“Well I’m not asking her for any more money!”
“I’m not asking you to. What the hell do you want to do though?”
The apartment was silent for a moment. Franka was pretty sure that Stefan and Beatrix didn’t know she was home. She would have never heard this otherwise. So she stood silent at the doorway, everything still in her hands, listening intently.
Stefan was quiet when he answered his wife, so quiet that Franka had to strain to hear.
“I don’t know. We’ll figure it out.”
Franka could hear Beatrix’s shoes tapping across the kitchen floor. “Well we need to figure it out quick.”
As the tapping came closer, Franka quietly took off her shoes and padded to her room. There, under her bed, and behind the box of winter clothes, was the tin can she kept her savings in. She’d been saving for a couple of months, but between her own expenses and what she was giving Stephan for rent and food, it was barely twenty-five dollars.
She slipped off her coat and pocketed the money. When she left her room and looked for her brother, she found him sitting at the kitchen table alone.
“How much do we need?”
Stefan didn’t look up at her, just rested his head in his hands.
“Stefan,” Franka said sharply. “How much?”
“Probably about seventy dollars,” he said to the table. ”Maybe more.”
Franka whistled. “Scheisse.” She reached into her pocket, where the money was burning against her leg. For a moment, she held onto it. It was the only extra money she had, the money she’d been saving to – eventually – get a place of her own. “What happened?”
Stefan looked up at her, and for a moment, Franka could see the anger flashing in his eyes. But it died down and he shrugged his shoulders. “Plant doesn’t need all of us so much during the winter. We owe last month’s rent. We owe this month’s rent. We need groceries. The kids need some new clothes.” Stefan smiled grimly as he continued. “And, there’s nothing else right now for someone trying to make an *honest* living.” His pointed look at that comment wasn’t lost on Franka. Despite that she pulled out her money and slid it in front of him.
He immediately looked contrite. “Franka…I don’t…”
She cut him off. “Shut up. Take it.”
“I’ll give this back to you.”
Franka knew he meant it, just as much as she was sure it wouldn’t happen. The Potentes were barely making ends meet as it was.
“Good,” she said with a smile. “And I’ll try to see if I can get some more.”
“Franka…” Stefan whined, and the pathetic sound annoyed Franka more than his insult had.
“Don’t worry, Stefan. I’ve never let you down before have I?”