Austen finished up repairing the sink and headed into the living area…
Emily was asleep again. Aurora looked at him with a strained expression. Her smile was fake and there was something strange in her eyes.
Austen wasn’t surprised given the conversation she had just had with his mother. He kept up his poker face.
Austen: “You ready?”
Aurora: “… Yeah.”
A short walk later they were at the dingy excuse for a bar on the bay…
Austen forced himself to smile as Aurora laughed at a neighbor dancing to a song twenty years too old to be danced to.
Aurora: “I can’t believe you’ve never brought me here before.”
Austen: “It was closed for the winter.”
They moved inside…
Austen: “So now you’ve seen all that Brindleton Bay has to offer… What do you think?”
Aurora: “I think you’re the only good thing in this hick town.”
Austen: “The only thing?”
Aurora: “The only thing. Emi doesn’t count.”
Austen was never good at social interactions. He had no idea how to broach the subject, but he had to clear the air before he did what he came here to do.
Austen: “I take it you’re pissed at my family?”
Aurora: “God yes! I can’t wait to get home!”
Austen looked over as Aurora rung her hands out in the air.
Aurora: “I like your parents, but– UGH!”
Austen: “So have you made a decision?”
Aurora snapped her head over towards Austen.
He watched the flare of anger in her eyes as the twitch of the corners of her lips as she dipped further into a frown.
Aurora: “You heard, didn’t you?”
Austen shrugged. He didn’t want to let her know how much he knew, but he didn’t want to push her.
Austen: “I just heard you start to freak. What happened?”
Aurora: “I… uh…”
Aurora ran her hands through her hair and tugged at the strands in frustration.
Aurora: “Fucking hell, I’m trying to explain, but give me a minute.”
Aurora: “Your Mom- shit… Where the fuck am I going with this? Where do you see us in a couple years?”
Austen watched her in disbelief. For real: Where the fuck was she going with this?
Was she just going to bottle up the whole conversation? Seriously?
Austen: “What do you mean?”
Aurora: “I mean- I don’t know. Like…”
Austen pulled Aurora closer. He could tell she was struggling to keep it together. Why was she so damned stubborn? She could just let him in and then they could work through this together.
Austen: “I see us being us. You, me, and Emi. Maybe a second kid if you’re up for it.”
Aurora: “Oh? I might be…”
Austen: “Or did you mean job wise?”
Austen: “I want to try making it as a musician. If I can’t, I’ll get a normal job, but I’m going to give it my all.”
Aurora smiled faintly.
Aurora: “Sounds like you have it all planned out. I’ve got to pee, so I’ll be right back.”
Austen let out a deep sigh as Aurora walked away. His heart was heavy in his chest.
Austen looked down at the weathered worn out table. He had come here for a reason. There was a question he was meaning to ask and he was finally in a position to ask.
He was done with school shit and Emi was old enough to travel. So it was now or never. He just hoped that it wasn’t too late. That his mother’s selfish offer hadn’t poisoned Aurora’s mind or heart.
Aurora returned from emptying her walnut sized bladder and Austen met her as she walked back to the bench.
Austen: “Feeling better?”
Aurora: “After going pee? Yeah, I guess.”
Austen: “I meant after us talking earlier.”
Aurora: “Oh that. Yeah, I’m good.”
Austen: “Good. I want you to know, I’m sticking around and that no matter what shit rolls down, we’re a family.”
Aurora: “A family, huh?”
Austen: “The three of us. So I got something to say…”
Aurora looked strained and confused.
Aurora: “Are you going to give me a fucking speech or something? What’s with the weird pose?”
Austen: “I’m composing myself.”
Aurora: “Well you look stupid doing it.”
Austen: “Shut up for a minute.”
Austen got down on one knee and pulled out the ring from his pocket. It was a ring passed down from his family a few times now and it was about to be passed on again. If she said yes, that was.
Austen: “I told you I’d ask you sooner or later properly… Will you marry me?”
Aurora: “Yes. Of course I will.”
She slid the ring onto her finger and looked at it. Her eyes met Austen’s for a second.
Aurora: “It’s beautiful.”
She jumped into his arms as soon as he stood up. Cause it’s the cutest animation ever.
Aurora parted her lips. Her words gone.
Austen: “Tell me what’s on your mind.”
Aurora: “I want to go home immediately. You, me, Emi. I want to see my family and as scary as it is… I want them to meet you two.”
Austen smiled, even though he knew Aurora wouldn’t know why. She wanted to run away again, but this time from his family. He knew this was how she planned on dealing with his mother’s offer. Aurora would leave before Mila could lay more of a claim to their child. It was a brash, maybe cowardly way to do it… but if it meant that Austen got to keep his little family, he was fine with it.
He kissed her neck until he left a mark. She giggled in joy.
Austen: “We’ll pack up tonight and leave tomorrow. Mom’s going to be pissed, but fuck her. She’ll just have to deal. She knew this was coming.”
Aurora wrapped her arms around Austen.
Aurora: “Thank you.”