Kim: Jillian, while you were at lunch, you missed a phone call.
Jillian: Who from?
Kim: Audrey. She wants you to call her immediately. Or at least before the end of the day. She said it’s very important and you must call her.
Jillian: Ok. I’ll call. Thanks!
Usually, Audrey’s “very important” messages are actually requests to send someone over to open a jar. Or to listen to the “loud” noise coming from the upstairs apartment. Or to tell the pest control guy to come over and spray her apartment, when really she wants him to rearrange her living room.
Jillian: Hi Audrey! It’s Jillian. I had a message to call you?
Audrey: Oh. I’m so glad you called. I have something very important for you to see at my apartment. Can you come over after work?
Jillian: I actually have somewhere to be right after work. Can I come over later this afternoon?
Audrey: I see. Come over now! I’m just walking in the door. It will only take a minute.
Jillian: Ok, I’ll be right over!
Audrey: Make sure you drive over. It might be heavy.
Jillian: What might be heavy?
Audrey: The thing I’m showing you.
Jillian: …Ok. Be right there.
I drove two seconds to Audrey’s apartment and parked in the driveway. I knocked on the front door. I could see her peek through the peep-hole and yell “Who is it?”, even though we had just finished our phone conversation. When she saw it was me, she opened the door and invited me in.
Audrey: Come in, come in!
She escorted me into the kitchen and opened the fridge.
Audrey: Have something to drink. What would you like? Milk? Here. I have half a bottle of sparkling water I opened the other day. Will you finish it? It might still be bubbly. Take it.
Jillian: Oh, no, I’m ok. I’m not thirsty.
Audrey: Are you sure? Well, we’ll only be a minute. I know you’re in a hurry. Here. Have a seat at my dining table. Are you hungry? Have a grape.
She pushed a fruit bowl across the table at me. She asked if she had told me about her daughter’s boyfriend, who she hates, and who is a pathological liar. I told her she had. She told me about the time he borrowed her car.
Audrey: I let him borrow my Mercedes, that scum. He drove it all over town, on those city roads, then returned it to me. And do you know what he did?
Audrey: He didn’t put any gas, he moved the steering wheel and didn’t move it back, and he turned on all the things.
Jillian: What things?
Audrey: I don’t know. I couldn’t figure it out. I nearly died driving home. He’s lucky I made it home. I called him and yelled–and I mean yelled–at him for moving the wheel. How can I drive? And do you know what he said? He didn’t move it. Well, I called him a liar. He’ll never borrow my car again. That scum. Lacks character. That trash.
Jillian: I see.
She led me to the laundry room and showed me her new washer and dryer, on top of which a neatly folded pile of nude underwear sat. She took me to her computer desk and asked where I thought she should place a lamp. She directed me to the living room and showed me how her grandson connected the tv cords to a power strip along the wall. Then she pulled me into the foyer.
Audrey: I was running my errands today, and I found this. I asked you to come here because I didn’t want to bring it to the office and make the other girls jealous. I got you a Christmas gift.
Jillian: Oh! You didn’t need to do that!
Audrey: Well, I saw it and thought of you. You know I don’t celebrate Christmas, so I don’t need a poinsettia, but I thought you might like one for your home.
She handed me a bright red poinsettia, wrapped in gold paper.
Jillian: Oh Audrey! How nice. It’s beautiful. Thank you!
Audrey: I bought myself a poinsettia, too.
Jillian: You did? I thought you just said–
Audrey: Do you like the gift?
Jillian: Yes, I love it. Thank you.
Audrey: Well, ok. Put it in your car–do you need help lifting it?–and don’t tell the other girls. I don’t want them getting jealous.
I hugged her and headed for the front door.
Audrey: When are you going to Michigan?
Jillian: This weekend.
Audrey: And are you nervous to fly? I know you don’t like to fly.
Jillian: A little, but I’ll be ok. I’ll bring a book.
Audrey: Yes. Bring a book. Take a Tylenol and a cocktail. You’ll be fine. Just fine. Don’t be scared.
Audrey: Tell your mother hello. And think of me on Christmas. And call me when you return. And don’t forget to read the card!
Upside-down. And so sweet.