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"Hey, Carmen?"

Carmen strode into the living room with a demister in her hand and a frown on her face. "What?" she demanded.

Aaliyah was standing with her mud-crusted boots on their clean carpet, still a little damp from the rain. She glanced half-apologetically down at the small puddle of dirt she was standing in. "Sorry about the carpet," she lied.

Dismissing her apology with a weary wave of the hand, Carmen replied, "Don't worry. Judy got blood on the carpet last night, so I'll let this slide."

She pulled a face. "Why was Judy bleeding on the carpet last night?"

"Oh, no, no, it wasn't hers. It was just some guy's she brought home."

Aaliyah looked somewhere between surprised and impressed. "A guy? Anyone we know? What was his name?"

"She just kept referring to him as 'The Infernal Bridegroom'."

"Huh." She scratched the back of her neck. "Is he from our building?"

"Actually I think it's a reference to the character from Une Saison en Enfer, the extended poem by French poet Arthur Rimbaud."

Aaliyah hummed. "Classy," she approved.

Carmen looked skeptical.

"Anyway," said Aaliyah hurriedly, "I need you to help me."

"Well I can't." She held up her demister. "I'm doing things."

"No but this is really important," Aaliyah insisted, dropping her bag and shrugging her way out of her jacket.

Carmen glared at the bag as if she was trying to destroy it with the power of telecombustion, but instead she said, "No. I've had a long day. I'm busy."

She spread her arms. "Why are you being like this? This is important!"

"I'm just wondering why you think you're more important than my asparagus aethiopicus."

Aaliyah pulled a face. "You're blowing me off for an asparagus?"

"An asparagus aethiopicus," she corrected.

"I mean, are we having it for dinner, because I think I ordered Chinese?"

Carmen looked scandalised. "You can't eat my asparagus aethiopicus! It's a houseplant, not a food!"

"Then why are you spending so much time over it?" She folded her arms. "I personally believe that you shouldn't spend over ten minutes working on anything you can't eat."

"That's stupid advice," Carmen argued. "Anyway, even you don't follow it. Remember when you spent two hours at my aunts' wedding trying to flirt with my cousin," she scoffed.

Aaliyah smirked.

Carmen screamed.

"Anyway, anyway," Aaliyah said, waving a hand impatiently, "you need to help me."

"Help you to do what? Eat my asparagus aethiopicus?"

"I swear to god you're supposed to eat those."

"I think you're thinking of the common or garden asparagus officinalis."

"I'm fairly sure that I'm never thinking of the common or garden asparagus officinalis."

Carmen folded her arms neatly, which was tricky because of the demister. "Then what's the problem? What did you do this time, molest another one of my cousins?"

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