With a deep breath I took that final step, the step that would place me on the train to Lansley, the town that would change my life forever.
See I’m not your average mayor, I’m what some have called a serial mayor. I’m just not the type of guy that sticks to one place. Over the last decade or so I’ve been the mayor of 7 different towns, and every one has been an adventure in it’s own right. I’ve met a lot of great personalities over the years, and I can’t wait to get to Lansley to meet some more.
I had just finished up my most recent stint in a town called Hyrule, which oddly enough was also the name of the second town I was the mayor in, when I saw the recruitment poster for a mayor position in Lansley. Usually I’d wait a few months before taking on another town, resting at home and catching up with my family, but I couldn’t stand to leave a town unguided. That was about an hour ago, and now I’m on my way.
The train ride was nothing exciting. My first few trips I found it a bit eerie how formulaic the train was, but I had grown accustom to it. Rover sits across from me as usual, riding off to who knows where. He’s the only person I know who’s on the train more than I am. He asks me the usual question, I give my usual answers, nothing much to see here.
With a loud whistle the train grinds to a halt, a voice over the loudspeaker announces that we have arrived in Lansley. I grab hold of my bags and stand by the train door, ready to make my triumphant arrival. The townspeople are surely waiting on the other side, and everybody knows first impressions are important. I quickly feel my face to make sure everything is in order, it may sound odd but I’ve had problems with rapid appearance shifting before, so it can’t hurt to be careful. I straighten my back and take a bold step out of the door.
My eyes flutter as they adjust to the light. The town looks nice from what I can see, I scan the horizon and see some oranges growing on a tree. Farther down by the river some juicy looking pears are doing very well.
Wait a second, something is wrong here.
Already suspicious I turn to look at the crowd that sits quietly, waiting for me to acknowledge them. One of the members of the Isabelle family stands there, but she looks a tad more tired and less lively than I’m used to. I’ve never seen an Isabelle with anything but the utmost enthusiasm.
My eyes continued to scan the assembled group. Something was very wrong here. There were not three, not four, but nine villagers standing there, all with wide grins, ready to greet me. This was not the way of the world I’ve been a part of all my life. Towns seeking a mayor have only one fruit growing, and three villagers living there. I don’t know why, but that’s just how it is.
Seeing the nervous look on my face, Isabelle begins to speak up. “Don’t worry! I know that being a mayor is a daunting job, but I’m sure you’ll do fantastic!” It seems sweet on the surface, but there is a hint of doubt to her words.
“Greetings!” I wave to the crowd. “I must admit, there are more of you living here than I was expecting, it looks like you’ve been getting on well for a town with no mayor.” There was an instant reaction to the words that came out of my mouth. Several of the villagers looked awkwardly at the ground, while others stared right through me.
“Yes, yes, things have been just wonderful around here, haha!” Isabelle spoke quickly to break the silence. “Now, you can meet everybody shortly, but let’s find you a spot to place your new home, might I suggest a nice spot by the station?” She handed me a map and signaled for me to lead the way.
I took a look at the map, and sure enough, there were nine houses, everybody in the crowd resided in the town of Lansley. I studied the map closely for the perfect location, I knew what to look for after all these years. While looking at the corner of the town furthest from the station I noticed something odd, there was a section that was slightly whiter than the rest of the map. I scratched at it a little and some paint crumbled off.
“Why don’t we get going? You certainly have a busy day ahead of you!” Isabelle squeaked, I looked over and her face was filled with alarm. I was suspicious to say the least, and decided to head to that far corner of town. Isabelle grew more agitated the closer we got, reminding me that near the station really was the ideal spot for a house. Just as I was about to reach the corner of town, a house entered my vision. It was not a regular house, but a mansion of sorts, far bigger than the houses of the villagers. It always happened to be exactly where the white paint covered up the map.
“May I ask who lives there, and why they aren’t on the map?” I inquired of Isabelle. She looked away and began stalling. “Isabelle, who lives there?” I asked more forcefully.
“Well, I had hoped that we could get you settled into town before we dealt with this can of worms...” She began slowly. I glared at her impatiently, and she continued “You mentioned that the town has thrived for a town with no mayor. That’s because it’s not exactly true that we don’t, or rather that we haven’t had a mayor.”
This was quite the abnormal situation, in my experience towns live and die with the mayor, when the mayor decides their time is up, the rest of the villagers naturally move on. It’s especially strange that the house of an old mayor would remain once they had moved out. “So what’s with all this secrecy? Why do you need a new mayor?”
“After several months of trying times, we came to the decision that Arianne was no longer fit to serve as mayor earlier this week. Nevertheless, she will continue to reside in Lansley until she wishes to leave. I encourage you to leave this whole situation alone, it’s none of your concern, and is mostly resolved anyways.” Isabelle forces a smile. “Now let’s find you a home.”
We do beg your pardon,
we are in your garden.
Despite the unusual circumstances, life was great in Lansley. Tomorrow it will have been 3 weeks since I first arrived, and I’ve already settled in nicely. A wolf named Chief is my closest neighbour and he’s taught me a lot about the village and got me involved in a lot of the town events. I’ve also spent a lot of time with Moe and Rosie, two cats who live down by the town square. I’ve made some great friends here already, and I’m sure I’ll make some more before it’s time to leave.
Of course, there is still the Arianne situation. The first few days I was here I poked around and tried to ask about it, but bringing it up just made everybody drop the conversation awkwardly, so I was forced to let it go for the most part. I’ve seen Isabelle go into the house once or twice, but she’s only in there for a short while and looks happy to leave on her way out.
Anyways, I’m on my way to Rosie’s house, she invited me over for some tea and pastries, which I’ve already learned are the best in town. I wave who’s tending his garden and get a smile and wave in return. Rosie is waiting for me outside of her house and invites me inside. I look around the house as she’s finishing up the tea and setting the table. She has a cozy home, a taste in furniture somewhat similar to my own. I notice a photo frame with room for 6 pictures, and see a label beside it saying “Best friends.”
“Hey Rosie, thanks for a spot in your picture frame, it’s nice to know you consider me such a great friend.” I smile at her. She puts down the last of the croissants and walks over the me and the frame.
“Oh of course! You’ve been so great since you’ve arrived, I can tell we’re going to have a lot of great times ahead of us. Besides, there’s been an empty space ever since..” Rosie quickly stops. There is a long moment of silence before she speaks again. “Anyways, you’ve definitely earned your spot among the greats.” She laughs and I quickly join in to ease the tension.
“Hey, who’s this here?” I point to the first of the pictures, a yellow and white deer. I recognize the others, as they all live in Lansley.
“That’s Lopez, he moved out a few months ago.” Rosie’s mood falls a bit as she begins to speak. “Lopez was one of the first settlers of Lansley, along with Chief and I. He was... amazing. Everybody in town loved him, he’s done more for us than anybody else here by a wide margin. It was his initiative and hard work that brought so many great people here. I miss him a lot, I really do.”
“Surely he could come for a visit? Or you could at least talk to him on the phone or something?” I suggest, trying to brighten her mood. It doesn’t work, her face saddens even more as she shakes her head and replies.
“You’d think so wouldn’t you? When Lopez moved out, he left seemingly out of nowhere. As far as I or anybody else knew he had no intentions of leaving, yet suddenly one morning we woke up and he was gone. He left a note at the town hall saying that he loved Lansley and all of us here, but that it was time to move on, and that was the last anybody heard of Lopez.” She sits down and takes a sip of her tea. I offer her a hug which she takes gratefully.
We drink our tea in silence for a few minutes, reminiscing on memories of the past. A soft melody plays in the background, which really makes the whole place feel so tranquil.
“Do you want to know about Arianne?” Rosie says suddenly. Her voice is quiet and a bit unsure, as if she was debating whether or not to bring it up.”
“Rosie, I appreciate the offer but if it’s not something you want to talk about you don’t have to.”
“We’ve been avoiding the subject for too long, you’re a member of the Lansley community now and you should know. I’ve seen you looking at her house, you do want to know don’t you?” I nod slowly, and she continues with more resolve now.
“Arianne became the mayor of Lansley just a few days after Lopez, Chief, and I first moved in. I said a few minutes ago that Lopez gave more than anybody else to the community, but I was wrong. Arianne was the driving force in the early history of our town. I know you think yourself quite the mayor, and for good reason, so excuse me for saying that Arianne was the best mayor I had ever seen. She was always happy to help, best friends with everybody, and seemed to be good at just about everything. That all continued until just a few months ago, around the time Lopez left.” She stopped for a moment to take a sip of tea and gather her thoughts.
“It seems to me that Arianne might be the only person who knew Lopez planned to leave. Of course if anybody knew it would be her, as she was far closer to him than anybody else. They were almost inseparable, where one went, so did the other. A few days before Lopez left Arianne began to act a bit irritable, she had no patience with anybody. Nobody had seen her like this before, but it was nothing compared to what she became when Lopez left. The first few days after he left were the worst. She wasn’t sad that he left, she was furious. She destroyed the projects they had worked on together and left a trail of rubble throughout the town. We tried to be nice to her, knowing it was a tough time, but she wasn’t having any of it. She bullied us relentlessly, she had become the exact opposite of what we knew her as. We were scared of her, scared of what she might do if we moved against her.” Rosie looked as if she might begin to cry. I held her paw and squeezed. She breathed out slowly.
“This went on for a few weeks, until one morning she never got out of her house. We were thankful at this point, we were past of the point of wanting to help, and just glad to have some relief from her. She didn’t come out that entire day, the next day, or the day after that. Finally she came out the fourth evening and made one last round around town. She knocked on all of our doors, and when we hesitantly opened them she looked us straight in the eyes, and said in a soft voice.” Rosie’s voice became quiet herself. “I’m sorry.”
We do beg your pardon,
we are in your garden.