From The Author: This story is based on the opening scenes to Harvest Moon: More Friends Of Mineral Town. You may have noticed that I called it a MoFo one-shot. That is because I refuse to acknowledge MFoMT as the correct acronym for this game. The contraction "MoFo" comes from the letters More Friends Of... I urge everyone to stand up against the status quo and recognize MoFo as the official acronym for More Friends Of Mineral Town. Join the MoFo revolution! Thank you. :-)
Beginnings Of A Grand Endeavor
Claire sighed unhappily as she stared at the glass door from across the counter she leaned against. She could tell that it was starting to snow. She glanced around the nearly empty video rental store and then looked up at the clock on the wall. 5:40pm. Three hours and twenty minutes left before she would be done for the day. She prayed the time would pass swiftly, however, she knew from many, many days exactly like this one that it would not.
"You look horrible, Claire," commented a young girl who had just walked behind the counter. "You're scaring away all our customers."
Claire sighed. "I know... This double-shifting just takes a lot out of me." She brushed some lint off of her blue overalls and looked over at her co-worker, Briana. Briana was a very pretty Black girl, only a year younger than Claire. She kept her dark brown hair in a style that Claire absolutely loved, called Bantu knots. They met when Claire started working at the store four years ago and had become fast friends. They had very similar senses of humor and normally very cheerful, optimistic personalities. She was the only one of Claire's co-workers that would actually make plans to hang out with her outside of the job. For fun.
Briana took her regular position by the register and grinned. "Yeah, I guess it doesn't help that we've only had one customer in the past hour... I'm so bored! I tell you, Claire... I don't know how you do it. Just one regular shift a day is enough for me." She paused. "I think you should find a new job, though. Somethin' that'll pay you more so you won't have to work so much to meet your rent."
"It's not that I'm not looking," Claire replied. "It's just... This job was perfect when I was in school and living with my parents. My schedule was so flexible... But now that I want something more permanent, it seems like an Associate's isn't good enough. Everyone wants experience, but no one is willing to train."
Briana leaned against the counter and sighed. Claire chuckled. "I didn't mean to depress you, Bree! We won't be working here forever!"
"Huh? Oh, no! It's not that! Look who just walked in."
Claire looked over to see a very handsome young man walking in their direction and holding a small package. He was quite tall, with a bright smile, and he took off his knit cap to reveal a shiny, bald head. It was David, Bree's boyfriend.
Bree smiled. "Hey, baby! To what do I owe the honor?"
"I got out early today, so I brought you dinner."
"Awww!" the girls exclaimed in unison.
David chuckled. "Hey, Claire."
"You don't mind if I go over to the side and eat, do you Claire?" Bree asked.
"Of course not." Claire glanced around the empty store and wrinkled her nose. "I think I can handle the line."
Bree smiled as she and David moved over to the far end of the counter to eat. Claire grinned and played with the end of her long ponytail. The two had been dating steadily for two years now, and she thought they looked so cute together. They were both working very hard to save up enough G to get married, and she wished them all the best. David had confided to her that he had already bought the Blue Feather, and was waiting until the time was right. She would very much like to have a relationship like theirs someday (especially after the debacle that was her last boyfriend), but it seemed like she spent all her time working. Socializing wasn't much of a priority... and she certainly couldn't count the creepy men who tried to chat her up (after their trip to the store's adult section) as possible suitors. I do have one constant and attentive suitor, though, Claire thought with a smirk. My wonderful Bill... last name, Collector.
The door to the store opened suddenly, breaking Claire from her thoughts. She straightened up to greet the new customer warmly.
"Good evening, ma'am. How can I help you?"
The woman walked up to the counter and dumped two DVDs out of her bag. "I'm returning these and I want my money back."
"You want your money back? What's the problem with them?"
"I didn't get to watch them," the woman snipped.
Claire paused. "Um... I'm sorry, ma'am, but we're not responsible for that. I can't really give you your money back." Claire pulled up the woman's account. "And they're two days late."
"But I didn't get to watch them!"
"I'm sorry, but that's not our fault. It's going to be 400G total."
The woman turned tomato red. "I don't like your nasty attitude, young lady! And I'm not paying for movies I didn't get to see!"
Attitude?! Claire struggled to keep her temper in check. There's only one person here with a nasty attitude and it certainly isn't me.
"Ma'am, I'm sorry you're upset, but you have to understand---"
"Understand... By the gods, I don't understand why this is such a difficult concept for you! Where's your manager?!"
Claire sighed. Why did some people have to be so problematic? "I'll call him for you."
The woman glared. "You do that." She sucked her teeth and muttered. "Blondes..."
Claire's ice blue eyes flared as she reached over for the intercom system and pressed the button. Through gritted teeth she said, "Mr. Hogarth, would you come out for a minute, please?"
She turned as Mr. Hogarth emerged from the back office, in an obviously unpleasant mood. An older man, he was tall, though not as tall as David, and had a very imposing presence. He was a very bad-tempered man, but it wasn't always like that. He was very nice when she first started working there. It was only recently that his personality took a drastic shift. He walked up to Claire. "What's the problem?"
Claire explained the situation to her boss as the customer tapped her foot, waiting impatiently to be vindicated. She was disappointed.
"They're late. It's 400G."
"You didn't get to watch the movies; that's not our problem. It's stated in the contract which you agreed to when you signed up. Claire," he continued, turning to the young clerk, "next time, don't bother me with nonsense you could've handled yourself. Bree! Get him out of here and get back to work!"
He stormed back into his office leaving all three women's mouths agape. As Bree hurriedly packed up the remainder of her food and apologized to David, the customer dug into her bag and slammed 400G onto the counter.
"I'm certainly never coming back here again! You can cancel my membership!" she exclaimed, storming out of the store.
"I'll come back later and give you a lift home tonight," David said as he kissed Bree.
"Thanks, hon... Bye." Bree pouted as he walked out the door.
Claire smiled. "Well, Bree. This is what we get for wanting more excitement in our lives." Claire leaned over and whispered, "Funny thing is... even though we're not supposed to, if she had been nicer to me, I would've waived the fees." The two girls looked at each other and laughed.
Claire opened the door to her apartment and walked in. She locked the door behind herself and hung up her coat. It was so sweet of David to give her a ride as well and she glanced at her watch. It had just turned 9:50. It had been an incredibly long day, and she was so happy to finally be home.
"I'm home..." she called out, expecting no reply, of course, because she lived by herself. Even her small, brown puppy greeted her soundlessly by groggily opening an eye, then rolling over and going back to sleep. Given the year-old beagle's enthusiasm upon seeing her, she knew that her neighbor Neil had been by recently. She often enlisted the cute teenager's services as a dog-walker when she had to work double-shifts.
She sighed as she unloosed her hip-length yellow hair, which she only kept in a ponytail for work. She thought of making herself a quick dinner, but was too upset to eat. It wasn't even the situation with that customer earlier in the day that bothered her. It was what happened afterward, at the end of the day...
Mr. Hogarth, finished with his work in the back office, wasted no time in angrily chastising the two girls for their work, or supposed lack of, during the day. He was like this often now, very ill-tempered and uncompromising. The little independent store had not been doing well lately; it was having a lot of trouble competing with the new online rental sites and big chain conglomerates. Mr. Hogarth was not the type of person who could handle pressure like this very well, and so, his stress took the form of irritability.
Things became really bad when, as the girls were locking up, Mr. Hogarth announced that the register was 3,000G short. He was not so crude as to outright accuse either one of stealing, but his expressions betrayed his thoughts:
"Are you sure you didn't forget to void a refund, Claire?" "That's your boyfriend waiting for you outside, isn't Bree?" "3,000G would certainly be enough to buy my wife some nice jewelry or pay a couple of my bills..."
Claire fumed as she recalled his accusatory tone. She and Bree were so shocked, they couldn't say anything until they were fully in the safety of David's car and had pulled out of the parking lot. Then, the two girls loudly ranted all the way to Claire's apartment building. David thought it best to do nothing except drive, and nod affirmatively whenever a question (always rhetorical by this point) was tossed in his direction.
Claire sighed. She certainly was not happy about going back there in the morning for more abuse. In fact, being yelled at by the boss was almost commonplace now. But actually, she found that she had been becoming increasingly unhappy with her life for the past year or so.
An ordinary day after an ordinary day, she thought. I get up in the morning, go to work as usual, leave work, maybe get something to eat, go home and sleep... It's the same pattern everyday... There's no variety, no excitement... Isn't there more to do in this world? More to life?
She sighed again, dejectedly, and walked over to her small wooden dining table. She opened up the day's newspaper, rustling through the pages. I guess I'll just read this for a bit before going on to bed. Let's see what's going on in the world... Her eyes skimmed over a couple of articles before finally landing on a quarter-page advertisement. Huh? What's this?
The advertisement stood out from the rest of the articles because it was actually in color. A picture of a beautiful farm near a small river was printed at the top. Underneath it read:
Are you tired of the hustle and bustle city life?
Perhaps you're attracted to the mysteries of nature
and have a great love for the out-of-doors?
Then how would you like to enjoy a peaceful and refreshing farm life?
For more info, please contact MT Realtor at:
555 – 6636
Claire stared at the ad. A farm... Closing her eyes, she envisioned life as a farmer: taking care of the animals, growing crops, communing with nature. A simple, peaceful life, where she could make a difference. To be an important member of a community, and not just a nameless face in a large crowd. She looked at the price they quoted. Surprisingly low. She could actually swing that. It would take just about every G she had left, but it was actually feasible for her.
It would be hard work, of course, which wasn't something that she was afraid of. In fact, she loved to work with her hands. She was also quite strong and athletic, thanks to her regular swimming and Tae Kwon Do classes at the local gym. She did so love nature and animals, and the small flower box on her windowsill proved (at least, when it wasn't Winter) that she had a natural green thumb. Moreover, she was already given to wearing stereotypical farmers' overalls and jumpers. It would be a complete contrast to the city life she'd always known... A grand endeavor. Her smile grew wider with each thought.
Suddenly, she opened her eyes and leapt out of her chair. The church bells sounding the hour rang as if caused by her own force. "This is it!" she exclaimed. "Something exciting! I'm gonna call them right now!"
She raced over to her phone, which she kept on the nightstand beside her bed. It wasn't until she had started dialing, that she realized the lateness of the hour. "Please be there...," she whispered. It rang twice before she heard someone pick up on the other end.
"Hello?" a very sleepy, male voice asked.
Claire exhaled in relief. "Hello, is this MT Realtor?"
"Yes, but we don't conduct business after 7pm. If this is about the empty lot..."
"Oh, no. I'm calling about the farm, but I could call back tomo---"
"The farm? Oh! Well, you seem like such a nice lady, I think I could make an exception tonight. We can conduct business right now if you like."
"Really?! That would be wonderful!" Claire exclaimed, so happy that, since the second she made this decision, things were going very much her way...
The sound of ringing stirred Claire from her deep sleep the next morning, and she incoherently banged on her alarm clock with her fist. Why wouldn't the darn thing stop?! It wasn't until she had swatted the alarm half-way across the room that she realized the ringing was coming from the phone. Sleepily, she picked up the receiver.
"Oh, I'm sorry, Claire. Did I wake you?"
Claire sat up in the bed at the sound of her mother's voice and rubbed the sleep from her eyes. "Mmm... It's all right. I needed to get up anyway."
"Ah, well, I called because I need you to babysit Charlie for me next week."
Her mother sighed. "Yes, Claire. Babysit. Your brother. Next Wednesday. Brian would do it, but he has to work on a very important project for school."
Claire rolled her eyes. Brian, her younger brother by four years, would usually jump at the chance to use babysitting 8-year old Charles as an excuse not to do homework. She could only conclude, then, that this "important project" happened to have dark brown hair, green eyes, and had been assigned to tutor him in English. All of a sudden, he found the written word quite fascinating.
"I can't do it, Mom. I won't be here."
"What are you talking about? What do you have to do?"
Claire sighed. She hadn't wanted to have this conversation with her mom yet. She was going to broach the subject on Saturday, when she went over there for the Year End party. She certainly didn't want to do this at--- she squinted over at the alarm clock, miraculously still plugged in--- 7:30 in the morning.
"I'm leaving town. I'm moving."
"What?! Moving?! When did this happen?!"
"Yesterday. I, uh, I bought a farm."
Silence. Claire closed her eyes and braced herself, knowing the rest of this conversation would not go well.
"You... bought a farm?"
"Yeah, I leave early Sunday morning to move in."
"I see. Let me just ask... what the hell is wrong with you?! If I didn't know that this is exactly something that you would do, I'd think you were playing a prank on me! A farm?! What do you know about farming? You've never even been out of the city and you think you're going to run a farm?! How could you even afford it?!"
"It wasn't very expensive at all. I've got a little bit of money saved and I can easily sell the apartment."
"So you bought it... without discussing it with anyone, without seeing it first--- what if it's a huge hole in the ground?! What will you do then? What backwater country are you going to be stuck in? You'd have been better off buying the deed to the Brooklyn Bridge from a street corner peddler. Honestly, Claire!"
Tears welled up in Claire's eyes. "You don't understand..."
Her mother sighed. "You always do this, Claire. Always. Everything is perfect for you until the next "perfect" thing comes along. You jump from one project to the next, never finishing anything, always without thinking. You wanted to be a chef so you took cooking lessons. You never cook anything! Then you wanted to be an author. How many half-written, unfinished novels do you have gathering dust? You went to school for a Liberal Arts degree, but couldn't be bothered with getting a bachelor's! I think the only thing you've ever stuck with was the ocarina."
"You didn't have to move out, but you wanted to, and you're hardly earning enough to make ends meet. Next you adopt that stray, knowing full well you can barely feed one mouth, let alone two. And then, of course, there's Michael. I don't know what you did to let him get away; he was so good for you..."
"Mom!" Claire snapped. "Let's not bring him up, okay!" Michael, her ex-boyfriend, was a very sore subject with Claire. They had only broken up two seasons ago. It's true that he had been both good for her and good to her while they were dating, however once he found out that she was saving herself for marriage, and was quite serious about it, he took off faster than a thoroughbred at the horse races. She never actually told anyone (except Bree) the real reason that they broke up, stating instead that they mutually agreed they weren't right for each other.
"You're so recklessly impulsive. You can't expect everything to go your way without working hard for it! You're 21 years old, Claire, but you still haven't grown up."
"Thank you, mom, for your support," Claire began. "But I know what I'm doing. This farm is exactly what I want and what I need, and even if it doesn't work out, which I know will not happen, don't be afraid that I will ever come crawling back home looking for you and dad to make things right."
Silence followed that statement as both ladies were too angry to say anything more. After about a minute, Claire spoke.
"Look, I have to get ready for work. I'll talk to you later."
"Fine. Don't forget you're bringing cookies to dinner Saturday."
Claire sighed. "I won't forget. Bye, mom." She hung up the phone, threw her face into her pale-pink pillow, and screamed.
Claire felt slightly better when she arrived at work around 9:30. Her boss, however, was in his usual sour mood.
"Claire! You're half an hour late!"
"It won't happen again," she said in reply, silently noting that her being late had never actually happened before. He grunted and stormed into his office. "Actually Mr. Hogarth, I'd like to speak to you..." Claire waved to another one of her co-workers and followed Mr. Hogarth into the room.
The other clerk stood at the register and watched the front door, serenely sipping at a cup of hot milk. Suddenly, a resounding "WHAT?!" emerged from the back room, causing him to nearly spill the cup.
Claire finished working her six-hour shift and left the store. Mr. Hogarth, still shocked over the girl's sudden resignation, was even more curt in his responses that day than usual. Claire walked over to a café across the street. During the Winter, she liked to go to the quaint little place for a late lunch following her afternoon shifts. Today, she had plans to meet up with Bree for lunch, and she found her already inside, holding the table. She told Bree about her upcoming new life.
"You're kidding?!" Bree exclaimed, dropping her half-eaten sandwich onto her plate. "You bought a farm?! A real one with, like, chickens and cows and horses and crap?"
"Yeah, I was in a real funk last night, and when I saw that ad in the paper, I just knew I was meant to be a farmer."
"Mmm... Well, girl, to be honest, I think you've gone completely nuts," Bree said, picking up her sandwich and taking another bite out of it. "Buying farmland is not the way to deal with boredom, hun."
"Oh, not you too, Bree! First I got lectured by mom this morning: 'You need to grow up, Claire!' Then by Mr. Hogarth: 'Don't expect to get your job back if this thing of yours doesn't work out.' And then by daddy, who called me about an hour ago: 'Of all the stupid ideas, Jill! What's wrong with that head of yours?!'"
"Wait a sec... Jill?"
"Yeah, he always calls me that. Angelina's my middle name. Mom really wanted to name me Claire, and dad really wanted to name me Angelina, so they compromised. But they're both so stubborn. Neither one will call me, or introduce me by the other name. It's like having two first names."
Claire shrugged. "Eh."
"Well, I'm not trying to join the Old Fogy Train of Gloom, but I just... have my doubts."
"I understand. I know it's all really sudden, but I'm really excited about it, Bree. You don't understand how right this feels!"
"If you really think this is going to make you happy, then I'm happy for you." She took a sip from her cup of tea. "So when do you move?"
"Sunday morning. I work another double shift tomorrow, but that'll be my last day. The farmhouse is already furnished, so I just have to box up my books and stuff to be shipped over. Once I get settled in, I'll send you my new address."
"I'm gonna miss you, Claire. You'd better write!"
Claire laughed. "And you'd better visit!" With a sigh, she continued, "Seriously, Bree, I can't wait for Sunday. Everything's going to be perfect!"
The next few days went by pretty quickly. Her last day of work went surprisingly smoothly and she felt energized knowing she'd never have to go back again. Claire mailed her stuff to be delivered to the farm and sold her apartment. Neil was very sorry to lose his "favorite customer". She finished all her little errands, such as canceling her gym membership, having her medical records transferred over to the local clinic, and purchasing a few travel items. The Year End party with her family was a little tense, though it had still turned out better than Claire expected. Everyone wished her the best of luck, but Claire could tell that no one believed this new life of hers would work out.
She left early Sunday, taking a nine hour train ride to the town ferry. She had bought a map of the small town while on the boat, and committed it to memory. She decided that she wanted to rename her new place, and took the time to come up with a name for it as well. Two hours later, she arrived in Mineral Town and made her way to her new home. Exhausted from the long trip, she thought she had gotten herself lost because her farm was not where it should be. Instead, she stood by a large field, overtaken by overgrown weeds, large rocks, and rotted trees. To the right of her was a small, run-down shack, which her puppy immediately ran over to explore. She walked over to a large wooden chest in front of her, leaned against it, and took out the map again. She was sure she had wound up at the town dump, but nowhere was a dump mentioned on the map. Maybe it was outdated?
Suddenly she looked up as a man approached her. He was considerably shorter than Claire, with glasses, and a thick mustache underneath his big nose. He was probably in his forties, Claire surmised, and looked like a very important person by the way he was dressed.
"Hello there. I'm Mayor Thomas," he said. "Are you a tourist?"
Claire shook her head. "My name's Claire." She explained about the advertisement, and that she was looking for her new farm, but must've taken a wrong turn.
"So, MT Realtor told you that you could have a refreshing life on the farm? You're Mineral Town's new farmer?"
Claire nodded and was quite surprised when the man suddenly burst out laughing. "Ha ha ha ha ha!!! You've been tricked! This is your farm. It used to be gorgeous, and very prosperous as well, but not anymore. Not since the owner passed away quite a while ago. As you can see, no one's been taking care of it." At this revelation, Claire was rendered quite speechless, and could only stare at him with her mouth agape.
"Not very many people want to work on the farm now," he continued, "not that anyone has the time to; and so, they decided to make the advertisement sound more attractive. Every now and then, people who have seen the ad, just like yourself, come here. But as soon as they see the farm, they get disappointed and leave. Just like that. Hmm... It's been a while since the last one came, though..."
"I don't believe this..." Claire whispered. "It was all a scam?"
"I see. You actually believed that cheesy advertisement!" Thomas threw back his head and laughed again.
Claire felt the rage flow through her body like she was engulfed in flames. She grabbed the nearest tool, a large sledgehammer, and swung down upon the man. He cried out in pain, apologizing and begging her to stop, but she refused. She came upon him with every tool she had on hand: the hoe, the sickle, the axe, once again with the hammer, and even the watering can for good measure. The man could not survive the barrage of weapons, and he fell to the ground, dead. His blood surged from his body over into the neglected field, miraculously restoring it to its former glory. It was exactly how Claire had originally envisioned it, weedless and beautiful. The sunlight glistened on the nearby river, while ripe and colorful fruits and vegetables sprung from the ground. Bluebirds flew on the mayor's lifeless body and sang...
Claire's violent and graphic fantasy faded as Thomas continued to laugh. Finally, as tears welled up in her eyes from frustration and anger, she exploded at him. "You horrible, horrible man! I gave up everything for this farm! I quit my job, I sold my apartment, I left all my friends and family, and now you stand here and laugh at me! I don't even have anywhere to go back to!"
Thomas looked taken aback at her outburst and the cruelness of their trick began to sink into him. "I see... That's too bad... I can only apologize. We never meant to cause anyone any kind of hardship; we were just desperate to sell this place." He paused. "Hey, why don't you stay and just try to run the farm, huh? It may not look like much from outside, but the house is livable, and actually pretty nice. It'll be very hard work, not that it wouldn't have been even if the farm was in tip-top condition, but I think you could be really happy here. As the mayor of this town, I will help you as much as I can."
Claire was quite livid, and wasn't exactly sure what to say. She really only had two options...
"No way!" she told Thomas. "I won't be railroaded into taking care of your garbage!"
"I see..." Thomas said sadly. "Well, if you say so..." He turned to leave and began walking away.
Claire called out after him. "Gods be my witnesses, I will not let you get away with this. I will find a lawyer and I will sue this whole miserable town, and if I die, I'll come back as a ghost and haunt it for all eternity!"
She walked over and picked up the little puppy, who was actually quite happy about his new surroundings, and headed for the docks. She didn't have much money left, so she wasn't sure where she could go. She had already sworn not to go crawling back to her parents, and that was an oath she would take to her grave if need be. She sighed. Her exciting, perfect life on the farm had ended before it even began...
Claire didn't like the scenario she had just imagined one bit, and it left her with her only other option---to stay.
"I'll do it," she told Thomas. He smiled and told her that he'd be back the next morning. He'd leave her now to get acclimated to the new house. He turned to leave and began walking away. The little puppy, who was actually quite happy about his new surroundings, ran over to Claire, wagging his little tail.
"Alright!" she told him. "No more self-pity! I'm gonna make this work, make this perfect. I'll show them all. I'm gonna make this farm the best farm in the whole world!"
She then thrust her fist into the air with such force and vigor, one could swear they saw fireworks and heard the sound of trumpets. It startled the poor beagle. She chuckled as she picked him up to take him inside their new home. She had been accused of running away from her problems, quitting when things got too tough. Well, this time she would stick it out. Despite everything, she still felt as if this was her calling, what she was meant to do. Tomorrow she would fix up the place a bit, tour the town, and meet her new neighbors. Claire smiled. Her exciting, perfect life was about to begin...
The End… Now go play the game. :-)
From The Author: Hi! I hope you enjoyed this story. I know some of the dialogue is right out of the game, but I think it works well here. For those that notice, I actually changed the story slightly. I expanded the café scene just a bit to flow a little better. Also, I discovered that I had been using the wrong name for the main character. Apparently in Harvest Moon, the brunette girl is Jill, and the blonde is Claire. I had it mixed up. Personally though, I think the blonde looks more like a "Jill", but to compromise, I came up with a solution that I believe works quite well. I hope you agree. Anyway, thank you very much for reading it, and for commenting if you so choose to. :-)
Disclaimer: I can happily say that Briana, David, Mr. Hogarth, and Claire's family are all my creation. Unfortunately, though, I don't own Harvest Moon or the Harvest Moon characters. I wish I did, cause then unemployment wouldn't be so bad. If "sue" is on your mind, you've got the wrong girl. My name is not Susan. Sorry. :-)