A/N: Oh boy. Another fanfiction. I'm sorry. But this one just came to me while I was procrastinating hmwk… for some reason I've taken an unusual liking towards Lumina lately. Call this a line between Her Name In Blood and A Kardian Tale— minus horror and humour. (Well, there'll be some of that, if you have the weird urge to laugh at everything.) Anyway, I have nothing more to say.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harvest Moon.
Prior to the Ocean
The waves… they roll so tenderly across my feet… caressing my skin with short velvet pecks. Wandering rays of sunlight have permeated its deep blue, yet it remains as full and lively as ever. The ethereal build in its gentle aura is so comforting, and sound. It evolves into smaller dips to larger dips; sometimes the pace is quick and at times languid… yet in the end it all ends where it starts and starts where it ends. Yet, it never ends… but… does it ever start…? It's beautiful.
The flow melds into the marine sand beneath me, pulling in and crumbling away… people often like to compare things to waves, whether to friends or family or love… they call them many things, but I… I just like to call them waves…
They're like ocean messengers… aren't they? Sometimes I see the currents carrying bottled messages on the shore… and sometimes they leave shells in their wake. I see the coiled conches and twisting coral by the shoreline, but as soon as the beautiful bottom-dwelling fragments come, they depart… the ocean floods in and sweeps them away with one elephantine movement. I dare not blink, for I'll forget they're there… one day, I'd like the shells to remain on the sand. I'd like them to be there, and coexist with the shore… I wish the ocean could realize harmony…
Yes, ocean… waves come from somewhere, too. All I know is that there's a vast ocean out there, and that's where waves originate… the rest, I don't know. I've never been one to research. I just think, sometimes it's better off not knowing… the Earth is prettier before tainted by truth. I suppose tainted is a hard word, so should I not use… infected?
Again, aqua's purity is quelled by my endless thoughts. Will I ever stop prejudicing my surroundings? For some reason, I don't want to know how it all began, or how anything came to be yet I am so… curious. Perhaps one day, I'll find out… the easy way…
But for now, I'll watch the ocean current and think.
I pulled my ankles back from where I sat, the feeling of the waves brushing against them disappearing. I dusted the light grains of sand off my back and thighs as I rose slowly, pulling on my shawl as it threatened to slide off my shoulders.
The air had chilled, and the sun has set… I took one breathtaking glance at the oranging horizon before taking off down the grassy trail, shoes held in one hand. My wet feet thudded as I hurried through the landscape, the exposed flesh of my slender arms and legs brimming with the raw, crisp air.
Soon, I arrived in view of the reassuring streetlights surrounding the mansion. I let out a breath as my eyes scanned the dark, lightless windows. It appeared my grandmother Romana and Sebastian, our butler, was yet to discover my empty presence.
But as these amber orbs flickered to catch the dim, but visible yellow aura that shone through the windows, my chest clenched. They're awake.
Now running, I panted as I touched the wide threshold of the mansion's entrance. I placed one hand on the handle and I slipped inside as quietly and unnoticeably as I could, shutting the door in turtle-speed with my breath held.
"Lumina; there you are…"
I jumped at the sound of my voice, trying to disguise my exhalation, head gyrating until it landed on the speaker.
"Sebastian," I addressed as calmly as I could. There was nothing to do now but wait for him to berate and interrogate me. I inwardly braced myself.
"You're just in time, Miss…" Yet he did nothing of the sort. He took in the sight of me fully before looking into my eyes, his dripping with sorrow. "Just in time, indeed…"
I frowned in puzzlement. "What do you mean, Sebastian? Just in time for what?"
He placed one firm, finalizing hand on my shoulder. "I apologize for any bluntness, but Miss Romana has fallen terribly ill. She would like to speak with you— personally."
Nausea rose to my throat but I pushed it down, nodding wordlessly. He sidestepped to welcome my entrance to my grandmother's room, which laid unfurled directly in front of me.
Do I really want to go inside? Do I dare?
My face was masked with nothing but blankness. There wasn't a trace of emotion on it, yet inside I twisted and bent in fear and angst. Pleas churned through my stomach like a ship in the ocean storm. Like the ocean, not all can be calm…
"She is waiting for you, Miss Lumina."
I gave him a tentative nod. "Yes, I am going…" I concurred, only half-truthfully.
My heart beat faster with each passing wake of time as I drew nearer to the closed door. My hand furled against the golden knob, taking lungfuls of prolonged time. I finally closed my eyes and pushed, walking into the room steeply as if each step were weighed down by mounds of corrupted gravity.
"Grandma…?" I whispered, unsure of whether or not I would receive a response. My legs took me through the room, yet my waist-under was completely numb. I wondered… if she was still alive… and hollowness devoured my body.
"Grandma?" I said again, a bit louder this time. I arrived at the foot of her bed, where a still lump was covered by a sheet of a blanket. I blinked tears as she remained silent, weak in the knees as I shuffled to her side. "P-please respond…?"
A soft gurgle sounded from under her, and I leaned in and pull the blanket back impulsively. My breath stopped as I realized what I have done, and I mentally screamed for myself not to look— but it was too late.
Masked behind her face were gentle wisps of breath, and soft snores that enervated the open air. So she was asleep… I am glad. Letting my lungs flow freely now, I turned to go, but then halted as I reached the middle of the room. I stepped back hastily, covering her face with the blanket with a shaky hand. I turned again but this time I didn't go back.
I reached the door and a single tear slid down my cheek before I could stop it. Though the worry has shed greatly from me, I still cannot help but… fear.
I gave Sebastian an acknowledging nod as I left the room. His eyes were wide with enquiry with an equally apprehensive look on his face. The nod signified that she was alive— and a small weight felt as if it had been lifted off my chest as his old features relaxed.
Unable to bear the tension, I whispered a small goodnight before veering up to my room, promising not to think of anything… just the soft ocean waves. That was it; nothing else mattered… nothing.
I stopped halfway up the stairs. "Yes?"
"Are you alright?"
"I am fine."
I reached the top landing and the envisioned ocean waves that ebb in and out of the shore, the pristine caricature, the seamless tide of the waters— the images shattered in my head.
All is not okay.
The next morning, I was awakened by a bird, its song drilling through the fabric of my window. I sat up immediately in bed, recalling the events from the night before. Soon my thoughts slipped out from under me, and I averted my attention to the bird's song. It continued to whistle and chirp in a high treble, appearing not to have noticed me.
I don't understand. The young animal had no one to sing to; no one to listen. Why does it continue? What is the point, if there is no one to witness anything?
I pulled myself away from the window and brought my feet to the ground, still listening to its high-pitched song. For some reason, it made me feel nostalgic, and sad… for some reason, it brought churning emotion to my stomach, yet I yearned to listen…
I got dressed and left my room in a hurry, shutting the door a little too loudly. Almost immediately my eyes caught Sebastian's room as my feet touched the main ground and my instincts reeled me towards the door. I wasn't ready for a talk. I didn't want to think about anything. I wanted it all to slip away, right underneath my feet… I wanted to forget.
At the same time the door to his room opened, I stepped outside the mansion. The sun shone immensely onto me, myself being surprised at how suddenly hot I'd become. It was as if I hadn't gone out in days. But this was just too much…
My instincts started kicking in, and I suddenly really wanted to go look at the waves. I slipped off my green shawl and folded it up neatly before placing it on the side of the fountain, where I could collect it later. Then I fast-walked all the way to the beach, not passing a single townsperson on my way.
Not too long later, I arrived at the beach venue. I let out a relieved breath as I paced all the way to the shoreline, taking off my shoes and flinging them loosely into the pits in the sand on my way. The instant my bare feet felt the icy, usual sensation of the waves, they prickled momentarily and then relaxed.
It was funny how such a silly thing calmed me so well. I honestly would be lost without the waves, as ludicrous as it sounds… but as I'd noted before: waves can be related to many, many things. I can't pinpoint what it is to me… but it's something. It has to be. And it's something important.
My head turned for the first time as my vision fell instantly upon another presence standing just a few metres away from me. Cody. My face turned bright red as I scrambled to collect my shoes and get up off the ground automatically, when all he did was watch me.
"I-I'm sorry," I murmured hurriedly, with a slight bow of my head. "I was just stressed, and I wanted to get out, I had no idea you were here… "
He remained silent until finally he muttered, "Why are you apologizing?"
At this, I was stricken. No one had ever asked me why I apologized… it was just something I did very often. More often than I should, perhaps, but… was a reason actually required?
"…It's alright," Cody grunted into the unwilling silence, and I immediately felt grateful for not having to break the ice. To my surprise he turned and headed back towards the village.
"Where are you going?" I called to him.
"Home," he said shortly.
I realized Cody was one of few words, yet… I've always pondered what laid beyond the giant's mask. Cody was more than meets the eye— and what meets the eye is much enough. Sometimes, I wonder what kind of pain he endures. I realized this was none of my business but… some things I couldn't help but dwell upon.
I turned back to face the ocean, kicking off my shoes inelegantly once more. Grandma Romana had always reprimanded me until I was absolutely prim, proper and ladylike… I had gotten used to it, and now it was just part of me. But the more "mature" she made me act, the more complicated everything kept getting… I don't understand anything anymore. Am I really, truly mature now? Has all the acting melded into me?
"I don't know anymore," I whispered to the waves. They beckon to me like angels in the light, yet it sometimes… frustrates me. The ocean, it torments me. It calls to me, it coaxes me, yet it doesn't come any closer. Many, many times each day its waves pull in and touch me, but all they do is end up pulling back.
Was that my relation with the ocean? Was I like the waves, pulling in only to be pushed back?
No… nothing pushed the waves back. They pulled back on their own will.
Will… the instant image of my grandmother leapt to my eyes and I burst into sad, salty tears. I was glad Cody had left, for now I was left all alone… My cries were so pitiful and horrid. They were scathing to listen to, yet alone indulge. The bitter eyedrops drizzled upon my cheeks and fell into the waters.
Maybe the waves were like friends. I could cry on them… but this was different in the end, wasn't it? There was no returning reassurance.
I couldn't find out anything. It was entirely frustrating, and it… it made me cry even harder. By now hard sobs had racked my entire body, from head to toe, and I collapsed onto my back. Sand elapses into my hair but I ignored it. My eyes fixated endlessly on the cerulean hue in front of me, and it was all that mattered… all I'll think about… because after all, nothing mattered… nothing matters…
"I will give the whole word, and the entire ocean to grant you life, Grandmother," I whispered to just the ocean. I reached out and touched it. It squeezed my hand once… and pulled back in a short interval.
It pulls back… again…
A few hours later, I air-dried my feet and pulled my shoes back on. Then I slumped back to town, never looking so dishevelled before. My hair was a sandy, frizzy, tangled auburn mess and my yellow headband was lopsided and dirty. My clothes were full of wrinkles and loose threads, also covered in mounds of sand.
I saw Dr. Hardy as I appeared in the entrance of the mansion and was immediately struck by emotions. If the doctor was here, it either meant my grandmother was dead or alive… no, no, that was a terrible hypothesis. Either it meant she was sick, or dead… no, this was even worse…
I quickened my pace to tail after him, careful not to be seen. A lone girl running down the cobblestone streets after a doctor was a suspicious sight, I realize, even if she is heading towards her own house.
From the distance, I watched as he knocks on the door tartly. Sebastian opened it after the second knock, looking worn out, older-looking and just plain awful. Guilt strikes me; have I caused that sort of grief, along with my grandmother's illness…?
Now of all times was not one to start thinking up conspiracies. I ran to the front door and paused at the fountain, impatiently groping it for my shawl. My face fell as I realized it was gone… perhaps Sebastian took it in? I doubted it; he too looked as if he hadn't seen daylight in years…
I swung the door open and step inside, voices heard from the room next over. I raced in without warning and as soon as my feet hit the ground I spoke.
"Is my grandmother okay?!" What comes out is fast, frantic, and practically slurred. "Please tell me she's okay, doctor!"
Dr. Hardy looks at me seriously under his thin eyebrows. "Lumina…" he says in a quiet, stalled voice.
My heart froze. Hesitation… meant… n-no… That instant, my head began to spin, and I stumbled back foolishly. I was not on the urge of passing out, yet I felt entirely dizzy… Dr. Hardy's figure blurs and I can hear myself crying out over his voice.
He touched my arm but I slapped his away blatantly, much to his surprise. Manners were presently the least of my worries— my grandma is dead. There was note one part of that I couldn't comprehend. Dead is not a fifteen-minute-gig. Dead is not a part-time job. Dead is not something that can stand up, sit down, and continue down the road. Dead is forever, and dead never ends.
For some reason, that sounded like the ocean…
I wanted to slap myself. I dare think of water in a situation like this? Just as my focusness swam to me, Dr. Hardy started to yell. I let out a small gasp as he prods roughly into my forearm, a vein throbbing in his horror-wretched face.
"ROMANA IS ALIVE!" he shouted more than coherently.
At the same time, the room fell silent.
I'd never heard a more absolutely satisfactory three words.
"…She has fallen into a coma."
Nor a more daunting six.