The rain stopped suddenly late on a Wednesday afternoon. As if the sky had choked and stuttered. And the weeks of wet flooded earth was a mirage. The Sun stuttered through the clouds and burned them away. All that was left was blue sky and a heat that crinkled the ground and left tall unwavering shadows stretched all around. She had been sitting in her parent's kitchen when the the drops had stopped tapping at the windows. There was an eerie silence that followed. It filled up all the space, it seemed to move the air. The bright light slipped through the blinds. Her breath felt caught in her throat. A fear she couldn't name dug into her lungs and she felt an unnatural urge to cry. She blinked and willed away the dampness that gathered at her eyes.
The house was empty except for her. She was still avoiding the questions of David and when he was coming down. She felt terribly as if high school wasn't over and all the loneliness was back again. The bright light was too much and the tears felt too real.
She bolted from her chair and hastily wrote a note for her mom. She stumbled her way to her room, that wasn't really her room, packed a bag as fast as she could. She kept thinking of the silence in the kitchen, the hot bright light and the way it felt as if she was standing on the edge of a cliff with no where to go but down.
Daria stood outside the Lane residence, the sun and clear sky beating against the back of her legs. There was sweat as heavy as the rain had been, dripping from her forehead and catching around her glasses.
The wet ground was drying into humid heat and it made the town feel suffocating. There wasn't room to breath.
She blinked and hoped someone was home. She knocked again and watched her shadow waver in the sun.
There was no answer.
She felt as if she was burning alive.
Finally she crumpled to the front porch, exhausted and dripping.
She curled her head into her knees and felt herself giving up to the town. It felt that no matter how far away she went, how long she was gone, nothing ever changed. Jane was dating Tom, her parents wanted something from her she couldn't give them, and Quinn seeming to have it all without the effort.
She was going to be stuck in high school all her life.
She was going to be stuck in Lawndale, no matter the name of the city, all her life.
Above her Trent's shadow blocked out the Sun.
Daria was laying in front of Jane's fan, her shirt tied around her middle and a cold water bottle balanced in the middle of her back.
“You have keys to the house. You can always just come in, you know.” Jane wiped her hand across her forehead. “Mi casa, su casa.”
Daria shrugged. It felt to hard to explain, how strange it all felt. She didn't feel welcome here, or she did, but it was different. Like going to her Grandparents house. It was a place with people who cared about her. But it wasn't hers. She didn't belong. “I didn't know if maybe you were out. Or something. I mean you said you were thinking of going to Tom's 'summer' house for the week.”
“You know even if I'm not here, you have a place here.” Jane heaved a sigh and threw her arms and legs akimbo across her bed.
Daria stared at the baseboard, it was stained and had a thin film of dust, she wasn't sure she belonged anywhere. “Yeah. I know.”
The air was stale and Daria was suddenly tired. She could barely keep her eyes open, and when she dreamed, the she choked on the air and felt her eyes water in sleep and heat. She dreamed of the Sun, the dry empty ground, nothing would grow, the weeds died and everything dried into dust.
Jane got the call on Thursday. They'd been lying on the shadowed grass beneath the only tree in the Lane backyard. The overgrowth of grass tickled her arms and the sun was burning her bare legs. She tried to ignored Jane as she left for the kitchen, instead calling for Jane to bring her a drink.
She had been half asleep when Jane had come back, Jane's shadow loomed over her, Daria felt her stomach clinch and roll.
She moved quickly hoping the swirl in her belly would settle. It had still taken them 30 minutes to get to the hospital.
Above them the clouds parted and cleared.
It was the bluest sky Daria had ever seen.
The car ride was silent and Daria had to watch the yellow lines blinking along the road to keep her from filling up the overwhelming silence.
She hated hospitals, she had a white burning memory of Mad Dog dying in one, it had smelled of disinfected and she could still see her father's shoulders shaking with tears. She'd been eight, but she'd kept the image with her always.
She didn't want to imagine Trent there. Bruised, pained...suffering. To her, Trent was infinite, something like a touchstone in her life, far enough away from her to not effect her daily toils but close enough that he could be a beacon of memory, the good parts of high school of growing older. His constant self belief that something could happen with the Spiral. His soft way of knowing, always knowing, the obliviousness giving away to a bigger truth of true understanding. To be looked at by Trent was to be seen, for the worst and best parts of herself.
For him to no longer be okay. But no, he was. He was okay.
Daria glanced over to Jane, who's face was paler than normal. Tears were welled in her eyes. Daria wasn't one for touch or physicality. But she itched to take Jane's hand in her own.
Instead she swallowed her feelings and stared at the road ahead.
Daria shifted in her chair again, her knees jiggled she sighed and bit back a cough. The room smelled of sweat and sickness, she chanced a look at Jane from the corner of her eye, she was on the third round of pacing.
Daria felt that knot pull at her stomach, she wanted to lift her hand and pull Jane to her. She balled up her fists instead.
“Family of Trent Lane?”
Daria watched Jane instead of the Doctor. Suddenly she felt as if she couldn't breathe, she couldn't sit here and listen to the news. She watched Jane nod her head and lift her fingers to her mouth. Daria kept listening to her own breath, in out inout inininout. He could die. He might be dead. Inout out out. She was going to choke.
Jane's fingers brushed her shoulder.
“The said he'll be up for visitors in a couple hours, he's going to be okay.” Daria watched the tears drip down Jane's face. Daria grabbed her hand and found herself with arms full of Jane. “Oh, God, Daria. What if-” The choking sound of Jane's sobs were swallowed up by the intercom and the news playing in the background.
“But he isn't. He's going to be okay, right?”
Jane nodded into her shoulder.
Daria let her fingers brush through Jane's dark hair. It had gotten so long. So much had changed. “Did they say what happened?”
“Weren't you listening?” Jane sniffed loudly into Daria's hair.
Daria shook her head. “I couldn't-”
“The Tank crashed. No seat belts. Do the math.” Jane stood back up, her red nose wet and her eyes narrowed. “Stupid Trent, so fucking careless.”
“Well I mean-”
“Don't defend him. He could be dead, instead of broken.” Daria wouldn't be surprised if Jane grew fangs with her teeth bared like that.
“Fractured femur. Bruised. Broken rib.” Jane closed her eyes and took a deep breathe. “He was asleep in the back. Got crushed by an amp.”
“Could have been a lot worst.” Daria unzipped her jacket. The room was becoming oppressive with the heat. “Could have fractured his head.” She bit her lip. “Or you know his guitar hand.”
The laugh was choppy. Jane shook her head. “So lucky. The whole band is pretty banged up. Well, except Max, he was driving. But when he called he was crying so hard I could barely understand him.” This time Jane's laugh was real. “For a criminale, he is the softest man I've ever met.”