Hanging From That Very Ledge
Audrey always got what she wanted, and she knew it. It was arrogant of her to know such a thing, but all her life, it was just as real as the reality of the sun setting and rising, of time passing, of the transition from day to night and night to day. Audrey always got what she wanted.
It wasn’t some delusional belief that she had. Actually, it was fairly simple. Audrey did not make outrageous demands, nor did she set goals that she knew she had to fight tooth and nail over just to attain. Audrey was as realistic as they came; she had a fairly accurate knowledge of what she can and cannot have, and so the things she did want, she knew she could get. The things she found out early on she could not have, she did not bother herself with wanting. She did not waste time or effort wanting things she was not sure she could get, and so Audrey was rarely disappointed – others barely did and she never disappointed herself.
Of course, considering the kind of family Audrey had, it was not difficult for her to want a lot of things. Audrey’s family was wealthy. Her father was a known businessman and her mother came from a long line of affluent land owners. Audrey had known early on that she came from ‘old money’, so to speak, and it was only fair assumption that whichever path she decided to take in the future, as long as the path she chose didn’t bring unnecessary attention (see: shame) to the family, she already had her life cut out for her.
Of course, it also helped a great deal that Audrey was a smart girl. And she didn’t just have her school grades as proof of her wits (although her straight A’s certainly said much). Any person with half a brain would find out straight away, after having even the briefest of conversations with her, that Audrey was an intelligent girl. It was as if she had an air about her that she carried with recognition, and her witty responses and sense of humor were only part of the surface – the part that she allowed others to see. Audrey always had something smart to say, laughed at the right places, never stuttered.
Yes, Audrey knew when to keep calm and when to voice out her thoughts. She had been taught early on the difference between being intelligent through keeping her silence, and being an idiot through opening her mouth. She wasn’t perfect – no one was, of course – but she could easily brush off her mistakes to not make them look like mistakes.
Audrey was the kind of girl everyone thought would go somewhere some day. And given all the advantages that Audrey had been gifted with, it was only reasonable to think so.
But there was that significant something that Audrey didn’t have that put a serious hamper on her future if she wanted to go somewhere.
Audrey had never been passionate about anything in her entire life.
Pulling up in front of the gated walls of St. Francis, Audrey stepped out of the backseat of a black Ford, barely looking as the car moved once more, this time away from school premises, driven by one of the chauffeurs under her father’s payroll. This was the third driver in just over a month that her father had hired for the family, and hopefully, this one would last. Her father wasn’t choosy about a lot of things, but hiring people to work for personal family needs was another issue altogether. When it came to anything concerning the family – especially their safety – her father certainly did not put caution to the wind.
Audrey saw her friends waiting for her just inside the gates of the school, as expected, and she approached them with her usual smile, the kind that wasn’t too giddy but also didn’t look forced. Her smile was like everything else in her life – nothing too extreme.
Middle ground. Safe. Secure.
It had been a week since the start of the school year, and it was definitely a busy first week. Being student council president did that.
“So last night, we were thinking about a theme, right?”
It was Denise, one of her closest friends and secretary of the student council, who got to Audrey first before any of the others. Denise was one of those people who had the tendency to be too intense (and most of the time, she really was) but all in all, was dedicated enough that being a part of the council worked out to everyone’s benefit. Certainly, it worked out to Audrey’s advantage, which was why she had no hesitations asking Denise to be part of Audrey’s party when the time to elect student council officers came the year before. In fact, when results of the election were finally released, it wasn’t such a surprise that her party – along with almost all those she chose to be part of her party – won by landslide.
“So after we talked,” Denise continued as they walked alongside each other towards their respective first classes for the day, “I turned on the tv…and guess what was showing? The Twilight Zone!”
“No, we are not going to have a sci-fi or horror theme.”
“Why not? Remember when they did it back in our first year –”
“That’s exactly why we’re not going to do it, Denise. We can’t do a theme that’s already been done,” a look at the other girl, a small smile, “or at least something that people can still remember being done.”
“How about a color scheme first then? Dark? Vintage? Retro punk 70’s?”
Audrey stopped her brisk walk to the inside of the nearest school building, a figure standing awkwardly at the side catching the student council leader’s attention. She wondered where she’s seen the other girl before, and if she has had the opportunity to interact with said girl.
It seemed kind of unusual, this strange fixation. Because that was what it was for Audrey, she realized, as she just stood there looking at the figure of a girl more or less her age several steps away from her, looking anywhere really, not quite fitting in. But it was only natural, wasn’t it? To wonder about someone. To wonder who and why and how. But these were only the beginning of questions, not full-pledge ones, just the start. Audrey cannot bring herself to finish those questions she wanted to ask, nor voice them out. So she wondered.
And it was alright to wonder, wasn’t it? She was council president after all.
“Audrey, are you listening?” and then there was Denise again, in front of Audrey, blocking the view, offering more concrete practical questions.
“Color scheme, right?” and then Audrey was smiling, the perfect, charming council executive. That smile. That smile could break hearts everywhere…and possibly already did.
But not Denise. “And other stuff. Honestly, Audrey! What’s got you so distracted anyway?” A look to the back, and when Denise looked back, there was an uncanny grin on the girl’s face; Audrey could only guess what Denise was thinking. “She’s the transferee, Ms. President. Why? You interested?”
“Transferred this year?” Audrey ignored the other comment.
“Oh yeah. And guess what?” nod, then pause. Audrey rolled her eyes at the other girl; if Denise held back a breath for effect, all she ever really achieved was amuse Audrey. “Heard she’s like, the long lost daughter of Senator Valera.”
Now that got Audrey’s attention. Senator Valera was a close family friend and Audrey knew personally both of the senator’s sons, one of which was her own elder brother’s closest buddy. She’d never heard of a daughter in all the years she’s known the man, a constant guest in public (and private, family-sponsored) gatherings her father made sure she attended, and if there really were a daughter, it would only have been expected that Audrey knew, considering the fact that apparently, they were of the same age.
So, if this awkward-looking mestiza girl, with headphones hanging on her neck, just happened to actually be the senator’s daughter…well. This did not just spell intriguing; it was positively scandalous.
“Senator’s daughter, you say?” There was that smile again, and this time, Audrey smiled not because she was asked to, or trained to, or because there was no other choice but to smile. No, Audrey smiled because she wanted to, because she knew that she could smile to break hearts and get what she wanted. “I don’t know about that, Denise, but what I do know is that it’s only polite to introduce ourselves, right? We are members of the student council, after all, and going to a new school can be overwhelming.”
Audrey always got what she wanted, but she had never been passionate about anything she ever wanted and never about anything she got. If wanting only accounted for passion, circumstances would have been different and maybe, just maybe, choices would change as do the actions that accompanied them.
But just as it was, Audrey had never known passion first-hand. Had never felt it, touched it, experienced it. Was as distanced from it as she was with the idea of never being born in the family she was in, with a father who changed chauffeurs with the snap of a finger.
This time, as she walked and the new girl finally noticed figures approaching with a purpose, Audrey wondered what it would be like to want with passion.
Or to passionately not want at all.