“Come on, breathe damn it!”
(v/o) His voice sounded very far away.
“That’s it; you can- do it-”
She opened one eye, then the other. Slowly, Trent’s face came into focus. She spit up water and coughed before righting herself into a sitting position.
“Hey, Daria; It’s going to be okay now.” His voice served as a gentle touchstone.
Trent tucked the towel around her from where he’d draped it over her, upon finding her beneath the water in the tub and picked her up. He sat her in the chair by her bed and looked at her for a moment before he went to retrieve a couple of towels from the bathroom and dry her off as best as he could. He took an exorbitant amount of time in wringing out her hair since it was so long and thick. She sat watching his actions in silence.
(v/o) She’s quiet, too quiet. She must be scared. Falling in the tub, hitting your head and almost dying has to be unnerving……even for Daria. It’s a good thing that I had stopped by and the door was ajar, or else I wouldn’t have heard the bump and things might have turned out quite different.
“Can I get you something……maybe something to warm you up?”
The house was warm, but it was cold outside and she had been soaked to the bone. She gave a slight nod.
“Okay, I’ll go and get you something and you can get into some dry clothes. He turned back to where she still sat once he was at her door. “I’m just downstairs……you can call if you need me.”
Trent hurried down the stairs and looked in a few cupboards until he found some cocoa. He heated some milk in the microwave and made the warm concoction, then headed up stairs. He gave a soft knock at the door before entering the room. She still sat in the same spot, but now had on some jogging pants and a tee shirt. He handed her the cup and watched as she looked into the cup without drinking it.
“Did you want something else…..? I could-”
She squeezed her eyes tightly and gave the slightest quiver.
“Hey,” Trent went to kneel before, took the cup and placed it beside her on the nightstand. He took her hands in his and rubbed them to give her warmth. “It’s okay now…… you’re safe. It must have been really scary slipping and falling like that. I should check your head. It probably has a heck of a goose egg and you should probably see a doc-”
“That won’t be necessary.” She spoke quickly and quietly.
“You could have a con-”
“I know you’re smart, but there’s no way that you can know that for sure. So……”
“I didn’t fall.”
Trent wasn’t sure that he’d heard her correctly, but the fact that she hadn’t said anything nor had she looked at him began to make sense.
“It’s okay. I’m fine now. I just……I don’t know. You don’t have to,” she pulled her hands out of his grasp. He took the opportunity to sit on the floor and stretch out his legs. “It wasn’t something that I planned….. I just saw an opportunity……”
“Until now, I always thought of having an opportunity as being a good thing.”
“Depends on your vantage point I suppose.”
Trent listened to her.
“They went out tonight- my folks and Quinn. They asked me to go, but I wanted to finish reading. Quinn looked relieved and my folks looked disappointed. Everything that I do seems to disappoint them. I looked at them and I thought how perfect it would be for them if I weren’t a part of the equation. It would solve everyone’s problems……Quinn wouldn’t have to worry about me ruining her popularity status, Mom and Dad wouldn’t have to try to ‘understand’ all of the decisions that I make, they would have one perfect daughter in Quinn and Jane wouldn’t have worry about having a best friend that would hurt her the way that I did.”
“Well when you put it like that……on the other hand though. The plus side to hanging around is that you get to annoy the crap out of your sister and keep her grounded in reality. Your parents, well that’s easy- they love you no matter what. I’ve seen it first hand and as at odds with how they perceive your normal should be versus what your normal actually is, they only want what’s best for you. Then there’s Jane. You’re her best friend and yeah, you hurt her but the two of you together are a force to be reckoned with. Your friendship is the stuff that stories are written about and what others strive for. She’s willing to work on it, you should too.”
She remained quiet……
He remained quiet……
“I know you mean well, but sometimes it just gets so…… hard. Sometimes being smart isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I mean sure, I can study and figure out calculations, but how do I talk to my mom about a boy that I might like or talk to my dad with making him feel uncomfortable and my sister- well just forget that.”
“Life is hard sometimes. That’s why you have friends.”
“Yeah and the one and only one that I had, I did a horrible disservice to……she didn’t deserve that.”
“No, she didn’t but you made a mistake and you owned up to it. That counts to her and yeah it hurts, but you’re both young and intelligent so you’ll work it out.”
“You will, I can feel it.”
She remained quiet.
“You do have more than one friend you know,” he nudged her knee, “I know that I’m not Jane, but I have always considered us friends. It’s okay if you don’t. I guess I can settle for being your best friend’s older brother.”
“You think of me……as a friend……?”
“Of course I do. You’ve always managed to delve through the thoughts and dreams that seem to float around in my mind and make sense out of it for me without making me feel like the dumb lummox that I tend to be.”
She slid out of the chair onto the floor beside him.
“I didn’t do anything.”
She laid her head on his shoulder. He put an arm around her.
“If you ever get where you start feeling like this again, call me?”
“……you don’t have to do that……”
“I know. I want to though. I want to be the person to remind you just how valuable you are to everyone…… or at least to me anyway.”
They sat in silence a few moments more and then Trent left her to get herself together a bit more. He waited downstairs standing at the sink and looking out into nothing in particular. He wasn’t sure if he had said the right things, but he did feel that he had gotten through to her on some level. She was special and it wreaked havoc on his insides that she didn’t realize that she was so very much more than the sum of knowledge that she had from books and equations. She had screwed up, but hell that’s one of the most human things that she’d ever done. He didn’t need for her to change; he just needed for her to understand a bit more about human interaction. There were somethings that she would not be able to find in books. He turned to where the sounds of her footsteps had come from the entrance door. He could see that she had managed to dry her hair and have it pulled back into a loose ponytail. She’d also put on some socks and shoes along with her glasses too. She was looking more like her old self.
“You don’t have to stay and I promise not to try and off myself.”
“I don’t mind…… if you want some company that is.”
“I don’t mind…… what brought you by anyway?”
“Oh, I was just checking in…… I kinda overheard that conversation that you and Jane had……pretty brutal stuff.”
“It was just the truth.” She spoke with a resigned tone as she remembered the awful words.
“It hurt you……”
“Has it occurred to you that your sister might not see this kindness that you are bestowing as something that I deserve? She might see it as a betrayal to family loyalty on her behalf.”
Daria raised a brow at the confidence he was displaying.
“I envy how well you two know each other.” She sat at the table and he joined her.
“There was a bit of a trade-off for that, but it worked out.”
“You two make it work beautifully.” She cleared her throat and sat straighter. “Is there something that I can get for you Trent?”
“Yeah……about that promise that I asked for earlier……?”
“Okay, I feel bad; I call you. Now you have to agree to something for me.”
“Don’t you want to know what it is before agreeing? You are way too trusting.”
“Nah, I just trust you. Now shoot.”
“Don’t ever call yourself dumb and don’t let anyone else do it cause it’s not true. You see things in such unique and honest way…… I’ve always marveled at it.” She looked at the musician that sat across from her. She had been attracted to him from the start and it had only deepened as she got to know him. His openness and honesty concerning things was so disarming to her and he always managed to make her feel that being exactly who she is was just fine with him.
“No, not okay you’re nowhere near dumb. You have insights that are spot on.”
“That’s only with those that I care for-”
“Still, it’s worth noting and I for one am grateful for it.”
He smiled a bit and nodded.
“Okay, agreed. Now what shall we do with the rest of the day?”
“We could watch a movie and see how good or bad it is?”
“Sounds like a plan.”
The duo moved to the front room and found an agreed upon movie. They watched and remarked on the movie as it played and decided to watch another. The other Morgendorffer residents returned later that evening to find Daria and Trent fast asleep with Daria on the sofa and Trent on the floor beside her. The sight had been a bit jarring for the parents at first, since they had come in through the back door and the pair hadn’t woke, but when they saw the sense of peace on their daughter’s face- they had decided not to wake them just yet. Quinn had taken the house phone and escaped to her room after dialing Sandy and the rest of the fashion club to let them know of all the purchases that she had made and the parents had looked at each other in slight awe at how comfortable Daria was being in such close proximity to someone. Jake and Helen had decided on loudly talking in the kitchen to be warning enough for the pair…… and it worked too. Daria and Trent had ended up wandering into the kitchen and they’d all had a rather pleasant conversation. Now Trent and Daria found themselves outside on the doorstep standing side by side.
“Thanks for today Trent, really thanks.” Her voice was small and held a tenderness that was rare.
“There’s no place I would rather have been Daria.”
They chanced a look at each other and both gave a small smile.
“I should be getting back inside……”
“Okay…… see you soon?”
“Goodnight Daria.” He reached out and squeezed her hand briefly.
She smiled in the dark and watched until he drove off. She reentered to find her mother, as expected, in the kitchen doing some make shift work.
“You and Trent seemed to have had a very……full day?”
“Yeah, we did.”
“Well, what did you do?”
“Nothing much……just Trent being the reluctant hero and saving my life.”
“Well, he is Jane’s brother and he knows that this rift between you two is hurting you both. It’s only natural that he would want to help……”
Daria listened to her mother and then made her way to bed. Things were feeling different……better for her and though she knew they had a long way to go, she even felt more optimistic about her relationship with Jane. There was a sense of rebirth within her now and she felt the wings of her inner phoenix begin to spread. She closed her eyes for the evening and looked forward to the fresh start that she had been granted for another day.