WE'RE SAVED! It's finally been rewritten – a long overdue update, believe me.
So... this has had the first twenty or so chapters fixed up – not exactly the plot, just the spelling/grammar, characterization, and things like that. There are instances where the plot is rushed, and some cases – previous readers will already know – where I can't salvage some poor little characters from major OOCness because it's so vital later on in the story. And I still suggest that you read the first five or so chapters with your eyes closed.
But... I'm a lot happier with how it is now. I'm not so embarrassed anymore. So, I hope you all enjoy the changes.
A huge amount of gratitude goes to DoubleKK for taking on the tedious job of reading the rewritten chapters. She had to wait a long time between them, and I hope she realizes that I appreciate it a lot :D
Disclaimer: I don't, and unfortunately never will, own Harvest Moon.
As a rooster crowed loudly in the distance, Jillian Evans promptly fell out of bed, with not the slightest clue as to what had just awoken her. Groaning and rubbing her back, she rose onto shaking legs and threw her bedclothes back onto the bed.
Six o'clock, according to her wristwatch. She'd never awoken this early in her life. Gone to bed at this hour, sure.
She gazed around the tiny room with a sigh. Okay, so she wasn't really in any position to complain considering the price she'd got the property for, but... maybe if the house itself was a little less shabby – heck, if it even had a kitchen or bathroom – she might be able to look at it with a more positive eye. As it were, her stiff single bed, black and white television and two-person table weren't screaming out 'luxurious, happy home' to her.
Blonde hair was tangled all over her face, obscuring her vision. On a good day, she could get her hair almost behaving. On a bad day, people ran away from her screaming for dear life. Today, it seemed, was not going to be a good day.
A sudden series of sharp knocks sounded from the door, making Jill clap one hand over her mouth to muffle a squeal. What kind of person went around door-knocking in the middle of the night? She slowly, carefully made her way over to the sound, more than ready to do whatever was necessary with the umbrella lying next to her if the person at the front door tried anything funny.
"Good morning, Miss!" a cheerful, tubby man announced. "How are you today?"
"I – I wouldn't know," she mumbled. "I've... only been awake to see thirty seconds of it."
"Excellent, excellent." Jill opened her mouth to point out that it most certainly was not excellent, but the man continued. "Well, I am Mayor Thomas. I'm the Mayor." He looked at Jill almost triumphantly, as if expecting her to hug and congratulate him in the most animated terms possible. As she seemed to be having trouble just keeping her eyes open and focussed on him, he hurriedly continued. "You're probably wondering why I'm here."
"And the answer, my dear girl, is to both welcome you to the village and give you a few pointers on how to run your farm." Jill glanced behind him at the field overrun with weeds, sticks and stones. And, just for good measure, the ocassional boulder or tree stump. She winced.
"So it wasn't a nightmare."
Thomas ignored her and led off into a long spiel on everything to do with farming, while Jill stared at a point over his head blankly. She felt like toast for breakfast, she decided, as he finished off his speech.
"...Sheep and cows. And just in case you need me, You'll find my house to the north of Mineral Town, near the library. Understand?" She nodded very slowly and hesitantly. Thomas laughed. "I dare say a young girl like you will learn quickly enough. But you really should go take a look around town. Visit the shops and become acquainted with the townsfolk, is my advice. Do you need anything else?"
"Not... just now," she replied, stifling a yawn.
"Okay. Have fun!" The mayor gave a funny half-bow and left, nodding as he crossed a large man who was just entering the gate. As the new man came closer to Jill, she raised an eyebrow in surprise. Tanned, buff... although far too old for her, unfortunately. Nevertheless, she woke up significantly. He jumped back in something like horror once he got a good look at her, and only then did Jill become aware of her frightening appearance.
Her eyes widened and she ducked back into her house, looking around frantically for the mirror she didn't own. Deciding to improvise, she looked at the back of her good-for-nothing, unreceptive mobile phone. Wincing and cursing under her breath, she desperately tried to run her fingers through the tangles and get her hair into a slightly neat ponytail. For good measure, she wiped the smudged mascara from under her eyes and pinched her pale cheeks to get some colour into them. The nightgown would have to stay – she hadn't unpacked her clothes yet.
She ran back over to the door and threw it open. The man gave her a teasing, knowing smile, making Jill blush and blink at him in curiosity.
"My name's Zack," he told her, "I'm... in charge of the shipping in Mineral Town. Here..." he led her over to a box next to her field and started explaining the basics of shipping things.
"Can I ship... anything I want?" she asked hopefully, her eyes wandering to the mess on her yard. Zack shook his head regretfully.
"No, Miss. No flowers, weeds, branches, tools, animals... but most things. I'll be sure to tell you if you're trying to ship anything that you shouldn't. You can find herbs and stuff to ship in the mountains if you're struggling for money at the moment – ah, not meaning to offend, it's just that... uh..."
"No, it's okay," she sighed. "I'm guessing it's kind of obvious."
"I – well... anyway, I'll be back around 5pm daily. Except for festival days – I do need a holiday, sometimes! And sorry, what was your name again? Thomas mentioned it, but I'm terrible when it comes to..."
"Jill," she smiled.
"Straight out of a nursery rhyme, hey?" he received a thankless glare. "Er... any questions about shipping, you should be able to find me around town, or in my house at the beach. Take care." He turned and waved over his shoulder as he walked out of the gate.
Jill stepped back into her tiny house and looked around for her suitcases. There was one in the corner... she walked over and examined the note attached to it.
'The amount of 1 of the category Baggage/Suitcases delivered to Miss Jillian Evans, who is residing at Harvest Farm in Mineral Town.'
Jill blinked at the note incredulously a few times, trying to use will-power – or something to that effect – and make the words on it change. She had checked in not one, not two, six suitcases to be transported from the city to here. So why... why... was there only ONE?
Trying to suppress the rage that was telling her to break something valuable and fast, she zipped the suitcase open. To her immense relief, it had clothes in it. True, they weren't the most stylish clothes she owned but they were comfortable and practical – six pairs of different coloured overalls that she'd admittedly bought after the purchase of the farm. She needed to look the part, didn't she?
Rummaging further into the case, she found her prized hair straightener – literally a lifeline when your natural hair was anything like hers – a brush, and a fair bit of makeup. And a tin of tomato soup...? Hey, she'd never said that she was going to win a prize for her organized packing skills.
She quickly pulled on the pair of blue overalls, picked up the straightener and looked urgently around the house for a powerpoint. Her heart sank as she came to the conclusion that maybe she'd awoken straight into a horror movie – before, in her desperation, one eye landed on the television set.
She dove behind it and silently thanked the Goddess, as she violently pulled the television cord loose and plugged in her straightener.
Thirty minutes later she was feeling ten times more capable, and headed over to the ancient looking tool box in the corner. Pulling out a funny looking object with a sharp blade in the shape of a crescent, she gave it a half-glare.
"And what kind of... thing... are you supposed to be?" Searching further, she recognised a hammer and an axe, as well as a watering can. The rest of the contents were a mystery to her - like a small yellow round... thing... with a screen on the front, displaying the number zero. She gave it a shake and watched in delight as the numbers flipped higher. Setting it aside, she grabbed the last item in the box. It had a wooden handle and a flat, long metal head. Tossing all the tools except the hammer and axe back into the box, she headed outside, determined to make a start on clearing some land.
Once she was actually standing in the midst of the disaster that called itself a field, the momentum to do any work on it had disappeared completely. She cringed, not knowing where to begin. Who was she kidding? She was no farmer. She hated waking up early. She didn't especially like animals, except for dogs, and her idea of spending quality time outdoors was going to the beach. Even then, she refused to spend time sitting in the sun.
With a sigh, her delicate hands grabbed a particularly long weed and gave a subtle pull. The weed seemed to have different ideas, not moving no matter how hard she tried.
"You know what?" she finally yelled at it, choosing to ignore the fact that she was speaking to a patch of grass, "Fine. Fine! Go ahead and join in proving me wrong, okay? Show everyone that I can't do it! Damn it, they already know that without your help!" Shockingly, the weed made no reaction to her miniature breakdown. Gritting her teeth, she picked up the hammer and axe, walked back into the derelict shack that was now her home, and threw them into the toolbox.
So the actual farm work was a bust already. Honestly, that wasn't a big surprise. A 'passion' for farming certainly wasn't why she came in the first place.
She wanted to start over, in a place where nobody knew anything about her. Where she wasn't described in terms of other people – as someone's daughter, sister, friend – but referred to as Jill, a person in her own right. She could be bubbly or moody, or shy or confident... anyone she wanted to be... and no-one would realise that that wasn't really her at all.
A place of her own. Where no-one would get angry at her for leaving clothes on the floor, or watching television before washing the dishes. (Not that she would. She was a total neat freak, but knowing that she had the choice was what mattered.) She was nineteen and fresh out of high school, more than ready for a little independence. Of course, she was lucky that she'd found this town. The only thing she knew was that it was totally isolated, only reachable by ferry.
May as well go meet some people in this place, Jill thought suddenly. I'm going to be living with them for a long time, after all. The farmwork wasn't happening at the moment, and neither was going back to sleep, so she simply brushed on a tiny bit of makeup and rushed out of the cramped house. Hopefully, the people here would all be as welcoming as the first two she'd met.