Matant Jo keeps cash in her Bible. She gives Fabiola $400 for her “expenses.” This is the most money Fabiola has ever had, so she carries it in her purse. It makes her feel more American. On Friday, Chantal, Pri, and Donna have errands to run, so they ask Fabiola to wait for an hour after school. Instead of staying at the school, Fabiola walks to the nearby CVS. On the sidewalk, Fabiola bumps into a woman and apologizes in her best English so it doesn’t sound like she doesn’t belong. The woman apologizes and asks Fabiola if she’s local. Fabiola says she is, and she looks the woman up and down. The woman tries to ask Fabiola about her school, but Fabiola just smiles and walks into the CVS. She buys a few small things and heads back to school. From Chantal’s car, Fabiola can see the woman watching.
It’s telling that this money makes Fabiola feel more American. For Fabiola, success in the U.S. is primarily tied to wealth—but even if the money makes Fabiola feel more American, that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t still have to make others think that she’s American. This is why she makes a point to use her “best English” when she and the woman collide. Being obviously an immigrant, Fabiola implies, makes her seem less American to others.