Saturday, April 30, 2011

Part Eleven: In which "Anne shows up", because that got unanimous votes!

Melissa and Katie started towards the elevators, when Natasha the intern stopped them. "Katie? There's ah...someone in the lobby to see you."

"What? Who is it?'

"They didn't say."

Katie's heart stopped, for just as second.

"Maybe it's a cute guy!" Melissa's voice was happy, silly. "Or that Publisher's Clearing House guy!"

"I don't think so," Katie said, her eyes on Natasha's face. Natasha wouldn't look her in the eye. "Do they want me to come down there?"

"I think you should go, yeah." Natasha's voice was quiet.

"Okay..." Something about this felt wrong. Off.  Katie headed towards the elevator, Melissa close behind her. Katie appreciated her friend's support. Unlike Melissa, she had a pretty strong feeling that she knew who she would find down there in the lobby.

The elevator ride took forever. Would they make it in time? Katie knew how she operated -- she was scattered, skittish, and Katie worried that maybe it was too late, that maybe she'd've left by now.

And then the elevator doors slid open, and Katie saw her sister, Anne, for the first time since Christmas.

Anne was sitting on the big, brown leather couches in the lobby, beside the giant glass windows. She was sipping a coffee from a paper cup Katie knew came from the dispenser by the front security desk. She was staring out the giant windows, and hadn't seen her sister, who was standing only twenty feet away.

"Isn't that..." Melissa started, her voice soft, no longer giggly-girly.

"Yep." Katie started towards her sister, when Marco, the security guard, walked towards her. Shit. That was all she needed -- for Anne to see her talking to security. She'd bolt for sure, now. Katie ignored him and started towards her sister; out of the corner of her eye she saw Melissa head Marco off. Thank God for intuitive friends, thought Katie, and she tried to put bounce in her step and light in her eyes. She tried to feel positive. Anne was here. Anne was here. This was something good.

"Hey, Anne!" Katie's voice was loud, echoey in this giant glass lobby. Anne looked up, her eyes a bit hazey. Her hair was longer than Katie had ever seen it, a bit scraggly, pulled into a pony tail. It looked washed, though Katie could see her sister's grey hairs clearly. This snagged at her heart, a bit. The old Anne would never let anyone see grey hair. Her face was starting to get that tanned, tough look that people get when they spend long stretches of time outside, farmers or road crew workers, or the homeless. She was wearing jeans, ratty around the hems, a soft, baggy, red-striped cotton cardigan, and a plain grey tshirt. Her feet were in a pair of cheap white sneakers, nondescript, scuffed up, with knotted laces. All in all she looked pretty good. She looked okay. It was the sneakers, and the greying hair, that gave it away.

"Hey, Katie," her sister said, smiling wide. "Have a seat!" She gestured at the couch across from her.

Katie hesitated. "What's up, Anne? How've you been?"

"I'm doing good. I'm doing well."

"You look good." Katie looked closely at her sister's face. Was she drunk? She couldn't tell. Maybe? She slid slowly on the couch across from her sister. "Where're you living now?"

"Oh, here and there. You know." Anne waved her hand around the lobby, sloshing coffee onto her jeans, onto the floor. "So this is pretty fancy, Katie. Pretty impressive." She raised her cup of coffee at her sister in a toast. "Remember when I worked down here? Just down the street, at Faber-Collinge? You used to come down and meet me for lunch. You were working at that terrible gallery in Kensington, and you'd show up in your stupid overalls and peasant blouses. You swore you'd never sell out. You lectured me on being the man. And now...." she lay back on the couch, and Katie grabbed the coffee out of her sister's hand before she dropped it, " you're the man."

Katie knew her sister was drunk. And she knew that Marco would be over here any minute to get rid of her. "Anne. Annie. What are you doing here?" Katie leaned in towards her sister, whose eyes were closed, whose breathing was deeper, louder.

"I didn't know you'd be here." Her voice was low, sleepy.  "It's a Saturday. I was just going to leave a note. But you're at work on a Saturday." Her eyes snapped open, suddenly no longer tired. "You, working on a Saturday! Instead of sleeping, or shopping, or painting. It's a fucking miracle!" Her voice was loud, louder. Marco was coming towards them; Melissa tried but she couldn't keep him away.

"Ma'am, I told you before," he started, and Katie stood up, blocked his way.

"Marco, I'm sorry. She's my sister. I'll get her out."

"You'd better. She came in here ranting about how she used to work here, she wanted to leave you a message, but didn't know the name of the company, your title, nothing. She stole my pen, Katie. And she tried to get up the elevators. I managed to settle her down but she has to go. I would have called the police but since you were upstairs ... She's just lucky you guys had that workshop today." Marco's voice was quiet, but his arms were crossed. He was looking at Katie as though this were her fault.

"I'm sorry, Marco. I'll get your pen back." Katie tried not to roll her eyes at Melissa, who was standing behind Marco. She was holding rabbit ears over his head, like a little kid in a class photo. Katie felt such a rush of love for her friend.

She turned back towards Anne, who was standing up, her hands in her pockets. She was so thin. Katie had always been the skinny one, and now ...."Look, Anne, I have to get back upstairs. Do you want to come by on Monday? Around noon? We could grab lunch, or something."

"Yeah, okay, I get it." Her voice was hard, and she pointed at Marco. "If he weren't such an asshole..."

Katie took a step towards her sister. "Anne, where are you living? Can I call you? I'd like to be able to get in touch with you. To plan our Monday lunch." To tell you about your family. To tell you about your son. To tell you about me. I need my big sister, Annie. I need her. Where have you taken her? Where has she gone?

Anne shook her head quickly. "I said. I'm around. I'm good." She moved towards the door, and Katie followed. There would be no lunch on Monday.

"See you sometime, kid," Anne waved at her sister. Katie noticed both her sister's wedding ring and her engagement ring, the one that had belonged to Jason's great-grandmother, were missing. Katie waved back, and then Anne was gone.

Katie slumped against the door, her back to the outside. She felt her throat get thick, heavy. She knew she would cry. She hoped she would cry. Melissa came towards her, her arms out, and Katie folded into them. "That was horrible, Melissa."

"It looked horrible. And she's right -- Marco is an asshole." Melissa's voice was quiet, a whisper, but Katie laughed loudly, and it echoed through the lobby.

After a while, Katie said, "We're really late for the workshop, aren't we?"

"Yeah, I guess we'd better get up there," said Melissa, but on their way to the elevator Marco stopped them.

"She left you a note, Katie." He held out a piece of paper; it was letterhead for the building. Thick, creamy paper embossed with The Richardson Building in elegant burgundy script. Katie opened the note, and saw a message written across it in a scrawling version of her sister's usually neat handwriting:  You were going to be fantastic.

"What's that mean?" asked Melissa.

"I don't know," said Katie, but she did. She totally did.


Return to the improv workshop
Skip ahead in time, when Melissa and Katie meet up with some friends for dinner.


  1. Skip ahead in time! Enough improv!

  2. PS - exciting mystery conclusion.

  3. Hmmm. Maybe 'improv' to reveal more of the effect of Anne's visit? Yeah improv. Although Audrey is always compelling.

  4. Help! Who is Audrey? Have I written too many characters and have now forgotten some?

  5. Annabelle's profile picture silly.

  6. dinner, with a reference to what happened at improv when/if they went back...

    unless you want the return to improv and have Anne's return/message lead to an epiphany

  7. Dinner. And sorry I missed the last one. I was only gone a week and the social network went on without me! It's quite disturbing...

  8. Yes! Dinner! I am so behind!

  9. I vote for improv -- where Katie's feelings about her sister's note are expressed.

  10. Dinner - will they talk about the note?