Compulsion or More than One Way To Break a Washing Machine (A Romance)
by Anastasia Hunt
It was a typical, sunny lawndale day, and Daria Morgendorffer was just
miserable. Too sunny and just too damn typical, she thought, as she walked
to school. Her annoying sister Quinn was about twenty yards in front of her,
surrounded by Jeffy, Joey, and Jamie; they were groveling, as usual. Daria
thought she would be sick, but she didn't have the energy.
After what seemed like forever, Daria made it to school and to her locker,
where Brittany, of all people, was waiting for her. Daria felt another wave of
nausea come on .
"Hello, Brittany. Where's your shadow?" Daria inquired of the bubbly blonde
in typical Daria fashion. Brittany responded with a squeaky "Huh?" and a
blank stare/hair twirl maneuver. After a lengthy pause, Daria asked, "Can I
help you?" and thoght to herself ' No, there are some who are just beyond
help'. Brittany chuckled and said,"No, Daria. That art project's not due until
NEXT week. Remember?" She pause again and then said, "No, I was just
gonna tell you I'm having another party on Friday and that you and that weird
girl you always hang around with are invited. And, like, anybody else you want
to bring." Brittany stared at Daria expectantly.
Jane had, in the meantime, gotten to school and walked up to Daria's locker
in time to witness the invitation. Daria looked at Jane briefly and then
responded "Let me guess- need to keep the ratio of cute girls down, right?"
Brittany squealed, "Oh, Yes! Daria, I knew you'd come! You don't know how
much this means to me! See you guys Friday night!" she trilled and then
bounced off to find her Kevvie.Daria just stared in amazement.
"I didn't even say yes."
Jane said, "Oh, c'mon, Daria, it'll be fun. Besides, maybe that big-head guy
will be there again." The two of them headed to class to mull this over.
"Look, Trent, will you just take us to the party? It's not like you have anything
better to do anyway," Jane cajoled.
Trent groused" Another party in Crewe Neck? What's up with that?"
"Well, it's a place for me to pick up guys. And anyway, Daria loves any
chance she can get to humiliate her sister." Trent perked up (as much as it is
possible for Trent to perk up) at the mention of Daria. As far as he was
concerned, Daria was the only female in Lawndale worth even talking to.
Sure, there were plenty of cutesy little bimbos around, but they only made
Trent's stomach turn. Daria was...well...cool. And any time he got to spend
with her was worthwhile.
"Look, it's not like I'm asking you to go to the party- only to drive us there.
Can you do that?" Jane asked.
"Oh, all right. When is it?"
Trent sighed. "Well, thanks for the notice, Janey."
Jane smirked, "Anytime, bro."
"I can't believe I'm going through with this...again," Daria moaned to Jane as
they were getting ready for the party in Daria's room. "Like I don't find enough
humiliation at home or school...now I'm going to willingly subject myself to
more of the same?"
"Yeah, but guess what-" Jane was interrupted by Helen, Daria's
career-minded, irritating mom.
"Daria, Jen, are you girls getting along alright? Almost ready for that big
party? " Helen, one of Quinn's outfits in hand, looked at Daria expectantly.
"Honey, aren't you going to get ready?"
Daria replied, "I AM ready."
helen gasped, "You're wearing THAT? it's not too...flattering. Here, why don't
you borrow something of Quinn's?"
"No, Mom, that's okay. Really."
Helen paused and grumbled briefly,then turned to leave, sticking her head
back in Daria's door to say," Well, you girls have fun tonight. Don't do
anything I wouldn't do." On her way out, she bumped into Jake, Daria's dad.
"Hi, girls. You need a ride to the party?" he asked them.
"No, Dad, that's been taken care of," Daria replied.
"Are you sure?" Jake insisted.
"Yeah, Dad, wer'e-" Quinn poked her cute, annoying, perfectly styled head
through the door and said " There's some eeky looking guy here to see you
Jane piped up, " Tall, skinny, tribal armband tattoo?" Quin nodded with
distaste. "That's our ride. Gotta go." She and Daria filed past Jake and
Quinn. "That's what I was trying to tell you-I scammed a little bit of quality time
with Trent for ya." Daria looked at her with a look that could have passed for
awe. "You don't have to thank me, daria- that's what friends are for."
Twenty minutes later, Daria and Jane were standing at Brittany's front door.
Jane was applying lipstick to a resistant Daria. "Why? You know I don't do
"Trust me, you'll thank me in a minute," Jane replied. The door opened.
Brittany squealed "Ooh, Hi, Daria! You made it? Oh goody! I was beginning
to wonder." Quinn made a hasty retreat to the bathroom and locked the door.
Daria then noticed she was without her purse. "Oh, damn, I must have left it
in trent's car," she remarked to Jane, who only smirked. Daria was beginning
to wonder if something was up. As she mused, Jeffy bumped into her as he
looked for Quinn, spilling his drink all over her.
"Like, I'm sorry, I didn't -hey, have you seen Quinn?" he said.
Daria's jacket was the only casualty in this, so she removed it and looked for
someplace to ditch it. As she hung it on a ceramic tiger, she said to Jeffy,"
Fortunately, not yet. She's probably in the bathroom ,though. You know
Quinn- always hiding in the damn bathroom at parties." Jeffy looked at her
briefly and continued his search elsewhere. Just then, the song by Smash
Mouth with the really danceable beat came on and the whole room began to
dance- Daria included, which puzzled her. Daria just wasn't big on busting
any kind of groove, but then again, EVERYONE was doing this zombie-like
shag thing. Daria figured that this was what compulsion felt like. How bizarre,
Trent turned on the tape player as he was leaving Brittany's. He was in the
mood for a little They Might be Giants this evening. He rummaged in the
Almighty Box of music , dug up Lincoln, and popped it in. Within seconds,
"Ana Ng" was cranking and Trent was thinking. (Guess what about.) The
song got to the part about walking in the glow of each other's majestic
presence, and Trent noticed that Daria's purse was still in the seat. Odd, he
thought, Daria's not the type to leave stuff behind. Ah well. There was only
one thing to do- return it.Even if it meant dealing with the rent-a cop and the
snotty Crewe Neckers. Daria was worth the hassle.
Trent made it past the cop and into the house. What he saw boggled his
mind- The whole room was dancing to that damn cheesy Smash Mouth song-
and Daria was leading them. That song was potent. And Daria was in a
trancelike daze, twisting like crazy. So was Janey. It was creepy, but kind of
cool. Then the song ended. Everybody went back to their discussing and
munching. Daria looked up, saw Trent, and cringed. Trent handed her purse
to her wordlessly. He'd tease Janey mercilessly later.
"Ah..thanks, Trent," Daria wheezed.
"Hey, no problem." He paused. "What was up with that, if I may ask?"
Daria stood in silence for a moment, then replied, "COmpulsion, I guess. It's
a strange feeling to be possessed of." trent nodded in agreement.
Jane sauntered over, smirking like mad. Her plan had worked like a charm.
"Hey, Trent, what about your problem dealing with authority? Aren't you 'a
little too mature' to be here?"
Trent shot Jane an ugly look and said, "Daria left her purse in the car and I
was just returning it because if I hadn't, I would have forgotten about it for the
"Okay, fine. Can I have my head back now? I'm gonna scan for guys and I
probably will need it," Jane said as she walked off, still smirking.
"What is she looking so smug about?" Trent asked Daria.
"Hell if I know," Daria replied. " She's probably found a victim- er,
Trent looked in the direction which Jane had left. He found Jane and some
loser chatting in the corner. "I guess so- but I'd like to think Janey had better
taste than that."
Daria looked to see what he meant. "Oh my God, Trent."
She stared, unable to believe her eyes. All she could say was, "Upchuck?"
Trent backed away from her a bit and asked if shw was okay and did she
need to get in the bathroom. She continued to stare and then dropped it to
continue conversing with Trent.
About twenty minutes later, Upchuck walked up to the two of them and said,
"Hey, we're playing post office-"
"Uh huh, did you think we'd care, Upchuck? Besides, I would never play a
game where there stands a chance of me having to kiss you. So if you're
here to invite us, I think I'd rather not," Daria interrupted. Trent chuckled at
Upchuck pressed on."And you two just won a trip to the Mmmmakeout
"Um...I didn't even know we were playing," Daria said. Jane walked up behind
her and said "Okay, so I took the liberty of entering you guys. Now be good
sports and let us lock you in the laundry closet for seven minutes, okay?"
Daria and Trent stared at each other wordlessly. Each one felt too nervous
to speak. It had been one thing in front of everybody, but it was copletely
different here, alone, in this enclosed space. Daria looked at her watch and
broke the silence.
"Six and a half minutes to go", she noted. It was turning out to be the longest
seven minutes of her life.
Jane took Upchuck aside and said to him, "Thanks, Upchuck. I guess now
we're even." He looked at her and said " But we're not even playing post
office...unless you want to. Grrrowwrrrr!!"
"Dream on, Upchuck. It was devious of me to be so untruthful, but
necessary. Now go away before I rip your lungs out," she snarled.
"Well, thanks for bringing me my purse. And I'm sorry you got roped into this
Post Office thing."
"Actually, I don't mind- I kind of enjoy your company," trent said, and then
turned beet red. Oh well, he thought, might as well spill all. "I was listening to
this song when I found it...it was about heartfelt longing for someone on the
other side of the world."
"Sounds like "Ana Ng", by They Might Be Giants, the first rock band to find
prominent yet very cool use for the accordion," Daria chipped in.
"Yeah, it was." He paused. "Have you ever felt that way before? A longing
someone-" "- and worried that it will never happen?' She finished.
"Uh.......uhhuh," she replied very quietly. She was a nervous wreck. So was
he. Daria took off her glasses and began to polish them- a nervous habit.
"Lemme see those," Trent requested. He tried them on, took them off, and
shook his head. He attemted to put them back on her but wound up bumping
noses with her quite sharply. "Ow," she said. He rubbed her nose for her and
muttered an apology. She gently removed his hand from her nose , pulled him
closer, and kissed him gently. Than they kissed with more intensity. Daria
accidentally fell back on the washer and it started to foam. She and Trent
looked at each other, chuckled dryly, and left the room.
Jane was waiting outside the laundry room with Daria's jacket, now dry. "Did
you guys know that your seven minutes was up? An hour ago?"
the end.....or is it?