do you think about that?”
“I think if Cherry gets popular you’ll have trouble finding a new friend.”
Heather stopped and watched as Damsel skated around their mother’s SUV and up the driveway. Looking gloomier than ever, she began to follow along behind her sister. She walked in the front door and saw Damsel and Jane talking in the foyer.
“There she is,” Jane said with a smile.
“Hey, Dad.” Heather dropped her backpack on a nearby chair. “Grandma and Grandpa coming over for dinner?”
“Nah, they weren’t feeling too good today,” Jane answered, still smiling broadly. “The three of us are going to go out to eat.”
The sound of glass breaking came from deeper in the house, from the general direction of their mother’s office. Jane’s face paled a little, and she hoisted her smile a little higher and motioned towards the door.
“Is Mom ok?” Heather asked quietly.
“She’s not feeling well either,” Jane said. “It’s something she caught from her parents, I think.”
“What’s wrong with her?” Heather asked, planting her boots and crossing her arms.
“She’s just suffering from an allergic reaction to ethanol exposure. It’ll be out of her system by in the morning,” Jane answered. The girls barely heard her mutter “I hope” under her breath.
Reluctantly, the twins turned and left the house with their father hovering protectively behind them. They piled into her red Jaguar convertible and pulled out of the driveway.
“You girls feel like Chinese?”
With the girls muttering agreement, Jane pulled out of the neighborhood and onto the main road. Fifteen minutes later, the car slowly drove past a small row of buildings.
“Aw, man. It was right here,” Jane said. “I guess they closed.”
“Who?” Damsel asked.
“Good Time. Fairly decent Chinese food.” Jane sighed. “Well, it’s a bookstore now.”
“Books,” Heather said, rolling her eyes. “Why’d somebody want to buy a book when you can just get a file that doesn’t weigh anything?”
“Projectile weapons,” Jane answered, smirking.
“Well, there’s always that place out by the highway,” Damsel said.
“Good call.” Jane sped up and turned towards the highway.
The next morning, Cherry pulled into the Morgendorffer driveway on her old Vespa. Hanging her helmet over the handle bars, she turned and walked up to the door and rang the doorbell. A few minutes later, the door opened and Daria looked out.
“Hmm?” Daria asked fuzzily. “Oh, hi Cherry. Is it time for school already?”
“Id’s Sadurday, Mrs. Morgendorffer.”
“Ah, so it is.” Daria took another sip of her coffee. “Well, come on in. I think Heather is on the deck out back.”
“Ok.” Cherry walked in and looked over at Daria, who was still wearing a green bathrobe and pink bunny slippers. “Mrs. Morgendorffer?”
“Are you feeling alrigh’?”
“Yeah. I just had a long night last night.” Daria turned and wandered off towards the kitchen. Cherry shook her head and walked through the house to the glass doors leading onto the back deck.
Cherry stepped outside and looked around for Heather. She saw her friend off to one side, wearing a tank top and shorts . . . and her huge tanker boots. She was doing some sort of slow sweeping dance. Cherry leaned against the railing and watched as Heather stepped and spun, slowly rotating her arms and hands through what was obviously some sort of slow motion martial arts kata. After a couple of minutes, Heather came to a stop with her eyes closed and the most serene expression on her face that Cherry had ever witnessed.
Heather reached back and grabbed the railing, slowly pulling herself into a handstand. She rotated around and placed her right foot on the corner post, then stood and balanced on the precarious perch. She lifted her left leg up to be almost parallel with her torso and held her calf with both hands.
“If the boys of Lawndale High could only see you now, you’d have no lack of potential dates for the homecoming dance.”
“I can’t do it with both legs at the same time, they’d be disappointed.” Heather opened her eyes and looked down at Cherry. “Damsel can, though.”
“Really?” Cherry asked.
“Yeah.” Heather broke her pose and dropped lightly to the deck. “She’s way better at this stuff than I am.”
“Damsel is bedder at martial arts dan you are?” Cherry asked dubiously.
“Hell, no.” Heather snorted and shook her head. “She couldn’t fight her way out of a wet paper bag. She never studied any hard styles, just stuff like Tai Chi.”
“Oh, I understand,” Cherry said sarcastically.
“Tai Chi is more like an exercise than a martial art. She’s better at it than me. She’s more flexible, has better balance. I am the rock, she is the river.” Heather sighed and looked at the post she’d been standing on. “She could have done that on her big toe.”
“Well, you did id in dose clomper boots of yours. I’m impressed.”
If anything, Heather’s gloomy expression darkened. “Thanks, I guess. Whatcha need, anyway?”
“I was thinking dress shopping.”
Heather looked narrowly at Cherry. “This must be a delayed reaction to the head trauma.”
Cherry grinned. “Seriously. I figure we can scope out some likely dresses at da mall, den wander down to GameSpot and see if dey have Zombie Apocalypse 5. It’s supposed to be out, and dere’s supposed to be an extra gore edition.”
“Now you’re talking!” Heather said with a grin.
“So what does dat ‘I am the rock, she is the river’ thing you said mean?” Cherry asked as they walked back through the house.
“Oh, that’s what our sensei used to say about me and Damsel.”
“What’s id mean?”
“Well, the river flows around obstacles and continues on unharmed. Not normally very destructive though. That’s Damsel. She gets by with a minimum of fuss, and given enough time she can always turn a situation to her advantage.”
“And the rock?”
“Gimme fifteen, I gotta change and shower.” Heather jogged upstairs. A little while later she came back downstairs in jeans and a t-shirt. Cherry was sitting on the couch channel surfing.
“Yeah, let’s go.”
“So tell me about da rock.”
“You don’t give up, do you?”
“Alright, fine. I’m inflexible on defense and brutal on offense. That pretty much applies to all aspects of my life.”
“Actually, it’s not a complement.”
“Oh. Well, bad you then. No donut.”
They walked outside and Heather saw the small yellow scooter sitting in the driveway. “You came on that thing? You’re braver than I thought.”
“Nice. Come on.”
Cherry handed Heather a spare helmet and then strapped on her own. Both girls mounted the scooter, Cherry in front and Heather behind.
“Hang on.” Cherry said with a grin. “This thing can get all de way up to thirty five miles an hour!”
Cherry cranked the Vespa and pulled out of the driveway, heading off towards the mall.
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: the NightGoblyn