He looked at her sitting on the couch adjacent to him, while Jane was draped across the chair. Sick Sad World – The Very Best of…… was on the tube, but he hadn’t so much as looked at the screen.
“Making some more popcorn,” Jane jumped up when the commercial came on. “Let me know if it comes back on before I get back.”
Trent continued to look at Daria through his half closed lids, wondering if he should say anything…… but what would he say? It seemed like every time he had wanted to say something to her lately, she was just out of reach in some kind of way. He could speak to her now, but Jane would be back soon so……
“What’s wrong?” Daria’s voice intoned on his thoughts.
Trent’s eyes snapped to where hers had narrowed focusing on him.
“You keep looking at me like there’s something wrong. What did I do?”
“Nothing,” Trent sat up defending himself.
“So is there something you want me to do…..?” she guessed trying to figure out why he’d been so- un-Trent like.
Explain to me why you never told me. Tell me what changed. Tell me what you ever saw in me in the first place…….lots of stuff.
“You guys, the show is back on and you didn’t even say anything.” Jane’s reemergence broke their conversation.
Trent sighed and forced himself to pay more attention to the show for the evening.
“So, what are you wearing?” Jane was asking Daria of her impending date with Tom and his folks to the Country Club.
Daria frowned from where she was sitting cross legged on her bed watching Jane flip through her closet that consisted of the same outfit that she wore every day and only a few sparse exceptions in the very back.
“This isn’t just hanging out with Tom- he understands- I guess, though you have recently changed your wardrobe for the young man, but alas, I digress. You’re going out with Tom and his parents. Meeting the folks over dinner at the Country Club is a big deal.”
“I’ve met them.”
“I have too- at the manor.” Jane did her best rich girl voice on the last before continuing. “This is a formal get to know our sons girlfriend because he seems serious about her dinner.”
“I changed my wardrobe for me- not just Tom. I wanted to try something different, so I did.” Daria looked at Jane through angry and hurt eyes.
“I know, I know,” Jane raised her hands to stave off Daria’s anger. “I just meant- well- what would be the harm in ‘dressing for dinner’.”
“Don’t air quote.” Daria straightened herself on the bed. “So what’s one more concession right? I did it once, so why not again……and again- and-”
“I think you’re reading too much into this- it’s just a dinner.”
“So what would be wrong with me being- well, me?”
“Nothing…… There is absolutely nothing wrong with you. I just thought it might be a nice change of pace for you…… like before. You seemed to enjoy it on your date right?”
Daria turned it over in her mind. She had liked that Tom had been a bit speechless at first and it hadn’t really changed the dynamic of them as a couple the way that she had feared that it might.
“So why not go for it again?”
Cause I don’t want to lose me…… it was my thing before and now-
“Jane, Trent is here.” Helen’s voice penetrated through the bedroom door.
“Tell him to come on up,” Jane opened the door a bit while she spoke to Helen then turned back to Daria. “Let’s get a guy’s point of view on this, okay?”
“Hey Daria, Janey,” Trent’s mellow voice preceded him.
“Hey,” Daria looked to the tall man that always seemed to make every space seem smaller and more comfortable somehow.
“We’d like to get your opinion on- ahem- a rather delicate subject if you don’t mind.” Jane ventured first.
Trent looked from one to the other of the young women, unsure of what they were asking of him, but willing to listen never the less.
“You remember how you helped me get ready- with- for-” Daria looked away from his gaze finding it all of a sudden difficult to put a simple sentence together.
Jane looked at her, then Trent in confusion.
“What my ever so articulate comrade wants to know is, if you were Daria’s boyfriend,” Jane took that precise moment to give a broad smirk before continuing, “and you had extended an invitation to her to have dinner at the country club with your family, would you expect her to come ‘dressed’ according for the event?”
Trent opened his mouth to speak, but was cut off by Jane.
“Keep in mind that you have seen her out of her usual garb- I mean,” insert another smirk, “in different clothes that is and were most pleased by the event on previous occasion.”
Trent looked at Daria. Daria looked at Trent.
“I have to go.” Trent pivoted on his heel and hurried out of the room, down the stairs and out the front door. He stood at his car checking his pockets for the keys in a manner that seemed somewhat frantic for him.
“Yo bro, what’s with the sprint out the door?” Jane caught up to Trent a bit breathlessly.
“I- just remembered- I have to-”
“Trent……” Daria’s voice called to him from the doorway. She approached the brother and sister after closing the door behind her.
“Jane, could we have a minute?” Trent didn’t look at his sister when he asked the question.
Jane went back in silently.
Daria approached Trent and stood just in front of him on the sidewalk.
“I’m sorry if we made you feel……uncomfortable. You just always seem to give me good advice……or give clarity whenever I need it.”
Yeah, that’s me……dumb schmuk that I am.
“It’s not that; I just remembered……I have something that I need to-”
“You don’t lie well remember?” she said around a faint smile, then spoke more seriously, “……and we don’t lie to each other……right?”
He nodded with a faint smile of his own.
“So what is it?”
If this were a movie I kiss you. The music would play a tune befitting of all that we’d been through. There would be a montage at the end showing the happy faces of how everyone is better off with you and me together. I would find a way to become somewhat worthy of being in your presence and your parents would accept me a suitable boyfriend in your life. You would go on to pursue any career that you wish- and quite successfully too…… but this is no movie and I don’t deserve someone like you. Look at me……exactly who is the high schooler here?
“Dressing for the Country Club, is this something that you want to do?”
Daria shifted uncomfortably.
“I see,” he scratched the back of his head, “if you don’t want to do it, then don’t. You don’t have to change who you are for anyone.”
“I did change for that date. What if he expects it now?”
“What if he does? The world won’t end. He liked you for you, right?”
She gave a slow nod.
“So just keep doing what you are doing…… be yourself…….”
“Why didn’t I think of that?”
Trent gave a slight chuckle.
“Because I’m so smart…...”
“You are smart Trent,” she said seriously.
Why do you have to undercut yourself like that?
“A sweet kid, right?”
“A sweet young lady that is kind to someone like me.”
“Follow your instinct Daria. Tom- any guy should consider himself lucky to have you think of him……in any capacity……doesn’t matter what you wear.”
They both looked down at their fingers that had somehow become intertwined. She allowed her thumb to softly stroke his.
“The other day at your place- it seemed like you wanted to tell me something.”
I’m not going to lose this that we have just because I was too stupid to realize- well, that doesn’t matter now.
“I guess it wasn’t important.” Trent was glad that they weren’t looking at each other or surely she would have seen through that lie.
The sound of a car door shutting pulled them from their conversation. They looked up to see Tom approaching. Trent’s hand hung limply at his side from where she had let go. He turned to get in his car-
“Trent,” Daria’s voice pulled his eyes to hers. She gave him a small smile. He nodded. Jane came to join him in the car. They pulled away leaving Daria to stare after them before joining Tom.