Amy walked into the room and looked around. It was only a bit smaller than the entire studio apartment that she had been renting for the past couple of years. To her right, there was a robin egg blue couch, which looked like a cloud. Amy reached out as she walked past it. Her fingers elegantly glided through the velvety silk. In the corner, there was a TV on the wall and a table with a Keurig and everything you might need to make a cup of coffee or tea beneath it.
To her left, there was a mirror that took up almost half the wall. In front of it, a table with more makeup brushes than she had seen in any store. She sat down in the revolving chair and reached out for an envelope that lay in front of her, next to a lightly steaming mug.
“I am so happy you could make it to the studio today, Amy” – the card, which Amy pulled out of the golden envelope, said.
“I heard you like chamomile tea with a bit of honey” – the note continued.
Amy grabbed the purple mug into her hands and took a tiny sip, big enough to taste the contents, but small enough not to burn her lips in case it was too hot to handle. Liquid calm filled her insides. Chamomile tea had the magical ability to relax her even in the most stressful of times. Amy took another, this time bigger, sip. The temperature of the tea was just right and so was the amount of honey.
“So that is how it feels to be rich and famous” – Amy thought to herself with a smile.
The card also informed her that whenever she was ready, she could press a button to the right of the mug and someone would come to do her hair and makeup. Amy was not ready. She wondered how one prepares to be on the Oprah show. She was also curious to know if her card was really signed by the host herself, or if it was an assistant who signed for her.
Amy got up and headed towards the door that she hoped would lead to a bathroom. She was pleased to see a sink, a toilet, and even a shower when she pulled the door open. The toilet seat was heated, making her slightly reluctant to leave the bathroom and call the makeup artist.
“Is this really happening?” – Amy asked herself before checking for anything in her teeth in the mirror and exciting the bathroom.
Once back in the chair, she took another sip of her tea, breathed in and out a couple of times, and then pressed the button to the right. Almost immediately after, Amy heard a knock at the door.
“Come in” – she said without thinking.
Even though many believed that she had a way with words, she often felt like those words were independent of her. She simply opened her mouth and they would just come out. Sometimes the strings were brilliant, sometimes not so much. Like this time. As soon as she said the words out loud, she scolded herself for not asking who it was first.
Thankfully, a woman who did not appear threatening at all entered the room. The headset gave away the fact that she was a part of the production team. The black apron, with pockets full of brushes and hair clips, confirmed that she was no serial killer. Her makeup and hairdo filled Amy with hope. If the woman could make her look like THAT, it would be great.
“Hello, Ms. Evans. My name is Suzie and I am here to do your hair and makeup” – the 20-some-year-old blonde said chipperly.
“Please call me Amy” – Amy said with a warm smile.
The women engaged in a little bit of small talk about the unusually cold weather, the workings of the show, and Amy’s latest book, which Suzie bought but has not yet had the chance to read. When Amy began to smile more than she spoke, Suzie decided to give her guest some space by working in silence. That did not go unnoticed. Even though Amy enjoyed the conversation with Suzie, as an introvert, she did not want to run out of energy before the actual show.
“Thank you” – Amy said to Suzie once they were done with hair and makeup.
She thanked her for the work, but also for the accurate observational skills.
“You are very welcome. I will send David in next. He will be with you until you step onto the stage. He can be a chatterbox sometimes, so just ignore him” – Suzie said with a wink and a smile, before leaving the room.
As promised, David showed up only a couple of minutes later to prep Amy for the show. She listened and nodded, even when she found herself drifting somewhere far away from that room. He led her behind the stage and showed her where she was going to enter from and where she would sit once on stage.
Amy looked at the audience, which was filled to the brim, and she took a step back.
“Don’t look at them. Imagine it is just you and Ms. Oprah having a conversation in your dining room” – David advised.
That thought made her even more uncomfortable. Where would Oprah even sit in her apartment? There was only one chair at the dining room table and one at her desk. She doubted either one of them would be comfortable enough for someone of Oprah’s caliber. She wondered which mug she would serve the tea in. The one with a missing handle, or the chipped one which posed a hazard for your lips and tongue if one was not careful.
“It is time to shine. Go on” – David said, pushing Amy gently towards the curtain.
All the lights and cameras were intimidating, but once she sat down in the plush, red chair, Amy tuned all of that out and focused her eyes on the empty seat in front of her. After a couple of minutes, Oprah entered, waived to the audience, and reached out her hand towards Amy, who awkwardly shook it.
“Just breathe” – Oprah said to her guest quietly.
“Treat it like a conversation with a friend. Only a conversation that has the potential to push you into the stratosphere” – she added before turning towards one of the cameras.
Amy sat there, having a hard time believing that she wrote a book. Let alone one that got published and sold so many copies. Knowing that Oprah was absolutely obsessed with her criminal thriller and so she invited her onto the show was a cherry on top.
The first few questions were ones that Amy prepared for. She spoke a little about the novel’s premise, the real-life case that inspired her to write the book, as well as about her hopes and dreams for the future.
“If you weren’t a writer, who would you have become?” – was a question for which Amy did not prepare.
She looked down at her trembling hands. All she could hear was her own heartbeat that she thought must have been heard in the neighboring town.
“Unlike your book, your face cannot hide anything from me” – Oprah said after a too-long of a silence.
Amy saw a seven-year-old girl sitting at the piano and playing a tune. The auditorium was filled with people. The audience was larger than the one at the Oprah show. She played beautifully. Her fingers flowed from one side of the piano to the next. A big grin could be seen on her face.
“She’s a virtuoso” – Amy could hear as if it was yesterday.
Her parents stood by her as she accepted yet another award for her age category.
She played before she could even talk.
“A talent like that does not come by often” – she often heard whenever an expert would attend her sessions.
“Sorry. This is not something that is easy for me to talk about” – Amy said to Oprah.
She lowered her eyes towards her fingers. She was unable to keep them straight. There were no muscles in her hands. The sensation was still mostly missing.
“My parents wanted me to play the piano” – Amy started.
“Aren’t we glad that you decided to focus on writing instead?” – Oprah asked, looking at the audience, prompting a round of applause.
“I loved the piano, and I was good at it. Some might even say ‘very good.’ When I was eight, I went to a friend’s birthday party, and we played ‘Tag.’”
“Trying to not get caught, I ran as fast as I could towards the backyard. It would have been much easier to maneuver out in the open than inside a house filled with furniture. Filled with adrenaline, too busy looking back to see how far behind my friend was, I ran into a glass door” – Amy continued.
A collective loud gasp could be heard from the audience.
“I am sorry” – Oprah muttered.
“I was severely injured. There was no way I could ever play the piano again…” – Amy finished and lowered her eyes towards her hands.
A tear ran down her cheek. She still mourned that life she never got to live.