With their home rebuilt, life continued on rather splendidly. Luisa was able to relax more, Dolores got the man of her dreams, and Bruno was back with their family.
But of course, not all had been resolved, but then again, this particular thing was kind of Isabela’s own fault.
She never told anyone what was going through her head. She never told them how wrong the idea of marrying a man felt to her; the idea of marrying anyone.
Isabela loved her family, she loved people, but the idea of marrying someone and kissing them and having babies? Isabela wanted no part of it.
But she couldn’t tell anyone that. Not when it was expected of her to marry someone.
Dolores marrying Mariano bought her time, but two months later Abuela was talking about potential partners for her again.
Much like last time, the entire family was sitting around the table discussing the options, figuring out who would be the best suitor for her, never even asking once if she even wanted marriage.
Then again, why wouldn’t she? She was a grown woman, isn’t this what all girls dreamed of?
But after going through this process once, and having to go through it again after realizing just how much happier she was when she just did what she wanted…
She couldn’t stand it anymore.
Slamming her hands on the table, Isabela stood up angrily as cacti grew out around the table. “ENOUGH!” She exclaimed, startling her family members. “NO MORE OPTIONS. NO MORE MEN. NO MORE MARRIAGE!”
“Isabela?” Abuela gasped, eyes wide with concern and disbelief.
Breathing heavily, Isabela looked around the table almost desperately. “Luisa is of age, why can’t SHE get married!? Why can’t SHE have the children? WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE ME!?”
“Isabela, please-“ Pepa started, eyes wide as wind begin to pick up inside, a sign of her stress. “Calm down!”
Mirabel placed a hand on her shoulder with worry. “Isabela…let’s talk about this, do you not like the choices?”
“UGH IT’S NOT ABOUT THAT!” Isabela groaned, looking at them in frustration. “Why is it so wrong that I just don’t want to be with someone? Why is it so wrong that I don’t want to have sex!?”
Camilo, Felix, Agustin and Bruno flushed red with embarrassment as the girls looked appalled at her outburst. Antonio just looked confused.
Finally, letting out a huff, Isabela stormed off to her room, leaving a trail of cacti behind her.
Mirabel hesitantly entered Isabela’s room, noticing how much more flooded it was with plants. No longer did the room hold roses, instead nearly every spot had some sort of spike or exotic plant, it was difficult to walk through without catching your clothes on something, but Mirabel had a feeling Isabela preferred it like that.
She always did treasure what little privacy she could get, it’s only recently that Mirabel understands why.
“Isabela?” She called softly.
Vines wrapped around Mirabel’s ankles to keep her from going forward. Mirabel frowned and looked around the room, trying to see through all of the giant plants. Finally, she spotted a sort of cave made out of vines and cacti.
“Come on Isabela, talk to me.” Mirabel pleaded. “You know it helps to talk.” She tried to fight against the vines.
Slowly, their grip weakened and Mirabel rushed forward before Isabela could change her mind. She managed to get through the spikey plants, only getting a couple tears in her skirt. She found Isabela curled up hugging her knees in the plant cave, surrounded by cactus and sundew.
Mirabel hesitantly sat down nearby. “…Isabela?”
Weakly, Isabela spoke up. “How did you do it? Mirabel?”
“Huh?” Mirabel tilted her head.
Isabela looked at her, tears welled up in her eyes. “How did you spend…your whole life, feeling like you were wrong.”
Mirabel’s eyes widened.
Sniffling softly, she continued. “The family punished you, treated you like you were worthless because you weren’t given a gift, as if you had any control over it. Bruno left because everybody blamed him, for things he couldn’t help…it’s so unfair.”
Mirabel could only stare at her older sister helplessly.
Tearfully, Isabela looked at her, hiccupping. “But what about me!? My whole life, I’ve been adored but…but nobodies even seen me! All they went is perfect Isabela, grow roses Isabela, decide her entire future and she won’t complain Isabela! WELL I’M DONE WITH IT!”
The cacti grew larger, and Mirabel winced as one scratched her arm. Carefully, Mirabel rested a hand on Isabela’s arm. “I just don’t understand…I thought you wanted to get married…”
“I never wanted marriage, I never wanted love!” Isabela exclaimed. “Not like that. The idea of somebody touching me so personally…kissing me…conceiving…” Isabela shuttered uncontrollably. “It disgusts me!”
Mirabel’s eyes widened in shock. Even she fantasized about marrying someone someday, whether it was expected or not.
“I don’t expect you to understand.” Isabela told her sadly. “I just…I don’t know how to not be perfect. I’ve spent my whole life going against everything I feel in order to please others, but you showed me freedom Mirabel.” She looked at her pleadingly. “You showed me what it means to go against the path. To fight for what you want.”
Mirabel felt her heart warm. “Isabela…”
“But how can I fight? When fighting for what I want means disappointing the family and failing to do my part?” She whimpered.
Mirabel bit her lip, looking down for a moment. “…Isabela, when we rebuilt the casita, we left our old ways behind. Luisa relaxes, Dolores takes what she wants, and Abuela realized her families well being was more important than the miracle.”
Gently, Mirabel took Isabela’s face in her hands and used her thumbs to wipe away her tears, smiling softly.
“You don’t have to be perfect anymore, Isabela. You can stop now. You can be who you are, and even if the entire family hated you over it…”
Isabela’s eyes widened as Mirabel pulled her into a hug, not caring if she got poked by the cactus.
“No matter what, I will love you always.” Mirabel assured her.
Isabela sobbed hard against her, hugging her back tightly as more plants continued to grow around them.
Even if nobody else could understand, Mirabel would. And Mirabel would love her.
Maybe that’s all Isabela needed anyways.