“And you know what they said next?” Aurora said, laughing. “It’s not just…” She stopped, noticing that Isabella was looking away, down the boardwalk. When Aurora reached out to touch Isabella’s arm, she flinched away. “Sweetie. Is something wrong?”
Isabella kept facing away, saying nothing, but her shoulders were trembling. She shook her head several times, violently.
“Isabella,” Aurora said, her voice shaking. “Please talk to me. Did I say something?” She didn’t know how to react to this. Isabella had never acted like this before. What could Aurora have said or done? She had just been sharing stories from the field, same as always when she got back.
“Fine!” Isabella shouted, pushing herself up from the bench and spinning on her heel. Tears were streaking her face, laced with the deep blue of her favorite mascara. “You want to know? It’s that sometimes, there’s more to life than just you and your Council and your adventures!” She kicked her foot at the ground, sending her sandal flying off into the grass.
“But, I –”
“Let me finish!” Isabella said. “You talk enough all the time. Talk about how wonderful your new ‘job’ is. How amazing all the people are. How you’re getting to do all these great, amazing things and that I’m the only one you can talk to about them because nobody else knows and wouldn’t believe you. Well, you know what? I have a life to!”
“I am not just your listening ear, your comfortable home to come back to, your pretty pair of legs to stick your face between. I have a life! I have things I want, things I need, and just like every person sometimes I don’t get either one. So sometimes I don’t want to hear about your amazing life. Would it kill you to – just once – come home again and ask me what my life has been since you left? What I accomplished? What I dreamt of while you were gone?”
Aurora tried to speak but choked. Her face flushed deeply until she could smell the iron in her nostrils. “I-I thought…” she began. But Isabella had spun around again and was walking up the path.
“No,” Isabella said, quieter now. “I really don’t think you did. Not even once.”