Anne yawned drowsily and opened her eyes. The sun shone brightly through her bedroom window, and she heard the birds chattering loudly outside. She reached up over her head and stretched out her body, and then she threw the covers off and stepped onto the floor. She closed her eyes and stood in front of the window for a minute, enjoying the warmth of the sunlight.
“Maybe today’ll be better,” she said aloud. She turned and looked at her clock. The digital display read the date and time.
JULY 21, 1998
She sighed happily. She could never sleep this late on a weekday, or she’d never hear the end of it from Carlos. She loved Saturdays. She walked over to her dresser and got out a pair of khaki shorts and a navy blue t-shirt that read, “Hard Rock Café.” She changed leisurely, then went into the kitchen for breakfast. Reaching into the cupboard, she pulled out a box of Frosted Flakes and poured a bowl. As she sat down to eat, she realized that she never opened the mail from yesterday. She reached over and grabbed it off of the end of the counter, then proceeded to open the envelopes and read.
The first letter was from her cousin Vanessa in Chicago, asking her how her sister was doing. Anne laughed to herself. She couldn’t believe that Vanessa still didn’t pay long distance calling; she always sent letters. Anne made a mental note to call her later, then continued going through the mail. The next envelope was from an offer from an auto insurance company, but Anne already had auto insurance. She promptly tossed it into the waste basket.
The next letter was a reminder to renew her subscription to LIFE magazine. She set it aside on the table, then she opened the last letter, and her eyes widened at what she saw.
It was a pamphlet; on the cover was a view of a wide ocean, with the evening sun setting just below its horizon. The picture had been taken from a beach, and the sand and sky were various shades of red and purple from the setting sun. And overlapping the picture were the words, “Escape to Costa Rica.”
Anne sighed. She looked at the pamphlet for a moment… and then tossed it in the trash. She continued eating and thought to herself, “Take a vacation… fat chance of that happening anytime soon. How about this; I’ll take a vacation when I earn more than twelve thousand dollars a year?” When she finished eating, she threw the bowl in the sink, and then cringed as it crashed against the other dishes that were already inside, making a loud cacophony of ceramic on metal.
“Oops,” she said aloud. She checked the dishes in the sink, and found that two of her plates and two of her glasses had been broken. She growled in exasperation, picked the pieces out of the sink, and threw them into the trash. Turning back, she walked into the living room and over to the front door. She reached down to turn the knob…
And then stopped as someone turned the knob from the other side. Anne gasped and looked quickly around; on the shelf to the right of the door was a large candlestick. She grabbed it off of the shelf and stepped to the side of the door just as it began to open. The door swung open widely, blocking her view, and Anne saw a shadow descend onto the floor. Her body tensed, and she raised the candlestick over her head as the figure emerged.
She sighed with relief as Jill stepped into view. Her brown hair hung down to her shoulders, and it swung slightly as she looked about.
“Behind you,” Anne replied plainly. Then she laughed as Jill gasped and spun around to face her. Jill moaned.
“Damn it Anne, don’t do that to me!”
“Well, knock next time,” Anne replied, lowering the candlestick. “I nearly bashed your head in.” She stepped around Jill and placed the candlestick back on the shelf. She turned and looked back at Jill, who was breathing deeply with her hand to her chest. Anne laughed again. “You always did scare easily.”
Jill shot her a dirty look. “Ha ha, and you always got a kick out of it. What else is new?”
“Not much Jill, not much.” Anne gestured her into the living room, and they walked into the cluttered space. Jill picked a paper off of the exercise bike seat and placed it on the floor, and then sat down horizontally on the seat so she could see Anne in the desk chair behind her. Anne yawned and rubbed her forehead. “So Jill, what’s going on?”
“Well, sorry to come in so early, but I’ve got something here you might like to know about.” Jill reached into her pocket and pulled out a folded piece of paper. She unfolded it quickly, and then handed it to Anne. Anne turned it over and read the words printed on the other side.
Part-time Spokesperson Wanted
Charlotte & Co. Bath Fitters
Previous experience preferred but not required
$200 per week
Anne looked at Jill. “What’s the point?” There’s probably dozens of others out there that will apply.”
Jill smiled brightly. “That’s just it. The Vice President of the company is a good friend of mine. I’ve known her for a few years now, and when she told me that the company was going on TV, and they needed a spokesperson, I immediately told her about you.”
Anne blinked in surprise. “What?”
“I told her that you had previous acting experience,” Jill continued, “and that you’d be perfect for the job. And my friend said she’d put in a good word for you with the CEO of the company!”
Anne stared at Jill blankly. She was surprised, and at the same time not so surprised. She began to ask the usual questions.
“Where would I be working at Jill?”
“In the company building, it’s about an hour’s drive from here. You’d be working on the weekends.
“Jill, the weekends?”
“Yes…” Jill replied hesitantly.
“Mm-hm.” Anne raised an eyebrow; Jill showed a trace of irritation. Anne continued asking.
“Is that $200 a week after taxes?”
“Yes,” Jill replied quickly.
Anne looked back at the paper again, then at Jill. Jill looked at her anxiously.
And then, Jill grimaced as Anne crumpled up the paper and threw it in the wastebasket next to the desk. She stood up and walked into the kitchen.
“Damn it Anne,” Jill yelled after her. “This is the third time!”
“I’m sorry Jill, I can’t,” Anne yelled back. “I don’t have the energy.”
“If you worked this and your Carraba’s job, it would cover your rent!” Jill yelled angrily. “I went out of my way to give you a better chance!”
“I’m sorry Jill, I just can’t do it.”
Jill groaned and put her hands on her face. It was the same conversation. Jill had known Anne since their high school days. The two of them came from completely different molds; Jill was inquisitive and professional, Anne was carefree and edgy. There were many times where their personalities had clashed, but nonetheless, they remained good friends. When they graduated from college in 1991, they both had their own plans with what to do with their lives. Jill had decided to be an English teacher sometime before she graduated, and Anne got a culinary degree. And whenever Jill would ask her what was on her schedule, Anne always gave the same reply; “Whatever life throws at me!”
Unfortunately, it seemed that whatever life threw at her, she turned down. In 1993, thanks to her good looks, she was offered a job as a spokesperson for Ford Motor Company, and she promptly declined, saying she wanted to do something better than talk about cars. A few months later, she was asked to play the lead role in a TV movie, and again she turned the offer down. Jill was amazed at how many people wanted Anne in their businesses, and Anne simply refused each time. But it was times like this, when Jill had gone out of her way to help Anne, that she became angry when Anne declined.
Anne walked back into the room carrying a glass of water. Jill scowled at her.
“Jill,” she sighed, “I just can’t. I don’t want to.”
“Why, Anne?” Jill asked incredulously. “You have better luck than anyone else I know! And I’m getting real tired of helping you out and you don’t appreciate it at all!”
“That’s not true Jill!” Anne suddenly yelled back. Jill’s eyes widened in surprise. Anne looked at her sharply for a second, then her face relaxed again. “Jill, I do appreciate it. You’re the best friend I’ve ever had. It’s just… I don’t want to get mixed up in things like that. Being a showgirl just isn’t my forte.”
“But Anne,” Jill said in a strained voice, “You’re at the place where you have to stop being so picky about this. You will lose your house if you don’t start getting a better paycheck! You’ve got to put your own desires aside for a while!”
Anne chuckled, genuinely amused. “Jill, look at this house. I can’t remember the last time I vacuumed or dusted. Every surface and table is covered with crap. I haven’t gotten to the park in two weeks. I haven’t had time to drive to my mom’s house to visit. I do a good amount of putting my own desires aside.”
Jill sighed. Anne raised a good point, but she still felt it was no excuse to not get a better job. Anne was just difficult about this. Feeling like she’d won the argument, Anne got back up and walked over to the entertainment center. Jill looked at her for a minute… then decided it wasn’t worth any more of her time. She slowly stood up, and then, without thinking, kept going.
“Why are you like this Anne? Why are you so difficult about something that anyone else would take in a heartbeat? Are you waiting for something?”
“Yes!” Anne suddenly exclaimed as she whirled around. “Yes Jill, I’m waiting for something.”
“Well would you please tell me what it is!?”
Anne looked at Jill for a second, then down at the floor. She put her hand to her chin and thought for a minute, and then she looked back at Jill. Her eyes had a gleam that Jill couldn’t quite comprehend.
“I’m waiting for something bigger, Jill. My life has always been a bore, and the past year has been complete stress… I’ve got a crappy job, I’ve struggled to keep my own place, and I never get to sit for more than five minutes at a stretch. I don’t want a new job, and I don’t want a new house.” She paused for minute. And then, to Jill’s surprise, she began to laugh. “I guess… I guess I want a new life, Jill.”
Jill shook her head, smiling despite herself. She was done talking to Anne. “I think you need a psychiatrist, Anne.”
“Maybe I do Jill,” she replied back. “Maybe I do. I just hope you understand.”
“Well, as best as I can.”
“Are you mad Jill?”
“No Anne, I’m not. I just hope, for your sake, that you get this new life that you’re waiting for soon.”
Anne walked over and hugged Jill. Jill hugged her back, smiling.
“Thanks Jill,” she said. “I hope so too.”
Jill let go and walked over to the door. She turned to say goodbye, and stopped as her eye caught the book on Anne’s desk.
“Hey Anne, have you read that book yet?”
“I was going to this morning,” she replied. “I’m anxious to see if this guy is as crazy as people are saying.”
“Well, I’ll let you be the judge of that,” Jill said. “According to Vinney, it’s a ton of junk.”
“Yes, well we all know how knowledgeable Vinney is.”
Jill and Anne both laughed. Then Jill opened the door and stepped into the hallway.
“Okay,” Jill said, still laughing. “Goodbye Anne.”
“See you later Jill.” Jill walked down the hallway, and Anne shut the door behind her. She turned and walked over to her desk, and picked up the book. She sat down in the wooden desk chair and turned the book in her hands. She looked at the title again.
THE MEMOIR OF JOHN PARKER HAMMOND
“Okay John Hammond,” she said sarcastically. “Jill said I need a psychiatrist, so let’s see if you need one too.” Then she opened the cover, and turned to the first page.