Nine-Eleven and Counting
©2005 The Angst Guy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Daria and associated characters are ©2005 MTV Networks
Feedback (good, bad, indifferent, just want to bother me, whatever) is appreciated. Please write to: email@example.com
Synopsis: The lives of Daria and Quinn Morgendorffer and Jane Lane are caught up in the events of September 11, 2001, when Quinn flies to Boston to visit Daria one weekend—then tries to fly home on that terrible Tuesday morning.
Author’s Notes: This story is rated R for language (f-word, etc.).
“Nine-Eleven and Counting” was my first Daria fanfic, written three years ago this month. You could say it was therapeutic for me, given the time it was done. Reading over it reminds me of things we did in those half-insane days afterward, the unreality of the time. Part of the story appeared in serial form on www.fanfiction.net in early 2002, and the original version was corrected and updated by the end of April. It was rough, but it set the direction, good and bad, for a lot of my later work. This version has been extensively revised and, one hopes, somewhat improved from the original.
“Nine-Eleven and Counting” details Daria Morgendorffer’s entry into college and the twenty-first century. The story assumes that the Daria movie, Is It College Yet?, first broadcast on MTV in January 2002, shows events that took ended in late spring 2001, when she graduated from high school. Daria and Jane entered separate but nearby colleges in Boston in August 2001, a considerable distance from Lawndale (assumed to be a suburb of Baltimore or another major east-coast city).
Part One, “Don’t Know When I’ll Be Back Again,” takes place on September 11, 2001. Part Two (in two sections), “Hate to Wake You Up to Say Goodbye,” takes place from Wednesday afternoon, November 21, through early Saturday morning, November 24, 2001. Part Three, “Hold Me Like You’ll Never Let Me Go,” begins early Saturday, November 24, and ends December 1, 2001.
The abbreviation for Jane’s Boston Fine Arts College, BFAC, is used as a word and pronounced “bee-fak.” The lyrics from the Kid Rock song are from “Fist of Rage.”
Acknowledgements: Special thanks to Kara Wild and Martin J. Pollard for their helpful commentary. And thank you, Kara Wild, for being the first person to welcome me into the weirdness that is Daria fandom. I owe it all to you. Here’s a script. Enjoy.
INT = Interior scene
EXT = Exterior scene
VO = Voice over (off screen)
1. INT: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2001, EARLY MORNING, DARIA’S DORM ROOM AT RAFT COLLEGE, BOSTON
A digital alarm clock in semidarkness shows it is 5:29 a.m. Daria Morgendorffer’s dark, round-frame glasses are next to the alarm, on top of a book on the bedside table. The clock clicks to 5:30 a.m., and music plays loudly (a boy band like N-Sync). A pale hand reaches over from off-screen and fumbles with the alarm, knocking the glasses to the floor and accidentally turning the volume up louder.
DARIA [VO, groggy]: Damn it.
QUINN [VO]: Oh, Boyz-II-Guyz! I like that song.
The pale hand, trying harder to shut the radio off, accidentally knocks the radio to the floor.
DARIA [VO]: Damn it!
QUINN [VO]: Here, I got it.
The radio volume decreases greatly but remains at the same station, same song.
DARIA [VO]: Quinn, did you change the station? It was on classical.
A pale hand from the opposite side of the screen puts the radio back on the table, then disappears.
QUINN [VO]: Well, I didn’t want to wake up to dead people’s music. This stuff gets you going.
DARIA [VO]: My glasses.
QUINN [VO]: Here, I—
BOTH DARIA AND QUINN [VO, loudly]: Ow!
DARIA [VO]: Dab id!
QUINN [VO]: Well, I didn’t know you were reaching for them, too!
DARIA [VO]: Aw, by dose!
QUINN [VO]: Hold on. Wait. Just a sec.
After a pause, a light comes on. Sounds of movement nearby.
QUINN [VO]: Let me see. Oh, you’re okay, you big baby. It’s not bleeding. Sort of red, though.
DARIA [VO, flat affect, resigned tone]: Good bordig, Quid.
QUINN [VO, cheery]: Good morning, Daria! Be right back—I’m off to the shower!
Sound of retreating footsteps, door opening and slamming shut.
DARIA [VO]: Do bore hours. Juz do bore hours. God, gib be sdregth.
2. EXT. LATER, EARLY MORNING, OUTSIDE DARIA’S DORM, RAFT COLLEGE CAMPUS
It is a perfect predawn mid-September morning along the New England coast, under a near cloudless sky. A large sign identifies the dormitory as the Rebecca Towne Nurse Housing Unit, Raft College, Boston. Daria and her younger sister Quinn, who look much as they did in high school, stand on the curb outside the dorm. (Quinn now has sandals with painted toenails.) Two large suitcases and a backpack sit on the sidewalk next to Quinn. Daria gently touches her nose and winces.
QUINN: That car coming, is that Jane’s?
DARIA: [squinting] I can’t—
A flame-red sports car loudly squeals to a stop in front of the girls.
Female voices yell from upper-story dorm windows (“Damn it, we’re trying to sleep up here!”). Jane Lane gets out of the car. She looks as she did when living in Lawndale, but now wears a blue silk scarf, too.
JANE: Sorry I’m late. I had to get gas. And I didn’t get my hash browns at the drive-through so I had to go back twice more before—
QUINN: Wow! This is your car?
JANE: It might be. Don’t tell my parole officer.
All put Quinn’s bags in the small trunk.
DARIA: [aside to Jane] I owe you for this.
JANE: Forget it. It was either this or sleep.
QUINN: Oh, no! I forgot my laptop!
DARIA: [groans and fishes her dorm room key from a pocket] Hurry.
QUINN: [takes key] Okay!
Quinn runs off into the dorm.
DARIA: [not too loudly] And if you see your brain, bring that, too.
JANE: How touching. When’d she get here?
DARIA: She flew in Thursday for some kind of national school conference on student alcoholism and drug abuse in town, and she stayed with me over the weekend. The conference ended yesterday. I kept her staked outside on a leash at night, but she slipped her collar.
JANE: Big fun?
DARIA: The biggest. I gave her the full tour, showed her where everyone has outdoor sex, all the fraternities to avoid. And I have a damn paper due today, and I’m only a third through it. Couldn’t work on anything the whole weekend.
JANE: Daria, listen, I can drive her to the airport. Why don’t you go back to work on your stuff? I can handle this.
DARIA: No, I promised I’d see her off. It’s the big sister thing.
JANE: That’s sweet. It’s not like you, but it’s sweet.
DARIA: [spreads arms] Hey, she had a gun! What could I do?
JANE: [sighs] Kids learn so quickly. So, how exactly did your weekend go?
Quinn reappears, running with her laptop clutched in her arms.
DARIA: —well. Later.
All three get into Jane’s car and reach for shoulder harnesses to buckle in.
JANE: Sorry about all the cans and burger bags and pizza boxes on the floor back there.
QUINN: Oh, that’s fine. It’s just like my room at home.
3. INT: MOMENTS LATER, JANE’S CAR, DRIVING THROUGH BOSTON
JANE: [pulling away from curb] So, Quinn, how was your conference?
No answer. Jane looks in the rearview mirror and sees that Quinn has put on earphones for her CD player and is bobbing her head to a faintly heard boy-band song.
JANE: [imitating Quinn in deadpan] Why, it was great, thank you for asking. Daria put me on a leash outside, but I escaped and ran aaaaall over the neighborhood.
DARIA: [turns around and sees that Quinn cannot hear anything] Oh. Figures.
JANE: What’s your paper on?
DARIA: The one-third-done paper? The Internet versus television—which one does the most damage to the viewer or user by misleading his/her perceptions of reality.
JANE: And the answer is—?
DARIA: They both suck.
JANE: Okay, but does one suck more than the other?
DARIA: They just suck.
JANE: Do you recommend an alternative?
DARIA: If you hit someone with a rock, the message is clear and not subject to misinterpretation or spin.
JANE: What class is this for?
DARIA: [takes a deep breath] Postmodern Global Communication Networks.
JANE: [pause, shakes head] Okay, I can’t think of a comeback for that.
DARIA: If you do, call me at once.
JANE: Is it relevant?
DARIA: [snorts] To what?
JANE: [shrugs] Never mind. [pause] So.
Jane peers in the rearview mirror. At the same moment, Daria looks back over her left shoulder. Quinn is slumped in the rear seat, sound asleep, with her earphones on high volume to the boy-band song on the CD player in her lap.
DARIA: [facing forward again] So.
DARIA: Good to see you.
JANE: You, too. You haven’t changed much since last weekend. A little more gray hair, maybe.
DARIA: I really owe you for this.
JANE: [waves it away] Whatever. Pretty day for a Tuesday, you think? How’s life with you? I mean really?
DARIA: [sighs] You first. [looks at Jane, smiles faintly] You gettin’ any?
JANE: Gettin’ any? Am I, Jane, the Human Sexual Dynamo Lane, gettin’ any? Man, I’ve had to put up police barricades to keep all the guys in line. I wore out three mattresses just this week. Day and night, night and day—
DARIA: Nothing’s happening with me, either.
JANE: [grins] You heard from Tom?
DARIA: [pause, smile vanishes, looks down] Yeah.
JANE: [glances at Daria] And—?
DARIA: I sent him some e-mails. [pause] I just wanted to see how he was doing. He finally wrote back a couple days ago and said he’d met someone else. We’re still friends, but he won’t be dropping by anytime soon.
JANE: He met—
DARIA: [tries to wave it off, irritated look] We broke up long ago. It’s not like it’s anything big. We weren’t right for each other, anyway. Apples and oranges.
JANE: Wouldn’t he be more like a banana?
DARIA: [no sense of humor] Whatever. It’s over. Over over.
JANE: I have some sour grapes in my bag if you want some.
DARIA: It was for the best. I shouldn’t have bothered him.
JANE: [reflecting] You were thinking that maybe he—
DARIA: No, I wasn’t thinking. That was the problem.
Jane forms her mouth into a soundless “o.” Pause.
JANE: Trent’s available.
DARIA: [agonized look at Jane] Oh, please!
JANE: [smiles again] Zing! So, tell me, does anyone look interesting on campus?
DARIA: A guy I met in the library asked me if I slept with my glasses on.
JANE: I meant interesting, but not in the Chinese sense of being cursed.
DARIA: A bunch of guys in one of the fraternity houses yelled that they wanted to see my tits. They offered me beer. I flipped them off, and that cheered them up loads.
JANE: [smile fading] Uh—
DARIA: The guy who sits in front of me in Creative Writing said he had a gallon of orange vodka in his room, all the way from Russia, and would I like to finish it off with him sometime.
JANE: [clears throat] Uh, yeah, how’s your roommate, what’s-her-name, Jennifer, the one you told me about last week?
DARIA: She threw up in my car Friday night when I was taking her to the emergency room for alcohol poisoning. That’s the reason I called you last night about driving us to the airport. I won’t get the car back from the shop until Friday. There’s a lot of throwing up in cars going around. Must be something in the bourbon.
JANE: Is she all right? Jennifer?
DARIA: They pumped her stomach. She should be back in class tomorrow. [pause] Quinn helped a lot. She did, really. She said she has a friend like that and doesn’t know what to do about it.
JANE: I think I heard her mention it once. Someone she met on that hostessing job she had? What was it, Lindsey?
DARIA: Lindy, yeah. She told me about her before school let out. Quinn was going to talk to her about getting help, but I don’t know what came of it.
JANE: How are you getting along with Jennifer?
DARIA: I’m moving out as soon as I can find anyone who will rent me a closet to sleep in. I won’t be picky.
JANE: Can you talk to her about this problem?
DARIA: She doesn’t have a problem. She told me that last Wednesday morning after she got back from a party and threw up in her bed and slept in it.
JANE: [looking queasy] I wish you hadn’t said that after I’ve been to Burger Baron for breakfast.
DARIA: Oh. Sorry. Wasn’t thinking again.
Both pause to see if Quinn is still asleep. She is.
DARIA: You remember a long time ago when I told you that high school was exactly like Dante’s Inferno?
JANE: That was three weeks ago, just before we got here.
DARIA: I was wrong. High school is the antechamber to Hell. It’s the dark forest that you wander through just before you find the infernal gates. High school had structure in the form of parents, sort of like Virgil walking along with you until he drops you off at Hell’s mouth. There’s no structure here, though, except for classes. Everyone’s a wild animal, roaming around doing the Darwin thing, only the smartest are at the bottom of the food chain. No one has any direction. No one’s got a clue. It’s stupidity to the googolplex power. Precambrian slime posing as humanity.
JANE: [glances at Daria] Zero to any power is still zero. I mean, this is sort of what we’d expected, isn’t it?
DARIA: [her buttons pushed] We’re three weeks into classes, and all anyone talks about is what they were drinking, who they were sleeping with, how many times they puke—oh, sorry, forget that part. The only good thing I’ve got going is that everyone thinks I’m a boring asshole and most of them leave me alone.
JANE: That’s . . . uh . . . good.
DARIA: [restless] Tell me about Boston Fine Arts. Please.
JANE: Oh, well, my lucky streak continues. [ticks off points with fingers of right hand] First, you help me get into BFAC, then some freshmen drop out and the school likes my portfolio, so they advance me into the fall semester instead of the spring, then someone else drops out and I get his first-year scholarship, and now, now, I get into that filled-up Figure Drawing class after someone else drops it. That promises to be an interesting class. I have it today at one.
DARIA: Figure drawing, like that life model drawing class you had a few years ago with, um—
JANE: [animated] Naked men. Some naked women, too, yeah, but naked men for sure. Yeah.
Daria looks right at Jane and waits for more. Jane says nothing, just stares into space while driving.
JANE: [starts to smile] And what?
JANE: And they’re naked. You know. No clothes on.
DARIA: [insistent, louder] And?
JANE: Well, okay, a couple of them, the guys, look really good. One’s a real hottie. Got a little warm looking at him. There’s a use for jocks after all. They sure keep fit. [blows out a puff of air] Woof.
DARIA: [smiling now] You haven’t taken any artistic license with them?
JANE: Ah, well, now that you mention it, I was thinking of, um—one of them is kind of funny. Really funny funny. He’s in business, from Raft actually, a sophomore, I think. He works out a lot. He’s a runner. I don’t know that he’d be much for conversation, but I’d thought about a, um, private session one evening, some oils—for oil painting, I mean, something on canvas—you know. [smiling, can’t stop it] You know!
DARIA: [shakes head, looks away] Not from any personal experience, but my imagination is working fine.
JANE: Well, that’s what guys are there for, right?
DARIA: [smile fading] Maybe I should get out more. I just don’t know when or how. I’ve got so much work.
JANE: You’ve got to make a little time for it. You were the one who chose nineteen credit hours, not me.
DARIA: You should have slapped me.
JANE: I almost did. I probably still should.
Daria nods, her smile gone. She glances back; Quinn is still asleep.
DARIA: You know what pisses me off the most?
JANE: [giving Daria a long stare before looking back at the highway] Is this a trick question?
DARIA: I thought I was coming to college to learn about reality.
JANE: [coughs to suppress sudden laughter] I see.
DARIA: I wasn’t thinking, I guess. It’s like swimming up the rapids. I seem to get farther from reality all the time. Do you feel like that?
JANE: I’m an artist, Daria. I don’t have anything to do with reality.
DARIA: I want to write, but I’ll starve to death before I get anything published and made into a movie for a six-figure contract. Or even twenty bucks in a poetry magazine.
JANE: There’s always a place for you in the food-service sector.
DARIA: [depressed] That . . . that might be the case.
JANE: Want me to read something you’re working on?
DARIA: [looks uncomfortable] Maybe. I can e-mail it to you.
JANE: Do that. See if you can get the campus paper to print an op-ed piece.
DARIA: [snorts] I tried that. The editor called me a fascist Nazi bitch.
JANE: [stunned look] No way!
DARIA: She said I had talent, though. It wasn’t much and it was wasted, but I had it.
JANE: Oh, jeez, you’re kidding me!
DARIA: I wish. Maybe she was right.
JANE: [reprovingly] Daria!
Daria sighs. They drive in silence. Jane still shakes her head in amazement.
DARIA: [pointing] That’s the airport exit, the next one.
DARIA: [takes a deep breath, low voice] Jane, I want to talk to you about something.
JANE: [glances at Daria, puzzled] Okay.
Daria checks on the sleeping Quinn.
DARIA: About Tom.
JANE: [apprehensive] Oooh-kay.
DARIA: [pause] I’m sorry.
JANE: [pause] I, uh, think we’ve gotten beyond that. That was over a year ago.
DARIA: It wasn’t worth it. Losing you. I almost lost you.
Jane is about to say something, but stops and waits.
DARIA: [looks out side window] I really regret that now. I wish I’d never done it, gone out with him.
JANE: [softly] Daria, really, that—
DARIA: I wasn’t thinking.
JANE: [sharper] Daria, stop it!
Both glance back and see Quinn still asleep, her mouth open.
JANE: [softly] You didn’t lose me! It’s all right. It wasn’t important!
Pause. Neither looks at the other.
JANE: Well, it wasn’t that important. Forget it. Please. Get past it. I did. Besides, if memory serves me, I dumped you for months before then so I could go out with Tom, and why in the hell are we even talking about this? Damn, just drop it!
DARIA: [looks down at her hands, softly] I don’t want to lose you.
JANE: [swallows] You won’t.
Jane puts her right hand out, and Daria automatically takes it with her left. They give each other’s hand a hard, long squeeze, then let go so Jane can drive again.
JANE: [very low voice] You must have had a really bad time this weekend.
DARIA: It—it wasn’t that bad. Quinn was all right. It’s not her. I’m just nervous about everything: papers, classes, my future life, the fate of human civilization and the Earth, little crap like that.
JANE: You need to get out more.
DARIA: [plays with fingers] Can’t. I’ve got—there’s just no time. Everyone else here gets as shitfaced as B-movie zombies, like it doesn’t matter what they do. They’ve got plenty of time. They’re immortal.
JANE: We’re all immortal, at least those of us who haven’t died yet. You’re immortal.
DARIA: Right, and Bill Clinton’s going to fly out of my ass.
Jane laughs, then coughs and can’t stop laughing and coughing. She struggles to drive at the same time.
DARIA: Never mind. Jane, there—we have to take the exit. The exit! Turn!
Jane tries to speak but is still laughing and coughing at the same time, so nothing intelligible comes out.
4. EXT: A SHORT TIME LATER, TERMINAL, BOSTON’S LOGAN AIRPORT, DEPARTURES DROP-OFF
Jane’s red car pulls into Boston’s Logan Airport and heads for the terminal’s departures drop-off. She finds a temporary parking spot by the doors. Quinn and Daria quickly get out and pull Quinn’s luggage out of the trunk.
DARIA: [struggling with a heavy suitcase] Next time, you don’t have to bring every cosmetic you own. The ones in the lead jars are the worst.
QUINN: I really appreciate you letting me stay with you. And I’m sorry about your nose this morning. It looks okay now. Not so red. A little swollen, maybe.
DARIA: I’ll spring for a hotel room next time you come by.
QUINN: Oh, no. I’d rather be with you. [impulsively hugs Daria, who is startled and drops the suitcase] I love you! You’re a great sister!
QUINN: [kisses Daria on cheek] Thanks for everything. I’ll mail your comb and brush back later.
DARIA: No, please keep them! It’s okay!
QUINN: [lets go of Daria] Bye, Jane! Thanks! I like your car! And your scarf! That’s a good color for you! You look lots better that way!
DARIA: You’d better go. Your flight leaves about eight.
QUINN: Oh, silly, check-in isn’t going to take long. I’ve got almost thirty minutes to shop!
DARIA: At an airport? For what?
QUINN: Oh! Almost forgot! [pulls slip of paper from pants pocket] Listen, here’s my cell phone number.
DARIA: I think you gave me that already. Twice.
QUINN: Well, once more won’t hurt. Tuck that away somewhere.
DARIA: [resigned] Sure, why not. [tucks slip of paper into jacket pocket]
QUINN: Bye, Daria! See you! [waves, struggles to pull wheeled luggage on straps behind her]
DARIA: [waves] Bye! See you in . . . some other time!
DARIA: [waves weakly] Yeah, bye.
Quinn goes into the terminal. Daria watches her go, then gets back in the car and flops back into the passenger seat in exhaustion, her eyes closed.
DARIA: Step on it. She might come back.
JANE: [fake Scottish accent] Aye, cap’in, but I dinna know if th’ engines can take it!
Jane guns the engine, and the car pulls away from the curb with squealing tires.
5. INT: SOME TIME LATER, JANE’S CAR, AT DRIVE-THROUGH FAST-FOOD WINDOW, BOSTON
JANE: [takes large sip from her milkshake straw] Tell me this doesn’t make up for the traffic jam.
DARIA: [putting straw into large milkshake] I swore I was never going to eat at one of these places.
JANE: [puts drink in her lap as she pulls away from drive-through window] When was this? We’ve always eaten at places like this.
DARIA: I made twenty resolutions my first day on campus. That was number one.
JANE: What about the other resolutions?
DARIA: I’ve got two left.
JANE: They are—?
DARIA: Don’t date anyone who drinks, smokes, shoots up, carries a gun, or is in love with his farts.
JANE: And the other?
DARIA: [frowns] I don’t remember. Doesn’t matter, I’ve probably broken it already.
JANE: Quinn bring any interesting news from home? Aside from the school stuff, I mean.
DARIA: Oh, yeah. My room’s been converted into a guest bedroom. Everything I didn’t take with me is in boxes in the basement next to the sump pump.
JANE: Trent says my room is exactly as I left it. Sort of like a shrine.
DARIA: Do they leave offerings in it?
JANE: Probably nothing I want to pick up without rubber gloves on.
DARIA: Want to come by my room and sit a while? You’ve got hours until the Naked Lunch.
JANE: Sure. Uh, what about the, uh, your roommate’s bed, you know?
DARIA: What? Oh, that. I emptied two cans of air freshener around it, and the room doesn’t smell that much anymore. Sort of.
JANE: [looking queasy again] How about we just walk around and enjoy the sunshine? I wanna see where you hang out here.
DARIA: Okay. There should be visitors’ parking left by the Commons. The frat boys should still be sleeping off last night’s binge, so we’ll be okay.
JANE: [relieved] Good. Fresh air.
6. EXT: MINUTES LATER, STUDENT COMMONS PARKING LOT, RAFT CAMPUS
Jane finds a parking space. Both get out carrying their milkshakes, locking the doors behind them. Daria and Jane look around the campus. Loud music, by Kid Rock, plays from a rental house nearby.
DARIA: It isn’t much, you know, but—it isn’t much.
JANE: Looks pretty big from where I’m standing.
DARIA: Just an illusion. The Internet and television do that to you. Distort your perceptions.
JANE: What time is it?
DARIA: [checks her watch] You’ve got four hours until your beefcake is served. Relax.
JANE: Quinn’s on her way home?
DARIA: She took off almost an hour ago. We were still in traffic. Those semis scare the crap out of me, what they can do to your car.
JANE: [makes an anxious face] Yes, thanks, don’t remind me.
DARIA: We can—what are you doing?
JANE: [bobbing head to Kid Rock music in background] What? Oh, this?
DARIA: Yes, that. Please stop.
JANE: [singing along with music while making a fierce face] “I’ve seen the future and it’s lookin’ grim / A lake of fire, lookin’ like a long swim / I’m a fist of rage! I’m a fist of rage!” Oh, c’mon, don’t you love that male white trash stuff?
DARIA: It’s because you’re an artist that you do things like this, right?
JANE: [stops bobbing along with the music] I just do it to bug you, because you’re Daria.
DARIA: That was special.
DARIA: Don’t do it again.
JANE: [looks woebegone] Aw, rats.
The music abruptly shuts off in the middle of the song.
DARIA: [taking on a beatific look] Listen! Do you hear that?
JANE: [playing along] What is it? It makes my head feel strange!
DARIA: It’s silence! The rarest thing in all Raft College! Listen!
Both listen. Amused at first, they slowly become aware that, indeed, the campus is very quiet. They look around, becoming puzzled.
JANE: Yes, it does seem . . .
DARIA: Yeah. You don’t think it’s because of us, do you?
Jane cannot think of a comeback. Their attention is drawn to a girl student who suddenly runs from a door in the Commons. She is sobbing. She heads toward the two girls, then pulls out her car keys, gets into a car, and drives off with screaming tires. In the distance, a male student can be heard yelling, “Damn it! God damn it!” His shouts echo around the campus. Daria and Jane look at one another, then continue looking around. Hearing running footsteps behind them, the girls turn and see a male student running toward the Commons. As he passes them, he slows a moment. His expression is agonized.
STUDENT: It’s an attack! They hit the other tower! [runs off] Those lousy bastards!
Stunned, Daria and Jane merely watch him go. Jane then looks down at the milkshake in her hand, and she walks over a few steps to a garbage can and drops it in, unfinished. Daria, who is done with hers, does the same.
JANE: Maybe we should go in and see if there’s, like, a TV or something.
DARIA: There’s a big screen set right inside.
The two walk toward the Commons. Soon they can see a large crowd of students in the TV lounge, through the Commons first-floor windows. They cannot see the big-screen TV through the crowd. Several students are holding their heads, and several appear to be weeping. A female student is outside the Commons doors, shrieking into a cell phone.
STUDENT: [near hysteria] Where are you, Daddy? Where in Manhattan is that? Can you see it? No! Don’t go near there! Daddy! Get out of the building! Get out of there! Daddy, listen to me! Daddy, get the hell out of there! [begins to sob]
Jane and Daria pass her to go inside, their confusion turning to fear.
7. EXT: MOMENTS LATER, STUDENT COMMONS TV LOUNGE, RAFT CAMPUS
As Daria and Jane open the doors, they can hear the TV, its volume turned up very loud. The students watching the TV seem paralyzed, most of them voiceless. Several talk in whispers, never taking their eyes from the screen.
Jane takes the initiative and gently pushes through the crowd. Only moments later, she gets a full view of the TV screen and stops dead.
JANE: [lets breath out in a rush, aghast] Oh, hell.
DARIA: What’s— [sees TV screen, stops dead, voice runs out]
They stare at the screen like everyone else. Time passes and no one notices. New York City is shut down. The federal shutdown of all airline flights is announced. The Pentagon is hit. The South Tower of the World Trade Center collapses. New York and Washington, D.C. evacuations are announced. The North Tower collapses. Word is passed that hijacked airliners were used in the attack. The crash of a fourth jet in Pennsylvania is announced. Soon after this last part, Jane leans closer to the giant TV screen, reading a line of news type running along the bottom of the screen.
JANE: Oh. Oh, no.
Jane glances at Daria to see if she’s seen the type. Daria has but says nothing. Jane looks around and leans toward a guy standing near her.
JANE: [whispering] What flight did they say was—[almost glances at Daria but stops herself]—from here?
STUDENT: [never taking eyes from TV] It left Logan this morning. They’re not sure which one it was, though.
Jane looks back at Daria. Daria’s face is blank with horror as she stares at the big screen.
JANE: [gently] Daria, let’s go. We should call about—
DARIA: [speaking slowly, eyes never leaving the TV] Quinn. [pause] I know her flight number, five one three. [pause] I have her phone . . .
Daria’s voice runs out as she and Jane look back at the TV. The announcer says that two hijacked flights from Boston Logan are believed involved, from different airlines. Each left the airport about eight o’clock that morning. Daria is speechless.
JANE: [firmly] Come on.
Jane takes Daria by the arm and pulls her away from the crowd, down the hall a bit. Once by themselves, out of sight of the TV, Jane reaches into her red jacket and pulls out a small red cell phone.
JANE: You have Quinn’s cell phone number?
DARIA: [very subdued; looks down, reaches into her jacket pocket and pulls out the scrap of paper Quinn gave her] Here.
JANE: Okay. [flips open her phone] She’s on flight five one three?
DARIA: [soft voice] May I call? Please.
JANE: [half-second pause] Sure. Here. [hands Daria the cell phone but holds up the paper herself so Daria can see it]
Daria pushes the buttons, moving like a slow-motion robot. When done, she raises the phone to her ear. It rings five times.
FEMALE VOICE ON PHONE: We’re sorry, but the number you have dialed is not answering. Please try your call again later.
DARIA: [slowly flips phone shut, then opens it again] Let me try again. I might have gotten it wrong.
JANE: Sure. Maybe you can’t call a cell phone on a plane or something. I don’t remember if cell phones work from aircraft.
DARIA: They do. Mom gets calls on planes all the time.
Daria punches out the numbers again, raises the phone, and hears:
FEMALE VOICE ON PHONE: We’re sorry, but the number you have dialed is not answering. Please—
Daria snaps the phone shut, opens it, and dials again, faster.
FEMALE VOICE ON PHONE: We’re sorry, but the number you have dialed is not—
DARIA: No. [dials again]
FEMALE VOICE ON PHONE: We’re sorry, but the num—
DARIA: [breathing heavily now] No. [dials again]
JANE: [very softly] Daria.
FEMALE VOICE ON PHONE: We’re sorry—
Daria’s face twists as she grips the phone. She snaps it shut, opens it, but accidentally drops it.
DARIA: [snatching for the phone, too late] Damn it!
The phone bounces on the floor but doesn’t appear to be damaged. Daria snatches it up and starts dialing again.
DARIA: [panicked, losing control] Wait a minute!
FEMALE VOICE ON PHONE: We’re sor—
DARIA: Shit! [snaps phone shut, wipes face with one hand] I’m not getting it right! I’m not getting her number right!
STUDENT [in background, in the TV crowd]: Two planes hijacked out of Boston Logan, Jesus Christ! How could they do that? Doesn’t anyone do security checks?
JANE: Maybe she didn’t charge her phone batteries. It might just have die—gone out.
Daria snaps open the phone and dials once more, from memory, very fast.
FEMALE VOICE ON PHONE: We’re sorry, but the number you have dialed—
DARIA: [losing it] You are not sorry! You are not sorry!
FEMALE VOICE ON PHONE: —is not answering. Please try your call again later.
JANE: [grabs Daria’s hands] Daria! Let’s call the airline! I know she’s okay!
DARIA: [on the verge of losing it, howls] Quinnnnn!
JANE: Daria! [moves close, grabs Daria in tight full body hug] Daria! Stop it! She’s alive! I know it! Stop it! Quinn’s alive! She is!
Daria fights for self-control, face red, trying hard not to cry.
JANE: [still holds Daria as tightly as possible, speaks flat and low] We’ll call the airline. I can get the number. If they shut the airlines down, they may have routed her flight somewhere else. She could be anywhere, but she is alive. [speaking slowly and firmly] Quinn is alive. She’s alive and well. We’re going to find her now.
Daria hangs onto her self-control by the thinnest threat. She gives one nod. Tears stream down her face.
JANE: We need to sit down. Then we’re going to find Quinn. Come on.
Daria nods again, still hanging on. Jane looks around and guides her over to a lounge sofa where several male and female students are sitting, talking animatedly on cell phones.
JANE: [to students, in her best command voice] Move it!
The sofa is instantly cleared. Jane gets Daria seated and sits next to her, one arm around her. With her free arm, Jane pries the red cell phone from Daria’s hand and expertly dials 411 with her thumb.
JANE: [into cell phone] Mid-American Airlines desk at Boston Logan airport. [pause] Wait, wait. Please dial it for me. This is an emergency. Fine, whatever.
Daria sniffs, then reaches into a pocket and takes out a handkerchief to wipe her face. She takes off her glasses and wipes them off.
DARIA: I’m sorry. I can’t—she was just here, and I can’t . . .
JANE: [gives Daria a long squeeze but still talking into the phone] Please keep trying. Can you fix it so when the line is clear, it will ring for me? [groans] Okay, give me the number again so I can program it into my phone. Slower, wait, slower. [thumbs keys on phone to program a phone number in] Okay, thanks, thanks a lot. [snaps phone shut, snaps it open again, hits two keys for speed dialing and holds it to her ear] Shit. [snaps phone shut]
DARIA: I’m sorry. [begins to cry softly, hides face in hands]
JANE: [grim] We’ll find her. [snaps phone open, thumbs in speed-dial, waits, snaps phone shut] We’ll keep trying.
DARIA: [through tears] I have to go to the bathroom.
JANE: Where is it?
DARIA: [wipes face, forces herself to stop crying] Down the hall. I’ll be back.
JANE: [helps Daria to her feet and sends her off] Hurry back. I’ll keep trying.
Jane sits down, snaps the cell phone open, thumbs in speed dialing, waits, then snaps the phone shut. Her head drops as she holds the cell phone in her hands, as weary and frightened as she’s ever been. She tries the phone again without luck. A large, muscular male student walks over and sits beside her where Daria sat.
JANE: [doesn’t look up, voice filled with venom] Get the hell out of here.
Male student retreats, mumbling apologies. Jane tries the phone again without success.
JANE: [to self] Goddamn worthless twenty-first century.
Jane snaps open her cell phone with a practiced motion, thumbs in speed dialing, and puts the phone to her ear. Suddenly she looks up, her face clearing.
JANE: [to cell phone] Yes! I need to find out about a friend of mine who was on one of your flights today! Yeah, flight five thirteen to Lawndale. It left this morning about . . . what? It what? You’re bloody kidding me! Sorry, I didn’t mean to shout, it’s just such an awful day—but you said what about flight five thirteen? [sees Daria returning, jumps to her feet] Daria! Daria, get over her! [to phone] Sorry, I didn’t mean to yell! Hold on!
Daria appears, still moving like a stressed-out robot. Her face and hair are a mess, and water is splattered all over the front of her clothing.
JANE: [to phone] You’re sure about that? Well, where is everyone who was on that flight? Where did they go after the airport was shut down? [pause] Do you have a passenger list? Can you tell me where she was sent? [pause] Her name’s Quinn Morgendorffer. Q-U-I-N-N, Quinn, then Morgendorffer. M-O-R . . . [pause] She is? Where’s that? [pause] Oh, thank God, thank you so much! Thank you! [snaps phone shut, then practically shouts at Daria, who’s right in front of her] Quinn’s here in Boston, do you believe that? Her flight never left! It had mechanical problems and they delayed it and she never left the city! She’s been sent to a hotel next to the airport! She—
Daria bursts into tears and falls into Jane, who drops her cell phone as she grabs Daria.
JANE: [holds Daria tightly, talks softly as Daria sobs] Daria! It’s okay. It’s okay. Quinn’s all right. We’ve got to go get Quinn. It’s all right now. It’s all right. Come on. Quinn’s okay. Let’s go get Quinn. I know where the hotel is and we can pick her up now. Let’s go get her. Come on. Let’s go.
Daria nods, her face puffy and red and wet. Jane takes her cell phone, handed over by another student, and leads Daria out of the Commons to the parking lot, one arm holding Daria close to her. The burly male student who tried to sit next to Jane watches them go as he takes their vacated seat on the couch.
STUDENT: [to a friend] Jeez, I guess even the dykes are having it bad today.
8. EXT: AN HOUR LATER, GROSSLY OVERCROWDED HOTEL PARKING LOT NEAR BOSTON LOGAN AIRPORT
Jane’s red car cruises past the hotel. It is obviously impossible to get into the lot, which is jammed beyond capacity. Police lights flash everywhere. Hundreds of people mill about, including TV camera crews. Jane’s car wanders the area for a bit, not finding a space, then drives up onto a grassy median and stops there, the front tires crushing a rosebush. Jane and Daria get out. Daria clutches a messy handkerchief but is in better control now.
DARIA: [voice very rough] Where did they say she was?
JANE: Christ, she could be anywhere. Quinn!
DARIA: [enters the crowd, looking everywhere] Quinn!
JANE: [far into the crowd, looking everywhere] Quinn!
DARIA: [top of her lungs] Quinn! Quinn Morgendorffer! [stops to blow her nose]
JANE: Quinn! Daria, head for the lobby!
DARIA: [completely exhausted] Quinn!
The two slowly head for the front doors of the hotel, where police officers and official-looking people are looking at papers and talking into cell phones and walkie-talkies. Daria sees a large, yard-high boulder placed for decoration and climbs on top of it, standing up to look over the heads of the crowd.
DARIA: Quinn! Quinn Morg— [breaks into coughing, takes deep breath] Quinn!
As Daria turns in place, she sees a pale, familiar face near the doors of the hotel. She waves her arms wildly, hysterically animated.
DARIA: Quinn! Quinn!
Daria jumps down from the boulder and runs, shoving her way though the jam, still screaming.
DARIA: Quinn! Quinnnn! Quinnnn!
Daria breaks out of the crowd at the front of the hotel and finds Quinn standing by a turned-off water fountain, only ten feet from her. Only one suitcase is with Quinn, plus her backpack and laptop, which are hanging on her by shoulder straps. Quinn sees Daria, but Quinn’s face is empty. Quinn does not even react as Daria flings herself onto her sister, screaming out her name. A moment later, Jane breaks out of the crowd as well and grabs both sisters. Daria and Jane immediately start to cry. Daria loses her handkerchief and almost loses her glasses.
Quinn merely stands there as she is hugged. One hand slowly reaches up and presses against Daria’s back. Her hollow eyes stare into space; she doesn’t make eye contact or speak. Even as she cries, Jane pulls back a bit and notices this, tempering her joy. It is clear that something happened to Quinn in the last few hours that was much worse than what happened to Daria.
JANE: [recovers somewhat] Is this all your luggage? Didn’t you have another suitcase?
After a moment, Quinn shrugs. Daria doesn’t notice, her face buried in Quinn’s shoulder and hair.
QUINN: [mumbles, barely audible] Lost.
JANE: We tried to call you. Did your phone batteries die?
QUINN: [pause, mumbles] Was in the suitcase. [pause] Forgot.
JANE: [senses Quinn is shell-shocked] Okay, we’ll get it from the airline later. Let me get this one and your bag, and let’s get to the car. I’m parked over there. [points] We’re going back to my place.
DARIA: [talks while crying, hoarse to the point of losing her voice] We can go to my dorm.
JANE: [makes a face] No, my place probably smells better, and I’ve got more room. Come on, let’s go.
Quinn starts to go, then stops and slowly reaches into a side pocket of her pants. She pulls out a key, not making eye contact. Jane takes it and looks at it.
JANE: [soft voice] Daria’s room?
QUINN: [barely audible] Forgot.
Jane shrugs and pockets the key.
JANE: [wipes her eyes] We never made it back there anyway. It’s okay.
Quinn’s gaze drifts off. She seems content to be led along by Daria as Jane grabs the remaining suitcase and eases the backpack off Quinn’s shoulder and onto her own. The trio slowly makes its way back through the crowd to Jane’s car.
JANE: [struggles with the suitcase, mutters] Why couldn’t you have lost the heavy one?
9. INT: WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2001, AFTERNOON BEFORE THANKSGIVING, DARIA’S DORM ROOM AT RAFT COLLEGE, BOSTON
Daria Morgendorffer, dressed in her usual outfit, sits quietly at a desk in her freshman dorm room, reading a book. A soft piano solo plays from a CD system in the background. A paperclip slowly twirls in the fingers of her left hand, her right hand preparing to turn the page of the book. The windows to her room have gauzy curtains over them, allowing considerable light in but preventing anyone from clearly seeing what’s going on in her room. The trees visible outside are losing their red and brown leaves; a light wind is blowing. Interestingly, her books line the shelves in the entire two-person dorm room, plus both desks. There is no evidence that anyone but Daria lives here.
In the background, the roar of a jet aircraft is heard. As the sound grows louder, Daria’s left fingers stop playing with the paperclip, holding it still. Her breathing slows. Her eyes stray from the book to a random spot on her desktop, staring without seeing. She sits motionless and waits.
The roar of the approaching jet gets louder until it drowns out the piano solo and makes the windows buzz and objects on her desk vibrate—but the jet passes over, and the sound slowly fades. Once the jet noise recedes into the background, Daria’s gaze returns to her book. She sighs lightly, swallows, turns the page, and continues reading. The fingers of her left hand play with the paperclip as if nothing had happened. The piano solo goes on.
10. EXT. SAME DAY, SUNNY AFTERNOON, OUTSIDE DARIA’S DORM, RAFT COLLEGE CAMPUS
It is a sunny Wednesday afternoon in late November 2001. A large sign identifies the dormitory as the Rebecca Towne Nurse Housing Unit, Raft College, Boston. With squealing brakes, Jane Lane’s red car pulls into a parking space outside the dorm. Jane gets out and heads for the dorm doors, wearing the same outfit she usually wears, plus a bright blue silk scarf, stylish black leather boots, and a pair of red-frame sunglasses perched on top of her head. She has artsy dangling silver earrings as well. She walks with a quick, confident step. A sign on the dorm door announces: EFFECTIVE SEPTEMBER 13, 2001, ALL VISITORS MUST SIGN IN WITH TWO FORMS OF PHOTO ID. A red line has been carefully drawn through the words: TWO FORMS OF.
11. INT: HALL IMMEDIATELY OUTSIDE DARIA’S DORM ROOM, RAFT COLLEGE
Jane leaves the stairwell and heads down the corridor for Daria’s dorm room at a brisk pace. She slows down once she sees Daria’s door. On the door, someone has spray-painted, in large red letters: DIE STUPID SLUT TRATOR! [sic]. The words are faded now, heavily scrubbed and possibly sanded, but the message is clear. Looking around, Jane does a slow “shave-and-a-haircut” knock, leaving off the last two “six bits” knocks. She then stands at the door, staring at the spray-painted words between nervous glances up and down the empty corridor.
After the sounds of footsteps and rustling beyond the door, the door is unlocked (at least three locks and chains) and opens. Daria appears, holding her keys and a single overstuffed suitcase with a pull handle and rollers.
DARIA: Hey. [pulls suitcase out of room, turns and locks the door in two places, drops keys in pocket] All set.
JANE: [not going anywhere yet] Is everything okay?
DARIA: [won’t look at the door, speaks quickly] Fine. Everything’s fine. Let’s go.
JANE: [stares at Daria a moment] I’m right out front. Is that all you’re taking?
DARIA: That’s it. Let’s go.
JANE: [nods] Okay.
Jane glances back at Daria’s door. Daria leads the way out, walking quickly.
12. EXT. SUNNY AFTERNOON, OUTSIDE DARIA’S DORM, RAFT COLLEGE CAMPUS
Daria and Jane walk out to Jane’s car and drop Daria’s single suitcase into the trunk, alongside two other medium suitcases. They then get into the car, Jane driving. Jane backs out of the parking space rather quickly, causing two other cars to squeal to a stop to avoid hitting her, then drives off with engine roaring.
13. INT: MOMENTS LATER, JANE’S CAR, DRIVING THROUGH BOSTON
DARIA: [after she turns to look in the back seat] Where’s your bag?
JANE: Don’t need it. I bought a wallet.
JANE: I got sick of carrying a purse around everywhere, so I put my cash and cards in a wallet and I’m good to go. Saves time at airport security checkpoints, too.
DARIA: [considers this] Oh. Yeah, I can see—what’s this?
Jane hums “Happy Birthday to You” and hands Daria a small, gift-wrapped present.
DARIA: [genuinely surprised] Oh! Thank you!
JANE: Sorry it’s late. It’s safe to open. I microwaved it.
Daria unwraps her gift and holds the small box up, peering at the contents.
DARIA: It’s beautiful. [pause, peers closer] It’s . . .
JANE: Original. Say original.
DARIA: That, too. I was going to say bizarre. [still stares at box contents] A little gold pin of an owl with a dollar sign on its stomach.
JANE: And thus ye shall profit by your wisdom, or something like that. Sophie made it, that goldsmith I was telling you about. You like it? Say yes. Three, two—
DARIA: Yes! Yes, really! [takes pin from the box and carefully puts it on her jacket lapel] Thank you!
JANE: It reminds me of you, all the times you’ve bet me on stuff or bribe me to do your infernal bidding.
DARIA: That’s the problem with friends. They know you too well.
JANE: [grins] And they stay with you anyway. Ready for a little Turkey Day?
DARIA: [settles back, admires her new pin] Yeah. I could probably use the weight gain.
JANE: Our flight’s still on time. [checks left armband watch] We’ve still got two and a half hours.
DARIA: Good. I brought a couple books to read in line.
JANE: Same here. Did your mom call you last night?
DARIA: Yeah. Why? Did she call you?
JANE: [sighs] No. Trent did. Something’s going on.
JANE: I dunno. He didn’t tell me anything except he was having the house cleaned, which I can hardly believe, and I’m supposed to stay with you for Thanksgiving.
DARIA: That’s what Mom said, but she didn’t say anything about housecleaning. She didn’t say how long you were going to be with us.
JANE: Trent didn’t say, either. [corner of mouth twitches] Something’s definitely up. I don’t know if I’m going to like it.
DARIA: [shrugs] The house is getting cleaned. What’s not to like?
JANE: [looks tense, hesitates before changing the subject] What’s going on with Quinn? You heard anything?
DARIA: Mom didn’t say much. I don’t know what’s up with that. I’ve tried to talk to her, but she won’t get on the phone. Mom says she looks a little down and sits around a lot in her room.
JANE: Did she talk to your folks after they drove in to take her home?
DARIA: Mom said no. Quinn said almost nothing the whole way back. I can’t believe that. Maybe she had her earphones on. Maybe she was still in shock.
JANE: Is she getting out with her friends?
DARIA: I dunno. I’m not getting a lot of hard data, just a lot of fog. They won’t talk about it. Dad won’t even talk about it. I told him I’d put his name in for a porno magazine subscription if he didn’t spill it, but that gave him an anxiety attack and he hung up.
JANE: [almost smiles] We should take Quinn out when we get in.
DARIA: Yeah. Maybe she’ll talk about . . . whatever. I mean, it’s obvious what’s eating her, but I don’t know what really happened to her. [pause] I don’t really know if I want to know. You know?
JANE: You think she was just scared to death, almost flying out of Boston that day?
DARIA: [anxious] I dunno. When I’m talking to Mom, I don’t hear Quinn anymore on the phone in the background, complaining or yelling or talking on her own phone. Nothing.
JANE: Let’s get her out, then. It’s a go. Who’s meeting us at the airport?
DARIA: No one.
DARIA: It’s okay. I’m renting a car. My treat, since you drive all the time here. Mom went out of town and won’t get back until tomorrow morning. Dad’s at a job interview. Mom said he’s applying to be a security guard for extra income. Wanted to do something patriotic in addition to consulting, I guess. Whatever.
JANE: [looks at Daria in disbelief] You mean like a guard with a gun? Your dad?
DARIA: No, no, no. Don’t sweat it. I’ve already talked to Mom. He starts out with a nightstick and a radio, that’s all. Assuming he gets the extra job in the first place.
JANE: A big nightstick or a little one?
DARIA: Mom said it was more of a stick than a nightstick.
JANE: Well—that’s okay, I guess. What’s he guarding?
DARIA: Power plant, oil tanks, railroad yard, crap like that. Wherever they send him.
JANE: Oh. [pause] Who’s home with Quinn?
DARIA: [frowns] Beats me. Mom doesn’t seem concerned about it at all. She says Quinn’ll get over it, which is just ridiculous. I told her I didn’t know about that, and she said to keep my nose out of it, everything was being taken care of. That really burns me. [almost rants, but stops] Oh, forget it. I don’t want to think about that right now.
JANE: What’s happening on campus?
DARIA: Oh, there was an unscheduled peace rally on Monday at the admin building. Only three people showed up at first. A few more came by later to yell at them.
JANE: [makes a “that’s no surprise” face] Who were they?
DARIA: [deadpan] One was a new professor. He was fired on Tuesday. Didn’t have tenure. Another was a freshman who hasn’t come back because of the death threats. The third was a dumb student who went to talk to the first two and find out what they had to say. Someone thought she was part of the peace rally and broke all the windows out of her room, then spray-painted “Die stupid slut traitor” on her dorm door. Couldn’t spell “traitor,” but hardly anyone’s noticed that yet.
JANE: [groans, closes eyes for a moment] Oh, Jesus, Daria. Did they catch who did it?
DARIA: Yeah. It was my former roommate, Jennifer. She—
DARIA: Yeah, she was living with her boyfriend after she dropped out, and she walked by the admin building and recognized me. They were going to put her on probation for harassment, but they found bags of talcum powder in her car labeled “anthrax,” which she was going to throw outside my room, so now she’s awaiting trial downtown. Probably for the best, since she can’t get drunk in jail. I hope.
JANE: [looks incredulous] How is it possible that these things happen to you? I’m an idiot for even asking, but seriously!
DARIA: [shrugs] I just wanted to hear what they had to say.
JANE: [sighs, pause] So, was it worth all the craziness and abuse? What the peaceniks told you?
DARIA: [looks out side window, glum] No. It wasn’t.
JANE: Why did you go, if you don’t mind my asking?
DARIA: [hesitates] I really was curious to hear what they’d say. It wasn’t that I agreed with them on anything, but I thought it took a lot of courage to come out and say something unpopular, especially when they knew people might tear them apart about it. [irritated look] They hadn’t thought out their positions very clearly, though. All they had was an emotional response, not anything logical or halfway considered. It was sort of annoying to listen to them.
JANE: [sighs, shakes head] So, is the college going to replace your door?
DARIA: Maybe next Tuesday, unless the campus blows up over the weekend. They actually said that.
JANE: What about your windows?
DARIA: They replaced those already. A couple of them might be still there when I get back. The campus police said they’d cruise by more often over the holidays.
JANE: [shakes her head again] Jesus.
DARIA: [resigned] Oh, go ahead and say it. I’m a moron for even opening my mouth. Everyone else says—
JANE: [explodes] I don’t give a crap what everyone else says! You’re not a moron! Everyone else is a moron!
DARIA: They have me outnumbered, though.
JANE: [snorts] Yeah, more’s the pity, isn’t it? Where’s Darwin when we need him? [makes turn] All right, we’re here. Let’s forget all this and start over. It’s a palimpsest weekend.
DARIA: [hesitates, glances at Jane] Okay, I have to tell you, that’s a word I don’t know.
JANE: [glances at Daria in disbelief] What? Hot damn! [grins uncontrollably] Gotcha! Jane, you are hot! [licks her thumb and touches it to her rear end] Ssssssssss!
DARIA: Palims . . . what you said. What was it?
JANE: It’ll cost you.
DARIA: Wha—how much?
JANE: Twenty smackeroos.
DARIA: [mouth drops open] Twenty? What are you talking about, twenty? For a definition?
JANE: Twenty-five, now.
DARIA: Okay, all right! Twenty-five! What’s it mean?
JANE: [puts right hand out, palm up] Money first.
DARIA: [sighs, digs into pants pocket, pulls out bills, counts out twenty-five dollars] Here.
JANE: [tucks it in a vest pocket] Thanks. [hums “You’re in the Money” to self]
JANE: I haven’t parked yet.
DARIA: [pulls on her hair in agony, head thrown back] Augh!
14. EX: SHORT WHILE LATER, SUNNY AFTERNOON, LONG-TERM PARKING LOT, BOSTON’S LOGAN AIRPORT
Jane has already parked her car and locked it up. The girls have taken their luggage out of the trunk and have walked to a shuttle bus stop, waiting for the shuttle to the terminal. Jane has two suitcases, Daria one.
DARIA: Now that I think of it, I actually have heard of a palimpsest before. I read about it in a history book. I can’t believe I didn’t know what that was.
JANE: Neither can I, but that’s okay. [pats pocket with Daria’s money]
DARIA: [looks off toward airport terminal, sighs heavily] I see the bus. I think it’s going around the lot before it gets to us.
JANE: You okay with this?
DARIA: Yeah. Got to keep the economy going. No fear.
JANE: Once inside—we don’t piss anybody off about anything, period. No jokes, no insults, no nothing.
DARIA: No fun.
JANE: [grim] None at all.
DARIA: This is so unnatural.
JANE: I meant to ask you if you know if Quinn got her suitcase back. The lost one.
DARIA: Oh, forgot about that. Yeah. The airline misplaced it, but they mailed it back about the first of October. Her shampoo leaked all over everything inside and ruined her cell phone.
JANE: Ah, that explains everything.
DARIA: Yeah. Dad got her another one.
JANE: Bet that made her happy. I can’t imagine Quinn being out of touch with the world.
DARIA: [pause] She hasn’t called you, has she?
JANE: No. She call you?
Both of them look glum as the shuttle pulls up and they haul their suitcases aboard.
15. EX: LATE THAT NIGHT, FRONT YARD, MORGENDORFFER HOME, LAWNDALE
It is a cool, overcast, windy night. Daria’s rental car, a green Mustang convertible, pulls up into the Morgendorffer driveway. The house has a light on, seen through the windows. The garage doors are closed; no other cars are visible. Daria parks and shuts off the lights, and she and Jane get out. Leaves blow around their feet as they walk back and get their suitcases from the trunk.
JANE: I’ll tell you more about Bob and his monster next time we’re alone.
DARIA: I still think you’re lying.
JANE: I swear to God it’s true. Every word.
DARIA: That’s just not possible. It violates all known laws of physics and anatomy.
JANE: That’s not all it violates! [shivers] Woo-hoo! [grins at the sour look Daria gives her] Oh ye of little faith, you want to come see the monster sometime?
DARIA: What? I’m your best friend, so I get sloppy seconds?
JANE: Won’t be the first time. [sees Daria’s agonized look and grins] Zing! Gotcha! No, really, you want to see it? He’d do it. I know he would. He’s proud of his big monster.
DARIA: [stares at Jane] I can’t believe you’re saying this. I can’t even believe I’m listening.
JANE: You went to college to discover reality, right? This is reality! It’s educational!
DARIA: [sarcastic] Will you tie him down securely first?
JANE: [thinks] Ooo, you know, he might like that. Wow! Thanks!
DARIA: [rolls eyes, has heard enough] Let’s go in. It’s cold out here.
JANE: I’m feeling pretty warm right now. Some parts of me more than others.
Daria and Jane lug their suitcases to the front door. The wind picks up.
DARIA: It feels weird doing this. [rings the doorbell]
JANE: I won’t talk about the monster ever again.
DARIA: Liar. [long pause, no sounds inside house]
JANE: Hit it again. Maybe they’re asleep.
DARIA: Dad and Quinn are supposed to be the only ones home.
JANE: If he got back from that job interview, you mean. Maybe she’s out, too.
DARIA: Screw this. [reaches in back pocket, pulls out keys, finds one and puts it in lock]
16. INT: MOMENTS LATER, FRONT HALL, MORGENDORFFER HOME
As the front door opens, Daria and Jane pull their suitcases into the house. Except for a light on in the living room, the house is dark and unnaturally quiet.
DARIA: Dad? Quinn? Hey, we’re here! I’m home! [long silence]
JANE: I’m here, too! [silence] Thanks for the applause!
DARIA: [stands suitcase against a wall] Let’s leave all this here. [calls upstairs] Hey! Anyone home?
JANE: [after long pause, no sounds] Nice homecoming we have here.
DARIA: It’s the thought that counts. [pause] I’m starved.
Both look at each other, stand there for a second more, then race to the kitchen.
17. INT: A SHORT TIME LATER, KITCHEN
The two girls are raiding the refrigerator. A pile of items is already massed on a nearby countertop.
DARIA: [head stuck in refrigerator] What is it with the leftover lasagna? It’s everywhere.
JANE: What’s that stuff in the orange bowl?
DARIA: [checks] Some kind of slime-mold culture. [hands bowl to Jane, who makes a face as she puts it aside, far away] Maybe it’s a science project.
JANE: I think we’ve got enough for starters.
DARIA: [pulls out of refrigerator, turning around with plastic bowls in hands] We could still use—AAAHH!
Daria jumps and drops some of the sealed containers she’s holding. Jane, whose back was turned, turns around instantly, knocking over several food containers on the counter. Both stare at an apparition in the entryway to the kitchen: Quinn.
Even on seeing Quinn, there’s a beat before Daria and Jane react. Quinn is pale and much thinner than she normally is, with sunken cheeks and hollow eyes. Her orange-red hair isn’t combed, and her clothing is wrinkled. She wears a washed-out white t-shirt instead of her usual cheery top. Most startling, she wears no makeup at all. Quinn is a long way from her Fashion Club days.
Daria and Jane dump everything they’re holding on the counter and rush for Quinn.
DARIA: Quinn! [hugs sister]
JANE: Hey, great to see you! [wraps arms around Daria and Quinn] How ya been, kid?
Jane’s smile fades. Quinn still seems slow to respond and distant. After hugs and kisses, Daria and Jane pull back and look at Quinn.
DARIA: You’ve . . . lost a little weight.
JANE: Hmm. I’d say . . . yeah, a little.
QUINN: [soft voice, looks at Daria, but eyes seem to wander] Hi.
DARIA: Care to join us in our guilty pleasures? We can whip the servants to bring us more.
JANE: My turn to use the whip. I called dibs.
Quinn looks around listlessly.
DARIA: [a little anxious] C’mon, have a seat. Talk to us.
JANE: We’re friendly.
DARIA: Most of the time.
JANE: Some of the time.
DARIA: Let’s not stretch it too far.
Quinn relents and pulls a chair over to sit in it. Relaxing a little, Daria and Jane pile all their goodies on the table in front of Quinn and dole out plates and silverware.
JANE: [putting down silverware] If you’re more comfortable using your hands, dig in.
QUINN: [hesitant, soft voice] Good . . . good to see you.
DARIA: Good to see you, too. Where is everyone? Mom still in Chicago?
QUINN: [nods] Yeah. She’s . . . back tomorrow.
DARIA: [noticing Quinn’s slow speech] Did we wake you up?
QUINN: [slow] Huh? Uh, no. No.
Jane watches Quinn closely.
JANE: How’s school?
QUINN: [swallows] Fine. All fine.
DARIA: Did the Fashion Club reconstitute itself? Not that it’s been on my mind a lot lately, but—
Quinn shakes her head no.
DARIA: [pushes small container of fruit yogurt over to Quinn] Here. Saved this one for you. It’s the only one left in the frig.
QUINN: [glances at yogurt] Not hungry. [pause] Thanks.
DARIA: We flew in a while ago. [beat] I rented a Mustang.
Quinn merely nods. Daria looks concerned. This was not a reaction she’d expected.
DARIA: Green Mustang. A convertible. Wanna go for a ride?
JANE: We’ll give you a piece of candy if you come with us.
DARIA: But you can’t tell your parents.
Quinn’s gaze focuses on Daria, and she gives a fleeting smile.
QUINN: [voice faint but warming] Good to see you.
DARIA: [pause] Good to see you, too, sis. [hesitates] You all right?
QUINN: [nods] Yeah. Fine. Just . . . I just can’t—
Quinn is on the verge of saying more when the front door opens. Everyone turns toward the sound.
JAKE [VO] Quinn? Quinn, did one of your friends leave their car in the driveway? I had to park on the street. Damn teenagers! No respect for the law.
DARIA: [loud, flat voice] You’ll never take us alive.
JAKE: [VO] Wha—Daria! [footsteps approach]
JANE: [looks at food on the table] Busted.
Daria gets out of her chair. Her father, Jake Morgendorffer, comes in the room, grinning like a little boy.
JAKE: Daria! [hugs her] My God, how you’ve grown!
DARIA: [looks uncomfortable with the hug] It’s the hormone shots.
JAKE: [misses the joke, steps back, holding Daria at arm’s length] Really? Wow, are they ever something! You’re practically a giant!
Daria, of course, is almost exactly the same height she was at the end of high school. Daria glances at Jane, who shrugs. Quinn gets up from her chair, unnoticed.
JANE: [playing along] She gained three inches just last month.
JAKE: [concerned] Whoa, now, you can’t let that go on too long. Unless you’re thinking about basketball. There’s good money in that. Were you thinking about a team?
DARIA: [deadpan] Miskatonic University has a good lineup.
JAKE: Miskatonic, huh? Haven’t heard of them. Massachusetts college? You say they have a good lineup?
DARIA: [deadpan] It’s a deep one.
JAKE: [missing pun entirely] Well, let us know if you plan to transfer. Tuition costs are something these days. Boy, I remember when I was in school, my old man—
JANE: [looking around] Where’s Quinn?
Surprised, Daria and Jake look around. Quinn has disappeared.
JAKE: [looks around] Oh, don’t worry about her. She’s doing fine. A few problems with her grades, but nothing that can’t be fixed. Counselor says she’s as well as can be expected.
DARIA: What counselor?
JAKE: Oh, uh, you know, your mom and I had Quinn see someone, make sure she’s okay after—[looks uncomfortable]—well, anyway, she’s fine.
DARIA: Is she still going?
DARIA: Quinn, to the counselor.
JAKE: Oh! Oh, no, no that was in September. Went just once. Your mother went out of town, and there was too much going on, the war and everything. Say! I got another job!
Daria and Jane exchange concerned looks.
DARIA: Dad, this isn’t that security job I—
JAKE: That’s the one! Jake Morgendorffer, armed and ready! I’ll put those El Kwaddy basta—eh, evildoers in their place.
DARIA: Did they give you a weapon, or were they really thinking?
JAKE: [misses sarcasm, jovial] They weren’t thinking that clearly! Wouldn’t give me any sort of damn sidearm. I was disappointed, sure, but there’s lots of time to work up. Started me off with a real nightstick, the kind the SWAT teams use. I—[stops, look of shock comes over face] Damn it! I left it back at the security office! I have to go! [hurries from kitchen toward front door] Good to see you!
DARIA: And you as well. [sound of front door slamming shut] As I said, it’s the thought that counts.
JANE: [low voice] Did Quinn go upstairs?
DARIA: I dunno. [turns to Jane, lowers voice] She didn’t look good.
JANE: Daria, she must have dropped twenty pounds. Her arms were matchsticks.
DARIA: No makeup.
JANE: I know.
Both stare at each other in silence.
DARIA: I’ll check upstairs.
JANE: I’ll hold down the fort. [looks at food on the table] We’re in for a long siege.
Quinn’s room is dark. Footsteps sound outside her door, then a soft knock is heard.
DARIA: [quiet voice] Quinn?
For a few seconds, there is no sound. Then someone slides off a bed and walks barefoot to the door and opens it. It’s Quinn, looking as before. Daria stands in the hall.
DARIA: Rambo’s taken off in the helicopter. Come back downstairs with us POWs and have some rice.
QUINN: [pause] I . . . I’m tired. [pause] Glad you’re home.
DARIA: I’d like to see more of you. Starting now.
QUINN: [nods quickly, very soft voice] Tomorrow. [pause] Long day. I’m sorry.
DARIA: [nods after looking Quinn over a little longer] Okay. Tomorrow. Turkey Day.
DARIA: Good night.
Quinn nods, then softly closes the door. All is darkness. After a moment comes the sound of someone getting into bed. In the faint light from the bedroom windows, Quinn is seen lying on her made-up bed, looking open-eyed at the ceiling, arms out at her sides.
19. INT: LATER THAT NIGHT, DARIA’S BEDROOM
Daria looks around her bedroom while brushing her teeth. The room has changed quite a bit from its former state. The padding is gone from the walls, and cheery flowered wallpaper is up instead. A queen-size bed has replaced the smaller one Daria used. In the bookshelves are used romance novels and a few children’s books, such as Daria read when she was in grade school. Several cheap, mass-market landscapes hang from the walls. The room’s conversion into a guest bedroom is complete. Daria looks rather distressed to see this. She wears solid forest-green pajamas. Jane is checking her face in a mirror on a dresser, wearing dark gray sweat pants and a black t-shirt. Both are barefoot.
JANE: I didn’t tell you the best part.
DARIA: [removing toothbrush from her mouth] About what?
JANE: The monster.
Daria rolls her eyes.
DARIA: It’s so big, it has its own zip code?
JANE: Nope. He can tie it in a knot. Almost two knots.
Daria closes her eyes and groans, then wanders off down the hall to the bathroom. Jane picks up where Daria left off, exploring Daria’s former bedroom. The bed has two pillows and is pulled out from the wall, so both girls can sleep on it.
JANE: [hearing Daria return] I was thinking about basing a sculpture on it.
DARIA: [back from bathroom, minus toothbrush] “A Clockwork Orange.” Done already.
JANE: I was reading about some girls who went around in the sixties or seventies getting latex impressions from various rock stars, copies of their own little monsters, you know? Jimi Hendrix was supposed to be the best. I got to thinking, what if—
DARIA: [leans against the door to the room] Quinn look really depressed to you?
Jane’s animated expression fades. She turns away from a bookshelf she was examining and looks at Daria.
JANE: Massively. I’m not a shrink or anything, but jeez, Daria.
DARIA: [with some heat] They took her one time to a counselor. One time! Dad didn’t even say what kind of counselor it was. I was half afraid it was the school counselor. Should’ve asked.
JANE: What do you want to do?
DARIA: [chews lip, considers] Mom’s coming home tomorrow morning. I want to see if they can take her to a real counselor, maybe a psychiatrist or something, in case she needs medication.
JANE: Your dad—I hate to say this, but—
DARIA: I know. I couldn’t believe it. He doesn’t even notice.
JANE: You know, that happens. Families don’t always notice big changes like that. Things happen so slowly, everyone gets used to it, and before long, you’ve got—
DARIA: [nodding all along] I know, I know. [pause] I can’t believe this is happening. I feel like—I feel like this whole thing, I should have—I don’t know.
DARIA: [looks away, ashamed] I should have gone into the airport with her. I should have stayed with her.
JANE: Daria, this isn’t your fault. You had nothing to do with—
DARIA: [waves her off] I know, but it doesn’t help. I still feel like I should have . . . I don’t know what.
JANE: Daria, let’s not do this. If you’re going to feel guilty for not being with her, I’m going to feel guilty for driving you and her out there, and then we can all jump off a bridge. [pause, gently] Go with your brain. The brain knows best.
DARIA: [pause] Okay, Pinky.
JANE: Narf. [faint smile, checks the bedside clock in the room] It’s almost midnight. Let’s crash. What time’s your mom coming in?
DARIA: [walks to bed] Beats me. Long as she doesn’t get us up at some ungodly hour.
JANE: [gets into bed] Before noon.
DARIA: [gets into bed] I meant if she gets us up at all.
Daria takes off her glasses, lays them aside, and turns out the bedside light. The room is dark, faintly illuminated by light from outside the bedroom windows. There is silence for a short time.
JANE: [low voice] Know what pisses me off?
DARIA: [low voice] What?
JANE: No one noticed your new pin.
DARIA: [pause] Oh. I forgot about it myself. I’ll wear it again tomorrow.
JANE: [whisper] Daria?
DARIA: [whisper] What?
JANE: [pause, whisper] You know what else he can do with his monster?
Sound of Daria hitting Jane with a pillow.
20. INT: EARLY MORNING, THURSDAY (THANKSGIVING DAY), DARIA’S ROOM
Sunlight spills in from the bedroom windows. In bed, Daria and Jane are not visible. They’ve pulled the covers completely over their heads, so only their vague outlines are visible below. The bedside clock near Daria’s side says it is 7:45 a.m.
Footsteps sound outside their door, then a loud, hard banging on the door begins—someone knocking six times as hard as possible. The shapes under the blankets both jump, then move around aimlessly.
HELEN: [VO, outside the door] Daria? Jane? [six more loud knocks on the door] Time to get up! Rise and shine! Breakfast!
DARIA: [muffled] Ugh.
JANE: [muffled] What was that?
HELEN: [VO, outside the door] Hello? Are you in there? Jane? Daria?
DARIA: [throwing covers back from her face, eyes closed, loud deadpan voice] Okay, you’ve found us. It’s your turn to hide.
HELEN: [VO, outside the door, businesslike] Get out of bed, sleepyheads, and come down for breakfast. You don’t have to get dressed up. Strictly casual this morning, but you’d better change before ten. How was school?
DARIA: Mom, can we have a couple minutes to get up before I give my speech?
HELEN: [VO, outside the door] Well, all right. Make it quick, though. The eggs and toast will get cold. [sound of footsteps retreating to staircase]
Daria and Jane lie in place for a minute.
JANE: [muffled] We have to get up?
DARIA: She’ll come back, like the ghost in “Hell House.”
JANE: [muffled] Book was better.
DARIA: “The Haunting” was better.
JANE: [muffled] I read that one night when I was ten. Stupid. I wouldn’t even get out of bed to pee, I was so scared.
DARIA: You’ve outgrown that stage, of course. [long pause, louder] I said, you’ve outgrown that stage, of course.
JANE: [muffled] If I had the monster here, I wouldn’t even get out of bed to—
Daria whips the pillow out from behind her head and smacks the Jane-lump next to her with a solid blow, followed in a moment by a second and third strike.
JANE: [muffled, loud] Hey! Cut it out! Stop it!
A clock on the kitchen walls says it is 9:08 a.m. Daria and Jane, in their nightclothes, sit at the kitchen table chewing on bacon, eggs, and other breakfast delights. They look half asleep, their hair mussed. No one else is present. Helen Morgendorffer walks into the kitchen, sees that all the window shades have been pulled down, and goes to open them. Both Daria and Jane flinch at the blaze of sunlight in every direction.
JANE: [hiding face in arms] Aieee! It burns!
DARIA: [covering face with her hands] Wicked light! Morlocks hate the light!
HELEN: [checking inside refrigerator] Is that your school team? Football or something?
DARIA: [dropping hands but squinting now, deadpan voice] Basketball. The Raft Morlocks. Used to be the Raft Rafts, but no one liked the mascot.
HELEN: [still checking refrigerator] Jake said you were thinking of transferring to another school. Now listen, dear, before you do anything rash, I want you to talk with us first. We’re putting you through school and it isn’t cheap, but if you feel—
DARIA: Mom! Mom, it’s okay. Miskatonic doesn’t have an English department. I checked. I’ll stay at Raft.
HELEN: That’s good, dear. [closes the refrigerator door] I’ve got almost everything. I bought groceries this morning. Okay, it’s almost time to clear out. I need to get things set up here for dinner. We’re eating at—
DARIA: But we just got started!
HELEN: You got down here twenty minutes ago, and I warned you I needed to prepare everything. The caterers are bringing the food by at nine-thirty.
DARIA: You said we had until ten.
HELEN: Sorry, dear, plans have a way of changing. You know that! [starts to walk off]
DARIA: Where’s Quinn? She already eat?
Helen stops and turns. Her cheery expression vanishes. She advances back into the kitchen, eyes on Daria.
HELEN: Daria, listen to me a moment. You, too, Jane, but this is mostly for Daria.
DARIA: [to Jane] Take notes.
HELEN: This is serious. I know you’re concerned about her, but while you’re here, I want you to leave Quinn alone. You can’t torment her the way you always did in high school. She’s been through a very—
DARIA: [stunned, not joking any longer] Mom! I’m not bothering her! She’s my sister. I’m worried about her. Have you—
HELEN: [sharp tone] Look, you aren’t in charge around here, and I’m doing everything I can to make sure Quinn gets over this trauma and has something approaching a normal life. If you’d stop to think about it for a moment, you’d want that, too. [points finger at Daria] Don’t cross me on this, young lady. If I find out you’re giving Quinn a hard time, we’re going to have trouble. I promise you that.
Daria stares at her mother, completely stunned.
HELEN: Let’s hope that sinks in. [checks clock] I’d better get the living room straightened up. Why don’t you both get showered and changed, and find something to do while the caterers bring the food in. [leaves the room]
Daria and Jane stare after Helen for a moment.
DARIA: [softly, really stung] And a happy Thanksgiving Day to you, too.
JANE: [looks at food, no longer hungry] I’m done. I feel a chill.
Both get up from the table and head for the stairs.
Daria is dressed in her usual outfit (with her new pin), rubbing her still-wet hair with a towel while looking at the spines of some books on a shelf. Jane pulls on her black leather boots, sitting on the edge of the bed. The clock by the bed shows it is 11:12 a.m.
DARIA: [grumbling] I’m still burned.
JANE: [finishes with boots, still sitting] You’re thinking that we’ll have to be more discreet in—
DARIA: I don’t know what I’m thinking. [drops towel on bed]
JANE: [stands up, adjusts pants] I should try to find Trent today, see what’s he’s up to. Can’t get through on the phone. I left one of my suitcases half empty so I could take some of my things back to school. It’d be funny to see what kind of shrine my room’s turned into.
DARIA: [picks up hairdryer, sarcastic] Like mine? [turns on hairdryer]
JANE: [looks around] Well, I can’t fault them. At least they didn’t put up fuzzy-bunny wallpaper.
DARIA: [over hairdryer roaring] What?
JANE: Forget it! [goes to window, looks down outside] Hey! Quinn’s home!
DARIA: [shuts hairdryer off] What?
JANE: [still looks out window] Quinn just got back in the SUV.
Daria walks toward Jane, who motions her away from the window.
JANE: She’s in the garage now. We can meet her downstairs.
DARIA: [trace of anger] Unless the Dragon Lady intervenes.
JANE: [starts to say something, stops herself, starts again] Let’s go see how she is—with discretion.
DARIA: That’s my middle name. [leaves the room]
Jane rolls her eyes and follows Daria.
Daria and Jane reach the bottom of the stairs just as Quinn comes through the living room toward the stairs, with a backpack in one hand. (It is assumed that the inside door to the garage is in the kitchen.) Quinn is startled to see the girls.
DARIA: Long time no see.
JANE: [sees backpack] Been hiking? Squashing some nature between your toes?
QUINN: Uh, no. [gives backpack a small jerk] Books. Library.
DARIA: [eyes widen in surprise] I like this new Quinn. Whatcha reading?
Quinn hesitates, nervous, but doesn’t get the chance to answer.
HELEN: [VO, from kitchen] Quinn? Is that you, honey?
QUINN: [not loudly] Yeah. [to Daria] Gotta go to my room.
DARIA: [uncertain] Sure. Hurry back.
JANE: [who has been staring down at the backpack] Don’t want to miss the fun.
QUINN: ‘kay. [leaves and heads upstairs]
JANE: TV. [bumps Daria from behind, pushing her toward the living room]
DARIA: “Sick, Sad World” isn’t on for another—
JANE: [whisper] Need to talk.
DARIA: [normal voice] Oh. [whisper] I mean, oh.
Daria turns on the TV and they settle back on a sofa, waiting for Quinn to return. Daria, using the remote, snaps the set on.
TV: [showing a parade with floats on a broad street] . . . And here comes a lovely number. This float was made with over a hundred thousand fresh daffodils . . . [continues on in this vein in the background, describing parade]
DARIA: [whispers under TV audio, watchful in case someone comes in] I have the money. You have the briefcase?
JANE: [whispers] Did you see her backpack?
DARIA: [whispers] Yeah. It’s not like her to do it, but who am I to tell her not to read? I think it’s—
JANE: [whispers] She had a bottle in it.
DARIA: [voice dies, stares at Jane, normal voice] What?
JANE: Shhh! [whispers] I know what it looks and sounds like when someone’s hiding a liquor bottle. I used to see Penny do it, sneaking stuff into her room when she’d come home from Mexico. That was a bottle, tall, square bottom, short neck. Not a book. Didn’t you hear it slosh?
Daria opens her mouth, but she says nothing for a long moment. Her face becomes anxious.
DARIA: [whispers in disbelief] That can’t be. She’s underage. She’d never—how could she—are you sure?
JANE: [normal voice, with knowing regret] Trust me on this.
Both stare at each other in silence.
DARIA: [pushes away from the sofa] I’d better—
Footsteps sound from the stairway. Daria and Jane turn just as Quinn reappears and walks in.
DARIA: Hey. Um—[glances at Jane]—Listen, do you have a little time right now? I wanted to—
HELEN: [VO, from kitchen] Quinn? That you?
QUINN: [tiredly] Yeah.
HELEN: [VO, from kitchen] Could you come in and help me with something for a minute?
JANE: [glances from Quinn to Daria, gets up from sofa] I’ll come help! Not a problem!
HELEN: [VO, from kitchen] No, thanks, that’s okay. I want Quinn to help me.
DARIA: [calls to kitchen] Mom, can we have a minute?
HELEN: [VO, from kitchen] Daria, I warned you. Quinn, come on back. We have to get the turkey ready.
A helpless, frustrated look crosses Daria’s face. Quinn looks at Daria, shrugs an apology, then wanders off toward the kitchen. Jane and Daria stand in the living room, the TV droning on behind them.
TV: [commercial] Can terrorists infiltrate your refrigerator this holiday? See “Don’t Eat the Al Qaeda Salad!” tonight on “Sick, Sad World”!
DARIA: [swallows, low angry voice] This is starting to really—
JAKE: [wanders into the living room, carries a thick book in one hand] Hey, girls! Morning to you!
Neither girl speaks, both staring off toward the kitchen.
JAKE: [settles himself in front of the TV on one sofa, picks up the remote] Man, I tell you, studying’s hard! I haven’t cracked a book like this since my college days! You must know the feeling.
Daria and Jane glance down at the book Jake has set aside: Security Procedures for Today’s Commercial Nuclear Power Plants.
JANE: Oh, boy.
DARIA: [tension easing out of her face] It’s Christmas.
JANE: I thought Santa didn’t like bad girls.
DARIA: [reaching for the book] Another myth down the drain.
At that moment, Jake picks up the book and settles back.
JAKE: [cheery] May as well get in some skull time before football starts, eh?
DARIA: [deadpan] Curses.
JANE: Foiled again. Narf.
Before Daria and Jane can think of anything else to do, a new sound emerges from the background—a deep rumbling engine (minus a muffler) out on the street.
JANE: The Tank! [runs for the door]
Daria is a step behind Jane as they run from the house.
HELEN: [VO, from kitchen] What’s all that noise?
JAKE: [watching TV, book by his side] Ah, that’s the Truck! Or something.
The Tank (an old, decrepit van painted black) has just parked on the street outside the Morgendorffer home. Jane and Daria rush outside just as Jane’s older brother, Trent Lane, gets out of the van. A nervous smile is on his face.
JANE: [big relieved smile] Hey, big bro. [gives Trent a long hug] Missed you.
TRENT: [nervous smile] Missed you, too, Janey. Missed you a lot.
JANE: Tried calling the house this morning, but the phone doesn’t work. Anybody else here, or is it just you and me?
TRENT: Um . . . [looks uncomfortable] . . . It’s sort of just you and me. We . . . well, it’s just you and me. Hi, Daria.
DARIA: Trent. [gives him a quick, old-friend hug] Looking like your old self.
TRENT: Good. I hope that’s good, anyway.
JANE: When’s the housecleaning over? I have some things I want to get out of my room.
TRENT: Ah, yeah. Ah, about that, see . . . [glances nervously at Daria] Um—well, I’d like to do that, but, um, things—
DARIA: [catching the drift] Hey, listen, I’ll be right back out. Don’t run off or anything. [to Jane] Watch him. [heads back to house]
TRENT: [to Daria] Uh, yeah, okay. [to Jane] Well, good to see you.
JANE: You, too. Can we drop by the house for a second?
TRENT: [looks uncomfortable] Well, I’d like to, but—Janey, things are sorta different, see, and, ah, it’s sorta hard to explain what the deal is.
JANE: [pause, wary] What’s going on?
TRENT: [looks very uncomfortable] Janey, see, things are kind of complicated—
JANE: [not angry, but firm] Don’t snow me, Trent.
Trent stops talking and looks unhappily at Jane.
JANE: Something’s going on.
TRENT: [hesitates, nods] Yeah.
JANE: [firm but anxious] Trent, I count on you. Just tell me what’s going on.
Trent exhales heavily as he reaches into a back pocket of his jeans and pulls out a thick, bent-up envelope. He hands this to Jane.
TRENT: It’s from Mom and Dad. [grimaces] You’re supposed to read it.
JANE: [looks at envelope, then Trent] This is bad, isn’t it?
TRENT: [swallows, then nods once] You have to read it.
Jane stares at Trent, then unfolds the envelope and pulls out a bent-up, three-page letter, stapled at the top. She begins to read. Partway through the first page, she starts to speak, but stops herself and rereads that section again, her mouth falling open.
JANE: What is this? Are they divorced already? [looks at Trent, voice rising] Are they divorced?
Trent looks unhappy and nods as he exhales through his nose.
JANE: [voice rising in volume and pitch] Did you know about this? [when Trent doesn’t respond right away, she shouts] Did you know about this?
TRENT: Janey, listen—
JANE: Don’t you “Janey” me! Tell me! Did you know they were getting divorced?
TRENT: [looks very unhappy, gestures weakly] Yeah, they got it started in August, when you went—
Jane suddenly lunges at Trent and pounds him on the chest with both fists, the letter crumpled up in one fist.
JANE: [top of her lungs] Goddammit, you knew they were getting divorced and you didn’t tell me? What is wrong with you?
TRENT: [retreating, trying to block her attacks with his arms] Janey!
JANE: Mom and Dad got divorced and you didn’t even think to tell me? Everyone else but me knew this? [stops hitting Trent, stands in place, breathing heavily, face bright red, tears welling up in her eyes]
TRENT: Stop it, Janey! Just stop it! They didn’t want you to know about it, do you get it? You’re their baby! They didn’t want you to worry about it! The house is already sold, everything taken care of, you see? It’s all done! It’s okay!
At this point, in the background, the front door to the Morgendorffers’ home opens and Daria appears. She’s heard Jane’s yelling. She heads toward the two siblings at a trot. Behind her, Helen and Jake appear in the doorway, looking concerned.
JANE: [eyes widening to an impossible degree] The house? They sold the house?
TRENT: It’s all done already! Jeez! It sold last month! Everything’s all right!
JANE: [roars at Trent] Everything is not all right! [voice breaks as she begins to sob, then yells again] Everything is not all right! [presses fists to the sides of her head as she cries]
TRENT: They’ve been talking about this for years! You know that!
JANE: [cries in agony, voice weakening] Why didn’t you tell me? [bends over at waist, crying too hard to continue]
TRENT: Janey— [very upset, stares at Jane, then gives up and turns and walks back to the Tank, gets in, starts engine—which is incredibly loud without its muffler—and drives off as events continue below]
Jane cries aloud, still bent over, as Daria approaches.
DARIA: [loud] Jane?
Jane sits down on the ground, pulling her knees up and burying her face in her arms, set on top of her knees. The letter is still crumpled up in one hand. She cries too hard to talk. Daria drops to her knees on the ground next to Jane and reaches for her shoulder. Jane covers her head in her arms. Daria moves closer and puts her arms around Jane, who pulls further into herself.
DARIA: [whispers] Jane?
Jane lets go of the letter, still crying. Daria, one arm around her friend, reaches down and picks up the letter to read it. Jake and Helen Morgendorffer hurry up as the scene . . .
26. INT: EARLY AFTERNOON, THURSDAY (THANKSGIVING DAY, 2001), LIVING ROOM, MORGENDORFFER HOME
Daria and Jane are seated on one of the sofas. A tissue box sits by Jane’s side. Used tissues litter the floor, most piled around an overflowing wastepaper can by Jane’s feet. Jane stares dully into space, occasionally blowing and wiping her nose with a new tissue. Daria holds Jane’s hand, their fingers interlaced. Daria looks almost as stunned as Jane does. Helen walks into the room, holding the three-page letter, and drops it on the sofa by Jane, who doesn’t look at it.
HELEN: [looks uncomfortable] I knew they’d sold the house, but I didn’t know about the divorce. Trent asked me not to talk to you about it. He said he would handle it. [pause] I’m very sorry. This is awful.
JANE: [dull voice] Yeah. [reaches for another tissue]
DARIA: [looking up] You knew about the house? When’d you find out?
HELEN: [tense] Daria, don’t start in on me. It wasn’t my place to talk about it.
DARIA: What do you mean? You didn’t even tell me!
HELEN: You didn’t have a need to know!
JANE: Hey, stop it! Cut it out! It’s over with. It’s done, okay? [blows her nose]
Everyone is quiet.
HELEN: I’d better check on the turkey. [leaves for the kitchen]
DARIA: [under her breath] The mirror’s in the bathroom.
HELEN: [turns on a dime, really pissed, to Daria] One more word out of you, young lady, and you’re—
JANE: Just stop it! Let it go! I’m the one without a home! You’ve got one, so stop it!
Everyone is quiet again. Helen leaves the room without a word after a black look at Daria. Daria takes off her glasses and rubs her face with her hands.
JANE: [low voice, staring into space] I could kill him. I swear I could.
After a few moments, Jane picks up the letter and reads it through once more.
JANE: [quoting letter] “With your departure into the infinite adventure of higher learning, which will last all the days of your wondrous life, we, your loving parents, have decided to free ourselves from the unreasonable impositions of traditional female-male bonding in order to pursue our chosen careers and fully actualize our individual potentials in the harmony of cosmic—” This is such bullshit. [flips page]
DARIA: [dryly] I can’t believe you actually understood that meant they were getting divorced.
JANE: I lived with them most of my life. I knew what it meant. [reads] “We’ve also freed ourselves from reliance on inharmonious and false-thinking concepts of land ownership that violate the—” [drops letter in lap, gets another tissue] I can’t read this crap. [blows her nose]
DARIA: [takes letter from Jane’s lap with her free hand, skims through it] I don’t get this part. [points to third page]
JANE: [glances at letter] They sold or gave away everything that was left in the house.
DARIA: What, like your stuff? Everything you left there?
JANE: Trent did that, I bet. I could kill him. All my artwork, my bear, my lucky box, all my projects, my—
DARIA: [shocked] What?
JANE: Everything. He probably gave it away to Goodwill or pitched it, unless he could hock it for beer money. Everything I have left is in my suitcase or my room at college. Everything I have left on the whole lousy planet. [drops used tissue on the floor, gets a new one]
Daria’s grip on Jane’s hand tightens for a moment, and Jane squeezes back.
JANE: Almost everything.
DARIA: There’s the monster.
JANE: [short laugh] Yeah, there’s that. I could really use that right about now. That would help a lot. [looks away, sniffs]
HELEN: [reappearing from the kitchen] What about a monster?
BOTH DARIA AND JANE: [simultaneously, not looking at Helen] Nothing.
HELEN: [gets the picture] Oh. [face reddens] Oh, well, dinner will be ready in just an hour. [leaves quickly]
JANE: [sniffing twice] Smells good.
DARIA: Yeah. [tosses letter aside on the sofa]
JANE: I haven’t had a . . . [shrugs]
DARIA: Tell me.
JANE: [hesitates] I haven’t had a turkey dinner for Thanksgiving in years. I don’t even remember when the last one was. Mom stopped doing that years ago. She said it was too traditional. She just hated the bother. [sniffs] She didn’t make cookies, either. Said they weren’t as spiritually healthy as tofu.
DARIA: [grimaces, hesitates before speaking] This might not be a good time to bring this up, but did Trent say where he was staying?
JANE: [irritated] Why, you want to go out with him?
DARIA: [gives Jane a cross look for a second, which fades] No. It does make you wonder, though, where he’s living if the house is—
JANE: [sourly] I bet he’s living in the Tank. He sold his old car and bought the van off the band’s drummer over the summer. Serves him right, living in a piece of junk. [broods] I trusted him. More than I did anyone else in the clan, that is. Everyone else ran out on me, and he was the last one there. [shakes head, looking out a window]
The two sit on the couch in silence. Helen rattles pots, pans, and utensils in the kitchen.
JANE: [sighs, tosses tissue on the floor] I never told you this. [stops]
DARIA: [stares at Jane, soft voice] What?
JANE: [hesitates] There was a kid in fifth grade, a big kid, who was bothering me. He kept trying to touch me. He’d grab me when the teacher wasn’t looking. [gestures a hand grabbing at her breasts]
Daria’s mouth drops open. She stares at her friend.
JANE: [pulls out another tissue] I told Mom, but she said it was natural, boys did that, and I had to be strong and show him that women were to be respected. She wouldn’t do anything about it herself. She said it was up to me. Next time he grabbed at me, I told that kid I was to be respected. [wipes her nose] He pushed me down and tried to pull off my pants. We were in the hallway, and these other kids were standing around yelling for him to take my pants off. I was screaming and everything, and no one did a thing until Trent showed up. [throws tissue on the floor] He beat the living shit out of that kid. Beat him in the face until both his eyes were black. Broke his nose. Gave him a concussion, too. Trent beat him like a rug. [sighs]
Daria listens in stunned silence. All noises from the kitchen have also stopped.
JANE: [tired voice] I thought Trent was God after that. I really did. I did everything for him. I loaned him anything he asked for, or I gave it to him if I thought he needed it enough. I baked for him, took care of his things, everything. I wasn’t blind about who he was, and I sort of got over the hero worship before too long. [shrugs] He was still Trent. But he was the only person in the whole damn family who really stood up for me. He was the only one who listened to me, the only one who acted like I mattered. [looks out the window, exhales, softer] I can’t stay mad at him. I know I can’t. He’s a bum, everyone says he’s a bum, and he is, but he’s the only one in the family I could ever count on, even a little. [shakes head slowly, side to side] I can’t believe he never told me about Mom and Dad. I just can’t . . . [puts a hand over her mouth, just sits and stares]
Kitchen noises resume after about five seconds of silence.
DARIA: [small voice] We have an hour until dinner.
JANE: [pause] For what?
Daria swallows, unable to say what she is thinking.
JANE: [covers eyes with her hand, sighs heavily] It’s Thanksgiving, isn’t it?
After another pause, Jane starts to pull a tissue from the box, but changes her mind and leaves it there.
JANE: All right. Let’s go find him.
The two get off the couch. Daria heads for the front door, but Jane goes to the kitchen entryway instead.
Everywhere in the kitchen, food is cooking or being prepared. Helen works at a table on a casserole, cutting up onions. Her face is flushed, and her eyes are red. She appears to have been crying, but it cannot be told if it was hearing Jane’s story or slicing onions (or both) that caused it.
JANE: Mrs. Morgendorffer?
HELEN: [wipes knife on cloth and puts both down] Yes, Jane? [sniffs]
JANE: Um, would it be okay if . . . if I brought Trent to—
HELEN: Certainly. We can wait. Whenever you get back is fine. We have plenty of food.
JANE: Are you sure?
HELEN: Don’t be silly. Bring him in. That’s what Thanksgiving’s for.
JANE: [relieved] Thanks! I really appreciate that. [wipes her eyes on her hands, smiles, leaves to follow Daria]
Helen smiles bravely and wipes her eyes on the cloth at hand once Jane is gone—then recoils in pain.
HELEN: Ouch! Damn onions!
Half blind, Helen rushes to the sink to wash her eyes out.
Daria and Jane leave the house, heading for Daria’s green rental Mustang.
DARIA: You have any idea where Trent might be right now?
JANE: [shades eyes from sun, looks down the street, stops in place] Yes.
Daria sees Jane, stops herself, and looks off in the same direction. The Tank is visible far down the street, pulled over to the curb. Wisps of smoke drift from the van, probably from the engine. The hood appears to be open, but Trent is not visible.
Trent is working on the engine of the van, but his grim expression says he’s not making any headway. He flinches, having burned himself on the engine, and wipes his hands on a rag. About this point, Daria comes around one side of the van, and Jane around the other, walking toward the front.
TRENT: Oh. [backs away a step when he sees Jane, tense and suspicious] What?
JANE: [deadpan] Don’t try to run.
DARIA: [deadpan] Hands up. You’re surrounded.
Trent throws the rag on top of the engine and stakes another step back. Jane stops coming toward him. He stares at her, and she at him.
DARIA: [to Trent] You don’t have the right to remain silent.
Trent and Jane still don’t do anything but stare at each other.
DARIA: [to Jane] I meant you, too.
JANE: [to Trent] Why didn’t you tell me?
TRENT: [swallows, looks ashamed] They told me not to. I screwed up. I should’ve called you anyway.
JANE: [arms folded] Yes, you should’ve.
TRENT: Well, I’m sorry. I screwed up. [looks down at his feet] They told me a week after they filed papers. They’d already told Summer, Wind, and Penny. They wrote to Penny, anyway. I don’t know if she’s gotten the letter yet. Other than her, I was the last to know except for you. Mom and Dad said they wanted to tell you themselves. I thought they were going to call you. [wipes his eyes with the back of his hand, getting himself dirtier] They didn’t, and I decided to call you anyway in September, but everything—there was too much going on, with New York and everything. I finally talked them into writing you about it, but it took forever to get them. Mom’s in South Africa, and Dad’s in India. They sent the letter to me because they didn’t know your address at school. They kept losing it. I held onto it until you got here. [swallows] I wanted you to read it when I was here. Nobody else was going to be here. [gestures] They’re all gone.
JANE: [pause, low voice] I appreciate that, but I counted on you to tell me what was going on when it happened, not months later.
TRENT: [swallows, won’t look up] Well, I screwed up. That’s all I can say.
JANE: [getting heated] What else is going on? Anything else I should know?
JANE: Is there? Is there something else I’m supposed to know, Trent?
TRENT: Cut it out, okay? Just—
JANE: Spill it! Stop protecting me, you stupid asshole!
TRENT: [really stung, looks at Jane in anger] Yeah. Yeah, you know what? I won’t protect you anymore. There’s a lot of stuff you don’t know about. A whole lot of stuff I didn’t tell you. I never have. You want to hear it? Is this a good time for you?
JANE: [senses trouble] I—uh—yeah, tell me.
TRENT: You wanna know the truth about Mom and Dad living out the “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with” thing all these years?
JANE: [unprepared for this, eyes wide] What?
TRENT: They’d learned to cover it up when you came along, but the rest of us have lived with it since day one. You know about all that, the Swinging Lanes?
JANE: [arms unfold and drop to sides, yells] You’re lying! They never did that!
TRENT: [really mad but level voice] Am I? You wanna ask Summer? Wind? You know that joke you always used to think was so funny, about who’s got who’s genes and all that, Mom and Dad’s joke that you weren’t supposed to tell anybody? It’s not a joke. [stops as if he’s said too much, then gives up and goes on] Mom’s our Mom, I know that much. I don’t know anything else.
JANE: [horrified] What?
TRENT: [angrier] Add it up! Was Dad around nine months before any of us were born? I did the math. Mom was trekking over central Europe nine months before I showed up. Dad was I don’t know where, but not with her. He didn’t care. She sure didn’t care. They were good at making babies but not taking care of them afterward or sticking around when things got tough. You don’t know anything that went on all those years before you showed up. You don’t know how lucky you’ve been. You just don’t know.
JANE: [really upset] Trent!
TRENT: [relentless, pressured] Summer ran off once for a year. She was doing drugs, anything she could find. I think she was selling herself for cash so she could eat. Wind wet the bed until he was fifteen. He did a lot of drugs, too. He and Penny both got beaten up at school all the time, and no one did anything about it. A lot of other bad things happened, a lot of bad things, but they didn’t happen to you. You missed it, everything. Penny ran away. She still runs away. Summer’s making babies like Mom now, same old thing. Wind’s a mess. I think they all do drugs now, except maybe Penny, but she drinks. And they all come back hoping things will be different, and they never are. [sighs, looks down] I couldn’t deal with it. I knew Mom and Dad weren’t going to be there for me or for you, either. I wanted them to come back, but they hardly ever did. It was no use. [slower] I tried to make things work, for you and me, but it was too much. It was easier to sleep. I know you took care of the bills. I stayed around so child welfare wouldn’t get you. I pretended to be a grown-up, but I just pretended. I slept through everything, and I slept through this mess, too. I’m sorry. I’m really sorry.
Trent stops, breathing heavily. He runs a hand through his hair and won’t look at Jane. Jane cries softly by the Tank, hands covering her lower face.
TRENT: [suddenly waves his arms at the world] I’m sorry! [swallows, low voice] I’m sorry, Janey. [rubs his face] I still love you.
Silence, except for Jane’s crying.
TRENT: [turns and walks off] Forget it.
JANE: [crying] Trent! [gasps and runs after him] Trent!
Jane catches up to Trent and grabs his arm. Trent tries to shake her off, but Jane gets in front of him and grabs him from the front, sobbing. Trent stops and wraps his arms tightly around her. They stand like that for a long while.
Daria wipes her eyes. She looks briefly at the Tank’s engine and notices the rag Trent threw there is smoldering. After gingerly removing the rag and dropping it on the street in front of the van, Daria notices a number of people up and down the street have come outside, hearing the argument, and are watching the three of them in silence.
DARIA: [sighs, turning in place to face neighbors] All right, people, show’s over! Let’s move along! Nothing here to see! [walks over to Jane and Trent] Come on. Trent—you, too. Back to the house. The neighbors have probably called the police, and they don’t serve cheddar fries in jail. C’mon.
Still holding each other, Jane (still crying) and Trent follow Daria back up the street. Daria closes the hood on the van, looks at her oil-stained hands, and avoids touching her clothing as she heads for home.
30. INT: LATER THAT AFTERNOON, DINING ROOM, MORGENDORFFER HOME
Jake (head of table), Daria and Quinn (one side), Jane and Trent (other side) sit around the table in the Morgendorffers’ dining room. The table is swamped under more dishes of food than can be counted. Helen (or perhaps the caterer) appears to have gone the limit.
HELEN: [looking in cupboards] Jake, where did you put the salt and pepper?
JAKE: [not thinking, stares at food on table] Refrigerator.
DARIA: They’re on the table, Mom!
HELEN: Oh. Good. [joins group at the table] Well, let’s say a blessing appropriate to the season. Jake?
Jake bows his head, as does Helen. Daria and Jane look at each other and shrug (“When in Rome . . .”), and after a beat, Daria, Quinn, Jane, and Trent bow their heads.
JAKE: [quickly] Got the ‘tatoes, got the meat—thanks, God! Let’s eat!
Jake raises his head and grabs for a platter, as do Daria, Jane, and Trent.
HELEN: [horrified] Jake!
JAKE: Can someone pass the . . . [voice dies out when he looks at Quinn]
In moments, everyone becomes aware that Quinn is still praying. Her head is bowed low, and her eyes are closed. Everyone stops moving and stares at her. After six seconds, she raises her head and opens her eyes, which are bright with tears. Slowly now, everyone reaches for the food, eyeing Quinn now and then.
JAKE: [uncomfortable, stares at sweet potatoes he’s piling onto his plate] Well, it’s Thanksgiving, and we should say something about what we’re thankful for. The indomitable American spirit, sea to shining sea. Speaking of which, that car sale’s still going on, and we could trade in the SUV and get another—
HELEN: [looking daggers at Jake] I’m grateful that all of us are here together at last, able to focus on civility, family love, and togetherness.
A cell phone rings somewhere in the house.
HELEN: Oh, damn it! I bet that’s Eric.
Helen quickly gets up from the table and runs from the room. Jake and Trent pay no attention, heaping food on their plates. Daria and Jane exchange glances, shrug, and resume eating. Quinn puts only a little food on her plate: a biscuit, a spoonful from a side dish. She does not speak or make eye contact.
DARIA: [deadpan] I’m thankful that we were able to throw off the telepathic yoke of our alien invaders.
JANE: [deadpan] You are wrong, Earthling. Our televisions control your every move.
TRENT: [swallows food] I’m, uh, thankful for the, uh, the uh—[gestures aimlessly with fork]—you know, the—
DARIA: Exactly. I was going to say that very thing.
JANE: I’m thankful for any chance to consume massive quantities. [pause, more sincere] And I’m thankful that Trent’s here, even if I lost all my stuff.
TRENT: [looks at Jane, talks with mouth full] Wah?
JANE: [grimaces, but tries to relax] The stuff I left in my room at the house, before those—[discards what she was about to say]—before it sold.
TRENT: [swallows] What about it?
JANE: [sighs] Oh, never mind. [stares at her plate]
TRENT: You mean all your stuff?
JANE: [glum] Yeah.
TRENT: [reaches for food] Oh. That’s in the Tank.
JANE: [blinks, then looks at him] What?
TRENT: It’s in the back of the Tank, all your stuff. I didn’t have anywhere else to put it.
JANE: [surprise and joy] All of it? Are you kidding? My art stuff and—
TRENT: Yeah, it’s—
Trent cannot finish, as Jane grabs him in a bear hug from the side.
TRENT: Janey, don’t knock over my milk!
JANE: [still hugging him, relieved] Thank you! Thank you so much!
TRENT: [hugs her in return but turning red] C’mon, Janey, I’m trying to eat.
DARIA: [to Trent, with a smile] I always knew there was something about you I liked.
JAKE: [gesturing with a turkey drumstick] Trent, say, why don’t you put Jane’s stuff in our basement? It’ll go great right under my train layout. Lots of room down there.
HELEN: [clears her throat] Or there was, until Daria’s book boxes went there.
DARIA: I thought they were by the sump pump.
JAKE: Oh, that. It overflowed and—
HELEN: Jake! Not now!
JAKE: What? [sudden glance at Daria] Oh! Sorry. Later, right.
DARIA: [gets the picture, pained expression] Loose lips sink another ship.
JAKE: Don’t worry. Not all of your books were ruined, just the—
HELEN: [changing subject quickly] Trent, there’s plenty of room down there. Just bring Jane’s things in after we eat, and we’ll find a place for it—maybe on top of the train set.
JAKE: Yeah, that—hey!
Football plays on the TV. Jake and Trent watch the screen from the sofas, soda cans in their hands. Jake twirls his security-guard nightstick, now and then hitting himself in the face (“Ouch!”). Daria is examining Thanksgiving cards from out-of-town family members, lined up around the room on tables and shelves. Jane is sprawled on a sofa, apparently asleep. Quinn is not present.
DARIA: So, what do we do now?
No one answers.
DARIA: We could argue about the presidential election results again.
JAKE, TRENT, AND JANE: [flatly, in unison] No!
DARIA: But that was fuuunnn. [pause, frowns] Something smells funny. Sort of burnt. [picks up a card and sniffs it] Oh. Let me guess.
JAKE: Ah, they’re fine. No anthrax on those cards! I microwaved ‘em.
DARIA: They did look rather brown and hard to read.
JAKE: Yeah, those are the good ones. There was one pile that caught—[hits self with nightstick again while twirling it] Ouch! Damn it!
DARIA: [picks up another burnt card, which falls apart in her fingers] I had a dream once about you becoming a police officer. You and Mom. I swore I would never sleep again.
JAKE: [still watching TV football] Hey, that’s psychic, isn’t it? You should call that number they show sometimes, that hot line. They might know what to do. [to TV] Oh! Go, big man! Go! [pause] Damn!
HELEN: [enters room carrying cell phone] Sorry that took so long. What are you all doing in here? Are you done already?
DARIA: [deadpan, still looking at burnt cards] Union rules. Thirty-minute break after every hour of feeding.
HELEN: Oh, goodness! I didn’t know I was gone that long. [hurries into the dining room]
DARIA: Time flies. Fruit flies, too.
JANE: [sprawled out on a sofa, eyes closed] Stop confusing me with your alien philosophy.
DARIA: [turns to look at Jane] You appear to have beached yourself. We’ll need six men and a Land Rover to roll you back into the water.
JANE: [flaps arms like flippers] I saw a video once of a whale carcass that they blew up with dynamite, and it—
HELEN: [VO, from kitchen] Anyone have room for dessert?
Jake, Trent, and Jane glance toward the kitchen and, in unison, groan in distress.
DARIA: I would if I threw up first.
HELEN: [VO, from kitchen] Daria! [pause] We have cookies! They’re spiritually healthy for you!
After a beat, Jane lifts her head from the sofa and looks toward the kitchen with a long, quizzical expression—then slowly rolls off the sofa to get up.
JANE: Okay, I’ll try one, but I don’t want to think about a certain Monty Python movie when I do.
DARIA: I won’t mention anything about a bucket. [very low voice] Bucket, bucket, bucket, bucket.
HELEN: [VO, from kitchen] They’re super double-chocolate chocolate chip! And there’s some cookie dough left!
DARIA: [sighs, heads for kitchen] Why not. I’ve always wanted to be a planet.
Before Daria and Jane can leave the room, Helen comes in with an enormous plate stacked with chocolate chocolate-chip cookies. She sets this on a footstool. Everyone in the room immediately gravitates toward the cookies, though Jake and Trent do so without taking their eyes from the TV.
DARIA: [deadpan, moving toward the plate like a stiff-limbed robot] Must—resist—Communist brainwashing—
JANE: [mouth already full of cookies] Mrrr brg mrfr mgh. [collapses on the floor and lies back again, holding another cookie, eyes closed in utter bliss] Mrrrrrrr.
Daria gets a cookie and starts to put it in her mouth. She stops at the last second and glances around the room. After a moment, she closes her mouth, lowers the cookie, and picks up two more cookies. She then slowly and casually walks out of the room, heading for the stairs.
Moving as quietly as possible, with occasional looks behind her, Daria heads for Quinn’s bedroom door. The door is shut. She taps on the door and waits. After hearing no response, she tries again. A bed creaks, and soft footsteps approach. The door opens. Quinn stands there, wiping her eyes with a tissue.
DARIA: [completely forgets what she meant to say] Uh, you okay?
QUINN: [nods] Got something in my eye. [sniffs and looks up]
DARIA: Brought you these. [holds up cookies] You didn’t eat much dinner.
QUINN: [soft voice] Thank you. [pause] Wasn’t very hungry. [sniffs again, blows her nose in tissue]
DARIA: Can I come in?
Quinn looks around her room, then nods and pulls the door all the way open, walking back to her bed.
Quinn’s bed is still made, but the covers are rumpled. Quinn’s obviously been lying there for some time. Daria lays the three cookies on the table beside Quinn’s bed. As she does so, she notices a four-by-six color photo lying there. She glances at Quinn (who is throwing out her tissue) and picks it up.
DARIA: Where was this taken? [looks closer at photo, startled] Oh, you didn’t.
QUINN: [sees photo, almost smiles] Yeah. Yeah, I did.
DARIA: On the old water tower? You painted that on there?
QUINN: [nods, faint smile] Crazy, huh?
DARIA: You climbed all the way to the top? Isn’t that thing condemned? I thought they tore it down.
QUINN: No. Still there. [sniffs, smile fades]
DARIA: [impressed in spite of herself] That big red Q is yours? Mom and Dad know?
Quinn gives Daria a pained look that clearly says: “Are you kidding?”
DARIA: [looks back at photo] Yeah, sorry. [sets photo down again] When’d you do it?
QUINN: Um . . . first . . . week of September. After school started. Before . . . [voice dies]
DARIA: [tries a smile] I leave home, and the Mighty Quinn comes out?
QUINN: [no smile] Yeah. I guess. Never told Sandi or the others. [sniffs] They wouldn’t understand.
DARIA: [looks at photo, shakes head, looks at Quinn] Um, listen, wanna come downstairs? I think we need a walk after all that turkey. You can talk about fashion trends. I promise to listen this time.
QUINN: [pause, slowly shakes head no] S’okay. [pause] Tired.
DARIA: You sure? Maybe go for a drive? Run over some squirrels?
QUINN: [pause, shakes head no] S’okay.
DARIA: C’mon. We haven’t gotten to do the sister thing. It’s the law. It is somewhere.
QUINN: [takes ragged breath, gestures toward door] Bathroom. [pause] Gotta go.
DARIA: Okay. Come on down when you’re done.
Quinn walks past Daria, nodding, and heads for the bathroom. After the door shuts down the hallway, Daria looks around Quinn’s room again. A sheet of paper in a nearby waste can (otherwise full of used tissues) catches her eye. She glances back down the hall, then pulls the page out. It is a computer printout of an Internet webpage from a news organization. The page shows an array of about twenty small color photos of different people, all ages, sexes, colors, etc., with their names and ages. One picture (and accompanying tag) at the bottom of the page has been carefully cut out with scissors. Daria looks at the top of the page, reading: AIR PASSENGER VICTIMS OF SEPTEMBER 11 ATTACK, WORLD TRADE CENTER (PAGE SIX). A puzzled, anxious frown comes over her face. Hearing the toilet flush down the hall, she quickly stuffs the page back into the trash—but Quinn doesn’t come out of the bathroom. Daria leaves Quinn’s room and heads downstairs.
Just as Daria gets to the bottom of the stairs, she meets Jane and Trent heading out the door.
DARIA: [deadpan] You can’t leave. There’s a virgin sacrifice at—[looks more closely at Jane]—oh, right. I forgot.
JANE: [coolly] Lucky for the natives you’re still here.
Daria grimaces, realizing she set herself up for that one.
JANE: [cheery smile] Zing! We’ll be back in a sec. Trent and I are getting my stuff out of the Tank.
DARIA: I’ll help. I need the exercise pretty—
JANE: [smile fades] Um—[glances at Trent]—maybe let Trent and me do this, right now. [glances at Trent again] We have to talk about some things.
Trent nods unhappily, resigned to the inevitable discussion of long-hidden family secrets.
DARIA: [gets it, steps back] Oh. Right. Well, if you, uh, you know—[sighs, gives up]—see ya.
Trent and Jane leave, closing the door behind them. Daria sighs, then remembers something and looks back upstairs. There is no sign of Quinn.
35. INT: LATE THURSDAY NIGHT, DARIA’S BEDROOM
Daria and Jane are in their bedclothes again, sitting on the edge of the queen-size bed. They’ve apparently had a very long talk, and both stare at the floor in depression and shock. Jane clutches a tissue, but she is not crying. Her expression is haunted, her eyes glazed. Daria’s expression is blank, almost frightened. The bedside clock shows it is 11:54 p.m.
JANE: I don’t know what I’m going to do. That was just too much. [exhales heavily] I can’t believe Trent lived with that, all these years, and never said a thing about it to me.
Daria inhales and seems about to say something, but she sighs and puts her head in her hands, elbows on her knees.
JANE: I think . . . I was thinking I should try to get in touch with Penny. I got along with her okay. Sort of. We talked sometimes, but not about much. Summer and Wind are so—[after a pause, she shrugs and spreads her hands for a moment]—I just can’t . . . talk to them. Summer’s kids, yeah, but not her. Penny, maybe. Maybe I can. [snorts gently] If I can find her now. Call her up one day and say, Que pasa? I heard from Trent that . . . oh, forget it.
DARIA: [clears her throat] Um, what about your mom and d—
JANE: [quickly] No. No can do. No. [pause] No. [pause] I—no. That will have to wait. [long pause] Long time. [shakes her head no several times]
DARIA: If you need anything . . . [looks annoyed with herself] I’m sorry, I was going to say something really stupid.
JANE: If I need anything, I can count on you. Was that it?
Daria reluctantly nods yes, reddening.
JANE: [gives a half-laugh, looks at the floor] Daria, if I didn’t have you, I’d be gone by now. Totally gone.
After a pause, Jane puts her arm around Daria’s shoulders and hugs her from the side. Their heads touch, and they lean against each other in silence.
JANE: When you wear your pin tomorrow, point to it nonstop and see if anyone notices.
36. INT: EARLY FRIDAY AFTERNOON, BRIGHT DAYLIGHT, DARIA’S RENTAL CAR, LAWNDALE
Jane is a passenger now, and Daria is driving. Traffic is terrible in Lawndale; cars are packed in everywhere around Daria’s vehicle on this peak holiday-shopping day.
JANE: It’s probably just as well Quinn didn’t come. We’d never get close to the mall in this crap.
DARIA: I wish she had anyway. [pause, getting angry] I can’t stand it—her stuck in her room all day, doing nothing. I’m going to talk to Mom. This is too much.
They subside into silence as Daria drives—or tries to.
Daria’s green rental Mustang pulls up by the curb. Both stare at what was once “La Casa Lane,” the white, two-story Lane home. The yard is neatly mown, six full trashcans sit by the curb, new curtains grace the windows, and the mailbox has the name “CLANCY” on it. A cheery, red-capped, concrete garden gnome stands by the front door in an attractive flower patch. A child’s brightly color ball sits alone in the front yard. Jane’s face registers amazement as well as sorrow.
DARIA: [deadpan] The gnome is a nice touch. At least they’ve got taste.
JANE: [pause] This is crazy, but I want to get out and go up there and ask to see my old room.
DARIA: Uh, you know, they probably had trouble removing that glue from the walls of your room, where you created that exploding kiln masterpiece, and they might have some hard feelings about that.
JANE: [puts a hand on the door release, hesitates, then drops her hand and bows her head] Oh, what’s the use? It’s all gone. It’s not my home anymore. Hell, it never was much of a home, anyway. Who am I kidding? [pause] Please drive somewhere else.
DARIA: [pulls away from curb] Pizza King.
JANE: [depressed] Sure. Why not. Anything.
38. EXT: MINUTES LATER, STREET OUTSIDE FORMER “PIZZA KING” RESTAURANT, LAWNDALE
Daria’s rental car pulls up outside Pizza King—rather, what used to be Pizza King. The windows are boarded up with plywood, and the front door has cardboard taped over it. A sign on the side of the store says: REOPENING JANUARY 1ST AS GREENWALL’S SUPER-DRUGSTORE! Daria and Jane stare at the closed-up pizza parlor in pained astonishment.
JANE: [stares, whisper] Say it ain’t so.
DARIA: [normal flat voice] I saw this in a movie once. It had an atomic war in it.
JANE: “The World, the Flesh, and the Devil.”
DARIA: “The Time Machine.”
JANE: “On the Beach.”
DARIA: “The Stand.”
JANE: I missed everything but the first part of that.
DARIA: So did I.
JANE: [suddenly hits the dashboard with a fist] I know I can’t go home again, but damn it, I did want to go to Pizza King again!
DARIA: We could try somewhere else. Pizza Forest, with the singing beavers? Or Pizza Place?
JANE: [falls back in her seat] Forget it. Let’s go home. Your home.
DARIA: What used to be.
JANE: [heatedly] At least your family’s still in it!
DARIA: [not willing to push this any further] Done.
Jane exhales heavily and rests her head in her right hand, her elbow perched on the armrest, and looks out the window. She rubs her eyes and sniffs. Daria drives them away.
Daria and Jane sit together at one end of the table. Jane has a sandwich and chips on her plate, but she just stares at them. Daria eats her sandwich but looks at Jane with a worried expression.
DARIA: This is good. Believe me, knowing my mom made this, I wouldn’t say that unless it was true.
HELEN: [VO, from another room of the house] I heard that!
DARIA: [turns head slightly] Joke, Mom! It was a joke!
HELEN: [VO] You can make your own sandwiches from now on. [pause] Joke. That was a joke, too. [pause] Maybe.
Jane doesn’t react except to stare at her plate. Daria takes another bite of her sandwich.
DARIA: [speaks with food in her mouth] Turkey’s not so bad, really, the fourth or fifth time around. It’s sort of—
JANE: [very low voice] I knew this was going to happen.
DARIA: [stops chewing] Wha—?
JANE: Cleaning the house. I knew this was coming when Trent said he was having the house cleaned. We’ve never had the house cleaned. Dad always joked we’d have the place cleaned up right before he and Mom got divorced and they ditched it, when the last kid was out of the nest. He said that all the time, and he always laughed. I just never—I never thought—[pause, then gets up from her chair and leaves the room]
DARIA: [swallows, drops sandwich, jumps up from chair to go after Jane] Jane?
Daria almost catches up with Jane in the front hall when the front doorbell rings. Jane quickly disappears upstairs when Daria hesitates at the door. Groaning, Daria gives up and opens the front door.
DARIA: [crossly] Can I help—
Daria freezes as the words leave her lips. Two men are at the front door. It would be impossible for anyone to look more like federal agents than these two men, in their dark suits, white shirts, conservative ties, and wingtip shoes. One man is black, the other white. The black agent speaks.
FBI (McGregor): Hello, ma’am. [holds up a wallet-like object in his right hand, flips it open to reveal an elaborate silver badge, which he holds out to Daria] I’m Special Agent Albert McGregor, Federal Bureau of Investigation. This is Special Agent Robert Handly. Hope we’re not interrupting anything.
DARIA: [huge eyes, wordless for a moment as she decides to avoid all snappy comebacks] No. Nothing.
FBI (McGregor): [pulls back badge] Is Miss Quinn Morgendorffer at home, please?
DARIA: [mouth moves but no words come out for two seconds] Uh—
FBI (McGregor): Is she your sister?
DARIA: Yeah, uh—
FBI (McGregor): If she has a little time, we’d like to talk with her, please.
DARIA: [nods, zombielike, gestures at inside of house] C-c-can you wait for a moment?
FBI (McGregor): Sure. Not a problem.
DARIA: [leaves door open as she heads for the living room] Okay.
Helen Morgendorffer sits on a sofa in the living room, typing something on a laptop computer propped up on a pillow on her lap. Books and papers are stacked all around her, even on the floor.
HELEN: [mutters to self] That is too a word! Stupid spellchecker!
DARIA: [enters room, dazed] Mom, someone’s at the door.
HELEN: [frowns at laptop screen] Uh-huh.
DARIA: [lowers voice] It’s the FBI. They want to talk with Quinn.
HELEN: [looks up briefly] Oh, yes, they called this morning. I’ll get Quinn and be right there. [taps a few keys] Saved. There we go. [starts moving laptop, pillow, and papers aside to get out of the chair]
DARIA: You knew about this?
HELEN: About what?
DARIA: The FBI!
HELEN: [exasperated glance at Daria] Of course, dear. Don’t worry about it. [gets up at last, shouts toward front door] Coming! I’ll get Quinn!
HELEN: Daria, this doesn’t concern you. You and Jane go find something to do.
DARIA: Mom, Quinn’s my sister!
HELEN: [ignoring Daria, walking toward staircase up, shouts] Quinn! Quinn, would you come down for a minute?
DARIA: [following her mother] Mom!
HELEN: [ignoring Daria, calling upstairs] It’s the FBI, honey!
After a pause, footsteps sound upstairs, then a door opens, more footsteps, and someone comes slowly downstairs.
DARIA: [right behind her mother, drops her voice, teeth gritted] Mom!
HELEN: Daria, I don’t have time for this right now!
Quinn appears and walks to the front door alone. Daria starts to follow her, but Helen catches her by the arm.
HELEN: [firmly] No. Leave her alone right now.
DARIA: [hisses] What are you talking about? She’s my sister! What the hell is—
She breaks off. In the background, the agents can be heard greeting Quinn. They’ve obviously met her several times before.
FBI (McGregor): [VO, loudly] Mrs. Morgendorffer?
HELEN: [turns from Daria] Yes?
FBI (McGregor): [VO] We can talk with Quinn outside, if that’s all right with you.
HELEN: Certainly, if she doesn’t mind. I’ll be in here if you need me!
FBI (McGregor): Thank you, ma’am. [sounds of Quinn leaving the house, front door closes]
HELEN: They’re so polite, aren’t they?
DARIA: What is going on here? Is all this about what happened to her at the airport?
HELEN: [really angry] Daria! This doesn’t concern you! Leave her alone. She’s handling it perfectly well.
DARIA: Have you seen her? Damn it, she’s starving to death!
HELEN: Watch your mouth in this house!
DARIA: You should be watching Quinn! Look at her!
HELEN: [grabs Daria by the shoulders and spins her around, pushes her along] Get out of this house right now! Out! Go out the sliding door so you don’t bother Quinn. Get out!
DARIA: [struggling] Mom, stop pushing me!
HELEN: Get out!
DARIA: [breaks free of Helen, losing it] All right, I’ll get out, damn it!
HELEN: [snaps and completely loses it, nearly screaming] Get out right now! This is all your fault! You left her at the airport to be killed, you worthless, brainless idiot!
DARIA: [snaps and loses it, gives her mother the finger, top of her voice] Just fuck you!
Helen crosses the space between her and Daria in a second, and she slaps her daughter across the mouth as hard as she can. Daria staggers back from the blow, nearly falling over a pile of books on the floor, and hits the wall behind her. Her glasses are knocked off and bounce against the wall near Daria’s feet.
All motion ceases for three seconds. Helen is frozen in place, a look of horror washing out her rage. Daria stares at her mother, not breathing, her left hand pressed to the flame-red mark across her left cheek. Daria’s eyes water up instantly.
HELEN: [taking a halting step toward Daria, reaching out, aghast] Oh my God, Daria, I didn’t mean—
Daria’s expression turns stone cold. She bends over, still holding her left cheek, and finds her glasses on the floor. She grabs them without putting them on and runs from the room, heading for the sliding kitchen door.
The sliding door is flung open, and Daria runs outside into the backyard. She hides herself behind a tree and bursts into tears, covering her face. Her glasses are held by an earpiece in one hand. Soon, Jane appears in the distance around the side of the house, moving quietly as she looks for Daria. She hears Daria crying and walks around the tree.
JANE: [stops, soft voice] Sorry I ran off.
Daria cries harder and turns in Janet’s direction. Janet catches and hugs her, and they stand like that for a while, saying nothing.
Daria and Jane sit on the grass. Daria’s face is red and wet with tears, plus swollen on the left side, but her glasses are back on. She blows her nose on a handkerchief.
JANE: Some people have Thanksgivings like this every year. We sure did, until everyone stopped showing up.
DARIA: Huh. [pause] It’s probably the turkey that does it.
JANE: Some kind of chemical additive. The FDA should look into it.
DARIA: [sniffs] I’m glad you’re here.
JANE: I’m glad I’m here, too.
They sit quietly for a few moments more, staring at the ground. Daria then looks around, hearing voices faintly in the background.
DARIA: Wait here. [stands up and walks toward the front yard]
JANE: What? Where are you going?
DARIA: Just wait for me. Wait here.
JANE: [anxious, watches Daria go] Oooh-kay.
Daria comes around the house into the front yard, acting casual. Quinn is just going back into the house through the front door, and the two FBI agents are walking back to their car. The black agent gets into the driver’s seat, but the white agent hesitates, seeing Daria approach him.
DARIA: [seizes opportunity, puts out her hand] Hi. I’m Quinn’s sister, Daria.
FBI (RH): [reaches out to shake her hand] Robert Handly. Special Agent, FBI.
DARIA: Um, yeah, I heard when you—[gestures toward the front door]—you know.
FBI (RH): [peers at Daria’s red, swollen face with concern] Are you all right, miss?
DARIA: [touches her left cheek, fakes a look of surprise] Oh! Oh, that’s nothing. I’m fine. It’s allergies. Fall season, mold in the air. I sneeze and sneeze all day. Can’t do anything about it. [coughs] I must look awful.
FBI (RH): [dubious] Yeah, my brother has hay fever. It’s the pits.
DARIA: It sucks. [clears throat] I, uh, hope Quinn’s doing okay with you. I mean—
FBI (RH): [nods] Oh, your sister’s been a great help. We’re done for now. This part of the investigation’s wrapping up. She gets a break from us at last. Probably glad of it.
DARIA: [nods] Good. Good. She’s been through a lot.
FBI (RH): [exhales heavily] I’m afraid so. Has your sister been losing weight? I mean, recently?
DARIA: Uh, yeah, she has. A lot. She was fine until, um, nine-eleven. I—I was a little shocked when I saw her this time. She’s lost a lot since I last saw her in September. It—
FBI (RH): You’re a freshman at Raft College, Boston?
DARIA: Uh, yeah.
FBI (RH): [nods] She said she’d been up to visit you the weekend before the attacks.
DARIA: Yeah. She was supposed to fly back that—well, I guess you know all about that.
FBI (RH): [nods] Does she talk with you at all about what happened?
DARIA: [hesitates before answering] No, not really. I can’t get much out of her, beyond what—you know. Is—I mean, is she in any trouble?
FBI (RH): Oh, no, no. She’s been a great help to us. She gave us a lot of information on what she saw.
DARIA: [nods] I hope . . . what she gave you was . . . well—
FBI (RH): She’s got a good memory. Really smart, sharp eye. Picks out a lot of detail.
DARIA: [fishing for more] Yeah. She was always good at picking out fashion things, clothing, makeup, stuff like that. [pause] It looks like things still bother her a lot.
FBI (RH): [frowns, but not at Daria] I think she blames herself too much. It wasn’t her fault. She couldn’t have known what was going on.
DARIA: [confused, still fishing] She . . . she tries to do the right thing. I hope she did.
FBI (RH): [looks back at the house, rubs face] She did do the right thing. She couldn’t have known. It was terrible, a terrible blow to her to meet someone like that and have this happen. I hope she gets through this. [looks back at Daria with grim expression] She’s been great, just the best. You’re very lucky to have her for a sister.
DARIA: [becoming frightened] Yeah. I am. It . . . must have been terrible to lose someone like that.
FBI (RH): [nods] It must have been. I have to go. Take care of yourself. [offers hand]
DARIA: [shakes his hand, dazed] Sure. Anytime. [pause] Bye.
The FBI agent leaves for his car. Daria watches him go. As his car drives off, Daria turns and sees Jane watching from around the side of the house, trying to be inconspicuous. Daria walks back to Jane in the backyard, by the house.
DARIA: [takes a deep breath, lets it out, low voice] Don’t get me wrong, but you and I don’t really have any problems. None worth mentioning.
JANE: What happened?
DARIA: I don’t know how bad this thing is with Quinn, but it’s bad. He wouldn’t tell me anything. We’ve gotta talk to Quinn. I think she went back upstairs.
JANE: [pause] Maybe you should talk to your mom first.
Daria’s face hardens for a moment, just short of a snarl. She almost says something but stops herself at the last second. Her eyes then close, and she leans against the side of the house. Her face slowly relaxes.
JANE: It was the turkey talking. Remember that.
DARIA: The additives.
DARIA: I was out of my head.
JANE: We all are, these days.
DARIA: [heatedly] Stupid goddamn twenty-first century!
JANE: [pause] That’s weird. I said something just like that a couple months ago.
DARIA: Yeah. It’s a Brave New Hell. [pushes away from the house, heads for the sliding door] All right, let’s go.
They go inside the house through the sliding kitchen door, walking slowly, heads down.
Daria and Jane enter from the kitchen. Trent is asleep sitting up on the sofa in front of the TV, which is turned on but with the sound turned down. A commercial about a place called the Toy Barn is being shown, narrated by a stocky man in a chicken suit.
DARIA: [whispers] I’ll check upstairs. She’s probably in her bedroom. I’ll see Quinn next.
JANE: [whispers] Okay.
Daria leaves the room, and her footsteps are heard going upstairs. Jane looks at Trent, then at the TV, then goes to the kitchen. Several sounds drift in: The refrigerator door opens, shuts, and a soda can’s top is popped. Jane returns in a moment with an open soda can, then sits on the floor between Trent’s spread feet. She finds the remote by one of Trent’s hands and turns the TV volume up a notch, then leans back on the sofa seat. After a moment, she lays her head on one of Trent’s knees and watches the show.
48. INT: AN HOUR LATER, JAKE AND HELEN’S BEDROOM
Daria and her mother sit on a big bed, having finished a long talk. They sit about four feet apart, Daria at the bed’s foot and her mother near the head of the bed. Neither seems eager to continue talking, and neither looks at the other.
HELEN: [exhausted, flat voice] I’m sorry.
Daria shrugs. She reaches up and touches the swollen side of her face, then drops her hand.
HELEN: You’re right. About Quinn. [long pause] Monday. I’ll stay home from work on Monday. I’ll get someone to see her. [pause] There’s a clinical psychologist at the hospital. I know him professionally, and I think I can get him to see Quinn. He owes me one. Owes me several, actually. He’ll do it. [pause] If he knows what’s good for him.
DARIA: [nods] Good. Okay. [long pause] I want you to know, honestly, that I’ve not bugged her at all. I swear to God. I’ve tried to—
HELEN: Daria, you just can’t—
DARIA: Mom, let me finish.
HELEN: —do anything that comes into your head. [pause, calms self] All right, I know you’re worried. I know it. I’m—I’m just crazy. I am crazy. Everything’s too . . . [voice trails off, swallows] I can’t deal with it anymore. It’s too much. If I lost you or Quinn, it would be over for me. I swear to God, I don’t know what I’d do. I’ve been crazy since that day, ever since we drove up to get Quinn. [long pause] I’m so sorry.
DARIA: [after another long pause] Jane and I fly back Sunday. That gives us less than two days here. [pause] Let’s do something good. I don’t want to end on this.
Helen nods, her expression weary and dull.
DARIA: [takes deep breath, gets up from the bed] I’m going to check on Quinn. No—[sees Helen look up to protest]—no, just look in on her. If she’s asleep or resting, I’ll leave her alone. Promise. I swear.
Helen stares at Daria a moment more, then looks down and nods her head.
Daria looks at her mother a moment longer, then quietly leaves the room. Once she’s gone, Helen stares at the floor, her face empty.
49. INT: MOMENTS LATER, HALL OUTSIDE QUINN’S BEDROOM
Daria walks silently to Quinn’s door, which is ajar. Carefully, she pushes the door open with a fingertip. Quinn lies on her bed, on top of the covers, facing the opposite wall. She appears to be asleep. Daria carefully pulls the door almost shut again and leaves.
As Daria pulls the door shut in the background, Quinn’s face can see clearly seen. She is awake, staring at the wall, her expression dead.
No one is visible outside. The sky is turbulent and overcast. A strong wind blows leaves across the front yard. Daria’s rental car sits in the driveway. Someone has left the garage door open, however. The Morgendorffers’ SUV and regular car (a Lexus) are barely visible inside.
Quinn sits on the edge of her bed, looking at something in her hands, a small photo or piece of paper. A knock sounds at the door. She quickly puts the paper in a drawer on her bedside table and closes it without a sound. Her bedside clock says it is 10:31 p.m.
QUINN: [tired voice] C’m’in.
The door opens, and Daria comes in.
DARIA: Hey. Bothering ya?
DARIA: You okay?
QUINN: [nodding her head once, quickly] Fine. [pause] Okay.
DARIA: Anything up?
QUINN: [quickly, looks away] No. Nothing.
DARIA [nods, missing the cues] Nothing much with me, either. [pause] I wanted to tell you . . . [catches her breath] I dunno what I wanted to tell you. I’m so glad you’re alive, I can’t think of anything else to say.
DARIA: I . . . Do you mind if I sit down a moment?
QUINN: No. Fine. [moves over on bed, though there’s plenty of room]
Daria sits beside Quinn on her bed, a couple feet away. She rests her elbows on her knees and stares at her fingers, playing with them nervously.
DARIA: Listen . . . I’ve not been that great a sister to you sometimes. Maybe a lot of the time. We’ve . . . It’s like, we rub each other wrong sometimes. No so much anymore, I think. It was great having you come see me. That was great. Except for Jennifer barfing all over the place. I’m really sorry about that.
DARIA: You were great. I don’t know what I wouldn’t done without you. [pause] Probably strangle her.
Quinn nods, looking at the floor.
DARIA: [takes deep breath] You know, I’m . . . I’m worried about you, and I wanted to know if there was anything I could do. I mean, I don’t know if there’s anything I could do, you know, but if there is, tell me, and I’ll do it. Anything.
QUINN: [hesitates, thinking] Okay.
DARIA: [waits for more of a response, then speaks] Did . . . did something happen, like, in the airport, um, after I dropped you off that day?
The tension jumps several notches. Quinn begins wringing her hands together, staring straight ahead.
DARIA: Anything that was, like, bad?
Quinn is obviously in another mental world, then snaps back to this one.
QUINN: What? [almost looks at Daria, but turns away, looks at a wall] No, nothing.
DARIA: [with occasional glances at Quinn] See, I keep thinking that everything that happened still bugs you, and I don’t know what it was. Specifically, I mean. It was all horrible, and . . . I don’t know if I should ask about it. I want to, but Mom says—well, forget that part. That doesn’t matter. You matter. [loses thread of her talk] I’m just worried about you.
A long pause develops. Quinn wrings her hands together faster. Her breath is quick and shallow.
DARIA: [struggling with something, deep breath, rushed speech] You know, really, I haven’t forgiven myself for taking you to the airport. I know, Jane drove, but it was my idea to go with you, and sometimes I feel like it was my fault, that what happened—I mean, I know it wasn’t my fault, what happened, but I saw you off. I’m your big sister, and I keep feeling like it was my fault. I led you into it. It wasn’t my fault, but I can’t help feeling it was. It—it eats at me.
Quinn’s hands stop wringing for a few moments. Her face becomes more peaceful, and she nods slowly. Daria doesn’t notice this. Daria stares at her own hands, still resting her elbows on her knees.
Daria looks at Quinn. Quinn stares straight ahead.
QUINN: [slowly] It’s not like . . . you put me on one of . . . the planes that . . . that didn’t make it.
DARIA: [exhales and nods in fervent agreement] Yeah. [pause] Thank God. I’d never get over that if that had happened. I’d never stop feeling like I’d . . . like it was my fault. I’d never get over that.
Quinn nods, in total agreement. She looks at peace. The tension is gone from her face.
QUINN: [quiet voice] Never.
DARIA: [shakes head] Never. I can’t imagine anything worse.
Unexpectedly, Quinn turns to Daria and reaches for her nearest hand. Surprised, Daria lets her take it. Quinn kisses Daria’s hand for a long moment.
QUINN: [to Daria’s hand] You are the best sister in the whole world.
Daria is momentarily speechless.
QUINN: You are the best. Thank you for being you.
DARIA: [swallows] I wish . . . I’d . . . been a better sister, back when—
QUINN: You are. [hesitates] You brought me back. You found me.
DARIA: [suddenly close to tears] It—yeah. Jane and I did. [wipes her eyes]
QUINN: [face peaceful] Yes. [pause] Thank you. [long pause] Bedtime.
DARIA: [almost relieved] Yeah. [gets up from Quinn’s bed] Um, listen, tomorrow, how about you and Jane and I go out? Just us girls. Cashman’s, anywhere. That would—I’d really like that. Please do it.
Quinn nods absently again, looking into space.
DARIA: Okay. Well, I’m off. I’ll see—
QUINN: [looks up] I love you, Daria. [pause] Remember that.
DARIA: [startled, off guard] Well . . . I love you, too. [hesitates] Have a good night.
QUINN: [gaze drifts away again] Okay.
DARIA: [unsure if conversation is really over] Good night.
Daria stares at her sister a few moments more, then closes Quinn’s door. Quinn continues to sit on her bed, staring into space. Her face is relaxed and at peace.
QUINN: [whisper] Goodbye.
Quinn’s eyes drift to her bedside table, and she slowly pulls the drawer open again and takes out the paper or photo she was looking at. She stares at this, without moving, for a long time.
The room is dark. Outside, a roaring wind can be heard. The bedside clock says it is 11:44 p.m.
DARIA: [soft voice, obviously awake] Jane?
JANE: [pause, muffled voice] What?
DARIA: [after a long pause] Do you believe in God?
Silence follows, then a rustling sound comes from Jane’s side of the bed. The bed creaks, footsteps pad from Jane’s side of the bed around to Daria’s side, and the bedside lamp is turned on by Jane, in her nightclothes.
JANE: [stands by Daria’s side of the bed, very awake] Okay, now you’ve freaked me out.
DARIA: [sitting up, shielding her eyes from the light, no glasses on] I’m sorry. I couldn’t—
JANE: [not listening, turns away and starts to pace the room] Do I believe in God? Do I, Jane Lane, believe in God? Mmm—yes. It would have to be yes. I don’t think it’s a him or a her, or even anything we can figure out, but yes, I do. [turns to face Daria] There.
DARIA: [drops her hands, looks upset] I’m sorry. It was a stupid question.
JANE: [takes deep breath] Well, no, it wasn’t. I wasn’t ready for it, but at least I gave you an answer. By rights, I should make you tell me why you asked, but, really, with all the crap we’ve been through in the last few days, I can already imagine why.
Jane stops and stares at Daria, who looks down at the bed.
DARIA: I’m worried about Quinn. Everything’s gone to hell since September eleventh. Nothing I do makes any difference or does any good. I don’t know why I’m in college now. [covers face with a hand] Everything sucks.
JANE: [swallows, walks over to the bed and sits very close to Daria] I want to tell you why I believe in a God. [sees Daria drop her hand, looking more upset] No, no, I’m not going to do a philosophy-slash-religion class. You asked me this question, and I have to say it all.
Jane pulls back slightly, looks down, sighs, and thinks.
JANE: [pause] I’d have to say I believe because I can’t think of anything else to do, any other way to react to the world. It’s like in my figure-drawing class, there are all sorts of models, and some are hotties and some are at the other end of the pool. There are beautiful things in the world, and really ugly things, and there’s order and structure, and there’s craziness and chaos, and some things last and some things break, and when I see it all, there’s just too much of everything around me for me not to believe. I’m not saying this very well, but I guess it’s just one of those articles of faith, like I think the sun’s coming up tomorrow, or you’ll wear glasses instead of contacts. Really. [stops, looks at Daria, who is looking down]
Jane reaches out and touches Daria’s still-swollen cheek and jaw with gentle fingers, lifting her head to look straight into her eyes.
JANE: I believe in God in part because of Trent. My family is so messed up, even MTV wouldn’t show it. And in the middle of it all, there’s Trent. I can’t believe what he’s done for me. All the things he’s done, all of that makes me believe a little bit in God. [pause] And I believe in God in part because one day, several years ago, in the middle of a miserable class on self-esteem, a new girl came to school, and she made all the difference in my life. She became my other half, the left side of my brain to my right side. Because I found her, I believe there is a God. A God with a really weird sense of humor, yes, but a God. That’s why I believe.
A short silence. Jane’s fingers still rest against Daria’s face.
DARIA: [deadpan] I forgot you were taking a drama class.
JANE: You like that? Did I rush it?
DARIA: No, it was great.
JANE: The delivery was good?
DARIA: Perfect. You really—
Jane’s other hand reaches for the other side of Daria’s head, gently but firmly pulling her to Jane. Before the startled Daria can react, Jane hugs her tightly. They hold that pose for a long moment. Jane then turns her face to Daria’s.
JANE: [whispers] I believe in God because of you. [long pause] Let’s go to sleep.
After a moment, Jane lets go of Daria, gets off the bed, and turns off the light. She then walks around to her own side of the bed and gets under the covers.
JANE: [yawns] See you in the morning, Tiger.
Daria sits up in bed for a few moments longer, then slowly lies down again. Silence fills the room, except for the wind outside.
54. INT: ABOUT 4 A.M. SATURDAY, DARIA’S BEDROOM
The illuminated alarm clock on the bedside table says it is 3:57 a.m. Daria is sound asleep, buried under blankets on her side of the bed. Jane, on the other hand, stirs and makes a face.
JANE: Ugh. [flaps blanket, soft voice, to Daria] Jeez, what did you eat? [sighs] Gotta go pee anyway.
Jane swings her legs out of bed and gets up. Lightning illuminates the bedroom windows for a moment. A storm is coming. Wind roars outside.
DARIA: [soft, slurred speech] Wazzup?
JANE: Go back to sleep, Methane Girl.
Daria subsides. Jane shuffles around the bed toward the hall. A rumble of thunder rolls through the house. Jane stops, listens, then shrugs and wanders off down the hall.
55. INT: MINUTES LATER, UPSTAIRS HALL OUTSIDE QUINN’S BEDROOM
Jane comes out of the bathroom again, stands in the dark hall, and scratches herself. The bathroom light is still on. She looks toward Quinn’s bedroom just as a long flicker of lightning from a window in that room reveals that Quinn’s door is wide open—and her bed appears to be empty. Jane frowns and walks to the doorway of Quinn’s bedroom. Another stroke of lightning shows the bed is neatly made. Quinn is nowhere to be seen.
Jane flicks the light on, shielding her eyes.
JANE: [softly] Quinn?
Squinting, Jane scans the bedroom, which is neat as a pin. She walks into the room, looks around in puzzlement, then turns and sees that Quinn’s closet door is open.
JANE: [looking around, normal tone] Quinn?
Hearing no response, Jane walks to the closet, looks inside out of curiosity, then flips the door shut with her fingertips. As the door closes, she sees a full-length mirror mounted on the outside of the door. Two small pieces of paper are taped to the mirror, and something is written directly on the mirror in neat, blood-red lettering. Jane stares at the mirror, looking from top to bottom. She recoils in horror, her eyes huge.
JANE: [aghast] Oh, God. [backs up, turns and runs from the room in panic] Daria! Daria!
57. INT: START NIGHTMARE SEQUENCE (DARIA MORGENDORFFER’S DORM ROOM, RAFT COLLEGE—ALTERED)
Daria Morgendorffer, dressed in her usual outfit, sits quietly at a desk in what appears to be her freshman dorm room, reading a book. A paperclip slowly twirls in the fingers of her left hand, her right hand preparing to turn the page of the book. Outside her window—unlike what can be seen from her actual dorm room at Raft College in Boston—are skyscrapers similar to the New York City skyline.
In the background, the roar of an approaching jet aircraft is heard. Daria’s dorm room door bursts open, and Quinn rushes in, panicked. She looks as she did in high school.
QUINN: [hysterical] Daria! We’ve got to get out of here!
Daria turns and looks out the window. Roaring over the tops of the lower buildings, a commercial jet airliner is aimed dead on for Daria’s windows. The jet will strike in only seconds.
Without hesitation, Daria jumps from her chair and leaps at the windows, rocketing through them at incredible speed.
58. EXT: CONTINUE NIGHTMARE SEQUENCE (SKY AROUND DARIA’S DORM/SKYSCRAPER)
Glass sprays everywhere as Daria shoots through the windowpanes and into the sky. Daria flies, superhero-style, straight for the oncoming jet. Her otherwise-normal outfit now includes a black cape.
Daria flies under the jet, then backtracks to parallel the jet’s flight path. She reaches up for the belly of the aircraft and pushes against it with all her strength. The jet shudders and is slowly forced off its suicidal course, away from Daria’s skyscraper.
Only moments later, however, Daria notices a second commercial jet aircraft approaching her skyscraper. Stunned, she shoves the first jet further off its original flight path, then roars off for the second. Men with black-stocking masks lean out the cockpit windows of the second aircraft and open fire on her with automatic weapons, but the bullets bounce off her. She punches out one exposed terrorist, then shoves the second jet aside so it, too, will miss its target.
Turning in the air, Daria sees the first jet has circled back—and a third jet is approaching over the city, with a fourth jet behind it. Panicked, Daria speeds off to again stop the first jet from striking her building—but she is too late. The jet slams into her skyscraper, and monstrous orange fireballs blossom out from every side of the building. A terrific roar of thunder shakes the air. Among the debris thrown from the impact is Quinn, tumbling as she falls toward the street hundreds of stories below.
More suicidal jets close in as Daria streaks down to grab Quinn, who is screaming Daria’s name. Quinn, however, is too far out of reach. A huge flash of light leaps out from the skyscraper into Daria eyes—
END NIGHTMARE SEQUENCE
59. INT: ABOUT 4 A.M., SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2001, DARIA’S BEDROOM, MORGENDORFFER HOME
It is dark. A crackling boom of thunder rolls through Daria’s bedroom. Daria’s sleeping form can be seen under her blankets in a series of lightning flashes from the nearby windows. Daria trembles; her breathing is fast and shallow, her movements jerky. She is in the grip of her nightmare, struggling to wake up.
DARIA: [softly] Kwuh . . . Quinn . . .
JANE: [VO, yelling from Quinn’s room] Daria! Daria!
Jane bursts into her room and turns on the light. Daria awakes up in a cold sweat and sits up in bed.
JANE: [panicked] Daria, come on!
DARIA: [shivering, confused, hunting for glasses] What? What’s going on?
JANE: Quinn’s gone! Come on! Hurry!
DARIA: What? Wait a second! [puts on glasses, gets out of bed, then falls to the floor—her feet are entangled in the blankets] Augh!
Jane enters again and goes immediately to the closet mirror. After a series of stumbling noises, Daria appears in her green pajamas, still disoriented. Muffled sounds filter in from elsewhere in the house, indicating that Jake and Helen Morgendorffer were also awakened in their bedroom down the hall. Occasional lightning appears in the windows from outside, and storm winds rattle the panes.
DARIA: [looking around] Where’s Quinn?
JANE: Look at this! [points at the full-length mirror on Quinn’s closet door]
On the mirror is a block-letter message carefully printed in bright red lipstick: I KILLED HER. Below that is: FORGIVE ME. The letters are arranged so that someone about Quinn’s height, looking into the mirror, would see her face surrounded by the words. Just above the words is taped a small, color picture, printed on computer paper. The photo shows an attractive preteen girl, about age 11-12. Hanging just below the lowest words on the mirror is the color photo of Quinn standing under the old Lawndale water tower, grinning down at the camera, with the red “Q” painted on the tower’s tank far above her.
DARIA: [goes to the mirror] Did Quinn do this?
JANE: Well, I didn’t do it! [points to top photo] Who’s she? What’s going on with this?
Daria reaches up for the small picture of the preteen girl. As her fingers touch the picture, memories flood her mind from the last few days.
The white FBI agent talks to Daria in front of the Morgendorffers’ home, early Friday afternoon.
FBI AGENT: It was terrible, a terrible blow to her to meet someone like that and have this happen.
Quinn speaks slowly to Daria in their final conversation, late Friday night in Quinn’s bedroom.
QUINN: It’s not like . . . you put me on one of . . . the planes that . . . that didn’t make it.
CHANGE TO PRESENT:
63. INT: INSTANT LATER, QUINN’S BEDROOM
A stunned look on her face, Daria pulls the picture of the preteen girl from the mirror. She walks quickly over to the wastebasket in Quinn’s room, which overflows with used tissues. Daria dumps everything in the can out on the floor, quickly finding a computer printout page among the mess. It is the page that she saw earlier, the printout of an Internet webpage from a news organization. The page shows an array of about twenty small color photos of different people, all ages, sexes, colors, etc., with their names and ages. One picture (and accompanying tag) at the bottom of the page was carefully cut out with scissors. The top of the page reads: AIR PASSENGER VICTIMS OF SEPTEMBER 11 ATTACK, WORLD TRADE CENTER (PAGE SIX). Daria fits the picture of the girl to the cutout part of the page. The picture fits perfectly.
Daria instantly imagines part of what must have happened on September 11th, as Quinn was shopping her way through Boston’s Logan airport.
64. THIRD MENTAL IMAGE
In an airport store, the preteen girl in the photo looks up with interest as someone approaches. It’s Quinn, wearing the outfit that she wore to the airport that day.
QUINN: [cheery voice] Hi, there! Mind if I join you?
CHANGE TO PRESENT:
Daria holds the picture of the girl and the Internet printout in her hand. She looks back at Quinn’s mirror and focuses on the bottom picture: Quinn standing below the old Lawndale water tower.
With a gasp, Daria throws the girl’s picture and the Internet printout on Quinn’s bed and runs from the room, barely missing her father, Jake Morgendorffer, coming through the door in his bathrobe and pajamas. Jane bolts from the room right behind her.
JAKE: What in the flaming—Daria! Damn it! Jane! Damn it, what are you doing up at this hour?
HELEN: [VO, yells at girls from bedroom down the hall] Do you know what time it is?
JAKE: [to Helen] Just look at the clock! [hurries after girls]
Daria rushes into her bedroom, reaches down on the floor, and snatches up a pair of sneakers and a pair of pants with a leather belt in the loops. She also grabs her car keys from a dresser top. She then runs back out of the room, nearly hitting Jane, who skids barefoot on the floor as she tries to avoid Daria. Jane rushes back out, too, almost hitting Jake, who hits the doorframe trying to get out of the way.
JAKE: [grits teeth, holding shoulder] Damn it!
Daria and Jane hit the main floor running, heading into the living room for the kitchen. Daria throws her clothes at the foot of the front door before she runs off.
JANE: Daria! Where are you going?
Daria rushes into the kitchen for the door into the garage. She throws the door open.
Daria opens the door from the kitchen and snaps on the overhead garage lights. A high wind blows her hair in every direction. The main garage door is open to the storm outside. The Morgendorffers’ Lexus is present, but the SUV is gone.
Jane rushes up behind Daria and looks out into the garage as well.
DARIA: She took the SUV!
DARIA: Yes, damn it! [shuts the door]
Daria turns from the door, about to run out of the kitchen to the living room, when she notices a white envelope on the kitchen table. She lunges for it and snatches it up. On the envelope, in neat script—Quinn’s handwriting—is written: “To my family.” Daria hastily opens the envelope and pulls out a single sheet of lavender paper, as Jane looks over her shoulder. They read the note in four seconds flat.
JANE: [in horror] Oh! Oh, no!
Wordless and pale, Daria runs from the room, clutching the note.
Daria and Jane reach the front door after crossing the living room. Jake, who almost reached the bottom of the stairs by this time, jumps back when they rush by in front of him. He falls backward on the stairs, sitting down hard on one step. Daria, startled, accidentally drops Quinn’s lavender letter but does not notice that she did. She snatches her clothing from the floor.
JAKE: Ow! What the hell—
HELEN: [VO, shouts from upstairs, anxious tone] Jake! Where’s Quinn?
Daria and Jane are out the front door in a flash, but they don’t close the door behind them. Jake struggles to get up, the cold wind blowing dry leaves in his face. Quinn’s lavender letter is blown around and finally falls on the stairs behind Jake.
Flashes of lightning from the approaching storm illuminate the two girls as they run for Daria’s rental Mustang. Daria stops at the driver’s side door, fumbling with her car keys while holding her clothing as well.
JANE: [right behind Daria, shouting over the storm] Where are we going?
DARIA: [tries to put key in lock, but hands are shaking too much] God damn it!
JANE: Here—gimme that! [wrestles keys from Daria] Get in on the other side!
Daria gives up and runs around to the passenger side door and gets in after Jane gets into the driver’s seat and unlocks the passenger door from the inside. In the background, Jake runs from the house, clutching his bathrobe around him with one hand and rubbing his rear with the other. Another flash of lightning reveals the girls are in the car.
JAKE: [shouting] Where are you going? Where’s Quinn?
The car’s engine roars to life, the headlights pop on, and the car peels out of the driveway backwards into the street. The rental car then roars off down the street at high speed as lightning flashes in the night sky.
In disbelief, Jake looks back at the house. Helen, in her nightgown, has come downstairs to the front hall. She picks up Quinn’s note from the stairs and reads it with wide eyes.
Jane is driving, Daria in the passenger seat. Overwrought, they shout at each other.
JANE: Where are we going?
DARIA: The old water tower on the west side! She’s at the old water tower!
JANE: The one in the photo?
JANE: [making a sudden turn] What the hell is she—[gets it] Oh, shit!
74. EXT: AT THIS MOMENT, OLD LAWNDALE WATER TOWER, WEST OF LAWNDALE
As lightning flickers and thunder crackles through the night sky, the silhouette of a shivering teenage girl is seen, leaning forward over a creaking metal railing. It’s Quinn, wearing a light jacket, jeans, and sneakers; the backpack she carried into the Morgendorffer house earlier is on her back. The high wind whips her long hair in every direction. She looks over the metal railing, straight down into an abyss. Lightning illuminates the scene below her: the metal girders and legs that support the old Lawndale water tower, surrounded by scattered pine trees. Debris hurls past in the darkness. Quinn is a little over five stories above the rocky ground. The water tower sits atop a forested hill right on the western edge of Lawndale; the city’s lights twinkle in the distance. The Morgendorffers’ SUV is parked near the concrete foot of one of the tower’s support legs.
Quinn leans back, obviously terrified. She regains her self-control, then shrugs off the backpack and sets it down on the three-foot-wide catwalk beside her. Behind her is the steel tank of the water tower. She is in the exact spot where she painted a huge red “Q” on the tower, and it appears above her in the lightning. Zipping open the backpack, she pulls out a liquor bottle that looks exactly as Jane Lane described it: tall, square-shaped, short neck. Rising and unscrewing the cap, Quinn steadies herself next to the railing and raises the bottle to her lips with both hands. Tilting her head back, she takes a deep drink from the bottle, chugging it. She coughs suddenly, spitting liquid everywhere, then tries again when her coughing stops. As she chugs it the second time, one-handed, a brilliant flash of lightning startles her. The bottle slips from her fingers and falls over the railing. She grabs for it with a cry of despair but sees the bottle fall away, end over end, until it smashes into a steel leg and the pieces fall out of sight. Quinn, still looking down and gripping the railing, begins to cry in despair.
The speedometer shows the car is traveling at 60 mph down a suburban residential road. No other traffic is around in the lightning- and neon-lit darkness. The windstorm roars around the car. In the passenger seat, Daria struggles to put her pants on over her pajamas while wearing her shoulder harness and seat belt.
JANE: Do you know what time she left the house?
DARIA: I have no idea! Just get us out there!
JANE: I am, damn it!
Daria’s Mustang flies down the street, braking suddenly at a red light but rolling through it when no cross traffic appears. A police car sits on one side of the cross street, hidden behind a row of bushes. Two officers who had left the car to talk to a pedestrian hurry back to their vehicle and get in. The police car comes to life after a pause—headlights flick on, engine roars, tires squeal as it turns onto the main road behind the Mustang and rapidly picks up speed, lights flashing and siren on.
Blue and red lights flash in the rear window; the police siren wails through the night. Daria looks over her left shoulder and Jane in the rearview mirror.
DARIA: [looking back] Keep going!
JANE: [watching the road again] I am, I am, I am!
The Mustang leaves the built-up part of Lawndale and enters rural surroundings, flying down a two-lane blacktop past dark farmland. A second set of police-car lights joins the first in pursuit of the Mustang. The first police car is half a mile back, but gaining.
Jane glances in the rearview mirror, then brings the Mustang’s speed up to 95 mph. Leaves and small tree branches blow across the highway in front of her, illuminated by her headlights and frequent lightning. The car shivers in the high wind and from hitting bumps and debris in the road.
A low rumbling is heard in the background. Jane glances to the right, then does a double take. In lightning flashes, she can see a freight train moving in the same direction as she is traveling, on railroad tracks that parallel the highway. The Mustang is slightly behind the last boxcar on the train, which is about a hundred yards away.
Jane’s gaze flicks between the train, the rearview mirror, and the road ahead. With a last look at the train, Jane bites her lower lip and floors the accelerator. The speedometer needle crosses the 100 mph mark.
DARIA: [noticing the acceleration] Jane, be careful!
JANE: [soft voice] Uh-huh.
The blast of a locomotive horn echoes across the nightscape. Daria looks to her right and sees the freight train. She then looks to the road ahead, then looks rapidly back and forth from road to train.
DARIA: Jane, there’s a train. Over there. [points]
JANE: [detached] Uh-huh.
DARIA: There’s a railroad crossing ahead. You know the one? The train’s going to—
Daria gets the picture. She leans to the left and sees the speedometer is now at 120 mph. Jane leans forward into the steering wheel, head hunched down, eyes straight ahead. The Mustang, buffeted by the wind, is now a third of the way up the length of the long train.
DARIA: Jane, this is seriously starting to worry me.
JANE: [whispers] We have a window.
DARIA: [rising voice] What?
The first police car is less than a quarter mile behind and holding steady. The Mustang’s speedometer is about 135 mph. Daria’s face is white, her gaze divided between the landscape hurling past her and the freight train whose path is approaching the highway (now fifty yards off). They are two-thirds the way up the train’s length; the locomotives’ lights are visible. Jane grips the steering wheel with white knuckles, her teeth bared, face up to the steering wheel.
JANE: [whispering through gritted teeth] C’mon, you son of a bitch, get to the window! Go go go go go go go!
The red flashing lights of the crossing signs appear now over a shallow rise in the road. The crossing has no crossing gates. The lead locomotive’s horn blasts out long and loud, nonstop—the engineer has seen the Mustang’s headlights and the police cars behind it. The nearest police car now brakes and drops back, the driver aware of the developing situation. The Mustang passes the rearmost of the train’s three locomotives. The tracks close rapidly on the highway. Panicked, Daria braces herself for impact with stiffened arms and legs, her face rigid and teeth clenched.
JANE: [whispers] Now.
The lead engine’s headlights shine into the Mustang, illuminating Daria’s white face as she stares up at it in a state beyond terror. The scream of the locomotive’s horn wipes out all other sounds.
The Mustang rockets through the crossing one second before the lead locomotive does. The crossing is slightly elevated, and a terrific jolt runs through the Mustang and its two passengers as the crossing is made. The Mustang is momentarily airborne, then hits the road with screaming tires, slamming the girls violently about in their harnesses and seat belts. The Mustang fishtails in a wavy line down the center of the deserted highway.
Teeth bared, Jane fights the skid, whipping the steering wheel rapidly left and right. Beside her, Daria has a near-death experience, her eyes glazed and enormous. The Mustang straightens out after several seconds and continues on, under Jane’s control.
JANE: [triumphant] Yesss!
DARIA: [faint voice] That question I had last night, the one that freaked you out? It’s answered now.
JANE: Piece of cake!
After a pause, Jane’s excitement fades. She glances in the rearview mirror and shivers violently, her face turning white.
82. EXT: MOMENTS LATER, RAILROAD CROSSING WEST OF LAWNDALE
The two police cars that were following the Mustang come to a full stop on the other side of the crossing, waiting for the train to pass. A third police car’s lights appear in the distance, coming out of Lawndale, followed by an ambulance’s red lights.
83. EXT: MINUTES LATER, OLD LAWNDALE WATER TOWER
The storm’s winds become more violent. Quinn steadies herself against the wind, then tries to put one foot on a rung of the railing, obviously intending to climb over the railing and jump. The railing creaks loudly as she does so, which frightens her even more. She quickly gets down and away from the railing, sobbing aloud. Her nerve gone, she backs herself against the water tower’s bulk and covers her face.
Moments later, as a strong wind buffets the tower, a loud metallic creaking noise is heard all around. Quinn abruptly looks down, having felt her footing shift. The aged, corroded catwalk has begun to separate from the main structure of the tower.
QUINN: [howling in terror] Nooo!
Bolts pop like gunshots, and the section of catwalk on which Quinn stands pulls out two feet from the water tower’s tank, the outer rim tilted down at a twenty-degree angle. Quinn slips on the metal surface of the catwalk and falls, screaming. Her legs and feet go out over the edge of the catwalk into space, under the railing. At the last possible second, her flailing left hand catches hold of the inner rim of the catwalk. A moment later, she grips the inner rim with both hands, legs dangling, screaming as the tower structure continues to groan and creak in the high winds. The backpack falls from the catwalk into the abyss below.
QUINN: [screaming] God, please help me! God, please!
Jane slows the Mustang as they approach the turnoff to the old water tower. Daria is limp in her seat, panting, still in shock. Jane’s fingers tremble on the steering wheel, and her face is gray and sweaty. The full realization of their close call has hit home.
DARIA: [gesturing feebly to the right] Here. Turn here.
JANE: [low voice] Okay. [shivers again as she slows further, hits the turn signal]
Daria notices that the turn signal is on. She starts to say something, then merely rolls her eyes and says nothing at all.
85. EXT: A MOMENT LATER, ROAD TO OLD LAWNDALE WATER TOWER
The Mustang makes the turn off the main road and heads along a gravel road leading up a hill. A sign by the gravel road says: PROPERTY CITY OF LAWNDALE, KEEP OUT. In moments, the car enters a woodland of mixed broadleaf and pine trees that covers the hill itself. In the lightning of the storm above, the old Lawndale water tower can be clearly seen. The Mustang rounds several curves on the way to the summit, moving at a reasonable but quick speed.
Recovering somewhat from their experience, Daria and Jane strain to see any sign of Quinn. Daria points ahead at something in the Mustang’s headlights.
DARIA: The car!
The Morgendorffers’ SUV appears out of the darkness, parked next to one leg of the old water tower. Trees whip about in the high winds, and small branches and leaves fly everywhere. Jane pulls the Mustang up close to the SUV and stops the car, leaving the headlights on. The girls tumble out of the Mustang on trembling legs.
87. EXT: SAME INSTANT, BASE OF OLD LAWNDALE WATER TOWER
DARIA: [yells when she gets out of the Mustang] Quinn! Quinn!
Daria and Jane look around but see no one. At that moment, something thumps to the ground near them. Both girls run to it. In the light from the Mustang’s headlights, they see it is Quinn’s backpack. Daria and Jane both immediately look up, shielding their faces from the wind. At the same moment, in a lightning flash, they see the same thing: Quinn’s legs sticking over the edge of the catwalk, five stories above them.
Daria stares open-mouthed for a second, then runs for the nearest tower support leg, which has a cage-enclosed ladder on it. Jane starts after her—but on her second step, she falls with a yelp. Still barefoot, Jane has stepped on a piece of broken glass, part of the liquor bottle that Quinn dropped earlier.
JANE: [grimaces in pain] Oh, crap!
Jane crawls back to the Mustang and hops up on the hood to look at her bleeding right foot, also looking off to see what Daria is doing.
88. EXT: A MOMENT LATER, ON LADDER AND ON TOP OF OLD LAWNDALE WATER TOWER
Daria finds that the door is open on the wire-mesh cage enclosing the base of the ladder. The lock is missing, and entry is easy. She grabs hold of the ladder rungs and starts to climb, apparently without a second thought about what she’s doing. As she heads up, approaching police sirens are heard over the roaring of the storm.
The ladder up is rusted and corroded like the rest of the water tower, but secure enough. Daria climbs steadily, always looking up. Police sirens grow louder, then shut off when they are close to the tower base. Over halfway up the tower, Daria hears a shout rising over the winds.
POLICE OFFICER ON GROUND: [yells] Police! Come back down! Don’t go up there, that’s condemned!
Daria looks down and freezes. For a moment, she looks as if she cannot believe where she is and what she’s doing. She looks up, recovers her presence of mind, and forces herself to continue climbing. Before long, she comes up under the water tower’s catwalk and through an opening in the metal floor. The wind is very strong here, and she grits her teeth as she crawls onto the catwalk, then slowly stands up. Daria then walks slowly and steadily clockwise around the catwalk toward Quinn, her left hand gripping the railing as tightly as possible. She tries hard not to look down to the left.
QUINN: [VO, just out of sight, crying] Daria!
Daria moves forward another twenty feet, then stops. She now sees Quinn’s peril. Daria moves ahead a few more feet, near the edge of the damaged section of catwalk.
DARIA: [yells] Quinn, can you climb over here?
QUINN: [crying] I can’t move my hands! I’m too scared!
DARIA: Can you—
The entire catwalk groans; its outer edge drops a few inches downward. Daria’s footing shifts; unprepared, she gasps and falls, but she still has one hand securely on the railing and merely drops to one knee. Quinn’s brief scream dissolves into terrified sobs.
With great care, Daria gets down on her stomach and inches as close as she dares to the deteriorating section of the catwalk where Quinn hangs on. Quinn, however, is five feet out of reach, unless Daria gets onto the damaged section of catwalk.
DARIA: What are you doing up here?
QUINN: [yells/sobs] I want to go home!
DARIA: We are going home! I’m taking you home!
QUINN: Please help me! [cries hard]
DARIA: Hang on!
Daria looks around for a way to get to Quinn without disturbing the damaged catwalk.
DARIA: You didn’t kill anyone, Quinn!
QUINN: [crying] I did!
DARIA: What are you talking about?
QUINN: [gasps] I found her boarding pass!
QUINN: I found her boarding pass! [cries, inhales] She lost it, and I helped her find it! I found it in the bathroom! Then we went shopping ‘cause my plane didn’t leave, and I told her I’d stay with her until her flight left! [screams] I wanted to be a big sister just like you, and I killed her!
DARIA: [horrified] You didn’t kill her!
QUINN: I put her on her plane, and she went right into the towers! I wanted to be just like you, and I killed her! [breaks down and cries]
Staggered by the knowledge of what Quinn has lived with since September 11th, Daria stares at Quinn for several moments before she recovers and takes a deep breath.
DARIA: We’re going home!
Quinn cries, her eyes squeezed shut. Daria looks down at the catwalk, then looks up and around once more. Her gaze rests on the railing beside her, and a thought comes to her. Carefully, Daria reaches down to her waist with one hand and pulls her leather belt free from its belt loops.
QUINN: [crying] I can’t go on like this!
Steadying herself, Daria gets slowly to her knees and loops her belt around the lowest horizontal rail in the catwalk railing, putting the end through the loop and pulling it tight. She then wraps the long end of the belt several times around her left wrist, knots it, and grips it tightly. She then gets back down on her stomach and inches forward, moving the lifeline-belt along with her as she crawls over the damaged section of the catwalk. She can reach Quinn just before the rail runs into a vertical pole and stops her.
QUINN: Please help me!
DARIA: [crawling forward] I’m coming! Hang on! I’m going to get you!
The catwalk creaks again, and the support girders underneath give off metallic screams. This causes Quinn to scream and cry harder. Daria freezes, then forces herself to keep going. She inches closer to Quinn until she’s almost reached her. Stretching as far from the rail as she can while holding her belt, Daria puts out her right hand and touches Quinn’s fingers. A second later, she clamps down on Quinn’s right wrist. The catwalk groans again and moves slightly.
DARIA: Grab on to me!
QUINN: [moans] I can’t. I can’t move my hands.
DARIA: Grab my hand! Use your left hand!
With an effort, Quinn pulls herself up slightly, then slowly pries her left hand from the inner edge of the catwalk and grabs Daria’s right hand. Her grip is weak at first, but it grows stronger. Daria twists her right hand so the palm of her hand is against the inside of Quinn’s right wrist, so Quinn can grab Daria’s hand more easily.
DARIA: You hanging on?
QUINN: [crying less] Yes!
DARIA: Okay, good. Now, I’m going to pull—
A bolt pops like a gunshot right below Daria, who flinches and looks around. Two more bolts bang away in less than a second. The outer edge of the catwalk on this side of the water tower sinks, then snaps free and falls straight down, the inner rim alone hanging from its supports. Both girls scream. Quinn loses her right-hand grip on the catwalk and slides off into space under the railing, dragging Daria with her. Daria slams against the vertical railing pole next to Quinn, and the rusted pole tears free of the catwalk. The railings on the pole’s other side break loose, and Daria’s side of the railing bends down and out from the tower. Daria falls free when the pole comes loose, but her lifeline belt slides down to the still-attached vertical pole and snaps taut. Daria is jerked back from her fall and hangs in space. Screaming, Quinn swings wildly in the winds, hanging onto Daria’s right hand with both her hands. Daria looks down, glasses askew, and sees Quinn shrieking up at her. Their feet dangle five stories above the ground in the high wind.
Regaining her senses after several seconds, Daria struggles to pull Quinn up so she can wrap her legs around her sister to hold her more securely. With great effort, Daria manages to get both her legs around Quinn, locking her feet behind Quinn’s back. Quinn wraps her arms around Daria’s waist, hands gripping the top of Daria’s beltless pants. Her face tight with pain, Daria reaches up to grab the lifeline-belt with her right hand. Her left hand is now swollen and dark purple, its circulation cut off by the knotted belt.
More bolts in the railing bang free. The warped, bent railing begins to peel away from its remaining support poles on the catwalk, sending Daria and Quinn in a jerky, counterclockwise direction around the water tower. Quinn screams. They near the support leg with the ladder on it, then come to a swinging stop in the winds.
Daria’s glasses are about to fall off. Her locked legs still hold Quinn as tightly as possible while Quinn cries softly, her face buried in Daria’s stomach. Rotating slowly in space, Daria looks toward the nearby leg of the water tower and sees a police officer climbing the ladder on that leg. The ladder’s nearest point is about seven feet from where Daria and Quinn are suspended in space. Daria grits her teeth in terrible pain and looks up at her black, swollen left hand. The knotted belt has gotten much tighter.
OFFICER: [to Daria] Hang on!
In seconds, the officer gets to a point where he’s level with Quinn. He locks one leg into the ladder rungs, then reaches toward Quinn with his left hand, but she is just over a foot too far away. Daria sees this, and she gently rocks her legs back and forth, swinging Quinn. Lightning flashes overhead, and thunder booms through the howling night.
DARIA: [gritted teeth, gasps] Grab . . . her!
The officer’s fingers catch Quinn’s jacket, then snag the top of her jeans. He carefully pulls her close, then grabs her tight around the waist and torso with both hands, one leg still hooked around the ladder rungs.
OFFICER: [to Quinn] Put your arms around my neck! Let go of her and grab my neck!
After a moment, Quinn does exactly this, Daria’s legs let go, and the officer pulls Quinn across the abyss to the ladder. Quinn gains her footing and clutches the rungs, shivering in terror. The officer positions himself so he is at her back but slightly below her on the ladder. His hands grip the ladder on either side of her waist, preventing her from falling off if she slips.
The police officer looks back at Daria. With Quinn’s weight gone, the broken railing rises and bends slightly, putting Daria out of reach of any attempt to grab her, too. Her glasses have fallen off.
OFFICER: [shouting to Daria] Can you hang on?
DARIA: [face in agony] My hand’s caught! [pause, kicks legs] I can try to swing over!
OFFICER: Wait, you’re too far away—
A loud, metallic bang is heard from above. The railing pulls free from another mounting pole. Daria drops past the officer on the ladder, swinging in a counterclockwise motion around the tower. The railing stops abruptly. Daria’s overstretched lifeline-belt breaks with a loud snap, throwing Daria into space.
89. EXT. SAME INSTANT, FALLING FROM WATER TOWER
Daria falls, limbs flailing, hair flying. In her blurred, whirling vision, she sees the tower legs, police and ambulance lights, pine trees below.
DARIA: [screams] JAAANE!
Pine tree limbs come up. There is a violent shock as she hits the first one.
Daria’s eyes open briefly. She looks up from an ambulance gurney at out-of-focus ceiling lights. Two emergency medical techs and a police officer are working on her. Their hands are covered with debris, dirt, and a lot of blood. An oxygen mask covers Daria’s bleeding nose and mouth; an IV runs into her right arm. Her face is cut and bruised in numerous places, and her hair matted with blood and filth. One of the techs notices that she is conscious and says something to her, but she cannot respond. He shines a small, bright light in her eyes and asks her a question. She closes her eyes.
91. INT: LATER, PREDAWN SATURDAY MORNING, EMERGENCY ROOM, CEDARS OF LAWNDALE HOSPITAL
Daria’s eyes open again. Her gurney is being hurried through the open doors to a hospital emergency room. Emergency medical technicians transfer her to waiting emergency-room workers, who quickly wheel her gurney into one of the back rooms. In that brightly lit room, the hospital staff transfers Daria from the first gurney to another one, then crowd around her, working quickly. Her glasses and shoes are gone, and her blood-soaked pajamas and jeans are mostly cut away. Her left leg, though splinted, is twisted and broken in at least two places. Her left hand is swollen and purple, the wrist clearly broken. Her right forearm is splinted. A bloody bandage is taped over her ribcage. Daria stares up into the out-of-focus faces of the doctors and nurses, the oxygen mask still on her battered face, then closes her eyes once more.
Four police officers walk into the emergency room moments later, with Quinn in tow. One officer carries Jane (her foot wrapped in bandages), and he sets her carefully on a spare gurney. Hospital workers quickly wheel her off to another back room. Helen and Jake Morgendorffer, wearing coats, enter the emergency room moments later with Trent Lane. Trent sees Jane being wheeled away and hurries after her. The Morgendorffers, emergency-room staff, and police officers begin talking. In one hand, Helen clutches the lavender note that Quinn wrote. Quinn is put into a wheelchair and taken to a third examination room, with Helen Morgendorffer right behind her. Jake talks with the police, and two officers leave. Jake and the other two officers find chairs and sit down so the officers can ask questions and fill out paperwork. The ER’s outside windows show only darkness and wind-driven rain.
92. INT: LATER, WAITING AREA, EMERGENCY ROOM
Jake and Helen on either side of Quinn, who is wrapped in a blanket and seems depressed and exhausted. Her parents have their arms around her. Helen and Jake continually look toward the room where Daria was taken, or at staff heading in that direction.
Trent appears from a side corridor, wheeling Jane in a wheelchair. A police officer accompanies them. Jane’s injured foot is bandaged, and she, too, has a blanket draped around her, partly hiding her hospital gown. They sit next to the Morgendorffers and talk. Helen talks to the officer; he makes notes, talks to Jane (who looks glum and upset), then leaves. Quinn glances up, then looks down again, listless and depressed. Through the windows, it rains outside in gray morning light.
93. INT: LATER, WAITING AREA, EMERGENCY ROOM
Jake, Helen, Quinn, Trent, and Jane sit in their little cluster. None of them look at a nearby TV set showing cartoons. Quinn is asleep, leaning on her mother. The others stare into space. Outside, it is still raining.
A doctor comes from the room where Daria was taken. He walks over to the group and introduces himself, then pulls over a chair and sits down. Quinn wakes up. The doctor talks for a while; everyone listens to him with fearful expressions. Jane wipes her eyes several times and struggles not to cry.
94. INT: LATER, DARIA’S HOSPITAL ROOM, INTENSIVE CARE UNIT
Daria lies on a hospital bed, hooked up to an IV and several monitors. Her room has no windows. She not covered up and wears a hospital gown that does not hide the casts on her left leg, right forearm, and left wrist. Under her gown, her chest appears to be bandaged as well. Her arms, legs, and face are scarred and bruised; her left eye and cheek are black; her lips puffy. Her brown hair is still matted with dried blood and bits of mud and debris. She is asleep or unconscious.
The door opens, and a nurse comes in, escorting Jake, Helen, and Quinn. Jane comes in behind them, wearing a hospital gown and walking on crutches. Trent is behind her. All stare at Daria in horror. Quinn covers her face and cries, comforted by Jake. Jane moves to the side of Daria’s bed and takes one of her hands, holding it gently. Helen leans over her oldest daughter and strokes her face and hair.
95. INT: LATER, DARIA’S HOSPITAL ROOM
Jake, Helen, Quinn, Trent, and Jane sit in chairs around the room, looking at Daria or talking together.
96. INT: LATER, DARIA’S HOSPITAL ROOM
Jake, Helen, and Trent are gone, but their coats are still in the room. Quinn and Jane sit next to each other in chairs pulled over to the right side of Daria’s bed. Jane’s bandaged foot sticks out to one side, and her crutches lean against a wall. Jane, nearest to Daria’s head, stares absently at the cast on Daria’s right leg. Quinn sits and stares at the floor.
Daria’s eyes open. Her head is tilted toward Jane and Quinn. After staring for a few moments, she looks around the room, taking it in. She then looks back at the two sitting beside her and tries to clear her throat. Jane and Quinn notice and look at her face.
DARIA: [soft, slurred voice] Y-you’re prob’ly wunnering why I ass’ed you here.
Quinn’s face turns red and screws up; she tries not to cry. She gets up and reaches for Daria’s right hand, pressing it to her mouth to kiss it. Jane blinks away tears as she moves over to stroke Daria’s matted hair.
JANE: [shaky whisper] Your trapeze act needs work.
Daria nods and looks at Quinn.
DARIA: [soft voice] Quinn.
Jane moves aside, and Quinn’s tear-streaked face hovers over Daria’s battered one. Quinn still clutches at Daria’s right hand.
DARIA: [soft voice] You’re home.
Quinn nods rapidly, face working.
QUINN: [whispers] Yeah. You, too.
DARIA: [pause, softly] Quinn? [pause] It wasn’t your fault.
Quinn shuts her eyes and begins to shake. Her head drops. In moments, she is racked with loud, violent sobs. Jane puts her arms around Quinn, while Daria gently grips her hands.
DARIA: [softly] It wasn’t your fault.
Jane helps the sobbing Quinn to a chair beside Daria, then sits by Quinn, arms around her. Daria does not let go of Quinn’s hands. They remain like this for a long time.
97. INT: MID-MORNING, SATURDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2001, FRONT YARD, MORGENDORFFER HOME
Helen, Jake, Quinn, and Trent stand with Daria and Jane in the front yard. Daria’s rented Mustang is gone, but Trent’s Tank is parked on the street. The back doors of the Tank are open and reveal all of Daria and Jane’s college luggage packed within, with several extra boxes and a second set of crutches. The weather is clear but cool.
Helen, Jake, and Trent are dressed as usual, but with heavy jackets. Jane wears her usual outfit under a coat, plus a blue neck scarf and unusual new jewelry. Her left foot has a black leather boot, but her right foot is bandaged up and stuck in an oversized sandal, with a large white sock over it. She limps but does not use crutches.
Daria is on crutches, casts still on her left leg and left wrist, her right forearm in a light brace. Her two remaining casts were formerly white, but they are now excessively decorated with painted-on yellow smiley faces. Daria looks down at her painted casts with a resigned expression. Her face is scratched up, but she has a new pair of glasses, identical to the old ones. Her dark green coat is custom-made, with large, Velcro-closing sleeves for her arms to pass through. Her gold owl pin is on her coat’s left lapel.
QUINN: [smiles at Daria] You know, I think that could work.
DARIA: [looks up] What?
QUINN: Jane’s idea about putting strings on your casts and moving you around like a puppet. That would be sort of cute.
JANE: It’d be a lot easier to get her into the bathroom.
DARIA: [deadpan] You are so sweet.
QUINN: Yeah, and you’d be farther from the smell.
HELEN: Quinn! [softer] Quinn, dear, let’s not—
TRENT: [frowning in thought] You know, that might make a cool album cover. Something about dancing whether you want to or not, like mandatory dancing. You know, like Mystik Spiral makes you want to dance whether—
DARIA: [sighs, glances at bare right wrist] My, my, look at the time. We really must be going if we’re to make it back before finals.
JAKE: [to Trent] The garage said the Tank should make it to Boston, no problem. If anything breaks down, of course, just give us a call and—um, we’ll think of something to do about it.
TRENT: I’ll have you paid back by Christmas. Easter at the worst. Something like that. Depends on if I can get some gigs in Boston once we get there.
JAKE: [jovial] Not a problem. It’s only money!
Helen gives Jake an annoyed look.
JANE: I’m just sorry we couldn’t keep the Mustang a little longer.
Everyone but Jane suddenly looks uncomfortable.
HELEN: [breaking the silence] Well, you know, I did my best, but the judge was rather firm that you, um, never drive in this county again if you wanted to avoid—well, anyway, it was for the best, I’m sure.
JANE: [sighs] That train thing.
Everyone but Jane nods briefly, looking away or coughing.
JANE: [shrugs] So it goes. [goes to Helen and hugs her] You’re the best lawyer of all. Thanks.
DARIA: Long drive ahead. We’d better go if we want the Tank to break down before nightfall.
QUINN: At least you don’t have to fly. Imagine if we had to put you on that conveyor belt and send you through the X-ray machine!
DARIA: [gazing at Quinn with a faint smile] You have quite a mouth on you. Ever consider waitressing?
QUINN: You know, my therapist was a waitress once! Wow, she has the funniest stories. Like, once, there was this guy—
HELEN: Later, dear. Let’s let them go before they freeze.
Everyone hugs goodbye. Trent and Jane help Daria into the front passenger seat of the Tank, putting her crutches in back, and Jane climbs in to sit between the two front seats. Trent gets in the driver’s seat and shuts his door.
QUINN: [leaning in Daria’s window] I love your little owl-pin, Daria. [points to gold pin] But is that dollar-sign thingie on its stomach part of the price tag?
DARIA: No. Long story. I’ll e-mail it to you.
QUINN: Sure. [swallows] Take care of yourself. I love you.
DARIA: [smiles] I will. [pause] I love you, too.
QUINN: [tears up, takes Daria’s hand] Thank you.
DARIA: [choked up] Sure. Anytime.
Daria and Quinn hug for a long moment.
QUINN: [pulls away, wipes eyes, cheerier tone] And Jane, e-mail me those pictures, okay? Don’t forget.
JANE: You bet. I’ll have ‘em to you in a week.
DARIA: What? What pictures?
QUINN: [deadpan] Just pictures.
JANE: [deadpan] Yeah. Nothing . . . big.
Quinn stifles an embarrassed laugh at Jane’s remark, covering her mouth.
DARIA: [looks around, gets it] Oh. Jane, you’re not going to—
QUINN: Oh, it’s nothing! Forget about it!
JAKE: [clueless] Oh, is this that monster you girls were talking about last night? Some kind of snake or something, right? Hey, I’d like to see that!
Quinn squeals and cannot stop laughing. She hides her face in her hands. Daria closes her eyes and groans.
DARIA: Please make it stop.
HELEN: [turns bright red] Jake, I’m sure it’s nothing. Forget about it.
JAKE: But I want to see what—
HELEN: [teeth gritted] Jake!
JAKE: Oh, all right, damn it! See if I care!
Trent starts the Tank. Helen and Jake put their arms around their youngest daughter as they all wave the Tank down the street, then they go inside the house.
Just as the Tank reaches the end of the street and is about to turn out of sight, however, its engine dies. Wisps of dark smoke drift out from under the hood of the van. As Trent gets out and walks to the front of the Tank to check under the hood, we . . .
Original: completed 04/26/02; revised 04/08/05