(If you'd like to read from the beginning you can go Here.)
Brow furrowed, Anne picked up the papers. She rubbed them between her fingers, they were oddly textured; thin, but nothing like regular typing paper. Must be some type of stationery.
She unfolded the pages. Tears stung her eyes and she felt behind her for a seat. Lowering herself onto the couch with a thump, she blinked rapidly.
She would know Carol’s handwriting anywhere and the quote was one they had shared often.
“Hearts will never be practical until they are made unbreakable.”
As girls they had used the sage advice of the Wizard of Oz to comfort one another whenever they had boy trouble. The quote was the only thing on the page.
She turned it over but there was nothing on the back at all.
Frowning she flipped to the next page.
“The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein: for it is an abomination to the LORD thy God.”
Obviously from the Old Testament, but why would Carol have been carrying such a quote around? Once again it was the only thing on the page. What had Carol been up to? Intrigued, Anne turned to the last page.
It contained a list.
The Thin Man
She stared at the words for a long while but could make no sense of the words. It sounded more like a grocery list than anything else. She pushed her lips out as she thought. Why would she write the title of an old movie? The last three words were the only ones not in Carol’s handwriting. Maybe it had to do with some errand she was supposed to do for one of her bosses.
Anne shook her head. She was too muddled to think of much of anything. Leaving the papers on the table, she retrieved her coffee mug and took a swig. Ugh, was anything worse than lukewarm coffee?
She fetched a fresh mug from the kitchen and carried the outline for the Lacey Carew back into the living room. Her typewriter waited for her on the small side table looking, perky and ready to go to work. She ran gentle fingers over the dark green keys. It was still hard to believe that her parents had bought her such an expensive Christmas gift. The Smith Corona Silent was the best available, and it was all hers.
She settled before the typewriter and pulled out a stack of fresh clean paper. She needed a zippy first line, something that would draw the reader into the story. Drumming her fingers lightly on the keys, in an imitation of work, she stared at the blank page.
A groan and a thump from the next room told her that Jillian was awake. Anne looked at the clock on the mantle. Nearly eight thirty. Jillian was up early. A door creaked and the sound of running water washed into the living room.
Anne turned her attention back to the sheet of paper before her. The minutes ticked by. She picked up a pencil and then put it down again. Rearranged the papers before her and reread the outline. Again she stared at the stark whiteness of the page and listened to the clock churn out the minutes.
It was no use.
She went back in the kitchen and picked up the pages with the cryptic notes. Jillian walked in toweling her hair dry.
“You were out late.”
Anne glanced up. “Oh Jilly.” Tears seemed to be hiding just under the surface of composure, ready to pounce at any moment.
“Oh no, you didn’t get the gig. Honey don’t worry, other jobs will come along.” Jillian engulfed her in a hug.
“It’s not that. My friend, Carol, was hit and killed in an accident.”
Jilly took a step back and then pulled her close again. “Sweetie, I’m so sorry.”
“No, no.” Anne sniffed. She had to get herself together. “It was terrible, a hit-and-run according to the cops.”
She sat down at the table still holding the strange papers in her hands. Jilly opened the refrigerator.
“Let me make you something to eat.”
“No thanks, I’m not hungry.” She put the papers down again. How had Carol managed to get them in her bag without her noticing? And why had she thought it necessary?
Jillian cracked a couple of eggs into a skillet and slid two slices of bread into the toaster. The warm scents of breakfast curled through the kitchen.
Anne made an effort to be social. “You are up early this morning.”
“Yeah I have to be at the early showing.”
“I made a deal with Ms. Marguerite to come in early today and do a double shift so that I can go to an audition tomorrow.”
Anne tore her gaze from the documents. “You’ve got an audition?”
Jilly smiled triumphantly and nodded. “Yep. I think this show could be a real hit too. I’ve read the script and it is good.”
“That’s great! Don’t forget me when you’re famous.”
Jilly settled into the chair across from her and flashed a smile so brilliant that Anne was nearly blinded. It struck her again how stunningly gorgeous her friend was. She could have her pick of roles if she resorted to the casting couch, but Jilly was determined to make it on Broadway by her talent.
She would do it someday too.
Anne stroked the pages on the table and then stood abruptly. “I’ll see you at work this afternoon, Jilly. I have to do something this morning.”
* * *