Uncut: White Flame-11

Audrie’s Slow Awakening to Womanhood

The Jacobs Residence was silent when Audrie arrived home that evening.

Her plan to leave the office after lunch had gone awry as task after task ate away the hours.

She was exhausted by the time five o’clock came.

Her first thought was to go back to the hotel and get an immediate rest but wearing the same clothes again tomorrow was more unpalatable so she dragged herself to drive homeward.

No one greeted her arrival.

Her mother would peek from a window at the sound of her motorbike or her father would wave if he’s weeding in the garden.

Her two sisters were always away on their modeling stints but when they were younger and still all living together at home, Anne and Aimee would just holler ‘hello there’ and then go back to what they’re currently doing.

Audrie would probably miss them while she’s away.

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No, not probably. She would surely miss them now that she’s grown up and ready to fly away from the nest, too.

“I’m sorry, Mom, Dad,” Audrie whispered as she pushed open the front door.

“I should ask properly but I don’t have enough courage to face you both — ”

She stopped as she found herself suddenly face to face with her father and mother on the family portrait hanging in the large living room.

Her sisters and her own self were also on the painting. All five faces seemed accusing as they stared back at her, especially her own.

Audrie heaved a deep breath to shake off the guilt that overcame her.

“Well, personally. I — I just need some time… and space… to grow up a little bit more. Mom, I promise, I will be a matured Audrie the next time you see me.” Her voice was shaking and her eyes were brimming with tears.

The other parts of the house were in darkness, except the hallways.

The kitchen beckoned at her but Audrie’s desire to get away was more pressing than the needs of her grumbling stomach.

She skipped lunch again and she was hungry but she didn’t want to stay longer than necessary.

Maybe she’d get something to take with her after she got some clothes from her room.

Audrie felt like a stranger when she entered her bedroom. She was gone for only one night but it seemed like a year had passed.

“Oh, Audrie, you’re not a young girl anymore…” She murmured while facing the oval mirror of her dresser.

For the first time, Audrie looked at her image closely.

Some of her closer friends always told her that she resembled both Anne and Aimee.

Although she didn’t believe them, the thought always made her feel glad because everybody else was calling her the ‘ugly duckling’.

Her own family would joke about Audrie growing up to a beautiful and elegant swan, just like in the story.

And when Audrie failed to do that, the joke died down.

Everyone became resigned and accustomed to see a plain and quiet girl in the Jacobs’ house where two of the most beautiful women in Love City live, namely: Anne and Aimee Jacobs.

Audrie idolized her older sisters and tried to emulate them in her own timid way.

Her hair was also naturally straight and shiny black so she let it grow to waist length even though long hair was a nuisance when riding a motorbike.

Her skin is darker but smooth and clear.

She had an occasional pimple and some tiny freckles sprinkled on tip of her nose.

If her skin would become lighter, those freckles would be visible. Like her sisters, Audrie inherited the height and body build of their father.

She is taller than Anne and Aimee but seemed heavier because she’s not in constant diet mode.

Her sisters always pick at their food while she devours everything on sight.

Audrie needed to have more meat on her bones to be able to drive her big bike.

Her favorite pastime, horseback riding, is also a bit physically demanding.

Maybe she really has a turbo-charged metabolism, just like her friends always said.

They were somewhat envious of Audrie’s healthy appetite and willowy shape.

Privately, Audrie always felt large and clumsy compared to her gracefully slim sisters.

Their mother was endowed with classical features: high cheekbones, slightly aristocratic nose, delicately molded brows, and a heart-shaped face.

Marie Jacobs is tiny and a bit chubby. Her complexion is unblemished and creamy white, which her sisters inherited as well as the classic look.

Audrie got the maternal cheekbones and just the mild version of the nose. Hers is smaller.

She also has large almond-shaped eyes their Mom but without the long thick lashes, which Anne has.

Those incredibly long lashes made Anne’s jet-black eyes look languorous and seductive.

Aimee and Audrie both have golden brown eyes, which they got from their father.

Aimee’s lashes are much longer than Audrie’s.

Audrie pulled a face at her reflection when she realized the comparison list was getting longer and more detailed.

“Hey, stranger, you must stop comparing yourself to your sisters from now on. Self-confidence is the first sign of maturity. Insecurity creates bitterness.”

Audrie shook her head as she scolded herself for wallowing in foolishness.

“Hah! Where did you get those sayings? Just keep it simple. You must accept the fact that you’d never look elegant or sophisticated so stop dreaming!” she snorted as she turned away.

She pulled out clothes from the closet and packed them into a large backpack bag carelessly.

She could buy anything that she forgot to take with her. She had lost track of time while dawdling in front of the mirror.

She should move fast to avoid meeting Aimee or her parents.

“Goodbye for now, bedroom,” Audrie whispered before closing the door hastily.

The sky above was very dark. The full moon looked gloomy without the stars and surrounded by thick clouds.

The cool air was heavy with moisture and felt like it would rain that night.

The streets outside were deserted. There were no people around.

Or is it supper time? Audrie glanced at her wrist, forgetting that she hadn’t been wearing her leather watch since yesterday.

Darn! That’s the first thing she had to buy.

The highway was lonely as well. There were few motorists travelling both sides of the wide roads.

It seemed late but Audrie wasn’t sure. Her daydreaming was often time eaters in the past.

However, she always enjoyed driving her motorcycle in the dark.

It was like she was transferred in a peaceful world, away from all mental worries and emotional pains. She could drive forever this way.

Audrie reached the hotel much earlier than last night. Johnny looked genuinely pleased to see her again.

“Good evening, ma’am,” he greeted with a wide smile. “Would you like your usual room?”

Audrie smiled as she nodded. “Yes, please.”

“Can I take your luggage, ma’am?” Johnny asked after she signed the logbook and got the room key.

“No need, but please park my bike again.”

“As you wish, ma’am.” Johnny curtsied clumsily as he took the keys from her.

Audrie felt relieved when she reached the impersonal hotel room.

She’s so tired she just wanted to lie down and sleep.

And sleep she did for ten solid hours.

Her young body needed to recharge so badly, it did not let anything awoke her until morning arrived.

Audrie was ravenous when her breakfast was delivered by a shy girl from Room Service.

Apparently, today was Charra’s day-off.

After a cold and refreshing shower, Audrie dressed and went downstairs.

Johnny was busy with a number of guests but her bike was already waiting outside so she just waved goodbye.

The office was buzzing with activities like it was a Monday but Audrie welcomed every task assigned to her.

Work prevented her from thinking about anything.

But it was too much to hope that her personal obligations could stay away forever.

At lunch time, the telephone on her desk rang while she’s munching a large burger ordered from the nearby fast food outlet.

She washed down a mouthful with a large gulp of soda before she picked up the receiver.

“Hello, good afternoon. Blue Marlin Shipping Lines. May I help you?”

“Audrie! Why didn’t you come home last night?” Her mother’s angry voice was shrill and loud.

UNCUT: WHITE FLAME-12

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