Thanks go out to my beta readers: Tafka, Deref, NomadX, Thea Zara and especially Roger E. Moore...
Any characters you recognise belong to Glenn and Susie. Any situations you recognise probably belong to Mike Judge. Anything you don't belongs to me.

Fade Out
by Caira, caira@graffiti.net

           I was feeling pretty good this morning.
           I should have known it couldn't last.
           I was walking home from school. Quinn had apparently cut her last class, so she wasn't anywhere to be seen (or heard, even) and left the possibility open of her getting punished in some amusing way when I got home.
           It was grey, not raining, not really foggy, just cloud so thick and opaque and there that you think it's going to fall and swallow the town whole from the top down.
           I wish. The world would be better off for it, for getting rid of this hellhole. Assuming the uranium in the drinking water doesn't solve the problem first.
           But you hardly ever see this kind of weather in Texas. And --- I don't know --- somehow it set the town off. Grey and yellow, the sky and the trailers and the buildings and I don't know, I'm not an artist...
           Just a writer. And I don't have the words for why the sight seemed so right all of a sudden, why it was good and weird and beautiful --- damn it all to hell, I said it --- and I couldn't stop myself from smiling, just a little.



           I ran into Samantha in the cafeteria at lunchtime. She means well. Edits the school newspaper, dragged me in once and asked me to do a couple of articles... on fashion. I'm still not sure whether she mistook me for my sister or wanted to broaden my horizons.
           Broadening my horizons. Ha. Walk out to the edge of this town --- and you don't have to walk far --- and you can't see anything else but the horizon. Ranches, according to the owners, desert according to anyone whose eyes are working. Can't "broaden" it any further, that's for sure. And if you want to go to the next town? It's a hell of a walk. And you won't find anything there that you won't here. Don't waste your time. Don't be stupid.
           Sam doesn't understand that, of course. She wants out of this shitty little redneck burg. Studies like a demon --- wants a scholarship to Texas State but will settle for anywhere else. Like I said, she edits the school newspaper. Tried to get a debate team organised. A book club, even though they never rebuilt the town library nor the high school library after the fire of '93.
           She doesn't understand a damn thing.
           Lucky her.
           We said hi. She asked me how I was doing. I shrugged. She asked me if I had a couple minutes to spare. I looked at her.
           She wanted to get an after-school Spanish program organised. Or day-care for the kids of the illegal immigrants. Or something. I don't know. I just reminded her I take French. She said we didn't have a teacher for that since the last one went insane. That our lovely principal signs off a report card with a glowing or at any rate passing grade every year. I said yeah, so? She shook her head, got frustrated, annoyed, asked me why I couldn't just try for once, take a class where I might actually learn something, the Spanish teacher is actually pretty good...
           I shook my head, muttered something about not being any good at foreign languages anyway, so why waste the teacher's time. She sighed. And went off looking for somebody else.
           She doesn't get it. One day in a few years' time practically every college in the country and probably four or five in Europe are going to get a letter from Samantha Douglas. They're going to glance at it, they're going to see the words "Highland High School" and each and every last one of those is going to get filed without delay into the trash can.
           And I don't know if I care anymore.



           This morning. Mom had us cornered at the breakfast table --- her two-bit law firm must be having one of those mythical beasts known as a "slow day" --- and began telling us some stories from her hippie days. Her golden days, not that she ever quite got around to saying that. Apparently, people were happy back then. Sometimes even happy and sober at the same time.
           Naturally, that would be rather less often than she lets on to us kids.
           She told us about going on the road with Jake back in '67... studiously ignoring the preceding screaming argument she'd had with her parents I overheard Aunt Rita telling Quinn about last New Year, starving, dreaming and protesting, about how they expected the Establishment to just fall down around its own deaf ears as soon as everyone working in it died off...
           She told us about the time in winter '68 when she was in Paris hanging around the fac de langues, talking to the revolutionaries and trying to convince them of, "oh, something or other, I can't quite remember, it might have been the quality of American... well, never mind, I'm just so glad you two are learning the language..."
           I just drank my coffee and tried not to look Mom in the eye.
           How the hell did you wind up here, then, Mom? Why the hell did you trade Paris in for Highland, Texas, population 1500, rattlesnakes included? Why did you have to plant us here? What did you stop smoking?



           So I finally got home this afternoon. Damp eyes, and not just because it's cold today as well as grey. Exhausted, for some reason. Both cars were in the driveway. Miracle. I figured Quinn must really be in for it. Went inside and, sure enough, there's an argument going on. Pretty quiet for my parents, though, and I couldn't hear my lovely sister's voice... okay, what gives?
           I headed as far as the kitchen, my parents having taken up the dining room. Quinn, apparently, isn't home at all. Dad was off on a rant, as usual, but not like usual. He didn't sound anywhere near as frantic as he normally did.
           "... how are we going to explain this to the kids, Helen? Won't they miss their friends or something?"
           "Considering who they hang out with, I sincerely hope not."
           What are they---
           "Yes, but... what if they do?"
           My mother sighed. "Quinn, I'll offer to take shopping in New York City as soon as we're unpacked, it's not too far away. And Daria... I don't think she'll really complain. She's never been happy here, she'll probably feel pretty good when she finds out we're moving..."
           I quietly moved past them, went up to my room and lay on my bed.



           Don't say that, Mom. Don't make yourself a liar on top of everything else. I can't take this right now, not when I'd finally learned to see this town. This isn't supposed to happen like this. Can't believe this. We're moving. Okay, we're moving. Leaving. Won't see the fog again. Unless we're somewhere colder --- didn't you say near New York City? Oh, God, New York City, the museums alone...
           But it won't be like that. It won't. I should know better than that. It'll just be the the same again, only worse because this time I'll have hope and
nobody to get disappointed with. Not even those two inbreeds... Damn it all. And I can't get rid of it... I want to punch the mattress, start screaming, do something.
           But I know that's not going to happen. And right now I... I wish I didn't care anymore. Wish I didn't feel like this. Wish I knew why I feel so alone, wish I knew why I feel like everything's gone to hell when things have never been any different. Wish I knew why I feel like this can't go on when I know damn well that it will, it won't just stop, never...




           Eventually I roll over and let it all fade out.



           "Daria? It's dinnertime... Come on, Daria, are you coming or what? Mom and Dad just told me the best... Daria?"

[fin]

Questions? Comments? Threats of a forced move to Highland? Mail me.