Yoharie: What It Takes to Fly (part six)
She had tried oblique. Probably to no purpose. What was not to get about this puzzle? Game it out…employment, good of which depends on reputation…
And reputation, if you plan to live, depends on employment. She’d get something from Jeff, referential, she assumed.
“You talk too much,” he’d told her, being there…in the way among the racks he could, when she thought he’d gone into his office.
Another time: “You sure you’re legal?”
Ms. Hibbler needs to concentrate more, and I suspect her of being untruthful.
Reputation, employment, home. Except the exact opposite. “Where do you live, Sana?”
Sana rocked onto her heels. “Hawthorne. That doesn’t mean anything to you, does it? Okay, so it’s kind of far away, but it isn’t really. You’re starting to get L.A., right?”
She was bossy, a little. She taught, or had taught, students a few years younger. Than herself, older than Savannah. She wasn’t this semester; she was finishing her dissertation. Sana would be a doctor of cultural studies.
And she was pleased to take these odd jobs. “Experience. You can’t be enclavey. You have to know what experience is for everyone. I want Fair to be the new female butterfly, when she’s grown. Do you know what I mean? We’ve been chrysalized by our meekness. We’re trapped. You’re better off.”
She seemed to mean at eighteen, as opposed to twenty-five or six, that aging cohort…
“My parents have gone back to Lahore, so you see for my mother it’s a sort of regression.”
In the 70s Sana’s grandfather had immigrated, to work at Livermore, she said. As a technician, not the big money. Probably there was no big money, but who knew, patents maybe. Shrug. Anyway, no one could retire up there.
None of this made sense to Savannah, but came with such presumption it would, such self-assurance…
You had to decide in a conversation if you cared; if not, you sat and nodded. If Sana cared…thought, began to, of Savannah as a friend who could matter…
Sana and her brother both lived at home. They both had custody of a child, both were planning divorce.
“And that’s where I am, anyway, because it’s not going to make sense until I’m done with school and have a job. Then I’ll get a house. If I get a house, and I’m paying, I’m not gonna have his ass hanging around. Right now, I don’t care…long as he takes the kidster out of my hair sometimes.”
Their grandfather cared, or they owed him so much, and he seemed so hopeful…that was, his habit was to talk to Sana and her brother like future things were decided. He understood this transitional time could have its rules, and the rules could be forgotten, separations made reunions, when the better times came. He didn’t understand this, really…
Sana cocked her head. “He’ll never admit it. He’ll just go on talking like that. And neither of us has the guts, because we love him. But, you know, I think my brother’s doing it, getting back with her. I mean, isn’t it, when people are the rottenest for each other…and one of them is the Archbitch of the World, by the by…they’re the ones who tell you, oh, hey, we’re working it out! They’re throwing a party to celebrate, and you have to buy something, like you care… Imagine if you said, shit no, be real…I’ll bet you a hundred bucks instead of spending it on you. Because next they’re splitting up again, right?”
Nice. Of course she didn’t know adult couples. Not to count the Busbys…
Oh, Christ! Savannah thought…Tristanne, don’t ever! Stay safe in Grand Rapids.
Where do you live…do you have a garage? I could just sleep on a cot. I could put my stuff under, out of everyone’s way, I’d get my own meals, all I need is access to a bathroom…I’ll pay…
I’ll pay what I can. The conversation invited, she now knew Sana’s life, and it was impossible. The house was overcrowded with dependents. Grandfather would hope aloud for a future without the charity case, squatting. Maybe in California it was illegal to even camp in a yard… Otherwise wouldn’t everyone rent a tent?
She didn’t feel too proud to beg. She felt…weak, in this matter of lips wanting to form dismayed curls, politeness too self-conscious, forcing excuses. They felt sorry for her.
They wanted her to seriously not put them on the spot.
Jeff told her in plain terms. “You’re gonna have a hard time, too bad. I mean, when I was a kid, you could kind of make a start. Sleep on beaches. And I got a loan. If you can rent an office, you got a place to live.”
Tavo bumped her elbow and grinned. “Good advice.”
“Oh, no one’s loaning me money.”
“His father, he means.”
“Yeah, my parents…”
She stopped, on sounding this plaintive note, that sent Sana off to scoop up Fair. Jeff was in his office. Tavo said, “You wanna know where I live?”
It wasn’t true that you couldn’t walk anyplace in L.A. Tavo led her behind the strip of stores, through the parking lot. They’d just had their next to last day of employment.
“What will you do? Do you have another job?”
“No, I don’t live that way.”
What It Takes to Fly
(2020, Stephanie Foster)