"Are you OK?" Finally, at lunch Kaori reached Ellie.
"Why? Why are you asking me that question?" Ellie's words were dull. She was usually full of enthusiasm, especially about the children at school, even the weather, but not today.
"You, didn't return my text." Kaori told her she was worried. "Has anything happened?"
"Oh, I dunno." Naturally, Ellie kept her guessing. "That guy I used to talk too, from New York City... is here."
"What? Seriously?" Suddenly, it felt as if Ellie was an instant celebrity. Kaori never quite believed Ellie when she talked about him. "Send me a picture."
"A picture?" Now Ellie was ready to get in a row. "I don't know why he'd come all this way."
"It must be LOVE. It must be." Kaori shouted in her phone before she realized her students might notice, even if they were out to the playground. "Are you, going to talk to him?"
"Um, we've talked." She didn't sound too excited. "I mean, we should talk more. I guess, so."
"What's wrong with you, Ellie?" Kaori's brow furrowed. She knew when Ellie wasn't herself. "You've been eating too much ramen."
"I'm fine." Ellie promised.
"When the snow melts, promise you'll come see us?" She knew this was no time to beg J to bring her to the city. There was lots of work to do with the farmers. And it felt like this job of his was more policing than she ever imagined. She didn't know exactly what he did, but it was certainly a civil job.
"I want too."
"You could bring Nico." Kaori found herself saying.
"Oh, he..he's got the shop to run." Ellie sounded as if she wasn't that close to him.
"Don't run off with the New Yorker." Kaori reminded her to send her a picture of him.