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March 10, 2023 11:31AM
"Invitation," an action that causes or encourages something to happen (Cambridge Dictionary).

Monday was long and boring compared to the excitement of the previous week. Catalina longed to see some of the patients instead of remaining stuck behind the desk. Sra. Mundo was an indifferent conversationalist at best, and actively discouraged chit chat most of the time. Lunch was quiet and subdued, and then it was back to typing and filing, filing and typing, and always it sounded as if something more exciting was happening elsewhere.

At three she started to gather her things, and was nearly out the door when her phone buzzed. "¿Holá?"

"Hi, Catalina?" Elena's voice was breathless and rushed. "Are you still at work? Or did you leave?"

"Um, I just got out, I'm walking to the tram," she replied, shifting the phone to her left shoulder as she slid the badge back into her bag.

"But you're by the clinic, right? Can you wait there, long enough for us to arrive? Papá and I are only like ten minutes away."

"Sure, yes, I can hang around a while." She turned toward some of the back picnic tables and found a seat. "Are you coming to meet Enrique?"

"No, no, he's out, I don't even know, he hasn't answered his phone, but it's all so sudden, I haven't had a chance to speak with him." Elena kept talking faster and faster, excited and eager. "But hang on, I'll explain everything as soon as we get there. Oh, got to go, chau."

Catalina was unsure what could give the girl such a burst of energy, but was hopeful it meant something really good for her family. Maybe the Tilves would be able to stay longer in Mar del Plata after all, or maybe, just maybe, Catalina would be able to invite her to Fortuna in the near future. It would be very different from running around the city, of course, but it would be a visit more about people than places, and there were so many people she would love to introduce to her friend.

When the phone rang, Catalina answered quickly, and Elena asked, "Can you come around to the front, near the lobby? Papá's inside already but we can talk out here."

"Sure," Catalina answered, walking around, and then hanging up when she spotted the other girl waving. They hugged and kissed, and Elena immediately began to share her news.

"We're definitely leaving, on Friday, so there's that," she admitted. "But Papá saw how upset I was, and today he said I could invite you to stay with us at the ranch!"

"Really?" Catalina asked, intrigued and tempted, but also uncertain. "I would have to check with Tío Ruy, and then there's Papá and Mamá, they're all expecting me to go home in another two weeks. Plus I told the clinic I would work till the fourteenth. I really would love to go...."

"That's the best part!" Elena grinned with delight. "Papá has donated a lot of money to the clinic over the years, and plays golf with Doctor Figueroa. He's talking to him right now, about arranging for you to work with the branch clinic near us back home. And not as a volunteer, but to earn credit for when you attend school, as an internship. Then you'd be right there with us and we could do stuff together every day when you aren't working."

It was such amazing news, Catalina could barely believe it, then became as excited as her friend, hugging her again. "Oh, I'm sure everyone will say yes, I just know it, gracias Elena!"

"It's not all finalized yet, of course," Elena said, calming down some. "But I'm sure Papá will arrange it, I just know it."

After another ten minutes or so, Señor Tilve came out of the clinic doors, and at once bowed over Catalina's hand. "Well, Señorita Moreno, I trust Elena has explained everything to you? What do you say, can you leave Mar del Plata and join us in our humble little farm? It may not be much, of course, just a few acres, and certainly none of the razzle dazzle of the city. But I think you'll be much better off with good solid work, a real investment of your time, than what you could get here after only another week. Doctor Figueroa agrees, and has so many good things to say about you. I'm sure it would be an honor for our little clinic to have you there."

It was hard to understand why the last sentence would be true; after all, it was more a favor to Catalina than the other way around. Still, she was so grateful she could only say gracias several times over. "I do have to ask my parents, and the Aguirres, for permission," she remembered to add.

"I think I can safely say Señor Aguirre will agree, I spoke to him about it yesterday, just a preliminary idea you understand, and he was very enthusiastic. Since your parents were so eager for you to volunteer here, I'm sure they must see the advantages of working at a place with a far better clientele, where you'll receive good solid experience and training. Why don't we drive you back to the Aguirres now, and you can call home on the way?"

He was so solicitous to get things taken care of, he offered to let her use his own phone rather than tie up her line, and when Catalina was able to reach her father, Señor Tilve took it back and even explained matters all himself. It was altogether wonderful, and Catalina had no doubt that Papá would say yes as soon as he had talked it over with Mamá. The Aguirres were no less enthusiastic, welcoming the Tilves in and listening to the invitation with delight. Tío Ruy asked several questions, getting the details Catalina realized she ought to have thought of, while Tía Lola only had thoughts for the wardrobe her young friend would need to look presentable at a ranch.

"It sounds like a wonderful opportunity," Tío Ruy said at last. "If the Morenos say yes, of course, she should get to go, though we will miss you Catalina."

Elena had become far quieter when her father took over the conversation. As they were leaving, though, she hugged Catalina again with heartfelt glee. "Muchas gracias for coming!" she said, eyes aglow in pure joy. "I'll call again later, maybe we can still do something before Friday, who knows? ¡Chau!"

Her parents called back after dinner, and after talking it over with everyone, they both agreed it sounded like a good idea. Papá hoped she would have fun and learn some more, reminding her to let him know if she needed anything sent on for this new journey. Mamá told her to mind her manners and always show the greatest respect for Sr. Tilve: "Sometimes you can be very lax when eating, so I hope you'll keep your elbows off the table. Take proper notes while you work, and keep track of your hours. We'll have to make sure to schedule your entrance exam soon after you get back, then you’ll be able to enroll this spring with credit already. But it will be a very good thing, and we're very proud of you my love."

Her younger sisters and brother all shouted greetings. Catalina spoke to each one in turn, grateful for their warm wishes, and hung up with only the smallest regret that she wouldn't see them again for a while. Then she wrote a long email to her older brothers, explaining what had happened and what she would be doing. "I actually don't know much yet. I hope it will help me with nursing school. I miss you both, and hope to see you again soon!"

The next day was as full of action as the previous had been without: Doctor Figueroa met with him first thing to explain the arrangement. "It's not quite the same as an actual internship, since you're not properly in school yet, but I've already signed this paperwork for the hours you've completed here so far. Once you finish up at the satellite, your supervisor will sign this other form, and we'll forward copies on to whatever institution you attend. I don't think there'll be any problems helping you clear some of your early prerequisites, and who knows? Perhaps you'll want to come back one day."

Sra. Mundo was not quite as happy to hear she was leaving. "So, we train you all up, and then they send you away once you're useful? Typical, so typical, it's no wonder how crazy the balance sheet is sometimes. Well don't just sit there, we may as well get as much out of you in the next few days as possible."

Catalina got straight to work, barely thinking again about the new internship before stopping for a break at lunch. She slid out to the picnic tables again, too excited to sit quietly in the break room, in need of some fresh air to calm down.

She answered on the first ring when her phone buzzed, and was surprised when Enrique instead of Elena spoke. "Sounds like you've been busy. Running away from Señora Mundo already?"

"Oh, no, and I wish I could keep helping her, but your father has been so very wonderful, arranging everything for me!"

"Yes, Papá likes to arrange things just his way. It's useless to resist when he's got an idea in his head, so just as well you're pleased with it too."

"Yes I am, and to spend more time with Elena! I can't imagine how things could get any better."

"Now that is exactly the sort of outlook that usually ends in disappointment."

"I can't imagine how," Catalina answered, checking the time and wondering if she should start back inside.

"How about a perfectly awful supervisor, who will work you to the bone, and never crack a smile once? What would you say to that?"

It was a formidable picture, and Catalina realized she knew very little about the person or people she would work with out near the Tilve ranch. It would be difficult, without the friends she'd made here, to start all over with a potentially unpleasant group. "But, surely, it can't be so very bad," she said aloud after thinking it over. "They're probably just very firm. And I get along with Señora Mundo."

Enrique laughed, light and lilting as ever, and she could just imagine his eyes shinning. "Of course you're right, if you can get along with Señora Mundo, you can get along with anyone. Not that I would expect differently at this point. Still, you might want to read that paperwork again before it's too late."

"Is there anything specific I should know?" she asked, more curious than apprehensive.

"Too much to say right now, my lunch is almost done, and I've a large number of appointments to finish before the day's over. Elena can probably answer the most important questions about the clinician you'll have to face. Only don't believe everything she says, she's horribly biased. Talk to you later."

With those mysterious words he hung up, and Catalina went back to the desk with plenty of stray thoughts nagging at her for the rest of the day. Why wouldn't Enrique just tell her who this supposedly awful person was? Were they really that bad? Or was he just teasing her again? She waited until she was back with the Aguirres before going over all of the paperwork, hunting for clues. It didn't take long to find who was supposed to sign off on her work at the end of the internship: the blank line had a typed name underneath, clearly spelling Enrique Tilve.

Catalina called Elena at once and asked her what on earth he could have meant. "Did he say all that? What a tease! He's so silly, too much so sometimes." Elena didn't sound nearly as upset as she tried to.

"But how can he be there, when he works in Mar del Plata?"

"You know how he floats to all the clinic sites here? Sometimes he goes to this one too, on a rotation with some of the other clinicians, but no one's there permanently. Papá's been trying to build up the satellite into a true regional center for a while. Right now it's only open a few days a week. Now that Enrique's going to supervise you," Elena emphasized the word with relish, "he'll have to stay much longer, maybe all the time! And that means we'll get to do things together nearly every day!"

To think she would be doing Elena a favor twice over: it was so much better than Catalina had realized. "Please, tell me about the ranch, I barely know anything about it."

Elena was less enthusiastic about her home, not thinking much of the fact that it was over 60 hectares (twice the size of anything Catalina had ever heard of), or that it had been in the family for nearly thrice as many years. It had a beautifully romantic name, Estancia Aldea Norteña, and was near a lake, and sounded exactly like the place where they would film any telenovela imaginable. "I can't wait to see it!" she said, her mind whirring.

Actually, it sounded like the ranch on Passion of the Hawks, even if she'd only ever watched a few episodes as reruns (the ones Mamá allowed anyway) and had to rely on old magazines for most of her ideas about the show. Isabel had shown Catalina how to look up telenovelas online, and she couldn't resist searching for that information now, finding lots of pictures of the famous hacienda, and others from the show that she hastily clicked away. It was the house that was so interesting: a big, old thing with grand staircases and a large fireplace, maybe a secret passage or two, and a thousand places for rendezvous and discoveries.

Of course, she would be busy working too, so maybe there wouldn't be so many explorations. Besides, Elena probably already knew about everything and would show her around. However, Catalina could not convince herself it would be humdrum; Aldea Norteña sounded as grand as Mar del Plata, and far more mysterious. Who knew what she would find on its grounds?


MichelleRWMarch 10, 2023 11:31AM

Re: Invitación

NN SMarch 10, 2023 09:32PM

Re: Invitación

MichelleRWMarch 11, 2023 02:08AM


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