As Karen sat on Mothers Hill next to Rick, she was truly happy. She gazed at the beautiful starlit sky, like sparkling diamonds on a black velvet pillow. Rick smiled at her and she smiled back as he shyly reached for her hand. His smile was so warm that even the chilling winter wind could not cool Karen's skin. Finally the Mayor announced it was midnight and all the members of mineral town cheered and embraced.
"Happy New Year!" Rick said warmly. Karen blushed and replied with a peck on Rick's lips. The New Year had finally arrived and Karen was ready for it, or so she thought...
Mineral town was more like a small island than a town, with a population of only about twenty people on the island. It was remote with what many would call a perfect farming climate. Separated from the rest of the world, mineral town was still traditional and pure, untouched by the everyday evils of the real world. They knew little of world affairs and so most were happy with it that way. Karen hated how remote it was, she worked in the general store with her parents selling the townspeople general supplies. Every day she had the same routine unless the store was closed or it was a festival. The only thing that kept her sane was Rick. Although he wasn't tall, dark and handsome or particularly good-looking in any way, he was a good guy. He was caring and loving and best of all he thought Karen was the most wonderful person in the whole world.
It was Spring 1st, Karen woke up and lazily gazed out of the window. The beginning of each season brought dramatic change in the weather and already beautiful yellow flowers had popped up. Suddenly Karen's mother Sasha burst in with a smile on her face.
"Karen, someone new is arriving on the island! Come and meet them!" Sasha exclaimed excitedly. "Someone new?" Karen considered it, probably some old women who had found the city smog too much for her. Still it was more exciting than normal village life. She quickly dressed into her short jean-shorts and white T-shirt with purple jacket. She brushed her hair and teeth and smiled at her reflection in the mirror. She ran downstairs to see Sasha waiting impatiently. The two rushed to mineral beach to get a glance at the new comer. Half the village was there excitedly awaiting the newcomer, Karen spotted an excited Popuri, who had tied up her pink hair.
"Oh my gosh, a new person! Can you believe it Karen?" She asked beaming. She cocked her head seeing Karen frown.
"Sort of, it'll probably just be some old person!" She said calmly. Popuri considered it and smiled anyway. There was a thud as the boat knocked the dock and out stepped a young man. He was tall, dark and handsome with a muscular body, brown hair and a smile that made Karen melt. His delicious chocolate coloured eyes surveyed the people watching him. If he was surprised by fifteen pairs of eyes staring at him in awe, he didn't show it.
"Hi, I'm Jack. I moved here from London to take over my Granddads farm...erm... thank you for welcoming me." He announced. He had a smooth voice that to Karen was the most beautiful thing she'd ever heard. After saying this he walked straight to the farm. Jack, he had the same name as his Grandpa who had passed away two years ago. As Karen walked home she thought about how gorgeous Jack was and whether thinking that was like cheating on Rick.
A few days had passed since Jacks arrival and Karen was daydreaming, as usual, at the general store. Jack walked in and began browsing the seeds.
"Hi, can I help you?" Karen asked smiling dreamily.
"Oh erm... yes please. What seeds would you recommend for spring planting?" He asked looking at the fall seeds.
"Well..." She said pointing to the spring seeds, "I would definitely suggest the cucumber seeds, since they grow all season." She pointed to the packets and he nodded and picked one up.
"I'll take one." He said putting three-hundred gold on the counter.
"Okay, easy big spender." She teased and melted as he smiled.
"Thank you." He said smoothly.
"You're welcome." Karen replied, feeling the warmth from his smile. He picked up his seeds and turned to leave when Karen stopped him.
"Also, take these grass seeds on me, as a sort of welcome-to-the-village gift." She said blushing.
"Really? Thanks a lot." He said grinning and taking the seeds gratefully. Karen nodded and asked him about the farm. They talked for a little while and then Jack asked,
"Karen, erm... I've heard the Goddess festival as Friday. Would you like to go with me?" Karen wanted to say yes but she'd said she would go with Rick. She shook her head and sadly explained about her and Rick. Jack managed a small "oh" and then muttered about having to go. He said goodbye and trudged off sadly. Karen felt bad, but she had promised to go with Rick, besides Rick sort of was her boyfriend.
The eve of the Goddess festival arrived so Karen and Popuri were braiding flowers into their hair as was the custom. Popuri wore a bright bubblegum pink dress that made her look like the cotton candy princess. Karen wore a shimmering silver-purple dress that her mother used to wear to the goddess festival.
"Rick's real excited about going to the dance with you Karen." Popuri said braiding a blue flower into Karen's hair. Karen forced a weak smile, she should be happy, she loved Rick.
"I wish Kai were here. I don't have a dance partner." Popuri said pouting.
"Why didn't you ask Jack?" Karen asked. If she couldn't go with Jack he should at least get to go with Popuri.
"Nah, he's nice and all, but he just can't replace Kai." She said dreamily. Karen nodded and smiled. She found it sweet how devoted Popuri was to Kai.
When they arrived at the square Karen spotted Rick. The square was decorated beautifully. The ordinary red-pink bricks were covered with the pretty yellow flowers that grew in spring. Strings of flowers joined the lampposts and fairy lights were dotted about. Karen walked over to Rick and gently tapped him on the shoulder.
"Heya." Karen said happily. Rick grinned and gazed at Karen, her beauty astounded him.
"You look...wow. I'm the luckiest guy on earth!" Rick said sweetly. Karen's emerald eyes shone in the flames of the fairy lights as she smiled.
The dancing began and Karen and Rick prepared to dance the night away. But Popuri sat on the sidelines looking distraught and Rick's brotherly instincts kicked in.
"Karen..." Rick began. Karen knew what he was thinking, she sighed and nodded. She watched as Rick pulled Popuri onto the dance floor. She walked over to a bench and sighed again, "every year" she thought. Jack walked over and sat down next to her, he flashed her a perfect smile in an attempt to make her feel better.
"Would you care to dance?" Jack asked in a charming tone of voice holding his hand out to her. Karen glanced at Rick and watched him twirl Popuri.
"Sure." She said and took his hand. They danced gracefully and Karen felt like she was floating. Jack twirled her, he was an excellent dancer, just like princes out of story books. But Karen knew this was reality and Jack was not supposed to sweep her off her feet, after all, she had Rick.
When the evening was over Karen walked home feeling light and fuzzy. She had had a wonderful evening and Jack had been...perfect. She felt a little bit confused though, she was beginning to have feelings for Jack. She sighed, "What happens, happens." She thought. The next morning she met Rick on the bench next to the store as usual. She was silent and Rick looked at his feet the whole time.
"I'm sorry I didn't dance with you Karen." He said timidly.
"No problem." Karen said shortly, she tried to sound uncaring, knowing that would get to Rick the most. Rick talked for ages about his chickens and Karen daydreamed about Jack. There was only so much you could listen to about chickens.
"Oh, I'd better go." Karen said glancing at her watch. Rick looked disappointed but nodded and stood up. They said goodbye and Karen entered the shop.
"Put it on my tab." Duke said to Jeff as Karen walked in the door. Jeff sighed and reluctantly noted down the price. Karen glared at Duke.
"I think you should pay us for once, Duke." Karen said defiantly.
"I'll pay you after the wine harvest, little lady." Duke said grinning slyly. Karen scowled at being called little lady.
"You said that last year and the year before, but you never did!" Jeff pointed out shyly. Karen nodded and stared daggers at Duke. Suddenly Jack entered humming a happy tune then stopped abruptly. He then looked as though he wished he hadn't.
"What's...up guys?" He asked trying to sound cheerful. Karen explained the situation angrily.
"So do you think Duke should pay us?" Karen asked sweetly batting her eyelashes. Jack looked hesitantly around the room, a huge dilemma was flashing through his mind. But one look at Karen told him what he had to do.
"Duke you should pay off your tab. If not now, then definitely after the harvest." He said looking at Karen for approval. Duke huffed and grabbed the cigarettes and bread he had brought and stormed out flashing Jack an angry glare.
"Thank you Jack..." Karen said. Jack smiled sheepishly and reddened a little.
"Well...umm... bye." Jack said and turned to leave.
"Wait, what did you come in for?" She asked, hoping desperately for him to stay.
"I...umm...oh yeah, bread." Jack said thinking deeply. He brought the bread and flashed Karen a smile. Karen blushed and dreamily watched him leave. Jeff coughed. His cough sounded oddly like "Rick" and Karen scowled at him.
"Shut up." She snapped and stormed up to her room.
After a week of Karen avoiding him Rick decided to visit Karen while she was at the Goddess pond.
"Hey Kar!" He said happily. Karen nodded, showing she noted his presence.
"Have you been avoiding me? You haven't visited me." Rick asked accusingly. Karen ignored him and stared into the waterfall.
"Kar..." He said weakly. Karen turned and looked sadly at Rick. She gazed at him with puppy-dog eyes.
"Why would I avoid you Ricky, I love you." Karen said sweetly. Rick smiled shyly and pecked her on the cheek. "Sweet, gullible Rick." Karen thought. Rick left and Karen stared into the bubbling waters of the Goddess pond. She kneeled in front f the pond and stared into its waters.
"Oh Goddess, what am I doing. I can't have them both and I can't keep hurting them. I love Rick so much but Jack... I can't stop thinking about him. I'm so sorry, please help." She begged the waters of the pond. The water continued to babble and the birds sang happily so she headed home, "Stupid useless Goddess." She thought.
The month of spring saw the winning of the horse race for Jack and Karen eating a celebration dinner alone with him. It saw the cooking festival and Karen losing as usual with a concoction of burnt fish, jam and something brown and fuzzy that had been in her fridge for god knows how long. Karen had still been unable to choose between her childhood friend and love or the charming and handsome farmer. She knew she couldn't tell Popuri about her colliding feelings, but she couldn't keep them bottled up either. So she decided to talk to her rough, tough tomboy best friend Ann. Although very unladylike, Ann was great at giving advice.
Karen entered the inn. It was empty as usual for 2 o'clock in the afternoon. Ann greeted her, in her usual blue overalls.
"Ann, I need your advice." Karen admitted taking a seat at one of the oak tables. Ann nodded in understanding and went behind the counter to get them some drinks.
"We'll need alcohol." Ann said picking out some cider.
"...Or we could have coffee..." Ann said, a devious smile on her face.
"...and make it Irish!" They said together grinning. Ann put the kettle on and searched for the right drink. She poured some orangish liquid into a cup with some coffee beans followed by hot water. Karen took a long sip, like nectar to her mouth.
"So spill, what's up?" Ann asked.
"Boy troubles." Karen said grimly. Ann gasped and sat intently waiting for details. After an hour of uninterrupted explaining, Ann began to think silently.
"Jacks a really great guy, if I didn't know he liked you I might have gone for him. However, Rick is crazy about you and has loved you for years and can you imagine the scandal if you dumped him?" Ann said, pausing for effect.
"So..." Karen prompted.
"So I can only give you one piece of useless advice...follow your heart."
"Follow my heart huh? That's corny Ann. But it's all I've got so thanks Ann." Karen said, she finished her coffee and left...to follow her heart. Still unable to decide between the farmer and the chicken boy.