I’m driving, testing out my new car. It drives easily, a welcome change from the constant sputtering and coughing of the last one. The steering is smooth and the windows quick to move when controlled.
A flash of blue catches my eye, standing out electrically against the overcast gray sky and white building nearby. The figure waves cheerily, darting across the empty street, and raps on my window.
She looks at the sky, mock-surprised (at least, I think she’s mimicking surprise. I can never quite tell) and gestures to the passenger seat. Reluctant to turn away someone who claims to be my landlady, I give the thumbs-up and she brightens even more, already halfway in front of the car.
Her door slams shut smoothly, and even with my eyes on the road I can see the bright smile.
Penelope: Oh, this is so exciting, dear! A new car – I must say I’m pleased. I was none too happy about the old clunky thing you were driving around.
Me: And… how well do you know the car I was driving?
Penelope: Well, I don’t like to sound like a nosy sort, but I pass by the property occasionally. Check in, make sure the exterior’s all up to scratch. I couldn’t help but notice the car, it was such an old model…
Me: Would this be the property you allegedly own? As my landlords?
She beams back at me before gesturing to the traffic light.
Penelope: Exactly, that’s exactly the one. Thanks for driving me, by the way. I’m not going far – just up left at the next intersection, but in this weather… Didn’t like to leave it to chance. She taps the cake box on her lap.
Me: Did I really have much choice in it? You happened to be right where I was driving, I find it all a bit strange.
Penelope: Oh, yes of course you had the choice. I’ve always thought you to be a rather kind sort of person. Not the sort who would strand someone in the rain – eyes on the road, please, dear.
Me: And you’re behaving kind of like the driver. Since you got in this car, you’ve changed the music, put your foot down as if speeding up or slowing down, and now you’re monitoring the traffic behind us in the rearview.
Penelope: Yes, well, there are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew.
Me: What does that even mean?
She indicates a tall, bland-looking building.
Penelope: Pull in here, if you please.
I have barely parked before she’s out of the car, barreling indoors and leaving the cake box on the passenger seat.