The cool spring wind greeted me the moment I stepped off the train. It was still the early morning and though it was winter last I was here, I had underdressed.
Porter looks surprised to see me but greets me courteously all the same. I wave at him and head out. There’s still time before T&T Mart opens so I’m not exactly in a rush but I really should get a move on.
Almost as soon as I make it to the water fountain in the near the station (a bit of a detour on the way home, I suppose) I’m greeted by someone excitedly calling out, “Mayor! Mayor!”
“Marina, good to see you,” I say as the little octopus rushes up to meet me.
“You too! How was your trip to Luxendarc?” She asks excitedly. At first I’m surprised she knows where I’ve been all this time but I did visit shortly before that trip, just to catch a glimpse of the town in the winter. I sorely regret not even making a snowman.
“It took a long time but I enjoyed every minute of it,” I say after a moment of deliberation. She seems pleased with this reply and decides to let me go, sure that I have lots of important mayor business to attend to. Well, she’s not wrong.
I continue along and come across a few similar encounters. Most townsfolk complain that they haven’t seen me in two months but in the unfortunate case of Peanut, she says that she hasn’t seen me in six months and asks how my trip to Unova was. I guess during my visit before Luxendarc, I missed her. So then aside from that day trip two months ago, it’s been nearly half a year since I properly visited. Yikes.
When I arrive home I find it a mess. Bugs have taken over and it’s a hassle getting rid of them. Mail has overflowed out of my mail box too. Mostly junk though a nice letter here and there from my mom or a former acquaintance. I also find out that Tucker has moved away. I feel a bit guilty but it’s a relief. He was far too loud for me and we were never really on good terms.
My house will require a little more spring cleaning (HEH) but now’s not really the time. I’ve said hi to pretty much everybody this time around so I figure I should go visit the person who has kept everything running in my absence.
I pass through the orchid and pull weeds as I go. I took care of most of them two months ago so I’m not getting yelled at about that, thankfully.
Finally, I come to Town Hall. I try to steady myself before entering. Somehow, this is where I feel most guilty.
As soon as I open the door, I’m greeted with, “Welcome home, mayor.”
Isabelle doesn’t even look up from her stacks of paper. “Aw, here I was hoping to surprise you,” I say as I sheepishly close the door behind me.
“You can’t surprise me, mayor. I’m the eyes and ears of this town!” She teases. I join her at the desk and she scoots over. “I’m happy you’re back and I know you just got back so if you want to rest before tackling this paper work I’ll understand.”
“No, no,” I say, shaking my head, “I’ll start it right away. That’ll give me time to do other things around town.”
She explains what each stack is and that most simply require me to read over and give my signature. I start at it and she leaves my side. Minutes later, I hear the pitter patter of her return to the desk. A warm cup of tea is placed at my side. Such ornate tea cup. Brewster would be proud.
“It’s a shame…” she trails off and I look up from the papers she had placed in front of me. I had brought the cup to my lips but hesitate, awaiting her response. “We didn’t get to celebrate your birthday, mayor.”
A ripple of guilt washes through me. It’s a feeling I’ve become used to since returning here.
Was it such a big deal? It hadn’t felt like it to me. But to my secretary? To the townsfolk? Had they made a cake or presents that remained unwrapped or returned to Nooks?
“Oh… yeah. I’m surprised you remember,” I admit before averting my eyes and returning to the overwhelming amount of paperwork.
“It wasn’t that long ago, mayor,” Isabelle replies. It’s hard to get a sense of emotion from her voice. I don’t get the impression she’s trying to make me feel bad. Is she angry? Is she disappointed? I’ve never been good at being able to tell.
I take a sip of the tea. It’s sweet. Just the way I had always liked it. I’m really stalling for time but I hope she doesn’t notice that.
“The fact that you remembered is enough for me,” I say, hoping in earnest that she’ll believe me. I know how she likes grand events. A belated birthday party is something I want to avoid.
I’m not looking so I can’t gauge her reaction but I hear her scurry away, mumbling under her breath. Was it just my imagination or was she sounding a bit flustered?
“It seems like you really have done a good job in my absence. Maybe it’d be better if you really were the mayor,” I laugh, half-jokingly and half-serious. At least she wouldn’t abandon the town.
Her reply is almost instant. “N-No, I could never. I know… I know we roped you into this. I’ve known for a long time. So I don’t blame you if you have other business to attend but in the time you were here…” she stops and I look up at her again. She seems embarrassed again. “The town I love is the town you helped shape, after all.”
“You’re giving me too much credit,” I say, rising to my feet. Still, her optimism and love for this place is really infectious.
I had organized the papers on my desk by priority. Of course everybody in town thought their problem would be top, it was my job as mayor to make that decision, right? It didn’t take long to sign them though a lot of them required further action. Seeking out and settling disputes, etc.
“It seems I have a lot of work to do. No time to be sitting around here, yeah?” I say, stretching my arms into the air. It doesn’t seem like I’ve been here that long but the paperwork is done, Isabelle is busy with something of her own and my tea is gone.
Isabelle looks at me skeptically. “Are you sure? Work might take some time. Won’t your children need you?” She asks. I can hear it in her tone. Of course she’s loyal to the end but she can’t help but wonder if I’ll abandon them, the townsfolk, again.
I shudder at her mention. “Yeah I wouldn’t worry about that right now. I still have some time before my waifu needs me,” I say, crossing the desk in one big stride.
“Your, what, mayor?”
“Nevermind that. We have a town to run,” I say, throwing the door open. It’s warmed up. Spring really was here. Time for a new start, some would say.
“Mayor. Can I just ask one think?” Isabelle says, her voice testing. I wondered if it was a bad question considering her apprehensiveness but shrugged and motioned for her to continue. “Why did you really return?”
I tip my viking hat so it covers my eyes. The truth huh?
“Well… the princess set is only in stores until May 1st.”