Author’s note: Take two of my attempt to craft the chapters of my story. This is the revised Chapter One: Beginnings
Chapter one first attempt can be accessed by this link.
In the year Audreana turned 15, a single event changed her life. The moments within those events changed how her life would proceed from that point and eventually coloured how the times before these were remembered. I watched it all unable to do anything but watch the devolution of what had been a promising start for a charming, sweet girl.
I don’t want to start with the negative. Instead I want to introduce the young woman so that when you read what happened you can consider what might have been. I am not ready to tell you who I am but let me promise that by this novel’s end you will know.
Audreana was a studious child who gathered friends around her with ease. She was admired for her ability to mingle with any group of society and seamlessly fit in. Her compassion and almost compulsive need to be helpful was well known and sadly, often abused by people who only saw her use to them and nothing beyond that. This led to a steady movement of friends in and out of her immediate circle. Audreana preferred the company of males but only as friends, she had not as yet started seeing boys as boy friends. Instead she had a lot of boys who were friends.
In her immediate family, Audreana was the eldest child with a younger brother as her only sibling. Both parents worked but the absence of her mother when they returned home was filled by their grandmother. They were never latch key kids and there was always a warm welcome and some tasty treat awaiting their return home. Outside of these four people, were the brothers and sisters of her grandmother and their children. Visits from these people happily littered the days of Audreana’s childhood.
Audreana would spend hours at the bottom of the garden. She didn’t see the weeds in the vegetable rows but wondered if the fairies that lived between the rows would feast on the weeds. If they did then it was an act of mercy to leave the weeds where they were. When the concrete rubbish burner was lit, Audreana thought created stories . Was that slip of green paper not rubbish but the remnants of a counterfeit money making endeavour that was nearly caught and had to instantly hide the product of their illicit scheme?
Beyond the imaginings in the bottom of the garden, Audreana loved reading. From the moment she understood that individual letters made words, words formed sentences and sentences combined to create endless stories, Audreana was hooked on reading. Subsequently her happiest moments were those spent inside the pages of books. She consumed them at speed and with a deep abiding passion. Audreana was able to remember whole passages of her favourite books because she had read them so often.
Beyond reading Audreana reverred books, they were her treasures and her closest friends. She followed authors as other children followed movie and music stars, she was their groupie. On the walls of her bedroom Audreana had posters of the characters she loved, including one of Joe Hardy. Joe was one of the two Hardy brothers that formed the Hardy Boys, a series written by Franklin W Dixon. Music was important to Audreana but books were her worlds.
Audreana was book smart. The difference between book smart and street smart is painfully observable in the events soon described. She spent hours studying, never believing she was smart enough to pass, despite grades and the assurances of other people, including her teachers. She memorised as much detail as she could, not trusting herself to be able to answer questions without that specific knowledge. Audreana’s lack of confidence was charming when she was young but eventually led to her downfall.
Tall for her age, Audreana was used to not being noticed for her looks. She had long black hair and a lean frame with almost no fat upon it. Her figure reflected her love of both swimming and running. When her parents added a pool to their property Audreana would impatiently wait for the seasons to change and she could take that first satisfying plunge into the cool water. She and her brother competed annually to be the first to swim and the last.
Running was something Audreana did for joy and to outrun demons. She would run in the morning and again at night. She liked running alone and just testing herself against her previous times. More often than not Audreana made the team cross country running team but her real talent was in an unswerving determination to complete what she started. Her focus would be narrowed to that single objective, often at the expense of anything else that might possibly be in her life.
It would be neat and tidy to simply blame the events of her 15th year for everything that went wrong in subsequent years. But it would also be inaccurate. Audreana first had trouble with men when she would visit her doctor because she was young her parents would accompany her. However the doctor would always find a way to have time alone with her.
Over time and as she grew older Audreana would try anything to not have to go to that doctor. She became very adept at denying illness to avoid the doctor. Her mind refused to share, even with her, the true details of what the doctor did to her but she knew fear at even the murmur of his voice. When she couldn’t hide being ill, she would beg her parents to not leave her alone with the doctor becoming hysterical that they might do so. Even after all these years and many make overs for the building Audreana could still remember the terror of sitting in the adult chair just outside the doctor’s office waiting for his voice to call them into his lair.
One day she remembers that her mother told her that they would have to go to a new doctor. This would be at the same rooms but a new doctor in the old one’s office. He had died with a death notice in the local papers. Her mother was extremely shocked when Audreana just laughed uncontrollably and when finally able to speak, she asked where the doctor was buried. Her mother thinking it was shock told her and then was even more astonished when her normally nice daughter calmly stated she wanted to dance on his grave! Like many things in this family, this information was forgotten, never to be mentioned again.
When Audreana was in College she tried out technical drawing as an elective. It was an unmitigated failure because her mind struggled to create the strict designs required by the discipline. When she was supposed to create a house, her embellishments defied technical drawing. However, this was not the worst part of this elective. The worst part was the elderly male teacher. To correct Audreana’s many errors he would lean over her, crowding her in her chair with his body touching hers in ways that made her feel uncomfortable.
Audreana would move away and attempt to distract his attention from her to anyone else in the class. Then she would feel guilty that some other female student might experience what she was. No one in the class seemed to notice how uncomfortable she was and for a long time Audreana just thought it was her. She began to dread the class and find reasons to skip it, despite her normally spotless academic record and attendance. When she could not take it any longer Audreana confessed her shame to her parents.
The consequences of her confession was for the technical drawing teacher to retire voluntarily and immediately. Though young, Audreana realised that his pride and the school’s reputation remained intact but she was not so sure the solution fully helped her. It was beginning to seem that men could not be trusted. Audreana even began to doubt the relationships she had with her father and brother.
The final nail in the coffin for Audreana to be able to trust men came from within her neighbourhood. Like many of the nearby kids Audreana made plastic stick figures in the home of an elderly couple. The wife was very disabled and would leave the dining area when the kids arrived. This left them with the husband who bought the kids lolly pops that had the sticks they made creations from. To make them you lit the ends of the plastic sticks and while melted from the heat attached them to another stick.
The details are fuzzy but Audreana spent months visiting the elderly man, enjoying the lollies and the craft activities. Audreana would often ask the old man if there was anything that she could do to thank him for the lollies and time away from her home. She was grateful that he would listen to her every word. She felt individually special when with the old man, not one of two children in a busy household. One Friday the old man said that on the following Monday Audreana could repay him.
The old man was so secretive it worried Audreana. What if she couldn’t do what he wanted? What if he wanted something ‘bad’? Audreana was not sure what qualified as ‘bad’ but it scared her. She pressed the old man for details on how she was going to thank him but he refused to give her any and through that, any cessation in the fear she was experiencing. After scaring herself silly trying to understand what the thank you act might be, Audreana decided to never see the old man alone, or at all, again.
To help her keep her promise to herself Audreana stayed close to her brother for weeks after that weekend. While she saw the old man at the diary they used to frequent together she made sure never to be alone and the old man never approached her. Eventually she felt safe to be alone in the neighbourhood again but she was always vigilant to any possible meeting from the old man or any other potential threat.
In the beginning Audreana was open to surprise. She was trusting and comfortable with any single person or group of people. Her companions were equally friends from school and the books she spent hours immersed in. She was a gentle, naive girl on the brink of being a woman. In the end of this novel will she be what she had the potential to be or will she be a reflection of what her past created her to be.