The story starts up with Vera’s return from the hospital after falling down the cupola stairs whilst chasing Audrina, resulting in a badly broken leg. Damian (Papa) has gotten Vera a box of chocolates and a puzzle (wooo, Damian, live it up), and has also gotten Audrina her own, because Audrina, while our tortured heroine, is also weirdly spoiled (I’m sorry, but Vera’s the one with the broken leg, why should Audrina get candy?).
Upon seeing that Audrina’s got her own puzzle and candy, Vera throws hers to the ground because she is awful, but when assured by Papa that hers are bigger than Audrina’s, Vera is sweetness again. Audrina hates when Vera acts like Papa is her father too, since she’s already competing with the First and Best and Most Perfect Audrina for her father’s affections. The family goes to dinner, where Ellie bitches at Papa (okay, I can’t keep that up. I feel like Hemingway is here) for giving the girls candy before dinner, and Damian tries to force Vera to eat so that Ellie will be shown up. Vera starts to cry, Audrina starts to cry and runs away to her room, where Damian later comes up to see why she was so upset. Eventually conversation turns to Audrina’s age and Damian reminds her that she is seven going on eight and that it’s “healthier” to live in a world without clocks or calendars, because then you’ll never grow old. Yeah, I don’t think that’s how time works, Damian. Damian and Lucky leave to go out, and Audrina goes to bed and has a screaming nightmare, which she’s comforted out of by Damian. See, I kind of liked that part. It reminded me of that scene in Gone With the Wind where Bonnie has the nightmare and Rhett comforts her? Because Rhett Butler is a glorious bastard but a pretty good dad, so it’s a sweet scene? (yes and Bonnie’s nightmare corresponds to Scarlett’s nightmare, but I’m not recapping GWTW by gum, so let’s move on)
Anyway, it reminded me of that for about a sentence, because when Audrina wakes up the next morning, Damian is in her room grinning at her, “almost as if he’d never left me alone”. NO. THAT IS NOT OKAY, DAMIAN. Because you just know that he really was there all night, like, staring at her. And that’s not the only weirdness! No, Damian tells Audrina that she needs to get ready for church, as it’s Sunday, and Audrina is confused and says so, because she can’t remember if it was the previous week that Vera broke her leg, or longer. Longer, apparently, since Damian tells her that it’s now five days to Christmas and Vera broke her leg ages before.
SPOILER MUSING: I’ve always wondered how what’s being pulled off gets pulled off when it comes to Vera and her fragility. Those of you who’ve read the book know what I mean. Having wrong clocks and no calendars is one thing, but casts and slings have to stay for a finite amount of time, no matter what anyone else is doing. You can tell someone that an hour’s gone by during their nap when it was really three, or that it’s Tuesday now when it’s Monday, (NOT THAT ANYONE’S DOING THAT), but casts? Hmm.
Anyhoo, Vera comes to Audrina’s room that night with a backpack full of clippings from dirty magazines, because Vera is awful and creepy (she also lurks around with the detachable penis from an anatomy book’s model man during the next Teatime of the Gods), and tricks Audrina into looking at them by coating them in glue beforehand. That way, Audrina can’t get them off of her hands before Damian comes in, which he does, but Vera gets hers since she can’t escape, being on crutches and all. Damian whips her in the other room (though he claims that he doesn’t), and Audrina has to sit in the rocking chair.
The rocking chair is in the First Audrina’s bedroom, which is a shrine to the girl, filled with pictures and toys and dresses (also spiders, creepy spiders, spinning webs over everything) and this night is the first night that Damian leaves Audrina alone in the rocking chair, trying to fill her empty pitcher. Audrina rocks and sings to herself, while Damian yells encouraging things like “Rock, Audrina, rock! Make the floorboards creak.” Eventually, Audrina works herself into a trance and has what she considers one of the First Audrina’s memories: She is running in the woods in a pretty party dress, on her ninth birthday, when suddenly a group of boys jump out from behind a bush and “violate” her. Yes, that’s right, Damian is forcing his daughter to go into a trance and experience the genetic memories of her older sister’s gang rape.
Oh my STARS this book. I couldn’t have started with something where siblings make out?
Damian rushes in to protect Audrina, all the while claiming that he wants her to skip over that memory and just recapture the First & Best’s charm and happiness. He puts Audrina to bed, where she muses over what it is that her father really wants, and how she can hold on to herself while still taking on her sister’s gifts.
Aaaand, since that chapter was so involved and deep, VCA gives us the gift of another Teatime in the next one. Thank GOD. The chapter starts off with the family at breakfast, sometime after Christmas. Audrina wishes that her cat, Tweedle Dee, was still around since she’s lonely, and her parents are shocked by this, since it’s been ages and ages since her cat went away.
On an unrelated side note, how fucking creepy are TweedleDee and TweedleDum? Nightmare fuel.
To hastily wrap up this longest of recaps, Lucky and Ellie do their talk-through-the-picture thing, and Lucky drunkenly talks about her piano teacher, who used to feel her up or something, and how much she’d loved him, and Ellie tells her that she was right to wait, as Damian never would have married her otherwise. Why am I not surprised? Vera skulks around with the detachable peen. Ellie makes a reference to “what happened” to the First Audrina, but that snaps Lucky back to the now and she shoos Audrina and Vera away. Vera taunts Audrina with a Valentine’s Day box of candy that she claims was given to her by her boytoy back at school. She gives Audrina the empty heart after eating all of the candy.
And on that uniquely Vera-fied act, we close.