“She’s perfect! And you know how I searched, Maria.”
It’s Wednesday, and I’m over doing Mrs. A’s house. I’m done scrubbing the tub, and I’m waiting for her to stop talking so I can turn on the faucets. She’s going on about her new boarder, Dara, who, like me, is attending college.
“Absolutely brilliant! A European from Spain. I believe her family’s quite wealthy. Oh, dear, make sure to get the soap scum from the little ledge there. Last time you left quite a bit.”
“What’s she studying?” I ask, but Mrs. doesn’t know. I’m studying English literature, even though my sister says that’s the stupidest thing she’s ever heard of. “Who do you think you are, gomela? You gotta make money when you come out. You got loans.” She acts like I don’t feel the pressure, too, living with her and her three kids in that miniscule two-bedroom way uptown.
Next time I’m over there, Dara’s out again. Mrs. owns a four-floor townhouse in Chelsea, and Dara’s got the parlor off the kitchen. I ask whether I’ll be cleaning it, too.
“No. Dara said that wouldn’t be necessary.” As if they’re both doing me a favor.
She now knows Dara’s major: Biology. Also, Dara has a steady boyfriend in Paris and her mother is dead. She keeps referring to Dara as an “orphan.” Her following me around like this is reminding me of the old days, when she was afraid I was going to steal something and used to lock up her fancy silver when I was around.
Just as Mrs. is telling me how Dara plays both bridge and cribbage, Dara herself comes in the door. Whatever I was expecting, it wasn’t this. Mami is beautiful. She has this shiny dark hair and a little porcelain face like a doll I used to have. She’s got style, too, rocking the thigh-high boots. I’m struck stupid and feeling super embarrassed of my scrubs. I wear ’em so as not to get my other stuff dirty, and also because although Mrs. would never say, I know she likes the idea of her employees in uniforms.
Mrs. introduces us, and we shake hands real proper. I get a flash of brilliance to impress her with my Castilian Spanish. “Encantada, Dara. Que tal?”
She looks at me like I just released frogs out of my mouth. “Sí,” she says, in the most Anglo accent you ever heard, then bolts into her room.
Mrs. is still smiling. “I forgot you speak Spanish, too,” she says to me, her Colombian maid.
The story was performed by the actor Sarah Feathers for the Liars' League event in London on May 11, 2010.