She was a heartbroken, rich, farm girl. He was a frustrated merchant. Such a union could be profitable, if only that. But what if it's not enough? Mineral Town Farm Girl x Won.
Profit 01: Golden Silence
He didn't make a lot of profit, though he would never admit it, especially not to her. Silence was golden. She always purchased his apples when he went to her farm to market them in the morning. Then she would come by around mid day, and take a lunch break at Zack's house. She often brought a small gift for Zack, usually the dessert for their lunch, and she always brought something for Won.
Won thought the young farmer was simply conducting good business relations. Zack shipped her products after all, so she needed him to make a good profit in her farm. As for Won, she must be searching for discounts, which she wouldn't obtain. Profit was what life was all about. He didn't know how kind hearted the farmer was, he didn't know how heartbroken she had become after Cliff left.
Cliff, the boy who had come to Mineral Town with no idea of what to do with his life, he was the one who stole the farmer's heart. That autumn day she left early, earlier than ever. She had many things to do. She later heard from some of the Harvest Sprites who were helping her that while she was off in the mines, Duke came by. All she could do was go to the winery and see what he wanted, but he had apparently "already solved it". She had a feeling that he simply assumed she was too busy to help and didn't want to bother her. In the end, she couldn't get Duke or Manna to tell her what this was about.
Later, when it was already too late, she found out that they needed help harvesting grapes. She hastily made it just in time to help at least carry the baskets in. In her rush she forgot that Cliff, her crush, needed a job. Besides, this was just for a day or two, it wasn't a permanent job.
When Cliff left the village, Clair saw him off with tears in her eyes. Won was on his way to sell some apples when he saw the sad goodbye. She wanted to ask him, beg him to stay, but she knew Cliff would tell her he couldn't. She was a hard worker, she could support them both, she didn't mind. She wanted to ask him to marry her, but she knew he would decline. She didn't say it, it wouldn't do any good. Silence was golden and her entire world was falling apart.
She cried as he left, and when the ship disappeared in the horizon, she continued to stare into the ocean hoping that it would return. Eventually the ship came back, but Cliff wasn't there. By then, the entire day had gone by and the sun was sinking into the horizon, yet she was still there, like a lifeless statue.
She felt as if things could have been different. She should have told Cliff about the job at Aja Winery, even if it was temporary. Then she would beg, and bribe if need be, until she got Manna and Duke to offer him a permanent job. In fact, she would secretly pay for it herself if it came to that. But that never happened; she never knew that Duke and Manna would have been happy to offer Cliff a permanent job even without the begging and bribery.
Clair had offered Cliff a job on her farm many times, but he refused. He said that she didn't need to go out of her way to help him. The Harvest Sprites could help her on the farm, it was best that way. He didn't understand.
She wanted to follow Cliff, but found it hard to leave the town she had come to love. She would ask Kai if he had seen Cliff when he came to visit every summer. Kai always told her he had not seen Cliff, but was sure he was alright. Kai didn't have the heart to tell Clair that Cliff had found a job in the city, that there was a girl who liked him, and that he was starting to accept her into his heart.
That time when Kai spoke to Cliff in the city and mentioned the farmer's name, Cliff looked regretful. He had a new life, but he missed the life he could have had. Yet he forced himself to smile and say he was alright. Cliff's past feelings would stay hidden, because silence was golden.
Kai never told Clair that he had spoken to Cliff, he never told her about the look of regret in Cliff's eyes. If he had, she would have run off, back to being a city girl without a second thought. She would miss Mineral Town, but she missed Cliff even more. Kai never spoke of such things; he thought it would only complicate the situation. Silence was golden after all.
Life continued in Mineral Town, time moved slower than usual, almost as if it had come to a stop. Then she realized that it wasn't time that had stopped, it was her. The young farmer had fallen into a routine. Maybe she just needed someone to accept her gifts, maybe she felt identified with Zack because he had lost the one he loved to someone else. Maybe Won was just there.
One day a blue feather was put for sale in the super market. The farmer purchased it, if only to hide in the bottom of her tool chest so it wouldn't mock her every time she went shopping for seeds and other necessities. Mary and Gray were married and Mary was expecting a baby. Elli and the Doctor were engaged, Clair always knew they would end up together. Ann seemed to be occupied helping take care of the inn, falling into a routine much like the farmer had. Popuri was still the same Popuri, childish and carefree. Some people moved forward and others lingered in place. Some were bothered by it, and others accepted their fate without complaints, only golden silence, but not the farmer.
Clair wanted to move forward, she wanted to live her life; she wanted to feel like everyday was worth it. It was the repetitive and monotonous life she led in the city that made her buy that farm, even if she didn't know the first thing about farming. She came to Mineral Town with a dream, it was hard sometimes, but she had gone far. She didn't want to stop.
She had shown him the blue feather fully expecting to be rejected. He asked to speak to her in her house; then he accepted. It was all a blur after that. She only vaguely remembered the wedding. "Together forever," Won had said and that was as romantic as it ever got.
More often than not, Clair would spend the night in her vacation house in town, even if it was easier to go to the farm house after finishing work. Weeks would pass and they would only see each other when she went to buy seeds. She stopped having lunch with Zack and Won; was all one big mistake? Won didn't complain; he kept his golden silence.
Sometimes, Won would compliment Clair on her skills as a farmer and congratulate her in making so much profit. He never spoke of his profits though, and soon she stopped replying when he asked her about her profits. It could only be described as golden silence, a silence not to be broken. The silence that prevented a greater consequence, jealousy, arguments, and truths filled with emotion, things that should not be said.
He didn't attend the town's festivals and in the festivals she always shined. They celebrated each other's birthday; they exchanged gifts during their anniversary, and in the spring and winter for thanksgiving. They didn't speak too much during those times; nothing beyond "happy birthday", "happy anniversary" or "happy thanksgiving." Then they had dinner together, quietly, almost, just almost, enjoying each other's silent presence, it was peaceful, it was golden.
Won had no intentions of leaving and Clair wouldn't kick him out. He never spoke of being jealous of her business, riches, talents and success. She never told him she wished he would forget about money and just relax for once.
He never told her that, despite the resentment because he had always believed he wasn't good enough for her, he admired her greatly. She never told him that she appreciated having someone to keep her company and that was good enough. It was golden silence, the silence that held them together and kept them apart.
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Profit 02: Broken Silence
Flashback, this is how it all began. Won had been innocently returning home after trying his luck with door to door sales for the second time that day. Maybe people were not awake enough in the morning to appreciate his fine products.
His pace was slow and tired; he didn't sell anything that day, nothing, not a single apple, or a bag of seeds. Disappointed and exhausted, he soon concluded that, either the Harvest Goddess hated him, or the entire world did, probably the latter. Of all the things to make his day worse, why did he have to forget his spare key?
The events that occurred when he left replayed in his mind like a movie. Zack was leaving to pick up the shipment from the farm just south of town. Won's keys were sitting on his counter, which consisted of an empty box labeled as once containing oranges. The merchant hastily packed his apples into a basket and set out, exiting the house at the same time as Zack. The keys must still be sitting on the same spot inside the house. Great, why did he have to go for that long walk after finishing his fruitless work to let out his frustrations, which he still kept? Zack must be sleeping already and he wouldn't want to be woken up.
Won drowned in self pity and wondered if he should see if the inn was open so he could get a room and actually sleep on a bed instead of his sleeping bag on Zack's floor, or on a box. Then again, that would mean throwing away what little money he earned that week. That stupid walk was most unprofitable! Then he heard it, the sound of sniffles and sobs.
Won curiously approached the dock. That farmer girl who bought his apples and seeds was there on the wooden floor, curled into a ball. That was odd, as far as he knew she was rich, owning not only a large farm full of prize winning livestock and productive fertile land, but also a small vacation home in town. She was, in fact, rich enough to buy his overpriced apples, overpriced vase and overpriced seeds among other, also overpriced, products.
She was even rich enough to give things away to the townspeople. Everyone liked her because she gave gifts to everyone. True that she was poor at first and couldn't afford much in the beginning. Won wasn't fond of her then, but soon she became a customer and a little later his only regular customer. That's when Won decided she wasn't so bad.
Why in the world such a hard working, well liked, rich girl, could possibly be laying on a cold wet dock, crying in the middle of the night? Further more, why was he just standing there dumbly when he could be asking her to buy something? She seemed so heartbroken...
Good, heartbroken women ate more, and apples were a healthier alternative than a pint of ice-cream. Confident that he would make a sale, Won approached the miserable farmer. "Excuse me..." Of course he couldn't properly give his apple speech if she was just laying there.
Clair, the young farmer lady, got up and tried to compose herself. It was pointless to try to hide her tears, but she would stubbornly try anyway. "Yes?" She tried to force a smile upon her lips and failed terribly.
"I would like to offer you some wonderful products!" Won gave his usual apple speech, the same one he gave her when he tried to sell his apples at six in the morning at her door.
Clair stared at Won for a moment. Could he really be thinking about selling apples when her entire life was coming down on her? He waited for her reply and she continued to stare. Then she shook her head. "Tomorrow, come by my house tomorrow and I'll buy three apples, one of each kind." With that said, Clair started walking home. She paused at the beach and looked back at Won, who still stood at the dock. "Thanks!" Then she ran to her welcoming, warm, soft, bed.
Clair had been reminded, in an unexpected way, that she needed to go on, that it wasn't all over even if it felt that way, and even if it felt like a lie, she told herself that she would recover. She asked Won to go to her house the next morning to give herself a reason to get up.
She needed a break and hired the Harvest Sprites to work at her farm; they were funny but helpful little creatures who loved flour. She knew her animals and plants would be taken care of the next day and if she had no reason to get out of bed, then she would stay in it and sulk. That wouldn't help her at all, but if she asked Won to go by her house, and promised to buy not one but three apples to make sure he actually showed up; then it would be rude not to receive him, she had to make herself get up and face a new day.
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The next morning, when Clair got up, it was already nine thirty. She stumbled out of bed, rubbing the sleep and tears out of her eyes and quickly changed into her overalls. Won was probably gone by now, and not happy about wasting his time waiting for her. She was quite surprised to open her door and find Won leaning against the wall of her large house, sleeping. She approached the slumbering merchant and poked him on the shoulder. "Hello? Won? Wake up!"
Won slowly opened his eyes; by no means did he intend to wait for Clair that long. He decided not to waste his savings at the inn and not to risk having Zack kick him out; the shipper could get grumpy if his dreams about Lillia were interrupted. Instead, Won slept outside, under the stars, yet despite being used to sleeping among boxes at Zack's house, or on the floor in a sleeping bag, he didn't seem to be able to sleep outside. It probably wasn't the place but the excitement; Clair's heartbreak would be most profitable. He had arrived a little early and sat down to wait for Clair to punctually exit her house at six in the morning, then he fell asleep.
Sensitive as she was, Clair couldn't help it but to hug Won. "Thanks for being here for me!"
"Are you going to buy some apples?" Won asked.
Clair nodded, "of course." She knew all too well that Won was not there for her, he was simply there for business, but she needed someone, anyone, to keep her company at least until her heart started to heal.
Won also identified the misunderstanding. He had no interest in consoling the heartbroken farmer. He just wanted to make a sale, but if she didn't clarify it, neither would he. That; would not be profitable.
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Profit 03: Silent Lunch
Clair's Point of View
The sun was shining brightly directly overhead in the middle of the skies, and I was being cooked alive, not to mention starving. Before I performed an act of desperate cannibalism upon myself, I decided that for the love of all that is cute and fluffy like my puppy, I needed to find shelter and eat lunch, quickly, since the sun seems to be frying my brain.
On the bright side, it has been a while since my heartbreaking breakup with Cliff and I have found the energy to once again tend to my farm instead of taking advantage of the flour addicted sprites. Good thing labor laws don't seem to be too eagerly enforced in Mineral Town.
I glance at the large bed in a corner of my house solemnly. I didn't have a blue feather when Cliff left, I wanted to ask him to marry me even without it, but I didn't. Maybe it was best that way. Speaking from the heart can only lead to heartbreak and keeping it bottled up can lead to heartbreak too, but at least the second kind of heartbreak isn't accompanied by embarrassing rumors and gossip, because everyone knows everything about everyone in this town.
After taking a shower and changing into a different set of overalls, I glance at my reflection in the mirror and fix my hair a bit. I pack my lunch, three desserts and a wrapped box into my rucksack; then I'm off to face the world.
It turns out Zack and Won were taking a lunch break too, perfect timing. I asked Zack if I could stay and eat with them and he gladly agreed. Won wasn't too happy though, he wanted me to buy some apples for lunch instead of having my own homemade cooking.
I gave them some desserts, delicious ice-cream and Won went on and on about how apples were healthier than ice-cream, though he still ate the dessert I brought him. I blissfully ignored his apple speech and before leaving, gave him the wrapped gift box. He was surprised, but somewhat happy.
I often repeated the events of that day, bringing gifts and treats. I wondered why I did it, but didn't question my behavior for more than just a few minutes. Giving gifts felt good, maybe that was it. Or maybe I just needed to have someone who accepted my gifts without angering the girls or causing misunderstandings. Karen didn't seem to understand that I only gave Rick a few gifts out of friendship and nothing more and Mary would give me looks of pain and betrayal if I ever gave Gray what she considered to be too many gifts for just a friendship.
When summer rolled around, I asked Kai about Cliff, I knew he was hiding something, but it was that kind of something that was only tragic when seen from a certain point of view and could be happy when seen from another. I knew he didn't want to give me too much information, so I didn't insist too much.
I continued taking my usual lunch breaks until my presence in Zack's house felt natural. It seemed that even Won had somehow gotten used to having me around, or maybe he was just hoping I would buy more things. Everything was normal, natural, nothing out of the ordinary. That's why I was a bit surprised when Zack asked to speak to me one day when he came to pick up a shipment.
We went inside the farm house and sat down to talk. Zack went on about someone whom he wanted to marry, how he wished he had asked her. He was too young and she was much older and couldn't wait. Zack would always remember her. "But if you can open your heart to someone else, even if the memories are still there, then you shouldn't waste that chance."
Dear Harvest Goddess! Zack is in love with me, he's finally over Lillia! What should I do? What should I do? My sweet Cliff I'll always remember you, but you've moved on and, Zack is right, if I can move on, so should I.
Before I can blurt out that I'm willing to give him a chance, Zack clarifies. "That's why I think that you and Won are good for each other. You can keep each other company and well, you've been giving him a lot of gifts, there's a reason for that, right?"
I sit there with my mouth hanging open. What? Well I have been giving Won gifts, but I guess it's because I just need to give someone gifts, it's like second nature for me. Besides, there's the challenge in seeing how long it will take for me to actually become friends with Mr. Greedy Merchant, yes, I'm in the for the challenge, and... and the loneliness, and... and... what am I going to do now?
"Read you like a book didn't I?" Zack looks rather satisfied with his interpretation and my reaction. Great, just great... But my life has been drifting aimlessly lately; I might as well let things flow. Why just let it be? I don't know. I don't know what's keeping me from saying something, anything, and somehow... I'm not sure I want to know.
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Profit 04: Forever Silent
Forever is a long time, it was something that they both knew all too well, it was something that anyone could know. He didn't refuse the blue feather even if he knew his reasons for accepting it weren't the best. He admired her; that was true, even if he didn't say it.
He would never think of giving her as much as discount, of course. Why would he? So that he could be an even bigger business failure, while she continued to be successful and he became more unworthy of such greatness that rivaled the Harvest Goddess herself? Actually, she was better than the Harvest Goddess in his opinion.
Won would have mentally kicked himself forever if he refused that feather and even more so if he accepted it. However, even if his confidence wasn't exactly going up by receiving the blue symbol of nonexistent love, he would be insane to refuse it. He accepted it happily as if he thought he deserved it and even acted as if it was her who was hardly worthy. Together forever...
Why did she give him the blue feather? Won of all people? The farmer didn't know. Maybe because Zack tried to get them together, insisting that if they didn't get married the other would marry someone else. Right... The only man she ever loved was gone far away and she couldn't bring herself to chase him. It didn't matter anymore, it was too late. It was a regret that she would carry forever even if she pretended to move on. As for Won, well... he wasn't exactly the picture of friendliness.
Maybe it was the way Mary and Gray were, seemingly different yet it worked out. Maybe that atmosphere was making her light headed. Everything moved slowly, but inside Clair was spinning out of control with frustration and pain. She needed a happy event, any event, something to keep her going at least until Mary's baby arrived.
Then Clair could play aunt and keep busy after working on her farm. She was more skilled and faster now, full of stamina. She always finished everything early, even on the days when the Harvest Sprites were off drinking tea. Then she would take five baths in a row, just to pass the time away. She had already watched every TV series that reached the air waves of that small remote town, she needed entertainment.
Then there was the news of Elli's approaching wedding to the Doctor, more happiness that she couldn't enjoy. Clair, the seemingly eternally single farm girl even after marriage, found peace in the festivals. She was always the brightest star that everyone adored. Then it ended and emptiness settled in.
Clair found consolation in Popuri, childish, carefree, Popuri. But it didn't last long, Clair wanted out of her life more than Popuri wanted from her own. Then there was Ann, it destroyed Clair to watch the heartbroken Ann go about a routine with no thoughts, just a routine. Clair wanted to be like Popuri, but couldn't, and she didn't want to be like Ann, but she was. Clair was lost.
The farmer sighed, at least she had someone. She shouldn't be so worried; she was married, at least... So she really shouldn't still feel lonely and she most certainly shouldn't stare at the man similar to Cliff with her mouth hanging open and tears cascading from her eyes forming a river down her cheeks. She was paralyzed until Popuri; her pink haired savior, dragged her away.
The vacation house that Clair had Gotz build was the closest, and Popuri needed to help Clair conceal herself from prying eyes immediately. "That was him! That was him!" The farm girl was in hysterics and Popuri had no idea of what to do.
"Clair calm down! Just try to... You should... I don't know what to do!" Popuri had never seen anyone become so broken in a matter of seconds. But it wasn't just seconds; it was something that was choking Clair ever since Cliff left.
"If I had gone with him, if I had left this town behind... I wanted to but I couldn't. I couldn't do it. Why?"
"Because this is your home," Popuri's answer was simple and to the point, yet it carried a lot of meaning and a lot of truth. "I can't leave it either, I thought about it, but I didn't leave. I didn't chase Kai and I stopped stressing about it. People can't have everything they want; sometimes you have to choose what you want the most. If you make a mistake and regret your choice, you still have to move on and make the best of it."
Clair stared at Popuri as if it was the first time she saw someone with natural pink hair. That sounded grown up, she was childish and sheltered on the outside, but inside, Popuri had matured. Clair's sobbing became quiet and her hysterics ended, even if she still cried softly. She searched for a pen and paper in a drawer and wrote. "Popuri, could you please give this note to the Harvest Sprites?"
Popuri was confused. "Sure, but why so suddenly?"
"I'm not going back to the farm so I need them to take care of the animals. Also, please tell Won to come over here. Take my hammer from the tool box and hit him if he refuses." Clair spoke in all seriousness.
Popuri looked at her with wide eyes and refused the house keys Clair was offering. "I know it won't be easy to get Won to leave his shop but hitting him with a hammer... It's not really my place. Besides, it sounds to me like you're planning to hide in here until he leaves."
"Which I am," Clair confirmed it. She wasn't going to look at Cliff, it was too painful. "I should be crying on my husband's shoulder now, even if I'm crying for another man."
Popuri stood there quietly for the longest time. Finally, she breathed deeply and left. A little later Popuri returned with her sister-in-law, Karen who has married Rick not long ago. "Relax, the Harvest Sprites read your letter and said they would take care of everything." Popuri spoke.
"Now we're going to take care of you." Clair didn't like Karen's tone. "It's your choice but we're with you all the way. Ann would be mad, Elli would disapprove and Mary would be horrified."
"What are you talking about?" Clair asked unsure.
"Don't worry we'll make you irresistibly beautiful, even prettier than the Harvest Goddess!" Popuri cheered.
"And we'll distract Aja the witch!" Karen made a determined pose.
"Aja?" Clair wondered what in the world did she have to do with this. The farmer had no even met Duke and Manna's daughter, who left before she arrived at Mineral Town.
"He'll be yours," Popuri giggled.
"We're on your side so don't worry. No one needs to know. Rumors travel fast, but we'll cover for you, and besides, the amazing star of the festivals wouldn't do such a thing. Use that reputation to your advantage and enjoy." As far as Clair knew, Karen spoke in riddles.
The farmer shook her head. "What in the world are you talking about?"
"Cliff, of course," Popuri smiled mischievously.
"We'll get rid of that witch who stole him away, Aja. Won is not a problem; he won't notice a thing unless it's related to his inventory. Well then shall we begin?" Karen asked.
Clair stared in confusion and then in disbelief as the wheels in her head began to turn. "You want me to date Cliff?" The two girls nodded. "But I'm married and so is he, right?" Aja, it was Aja, Cliff's wife, it must have been her, what Kai didn't want to tell her. Clair always asked him about the city and if he had seen Cliff. He had seen Cliff but didn't give her the complete update. She didn't insist, maybe deep down she knew and didn't want to hear it.
Popuri and Karen sat left and right from Clair on her vacation house bed in Mineral Town. "If you do it we're with you." Karen assured her and Popuri agreed.
"I can't do that... As much as I still miss Cliff, as much as it hurts. I tried to move on. I didn't chase him like I should have. It's been too late for a long time. It's best to be quiet; it's profitable as Won would say. Profit, a benefit... Won keeps me company and I... I'm just there, but we're together. We don't talk about these things. Silence is best sometimes. Silence cursed me and silence will save me. I can't mess up Cliff's life or mess up my own life further. Duke and Manna must be happy and Aja better be good to Cliff. She better make him happy or the Grim Reaper himself will fear me and my scythe." Clair was actually serious; if Aja hurt Cliff she would do something crazy.
Popuri and Karen tried to help cheer Clair by bashing Aja and reminiscing over the good times of the past. The slumber parties, the late night cooking, Popuri's secret crush on Zack and the way the pink haired girl didn't allow it to stress her. Of course they never actually expected Clair to agree with their secret affair plans and they would have been disappointed if she did.
Then there was a knock on the door. "Clair?" That was Won knocking on the door, he didn't even have a spare key for the vacation house. He had a key for the farm house but not Clair's private get away where he had never set foot before.
"I don't want to buy any apples!" Clair half yelled. She would rather focus on her friends' efforts to make her feel better and not think about her husband and his need to try to sell her apples in the worst of times.
"I'm not here to sell apples," Won replied.
"It's okay Clair, you should let him in. I'm sure he just wants to apologize for being such a big idiot, beg your forgiveness and try to cheer you up." Popuri exchanged a knowing look with Karen.
Karen looked at her watch. "Right on time, as we instructed. You need to make the best of what you have Clair, and you have two very scary friends."
Clair smiled; it was her first real smile in a long time. "Were you threatening my husband? You girls are the best!"
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Profit 05: Friendly Silence
Clair's Point of View
"I did that after all." Popuri's eyes open wide in disbelief and Karen smiles mischievously at my confession. The three of us are in the farm house now, a day after the Cliff disaster and the drama in the vacation house.
"So... how was it?" I have the feeling that I'm blissfully unaware of the true meaning of Karen's words.
"Terrible of course, to cry in my husband's arms over another man... He was obviously uncomfortable, he just wanted to disappear, I'm sure!" What I don't know is if he wanted to leave because he was hurt or because he might be missing customers back at the shop, probably the second. Karen looks disappointed and Popuri, who had started looking a little pale, recovered her normal color. Then it sunk in... "Gutter!" I cannot fully word what I have concluded they were thinking, but I'm pretty sure they dived into the gutter. They laugh and I change the subject. "So Popuri, how's your crush on Zack?"
The pink haired girl shrugged displaying a carefree nature I almost envy. "Fine, I suppose. It's fading away nicely."
"Fading away?" Here I thought I wasn't the only one with a love dilemma.
"Yes, just as I thought. I can't seem to hold on to a crush for too long..." Scratch he part about almost envying Popuri, I'm practically turning green over here!
"I've had the same crush for years, ever since I was little." Now Karen was married to that crush, Popuri's brother Rick. I always knew they were perfect for each other. Why can't I have a happy ending?
There's a knock on the door. It must be another of the girls, as I am sure word has gotten around that I am in need of group therapy. I open the door and I was right. "Hi Mary, come in."
Hellos are exchanged and Mary settles into the couch. Her pregnancy is rather obvious now; the baby will be coming in less than a month. "I brought this, it's a gift."
I receive the book Mary has given me and my face starts to change colors with red being the dominant shade. "This looks like a really romantic novel..."
"On the same subject, how was your honey moon? It's been a long time and you never told us." I don't think I'm following Karen's train of thought and quite frankly, I don't think I want to. Where is she going with those questions?
"She means... well." Mary tilts her head towards the little table next to the couch where I placed the novel.
It takes me a moment to process what they mean; here I thought they were asking about the actual island resort. Then there's a knock on the door and I nearly jump out of my skin. It can't be Won, it's too early for him to be home. He missed work yesterday so I really don't think he'll miss it today. It must be Elli, again my guess is correct. "Hi Elli, come in." I greet her in the same way I've greeted all the girls.
As if on cue, Karen, Popuri and Mary start laughing. "What did I miss?" Elli spots the novel and gets the picture, "do continue."
I sit down and gulp, they're not going to let me out of this. The most pitiful part is I have no idea of how to answer. "To be perfectly honest, I got drunk at the wedding party and well, it's a blank." It was more of a weekend getaway than a honey moon, with the wedding taking place on Saturday, the hangover was on Sunday and I was back at work on Monday. Some getaway... I do distinctly remember drowning my sorrows in wine, wine that made me feel worse and made me think of Cliff, the man I couldn't marry.
They stare at me as if I were a strange bug. It is most uncomfortable. Please make it stop, I promise not to stare at bugs again. Then they laugh. "It's nothing new; you do spend a lot of time in that vacation house, so action must be minimal." Karen speaks as Popuri nods her agreement. The poultry farm is right across the street from my hideaway so they should know. Then again, even the Harvest Sprites would know, since everyone knows everything about everyone in this lovely little town.
"Didn't you ask Won what happened at the honey moon?" Elli inquired.
"I had too much of a hangover the next day to be concerned with anything else. And..." While I'm confessing I might as well say it... "I was afraid that if I asked what happened, Won would say something like 'you kept calling me Cliff while you were drunk', or something like that."
"Did you?" Popuri voices their collective question.
"Not that I remember, I certainly hope not." I most certainly hope I didn't and I'll be mortified for life if I did.
"Don't worry about it." Mary speaks gently. Is she showing pity or support? Does this mean she thinks I did call Won Cliff in my drunken state? Did I do such a thing at the wedding party? I hope not... "It's okay, whatever happened, happened." That's not very reassuring. "Besides, you have other things to think about." Their collective nod frightens me as Mary delivers the news. "Duke and Manna invited you to dinner tomorrow, Cliff and Aja will be there. They'll be returning to the city the next day. It would be rude to refuse the invitation. Won is expected to come as well, even if he hasn't really been too social in festivals and town events." Social? More like not there. But Won is the least of my worries right now...
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Profit 06: Silent Bad Day
Clair's Point of View
Today has been a bad day and it all started at the stroke of midnight. My mind was occupied with having to attend dinner at Duke and Manna's house. I had no problems with them; the problem was that Cliff would be there, worse yet, his wife Aja would be there.
I needed to be prepared and in order to do that, the first thing I did was leave my rucksack at the farm house. I feel a bit odd without it, it's just so useful, but I can't take any tools to dinner and it seems more convenient to just leave the entire rucksack at home than to empty it.
This is not something done out of simple manners, I'm doing it to avoid becoming a murderer. I'm sure I'll get the urge to decapitate Aja and having a scythe conveniently sitting in my rucksack is dangerous.
The next step I took to prepare was a failed attempt at relaxing. I stayed at the vacation house because I needed some alone time, and in the privacy of my loneliness, I started reading Mary's novel. Spicy doesn't begin to cover it.
I had completely forgotten that after my little scene, in which I cried over Cliff on Won's shoulder, I had given my husband a spare key to the vacation house. When I thought I heard a sound, I ignored it, assuming it was the neighbor's and not my door being opened. When I felt a presence behind me and a warm breath on my neck as if someone was looking over my shoulder, I thought it was just my imagination, or maybe it was my body's strange way to respond to the romantic scene I was reading.
"I didn't know you liked to read this kind of things." I shrieked at the top of my lungs and instinctively threw the book at his face before I could stop myself.
-knock- -knock- -knock- The insistent knocking on the door brought forth a feeling of forbidding and with mounting dread, I opened it.
There stood Rick, with Karen and Popuri left and right. "Is everything okay?" They live across the narrow street of this small town so of course, they heard my scream. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if my scream echoed so loudly that even Carter in one end of Mineral Town, and Gotz in the other, both clearly heard me.
"Yes, everything is fine." I tried to smile, while Rick glared daggers at Won. He motioned for me to come outside for a moment and I did. "Did he hit you?"
"Did Won hit you?" Rick repeated the question that left me dumb and unable to produce an answer.
Then Karen laughed and replied for me. "Are you kidding? Won doesn't look like he has a death wish. Besides, everyone knows Clair is the violent one." Gee thanks.
I don't mean to brag, but I am capable of wielding a hammer half my size and twice my weight as if it were as light as a blue feather. Ironically, it is the blue feather that is truly heavy in a metaphorical way. Anyway, that doesn't mean I'm violent, temperamental sometimes, emotional sometimes, very emotional lately, but not violent... I think.
"Right, of course," Rick seems to agree, how wonderful.
"If you need anything we're right across the street." Popuri sleepily smiles.
I nod, thank them, apologize for waking them up and wish them a good night.
After Rick, Karen and Popuri return home, I go back inside to find Won sitting there reading the novel. I immediately snatch it from his hands as my face turns red. "It's Mary's novel. I just wanted to be supportive and read it because the author is my friend!"
They say that what starts well, ends well. If that's the case, then what starts badly, must end badly. After that, I didn't get a lot of sleep and I occupied myself working during most of the day. By dinner time, I was so drained both physically and mentally, that I could hardly stay on my feet.
The actual dinner at the winery is a blur to me and maybe it's best that way. I do remember being on the verge of tears several times, but I am proud to declare I didn't cry. I managed to make polite conversation with everyone, polite neutral conversation in which my past relationship with Cliff was not to be mentioned or alluded to in any way. Somehow I survived, somehow they all survived, even Aja.
The food was good but the atmosphere was tense and torturous. I was relieved when it end and I finally returned to the farm house with Won. He behaved rather well, possibly because of Karen, Rick, Popuri and Zack's death threats. Overall, I concluded that what starts badly doesn't necessarily end badly. At least that's what I thought until my tired body refused to rest, being forced to stay awake by guilt.
I married Won out of heartbreak and loneliness. He married me possibly for money. I pretended that he cared, it made me feel better. Then I contradicted all of that by becoming drunk at the wedding party to drown the sorrow of not being able to marry Cliff. Soon after, I spent my sad excuse of a honey moon recovering from a hangover. I never got around to thank Won for guiding me out of the party, to the boat and to the hotel at that island resort we went to. I didn't want to hear about what I could have said or done under the heavy influence of alcohol.
Next, I started sleeping over at the vacation house and did not give Won a key to that house until recently. I only came to the farm on special occasions, out of obligation. The strawberry on top had to be practically forcing Won to comfort me while I cried for Cliff. While I selfishly imagined that Won was another man, I failed to see that, even if he is a greedy jerk, he has feelings too.
I sigh, get out of my small bed and get into the big one where Won is. "Won, are you awake?"
"For being inconsiderate and selfish."
"Never mind, Zack took care of the shop that day."
"Not that!" Of course, if it doesn't cost money, it doesn't count.
Won looked confused and actually opened his sleepy by eyes now. "What did you do?"
"Never mind, go to sleep." I'll leave him with the doubt, he deserves it.
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Harvest Moon. AjaxCliff was suggested by FarmGirlxWon. Special thanks to kisa-chan-2006.
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