Chapter One: Beware of Men
Audreana was 14 the first time she discovered that men could not be trusted. The term ‘men’ encompassed any male that was able to overpower her physically or manipulate her mentally. Or rather at 14 she was able to voice her reality at the hands of men. Her first memory was of the doctor that her parents would literally drag her to. She hated him and his cold hands venturing to places on her body that a sore throat did not require assessment of. She hated that her parents would leave her alone with him. Their faith in him was greater than their belief in what she told them he did. Eventually she stopped saying anything. She also buried any potential issue that might lead to her parents forcing her to go to see this evil man. Even at this tender age, she knew evil. Her anguish ended when he died. It shocked her mother that when they told her he was dead, Audreana asked where he was buried. They assumed it was to say farewell to her doctor, but in reality he had forced her to say farewell to her trust in men and what she really wanted to do was to dance on his grave!
Always a loner, Audreana however made friends with an old man down her street. His wife was disabled and when Audreana or the other children came to visit, she would go to their room and close the door. Left alone with the man, Audreana would sit in the kitchen with a lighter and the sticks of the many lolly pops he bought her and the other children. They would create structures by burning the stick ends and fusing them together. Urban legends are so scary because they have a thread of truth and the truth here, was that this man without a van lured children to him with the gift of lolly pops and the appearance of listening to their every word. One Friday, the man replied to Audreana’s previously repeatedly and refused request as to how she could repay him. He told her she could do so on Monday. Always a fanciful child, she tossed and turned, ridden by an unnamed fear that stalked her dreams in unformed shadows of despair. Audreana never went back to see the old man, avoiding him and staying close to home and her brother till she appeared to age out of his interest. Well that is the conclusion drawn, the reality is that her mind closed a curtain on this sordid tale and she was never completely sure what she chose as the ending was in fact true.
Audreana excelled at school, except in technical drawing, where her imagination exploded into unconventional sketches that lacked the mathematical straight edge required. She appeared to need a lot of assistance from the male teacher, who provided it by leaning over her shoulder and touching her in places made familiar by the doctor under the guise of guiding her hand in acceptable sketching. Her skin crawled with his touch and with the eyes that seemed to strip her naked and leave her silently alone in a crowded room of normally rowdy students. This time her parents listened when she told them but the compromise seemed more for his dignity and the School’s protection than for Audreana. All she received was his not being the teacher anymore, while he retired into obscurity, rarely ever mentioned again.