Within a couple of days after Austen proposed to Aurora, the couple found a ride that would take them all the way down to Willow Creek…
Austen: “Are you ready?”
Aurora: “Hell no. I’m scared as fuck.”
Austen: “There’s nothing to be scared of. They are your parents, they love you.”
Aurora: “You’re a pretty decent liar. What about your parents? Are they still going to love you?”
Austen: “Eh… Mom is going to be pissed for a while, but it’s not like she didn’t know this was coming. It’s not goodbye forever. We’ll see them soon enough, but enough stalling.”
Aurora nodded and Austen took the baby. He moved off to the side and placed Emi back in her pram. There was no need to startle Aurora’s parents this early.
Aurora took a deep breath.
Austen: “You got this.”
Aurora: “Easy for you to say.”
Austen: “Fair point. Okay, I’m gone. Shout when you’re ready.”
Austen disappeared from sight and Aurora knocked on the door. It was a weak knock. She wasn’t even sure at first if her parents had heard it.
It was her father that came to the door. She’d recognize him anywhere. She swore he looked a little older than the last time she had seen him. Guilt gnawed at her stomach.
She watched as he turned and looked out through the window to see who it was. His expression was a myriad of different emotions. Mostly shock.
She could see his lips move. Pronouncing every syllable of her name.
She could hear her parents scrambling inside. Even through the heavy doors. Tiny muffled yells as her father called out to her mother.
Her mother’s footsteps were heavy thumps on the slate tile as her father pulled open the door.
Her father called out to her as if he was seeing a ghost, “Aurora…”
Aurora: “Hi Daddy…”
Aurora didn’t expect her voice to be so tiny. So shaky.
Her father wrapped his arms around her. He was still as big as a grizzly bear and Aurora felt like a child in his grasp.
Her father ushered her inside into her mother’s waiting arms. Aurora felt the jagged breathing cause her mother’s chest to rise and fall erratically as her mother struggled to keep herself together.
Izzy: “I missed you so much, Sweetheart. We thought we had lost you for good.”
Aurora’s breath hitched in her throat.
Aurora: “I’m sorry, Mommy.”
That was when the warm and fuzzies were over and done with. Aurora’s mother pushed her to an arm’s length away and pointed a finger in her general direction.
Izzy: “If you are so damn sorry, why the hell didn’t you come home sooner?! Does it mean nothing that we thought you were dead???”
Aurora’s temper had come from some place and it was definitely from her mother’s side.
Izzy: “I’d ask what you were thinking, but it’s VERY obvious you don’t think! Running off to North City during winter was stupid and reckless!!!”
Izzy: “Do you know how much time your father spent scouring that frozen hellhole looking for you?!”
Aurora: “You looked for me?”
Her father stepped in, before her mother’s tidal wave of anger could wash over her again.
Dorian: “Izzy, give her some wiggle room to talk. She did come home after all.”
Izzy: “After nearly a year! A year doing who knows what!”
Outside, Austen could vaguely hear the argument. He chuckled to himself. Oh, Aurora was so doomed.
The tiny remains of Aurora’s short fuse burnt down to embers and she exploded with anger of her own. She probably didn’t have any right to be angry. For once in her life, she had to admit that her parents were right. Leaving was a stupid decision and she didn’t think things through, but she was here to make things right. God damn it.
Aurora: “Mom! Fucking stop! Give me a chance to fucking breathe here! I know you’re pissed!”
Izzy: “I don’t care how long it’s been! You will not use that language with us!”
Aurora: “Ugh! Is that really important right now?!”
Izzy: “Maybe it is! But why should I give you a chance? So that way you can make up more stupid excuses to justify your bullshit?”
Izzy: “No. I’m not letting her off without an explanation of how could she do this to us?”
Aurora: “You know what? There’s no explanation! I was sick and tired of being treated like a baby and I wanted to finally experience life for a while.”
Izzy: “That’s it? That’s why you threw away your family?”
Aurora: “Yeah. Pretty fucking stupid… but I can’t change what I did! I’m a fucking moron. Happy? Can we move past all this shit…”
Aurora’s voice started to crack. Her anger was fading fast, replaced by guilt and sadness. She mouthed the word please.
Dorian: “You’re not a moron… you’re our daughter and we love you. You made a mistake and I’m sure you’ve paid for it… We’ll discuss this more later, but know that we love you and have missed you more than you’ll ever know.”
Her father pulled her and her mother into a hug. It felt nice.
Aurora knew without a shadow of a doubt that her mother was going to verbally ream her for running away more in the future, but it felt nice to just be in her parent’s arms.
Dorian: “Now, what happened?”
Aurora: “Uh… it’s a long story.”
Her mother started to sniffle.
Izzy: “We went to North City as soon as the ice melted, but we couldn’t find you. No one had ever heard of you.”
Her mother’s sniffles turned to sobs.
Aurora: “Mom… I’m sorry.”
Her mother wailed.
Izzy: “We thought you were dead! Everyone told us to stop looking!”
Aurora: “Oh Mom, I’m so sorry… I never made it to the city. I got stuck in a little town called Brindleton Bay.”
Dorian: “That sounds familiar.”
Her mother wept until Aurora wrapped her arms around her.
Aurora: “It’s okay, I’m here now. I missed you all so much.”
Dorian: “Now I remember. Isn’t that where your ancestor was born?”
Izzy: “Great Grandfather Andres? I think so, but now’s not really the time.”
Aurora thought to herself: If the history lesson takes the heat off me, it’s a perfect time.
Izzy: “What on Earth did you do in Brindleton Bay for a year?”
Cue the extensional crisis.
Aurora: “Um well…”
She looked over at her father for help. He wasn’t any help.
Aurora avoided her mother’s eyes.
Aurora: “Well… it’s not so much of a question as to What I was doing… it’s more of a Who…”
Aurora opened the door and yelled out.
Aurora: “There as ready as they are ever gonna be!”
Austen emerged from around the corner holding Emily and Aurora joined them.
Her parent’s reactions said it all…
Izzy: “Oh good Lord.”
Aurora: “Mom, Dad… Meet my fiance, Austen, and my daughter… your granddaughter, Emily.”
Austen thought to himself, “Shit, her father is massive. He’s going to murder me.”