Kinesha’s first Kwanzaa
Daria sat quietly on the loveseat thinking about what was about to happen. Alone in the tiny room, she looked up in time to see Trent walk through the foyer. Breathing a sigh of relief, she was happy he didn’t see her yet. Slowly, she let her mind wander.
It was her second day at Lawndale High. The day before hadn’t gone very well and now she was sitting in a classroom after school had let out listening to her English teacher drone on about self-esteem. Trying to make the best of a bad situation, she began taking notes. Scribbling his ramblings in her notebook, she finally had to interrupt. The exchange about “realizing her acuality” confirmed her suspicions; it was going to be a long few weeks. After Mr. O’Neill resumed his delivery, she heard a voice from behind her.
“Just pretend to listen. I’ll fill you in later. I’ve taken this course six times.”
Turning to where the voice was coming from, she saw a skinny guy with dark hair. In a voice barely above a whisper, Daria said, “Uh. Okay. Thanks.”
After the class let out, the guy introduced himself.
“Hey. I’m Trent.”
“I’m, uh, Daria.” Pulling on her pack, Daria asked, “So you’ve taken this class six times already? Why?”
“Can’t stay awake.”
“Oh.” Daria said. “See you Thursday then.”
They saw each other earlier than that. As it turned out, they had several classes together. After seeing each other all morning, they finally hooked up at lunch. Being the only two at the table, Trent filled her in on all the details of how self-esteem class worked. Daria soon realized the class wasn’t very much and decided to change the topic to something more interesting.
“So what do you do when not taking self-esteem classes?”
“Not much. Me and some guys are in a band.”
Sipping her cola, Daria was a little amused at the slight embarrassment he was showing at telling her about his musical activities. The more she looked at him the cuter he got to her. Realizing what was happening; she shook the thought out of her head. It was too early to fall for a guy. That would make her too much like Quinn and that was NOT going to happen if she had anything to say about it. Putting the glass down, she asked, “Really? Have you guys played anywhere?”
Trent’s face turned red.
“Just the basement of my house. We’re really not that good.”
“Everybody’s got to start somewhere.” Daria said. “I’m sure you’ll get better.”
“I hope so. I really like making music.”
Before the conversation could continue, the bell rang and they had to return to class. Separating, they didn’t really talk again until lunch the next day. Soon the routine became comfortable, lunch every day and esteem class every Tuesday and Thursday. Soon though the weeks were up and they got their certificates of esteem. Walking out of the classroom, Trent said, “Thanks for helping me stay awake, now I that I don’t have to come back I can practice more with the guys.”
“Sure. Happy to help” Daria said, “Well, see you tomorrow morning.”
Stopping for a moment, Trent said, “Um Daria.”
Daria turned to look at him.
“Now that class was over, I was wondering…”
“Wondering what?” Daria asked.
“Well we’ve been practicing.”
“Me and Mystic Spyral.”
Daria’s eyes got very wide at the mention of those words.
“Our band.” Trent said.
Daria nodded. “Oh I see.” In her mind, she asked, “Where did they come up with that name?”
“Anyway.” Trent continued, “We want to get an opinion of how we’re doing. We wanted to know if you’d like to come over tomorrow afternoon and hear us.”
“Uh. Sure. When?”
“How about we meet after school? I’ll walk with you to my house.”
“Sure.” Daria said. “Well, see you then. Bye.”
The next afternoon, Daria and Trent met in front of the school. All the way to his house, he and Daria talked about the various things going on in each of their lives. As the journey progressed, he began to realize how at comfortable he was with her. Usually he was a basket case with girls but she was easy for him to be around. Stopping where he was, he took a second to clear the thought from his brain. He had enough to worry about right now without falling for someone. Standing there, it took a second for him to hear Daria’s voice.
Turning to look at her, he said, “Huh?”
“Are you okay?”
Deciding a lie was the best action, he told her, “Yea. I just thought about a lyric.”
“Oh. Okay. Hope you’ll remember it until you get home.”
“No problem there.”
Once at his house, they started toward the basement door. “The other guys will be here in a minute.” He said. “I’m gonna go down and start setting up. You can hang here or go with me.”
Just then, a thin young woman with dark hair came downstairs.
“Trent?” she asked. “I thought I heard you. Have you had anything to eat yet?”
Closing the basement door, Trent said, “No. It’s early. I just got in. The guys are coming over to practice so I was just getting ready.”
“I know. That’s why I made extra sandwiches. They’re in the fridge.” Finally seeing Daria, she asked, “Who’s this?”
“Oh yea.” Trent said. “Jane This is Daria. Daria, this is my sister, Jane.”
Jane shook Daria’s hand.
“Hi Daria. Trent’s mentioned you once or twice. It’s nice to meet you.”
Glancing over to see her little brother’s face turn red from embarrassment, Jane knew she had done well.
“Nice to meet you too.” Daria said. “Uh, I hate to impose but where’s your bathroom?”
Pointing, Jane said, “There.”
Once Daria was out of earshot, Jane went over to her brother.
“She’s cute. Where’d you two meet?”
“In self-esteem class. She’s the one who helped me pass.”
Smiling, Jane said, “Ah. So she’s the one. You’ve picked a winner here. Cute and smart.”
Trent was shocked.
“Hey. It’s not like that. We’re just friends.”
Jane laughed slightly.
“Whatever you say. Look, I have a date with Evan but I’ll be back early. You can practice a little later than usual but I want the gang gone before I get home.”
“Okay.” Trent said.
Jane continued, “Oh yea, and be a gentleman and walk Daria home. Girls like that stuff.”
Before Trent could one again argue the point that they were just friends, the bathroom door opened and Daria returned.
Knowing Jane could easily take the opportunity to make things even more awkward for him, Trent took a deep breath to reinforce his nerves.
Luckily, before Jane could say anything else, the doorbell rang. Opening it, she gave Evan a quick kiss and turned to look at Trent.
“Remember what I said, the sandwiches are in the fridge and no later than nine. Okay?”
Trent smiled, mostly out of relief it was over, but also out of gratitude to his sister taking such good care of him. “Okay.” He said.
“Later bro. Nice meeting you Daria.”
“Nice meeting you too.” Daria said.
Soon after Jane left, the rest of the band began showing up. To Daria it seemed the majority of practice involved plugging in and tuning the instruments. Eventually though, all four had everything set up. Looking at Daria, Trent asked, “Are you ready?”
Shrugging, Daria said, “Yea. I guess.”
Trent smiled. “Cool.” Looking at Jesse, Max, and Nick, he said, “Okay let’s do it.”
From the first chord, Daria knew why they hadn’t played any gigs yet. They were REALLY bad. Practice was definitely required. She did note though that they did seem sincere in wanting to get better. That allowed her to at least be able to sit through that ear wrenching set. It was with great relief that she noted it was after eight and Jane said they should be gone by nine. Taking her cue, Trent nodded for the guys to start breaking everything down.
Later that evening, Jane returned to see Trent laying on his stomach on the sofa. One arm was hanging off the cushion holding the neck of his guitar. Looking at the peaceful scene, she knew what had to be done.
Trent suddenly jumped off the couch in shock.
“HEY!” He screamed. “Dammit Janey. I hate it when you stick ice down my shirt.”
Chuckling, she said, “Over the years I’ve learned it’s the best way of waking you up fast.” Sitting in the chair, she asked, “So how did practice go?”
Putting his guitar in his lap, he slowly strummed it and said, “Okay I guess. We still suck but hopefully we’ll get better soon.”
“I’m sure you will.” Stopping for a second, she changed the subject. “So did you walk Daria home like I said?”
Nodding, Trent said, “Yea. I did.” Before she could say anything to embarrass him, he continued. “And let’s leave it at that. Okay.”
As the school year progressed, it became a common scene to see Daria sitting in the basement as Trent and the guys practiced. Her regular visits allowed her to see that they were getting much better with every rehearsal. Trent told her it was because they finally had an audience to let them know how they were doing but Daria didn’t feel her sitting there doing homework was really that much feedback. Still, she took the compliment in stride and continued to be an audience of one for her friends.
Eventually, school was coming to an end and practice took a back seat to everyone studying for exams. Sitting at the lunch table, Daria looked across at Trent and asked, “So are you ready for your algebra final tomorrow?”
“Yea.” Trent said, “Ready to fail. I’ve never been any good at math. I’m barely passing right now. The test tomorrow will sink me for sure.”
“Look. Why don’t you come by my house this afternoon? I’ll help you study. Mom and Dad won’t be back till late and Quinn will be out at the Fashion Club annual something or other so we can study in quiet.”
“Are you sure it’s okay?”
“Yea. I’ve been in your house enough. It’s time for you to be in mine some.”
Smiling, Trent said, “Cool. Thanks.”
That afternoon found Trent sitting next to Daria at her kitchen table going over formulas. In spite of really being bad at math, her patient tutoring seemed to be sinking in. The longer she worked with him, the more confident he felt that the test tomorrow would be not as challenging. Looking at her, he wanted to thank her for all she was doing, before he could though, a voice broke his train of thought.
“Hellooo. Daria? Are you home.”
Sighing again, Daria said, “Yes. I’m in the kitchen.”
When Helen saw Daria was with someone she almost dropped the grocery bag out of shock.
“Daria. Who’s this?”
Fearing this would happen, Daria finally had to own up to her friendship.
“Mom. This is Trent. I’m helping him study for an exam.”
Going over to the table, Helen shook Trent’s hand.
“Hello Trent. I’m Helen, Daria’s mother. It’s nice to finally meet one of her friends.”
“Nice to meet you too.”
Getting up, he closed his books and started to gather everything together. “It was really nice meeting you but I better get going. I need to study a little by myself and get something to eat.” Pausing to put his books under his arm, he continued. “Hopefully there’s still a sandwich in the refrigerator.”
“Is that all the food in your house?” Helen asked.
“Yea.” Trent said. “Mom and Dad are gone again and Janey is busy trying to get into grad school so grocery shopping has been low on the priority list.”
Helen crossed her arms.
“Young man. Put your books down and get back to studying. You’re eating dinner with us tonight. Then you can go home. Do you like lasagna?”
Trent smiled. While it wasn’t his plan to eat here, he liked the idea of a hot meal for a change.
It wasn’t too much longer that Jake showed up. After another round of introductions, all four sat down to dinner. While it wasn’t the whole family, Daria was quietly relieved that Quinn wasn’t there to complicate matters any more. In spite of a few embarrassing stories and a few even more embarrassing questions, things seemed to be going reasonably well. Eventually dinner ended and Trent decided it was time to go home. Thanking Jake and Helen for dinner he left for Casa Lane.
After he was gone, Helen looked at her daughter.
“Daria. Why didn’t you tell us you had a friend?”
Not really having a good answer, Daria said the first thing that came into her head.
“It never really came up I guess.”
“Well don’t be shy about inviting him over. We’d like to get to know him more.”
Knowing there was no real way to say no, Daria said, “Okay. I need to go to my room and study some more. Mr. O’Neill’s test is tomorrow so I need to go over some notes.” It was a lie of course. O’Neill’s class was a breeze but it would help her escape an awkward situation.
“Okay Sweetie. If you need anything you’ll let me know. Right?”
“Um sure. Thanks”
As Daria headed up the stairs, Helen stopped her.
“Did Quinn say when she’d be coming back in?”
Shaking her head, Daria said, “No. She just said she’d be at Sandi’s for a while and be home as soon as possible. Now I really need to get to studying.”
Once Daria was out of sight, Helen picked up the phone and called Sandi’s house. If Daria had a test the next day Quinn must surely have one too. Playtime with her friends would have to be postponed a few days.
Walking home, Trent thought about his evening. Daria had a nice family. They were a little high strung but considering how his parents were, they seemed almost normal. Jake was a little more out there than Helen but he seemed sincere. He wondered why Daria was so reluctant for him to meet them. Guessing that was something he’d never truly understand he tried to keep his mind on his exam the next morning.
Then next day at lunch, Daria asked, “So how did the test go?”
“I think I did okay. Your help really paid off. I managed to remember most of what you showed me. We’ll know for sure how much I remembered tomorrow.”
“Well Good luck.”
“Thanks.” Trent said. Looking at her tray, he asked, “Are you going to eat those?”
Giving her patented smirk, Daria lifted her tray and raked the peas onto his.
The following day, Daria sat alone at the table. She wondered where Trent was. She had seen him earlier in Mr. DeMartino’s class so he had made it to school. Why had he skipped lunch? Whatever it was had to be important for him to pass up his most complete meal of the day. When she saw him later, he’d probably tell her. Figuring there was nothing she could do about it, she went back to her burger.
Four hours later, the final bell rang for everyone to be dismissed for the year. Walking along the corridor toward the exit, Daria finally saw Trent running towards her. When they met up she noticed his very large smile.
“Trent?” She asked. “Are you okay?”
Nodding madly, Trent said, “Yea. I’m great. Sorry I missed you at lunch but I was waiting for my algebra score.” Giving Daria the slip of paper he had been holding, he said, “Check it out. I passed. The score was high enough that I won’t have to take summer school. Thanks for your help.”
Before he could think about his actions, he reached over and hugged Daria. Quickly realizing what he was doing he let go. Looking at Daria, he could see her face was bright red. He figured his was as red if not redder.
“Uh. You’re welcome.” Daria said. “I’ll see you later. Okay.”
Before he could say anything else, Daria ran out of the school.
Later that evening, Mystik Spyral gathered for their first rehearsal in two weeks. Standing there, the guys asked Trent where Daria was. Not wanting to tell them what happened, he tried to come up with an excuse for her but when they didn’t buy any of his reasons they pressured him into calling her house to invite her over.
Helen answered the phone.
“Hello. Helen Morgendorffer speaking.”
“Oh hi Trent. Yes Daria’s here.”
Going upstairs, Helen knocked on Daria’s door. From the other side, she heard her oldest daughter’s voice.
“Daria, It’s Trent. He wants to talk to you.”
“Tell him I’m in the shower.”
“Is there a problem?”
“No. I just don’t want to talk to him right now.”
Confused, Helen took her hand off the mouthpiece and put the phone to her ear.
“Trent. Daria can’t come to the phone right now. Can I take a message?”
“Okay. I’ll tell her as soon as possible. Bye.”
Hanging up, Helen knocked on Daria’s door again.
“Daria. May I come in?”
From the other side, Helen heard a loud sigh.
Opening the door, Helen walked over and sat at the foot of Daria’s bed.
“Sweetie? Is something wrong?”
Putting her book down, Daria looked up at her mom and said, “No. Why should there be?”
“Well you’re avoiding Trent. Did something happen between you two?”
Seeing the sincerity in Helen’s eyes, Daria decided she might as well talk to her. She might be able to help her figure out what’s going on. Putting the book away, she turned and sat next to Helen.
“Today after school Trent showed me his score for the exam I helped him study for. After showing me how he’d done he…”
Helen was getting concerned now. Perhaps Trent wasn’t as nice as he seemed. “He what?” She asked.
Daria bowed her head and said, “Hugged me.”
“That’s it?” Helen thought. Smiling at Daria, she asked, “Well how did it happen?”
“He showed me his grade, told me it meant he didn’t have to go to summer school, thanked me, then he hugged me.”
Turning to get a better look at her little girl, she said, “Well it sounds harmless enough. Why are you so upset?”
“I really like Trent.” Daria said. “But as a friend. What if this hug meant more than that to him? I don’t want him to get the wrong idea.”
“I don’t think you have anything to worry about.” Helen said. “It sounds like he was just grateful for your help.” Looking at Daria, she smiled again. “Besides. Avoiding him won’t make things any easier. You need to see him again. Then you’ll be able to know what his intentions are. If they are anything serious you can handle it from there. If they weren’t, then you can let things go back to normal.”
Daria nodded slightly.
“I guess you’re right. What did he want anyway?”
“He said rehearsal was about to start and the guys wanted to know here their audience was. He said if you get free, your seat was waiting.”
Allowing herself a brief smile, Daria said, “Well I can’t turn down an invitation like that. I’ll be at Trent’s house for a little while.”
Following her daughter out of her room, Helen said, “It’s getting dark out. Why don’t you let me drive you? When you’re ready to come home, Jake or I will pick you up.”
Figuring it would be better than walking all the way there, Daria said, “Okay. Thanks, but…”
Smiling, Helen reassured her daughter.
“Don’t worry, I’ll just drop you off. I won’t stick around.”
“Thanks for understanding.”
“You’re welcome Sweetie. Just answer me one question.”
Daria eyed her mother with suspicion.
“Do you think Trent’s sister has bought groceries yet?”
Pulling up in front of Casa Lane, Daria slid out of the SUV.
“Thanks for the ride.” Sliding the box out of the back seat, she continued. “And thanks for the pizza. I’m sure they’ll like it.”
Looking through the passenger side door, Helen said, “My pleasure. Now remember to call us when you’re ready to come home. Okay?”
Closing the door, Daria said, “Okay. Bye.”
After Helen was gone, Daria went to the front door and rang the bell. Figuring it was a futile exercise for anyone to hear over the din in the basement she was shocked when Jane answered the door.
“Hey Daria. Didn’t think you were coming over tonight.”
“Neither did I but Trent called and invited me.”
“Well you almost missed it. Practice is being cut short tonight.”
“I’m studying for my GRE. I need quiet.”
Finally, Jane noticed Daria had a flat box in her hands.
“Is that food?”
“Yea. Mom bought it for the band.”
“Well come on in. I’ll get the guys. Is it okay if I have some too?” Jane asked.
“Of course.” Daria said.
“Great.” Jane said. “Go on into the kitchen. I’ll drag the guys away from their dream and be back up in a minute.”
Once the band learned there was food in the house, practice was officially over for the evening. Due to the crowd, Daria and Trent never had a chance discuss what happened earlier that day. While both were tense for a little while, things began to get back to normal and before the evening ended they were back to their old selves. Neither one ever brought up the hug again.
The summer soon progressed into a routine that they both enjoyed. After taking her graduate exam, Jane had gone off to an artist’s colony so Trent was alone most of the time. His days were often spent hanging out with his friends either practicing or talking about their dreams for the Spyral and many of the evenings were spent at the Morgendorffer’s eating dinner and talking with Daria. Things had become very good for both of them. Daria had become comfortable with her parents getting to know Trent and Trent had come to feel at ease around Jake and Helen. It helped that Jake and Helen accepted Trent into their house with open arms but that was because they really liked him too. Eventually the joyride ended and it was time for school to start again.
Junior year started off much better for Daria and Trent. Unlike the year before, they managed to swing sitting next to each other in the classes they shared. While it wasn’t much, they did seem to feel more comfortable in class sitting next to each other. As the months progressed, the routine once more fell into place. After school was usually spent at Daria’s house studying. Then, on several nights, they would spend a few hours at Trent’s with the band trying to get it right. For the duo, life was good. Things felt right and nothing could make them feel better. Sadly, they weren’t aware that’s when life likes to throw a curve ball.
On a rare evening alone, Daria was sitting her room reading when Quinn came in with the phone.
“Hey Daria. It’s Trent. Could you guys be quick? I’m expecting an important call from Sandi.”
Taking the phone, Daria looked her sister in they eyes and said, “Sure. I just need to read a few chapters from “The Great Gatsby” to him. That should only take about an hour, two at the most.”
Quinn crossed her arms and stared back.
“Real funny. Just be quick. Okay.”
“Just go. Sis!”
Quinn clenched her fists and let out a groan. “Arrgh.” Then turned and left.
Putting the phone to her ear, Daria asked, “Trent?”
“Hey Daria. Great news.”
“Really” What is it?”
“We got our first gig!”
“Somebody’s letting us play at their club. And it’s for free!”
Daria was officially confused.
“Let me get this straight. You’re excited about performing and not getting money for it?”
“Hey. It’s better than the other places.” Trent said. “They wanted us to pay them. So by my math we come out ahead.”
“I guess. So when and where is this musical extravaganza going to be?”
“Friday at the Zon. Do you know where that is?”
Daria thought for a second.
“It’s on Dega Street. Right?”
“Yea. We’re playing one set and the guys want you there. Can you come?”
“By they want me there, does that mean I’m being drafted to move equipment.”
“Of course not. They know you better than that. They just want you there for our debut.” Pausing for a second, Trent resumed. “More than that. I want you there for our debut. You’ve stuck with us through the worst. Now I want you there to see us shine.”
In the privacy of her room, Daria allowed herself a big smile.
“I’ll be there. When is your set supposed to be?”
After a long moment of silence, Trent said, “I don’t know. I forgot to ask. I’ll call when I find out. Okay?”
After hanging up, Daria sat there and thought about the conversation.
“See us shine?” she said to herself. “At least they don’t lack confidence.”
Friday evening came and Daria kept her promise. When she showed up at the club, Trent and the guys were almost ready to go. After ordering a soda, Daria sat down in the back and waited for them to begin. Soon after, Trent walked up to the microphone. Looking out at the nearly empty club, he said, “Hey we’re Mystik Spyral.” After no reaction, he added, “But we’re thinking of changing our name.” Nodding to the gang, they began their set.
Sitting in the back listening to the all too familiar songs, Daria quietly sipped on her drink. In her concentration, it took a second for her to notice the tall man standing next to her table.
“Hello.” He said. “I haven’t seen you in here before.”
Setting her drink down, Daria looked up at him and said, “Um yea. I’m a friend of the band. I just came to see them play.”
The man smiled.
“So you’re Daria then. They hoped you would show up.” Holding out his hand, Daria shook it. “I’m Ted. I run the place. It’s nice to meet you.”
“Uh nice to meet you too.” She said. “Mind if I ask you a question?”
Gesturing to the stage with her head, Daria began.
“No offense but they aren’t that good. I should know. I’ve been to almost every rehearsal for a year. If you don’t mind me asking, why did you let them play here?”
Laughing, Ted said, “Hey they’re not as bad as some bands I’ve heard. Plus everybody needs a chance to start somewhere. They have potential. This is a way for them to get a feel for performing without any real risk. I’ve been where they are. This will help them get better faster. Plus it’s early. They’ll be gone and my house band will be in before the regular crowd shows.”
“That’s really nice of him.” Daria thought. Out loud she said. “Ah.”
Ted looked at her again.
“Well I have other things to attend too. It was nice meeting you and come back anytime. Not just when you’re with the band.”
Sitting back in her chair, Daria nursed her drink until the band was finished.
After the show, She watched them break everything down and pack up. Once they were finished, all of them went back to Casa Lane to celebrate. Because of the size of Trent’s car, it was so packed with equipment that only one other person could fit into it. Since Daria didn’t trust the look of Nick’s car, she chose to ride with Trent. On the way back home, Trent asked, “So what did you think?”
Daria feared this moment. She thought they had done okay but she hoped Trent didn’t want the truth. Hoping she would give the right answer she said, “You did okay. It was a good show.”
Trent smiled. “Cool. I guess the Spyral is on it’s way.”
The remainder of the evening was spent in the basement with Trent, Jesse, Nick, and Max talking about their dreams for the band. Daria sat back next to Trent eating pizza, listening to them ramble on and enjoying just being there.
As time moved on the guys did play the Zon more and more. Sure enough, Ted was right. The more they played on stage the better they got. Eventually they were allowed a second set. One Friday though, something happened. The first set was ending and Daria got up to get a refill before going over to hang with the guys during their break when a tall guy in a sweater came up. Standing next to her said, “Hey. You like the band?”
Stuck there waiting for her glass to be refilled, Daria figured she’d be polite. “You could say that.” She said. “They’re my friends. I’m here for almost every performance.”
“Ah.” The guy said. “So you’re the official groupie.”
Seeing the look in her eyes, he knew he had said the wrong thing. Hoping to rectify his gaffe, he thought carefully before saying anything else.
“Sorry. That was a bad joke. Let me pay for your drink to make it up. Please?”
“Okay. But don’t say anything like that again.”
Raising his hand, he said “I promise.” Lowering it he offered it to her.
“I’m Tom by the way. And you are?”
Sensing he was harmless enough for the moment, Daria shook his hand.
“Nice to meet you Daria.”
Before the conversation could go any further the band finished their song and started their break. Going over to Daria, Trent asked, “Who was that guy you were talking to?”
“Just some guy.” Daria said. “He seemed nice enough.”
Looking at Tom sitting at the table. Trent wondered what his motives were.
“If you say so Daria. Just be careful.”
Daria jabbed her elbow into Trent’s ribs.
“Okay Dad. I’ll be a good girl.”
Rubbing his side, Trent said, “Hey watch it. That hurt.”
Later on, after the band started back up, Tom came back over and started talking to Daria again. As they spoke, it became clear they had many common interests. It didn’t take long for Daria to really start to like him. As Trent played, he watched the events from onstage. Worried about what his friend was doing, he felt helpless to do anything from his vantage point. After the show he went over to where the two were sitting.
“Hey Trent.” Daria said. “This is Tom. Tom this is Trent.”
Nodding to acknowledge each other, Tom began the conversation.
“You guys are good. You have a unique sound.”
“Uh Thanks.” Trent said. “We’ve been practicing. Daria can vouch for that. She’s at almost every one.”
“Yea that’s what she said.”
Looking over at Daria, Trent changed the subject.
“So we’re going to be ready to go in about fifteen minutes. You wanna go ahead and order the pizza? We can pick it up on the way back to the house.”
Daria suddenly became uneasy, “Uh Trent.” She said. “Tom invited me to go to get a hamburger. I hope you don’t mind.”
Trent did mind but he didn’t want to seem like a jerk. “Of course not.” He said. “I’ll tell the guys. You two have a good time. Well if you’ll excuse me, I need to help break down. See you later Daria.”
“Okay. Bye Trent. I’ll call you in the morning.”
Going back to the stage. Trent wondered if Daria knew what she was doing. She barely knew the guy and she was running off with him. He hoped she would be okay. When he turned around to look at the table again, he saw they had already left. Realizing it was now out of his hands, he went to helping his bandmates pack up.
As time passed, Daria saw more of Tom. While Trent was happy that Daria had a boyfriend, he was also upset at the thought that Tom seemed to be taking away his closest friend. They still saw each other at school and at study sessions in the afternoons but most other free time was spent apart. Trent truly missed her company. While he felt he should say something to her, a few things prevented him from doing so. For one thing, Daria seemed genuinely happy around Tom, combined with the fact that Tom seemed like a genuinely nice guy and the fact the band was really beginning to take more of his free time and the sad fact was he never said anything to her.
Eventually love struck Trent too. One night while playing a paying gig at the Zon he met a girl named Monique. As it turned out she was starting a band of her own. This one common interest sparked a small romance that seemed to come and go as the mood of each changed. While to others it seemed Trent and Monique weren’t right for each other, it turned out they enjoyed each other’s company. Breaking up was a routine they liked because it meant they could reconcile after a token separation.
The school year ended and the summer passed with Daria and Trent getting together only occasionally. Each had different lives now and in spite of wanting to spend time with each other, they somehow never seemed to find the time to hook up. Eventually vacation ended and school started back.
As senior year began, Trent once more started having trouble in class. Seeing him struggling was the perfect motivation Daria needed to reestablish their study sessions. Although they had been apart more often than not lately, the moment each sat at the kitchen table it was as if nothing had changed. Slowly the year moved on. Soon though graduation loomed closer. While Daria looked forward to graduating and moving on to college, she feared the moment that she knew would soon be coming.
Trent knocked on the front door, when Quinn answered, he asked, “Where is she?”
Pointing up the steps, Quinn said, “In her room.”
“Think she’d mind if I went up?”
“Probably not. Go on up. I’m sure she’ll tell you if she wants to be left alone.”
Trent went upstairs and knocked on the bedroom door. From the other side, he heard a weak voice.
“Can I come in?”
Daria recognized Trent’s voice. She didn’t want him to see her like she was. Taking a tissue, she blew her nose and wiped her eyes with her sleeve. When she was ready, she said. “Yea. Okay.”
Trent opened the door and went over to the bed. Standing there he looked at Daria. He could tell she had been crying, he could also see she was trying to hide that fact. Knowing her well enough, he didn’t say anything about it being obvious. Instead he said, “I heard. I’m sorry.”
Moving over so he could sit on the bed too, she said, “Thanks. It was going to happen. I mean he’s going to school across the country. Both of us knew the day was coming.” Pausing for a second, she continued, “I just didn’t think it would hurt so much.” Looking at Trent she asked, “Does it hurt like this when you break up with Monique?”
Trent shook his head.
“Nah. It’s part of our relationship to break up every six weeks. The painful thing would be for us to stay together for more than three months.”
Daria couldn’t help but laugh slightly at Trent’s comment. “Leave it to his honesty to make me feel better” she thought. “I guess.” She said.
Sensing that she was feeling a little better, Trent decided to see if he could pull her out of her depression a little more. “Hey we’re doing our regular set tonight. Why don’t you come to the club with me?” she asked. “Ted said he hadn’t seen you there in weeks. I figure he’d even comp you for your drinks tonight.” In his mind he said, “If he doesn’t, I’ll buy them. You don’t need to be alone right now.”
Daria thought about it for a minute. Looking at the smile on his face, she knew he meant well. Not wanting to hurt his feelings, she decided time away from her room might be nice. Nodding, she said, “Okay. How long till you have to leave?”
“Not for a while.” He said. “Why.”
“No reason. Just curious.” Picking up the remote, she asked, “Wanna watch some TV for a while? I don’t want to be alone right now.”
Pressing the button, she found a channel showing music videos and they sat there saying nothing, letting the music fill the void.
A few weeks later, graduation came. Naturally, Daria graduated at the top of the class and, thanks to her tutoring, Trent managed to make it through fairly near the top too. Seeing that college was looming on the horizon for him too, Trent broke up with Monique for good. Although it wasn’t as difficult for him as breaking up had been for Daria, it still hurt and Daria took the opportunity to repay the favor Trent had done for her all those weeks ago. Now that they were both single again, Each spent the summer hanging out with each other and getting ready to move on to the next stage in their lives.
Because Trent wasn’t sure he would do well on his own, he managed to attend a college in the same town where Daria was going to school. This way she could still tutor him when necessary. The band was doing well but he knew if they didn’t make it as musicians he would need an education to fall back on. The rest of the band either attended junior colleges in the same area or got day jobs to pay the rent so Mystic Spyral could still keep trying for the big prize but for Trent it was college and the band. Not one or the other. That made it rough but with Daria’s help he knew he could make it work.
Sure enough, the four years went off without a hitch. He did have trouble at times and didn’t have the best GPA but he still managed to graduate. That made Trent feel more comfortable about his prospects no matter what his future held. Even though he was done with school, Trent and the guys stayed in the area. They had come to love the city and the band had developed a local following so they decided to stick around a little while longer. Another reason was Daria was still in graduate school and Trent wanted to stay around to make sure she was okay.
One afternoon, Trent was taking a rare nap between work and the gig when the phone rang. Reaching down, he picked up the receiver.
It was Brenda, Daria’s roommate.
“Trent? Could you come over? Daria needs you.”
Trent could tell from the sound of Brenda’s voice things weren’t right. Sitting up, he asked, “What’s happened?”
“Daria’s father just died.”
He didn’t need to hear any more. “I’m leaving right now.” He said. “I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
Hanging up, he grabbed his shoes and slipped them on. Rushing out the door, he got in the car and sped to the apartment. Once there, Brenda opened the door to let him in before he could even knock. Not giving her a chance to say anything, Trent asked, “Where is she?”
Brenda pointed down the short hallway to the end room. Nodding, he went to the door and knocked lightly before opening it. Peeking in, he saw Daria sitting on her bed. Unlike when she and Tom had separated, she didn’t hide her tears. Walking over, he sat next to her on the bed and put his hand on her shoulder. That was all it took. Daria turned around and hugged him tightly. Hugging back, Trent heard the sobs and swore to himself that he’d sit there holding her as long as she wanted him to. Eventually, Daria released him. Sitting there with her best friend, the two talked for a long time about what had happened, what Jake meant to each of them, and what they should do. Eventually Daria excused herself and went to the bathroom. Once she was gone, Trent got up and went into the kitchen.
“So what’s going on?” Brenda asked.
Gesturing to her, Trent said, “I’ll tell you in a minute.” Picking up the phone, he dialed. A few rings later, he said, “Jesse. I need you to cancel our gig this week. I’ve got to go back to Lawndale.”
“Yea I know what this gig meant but this is more important.”
“Yes. It is. Daria’s dad just died. I’m taking her home.”
“Okay. I’ll tell her. Later.”
Hanging up. Trent looked at Brenda.
“We’re leaving in a few minutes. When we know more I’ll call you. Okay?”
Brenda nodded this was acceptable and went to help Daria pack what she needed. Within a half hour, Daria was in the passenger seat of Trent’s car as he chauffeured her back to the grim task ahead. Most of the journey neither of them said anything as they were wrapped up in their own thoughts but about halfway home, Trent broke the silence.
“The guys wanted me to let you know they’re coming in tomorrow.” Trent continued. “They need to get our stuff out of the club so the replacement band can come in other wise they’d be in tonight.”
“Replacement band?” Daria asked. Suddenly she remembered. “This was your big audition for that house band gig wasn’t it? Why did you give it up?”
“There’ll be other gigs.” Trent said. “Right now I wanted to be with you. You’re more important to me than a job. I thought you knew that.”
Trent’s words made her feel a little better. The pain was still there but she was comforted knowing she wasn’t alone. She looked at her oldest and dearest friend for a few minutes then turned her attention to the scenery passing by.
With four years of reminiscing to go, Daria’s thoughts were interrupted by Quinn coming into the room.
“Hey Sis, It’s time.”
“Thanks.” Daria said.
Getting up, She let Quinn adjust a few things on the gown. As Quinn started to lower the veil Daria stopped her. Looking at Quinn, she said, “One second. Could you get Trent?”
Quinn gave her a confused look.
“Um sure. Why?”
“Just get him please”
“Okay.” Quinn said and left. A moment later she and Trent came into the room. Looking at her sister Daria asked, “Could you leave us for a minute?”
Not sure what was happening, Quinn said, “Okay but don’t take too long. You’re the star of the show. We can’t start without you.”
Daria nodded and Quinn left them alone. Once she was gone, Trent looked at Daria.
“What’s this about?”
Daria looked at him, smiled and said, “This.” Standing on her toes, she kissed him on the cheek.
Blushing at the first and likely only time Daria would ever kiss him, he asked, “What was that for?”
“For being my friend all the times I needed one.” She said. “I never really thanked you and just wanted you to know how I felt.”
“It was nothing. You were there for me too. And rest assured. I’ll always be around. You can count on that.”
Looking into each other’s eyes, neither had to say anything else. Sadly, the moment was spoiled when Daria’s maid of honor stuck her head in the room.
“Okay you two, break it up.” Quinn said. “The organist is getting tired. Let’s get going.”
Nodding slightly, both went into the foyer, Quinn finally pulled Daria’s veil down and everybody got into formation. Soon after, the fanfare played and, in the absence of Jake, Trent escorted Daria down the aisle to stand next to her groom.
As always, Daria belongs to MTV. This was written for my own amusement.