“Customer Service, this is Kelly.” The answer was a low, anguished scream. She tried again. “Uh, this is Kelly. Sir or ma’am, are you okay?” A frustrated sigh came through the line from the caller. Wait a second. She recognized that sigh. “O.M.G. Is this Amy Kapoor?!”
“Yeah. Hey baby sis.”
“Amy,” Kelly replied impatiently, “I’m two minutes older than you. Two full minutes.”
“Whatever. I am having the worst fucking day.”
Kelly glanced over at her cubicle mate and put her hand over the receiver. “Toby, my sister is calling from L.A. She needs some girl talk so this may take awhile. Okay? We may talk about periods or lipstick or Jimmy Choos.”
Toby swiveled in his chair and nodded. He put on Thelonious Monk and his large earphones. He swallowed a couple of Advil when Kelly turned back to her sister.
Kelly was having a hard time hearing Amy, as her sister was in the habit of driving with her windows down, making it near impossible to be understood over the sounds of L.A.
“I just can’t believe that he’s everywhere I go! How does he know, you know? Fucking Speed Dating. Fucking DAVE! Ugh! I’m so sick of this town!”
Kelly knew she was really good at giving advice, but sometimes it was hard to impart her wisdom to Amy, because her sister just kept talking, no pauses, it was totally annoying in a conversation, shouldn’t more than one person be able to speak? If she still said ‘whack,’ it would be so whack.
“You should come home. I know Mom and Dad would love to see you. And me too! We could go shopping and you can tell me about all the famous people you see.” Amy had an awesome job. She went to L.A. to be a writer, but she ended up with a better position – working for ABC. She probably got to see Matthew Fox, Jennifer Garner, and Patrick Dempsey on a daily basis. It was so hard to get any gossip out of her and Amy almost seemed bored by her job. Kelly pictured them laughing and talking at Poor Richard’s over drinks – a pink squirrel (Kelly) and a gin & tonic (Amy). “We’ll have such a rad time!” Amy had been so quiet. Too quiet. Kelly’s leg shook of its own accord.
“Okay. Do you think Mom and Dad would pay for the ticket?”
“Duh! Of course! But you’ll have to sit through a ten minute lecture about your ‘prospects.’”
Amy laughed. “You’re funny, Kel.”
Kelly set up a little straighter in her chair, pleased. She thought she was pretty funny, but it was great to have someone, especially her sister, validate her. “It’s true! Last night I sat through twenty-seven minutes of ‘why don’t you date a Desi?’” Amy laughed again and Kelly could almost taste the crème de cacao.
When Amy died, their mom had called the office, completely hysterical. Amy had been hit by a Mack truck and Kelly immediately thought of MAC make up, but apparently that’s not what it meant. She doesn’t remember what happened next, but she’s told that she screamed and fainted into a puddle on the floor.
She loved being a girl. Fixing her hair in the morning. Applying Kiehl’s lip gloss. Flirting. Online shopping. When Amy died, everything she did felt frivolous. She couldn’t look in the mirror (at her face, their face) without feeling like she was betraying Amy’s memory. In the morning, she’d get out of bed, shower, and throw on whatever she saw first, because that stung less. Amy was no longer a phone call away and a place inside of Kelly felt empty – a place she never knew existed.
Everyone at work was super nice. Kevin said the next show Scrantonicity played would be in honor of traffic awareness. Toby gave her a really pretty card. Pam baked cookies and Kelly sat watching American Idol one night and ate them all. Jim gave her a big hug, which was awkward considering their heights, but it can’t be denied that he gave great hugs. Their kindness was overwhelming, but it didn’t make her feel better.
She woke up as he and the cameras entered her life. His eyes were blue, so colorful, that it almost hurt. Piercing blue, wasn’t that the phrase? She felt awake, but she kept that to herself, under her plain hair and blouses that her mom had given her. His eyes were like a salve.
She still felt sad when she woke up every morning.
She had a dream. Amy was 7 or so, which meant they both were. They were playing at Lake Scranton, in their matching swimsuits (purple, bows on the lower back). And suddenly Amy turned to Kelly, her small face very serious. “I just want you to be happy, Kel.” She flipped her long black hair over her shoulder and ran towards the water. Kelly watched her until she disappeared.
She got out of bed, showered and hunted around her room for that blouse from BCBG. She put on a touch of gloss, because she felt okay. Okay enough. She made a point to look in her rear view mirror and gave herself a smile. It was forced, to smile that wide a smile, but she had a beautiful smile and it was time to show it off again.