I wrote the following story in 1999, and it’s really one of my favorite pieces of writing to date.
“I hate my life,” Daria screamed at her mother as they rode to school. “If you really loved me you wouldn’t let me go to school with this zit on my face. All the boys will laugh and make fun of me. HELLO, are you listening to me?”
“Yes Daria, I’m listening to you. You’ll be fine. No one is going to notice,” her mother tried uselessly to convince her daughter.
“No, I won’t.” She screwed her face like a prune. “I’ll be scarred for life and you don’t care. I’ll never forgive you for this. NEVER!”
“Have a nice day, honey,” was all her mother could squeeze in before her daughter slammed the door. Daria heavily planted one foot in front of the other until she reached her friend, Tabitha. All the kids were outside waiting for the front doors to open.
“Oh my God! It looks worse than you said,” Tabitha greeted her friend.
“Can you really notice it?” Daria whispered, while attempting to cover her face with her scarf.
“Well, not really. Only if I look at you,” Tabitha continued to comfort her friend. “Maybe if you put your hair like this,” Tabitha moved a black curl to the front of Daria’s face.
“Oh no! Johnny’s walking over here. Hide me. My face looks like it will explode, ” Daria said as she jumped behind her friend. “I can’t let him see me like this. I just can’t. Tell me when he is gone.”
“Hi, Johnny,” Tabitha smiled trying to hide Daria as he walked by.
“Hi Tabitha. Hi Daria, I can see you.” He walked over to his friends. The girls huddled.
“Do you think that he knows I am the one who sent over the letter?” Daria asked.
“No, not at all. He would have said something by now.”
The bell rang indication the beginning of the school day. All the students filed into the building unwillingly ready to start the day.
“Shall we?” Tabitha asked, offering her arm to her friend.
The two linked arms and turned into the building.
“Oh my goodness, how am I going to confront him today? This zit is on the top of my nose!” Daria carried on, “Come on, let me wait one more day.”
“No, the deal was you would tell him today. No matter what. So you have to do it.” Tabitha was relentless.
“No, I’ll see you between periods.” Tabitha ran off to class before Daria could say anymore. Throughout the day until lunchtime, Daria and Tabitha passed notes back and forth about what should be done about Johnny. After much deliberation, it was decided that Daria would come clean during the lunch period.
“What am I going to say?” Daria asked as the girls approached their lunch table.
“Tell him you are the one who sent the letter.”
“I don’t know. See what happens.”
“Come with me. Please, please, please.”
They walked over to Johnny’s table where his friends surrounded him. They seemed to be laughing at something.
“I’ve been watching you all year. You know me. I like you. Do you like me?” One of Johnny’s friends read in a mocking seductive voice.
“And it reeks of perfume. What did she do? Drop it in the bottle?” another joked.
They continued to laugh over the note she sent yesterday. Suddenly, Daria noticed she was standing alone. She turned to see Tabitha back at the table staring in her direction. The boys finally noticed her standing at their table.
“What do you want Daria?” Johnny asked. All eyes were on her. Her heart was pounding and she didn’t think one syllable would be able to come out her mouth. She finally managed the courage to say something.
“Um, do you, um have, ah, the math homework?