The story so far:
Tammy began to dread the sight of her face in the mirror each morning. A year ago, she would have congratulated herself on losing weight, but though her jeans felt loose now, the effect wasn’t pretty. Her skin hung loose as well, and her eyes had receded, looking small and hard like the eyes of a bird of prey. This morning she rooted in the vanity drawers and found a stick of concealer. She held it in her hand and stared at it, as if having forgotten what it was for.
She had never cared much for make up. Pam had sometimes badgered her into sitting still for a session of primping and painting. “You’re going to be so pretty!” Pam would say as she dumped an armful of bottles and jars on the table. Tammy would usually make a joke along the lines of, “Wow, it’s going to take all of that? I must be one ugly old hag.”
I should have let her do it whenever she wanted. It made her so happy, and it wasn’t that bad, really. In retrospect, it wasn’t how she looked in make-up that she hated. It was the fact that people had always pushed her to be more of a “lady”. “Wear dresses,” her mother had always told her. The kids at school had teased her for liking “boy’s” cartoons and games and toys. They hadn’t understood her, no one had. She had every right to resent it, but she wished she hadn’t taken it out on Pam. It wasn’t like Pam was the one telling her she couldn’t play with GI Joe or slide down muddy hills in the rain.
It was too late now, of course. Wherever Pam was, she couldn’t see the tears running down Tammy’s cheeks as she took out each and every one of Pam’s bottles and jars, lining them up on the counter top like soldiers on parade. Her hand’s trembled as she applied mascara and some of it smeared under her eyes, deepening the black circles. The blue eye shadow she brushed on only called attention to the sunken state of her eyes, and the bright pink lipstick didn’t do much for her tightly pursed lips. She had looked nice after Pam worked her magic, although she had never admitted it, never told the small truth that would have made Pam happy. Cleary, Tammy herself had no skill with the stuff. She felt like a clown, but she kept it on anyway like a veil of mourning.
Pam, if you’re up there, for what it’s worth, I’m sorry.
The sound came as sharply as a gun shot and Tammy felt her heart start beating in overdrive. Her breath came in quick, short gasps. She looked around the room for something that might have fallen, but everything was still in place. She heard another sound, like rustling fabric and saw movement on the windowsill. A bluejay had struck the glass and lay there on the sill, fluttering its wings in confusion.
It would be easy to leave it for the neigbors’ cat, and normally Tammy wouldn’t have felt all that bad about it. That was how nature worked. Survival of the fittest and all that. Birds died every day, so why make one special? Today, her internal rationalizations all gave way to a little voice in her mind that whispered, “Because Pam would.”
Grumbling at her own sentimental foolishness, she rummaged in the closet and found a shoebox that still had a pair of ladies size 8 pumps. Pam had bought them and never had a chance to wear them, never even taken them out of the box. They wouldn’t fit Tammy, not even if she had a use for bright red satin high heels. They looked like something an air headed high school girl would wear to the prom. The box, however, was perfect. She used a nail file to punch some air holes in the top, opened the window, and collected the injured bird. A few minutes online had her holding a printout with directions to the local Wildcare organization. If anyone could give the bluejay a second chance, it was Wildcare. On a sudden impulse, she looked up the Goodwill store too and decided to drop off the shoes. Why not? Not like it was out of her way or anything.