Disclaimer: Daria and associated characters are owned by MTV. This is fan fiction written for entertainment only. No money or other negotiable currency or goods have been exchanged.
This story occurs immediately before Esteemsters and uses material from The Daria Diaries by Anne D. Bernstein.
(Exterior of the Morgendorffer house, afternoon. The driveway is empty and there is a "For Sale" sign with a "Sold" label plastered diagonally over its face in the front yard. A squirrel lazily bounces across the yard, stopping to pick up an acorn that it begins eating. In the distance, the squealing of car tires can be heard, along with the roar of an engine pushed hard. The squirrel sits upright to listen for a moment before dropping the acorn and running behind the house. Moments later, Jake's blue Lexus makes a sharp turn into the driveway and comes to a sudden stop inches from the garage door.)
Quinn (VO): Dad!
Helen (VO): Jake!
(Interior view of the car. Jake is in the driver's seat while Helen is in the passenger seat with hands braced against the upper hand grip and the dashboard. Quinn is in the back seat, one hand spread against the door and the other against the large pile of clothes filling the rest of the seat. Jake looks at his watch.)
Jake: 1:59 PM. I told you we'd make it by 2:00!
Helen: Getting here by 2:00 wasn't that important.
Jake: I told you that I'd get us here by 2:00, and by God, I did it. No lagging behind for old Jakey. (yelling) No lagging at all, old man!
Quinn: Mo-om! Is Dad gonna freak out on our first day here? That could really look bad for all of us. Even Daria.
Helen: No, honey, your father will be fine, once I take the keys away from him.
(Jake hops out of the car, keys in hand.)
Jake: Come on, let's have a look inside!
Helen: I'm sure it looks the same as it did when we closed on the house.
Jake: But Quinn hasn't seen it, yet!
Helen (Sighs): I suppose it will give us something to do while we wait for the moving van to catch up. I think I saw it in the last town. What was it called? Oakwood?
(Quinn gets out of the car.)
Quinn: Yeah, Mom, something like that. Where are our bedrooms?
(Helen steps out of the car and points to windows above the garage.)
Helen: One room is there, above the garage, and the other is across a hall, facing the back yard.
Quinn: Great, I can go take a look and pick mine out.
Helen: Don't you think we should wait for your sister before deciding on rooms? After all, one of the rooms really needs redecorating.
Quinn: Really? (She gets a dreamy look on her face.) I can design my own room...
Helen: Tell you what, Quinn. You can take a look at it and give me your ideas for the room. When Daria gets here, she can do the same. Then, I'll decide who gets the room.
Quinn (Laughs): You're on.
(Helen and Quinn join Jake and they enter the house. The view stays on the front of the house for several seconds.)
Quinn (VO): Ewwww!
(Exterior of Morgendorffer house. A mover's truck with "Stan the Moving Man" painted on the side drives up and backs into the driveway, almost hitting Jake's car. Daria climbs down from the back of the extended cab.)
Daria: I'll go tell the parental units that their worldly possessions have arrived.
(The movers exit the vehicle and walk to the back of the van to open it and extend the loading ramp.)
Mover 1: Thanks. Are you sure you don't want that microwave? We really appreciate you watching the truck while we took care of business in the warehouse district.
Daria: No, thanks. It's a slippery slope. You only start with popcorn, but soon you're steaming broccoli and cooking real food. If Mom catches on, she'll expect me to cook for everyone.
Mover 2: Up to you, little lady. Hey, let's get this thing unloaded so we can high-tail it back to Highland. This town gives me the creeps.
Daria: Me, too. Only I have to live here.
(Interior view of Daria's room, facing the door. It is empty, except for a pile of padding torn from the wall next to the door and loose sections of bars that have been cut from the windows, leaving uneven stumps in the frames. Helen and Daria are standing at the door, looking in.)
Helen: Just think, Daria. You can decorate the room the way you want…within reason.
Daria: Uh-huh. And what, exactly, was the purpose of this room?
Helen: The previous owner's mother stayed here.
Daria: That sends an interesting message that I might need to remember in later years.
Helen: Daria, the poor woman was schizophrenic. The padding was for her safety.
Daria: Hmm, an in-home insane asylum. I'm sure it was a considerable cost savings. Next question, why didn't they finish removing the "safety features"?
Helen: The owners, um, needed to sell in a hurry. They didn't have time to complete the job.
(Daria enters the room and carefully looks around.)
Daria: Built-in TV; that's a bonus. Where's the remote?
Helen: There isn't one.
(Daria stands under the ceiling corner-mounted TV and raises a hand, unable to reach the controls.)
Daria: That doesn't do a lot of good. I guess I'll have to keep using my old one.
Helen: I better get downstairs before your father tries to help the movers again. We'll redecorate the room as soon as we can.
(Helen leaves. Daria looks around again and faintly smiles.)
Daria: I bet I'll be in college before then. I can definitely live with this.
(Kitchen. The telephone rings, causing Helen and Quinn to hurry to it.)
Quinn: Wow, the phone's already on. I bet it's some cute boy that wants to ask me out.
Helen: You haven't met any boys in town, yet. That must be Eric Schrecter, my new boss, making sure we arrived safely. Let me answer the phone.
(Helen picks up the phone. Daria enters the kitchen and looks in a small cooler. Finding it empty, she looks in the near-empty refrigerator and takes a can of soda from within.)
Helen: Hello? (Pause.) Yes, this is the Morgendorffer residence, I'm Helen. It's a surprise to hear from you. (Pause.) What was missing from the house? (Pause.) The front doorknob? Why would we take something like that? (Pause.) I don't know; that's why I asked you. We don't have any attachment to it. I bet it was those two delinquent boys that live in the neighborhood. (Pause.) It's Highland; there are delinquent boys in every neighborhood. (Pause.) Don't yell at me, the house was sold to you "as is". The doorknob was there when we left and we are not responsible for any losses after we relinquished ownership of the property to you. (Pause.) Then go to a hardware store and buy a new doorknob. (Pause.) Oh yeah? Well, good-bye to you, too.
(Helen sets the cordless handset on the counter.)
Helen: How odd, a missing doorknob. I'm so glad we got out of that awful town.
Daria: First doorknobs, the next thing you know, they're stealing the entire door.
Helen: Exactly. Sweetie, I'm so glad we finally got you and your sister away from that horrible place.
Daria: Thanks, Mom. I'm sure this town knows how to handle doorknob thieves.
Helen: You bet that they do.
Daria: I feel safer already.
(Daria goes up to her room. Two cardboard liquor bottle boxes are there, each marked "DARIA'S ROOM", along with her dresser. She takes a dull, silver doorknob from her pocket and puts it in the top dresser drawer.)
Daria: Yep, safer.
(Exterior of Morgendorffer house. The moving van pulls out of the driveway and speeds away. Holding a camera and tripod, Jake leads the family out of the house and to the "For Sale" sign.)
Jake: Come on, everybody. We need a picture to celebrate.
Helen: Jake, we're tired. Can't it wait?
Jake: Helen, it'll only take a second.
Quinn: If you're taking a picture, shouldn't we get Daria to wear something different? You know, more presentable and maybe…that makes her look like a girl.
Daria: Hold on, I'll go find my formal sporran to go with my kilt.
Helen: Let's get this over quickly. We have a lot of work to do, and I still need to run out to get groceries.
(Jake sets up the camera and tripod and tries to set the timer. The flash goes off while Helen, Daria and Quinn are still talking.)
Quinn: Dad, I wasn't in a good pose.
Daria: A real, home-cooked dinner would really make this place feel like home.
(The camera flashes again.)
Helen: We're pretty busy, Daria. But I promise I'll do my best.
Quinn: Dad, let me find a good pose.
Daria: Mom, how about lasagna?
Jake: Got it!
(Jake runs to the others and hold's Helens hand. Quinn stands to Helen's left and Daria, barely interested, is to Quinn's left. The camera flashes and then the view cuts to a still of the photo taken.)
(Daria's room. All of the furniture is in place, though the bookshelves are mostly empty and the bed is still lacking sheets. Also, several open boxes are scattered on the floor, surrounded by wadded packing paper. Daria has just placed her heart model on its shelf and moves to a new box marked "DARIA'S CLOSET". Daria picks up a couple pairs of jeans already on hangers and takes them to the closet. When she opens the door, Daria stops, looking at the wall.)
Daria: Hmm, looks like the former resident had a creative streak…and a twisted one at that, though closet walls are not your usual medium for poetry. I'll need to write this stuff down, later.
(It only takes a couple of trips for Daria to transfer all of her clothes that require hanging to the closet. Almost embarrassed, she unwraps a small mirror and looks around. She then takes a tack from a small box on her desk and presses it into the inner surface of the closet door to hang the mirror at face level. She looks in the mirror for several seconds, sighs, and closes the door.)
Daria: Vanity, thy name is Daria.
(Quinn's room. The furniture is also in place here, along with many more boxes than we saw in Daria's room, each box still sealed and neatly marked, "QUINN'S ROOM". She is ferrying clothes from a huge pile on her unmade canopy bed to the closet. She looks tired and frustrated.)
Quinn: Stupid movers. I only asked them to wear rubber gloves when hanging my clothes. I mean, who knows where those hands have been? I hope Mom and Dad gave them a bad tip.
(Parents' room. It is similar to the teens' rooms with furniture in place and packing boxes and paper piled around. Jake hurriedly and haphazardly takes things from a box and puts them on shelves, in drawers or on the dressers. He pauses and looks into the box, puzzled.)
Jake: What the hell is that? I'll ask Helen when she gets back.
(Jake moves the box to one side of the room. After a search, he locates a box cutter to cut the tape on another box, and succeeds in cutting himself in the process.)
(Exterior view of Food Lord, and then cutting to an inside view. Helen is in the frozen food aisle, examining a package of frozen lasagna. Her shopping cart contains basic essentials to get started: milk, cereal, bread, soft drinks, paper towels, toilet paper, and such.)
Helen: We're going to be busy during the next couple of days; I better pick up a couple.
(Daria's room. Everything is put away, the boxes are folded and a couple of plastic bags hold the packing paper. Daria is at her desk with a notebook open upon it.)
Daria: New town, new home, new diary. Where to begin?
(Quinn's room. She is still moving clothes from bed to closet.)
Quinn (Yelling): I could use some help in here!
Daria (VO): I'm busy.
Quinn: You don't have that much stuff to put away.
Daria (VO): I'm still busy.
Quinn: Ten dollars.
Daria (VO): No way.
Daria (VO): Forget it.
Quinn (Sighs): Abandoned by my own sister.
(Parents' room. Though mostly unpacked, the room is in disarray. Jake is seated next to a box, holding a Nehru jacket.)
Jake: Boy, does this bring back memories. I wonder what other cool stuff is in here?
(He rummages through the box, digging out other sixties relics.)
Jake: I bet some collector will pay a lot for this stuff.
(Food Lord. Helen is at the checkout, endorsing a traveler's check while a teenage girl cashier watches.)
Cashier: We only take local checks.
Helen: That's okay; it's a traveler's check.
Cashier: Is it local?
Cashier: Then I can't accept it. Why don't you get a local checking account?
Helen: I just moved into town today. Look, this is a traveler's check. It's good for the amount shown, $100. People buy them so they have a safe way to carry money when they travel and places may not accept out of town checks.
Cashier: Oh, okay, now I understand.
Cashier: Can I see a local ID?
(Kitchen. Jake, Quinn and Daria are seated at the table. Sealed boxes are stacked on the floor and counter. Paper plates, cups and plastic sporks are on the table when Helen, holding it with two hand towels, sets the now-cooked lasagna down.)
Helen: Our first home-cooked meal in our new home.
Daria: More like, home-microwaved.
Helen: It's still cooking, something I don't see you do a lot of around here.
Quinn: Yeah, and she wouldn't even help me unpack.
Daria: Just as much as you helped me.
Jake: Mmmm, this smells delicious.
(Jake serves himself a large portion of lasagna and takes a bite.)
Jake: Wow, this is the best lasagna you've ever made, honey.
(Helen is both irritated, since it is frozen lasagna, and also pleased that Jake actually noticed.)
Helen: Um, thank you, dear.
Quinn: Is there a mall around here?
Helen: Yes, there's one on the other side of town.
Quinn: Can we go there tomorrow?
Helen: I was planning on going shopping.
Daria: Quinn hasn't finished putting her current harvest of clothes away. Why go out and get her some more?
Helen: Oh, we're not going clothes shopping; we have to decorate this house. Daria, you're coming along so you can start getting ideas for your room.
Quinn: We don't have to bring Daria, do we?
Daria: I'm in no hurry.
Helen: I start my new job on Monday and you two start school. This weekend is the best time we'll have to do this. You girls and I are going shopping tomorrow. It'll be a great mother-daughters bonding experience.
Jake: What about me?
Helen: We need you to get the house ready. Can you do that?
Jake: You bet!
(Exterior view of a home décor center. Inside, Quinn leads the way as Helen pushes a cart holding curtains, new linens and such. Daria follows with a cart holding plastic, potted plants. Her arms are folded on the cart push bar and she's resting her head on them. Quinn stops at a display of paintings.)
Quinn: That ballerina is so adorable.
Helen: Original paintings would be nice to have in our home. Quinn, I think that one will look good in the hallway by your room. Daria?
Daria (Bored): It's a painting.
Helen (Frustrated): Daria, do you think it will look good in the hallway by your room?
Daria: I suppose it's visually more interesting than a bare wall.
Helen: I'll take that as a yes.
(Helen places the painting in Daria's cart.)
Helen: Daria, your turn to pick a painting. How about something for the living room?
(Daria looks for several seconds and then points at an abstract.)
Daria: That one.
Quinn: Eww. It's all a bunch of squiggles.
Helen: Are you sure?
Daria (Still bored): It speaks to me in a Jackson Pollock sort of way.
Helen: It has that sort of feel. Okay, Daria. Besides, it shows that I….um…we can think originally.
Daria: Uh-huh. When do the partners get to see the house?
Helen: Not for a couple weeks, but you can never be prepared too early.
Quinn: Mom, you can't be serious. You want your bosses to see that?
(Helen places the painting in Daria's cart.)
Helen: Yes, Quinn. Why don't you pick out something for the guest room?
Quinn (Immediately cheered): Oh, okay.
(Morgendorffer house. The Lexus arrives, stuffed full of furnishings and with the plastic plants sticking out of the partially-open trunk. When the car stops, the doors open and all three occupants climb out, revealing that there was barely room for them with everything else in the car. At one of the back doors, Daria looks down as several loose items roll out onto the ground.)
Daria: Good thing we didn't buy anything else.
Helen: That was a bit cramped; I'm sorry, girls. I guess I got a little carried away.
Quinn: At least it's a Thursday and nobody important, my age, saw me crammed into the car. I would be so embarrassed if they had. Why couldn't we have left Daria at home and used that space for stuff?
Helen: Because Daria's opinion is important. Besides, her room needs redecorating and she should make the…oh, my.
Daria (Shrugs): Don't worry, Mom. We can redecorate my room later. I can take my time and do it just right.
Helen: Thank you for being understanding, Sweetie.
(Another box falls out of the car and lands at Helen's feet. She looks down at it and sighs.)
Helen: We need a second, bigger car.
(Living room. Boxes and bags and other signs of moving still fill most of the room. Quinn is on one of the sofas, reading a copy of Waif while Daria is on another, reading Brave New World. Jake and Helen are at the front door.)
Helen: Girls, your father and I should only be gone for a couple of hours, but just in case you get hungry, there's leftover lasagna in the refrigerator.
Quinn: Are there any carrot sticks left?
Helen: Yes, I think so.
Quinn: Good. Oh, Mom, do you think you could try to find cheeseless lasagna next time?
Jake: Come on, Helen. We want to get an early start on those car salesmen. It's easier to talk them down on price before their third cup of coffee.
Helen: Yes, dear. One more thing, girls, the cable guy is supposed to be here between nine and three.
Quinn: It's about time.
Helen: It's only been a week since we turned off the cable in Highland.
Quinn: Like I said.
Helen: Quinn, I don't need this.
Daria (To Quinn): Don't push it. (To Helen) Mom, we'll be right here to let him in.
Helen: Thank you, Daria.
Daria: Hopefully, he won't be a serial killer.
Helen (Rubs her forehead): Try not to scare him away. With a little luck, your father and I will be back before the cable guy arrives.
Jake: With a brand new car for your mother. I can't wait to start the negotiations.
Helen: Remember dear, no yelling.
(Jake and Helen leave.)
Quinn: Do you really think he might be a serial killer?
Daria: No, Quinn. He's probably harmless, unless his exposed butt cleavage makes you go blind.
Quinn: Daria! Do you have to think about things like that?
Daria: At least you'll be prepared.
(They go back to reading. After a short time, Quinn sets her magazine down and appears slightly nervous.)
Daria: Yes, Quinn?
Quinn: What do you think our new school will be like?
Daria: Other than lacking the grime and decay, a lot like our last one. We'll still see the same kind of popular people, jocks, slackers, nerds, stoners, outcasts, and students just trying to survive for four years. Most of the teachers will be overworked, underpaid and trying to keep their classes from running amok long enough to cash their paychecks.
Daria: You know, Lawndale does seem to be a lot wealthier than Highland. I bet the students dress better.
Quinn: You're right! Maybe we can even find…
Daria: Don't try, Quinn. Don't even try.
Quinn: You're gonna dress the same as always, aren't you?
Daria: I don't see any reason to change. People are people. You'll be as popular and I'll be just as much of an outcast here as in Highland.
Quinn: Do you really think I'll be as popular?
Daria: I bet you'll make friends as soon as you set foot on campus.
(Living room. The cable installer is a young man who is standing at the door, looking at a clipboard and about to leave. Quinn is leaning on the end of the banister talking to him while Daria looks on from her previous position on the sofa.)
Cable Guy: You're all hooked up, including the bonus movie channel package.
Quinn: Adding the extra movies was sweet, but thank you so much.
Cable Guy: My pleasure. Anything to make the customer happy.
Quinn: I'll make sure to call if I have any questions.
Cable Guy: I look forward to it.
(Grinning, the cable installer leaves. Annoyed, Daria looks up.)
Daria: Already charming gullible guys into giving you stuff. It didn't take you long.
Quinn: It's just a couple of extra movies. Besides, I haven't had a chance for any boys to notice me since we left our old place.
Daria: And if you don't use your charm, it will build up inside your head until it explodes.
Quinn: Daria, it's just a little harmless fun.
Daria: Remember that when Dad sees the cable bill.
(Exterior of Morgendorffer house. A red SUV with the price tag still in the window, followed by the blue Lexus, arrives and parks in the driveway. Helen exits from the new SUV and Jake from the Lexus.)
Helen: I can't believe the nerve of the salesman. What kind of idiot would fall for that trick?
Helen: I should know better than to trust any car place with "honest" in the name.
Jake: But, we have a new car.
Helen: Once we talked to the manager and got rid of that baboon.
Jake: Did you really need to threaten a lawsuit?
Helen: That wasn't a threat; that was a promise. Just because I don't have a Y chromosome, that doesn't mean that I don't understand the value of something.
Jake: He did take a thousand dollars off of the price when you said that. Hmm, I wonder…
Helen: Jake! Legal action is serious business and shouldn't be used as a negotiating ploy.
Jake: Yes, dear.
(Living room. Everything has been unpacked and put in place. Jake, Daria and Quinn, all looking tired, sit one each on the sofa sections. Jake has the TV remote and is channel surfing while Helen tries to adjust the painting on the wall behind.)
Helen: There, it's finally level.
Jake: Wow, the Monster Channel. Classic monster movies all the time. I didn't know we got that.
(On the TV is "Bride of Frankenstein", as the bride first appears.)
Quinn: Oh my God, that hair!
Daria: Personal grooming note: lightning strikes are bad for your hair.
Quinn: Oh, I can't watch. Change it, Daddy.
(Jake changes the channel to show an airplane going down in flames.)
Jake: The Movies at War Channel! This is great.
(Helen takes the remote from Jake and searches through several more movie channels.)
Helen: Oh, for heaven's sake. We didn't order that movie package; it cost too much. That cable guy must've installed it by mistake.
(Daria looks at Quinn, faintly smiles and holds up five fingers. Quinn frowns back, making Daria hold up the other five. Quinn glares, but nods in defeated agreement.)
Helen: Jake, you'll have to call the cable company on Monday. I know I'm just going to be swamped my first day at work.
Jake: Honey, I have to be at work, too.
Helen: Jake, how many clients do you have?
Jake: None, yet. But I'm sure…
Helen: Then taking a couple minutes to call the cable company shouldn't take too much out of your day.
Jake: When you put it that way, I suppose not.
Helen: Good. Speaking of tomorrow, are you girls excited about a brand, new school?
Quinn: I can hardly wait. I'm sure I'll be just as popular as before, if not more.
Helen: That's great, Quinn. What about you, Daria?
Daria: I'm looking forward to not needing to scrape tobacco spit off of the bottom of my boots when I go through the front door.
Helen: Daria. This school district is better funded than Highland. At least the library should be larger.
Daria: Okay, a library with books printed after 1975 does get me excited.
Helen: Daria, this is a whole new chance. I hope you take advantage of it.
Daria: Only if the school isn't stocked with typical American teenagers and teachers.
Helen: Daria, please try. I have a good feeling about this town.
Daria: Let's hope the town doesn't start feeling back.
(Kitchen. Daria, Quinn and Jake are at the dining table. Jake and Daria are reading the paper and almost done eating breakfast. Quinn is touch-up filing her nails. Helen, rushed, puts a cup and plate in the dishwasher and closes it.)
Helen: I better get going, don't want to be late for my first day at the office. I hope everyone has a great day today.
Quinn: Bye, Mom.
Jake: Bye, honey.
(Helen waits a few moments for some eye contact. Not getting any attention, she hurries past to the door.)
Helen: Goodbye. Hopefully, I'll be home in time to cook dinner. If not, there's more lasagna in the freezer.
Daria: You know, lasagna might get real old if this keeps up.
Quinn: She still needs to find a cheeseless version.
(The remaining three go back to finishing their breakfast. Jake folds his paper and sets it down.)
Jake: Hey girls, how would you like a ride to school today with old Dad?
Daria: Beats walking.
Quinn: Oh, thank you, Daddy. I can make a much better entrance from a car.
Jake: Then come on, kids.
(They clear the table and put dishes in the washer. Quinn and Daria grab their backpacks and follow Jake to the Lexus. Quinn takes the front passenger seat and Daria sits in back. The car backs out of the driveway and heads off down the street.)
Thanks to Louise Lobinske, Kristen Bealer, Ipswichfan and Mr. Orange for beta reading.