Audrina goes running around outside in the rain like a crazy lady, yelling for Sylvia. She’s terrified that Sylvia killed Billie, and might have killed Aunt Elly too, and that Sylvia will have to be put away. Audrina trips and falls (she’s lucky she’s not built like Vera, or she’d have shattered seven times by now, just in this afternoon), and Sylvia comes up to her. She tries to say something, but before she can, Arden shows up, all “Vera called, what’s going on? Why are you two out here?” and the three of them go inside. Turns out that Vera hadn’t told Arden what had happened, so it falls to Audrina to tell Arden that his mother is dead. Okay, that sucks. Arden is an all-around tool belt, we all know it, but the boy loved his mama. Damian comes in then, yelling about how things like women-he’s-sleeping-with-falling-down-the-stairs-to-their-deaths can’t happen twice, and Vera interjects that “They do when Sylvia’s on the loose!” Let’s try to be a little more subtle, Vera hon.
I TOTALLY HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS. IT WAS SYLVIA. SYLVIA. LOOK OVER THERE AT SYLVIA, NOT AT ME. SYLVIA.
Vera and Audrina yell at each other over Sylvia for a while, and Damian tries to, I don’t know, grab at and possibly beat his eleven-year old mentally unstable daughter, while Arden is weeping and writing poetry in his diary (or something), and finally Damian calls the police and agrees to tell them that it was an accident, though he doesn’t believe Audrina when she tells him that Sylvia is innocent. The police show up, and they’re the same two policemen who came to the house when Aunt Elly died. Awkward. Vera covers for Sylvia, flirting with the younger cop and giving a detailed time line of sunning and bathing and doing her nails. The older cop seems suspicious of her, but lets it go, especially when a loose place in the carpeting of the front stairs is found and it’s determined that this could have tripped Billie up.
Audrina is nervous around Sylvia now. She remembers that Sylvia never liked Aunt Elly either, and she’s worried that Sylvia is out to get anyone who might replace her in Audrina’s affections. Audrina gets sick at Billie’s funeral and Vera takes care of her, all the while discussing how hot and manly Arden has become. (What?) This is made more awkward by the fact that both sister-cousins agree that Arden seems to have manned up by taking on Damian’s mannerisms. (Ew.) Audrina notices that for all Vera likes to scream at Sylvia and warn her away from her, Sylvia is more afraid of Vera than vice versa. Sylvia even hides under Audrina’s bed until Damian and Arden come home.
Audrina loses it for a while. She ignores Sylvia, loses weight, and neglects her appearance. She “eyes all colors with fear” and sticks to the shadows.
Months pass. Arden doesn’t come home at all some nights, and Audrina doesn’t care. (Fair enough) Vera has been taking charge of the cooking and housework, and one day she brings Audrina a cup of hot tea, which Audrina rejects with a bratty “I like iced tea better!”. Vera tells her to shut up and drink it, but as Audrina starts to, Sylvia runs in and throws herself at Vera, who falls into Audrina. Audrina drops and breaks the cup, and Vera (sigh) sprains her ankle. Audrina tells Vera that it might be better if she just left, but Vera starts to cry and Audrina backs down. Summer comes, and Arden bursts into his and Audrina’s bedroom one day to drag her out of bed and tell her to snap out of it. Wait, wait, I have to transcribe this assery:
“Enough is enough!…I should have done this months ago! You cannot throw away your life and mine because you’re not mature enough to face facts. Death is all around us, from the moment we’re born we’re on our way to our graves.”
Oh shut up. Let’s see…Audrina’s aunt dies, and then before she can process it, she runs away and gets married, then comes home to discover that her mother-in-law has moved in and now she and her husband have to stay in the house she was trying to escape. Everyone takes her bastard father’s side. Then her wicked sister-cousin moves back in, she finds out that her mother-in-law and father are having an affair, and then her mother-in-law dies and it looks like her beloved little sister (who is really more like her daughter) might have done it and may have killed her aunt too. So she gets depressed (although that colors & shadows thing is a little much), and you decide that the best way to deal with it is to play around and then drag her out of bed months later and accuse her of being immature. And mouth some “We’re dying as soon as we’re born, man!” bullshit.
The point, Arden, is that you are an ass.
Moving on, Arden, in several not-so-veiled ways, indicates to Audrina that she needs to get better and start boning him again, or he’s going to have to move it along. He’ll wait, you see, but not too long. Oh bite me. Audrina assures him that she’s working on it and Arden finally leaves her alone so that he can go cry in the shower. Sylvia takes advantage of his absence to gaze pitifully at her sister and try to focus her eyes at her, and Audrina realizes that Sylvia could never hurt anyone, and that Sylvia needs her.
Time moves on. Audrina spends a lot of time gardening and going to garden clubs, making Sylvia come along and learn to be around other people. Arden and Vera are having the world’s least discreet affair (Audrina mentions that she often catches glimpses of them in seldom-used rooms of the house), but determines that if she really wanted to, she could find more concrete evidence, but that she doesn’t care enough. Good on you, lady! Arden’s now assistant vice-president of Damian’s firm, and has given up his dreams of being an architect. Whatever.
One hot day, Audrina is in the garden, working on her roses when Arden shows up and gives her grief about having giving up her music. Audrina gives him the same about architecture. After all, she’s got big dreams: after roses, tulips; after tulips, orchids; and after orchids, something else and on and on until she’s dead. Oh that’s nice. Arden whines a little about how Audrina never needed him and she’s not who he thought she was when they got married, and blah blah blah, he’s leaving her for Vera. SPECIFICALLY, he’s leaving her for Vera unless she has more sex with him.
Audrina rolls her eyes and tells him to leave then; after all, he’s never given her a chance to really decide what she wants out of life, and she’s never dealt with the rocking chair visions, or with the deaths of Lucky, Elly, or Billie, and it’s time she learned to really live for herself.
No, of course that’s not what happens. No, what happens is: Arden tells Audrina he’s going to leave her for Vera unless they do it more, so in order to save her crappy marriage, Audrina has sex with him in the garden. With, knowing this family, Sylvia, Vera, and Damian all watching from various windows. Siiiiiiiiiigh. I mean, it’s lovely that Audrina’s finally realized that sex can be great and unscary, but the circumstances are terrible. Truly appalling. Worse, Arden claims that he only told Audrina that he was leaving her for Vera in order to scare her with the possibility of losing him. OH I WANT TO KICK YOU IN THE TEETH. He does NOT deny sleeping with Vera, though, and Audrina doesn’t bring it up. She somehow gleans from all of this that Arden loves her for her, unlike Damian, who only ever wanted her to be the First and Best Audrina (remember her?). Oh, and stop thinking about your dad ALL THE TIME, Audrina. Especially post coitally. Please.
That night, Audrina is woken up by someone chanting her name. Thinking that it’s Sylvia, she sends her sister a “I’m on my way!” telepathic message (like you do) and gets up to check on her. Sylvia is asleep when Audrina goes to her room, looking “angelic”, as she does when she’s sleeping. Audrina kisses her and heads back to her bedroom, but on the way she thinks that she hears her name called again, this time from the playroom. Audrina then gets one of her famously bad ideas, and decides that what she needs to do is face up to the First & Best’s fears, those that kept her from “enjoying Arden”. Audrina goes to deal with her sister’s issues and sits in the rocking chair.
Whew! Be glad I didn’t transcribe any of the sex parts. They were flowery and weird. Also, I hate Arden. I kinda hated Vera in this section too, since she’s a little too “I’m banging your husband right in front of you!” smug for my tastes, but lord knows I can’t hate Vera for long. Not yet, anyway. (Bum bum bummmmmmm!)
Up next: The Rocking Chair, and What Audrina Found There.