(A/N) - Wow... it's been a LONG time since I've submitted anything to this site. I'm sure a lot of you may have forgotten me, or some of you don't even know me, but... well, I'm back and writing again. Let's hope I can actually STAY here.


CHAPTER 1

As everybody stood outside the church on New Years Eve, I could only glance back at all the memories. It'd only been three years on the farm, and yet I'd got myself a fabulous boyfriend, Rick, a gorgeous house, three lovely chickens, Bach, Chopin, and Tchaikovsky, one loving dog, Scout, and a beautiful prize-winning horse, Trotter. Holding Rick's hand, I glanced at him lovingly. He was the greatest thing to ever happen to me, so loving and faithful. I couldn't imagine life without him.

Ever since the very first day that I'd come here, I figured romance would be one of the main paths in my life. Skidding my shoes across the cold pavement, the tiny Sakura flowers gracefully flying past my fair complexion, something had told me that good fortune was headed my way. Maybe it was the fact that, when I'd dropped a flower into her sacred pond, the Goddess said good luck would arrive, but nothing said love more than a quick trip to the Poultry Farm. That was when I'd first bought Bach, and it was also the very first time I'd met Rick.

"Rick!" Lillia's frail voice had squawked, "Our young farmer here wants to buy a chicken. Be a dear and go get one from the barn!" She let out a hack.

Moments later, I heard footsteps from above. Stumbling down the stairs, Rick tripped on the very last step and fell on his face. He got up and brushed off some dust on his knees and looked up at me, then Lillia, then reddened.

"S-sor, sorry about that," he stuttered. "I'm going to... just go get the, um, chicken now." Obviously embarrassed that he had tripped in front of a complete stranger, he darted out of the door, then returned moments later with a bag of chicken feed.

"Cluck... err, chicken's in the barn. Here's... here you go," he mumbled. He handed me the feed, then resumed his clumsy walking up the stairs. Lillia tittered, covering her fragile mouth with her hand.

"Oh, my Rick," she said. "He just can't talk to strangers." She coughed. "Please take care, and good luck on the farm!" I waved to her and made my way back to my own farm, taking the chicken with me. I named him Bach due to my obsession with classical music. After I started developing a crush on Rick (this was in mid-Summer) I had later found out that he, too, enjoyed listening to classical music, and after he told me that his favorite composer was Chopin, that was what I named my next chicken. I named my final chicken, Tchaikovsky, after my favorite composer.

I felt a gentle squeeze and tug on my hand and, drawing myself away from my favorite fantasy, looked over at him. He smiled, looked me in the eyes, and kissed me lightly, cupping my face in his hands.

"It's been a wonderful year, hasn't it, Claire?"

"Yeah," I replied, "I can only imagine how great next year will be." He kissed me again.

"I'm sure it'll be very eventful." I was sure it would be too.

The doors to the church opened, and everybody scattered in. People began chatting, children began running, and guardians were scolding. Rick and I walked over to the rows of seats and sat down. He hugged me tightly, tickling my back and a rush of joy spread throughout me.

"I'm gonna go and get myself a glass of punch," he whispered in my ear, releasing me from his arms. I smiled at him and waved, watching him go. He shot the breeze with many people, but there seemed to be one girl who particularly caught my interest. She had long brown hair, and I almost mistook her for Elli until she turned around. It was Karen, the girl who worked at the supermarket. I'd never actually talked with her, but I had purchased a few items here and there from the store. Arm in arm, she and Rick walked towards me. I smiled weakly.

"Hey, Claire, I want you to meet my best friend, Karen," Rick exclaimed, releasing his arm from hers. "I've told her so much about you that I think her head's going to explode."

"Hi," she said meekly, slightly laughing, shaking my hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you."

"Pleasure meeting you too," I said back. "So, how long have you two known each other?"

"Ever since we were children," Karen replied immediately. "He and I used to make mud pies together and I'd try to get him to eat them." She let out a giggle. "Those were the good days." Rick joined in on the laughter.

"Yeah... remember the time that we made those paper boats that one night and we had a sailing contest to see who could win?"

"I remember that! You always lost!" Laughter resumed. I was sitting there, confused, and, quite frankly, I had no idea what was going on. Soon, their laughter simmered down and Rick let out a long sigh of relief.

"Well, anyway," he started, wiping a tear from his eye, "I just thought it'd be nice to get you two acquainted, y'know, having my two favorite gals getting along." Wait, I thought, did he just say that we were his two favorite gals? Meaning... Karen was his second favorite gal?

"It certainly was nice getting to know you, Claire," Karen said, smiling. "I think I'd better get back to my family before my mom starts to yell at me. Bye!" And with that, she was gone.

"What'd you think of Karen?" Rick asked me as soon as she'd gone.

"Her? Oh, yeah, she's... really nice," I mumbled. "Kinda pretty too."

"Yeah, she is. Her mom was always portrayed as Mineral Town's second goddess. Karen definitely gets her looks from her mom."

I glared a bit. "Well, what about me? Aren't I pretty?" As much as I hate to say it, I hate it when he talks about other girls being pretty.

"Of course you're pretty. You're the most beautiful girl ever, Claire." I smirked mildly. Typical response.

Nothing more was said between us. A few minutes later, Pastor Carter appeared from the confessional room and stood at the podium in front of us.

"Welcome, fellow villagers. I'm so glad you could join us at this frivolous moment. Has everybody had a great year?" Murmurs of agreement spread across the room. A few others mumbled quite unpleasant things.

"Good, good. Now, if you'll check your watches, we have about two minutes to the New Year. Thus, we'd like to invite Karen Greene up to the stage!" Pastor Carter motioned her forward. "She'll be singing a song she has been working on for the past few months now." As Karen stood up at the stage, I could only imagine what it would be like to sing in front of so many people. She looked so cool and confident, a smile to start out the song. Maria, the librarian in the village, rushed to the piano and started to pound in some chords as an introductory to the music.

Karen took a big breath and released her inner song. At first, it seemed as though a chorus of angels was flying above the church, haunting our souls, but of course, it was Karen's voice. She was definitely a stellar performance. Not only that, but the song was well planned out as well. The whole room looked as though they'd been hypnotised, Karen's voice being the soothing pendulum and the audience as the eye-popping, open-mouthed hypnotists. It was a wonderful minute-and-a-half performance, to say the least, and when Karen finished her song, the audience roared with applause and gave her a standing ovation. Rick followed the rest of the audience, and finally, everybody convinced me to stand. With tears in her eyes, Karen bowed graciously then departed from the stage. Pastor Carter walked back on.

"Wasn't that an amazing performance?" He announced. More applause arose from the audience. Rick was clapping wildly. It took a few seconds for the audience to simmer down.

"Now, to officially end New Years Eve, let us begin the countdown!"

Everybody started out with the usual chant. I didn't count, but I let my mind wander. "Ten..." Ten more seconds till the New Year. I can't believe it's going to be my fourth year on the farm. I hope it'll be a good one.

"Nine..." Gosh, Karen's voice was beautiful. She sang like an angel. Why am I thinking about this?

"Eight..." I sure wish I could sing like she can. I would do just about anything for that talent.

"Seven..." Rick sure seemed excited to see and hear his best friend up there. He seemed proud of her.

"Six..." No wonder they're best friends. I wouldn't mind being friends with somebody who has all that talent.

"Five..." I wonder if Rick thinks I'm talented. Does he think I have the ability to do these sorts of things?

"Four..." Does he even think I'm all that pretty, or is he just saying that to make me feel better about myself?

"Three..." Do I even think I'm that pretty, or that talented?

"Two..." I want to learn how to sing like Karen does.

"One..." One second until the New Year.

On the very last second, a bell chimed loudly in the air. Once again, a cheer rang through the church. So many thoughts were running through my head.

This was going to be an eventful year indeed.