S&C 20“I GOT IT? It’s for sure?”

Florencia pushed the front door open with her hip and put the grocery bags quietly on the kitchen table as Jenna bounded into the living room, phone pressed against her ear. She was bouncing on the balls of her feet and making dramatic hooray movements with her free hand, mouthing I got it I got it as the person on the other end of the phone droned on. Florencia smiled and started putting away the groceries. She never had any doubt that Jenna would get the part.

Jenna did a clunky pirouette, her short skirt flaring. Florencia put a bag of brown rice in the pantry.

“Okay…okay…yeah…of course! Whatever they want! Sure! What? Tomorrow? That soon? Of course!”

Jenna hung up the phone, grabbed Florencia, and started jumping for real. “Oh my God oh my God oh my God!”

Florenica didn’t jump, but she grinned at her friend and moved her body in a vague up-and-down kind of way as Jenna continued without pause.

“Do you know what this means? No more debt! We can get a bigger place! We can hire a nanny for Iris! We can…I don’t know! Eat whatever we want! Save the whales!”

Florencia stopped fake-jumping. “Save the whales?” she repeated.

“You know!” Jenna bouncing over to a stack of mail on the side bar and rifled through it. “Save the whales! Donate some money to Greenpeace! I always wanted to be able to give them more money.” She pulled a green envelope out of the bottom of the pile and waved it triumphantly in the air. Florencia caught a flash of a photo of a breaching whale just before Jenna dropped the stack of mail and cried, “Oh my God, I have to call everyone! We’re celebrating tonight! I’m taking us out!”

Florenica looked out the window at the late afternoon sunshine.

It was Friday.

The day she was supposed to meet Youssef again.

Quietly, so she wouldn’t disturb Jenna, who was already talking rapidly on the phone, Florenia slid outside and went next door to Afareen’s apartment.

“Can I use your phone?” she asked when Afa opened the door.

Later that night, after the celebratory dinner (champagne with a float of cranberry juice for Jenna; cranberry juice with a float of more cranberry juice for Florencia), Jenna and Florencia lay side-by-side on Jenna’s bed, staring at the ceiling where some previous tenant had stuck glow-in-the-dark stars in vague, uncertain constellations. Florencia was surprised to notice that she had grown used to—even fond of—the sound of the continual traffic outside.

“I hope I can do this,” said Jenna to the ceiling.

Florencia rolled onto her side to face her friend. She took Jenna’s hand. “Do you remember when you told me you were leaving Rose?” she asked.

Jenna wrapped her fingers around Florencia’s. “Yeah, but everyone thinks they’re going to be the next big star when they’re barely eighteen. It was just bravado.”

“From anyone else it would have been bravado,” said Florencia. “From you, it was simply the truth. Even if you didn’t know that, the rest of us did.”

“I know,” Jenna whispered. “I’m just nervous.”

They lay in silence for a moment. Florencia wondered what Youssef was doing. He hadn’t been able to talk when she called; she had had to leave a message with a receptionist who had kept asking her what firm she was with. Youssef hadn’t called back. She hoped he hadn’t gone to the bench to wait for her.

“You know how we said you would stay here for a year?” asked Jenna, still staring at the ceiling. “Have the baby and then move out?”

Florencia nodded.

Jenna rolled to her side as well, so they were face-to-face, the way they’d spent so many nights at each other’s houses. “I don’t think it should be short-term like that. Not just for a year, not just until Iris is bigger. I think you should live here, like…you know. Like family.”

“We don’t need to share the same home to be family,” said Florencia gently.

 “I know. But if this show takes off, I can afford it. We can get a place with a back unit. There’s no reason for you to get some stupid job unless you want to.”

“I like working,” said Florencia. “And it’s not your responsibility to take care of me. I know you’ll be here for us, no matter what.”

“Oh, don’t be so stubborn,” said Jenna firmly. “Besides, you heard what that fortune teller said. Iris needs both of us.”

Florencia stared at Jenna, astounded. Then she burst out laughing. A moment later, so did Jenna.

“Well, she did!” Jenna sputtered, choking for air. “Anyway, what if you work for me if you want to work? You can be my personal assistant. You know I need one.”

“You do,” agreed Florencia. “But then you’d have to give me a salary, and that wouldn’t feel right.”

“Are you kidding?” asked Jenna. “Do you know how much they’re paying me?” She named a number that, to Florencia, sounded so ridiculous it had to be made up.

“A year?” asked Florencia, astounded.

“An episode,” said Jenna.

“Oh,” said Florencia. L.A. was an odd place. “Well. Okay.”

previous installment                                                                                                                                                                                                    next installment→

 Have Tales of Sea & Circus sent right to your inbox every Thursday.