|Isobel Brandt \\ Persephone (praxidike) wrote in paxletalelogs,|
@ 2017-07-21 15:49:00
|Entry tags:||chernobog, persephone, uke mochi|
i can't help but pull the earth around me
Who: Matt & Isobel; then an appearance by Alice.
What: Isobel's trying to get something out of her car and Matt ends up helping her.
Where: Pax parking lot, lobby, elevator, and then Alice's apartment.
When: Backdated to July 10, mid-day.
Isobel stood just outside the open door of her small prius' backseat. Of course, she'd had two Home Depot employees help her get the thing into the back of the car to begin with; she should have thought of how not only she was going to get it out of the car, but into the complex and up to Alice's apartment.
The thing in question was a four foot by two foot window garden box for Alice's kitchen, along with an array of herbs. Alice had been a huge help thus far during her memory loss, and after the redhead had related her tearful tale of sleeping with her best friend's brother (all of the names and faces a complete wash for Isobel, but she'd provided a comforting shoulder all the same, trying to see if any of it would invoke a memory), along with the news that Rafe was moving to another floor. It seemed a lot for the stressed young woman, and Isobel thought to make one small gesture that might not only give her something to do but take her mind off of her problems for however long.
Except now she was stymied within that plan by the simple fact that she was not strong enough to carry the gift on her own. Screwing her mouth into a moue of frustration, Isobel crossed her arms over her chest and stared into the backseat as though inspiration would strike if she willed it hard enough.
“Hey, Isobel! Let me help you!” A voice called from a few feet away. Matt jogged over, still in dress slacks and a button-down shirt. He was smiling at the woman, looking pleasant and helpful, while internally he felt anxious with speaking to her. He still saw her so clearly sprouting flowers around her like a springtime goddess and the guilt of that memory hung heavily on him.
“I’m heading inside, so let me help you carry this in,” he finished, wanting to ensure it was clear that he was trying to be helpful as opposed to just a nuisance.
"Oh, um, hi," Isobel started, jumping around to bring the nice young man into view. Another unfamiliar face, one who seemed to know her, which put a difficult twist on this sudden encounter.
"That would be great..." She trailed off, wracking her brain for some crumb of memory that would tell her who he was. Stepping off to the side, she pulled the open car door wider, her hand lingering on its frame. "I, uh, I was bringing this home for Alice, so I need to carry it pretty far. Are you sure you've got the free time?" She squinted a little in the light of the afternoon sun, raising her free hand to shield her eyes.
“Considering I’m up at the top floor, it’s not out of my way,” Matt replied with a grin. He knew Alice lived somewhere within the apartment from his chats with her, although he had never visited the place and considering it wasn’t like he had many friends--beside Tom--it wasn’t like the errand would keep him from anything. He stepped beside Isobel and reached into the car, tugging at the plant box and sliding it half out of the doorway before pausing to look up at the woman. “How have you been?”
She tried to keep a smile plastered to her face as she shifted out of his path, letting him grab the planter box.
"Oh, I'm... I'm good." She crossed her arms over her chest, grimacing inwardly as her hope that he might re-introduce himself was dashed. But his eagerness to help was relieving, and she stepped over to the far side around him so she could grab the other end of the planter when it emerged.
"How... how are you? What've you been up to?" She glanced back at him as she reached over the planter, keeping the door open as he moved. For the most part, she hoped that she remained as calm outwardly as she did not feel inwardly, but there were subtle signs of her anxiety on full display in the slightly off-kilter look of her smile and the way it did not completely reach her eyes.
“Good, just… busy,” Matt replied with a slight shrug as he pulled the box nearly entirely out of the car. “Would you mind grabbing that end? We’ll shift it so I can hold onto it entirely while you close up your car.” He gave a nod to the end before glancing up at Isobel and cocking his head. “But yeah, work and all that, you know how it is I’m sure. A friend of mine moved into the apartment recently, Tom? Don’t know if you’ve met him. He’s the guy doing yoga every week.”
At least here Isobel could be honest. "Oh, I think I saw his network post? I've been meaning to go, but I just haven't found the time." She moved, following his instructions to grab the other end of the planter and pull it out completely from her backseat.
"You don't have to hold it, I can--" She reached out, grabbing the doorframe of her car and swinging it shut. Then she dug her keys out of the purse hanging from one shoulder to ensure the vehicle's locking mechanism. "OK, great. Thanks so much; Alice has been having a hard time lately, so I thought I'd do something to cheer her up. This should be really helpful with her bakery--have you been there?" Isobel used their pause for the moment to check on the herbs, ensuring they were carefully settled in their spots in the planter before looking at Matt again.
Matthew blinked and pressed his lips into a line as he shifted the planter in his hands. It would figure that he was that forgettable yet awkwardly he attempted to correct the situation. “Um, yeah, I’ve been to the bakery. We, uh…we met there. While we were in line.” He licked at his lips and looked down at the planter. “It was busy though; easy to forget me.”
"Oh, no, no, it's not that at all!" Isobel moved the planter down until it was slightly diagonal between herself and Matt; as soon as the plants started to slide, she moved it back up. "I just... This is going to sound impossible, but I... I had some memory loss. I... You're not the only person I'm having trouble remembering. I figured we knew each other when you ran up to help, but I... I am so sorry," she stammered out, her explanation making her self-conscious. "Please, it's definitely not you. I... I didn't even remember where I lived." The last was said with a touch of humor, hoping that it might defuse the suddenly awkward situation.
Matt’s brown furrowed and he couldn’t help but frown. But, not wanting to make the situation more awkward, he didn’t push the subject. “I suppose it’s an awkward time to mention I’m a doctor, huh?” Yup, not more awkward at all. He let out a slight laugh and shifted his end of the box in his hands. “I’m Matthew, we only met once…” Twice. “Seems like you remember Alice though, so that’s good, right?”
Isobel shrugged, and started to lead them toward the Pax apartment building.
"Only because I have pictures of her and Rafe in my apartment. I guess we were—are—friends. I met her in the elevator, and..." She shook her head, an embarrassed smile plastered over her face. Her cheeks were red, but at the very least, she was able to laugh at herself over the whole ordeal, despite how many times she kept having to go through it. "She was really sweet about it. Everyone has been, which... I mean, I guess there are worse places to lose one's memory. Again, I'm really sorry, I don't mean it as anything against you.
"So where, where in the building do you live?" She paused, stepping up onto a curb, moving forward just a little to make sure Matt could make it too.
“Ah, I’m on the deluxe floor?” Matt felt awkward admitting this, as if her were bragging. “I’ve only been here for just over a month though, I guess closer to two months at this point. So you may not remember meeting me but there’s not much to remember.” He smiled, trying to cheer her up as he stepped up to the curb and they began to slowly make their way toward the doors of the apartment building. “We already knew next to nothing about each other. So we can start again… it’s nice to meet you Isobel. I’m Matt, I live on the deluxe floor, I’m a doctor and work at a research lab. I’m from Pennsylvania though and worked in Baltimore.”
She laughed, shaking her head. "Nice to meet you, Matt. I'm from Texas, myself; I think California has a lot of transplants, so I hope you feel at home here." Her careful, somewhat backward steps slowed as they came around the building toward the front door. "Is work what brought you out here? It's a pretty big change from one coast to another. Or we don't have to talk about work, if you don't want. What do you do for fun?" If anything, it felt exceedingly normal to just have a simple conversation with someone with whom she didn't have some dark and terrible past; and Matt was cute and funny, leaving her feeling more at ease than she had in a long while.
“Uh,” color crept up Matt’s cheeks as he glanced away. “If Tom gets me out and about, we do whatever crazy idea he has. But if I’m left to my own devices I tend to stay home… reading, watching documentaries. I’m really awful at video games though. How about you? What do you do?”
Immediately, Matt realized his error and hissed. “Sorry, I mean…” How would she know what she liked to do if she couldn’t remember it. “How about… did you see a doctor for your memory loss? I feel like I have to ask that…”
Isobel glanced away, covering her discomfort by looking behind her to start navigating through the front door of Pax. Pausing, she held her end of the planter with one hand while her other reached for the doorway. She guided both of them in with slow, careful movements accompanied by gentle direction, until the door was finally closing behind Matt. Then they were inside the lobby, with Stephan glancing up.
“Hey,” Matt called to Stephan with a smile.
"Hi," Isobel said a little breathily, her discomfort with the concierge apparent. With no free hand to wave, they continued on to the elevator, Isobel avoiding the question until they had some privacy again.
"OK, and...I think it can fit, if we just angle..." Then they were in the elevator, holding the wooden box between them. "Can you hit four? And no, I haven't," she finally answered once the doors were snugly closed behind them as Matt balanced the box’s weight with one hand and reached to hit the fourth floor button. "I just... I have this really strong aversion, which, I don't know if that's a memory in itself, but... I feel like I'm doing OK on my own, you know? But I guess you hear that a lot, huh. I'm fine, I don't need to see the doctor, I'll just soldier through it..." Her shoulders ducked unconsciously, she leaned back against the elevator wall as the box started to carry them up.
Matt’s brow furrowed and he licked his lips, trying to consider a way to continue the subject without upsetting her. “If… ah...you know...I could just check your vitals or… I mean I don’t have to but I feel like…” He paused and looked at the floor numbers changing. “I just feel like I can’t let you say that without offering my assistance. You know? It’s yours to take or leave and I can’t force you to see a doctor but just… you know… if you ever changed your mind. Just so you know.”
The elevator door dinged and swung open, producing the empty fourth floor with one lonely wreath on one door. “Not many people on this floor, huh?” He commented, changing the subject.
"She's got it all to herself," Isobel joked, glad to have an excuse to move away from the decidedly sticky topic. She maneuvered them into the hall, carefully stepping out and away from the elevator and toward the one lone, occupied apartment. "Almost there... Thank you, again, so much for helping me with this, Matt. You really didn't have to." They came to a stop just outside of Alice's door, and Isobel moved her hands to knock on the entryway. "I could owe you a coffee, if you want? Or however you want me to repay, I don't mind."
“You don’t have to repay!” Matt said with a smile. “Although… maybe we can just get coffee?” And there he went looking flush and maybe a touch sweaty, although Matt would argue it was due to carrying the planter. “We could go to Alice’s bakery even and maybe get to know each other a little more. You know, no pressure for you to remember anything, just two neighbors.” He gave a little shrug.
“Coming!” A voice called from within the apartment, muffled by the closed door but loud enough to stop Matt’s nervous suggestion.
"That sounds really nice," Isobel replied, smiling at Matt as though that might help calm him a little, even as she felt her own face flushing a bit. It was too soon, and too odd, to be thinking about anything more than a simple cup of coffee, and she pushed the thoughts away as she turned her face back to the door opening.
"Hey! Surprise!" Isobel grinned widely in the redhead's direction, the window planter plain before Alice's eyes. "I thought you needed something to help distract you from everything that's been going on."
Alice, standing in her doorway in a sundress she had worn to work that day, took a step back with surprise. “Whoa, Isobel!” She couldn’t help but laugh, both surprised by the gift and also by Isobel’s company. “This is huge! You didn’t have to do this!” She stepped forward, looking eagerly at the little herbs in the box before glancing at Matt.
“Hey! Nice to see you outside of the bakery.”
Matt smiled, the pink in his cheeks still obvious. “It’s nice to see you too. Sorry to just show up at your doorstep.”
"Which is completely my fault," Isobel interjected. "I thought you could use some of these in your baking; it's all of the basics, mostly, Home Depot had them on sale. It should fit in your kitchen window!" She adjusted the planter box from one hand to the other. "Should we go find out?"
“Yeah, of course,” Alice replied, stepping back to hold her door opened. “You know, they will look so pretty in the light from the window and they’d make for a great photo prop. But Isobel, you know I’m bad with plants. You’re going to have to teach me how to care for them.”
Matt smiled to himself as he shifted his end of the box and edged his way into Alice’s apartment, being the one to walk backwards this time, as he remained silent and allowed the two girls to talk.
"Oh, it's not that hard," Isobel reassured her friend. She and Matt moved into Alice's apartment space, carefully navigating toward the kitchen. "Just water and sunlight is all they need, and you're good to go." Together, she and Matt made it through the doorway and toward the window Isobel had in mind, which had a sill just a little narrower than the planter box itself. Slowly, they placed the planter into the thought-for spot, Isobel adjusting it a little.
"There, see? Works out pretty well. Or, if you want, could also always get some hooks and hang it off of the exterior, if you feel comfortable with that," Isobel offered, adjusting some of the herbs in their placement. "Just a little spritz of water every day and you'll be off and running."
“This is perfect,” Alice said, smiling as Matt stepped away and Alice took her place beside Isobel. Her fingers flitted over the different leaves, touching the soft leaf of sage and the more oddy rosemary. “Thank you so much, and you too, Matt, for helping her bring this up.”
“Oh, it’s no problem,” Matt said from off to the side as he slipped his hands into his pockets. “I should probably get going and leave you two to this.” He took a step back, offering them both a smile but his gaze lasted a little longer on Isobel. “Let me know about that coffee... it can be whenever. Just shoot me a message on the community board.”
Alice’s eyes widened and she looked at Isobel, immediately interested.
Isobel flashed a smile in Matt's direction, nodding. "Of course! Thanks again, Matt, I'm sorry if this interrupted anything you were in the middle of. I really appreciate it." Matt smiled and gave a nod and a small wave, backing away and then out of the apartment entirely. Gently, he closed the door behind him with a small click. Isobel looked at Alice, but held her tongue until Matt was out of the apartment.
"What?" Her mouth still held a smile, but her brows drew together across her forehead, confusion coloring her face.
“Was that some mild flirting going on between you two? You both were blushing!” Alice teased, bouncing on her feet slightly and reaching to grab Isobel’s hand. She tugged her friend toward the living room where Rafael had been sleeping on the couch but his belongings were still evident, as well as the blanket and pillow neatly wrapped and set to the side. “Tell me, tell me!”
Isobel's mouth gaped for a moment, and she looked back at the plants while allowing Alice to drag her away from the planter box. She paused by the couch, pulling her hand back while shaking her head.
"It's nothing! Nothing happened!" One hand slid over her cheeks, which were red again, and she rolled her eyes before taking a seat. "Sure, he's cute, but... with everything going on, and I'm still figuring things out with Obed, and I won't lie, there's still some feelings there... I mean, I think he was just being nice, all right? It doesn't mean anything, Alice. And, if anything, it sounds like we both should stay very far away from guys for a little while..."
She fell silent for a beat. "Have you talked to Lucas?"
Alice’s eyes dropped to her lap, her smile dampening. “No… not yet. I’m just… still wrapping my head around everything. I don’t want to lead two guys on and I think everything is good and dead with Gus, but I just want that feeling for him to go away a little more before I go to Lucas, you know?” She looked back up at Isobel and frowned. “But hey…with everything going on with you, it may be nice for you to hang out with some new guy. I mean, he lives here, he’s super nice. He comes into the bakery a lot and he just seems… I don’t know. He’s quiet, maybe a little introverted, and he tips really well. Coffee sounds like something and you’re allowed to consider it as such and flirt and all that.”
"Yeah," Isobel replied, the word coming out on a sigh. "I guess it could be nice. I'm not... It's not something I'm worried about right now. I need to start remembering things. And... I need to find another job. There's just so much else to be worried about. I don't need guy trouble on top of that.
"Which... speaking of, you haven't... No one's seen Bryan, right?" Hesitant worry crossed her face, glancing back at Alice.
Alice quickly shook her head. “No, I mean, not that I’ve heard. Rafael hasn’t seen him, I haven’t either…” Alice reached out and gently, comfortingly, ran her hand down Isobel’s arm. “He may be gone. I mean, if he set fire to your old job, he’s probably running scared. But… hey, if you’re looking for some extra money, maybe you can work part time at the bakery with me? I definitely could use another person to run the register on some days and help out around the store.”
Isobel put her hand on Alice's, squeezing. Even with everything she'd been told about Bryan, it was hard to make everything click together. High school was just that, high school... Surely he'd grown up.
"That'd be really nice, actually," she replied, smiling. "It'd just be for a little bit, until I can find something more permanent. And, I mean, at least this way I avoid the interview, right?"
Alice grinned and squeezed Isobel’s hand in return. “Definitely. Let me know when you want to start and we can do the paperwork. Plus, it’s part time work, we have people come and go with that all the time, so I completely understand if it’s only temporary. Maybe you can even help keep the few plants in the place alive.
“Speaking of, we should go water those herbs, huh?”
Isobel's smile widened, and this time it was her turn to tug Alice up and off of the couch. "Yeah, definitely can't have you drowning the plants I just got for you..." Threading her fingers through Alice's, she pulled the redhead in the direction of the planter, and started to explain the various merits of spray bottles over watering cans.