“Yes, Quinn . . .”
Quinn pushed open the door to her sister’s room and peeked in pensively. Daria’s room scared her . . . the strange posters, the huge shelf full of thick books, the complete absence of toys . . . it wasn’t a little girl’s room, it was a room for a tiny adult. Quinn glanced around the room, looking for her sister. Daria wasn’t sitting on the bed or at her desk, so there was only one other place she could be. Quinn swallowed and stared at the giant cardboard box that took up the back third of the room.
Nervously, she tiptoed across the carpet and looked inside. At first she saw nothing but darkness and turned to leave, but the motion revealed two flashes of light from the very back of the box . . . the room light reflecting off Daria’s glasses.
She’s watching me, I bet she thinks I’m a scaredy-cat. Quinn frowned for a moment, and then very politely knocked on the side of the box.
“What?” Daria snapped. “I’m enjoying my solitude.”
“You can play cards later,” Quinn answered. “I need to talk to you.”
Quinn waited for her sister to answer, and a moment later Daria sighed and turned on her flashlight.
“Come into my parlor,” Daria said with a small smirk. Quinn ducked down and walked into the box, sitting next to her sister. They sat quietly for a few moments and stared at each other.
“Ok, what do you want?” Daria asked.
“I wanted to ask you something,” Quinn said, twisting her hands in her lap and refusing to look at her sister. “Because you’re really smart, and you know everything, and you never lie to me about things that are important.”
“You’re not adopted,” Daria said in a deadpan voice.
“I know that,” Quinn said, looking up at her sister. “Were you?”
“Unfortunately not,” Daria answered. “So are you going to ask me your question or waste my whole afternoon?”
“Well,” Quinn said, looking pensive again, “it’s those guys you hang out with sometimes, they told me something today and I don’t know if I should believe them.”
“Oh, God.” Daria started rubbing her forehead with one hand. “I tremble to ask, but what did the Duh-namic Duo have to say?”
“They said . . . they said,” Quinn’s voice dropped to a whisper, “they said that Santa Claus isn’t real.”
Daria looked at her little sister and considered the velocity a flying sleigh would need to reach every house in every country in the world, not counting the countries that didn’t celebrate Christmas. She looked at Quinn’s deeply troubled expression and tried to estimate the total weight of all the toys opened on Christmas morning. She looked at Quinn’s slightly teary green eyes and tried to work out the logistical nightmare of sneaking a fat man into and out of a house every few seconds for approximately twelve hours.
“Don’t lie to me,” Quinn insisted.
“Quinn,” Daria said, “are you familiar with the word ‘metaphor’?”
“Ok, it’s like this. I could look at you and say ‘Quinn, your eyes are emeralds’ but they’re really not. They’re eyes.”
“But they are green and, like the rest of you, insufferably cute.”
“That’s a metaphor. Saying that something is something else, because you’re really trying to compare them.”
“Do you know what a symbol is?”
“Like the skull picture on the stuff under the kitchen sink?”
“Exactly. That little picture won’t hurt you, but it’s a warning that the stuff in the bottles will. Got it?”
“How do you feel about Christmas?”
“It makes me warm and happy. I like seeing all the family we never see all year, and there’s really good food, and presents, and everybody is nicer than usual. Even you’re nicer around Christmas.”
“Thanks,” Daria said with a small scowl. “Anyway, would you say that Santa Claus is a nice, happy person that enjoys good food and presents, and that you only see once a year?”
“Well,” Quinn answered, “yeah.”
“I’ve shown you the path,” Daria said, and went back to her book.
Quinn sat and thought hard about what her sister had said. Santa Claus enjoyed all the same things about Christmas she did . . . no, that wasn’t what Daria had meant. Santa Claus is all the things Quinn liked about Christmas. But if he wasn’t real, like the boys had said, then . . . .
“He is real,” Quinn whispered. “Because he’s a metaford and a symbol.”
“Metaphor,” Daria said, “and you are correct. He isn’t real the way you and I are, he’s real the way Uncle Sam or Paul Bunyan are real.”
“Merry Christmas, Daria!” Quinn shouted, hugging her sister fiercely and then jumping out of the box to run off down the hall.
“Merry Christmas,” Daria answered quietly, and went back to reading.
Disclaimers: Stereo Hifi font is ©1997 by Cathy Davies. This story based on characters and situations created by Glenn Eichler and Susie Lewis. The Daria TV show is a trademark of MTV Networks, a division of Viacom International Inc. and is referenced here without permission, and without profit. Original characters and situations created by the author are under (K) – all rights reversed. Hail Eris.
Author: the NightGoblyn