It was another beautiful day on the island. The nights were beginning to get chilly, but the days were still warm and sunny. The ocean was brilliantly blue, and splashes of red and yellow stood out among the leafy green trees. The hills rising above the bay were as picture perfect as a postcard.
No one had seen or heard from the Resident Representative in months. Weeds crept up around the edges of the central plaza and grew in thick clumps along the line where the grass met the sand. Branches that had blown down during the late summer storms still lay where they fell, and the tall stalks of aging lilies overflowed from their beds. Mushrooms were beginning to sprout in the shadows of the fruit orchard, and wasp nests bloomed like honey-colored flowers in the upper branches of the highland cedar trees. Isabelle didn’t like to pry into other people’s business, but she could swear that she’d seen cockroaches scuttling across the floor of the representative’s abandoned house.
With the exception of a certain unscrupulous art dealer, Isabelle admired everyone on the island, but even she had to admit that the representative was a bit strange. There would be days when they didn’t leave the house, while other days were met with a dizzying flurry of activity. Once the representative had been granted a landscaping permit, they began digging enormous pits and laying roads leading to nowhere. One day Isabelle woke up to find a small army of garden gnomes positioned across the island, facing each other as if staging a mock battle. Even this was nothing compared to the time the representative spent all night chopping trees on one of the hills and using bricks to spell a naughty word on the deforested slope, and Isabelle had no desire to know what happened at the parties they hosted in their basement for the guests who flew in from other islands.
“I wouldn’t worry about it,” her boss said as he sipped one of his endless cans of ice coffee. “Humans are odd creatures. They become difficult and unpredictable if they can’t find ways to keep themselves busy. The Nook Mileage program was the least I could do to make the island human-friendly. It took time to set up, but it served its purpose. Humans are good for the economy, and I wanted to give the cubs experience working with them.”
Isabelle did her best to understand. She agreed that it was important to make the island accessible to everyone. All of the islanders benefited from the events she planned to keep the representative happy, after all. Now that the human had been away for so long, however, Isabelle had little motivation to set up fishing tournaments or crafting fairs. She still read out her daily broadcasts and put up birthday notices, and she did her part to help visiting campers feel comfortable, but there was no longer any real reason to stay in the office all day. There would be no more radio broadcast calisthenics, no more watering potted plants, and no more crossword puzzles completed by the light of her desk lamp.
Now that she was able to take afternoons and evenings off, Isabelle hardly spent any time indoors. She took long rambling walks around the island, enjoying the salty breeze while taking pictures of the exotic fall foliage to send to her friends back on the mainland. She collected the seashells that washed up on the beach and even made a few attempts at fishing.
After such a busy spring, the lazy days of summer had been lovely, and the soft onset of fall was just what she needed. It was nice to have a slow season every once in a while. Isabelle understood why her boss had chosen this location despite the initial hardships, and she appreciated being given free run of the small community so that she could make practical use of everything she learned in her previous position. She finally felt ready to take the next step. She was happy to leave her post at Resident Services in the capable paws of Raymond, a fellow office worker whose health and outlook had improved dramatically during his time on the island.
Where would she go next? Perhaps she could take a position abroad, or maybe it was time for her to find her place in the big city. The possibilities felt as endless as the horizon stretching over the waves. No matter where her life led her in the days ahead, Isabelle was comforted by the knowledge that the island would always be here, green and growing and waiting to welcome her back.