How Times Have Changed


hadley_icon.gif megan_icon.gif

Scene Title How Times Have Changed
Synopsis When Megan stops in for muffins, she gives Mrs. Hadley a chance to go on (and on and on) about the way things used to be.
Date July 2, 2009

Piece of Cake Bakery

The front room of the bakery is a long and narrow one. A great glass window covers the wall facing the street, so that anyone outside can see in. The door is glass as well; on bright days the shop is filled to the brim with sunshine. Drop lamps abovehead help at night, casting a warmer and softer light. Classic black and white tiling collects smudges more often than not on the floor and walls. In the back is a hallway which leads further to the kitchen, a small bathroom for customers to use, and a set of creaky stairs that go up to the second floor. The entire building is warm, and the air is redolent with the scents of pastry both savory and sweet, cookies, muffins, chocolate and fruit, bread and more.

A long, waist-high counter is on the left after stepping inside. The top is flat so purchases can be set down, and baked goods of all sorts are on display inside. Down at the far end is the cash register: leaving means walking past all the tempting wares all over again. Though it isn't particularly fancy, a coffee machine next to the register has a sign that reads "Donations": the cups and plain coffee are free, but change dropped inside goes to local charities. Three small bistro tables sit along the right wall; it's a tight fit, but three (or four if they're close friends) people can sit at each to enjoy a bite before going on their way. A bell above the door jangles merrily whenever it's opened.

As usual for this time of morning, the bakery is a quiet place. The big crowds show up first thing in the am, at lunch, and right after close of business. And as usual for this time of morning, Mrs. Hadley has the radio on and is listening while she works her crossword puzzle. Well. Mostly she's listening, puzzle forgotten. "… a plan by these… people, to take over and wipe out our very way of life!" Mr. Neal Boortz is in full swing, ranting and raving as he so often does. "How can the politicians not see that by catering to them, they're abandoning their true constituency! And now we're supposed to /trust/ them to protect us from /their own kind/? That's a problem of interests if ever there was one!" If the disgruntled expression on her wrinkled face is any clue, the old woman doesn't entirely agree with what he's gong on (and on and on and on) about.

As the front door opens, Megan is glancing at her watch. She's got a flight back out to Staten to catch — there's more work than ever out there right now. But she needed a shower and to pack some extra clothes to keep out on the island and so she came back this morning to pack a duffel, which resides on her shoulder at the moment, and pick up comfort food on her way back to the hell that Staten has become. "Morning, Mrs. H," she greets the older woman as she steps inside. She's actually dressed today far more like the soldier she's been in the past than the casual jeans- or scrubs-clad nurse who usually pops in — A pair of tan cargo pants, her scuffed, well-worn combat boots, a black tanktop, her hair pulled back out of the way and pinned up. She's quite clearly on her way to roll up her sleeves (metaphorically speaking) to get to hard labor. "You hiding any of those fabulous blueberry muffins back there still, or did the hordes descend and take them all this morning?" she asks.

The door opening and subsequent jangle of bells has Mrs. Hadley's attention returning to the here-and-now. She snaps the radio off with a swift flick of the toggle and turns a smile to Megan. "Hello, dear… look at you, looking so official! One moment and I'll check on the muffins." A bobbled course takes her over to peer into the display from the back. "It looks like the blueberry are gone, but I have a nice lemon-poppyseed? Would that do?"

Megan considers. "Hrm…. cinnamon rolls?" she asks hopefully. "If not, the lemon poppyseed will do," she says with a smile. "I'm in the mood for sweet and icing today, that's all. Sugar rush. Not so much on official business today… but I'm heading back out to the island for a couple of days. I'll make a point to be back on the 4th, though. I haven't forgotten our date!" she says. "There was another fire over there, though, and I want to check up on the people who got burned and stay on hand in case any of their situations go south."

"Cinnamon rolls, those I have," Mrs. Hadley agrees with a sharp nod. She reaches for a bit of wax paper and starts tucking the rolls in question into a cardboard box, conveniently set up and ready nearby. While she's down there, her voice is a tad muffled, face hidden, but the words are easily heard enough. "If I can help at all, you just let me know, dear. And don't you worry about the 4th, if you have more important things to do, you just go right on ahead." Up she pops, holding the box where it can be seen. "Four? So you can share them with the other staff out there too. The other three are a gift, so don't even think about waving it off, either."

Megan starts to do exactly that and then gives in gracefully. "Four is plenty," she replies. "Thanks, Mrs. H." She hesitates and says quietly, "So far I haven't seen anyone hurt badly enough to require your… rather specialized talents, Mrs. H," she smiles. "Besides… I wouldn't take you out to Staten if you tried to pay me. The place is a hellhole. 'Bout as bad as a few Third World countries I've seen lately."

Her smile twists into amused lines when Megan stops herself. Mrs. Hadley bobbles over towards the register, folding the box up neatly as she goes so the handles stick out the top. "No? Well, then bring them here if there's a need. There's no use holding back just because the neighborhood is dangerous, dear. Every neighborhood is dangerous in its own way." Over she leans to start writing out the receipt, as ornate a cursive as a body could hope for, tongue caught between her teeth.

Megan chuckles and leans on the counter, her duffle a comfortable weight over her shoulder. "True enough. I'll keep an eye out, but I don't think it'll be necessary." She looks around the quiet shop and comments, "I do love this time of day in here." There's a quick grin. "No hustle, no bustle, and it always smells delicious."

"As you say." Mrs. Hadley doesn't press. That's just not the way she rolls. Box and receipt are set out with a pleased nod. "It's best in the mornings," she agrees, with a satisfied look 'round the room. "It's even better very early, before the first rush. Everything is fresh then, so if you breathe too deeply you get a little dizzy." Her hand slides along the countertop in a possessive, content sort of pat. "If someone told me I'd be running a bakery, back when I was a little girl? I would have laughed myself silly at them. Oh, but things change so much."

"What did you want to do back then, Mrs. H?" Megan inquires curiously. "Lord knows, I sure haven't landed where I thought I would either," she admits with a faint grin.

Hadley leans forward a little on her elbows, chin settling into her palms. "When I was a little girl? I wanted to get married and have children." The smile she casts at Megan is a wry thing. "It was a different time, dear. Back then, working was for women who couldn't find a husband with a good job to take care of her. My mother, she didn't do anything of the sort until the War."

Megan nods a bit, her expression unsurprised. "War has a way of changing everything, doesn't it?" she comments mildly. "Especially women's roles, hmm?" Her grin is conspiratorial. "When you were older, though… did you have something you wanted to do besides being a wife and mother? Which, by the way, is far harder than the job I do, so far as I'm concerned."

Her smile evens out into a gentler curve. "No, dear. I went into the factory to keep us from the poor house, and it was a good thing too, after my Jimmy lost his leg." Mrs. Hadley reaches over to give Mega's arm a light pat. "If you or your mother ate cereal in the 70's, there's a good chance I helped make sure it had all the right colors in the box!" A giggle escapes at that reminder. She settles back again and explains, "Once Marco had us move up here, I took care of Jimmy again from home, until one day…" The merry mood fades for a moment. "I started working here for Mr. Palansi after the heart attack." A deep breath in, released, and sorrow is set aside, a familiar weight. "The girls fighting for rights back in the day, they shouted all the time about how women were being held back. But truly, wife and mother was all I wanted."

Megan is the one who reaches out today to pat Mrs. Hadley's arm. "It's a noble calling," she tells the woman staunchly. "The girls fighting back in the day… and even the ones fighting today… sometimes forget that they're fighting for the right to choose — and being a wife and mother is a damn hard job and a perfectly valid choice." She smiles, the crushing weight of grief still weighing her down even as she does her level best to just get on with life, at least in the public eye. "Don't think I'm going to make it for myself at this point. But I'm glad to have the options those girls fought so hard for to fall back on, given the way things worked out, you know?" She pats once more and reaches into her duffle to pay for her one cinnamon roll, though the box contains four.

"Hush now, dear. When you're feeling less raw, you just let me know, and I'll find a nice boy for you." Mrs. Hadley nods to agree with herself on that point. "Or a girl, if you like! You're beautiful, and sweet, and brave, and strong, and you'd be a catch for anyone." Cash trades hands and just that easily, the treats are that last 10th Megan's.

Normally she'd stifle her laughter, but sheer raw shock actually makes Megan sputter with giggles. "A nice girl, huh?" she chuckles. "You know, I thought I'd gotten past the ability to be stunned by the things that pop out of your mouth, Mrs. H. And then you say something that just makes me all 'buhhhhhhh….'. A nice girl indeed," she giggles, gathering up her box. "You're a bad, bad woman, Mrs. Hadley. No wonder Mr. Hadley kept you around."

And oh but Mrs. Hadley looks incredibly pleased with herself for that laughter. Her own grin sparks up into place. "You young people, so sure that you invented everything interesting in the last few years," she accuses, though there's more amusement than anything else in her voice. "You take care of yourself out there, dear. Don't do anything so brave you get hurt, hm?"

Megan's chuckles continue, she can't help herself. In addition to Mrs. Hadley comment about girl-on-girl action, now she's also being called a young people. That's kinda nice for a woman looking at the backside of 40 already. "I won't," she promises the other woman, her expression still somewhat flushed with mirth. "I'll be back in a couple of days. Thank you for the cinnamon rolls!"

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