As our next chapter opens, Damian sits with Audrina on his lap for what he tells her is the last time. After all, she’s growing up, and people sometimes presume things, so while he might not hug her and hold her as much as he used to, she shouldn’t doubt that he loves her. He tells her how proud he is that she’s agreed to take care of Sylvia, but since this is Damian we’re talking about, he has to follow up these relatively sweet moments by making Audrina promise that she’ll never put Sylvia in a home, where, once she’s the beautiful woman she’s obviously going to be, she’ll be taken advantage of by the orderlies and the other patients. ‘Course, since in this world all men are pretty much terrible at heart, Damian muses that Sylvia will undoubtedly be “used” by the time she hits puberty anyway, and if she should happen to get pregnant, that child will become Audrina’s responsibility too.
Breathe, Megan. Breathe. This is only the second page of the chapter, don’t get all agitated yet.
ANYWAY. Damian tucks Audrina into bed, and she bravely tells him that she’s not afraid anymore, and that she’s going to make Sylvia better. She’s not afraid of the boys in the woods, or of the rocking chair, not anymore. In fact, you see, when she rocks in the chair now, she can sometimes find Lucky and talk to her. Is that crazy? she asks her father, and with everything else that’s gone on in this madhouse, Damian seems to think that yeah, that’s a little crazy. He tells Audrina not to rock in the chair anymore, as it’s “done all it can” for her, and he leaves. Audrina finds this odd, but decides that whatever her father is trying to keep from her, she’s going to find out no matter what. Yes, because you’re really such a little Nancy Drew, there, aren’t you precious? (and how many times am I going to have to use the phrase “Audrina finds this odd”, “Audrina doesn’t understand”, etc. Lordy.)
Audrina is awake in her bed and listening to the house settling, which she interprets as the house breathing and whispering, plotting ways to keep her there forever, and before this can get much weirder, Vera sneaks in. Vera wants to be Audrina’s friend, she’s tired of living in a house where everyone hates her. She wants Audrina to teach her how to make everyone love her like they love Audrina. Audrina argues that Elly doesn’t love her, but Vera corrects her, saying that Elly loves A more than she does her own daughter, and the fact that she gives Audrina more chores to do is her own weird Elly way of showing that she trusts and loves her more. Vera’s not good enough to be made into a kitchen slave, she says, not like Elly is and Lucky was and Audrina is soon to be. Audrina then observes that, “When you love I suppose you give up what you want for yourself.”
And there it is. That right there is Audrina’s entire philosophy of life. God, it’s practically the moral of the story. It doesn’t matter what you want, or what is done to you, because if you love someone you give up your own desires and answer only to those of the loved one. What more could you possibly do? What more could you possibly want?
Based on this statement, Vera begs Audrina to love her a little too, just as she loves Sylvia. Audrina decides to give it a try, and the pair drifts off to sleep in each other’s arms. After this, we’re told, Audrina and Vera become the best of friends. Arden’s happy that they’re finally friends, and Vera accompanies Audrina to her music lessons to watch her practice. On one such afternoon, though, a hot and muggy day, the girls are at Lamar’s place and Vera decides to put on a show. See, while Audrina’s wearing a proper white blouse and skirt that Damian has approved, Vera’s wearing a white piqué bra and a pair of green short shorts from the Suddenly, Last Summer collection and while Audrina’s playing away on the piano, Vera’s passing the time by jiggling her chest around and running her fingers along her thighs, and basically whoring it up in the best Vera style. Finally Lamar asks her what the deal is and Vera claims that she’s got a bee stinger underneath her…and we all know where, Lamar snaps, since you’ve been messing with it for half an hour. He sends Audrina to the bathroom to help Vera get the stinger out. Audrina goes and waits in the bathroom, and Vera doesn’t show, she leaves the bathroom and catches her sister-cousin in the act of pulling her bra back in place. Scandal! And our Audrina, being who she is, isn’t quite sure if there ever was a stinger, or if Vera made it all up. I’m thinking it’s safe to assume that there was not.
After this, Audrina starts noticing little exchanges between Lamar and Vera that make her wonder if Vera was telling the truth all along. Lamar is trying to be discreet about the whole thing, but Vera, being Vera, tells dirty jokes, flirts, and flashes her undies, and Audrina starts to dislike her again. Notice that she doesn’t start to dislike Lamar. Audrina spends the rest of her time this summer running after Sylvia, and going to the beach with her father and Arden, where she and Arden take turns running to save Sylvia from the waves while Damian creeps around under a beach umbrella and checks out the young ladies. Sylvia, Audrina has found, will eat anything and wanders off at will, and Audrina is having little luck in potty training her or teaching her to talk. Elly gets on Damian’s case about hiring a nurse for Sylvia so that Audrina can have her life back, but Damian brushes that off, claiming that Elly and Vera take up all of his money. Audrina gives Sylvia some crystal prisms that she found in the First & Best’s room, and Sylvia learns to direct the prisms so that they shoot rainbow lights into people’s eyes. Vera is back to ignoring Audrina most of the time.
Lamar calls Audrina up one night and tells her that he’s finally gotten his big break–a position at Julliard. He asks her not to tell anyone else about his job (hmmmm, like who, I wonder?) and Audrina goes over to his house unannounced the next afternoon to give him a going away present–gold cuff-links that had been her grandfather’s. After she lets herself in, she assumes that Lamar isn’t home and starts to write him a note when she hears giggling from the next room. She peeks into the living room and, sure enough, there are Lamar and Vera and a fire in the fireplace and Schubert playing on the record player, and even Our Audrina knows when she’s witnessing shenanigans. Audrina’s not sure how to get out of there (it’s too early for Arden to come and get her), so she watches. Lamar and Vera dance around for a while and Lamar tells the 16-year old Vera that while they’ve had a great couple of years, she’s too young for him and should find a boy her own age. So she’s too young for you now? Not when she was fourteen? Okay, Lamar. Creeper. Vera turns on the waterworks and claims that she’s pregnant. Lamar doesn’t believe her, so Vera has one of her mood swings and starts taking her clothes off. Lamar begs her to stop, as he thinks Audrina mentioned coming over, and Vera taunts him by asking if he’s taught Audrina the same things that he taught her. Lamar yells at her and shakes her, and in response Vera asks if she’s going to have “to do what she did last time…Mr. Rensdale*?” in her best Audrina voice and that’s apparently Lamar’s button, because off they go on the living room floor. Afterwards (and yes, Audrina watched the whole thing), Vera tells Lamar that he’s going to take her to New York with him, or she’ll tell the police that he raped her and Audrina. Audrina leaves then, and meets Arden, who wants to know why she’s not babbling away about Lamar and the piano as usual, but Audrina can’t answer him because, after all, Vera was telling the truth about Lamar and only the day before she’d been bragging about having slept with Arden as well.
Vera bursts yet again into Audrina’s bedroom that night, throwing the cuff-links that Audrina left in the kitchen at her. She warns Audrina not tell anyone what she saw, and Audrina gets to use that old chestnut “with you for a friend, I don’t need any enemies, do I?”. And no, no she does not. For you see, Vera wanted Audrina to learn to love her so that it would hurt her more when she realized how much Vera hates her and has always hated her. Audrina, still not catching on, asks what she’s ever done to deserve Vera’s hatred and Vera points out that she is Damian’s child and deserves the love that Audrina has always gotten. Crying, Vera tries to hit Audrina and when she moves out of the way, Vera tries again, this time for Sylvia. Audrina throws herself at Vera, and the two scratch and wrestle for a few moments before Audrina detangles herself to get Sylvia and Vera heads out the door. On the way, she trips over one of Sylvia’s prisms and falls hard to the floor, where she starts to bleed heavily. Audrina runs to get Elly, who takes her time going upstairs to check on her daughter (this sort of behavior might have a little something to do with her rampant issues, Elly). When Elly and Audrina get back upstairs, Vera is pawing through the pools of blood, whimpering that she has to save her baby. When she asks her mother to help her, Elly just remarks that it’s probably better that Vera lost it, at which point Vera snaps and hurls the largest clump of blood directly at her mother. Elly tells her to make sure to use cold water on the rug to get the blood out, and when Vera weakly asks her mother how she can worry about the rug when she’s just had a miscarriage, Elly’s response is that “The Oriental is valuable”.
For the love of… Vera has her issues, yes, and she’s done some terrible things and will do several more, and I’m never going to say that she’s an innocent victim of anything, but really. Is there any question of where she came from? Talk about your created evil.
Audrina ends up cleaning the rug, eventually helped by Aunt Elly, and the next morning when the family sits down to breakfast, Vera is gone. Elly produced a note that she found and wants Damian to read aloud so that Audrina can hear it, and when Damian refuses, Audrina reads it aloud instead. Ahem.
You have never allowed me to call you Papa*, or Father, but this time I’m going to disobey and call you Papa as Audrina does. You are my father and you know it, my mother knows it, Audrina knows it and I know it.
When I was very young all I wanted was for you to love me, even just a little bit. I used to stay awake at nights plotting all the good things I could do to make you notice me and say, “Thank you, Vera.” But I was never able to win your affection, no matter how hard I tried, so soon I gave up.
I used to watch your wife so I could learn to be like she was–soft-spoken, always well-dressed and smelling of perfume, and you spanked me for using her perfume, and spanked me for wearing my good clothes when I played. You spanked me for any reason at all. So I stopped trying to please you, especially after you had “your sweet Audrina”, who could do no wrong. She was the one who pleased you in all ways.*
No doubt at this moment as you read this you are glad to be rid of me, since you never wanted me in the first place. I’m sure you’d be happy to see me dead. But you can’t get rid of me so easily. For I’m coming back, Damian Adare, and everybody who made me cry is going to cry ten times more than I ever did.
I won’t give away any secrets in this letter, but there will come a day when all your secrets will be dragged out in the open for all to view. Count on that, dear Papa. Dream about that at night. Think about my dark eyes, which are just like yours, and wonder what I’ve got in store for you and yours. And remember most of all, you brought it all on yourself by being heartless and cruel to your very own flesh and blood.
Without love now, I am the daughter who will serve you best…and serve you longest.
See that? That’s a damn fine goodbye letter. I’ve got a tear in my eye. Oh Vera.
Damian tries to lay some guilt on Audrina for reading the letter to him, but she won’t have it and tells him that Vera’s right–he never treated her as a daughter. Damian warns Audrina to beware the day that Vera comes back into their lives, and I look forward to it, because the recaps will have CRAZY again. But until then, Damian leaves the kitchen and I must leave this recap.
1. *I told you that the “Mr. Rensdale” thing would come back. And how!
2. *Except that she totally has, and rather often.
3.*Yeah, that’s phrased really poorly.