A/N: I figured this fandom needed some Island of Happiness love. I'm not sure where this random inspiration came from - perhaps from the game itself, or simply over how angry I was at my writer's block, which caused my months-long absence. But here's my newest fic; I'm not really sure where I'm going with it, or if I'm continuing it, but I probably will as the inspiration keeps coming in. So…tell me what you think? Thanks. (:
Disclaimer (which will only be said once; I don't see why people feel the need to repeat it in every chapter...): I don't own Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness or any of its characters.
It was cold out today. The rain fell like liquid bullets, clinging to the young farmer's hair and clothes, making trails down her dirt-drizzled skin. Yet she merely sat there so indifferently in the sand, her being glued a few feet away from the shoreline, knees cradled against her chest. Her bandana, marinated with sweat this morning and doused with rainwater now, flapped wildly in the brisk wind.
She was cold today. Her heartbeat thumped slowly from lack of sleep and stress, her eyelids heavy and her limbs tired. Her burnt, unnaturally russet arms trembled in the kisses of a sharp and whirling gust.
She was so tired. The boat she'd been on the other day - the one leading to Mineral Town, where she had planned to begin her new life, as a new person - had been shipwrecked.
The dark and thick clouds had rolled over the sails, the sun lost in its spreading haze. Lightning punctured the ominous sky's barrier, ripping out and thunder shrieking its warnings, like a father's low pleads to his young and daring daughter. The waves, dark as ebony wood, had begun to churn, the ship being the sky's only ingredient in the ocean of a mixing bowl.
Faster and faster, she remembered the ship spinning around her. She could almost feel again the becoming of the bruises on her skin as she slid and collided with furniture, as her knees banged against the floor beneath - or possibly, above her. She could taste the tears from her eyes, relive the racing, panicking, of her heartbeats, taste the fluid from her bleeding and bruised bottom lip. The darkness had swallowed her shortly after that and her eyes had closed, all but giving up hope until they veered and crashed onto the shore of an island, obliterating half the dock. They had landed here.
Where was here? Taro, one of the few survivors of the wreck, an old man she was in awe had survived, had showed her around briefly. But she could not speak her mind, nor could she shake the fear for the unknown. This was an abandoned island, a deserted ground, with not even ten inhabitants.
And now she was a farmer. An inept, inexperienced girl with no business as a farmer, and all she wanted now was to go home. The problem was, she had no home anymore. No, she sold her home in the city, the high-paying room in the apartment, so she could start fresh in Mineral Town - but where was she? On some derelict piece of land that had probably been ditched for good reason.
And she was all alone.
For the next week after the wreck, Taro had placed her in charge of farm work. It took a full afternoon just to till enough soil, and then plant the puny seeds which would eventually grow into flavourless crops. She planted them in the manicured dirt and then dragged a deformed watering can she'd found inside the farmhouse over to the gushing stream. When the can was half-full, it was still much too heavy, and as she dragged it across the debris on the fields, water sloshed around and spilled out. She had to make many trips back and forth until she was done watering, by the time it was disconcertingly dark, and gnats had swarmed around her and tore at her clammy skin.
Seven long, miserable days later, she sat solitarily at the beach, not another soul present. She remembered Taro telling her some other people had come to live on the island, and for what reason, she couldn't possibly imagine. She hadn't really bothered to meet any of them.
Her eyes flickered to the dock, where she envisioned herself sprinting off the edge of it, the wind exhilarating her instead of slashing at her, feeling a rush of adrenaline instead of a stab of loss. She imagined herself, strong and satiated instead of frail and famished, diving off the final steps of the half-destroyed dock and swimming all the way back home, her limbs never growing tired, lungs never needing oxygen.
She flinched, and the movie in her mind died, when her bumpy calves began to itch and accidentally looked down at the long, lined stick to her left.
She'd forgotten about the fishing rod, but now that she recalled it, she remembered why she was here. She'd come down to the beach at around three in the afternoon, determined to catch something, no matter the size; she was just plain sick of foraging for sour herbs and wild grasses she wasn't even sure were edible.
She didn't know the time now, but she realized the rain had subsided to a drizzle, and the once blue horizon had begun to fade into orange, red, and yellow stripes, the colours of fire and warmth. She reached tentatively for the handle of the wooden rod and stared at the naked, crooked hook at the end. A small part of her, the ghost of the optimistic self she once was, yearned to cast her line once more, to dig up some more worms for bait and try again. But her more realistic and experienced self, the one that knew she wouldn't be catching anything any time soon, was overcome with sudden anger.
She was angry that the sky had decided to shoot lightning daggers at her and send the ship flying off course. She was angry that the know-it-all old man had forced her into a new occupation that didn't suit her in the least. She was angry that she'd left the city, even if she hated it and was sick of the rancid smell of smoke and pollution and industrial exhaust. She was angry that even after she'd sat here all afternoon, she hadn't caught a single damn fish.
She furled her fist around the rod and chucked it behind her shoulder with all her feeble might, the idle fingers on her other hand etching into the ground as she pushed down, wishing she could sink into the sand and never resurface. But her depressive hopes had been silenced when she heard a short, abrupt "Ow" coming from behind her.
Her body reacted immediately, jerking, her balled-up position resulting in her side falling against the sand. Her previous wounds and bruises exploded with pain as she curled against the damp shore, light footfalls closing in on her. She squeezed her eyes shut, not in fear, but in disgust. Disgust that someone was seeing her like this, her hair matted, her clothes weathered and dirty, her skin burnt and bitten.
"Hey..." She heard a voice from behind her, gentle and cautious, but rough and urgent, the voice of a young man. The unfamiliar warmth of a hand clasped on her shoulder and she cringed, but it was not removed.
She peeled her eyes open slowly, feeling alien to this sort of interaction. One week ago she'd been perfectly normal - what had this place done to her?
"Are you alright?"
She squinted at the young man crouching over beside her, the fires of the horizon providing the radiance that allowed her sight. His skin was a lightly toasted brown - ah, toast - the thought made her stomach growl momentarily. His long, chestnut hair curled all around his head and slightly below his ears, most of it hidden under a faded bandana. His eyes were also brown, a certain brown she couldn't name, but liked.
The questioned had bounced off her ears; the words didn't mean a thing. She could only hear his voice, nothing else, and she wondered why it sounded so good.
"Were you shipwrecked? Are you lost?" He looked worriedly at her, scanning her body in case of injury or anything out-of-place. She cringed at the attention.
"N-no," she managed to squeak, and she shrank away again, though he only closed the distance once more.
"Do you live around here?" His chocolate eyes were so determined, his lean body bent like it was so strong. He was practically emulating confidence, power - and she envied every second of it.
She nodded dizzily, her mind barren of thoughts.
"Where?" he asked slowly, and leaned in discreetly.
Again, she noticed and winced. "The farm," she whispered, her dry throat aching as she spoke.
"Where is it? The one in the north?"
She nodded again weakly. She was just about ready for a "Well, that's pretty far, but good luck getting there, see ya" until she felt the ground disappear from beneath her, replaced by a pair of strong arms. Her breath was knocked out of her in a gust, and she got the urge to start thrashing and flailing like a fish out of water - but for the first time, she knew better. She wasn't being gutted or cooked or eaten. She was being saved.
The ground seemed to teeter from beneath her, and when she began to feel a bit nauseous, her eyelids slipped shut. She could feel the boy peeking at her and buried her face in the warm fabric over his chest. Warmth. She tunnelled deeper into the comforting, pleasant sensation, and noticed his surprise when he paused for half a second. He kept walking, though, and she felt oddly appeased.
"What's your name?" She could feel the rumble in his chest as he spoke.
She had to think for a brief moment. "Chelsea," she finally croaked.
Chelsea pried one eye open briefly to see him smiling down at her, his face free of contempt or judgement. "Denny."
A/N: The Chelsea x Denny pairing isn't set in stone. Just so you know. It might be, it might not. As the writer, I have no idea. Review?