Yoharie: Give and Take (part two)
Give and Take
Savannah said, “This job.”
“Tell me again about the arrangement. What I want to know,” Kate said, “is where you see yourself, in, say, six months.”
No place…was the candidate’s answer. They had talked twice; so far Mom had been good. Do you need anything? Do you feel safe? Tell me about Los Angeles.
“Oh, I don’t think I’m exactly in L.A. I haven’t figured it out, like, you know how back home we’re like Greater Washington, and everything’s really just a little town in some other state, and then here it’s more like…I don’t know…”
“Pop quiz fail,” she heard Rae say in the background.
Savannah thought (although by hearsay; she had seen little of Los Angeles) that there was segregation, neighborhoods that stood off angry, and there was a sense you were nobody if you weren’t downtown, and there was a sort of ugliness…ugly busyness? …buzzing on the fringes. But then a kind of excitement, like the pull of some crass godhead, if you…anyone…liked…
She could think. She couldn’t express to her mother who she was, how she thought.
That call had needed to end. The next had been: What about coming home? What about a fresh start?
“Getting a job and a place to live… Those are practical goals, that have a way you go about them. Let’s not make things worse than they have to be. You haven’t lost much ground so far…you’ll get your diploma. You can apply to some schools…”
Savannah heard Rae signaling. And in a tolerant way, jealous-making, she heard her mother say: “Now what?”
“Ixnay. Hanbo’s not good in a student setting. She needs creative space.”
Oh, shut the fuck up, Rae, she had wanted to say. But it was a fair assessment.
“This job, I mean,” Savannah said now. “Mom, I’d be happy if I came home tomorrow.”
“But you don’t need me to get you out this minute.”
A certain Mom-heroism in the sturdy flatness of these words made Savannah choke up. And swallow. “No. But remember I don’t have any money.”
“Well, I’ll probably send a cab to take you to the airport. Tell me the address again.”
In a pocket bounced Sheena’s burner phone. Savannah felt suddenly fearful—not of anything Sheena would do, which seemed irrational; not exactly for the late-arriving memory of someone…Dad!…saying any phone is a microphone, people don’t realize it…
Just with all the spying…
She felt hyper-conscious passing information, and felt also that Sheena would resent it—“the girl” giving out her name and address.
238th, Rae prompted. Savannah, turning so her hip faced traffic, gave the house number.
“Now tell the truth. Can I talk to this woman myself? If she’s not a wack-job it’ll be best for her to know what the plan is.”
“So, I’m asking, if she misses the flight for some reason, whether you can just charge what you need…I don’t care what fees, I don’t care if the price changes. I want my daughter to not get confused or be scared, right? She’s by herself.”
“What if you loaded a debit card for her?”
“At the airport? For her to pick up? Can that be done?”
Kate discussed with the travel-site rep other things he was just spitballing, being too helpful in unhelpful ways. The whole problem was likeliest not to exist. But, traffic.
Sheena Nelson had been pretty offended. “Why wouldn’t she leave? What do you want, twenty bucks, or something?”
Twenty bucks. Keep your money. But Kate, not knowing if Savannah was hearing this, or had (as she would) slunk off, leveled her voice, let only patience be its tone, and thanked Sheena. “Thank your husband, too.”
On a notepad, because she was recording these talks and didn’t need notes of them, Kate jotted deli stuff, half n half, dog treats, brownie mix…
She shrugged, and put down cheerios, toilet paper, bananas, rigatoni, sauce.
“Makim’s here. We’re on a project.”
Listen to it, Kate told herself. “Okay, teenager. I want you to run to the store. Come get your list.”
Alone, she grabbed a coffee, a Werther’s rather than a cookie, and went to the room Jer should not bother her in, stopping home…furtive and making excuses. Her office. Jer was the one she needed to think about.
Long and hard about.
She thought about the silly nickname only Rae could use. Savannah-Hannah, a little kid’s rhyming. Hanbo.
Her growing pains daughter. Jer, with a girlfriend, she’d said it to Mat…
No, if a woman wanted him, let him cheat. That wasn’t the point. This partnership, this labor-sharing, the whole thing that made it possible to have kids. She wouldn’t have done it, still in her twenties, except…
He was so damn serviceable. She had kind of known after their first date that Jeremiah Hibbler would do two or three tasks for her, and suddenly, starting her business, she had gained a fortune in time—able to say screw it to so many nuisances.
“Jer, can you call the insurance people for me? I’ll write down what I want.”
“Jer, there’s a piece of siding off the house.”
“Jer, the yard’s getting shaggy. By the way, we’re low on grape juice, the little cans. Don’t buy a bottle.”
When the girls had needed their special stuff found, homework half-shoved under the sofa (for pounding their toes watching TV on their stomachs), else they’d miss the bus and need driven…
But Jer could do that too. He had more leeway to turn up late. He didn’t unlock the door to Sears in the mornings, didn’t need, for a customer’s sake, to open half-an-hour early so she could get a blowout before her flight.
ive and Take
(2021, Stephanie Foster)