Sub Vino, Sub Rosa



I'll wash away your lies
And have you hypnotized
There'll be no compromise today
I'll share your life of shame

 - Ozzy Osbourne, Demon Alcohol



            Heather looked up from her homework as her bedroom door slammed open. Damsel stood framed in the doorway, her arms crossed and an angry expression on her face.


            “I can’t believe you did it.” Damsel gestured emphatically and stomped into the room. “I can’t believe you didn’t talk to me about it first.”

            “Yeah, Heather,” Cherry said absently, paying more attention to the zombie holocaust she was fighting on the GameBox. “How could you, you bitch?”

            “Are you two brain damaged?” Heather asked. “Let me rephrase: Cherry, are you brain damaged?”

            “Actually, yeah. Got too close to a zombie earlier.” Cherry grinned and made loud chomping noises.

            “Gross,” Damsel said, then turned back to her sister. “I’m serious, what were you thinking?”

            “It might help if I knew what the hell you were babbling about.”

            “You. Went. Shopping.” Damsel stood over Heather’s bed and pointed down at her dramatically. “And you went without me.”

            “Your point?”

            “My point is you wouldn’t know a dress from a dreidle.”

            “What’s a dreidle?” Cherry asked.

            “Thank you for proving me right.” Damsel sat on the edge of Heather’s bed. “Heather, listen to me. We’re twins. If you don’t look good, I don’t look good. I need to look good at this dance. Do you understand?”

            “I understand you’re mental.”

            “Please, Heather.” Damsel put on her most influential pouty face. “You know I know more about clothes and stuff than you do. You want to look your best, right?”

            “I’m only going because Miss Junior Zombie Slayer over there browbeat me into it.”
            “Ok. I’ll help Cherry look good, too.” Damsel turned and examined Cherry, who was sitting on the floor, busy waving invisible knives at non-existent undead. “As an artist I must rise to any challenge,” Damsel muttered.

            “Chill,” Cherry answered, missing the snide comment. “I really want to look good for this dance. After all, I’ve got to play a set with the band and this is a little more upscale than the Zon. Oh, and did I mention I’m going with the hottest guy in school?”

            “Only fifty-seven times,” Heather grumbled.

            “Good, then it’s a plan,” Damsel said, standing and starting towards the door. “When we get out of school tomorrow we get Uncle Trent to drop us off at the mall. We shop until we’re fabu, and then catch a ride home.”

            “Whoa! Whoa! I didn’t agree to this plan!” Heather protested.

            “Heather, you’re going to the dance by yourself,” Damsel said. “Your only chance is to steal somebody else’s date when we get there. You’re going to want every weapon in your arsenal for that.”

            Heather mumbled something incomprehensible and covered her face with a pillow.

            “Besides,” Cherry chimed in, “Being girly is fun every now and then. Give it a chance.” She frowned slightly. “But stay the hell away from my date.”




            Late the next afternoon, the three girls walked through the front doors of the mall and into the food court.

            “Ladies,” Damsel said, gesturing towards the open corridors and store fronts before them, “I give you the modern mecca of mercantilism: the mall.”

            “Very alliterative.” Heather smirked.

            “Can we swing by Guitar Planet? I need new strings.”

            Damsel sighed. “We’ll make time for it. First we have to go to Valerie’s Secret. Aunt Quinn says that building the perfect outfit is like building the perfect house. If your foundation is no good, the whole thing falls apart.”

            “What’s the point of fancy underwear that nobody else is going to see?” Heather asked as the girls started walking.

            “Speak for yourself,” Cherry smirked. “I’m hoping mine get seen at least once.”

            “Strong, Damsel,” she muttered to herself. “Stay strong.”


            “You really can’t go wrong with black lace,” Damsel said as they left the lingerie store. “It’s classic.”

            “Yeah, but . . .” Heather protested.

            “Look, none of us are dark enough to pull off white. Cherry will look good with the red ensemble, it fits her personality and her coloring. We could never get away with it because of our hair. We’d look like porn stars.”

            “You say that like it’s a bad thing,” Cherry said.

            “Hush, hormones,” Heather said, glaring at her friend. “Damsel, nobody is going to see my underwear. I could wear my usual stuff if I wanted to.”

            “No, you couldn’t.” Damsel stopped and turned to her sister. “First, there would be lines and you don’t want lines. Second, there would be straps showing and you don’t want straps showing. Third, you’ll know you’re wearing it. It’s a psychological boost.”

            “A psychosomatic boost.”

            “Same thing. Now, unless there are any further protests we’re heading for the dresses next. March, soldiers!”

            “Jawohl,” Heather muttered, following in her sister’s wake.


            “Classic sheathe dress in dark green,” Damsel mused. Heather fidgeted under her sister’s scrutiny. Damsel’s eyes narrowed. “No, no it won’t work.”

            “Why not?”

            “You can’t wear your boots with that dress.”
            “I’m not giving up my boots.”

            “Which is why the dress won’t work,” Damsel said with a sigh. “I know some battles aren’t worth fighting, sis.”

            “So now what?”

            “How do I look?” Cherry asked, sashaying out of the changing room. She was wearing a fire-engine red evening gown. It was off the shoulder, backless, strapless, and split to the hip on both sides.

            “Like a desperate call girl,” Damsel said.

            “Perfect, I’ll take it.” Cherry glanced over at Heather. “You know your boots don’t go with that dress, right?”

            Heather sighed and walked back to the changing room to try on the next dress.

            Damsel shook her head at her retreating sibling. “Heather, hang onto that dress,” she called out. “I think I’m going to get it for myself, it looks good on us.”

            “Yeah, it does,” Cherry said.

            “Classics are classic for a reason,” Damsel said with a smirk. “So, what do I have to do to talk out you out of that bad taste explosion you’re wearing?”

            “I make it a rule to never get talked out of my dress on the first date,” Cherry said piously.

            Damsel rolled her eyes. “God, you’re as bad as Heather.”

            “I’ll take that as a compliment.”

            “It’s a very loud and showy dress.”

            “Yup. I like being the center of attention. Plus, the way it’s slit on the sides it won’t interfere with the stage show. Part of which will probably be my pretty new underwear, but I still agree with Heather. What’s the point if nobody sees it?”

            “Just make sure you’re wearing the clothes and not the other way around.”


            “Ok,” Heather said, returning from her exile in the changing room. “How’s this one?” She was wearing a royal blue dress. It was high waisted with a built in corset, and flowing, layered skirts.

            “Perfect,” Damsel said. “Well, really it would look better on you in green. But I’m wearing green so you can’t.”

            “Why does that matter?” Heather asked, staring at her sister through narrowed eyes.

            “Don’t you dare!” Damsel said. “You owe me for helping you.”

            “I owe you alright,” Heather muttered as she headed back to the changing room to put her normal clothes back on.

            A few minutes later, the twins piled the dresses on the counter. While one clerk expertly folded and boxed them, another rang up the purchases and took Damsel’s credit card.

            “Hey,” Heather said, eyeing the card suspiciously. “Isn’t that Aunt Quinn’s platinum card?”

            “Yes,” Damsel answered, signing the slip. “She told me to keep it in case of a fashion emergency.”

            “This is an emergency?”

            “If I were only shopping for myself, no. However, under the circumstances . . .”

            “What circumstances?”

            “Hey, check it out!” Cherry called from deeper in the store. “They have feather boas here! I always wanted a feather boa!”

            Damsel’s eye twitched slightly. “Are you sure we’re related to her?”

            “Get the bright pink one!” Heather yelled back, pointing.

            “Strong, Damsel,” she muttered to herself. “Stay strong.”


            Cherry caught up to the twins outside the dress shop. She was carrying a bag, which had several bright pink feathers sticking out of the top. “Wait up!”

            “Why am I carrying all the boxes?” Heather asked.

            “You’re in better condition than I am,” Damsel answered absently, scanning the crowd.

            “You’re on the damn track team.”

            “Hey, Damsel, I didn’t expect you to pay for that dress,” Cherry said.

            “You’re welcome,” she answered, still examining the people walking past. “If it makes you feel better, consider it nepotism.”

            “Um, yeah. Thanks. That helps.”

            “Ah ha!” Damsel suddenly stepped out into the crowd. “Hi, Rod! Hi, Brian! I was hoping I might run across some strong young men. We girls were shopping for the homecoming dance, and these boxes are just too heavy for us to carry. Could you help us?”

            The two boys quickly relieved Heather of the stack of boxes. Smirking to herself, Cherry handed off her bag to one of them as well.

            Heather stood blankly for a moment, looking down at her empty arms. “Something seems to be missing here,” she muttered.

            “Oh!” Damsel continued, “Did you boys know that my sister doesn’t have a date for the dance yet?”

            “Of course, there it is: my public humiliation. Thanks, sis.”

            “You’re welcome!” Damsel said brightly, catching only the last part of her sister’s comment. She leaned forward and whispered in Heather’s ear, “Don’t actually go with either of them, they’re losers. But they will tell all the other guys that you don’t have a date yet.”

            “Even better! My complete public humiliation.”

            Damsel looked slightly confused, then refocused on the task at hand. “Cherry and I need shoes, then we’re done for the day.”

            “I have shoes,” Cherry said.

            “No, you don’t,” Damsel replied as she began leading her entourage through the mall in search of a good shoe store.

            “Yeah, I do.”

            “You have things that cover your feet. I promise you that they are not shoes.”

            Cherry blinked in confusion, and looked over at Heather. Heather just shrugged and twirled one finger near her head in the universal sign for insanity.


            Two hours later, the girls walked back across the food court towards the main doors of the mall. Rod and Brian trailed behind them, each loaded down with several boxes and bags.

            “Are you sure we should make them carry all our stuff?” Cherry whispered.

            “It’s fine,” Damsel answered. “We’re strictly amateur shoppers anyway. Aunt Quinn used to require three guys to carry her stuff, and that was when she was shopping alone.”

            “When did she teach you all this stuff, anyway?” Heather asked.

            “Remember when you were spending all your free time punching bricks for Ms. Rowe?”


            “I was out shopping with Aunt Quinn.”


            The group of teens exited the mall and headed towards a red SUV that was illegally parked nearby. Damsel opened the back and showed the boys where to stow the boxes and bags.

            “Thanks for all the help guys, we couldn’t have done it without you,” she said, smiling brightly at them. “We have to go now, see you at school.”

            The two boys waved as the girls piled into the truck.

            “Why did we carry all that stuff all over the mall?” Rod asked.

            “Um. I thought you knew.”

            The SUV pulled away.


            “Hi, Mom,” the twins chorused as they climbed into the truck.

            “Hey, Mrs. Morgen – OOF!” Cherry clutched at her ribs and glared at Heather. “I mean: hey, Aunt Daria.”

            Daria waved absently at the girls and continued the phone call she had been on while waiting for them to leave the mall. “Yes, I see . . . that sounds great Jodie, but . . . I understand . . . I’m sure it was a lot of work . . . no, no a reunion sounds like it would be fun . . . I just don’t think we have . . . oh, you’ve already talked to Jane . . . she said we’d be there . . . yes, of course we will be . . . well, something might come up, but probably not . . . I might have to attend Jane’s funeral . . . yes, I’m kidding . . . ok, we’ll see you there.”

            Daria flipped her phone closed and started the truck. As she pulled away she said, “One reason not to kill your father, please.”

            “She runs faster than you,” Heather said.

            “Damn my couch potato youth,” Daria grumbled.




            Heather carefully navigated the stairs, keeping one hand on the banister and a big wad of skirt material in the other. At the foot of the stairs she sighed with relief and turned to walk into the living room.

            Her parents were in the living room. Jane was sitting on the couch wearing her causal charcoal business suit. Her mother was across the room wearing a black cocktail dress. A pair of black, high heeled shoes were sitting on the floor near Daria . . . who was busy lacing up her Doc Martins.

            “Where’s Damsel?”

            “Her date picked her up a little while ago, she said they were going to eat before the dance.”

            “Oh.” Heather looked around the room with slightly puzzled expression. “I don’t suppose I can borrow the car?”

            “Do you have a driver’s license?” Jane asked with a grin.


            “Do you have a learner’s permit?”

            “No, but I am in Driver’s Ed.”

            “Have you actually driven a car yet?”


            “Do you suppose you can borrow the car?”


            “I give you an ‘A’ for effort,” Jane said. “Sadly, you receive an “F” for results. The “F” is in lieu of car keys, which you will not be receiving.”

            “Oh. You guys aren’t chaperoning are you?”

            “No,” Daria said, finishing with her boots and standing. “We have a reunion to go to tonight.” Daria paused to glare meaningfully at Jane, who simply smiled back and blew her wife a kiss. “We’ll drop you off at the school on our way. When you’re ready to leave, call me and we’ll come pick you up.”


            “If you get another ride, call me anyway so I can pretend we need to go pick you up.”

            “Hey!” Jane said in protest.

            “Pipe down and maybe I’ll remember to bring you home, too.”

            “Ah, I think you’d remember me. Probably about the time you were ready to go bed,” Jane smirked.

            Heather stuck her fingers in her ears and started humming loudly.


            “Thanks for the ride,” Heather said, dropping out of the truck. “Have a nice time at your party.”

            “Call as soon as you’re ready to go,” Daria reminded her.

            “I will, Mom.” Heather shut the door and started walking towards the open gym doors. She could hear the music already playing inside.

            “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,” Heather muttered to herself as she waved at the guy standing by the door and walked into the gym. “For I am the meanest bitch in the valley. Amen.”

            She stopped and looked around, giving her eyes time to adjust. The bleachers had been folded back along the walls and covered with colored streamers. Balloons hung from the ceiling. She saw the band’s equipment already set up at one end of the gym, past what was apparently the dance floor. There were tables of snacks set up at the near end of the gym, the munchies being arranged around a group of three huge punch bowls.

            “Why, I declay-ah Miz Scawlett!” said a voice at her elbow. “You just get prettiah and prettiah evuh day!”

            Heather turned and smirked at Cherry, who was innocently nibbling a crustless sandwich. “I think between the two of us you’re a little more scarlet than I am.”

            “Only from the skin out,” Cherry replied with a smirk. “The hottest guy in school is getting us punch.”


            “The fact that he is getting you punch does not mean you get to dance with him,” Cherry said in a warning tone.

            Heather rolled her eyes. “I am not here to steal anybody’s date.”

            “I know some guys that might be upset to hear that,” Steve said, offering Cherry a cup of punch. “But if it means I get to keep both of you to myself then their loss is my gain.”

            Heather blushed as she accepted the second cup of punch he was carrying. She glanced up and noticed Cherry was looking very over the top and melodramatic daggers at her.

            “Tell you what,” Heather said, pausing to sip the punch. “How about I keep you warm while she performs and then I promptly turn you back over to her when the band is finished.”

            “Sounds good.”

            “He better still be in his original packaging,” Cherry muttered darkly.

            “Huh?” Steve looked at his date, obviously confused.

            “I’ll tell you all about it,” Heather said, smirking. She looked over at Cherry and said, “Don’t you have to go tune up or something?”

            Cherry growled slightly at Heather, then grabbed the lapels of Steve’s jacket and hauled him in for a long, smoldering kiss. “That oughtta hold you,” she said as she walked across the gym to find the rest of the band.


            “Yeah, I think she likes you. Might want to wipe off the lipstick though.”


            “The lipstick. It doesn’t go with your suit.”

            “Oh, right.” Steve started absently wiping his mouth with a napkin. “Is she always that enthusiastic?”

            “You should see her kill zombies.”

            “See what?”

            Heather grinned. Keeping Steve off balance was fun and easy. “Let’s go watch the show.”

            “Yeah, ok.”

            “Hello, fellow classmates,” Cherry said into the microphone as Heather and Steve walked across the gym. After a dull chorus of response from the dance attendees, Cherry laughed into the mike. Unlike her normal free spirited chuckle, this laugh was throaty and sultry.

            “You can do better than that, kids,” Cherry purred into her mike. She was met by more enthusiastic cheering. “That’s better.”

            “She knows how to work a crowd.” Steve observed.

            “No kidding?” Heather answered, looking around. Everybody was watching Cherry, ready for the band to start playing.

            “We’re not doing one of our regular sets tonight,” Cherry said. “Apparently the dance committee wasn’t enthused with some of our original songs. They said our music was,” she paused and ran her fingers up and down the microphone, “too naughty.”

            The muttering of the crowd increased, and a few whistles were mixed in.

            “So if you want to hear some real Taronado musical stylings,” Cherry continued, “then you’ll just have to come down to the Zon when we’re playing.”

            There was scattered applause from the audience, a show of support from the students who had already been to some of their shows. Chaz finished tinkering with his guitar and whispered something to Cherry.

            “Ok, we’re ready to get started. We’re doing covers tonight, and we’re going to start with the Godfather of Metal. So set your watches to nineteen eighty-one, and step aboard the Crazy Train!”

            The band kicked into some very loud music behind Cherry’s authoritive “Crazy, but that's how it goes . . . .” and Heather turned to Steve.

            “I’m retreating to avoid inner ear damage.”

            “Go ahead. I’m going to stay up here and watch.”

            “Good idea. I think she said something about flashing the crowd tonight.”

            “She what!?”

            Heather turned and walked away, smirking to herself. She leaned against the wall halfway down the gym and sipped at her punch, watching the couples dancing to the fast moving tune. The band worked its way through several different genres during the set but mostly stayed with pre-millennial covers. With some amusement, Heather noticed her sister change dance partners at least four times. She kept sending one guy off to get her some punch and would start dancing with someone else before the poor guy got back with the drink.

            “Hey, you wanna dance?”

            Heather smiled slightly and turned to accept, until she recognized the guy asking her. She regarded him through narrowed eyes. “You didn’t come out so well the last couple of times we danced.”

            “Yeah, well,” Nate answered with a slightly greasy smile. “You sort of took me by surprise. Coach told me I should try to make nice with you, so do you want to dance?”

            Heather sighed. “I appreciate your offer and the spirit in which it is intended, but no. I’m mostly here to keep an eye on my sister, anyway.”
            Nathan nodded. “Alright. You change your mind you let me know. I’m going to go have some punch, maybe that’ll help.” He walked off through the crowd and onto the dance floor.

            Heather was slightly puzzled by the last comment, but she didn’t have much time to consider it before she was approached by Steve and a slightly sweaty Cherry. The rest of the band followed along behind them.

            “Did we kick righteous ass or what?” Cherry asked, grinning from ear to ear. Heather frowned slightly as she noticed that Cherry seemed a little wobbly on her high heels.

            “We sure did!” Luke said with a grin. He nodded at Heather and handed her a cup of punch.

            Heather took the cup and smiled, holding it aloft in congratulations to the band. She took a swallow of the punch and jerked the cup away from her mouth, studying it suspiciously. She swirled the liquid around in the cup and sniffed at it.

            “Something wrong with the punch?” Steve asked, examining his own cup.

            Heather took a small sip and grimaced. “Not if you like your fruit punch at about a hundred proof.”

            “It’s spiked?” Steve took another drink of his punch. “It doesn’t taste spiked.”

            “Gimme.” Heather quickly took a small sip from Steve’s cup and then Luke and Cherry’s drinks. “Yeah, they’re all spiked. Whoever did it can afford some really smooth stuff, too. I bet nobody else has tasted the difference.”

            “How come you noticed?” Cherry asked, her wobbles steadily becoming more pronounced.

            “I’m the bad girl, remember?” Heather said with a sigh. Suddenly her eyes widened. “Crap, I forgot about the good girl. Anybody seen Damsel?”

            Sam pointed towards the opposite side of the gym and mimed leaning against a wall.

            “Screw her, anyway,” Cherry said with a giggle. “I don’t like her. She’s too bitchy.”

            “How many glasses of punch has she had?” Heather asked, gesturing at Cherry.

            “Five or six,” Steve said sheepishly. “She said singing made her thirsty so I kept her cup full while they were on stage.”

            “Very noble.” Heather rolled her eyes. “Now you get to baby sit. Keep her out of trouble.”


            “You try to take undue advantage of her condition and I’ll kill you with a shovel.” Heather paused as Steve looked at her with a surprised expression. “A vague disclaimer is nobody’s friend,” she added with a shrug.

            “Yeah,” he blinked at her, and glanced around at the gathered Flying Monkeys.

            “I got a shovel in the van,” Chaz said.

            “Play nice boys,” Heather said as she gathered her skirts and stalked off across the gym.

            Steve fidgeted nervously under the combined scrutiny of the band members. After a moment he cleared his throat and said, “You know, I bet you three guys can keep an eye on Cherry without me. Heather might need help. I’ll meet up with you later.”

            “Bye, sweetie!” Cherry said loudly, and grabbed Steve around the neck. Before he could react she planted another lingering kiss on him. She let go, giggled quietly, and slowly started listing over. Two of her band mates grabbed her arms and started walking off with her.

            Sam stayed behind with Steve for a moment. When Steve’s eyes refocused, Sam grinned widely and gave him a ‘thumbs up’ gesture. Steve shook his head and went in search of Damsel or Heather.


            Heather stomped across the dance floor, snarling at couples that blocked her progress. Once she made it to the other side of the gym she spotted Damsel, leaning against a wall as Sam had indicated. The angle at which her sister was leaning hinted strongly that she’d consumed several cups of the questionable punch.

            Heather’s eyes narrowed when she saw that Damsel was chatting with Nathan Feldman.

            “Well, isn’t this cozy?” Heather said dryly as she walked up.

            “Hey, Heather,” Damsel said cheerfully.

            “Hi,” Nathan said flatly.

            “Damsel, we’re going home now. Fun time is officially over.”

            “Nate was going to take me out for cheese fries,” Damsel said petulantly.

            “Well you can get cheese fries tomorrow.” Heather grabbed Damsel’s arm and started pulling her towards the door. She made a couple of feet of headway before Nathan grabbed her shoulder and spun her around.

            “I will so stomp you into a pancake,” Heather snarled at him.

            He held his hands in the air and tried to look apologetic. “Look,” he said, “I know you don’t like me, and God knows I don’t like you. But why do you have to come butt into your sister’s business like this?”

            “Yeah!” Damsel said from behind her.

            “I turn you down so you go chat up my twin? How sick is that?” Heather said. “Besides that, why are you suddenly into me anyway? You like chicks that can beat you up?”

            “Why has this got to be about you? Did you think that maybe I was having a good time talking to your sister?”

            “Yeah!” Damsel said again.

            “I think it’s pretty pathetic that you have to dump a bunch of expensive booze into the punch bowl before you think you can pick up girls.”

            “What?” Nathan said, looking surprised. “Look, I snuck some shit in for my punch. I didn’t do anything to the bowl.”

            “Yeah, right,” Heather said sarcastically.

            “Hey, Damsel, Heather, Nathan,” Steve said, walking up and nodding to each person in turn.

            “I thought I told you to take care of Cherry,” Heather said, her eyes narrowing.

            “Her other friends are handling it. I’m pretty sure the three of them can ride herd on one drunken girl.”

            “You realize that if you look up ‘feckless lackeys’ in the dictionary there’s a group picture of the Flying Monkeys, right?”

            Steve waved a hand noncommittally at Heather and turned to Nathan. “Nate, let’s go take a walk.”

            “I don’t need a goddamn walk. I haven’t done anything wrong.”

            “I know you haven’t,” Steve said calmly. “I don’t want you to get the chance to. Let’s take a walk and let these girls go home.”

            “Fine,” Nathan said, glaring at Heather. “Let’s go.”


            “Aw, man!” Chaz said. “We gotta go load the van.”

            “How are we gonna load the van and keep her Wickedness out of trouble?” Luke said, gesturing at Cherry. She’d swiped his jacket and was currently standing with it wrapped around her, playing peek-a-boo by holding the lapels over her face.

            “I dunno,” Chaz answered. “She’s kinda funny when she’s drunk, though. I keep waiting to see what she’s gonna do next.”

            “Ok, here’s what we’re gonna do. Me and you are gonna load the van. Sam, you stay here with her. Chill?”

            “Chill,” Chaz replied.    Sam shrugged.

            Luke and Chaz walked away while Sam steered Cherry towards a dark corner of the gym. He had spent a lively couple of minutes keeping her from wandering away when he heard someone talking quietly off to one side.

            Glancing around he saw a short girl standing nearby, partially hidden behind the folded up bleachers. She was muttering to herself while dialing a cell phone. From the limited light coming from the phone’s screen he recognized the girl as one of the Rennies but couldn’t remember her name.

            “Hey,” she said into the phone. “Yeah, I did just like you said.”

            Sam watched as the girl peeked out from behind the bleachers, apparently watching something going on across the gym.

            “Yeah, the Morgendorffer sisters are having a huge argument. I’m sure they’ll publicly humiliate each other. Their little freak cousin got dragged off by her freak band a few minutes ago.”

            Sam panicked when he saw Cherry walk up to the girl. He’d been so focused on eavesdropping he hadn’t noticed her sneaking away from him. The girl turned and saw Cherry, her face going pale. Cherry balled up one fist and punched the girl as hard as she could.

            Sam ran over as Cherry picked up the girl’s phone. The girl was laying on her back, both hands clamped over her mouth and tears pouring down her face.

            “Hi!” Cherry said brightly. “Oh, I’m sorry! Jessica can’t come to the phone right now. She tripped and fell on my fucking fist.” Cherry thumbed the off button on the phone and dropped it on the prone girl. There was a dull thud and a squeak of pain as it struck her on the forehead.

            “Dumb bitch,” Cherry muttered. She started staggering across the gym. “C’mon Sam. Let’s go help load the fucking van. I’m ready to get the fuck out of here.”


            Heather watched Steve lead Nathan away, and then began tugging Damsel towards the nearest exit again.

            “I don’t want to leave, I’m having a good time.”

            “You are no longer capable of making that judgment.”

            “I’m really tired of you talking down to me all the time.”

            “I’m not talking down to you.”

            “You think you’re so much better than me, but you’re not.” Damsel rotated her arm and flexed her wrist, popping free of Heather’s grip. “You’re just a spoiled, selfish bitch.”

            Heather turned to her sister, her face frozen with emotionless calm. “Do you want to have this conversation in a gymnasium full of your peers?”

            “My peers?” Damsel said scornfully. “I had peers in New York. Before you got in trouble and we had to move.”

            “Mom decided we should move because the city isn’t safe,” Heather said flatly.

            “Mom decided we should move because you joined a gang,” Damsel snarled. “You thought you were the bad ass of the ‘hood, didn’t you?”

            “Damsel, please don’t.”

            “You’re nothing but a thug. A cheap, violent little street rat. Did you kill people, Heather? Did you sell drugs? What did they have you do?”

            “Nothing. I wasn’t in a gang. I just hung out with some rough people.”

            “Lying bitch.”

            Heather glanced around nervously. A small crowd had casually drifted their direction, all of them studiously not looking at the arguing sisters.

            “Damsel, you’re making a fool out of yourself. I could care less what these people think of me, but you’re going to kill me tomorrow if I let you turn this into a spectacle. Now shut the hell up.”

            “I’m tired of taking your orders. You think just because you’re fifteen minutes older than me that makes you the boss.” Damsel stepped up and started poking her finger at Heather. “Well I say we throw down and see who should be boss. That’s how you gang bangers do it, right? Right, bitch?”

            Heather sighed. “Damsel, if you weren’t drunk I’d fold you into a goddamn paper airplane and fly you home. Now shut up and let’s go.” She reached for Damsel’s arm again.

            “Did you sell yourself on the street?” Damsel hissed venomously. “If they didn’t make you a bitch, did they make you a whore?”

            Heather’s eyes lit up with rage and without thinking she slapped her sister, twisting at the waist to put her upper body into the blow. Damsel dropped like a rock, the left side of her face clearly decorated with a hand print.

            “You hit me,” she whispered, seeming to not believe it.

            Heather pulled her to her feet and stormed out into the parking lot, Damsel stumbling along in tow behind. She pulled her PDA out of her clutch purse and flipped it open, hitting the speed dial button for her mother’s phone.

            “Hello?” Daria said from the other end of the connection. Heather could hear music from the nineties blaring in the background.

            “Mom, we need you to pick us up five minutes ago.” Heather sighed and glanced over at Damsel. Damsel was cradling the side of her face and staring at her in shock. “It’s a five alarm Mom required emergency. There might be groundings involved.” Heather sighed again. “Probably mine.”

            “Jane, the girls are in trouble,” Daria said. “We’re leaving, now.” The connection was broken, and Heather dropped her phone back into her purse.

            “You hit me,” Damsel repeated numbly.

            “I’m sorry I hit you. But right now, you need to not talk to me.”


            “Because I don’t want you to say something that’s going to make me hate you.”

            The girls stood in silence for about six minutes, until a red SUV came barreling into the parking lot and screeched to a halt in front of them. The driver’s side window slid down and Daria examined her daughters through narrowed eyes.

            “In the truck,” she said. The girls obeyed.



            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: Thanks to all the fine folk over on the PPMB for their continued support. I would also like to thank Roman Tea, the beverage that the ‘hunch punch’ from the dance was loosely based on. Hail Chuck. Thanks to Gouka Ryuu for pointing out that Cherry really should be calling Daria ‘Aunt Daria’ instead of ‘Mrs. Morgendorffer.’


            Author: the NightGoblyn