Date: December 12, 2009
A dame's car broke down outside of the zone… I had to protect Santa.
"Muggle Files: Episode 1 - Cocoa"
The weather is fairly cold, but it's getting closer to Christmas and the Bennet household is preparing. Right now, Sandra, Lyle, and Mr. Muggles are outside decorating the lawn and hanging lights. Lyle is on the roof with the staple gun and a few boxes of lights while Sandra and the prince of the castle are arranging a big plastic Santa Clause on the front lawn.
As Sandra gets the large piece perfectly positioned, Mr. Muggles raises his leg at the base and proceeds to add a little yellow decorative spot of his own. "Mr. Muggles! Not on St. Nick, he'll give you coal for Christmas if you don't treat him right!"
A black limousine with tinted windows is driving a little under the speed limit through the neighborhood. In the very back seat is Sarissa Belmont, wearing a dark-blue coat with bushy, gray fur around the neck and cuffs. Underneath is a light-gray blouse and skirt, with black tights on her legs. It's definitely chilly out, after all. Wearing a skirt with nothing on her legs would be asking for frozen limbs!
Sarissa looks out the window as the limousine drives through the streets, making circuits of the neighborhood. She has a lot on her mind, but is trying to stay focused on the houses that pass before her. Clean, pristine (mostly), and uniform. Little in the way of variation. Some have touches of uniqueness from their owners, but the houses themselves look mostly the same. How boring. Sarissa sighs.
The driver calls back, "Shall I make another round, ma'am?" Sarissa is about to answer the driver whom is just as bored as she is when there is a grinding noise, and the car jerks a few times, before coming to a sputtering stop. The engine keeps making strange choking noises for a few seconds after wards. "What is wrong?" Sarissa asks in slightly Italian-accented English. The driver's confusion and sudden anxiety is palpable to Sarissa, as he answers, "I… Don't know, ma'am. There's something wrong with the car." Sarissa momentarily feels irritation as she coldly responds, "What a brilliant observation. I suppose you should call for road-side assistance, should you not?" The driver's anxiety spikes as he says, "The, uh, the phone appears to be dead too, ma'am." Sarissa sighs.
"I will go ask at one of these houses," Sarissa decides aloud. The driver says, "Oh, I can do that for you, Mrs. Belmont—" Sarissa interrupts with, "No, I need to stretch my legs anyway. I have been sitting here for an hour looking at these boring houses. You can… Guard the car or something." She gets out as the driver is saying, "Uhh, yes ma'am." But she slams the door before he even finishes with 'yes', and stalks towards the nearest house. Which just happens to be the Bennet household!
A black limousine isn't the regular kind of car that you see on these streets, and when it breaks down in front of their house, Lyle is left staring at it dumbly. When its passenger gets out and begins to walk toward their house? Well, he almost slips off the roof. But he manages to catch himself by digging his heels into the shingles, tearing one of them. Oh well, Noah will fix it when he comes home.
Sandra doesn't even notice the woman's approach until Mr. Muggles begins to bark.
Rwarf! Arf! Arf! *growl* Arf-arf!
"Mr. Muggles! You're just looking for a naughty pres- Oh.." Sandra turns to finally see the woman coming closer. Dropping her hands to her sides, the middle aged woman brushes the snow from them and walks forward a few paces to meet her. "Can I help you?"
Sarissa doesn't hesitate for a moment! Not even when Lyle almost falls off the roof. Though she does look up at him to make sure he's not going to continue falling. When he seems stable, she focuses on the barking dog, and stops on the sidewalk in front of the snowy lawn. "…What a sweet dog you have," she says in what she hopes is not as sarcastic a tone as she is using mentally. In fact, she hopes that her tone is pleasant and convincing, because despite the fury of Mr. Muggles that some >intruder< is present that she just so happens to be able to detect without even trying (because, seriously, yappity dogs are always angry at intruders), she would really like to not completely alienate people who might be her neighbors should she choose to make a residence here.
"Yes, actually," she answers. "As you may have noticed, the poorly made limousine behind us is presently inoperable. I was wondering if I might have either access to a phone, so I may call for road-side assistance, or someone else could make such a call for me? I can provide the name of the company who owns these cars, so that their own insurance can deal with paying the repair persons."
Ar! Ar! Ar! Mr. Muggles continues to bark right through the poor woman's story. He doesn't care that her car broke down, she's on his lawn and talking to his mommy. This is the sort of thing that the king of the Bennet household doesn't stand for. Stranger Danger. Stranger Danger.
Thankfully for the woman, it's the year 2009 and Noah has made certain that everyone in his family is not without a cellphone. Smiling, Sandra places her hand in the pocket of her black and red plaid fleece vest and pulls out the small device. "Here you go, of course you can use it. It wouldn't be neighborly if we didn't help each other out every once in a while." With her newly freed hands, she reaches down and picks up the contrary little dog, shushing him with puckered lips. "Mr. Muggles, be nice. She needs help."
Sarissa smiles and says, "Thank you. My own phone was stolen from my hotel room, and the car phone is, according to the driver, 'dead'." She accepts the offered cellphone, while keeping an eye on Mr. Muggles for the moment. Sure he's picked up, but if he breaks free and bites her or something… He will wish he hadn't! The Italian woman remembers seeing the number for a mechanic shop on the way here, on a sign. That's the number she dials. A car is a car, right? "Hello? Yes, my car has broken down. No, I do not have a member number. The car is a 2007-model limousine. The insurance information can be obtained from the company who owns the car. Yes, I have their phone number." She gets out a card from her purse and reads off the company's number, and then gives the street address of the limousine. "A half hour is fine. Yes. Thank you." She then hangs up and hands the phone back. "Thank you very much."
Sandra had a tight hold of the little dog that doesn't seem to be struggling or barking anymore. Mr. Muggles has the attention of the woman of the household and his job at guarding Santa Clause has been done. She doesn't seem to be moving anywhere near the plastic figure.
After accepting the phone back Sandra shoots a quick look toward Lyle and Sandra calls up to him, "Lyle take the boxes inside, we'll get some cocoa and start again in the morning when it's light." Lyle doesn't argue and happily gathers the box and staple gun and heads through the attic window inside to play his video games.
Mrs. Bennet turns to the stranger and offers her a warm smile and turns to head inside as well. "Would you like to come in out of the cold for some cocoa? I'm sure your driver can take care of the car until the tow truck comes by." She motions toward the door of the house as an invitation and pauses before heading inside herself.
Sarissa considers the offer and says, "Yes, I think I would. Thank you." She isn't getting any weird vibes from Sandra. Just honest friendliness. Which makes her friendly in return, whether she wants to be or not. She follows Sandra towards the door, entering after Sandra does. "Ahh… Much warmer in here." She glances around the entryway, but doesn't focus on anything much. Prying into the personal lives of others is not on her agenda for today. Neither was her car breaking down, but still. "I am thinking of purchasing a house in this neighborhood."
Sandra closes the door behind the both of them and then puts Mr. Muggles down on the floor. he approaches the stranger and gives her a little sniff. He doesn't bristle or grumble at her scent, just clicks back to his owner's side and waits by her feet. "Really?" the middle aged blonde says as she removes her fleece vest and hangs it up on one of the many coat hooks that lines the wall inside the entrance. "It's a good neighborhood. I never would have thought I'd be happy in New York when we moved here, but the people on the block are really friendly. It's doesn't feel that far from home, except for the cold weather." The last line is delivered with a small chuckle and the stranger is then shown toward the kitchen. "My name is Sandra, by the way."
Sarissa removes her own coat after Sandra removes her vest, feeling comfortable enough here to hang up her garment as well. She smiles at Mr. Muggles when he sniffs her, trying not to radiate anything unpleasant, and then listens to what Sandra has to say.
"Ah, I see. Yes, I have spent most of my life in Italy, but my daughter has decided to go on an adventure of sorts with an… old friend of mine. And it has landed her in New York City. Since she seems to think she's staying here permanently, I felt it was best she has a house to live in, rather than just pulling her from her apartment and taking her home. This way she has a place to stay when she visits." She shakes her head. "Children always think they are so grown up, and can make grown-up decisions… When in truth, no one ever really grows up. I have two daughters and still can't decide whether I'm mature or not."
She sighs and says, "Well, it is good to know the people here are friendly. It will make staying here more tolerable, as opposed to just isolating myself from everyone."
The story causes the middle aged matron to smile and nod, she's all too familiar with it. "I think as mothers we all have that problem. It's hard to think of our little babies as growing up when we can remember changing their diapers and wiping their noses." She begins the process of making the cocoa by pulling a kettle from the stove and filling it with water. Then she replaces it onto the burner and fires it up, the gas stove only adding to the heat in the room. Moving to the cupboard, she pulls out a couple of packages of instant cocoa, the good kind that are kept for company. "I hope you like hazelnut, it's really the best flavor they have, other than the peppermint. I think I used the last of that up a week or so ago."
Sarissa nods. Ordinarily she would have remained cold and aloof in a situation like this. But Sandra's attitude is impacting her own. She could shut it out, but she has no reason to. It feels good to feel good. Joining Sandra in the kitchen, she nods to the offer of hazelnut cocoa. No point in mentioning she normally gets her chocolate freshly made, and that American instant cocoa is a pale imitation thereof. That would be rude, and against her current mood.
"So is it just the one, then?" she asks as she points up at where Lyle presumably is still playing videogames.
Shaking her head, Sandra pours the powder into the two cups and sets them close to the stove to wait on the water. "No, I have a daughter too. She's off on an adventure of her own right now called college." Just speaking about the girl makes the woman glow with pride and warmth. The dog pads around on the floor, snuffling here and there, licking up little bits that may have been missed by the broom earlier in the day, but there aren't many to be found. So he settles down on a pillow near the table and closes his eyes. "And you have two daughters, one here and one in Italy? That must be very difficult. I don't know what I would do if I had to travel across continents and oceans to vistit one or the other."
Sarissa nods. "College… I went to university mostly as a way of rebelling against my parents when I was younger. They wanted me to settle down and marry more or less as soon as I was of the age of consent. And then I wound up running all over Europe on a grand romantic trip with a boyfriend for a few years, instead of completing my education… But I eventually came back home and did as my parents wanted. I had to take responsibility for my life. And if your daughter has gone in search of knowledge of her own accord, in order to better herself, she is already much further along than I was at her age. Presumably, at least, since I you didn't say how old she was."
She glances at Mr. Muggles as he settles down, and finds maybe she doesn't despise the animal as much as she thought she did. He was just defending his family before. "Yes, two…" she answers the question. "Elisabetha and Fiorella.—Oh, I'm sorry! I never gave my own name. That was very rude of me! I am Sarissa. It is a pleasure to meet you, Sandra."
The kettle starts to whistle which causes the pomeranian on the pillow to perk its head up and bark a few times. "Shush Mr. Muggles, it's just the kettle." Sandra scolds as she lifts it off the burner and begins to pour the boiling water into the two waiting cups.
The dog complies with a grumble and tucks its nose under its two front paws, looking just as cute as can be. Its eyebrows quirk as he looks from side to side, sneaking alternate glances between his mistress and the strange woman.
The powder is mixed with a spoon until the rich scent of hazelnut hot chocolate invades the senses. One cup is placed on the island in front of Sarissa while Sandra keeps hold of the other cup. Lifting it in a mock toast, Sandra smiles and says "To new neighbors and maturing children."
Sarissa accepts the cup and lifts her own in response to Sandra's gesture. "That is something I can drink to." She then sips the hot cocoa. Ugh. She'll need to introduce Sandra to real chocolate sometime.