Hey, this is a Secret Santa gift to the lovely AsianFlipGurl! She wanted an angsty/tragic CliffxAnn story so this is what came out of that wish.
Honestly, I never really saw it coming.
Not that anyone could I guess, but for such a long time I always thought I could've done something. I could've changed the future or something like that, as if I had been given some power just to save him. Heck, I'm sure I could've done something for him to prevent everything that happened.
But now, I'm not so sure…
An Angel Watches Over Me
"Apples? Check. Curry powder? Check. Rice?" I suddenly paused in my path. I was just coming out of the supermarket, holding a large brown basket and a small thin white piece of paper.
Today was twenty-fifth of winter. Winter was never my favorite season but today, for some reason, it was exceptionally beautiful. Snow was falling slowly and almost angelically. The pine trees were covered with snow while the other trees were leaf-less and bare. The air was bitter cold and the winds blew softly. All was very quite, which almost never happens in Mineral Town.
"Double Check! Alright, Dad is going to be so thrilled since now he'll be able to try that new recipe!" I cheered enthusiastically.
But apples with curry rice? Eww no way! Dad must be out of his mind!" I giggled loudly.
I skipped down the road merrily (while still watching where I skipped since snow was all over the ground and I didn't want to slip). It was then I saw Claire, the local farmer, walking down the road holding big a large cross.
"Whoa Claire be careful that thing is huge!! Are you sure you should be carrying that?!" I exclaimed. I quickly dropped my basket and list and dashed to help her.
"No way!! Just because I'm pregnant doesn't mean I can't do things by my own damn self!!" she huffed. Yep, that was good ol' Claire, stubborn and sensitive as ever.
"You never change do you, Claire?" I teased. "How have you been doing? You look as fat as ever. Speaking of which, when is the baby due? Also, are you sure I can't help you with that? It looks awfully heavy, I'm sure Gray would have a fit if he found out you were doing this."
Claire placed the large cross down and said, "Shut up I'm not fat!! But I'm doing just fine. The baby is due in the spring. And I'm absolutely fine. I need no one's help. I'm not some helpless housewife! I don't care what Gray has to say. I'm just fine damn it!"
"Ha-ha-ha!! Gray is going to have an absolute fit!! So what's with the huge cross anyway?"
"I'm just taking this back to Carter. This cross is way too big for my sheep's grave. I think I messed up the measurements for it, so I'm going to return it back and hopefully get a new and smaller one." She replied.
"One of your sheep died?" I asked. I never heard of one of Claire's animals dying before. It was quite odd…
Claire suddenly frowned, "Yeah, poor Cotton died of old age. I knew she was going to die sometime between the next few months, but I was surprised on quick it actually came."
"You're that relaxed over the subject!?! I thought she was your favorite sheep!?!" I asked, nearly slipping on snow in the process.
"Don't get me wrong, I'm sad. She was my first sheep and I loved her so much, but let's face it, it was her time to go, plus I wouldn't want her suffering ya know? Life goes on, no point in moping all about it." She explained.
I thought about it for awhile, but I really couldn't understand her view on it. I'm mean, one of her animals just died, shouldn't she be all sad about it!?! I mean, Claire is just crazy about her animals, so wouldn't she be all depressed?! It really didn't make any sense honestly…
Both of us kept continuing on walking towards the church in an awkward silence. Just then I noticed Claire was wearing a gorgeous peacock brooch. It had multiple colors of gems on it, all in the shape of a peacock.
"Whoa!!!" I exclaimed. "That brooch of yours is gorgeous!! Where did you get it?! Let me guess, Gray made it for you right?"
Claire smiled brightly and replied "Yep, he sure did. In fact, he gave it too me yesterday on the Starry Night Festival. He's really improved at making jewelry hasn't he?"
"Heck yeah!!" I cheered. "Oh boy! It must really pay off having a blacksmith as a husband, right?!"
"I guess so." Claire said glumly. "Honestly, jewelry isn't my thing, but I really enjoy how much hard work he puts into it. I just wish he wasn't all so stressed out about it. He and his grandfather really don't get a long well. But, he apparently enjoys it, so it's not much I can do about it. Jeez men are so stubborn."
I couldn't help but giggle at that statement. It amazes me on how Claire and Gray tied the knot; because they keep fighting so darn much. But I guess it's their little disputes that support their relationship, oddly enough.
"So, how was the Starry Night Festival for you? You went with Cliff right?" Claire questioned.
"Yep!!" I smiled brightly, "We ate at the Inn and then went to go gaze at the stars. It was so much fun!!! He even gave me this ring. Isn't it pretty?"
I showed her the ring on my finger. It was a simple gold ring with a pretty aquamarine in the middle. It wasn't that big or much of a fuss over but I really liked it, guess because Cliff gave it to me.
"Aw Ann it's so cute. I'm surprised he had the courage to give it too you. He's so shy, especially with you." Claire responded.
"Thanks Claire! Yes, it took a little help for him to spit out the words. But boy was he so relieved when he finally did it. I think he was also thrilled on how happy I was too!" I rejoiced. All of a sudden we saw both the church and Mr. Carter in view.
He yelled, "Claire, is that you there?! What are you doing carrying around that cross I gave you?! You're in no condition to be carrying around an item as big as that!"
We stopped as he came up to us and Claire answered back, "It's alright Carter. I'm absolutely fine, on need to fret over me. I'm just here to return this cross to you. Its way too big for my sheep's grave, I guess I got the measurements wrong or something. I was wondering if you could swap this one for a smaller one. I've got the right measurements this time."
The man flashed a bright smile and said "Of course Claire, now why don't you place the cross here and I'll have Gotz transport it back later okay? You know, you really shouldn't do things like this. It might harm your baby and plus I'm sure your husband won't be exactly thrilled about it either."
Claire placed the gigantic cross on the church's gate and gently rubs her large belly. "Aw don't worry, this baby is strong I'm sure it can handle it," she boasted. "And I don't care what Gray has to say, he can just deal with it."
Mr. Carter sighed heavily, "You re so stubborn Claire. I feel bad for Gray; he worries about you so much…so what the correct measurements are what now?"
The two of them began to yap on about specific measurements and mathematical stuff like that. I started to daydream a bit. I couldn't help but wonder about both Claire and Gray. Never have I heard of Gray really worrying about her, less than anyone I guess. Gray is usually such a quiet and moody character that you never really know what he is thinking or what he is going to do next.
In many ways I envied Claire. She had a good life and a loving husband who worried about her constantly. It often appeared she didn't know how good she had it. But of course maybe, just like Gray, she just wasn't that easy to read.
"Alright then, I'll be sure to send in your order. It should come in about two or three days. Oh and Claire here are those red poppies you ordered." Mr. Carter handed a bag of red poppies to Claire.
"Now you two ladies have a lovely day and may the Harvest Goddess bless you both. Say hello to Cliff for me, alright Ann?" Mr. Carter asked.
I hollered back, "You bet Mr. Carter! Bye!" Both Claire and I waved goodbye to Mr. Carter as we headed down the road to the Rose Square.
"So, what's with the red poppies?" I asked. Even though I was walking the opposite way towards the Inn, I figured I could use a walk and some time to catch up with Claire. Her life was always so interesting and we hardly have any time to chat nowadays…
"Oh, these?" she directed to the flowers in her hand. "They are for my Cotton's grave. In my family, we always had the custom to bring red poppies to the grave of any friends or family members. I guess it was for the whole 'mourning for their death' thing and all but honestly, I do it mostly as thanks for them being in my life. But, I'm kind of weird like that…"
"Nonsense Claire," I declared. "In fact, I think it's pretty interesting. You hardly ever see people do that around here!"
Claire suddenly stopped and looked horrified. She quickly yelled, "Hey, what's that over there!?!" She pointed over to a group of black birds hovering over a human body lying on the round in the snow. It only took a second to realize who that person lying on the ground was.
"Cliff!!" I screamed as I dropped my basket and dashed over to the scene before me.
"Shoo!! Get away you stupid vultures!! Cliff can you hear me?! Are you alright?!" I violently swatted away at the birds and dropped on my knees and held Cliff's frozen body in my hands.
"I'll go get some help okay!?!" Claire yelled. I saw her run towards northern part of town.
I embraced Cliff tighter and whispered, "Hold on Cliff, please hold on. Help is coming soon so just hold on alright? Just for me, please."
Something on the ground caught my eye; I reached for it and picked it up. It was a dark, and worn out picture. It had three figures in it but it was so beat up I couldn't recognize any of the characters with in the picture. I turned my attention back down at Cliff.
His condition was so bad; that I wouldn't have recognized Cliff without his long messy brown hair and his worn out clothes for his skin was so pale that I couldn't differentiate it with the white snow beneath us.
Claire and I sat in the small waiting room of the hospital. Like most hospitals, It was very neat and…white. Like the snow on the ground and the color of Cliff, they were white. All of this shook me a bit deep inside. But it was this that reminded me of the situation and who was involved…
"You know Claire; you don't have to be here. I'm sure you have a lot of work left to do with your farm and all…" I muttered quietly.
"What are you talking about?" she demanded. "There's no way in hell that I'm going to leave you all by yourself!! This is a crisis and you're going to need all the support you can get!!"
That was, in many ways, the beauty of Claire. Despite her attitude, she deeply cares about the people around her and if anyone is in trouble, she will make it her own business and help them no matter what. There was no use in stopping her either because she was so stubborn, nothing could sway her mind. It's kind of scary when you think about it.
"Alright then…" I whispered. I closed my eye lids and clasped onto the worn out picture in my hands and began to cry. I cried not only out of sadness, but out of confusion. I honestly had no idea what the heck was going on. All I knew was that Cliff was hurt and terribly sick and that there was nothing I could do. Nothing at all.
Both Dad and Mr. Carter suddenly came barging into the waiting room. They were both out of breath; Dad was all red in the face. He gave me a sympathetic look, it was so sad that I swore he was about to cry. I ran up to him and embraced him tightly, burying my face on his shirt.
He gently patted my head. "Ann, I'm…so sorry. It'll be alright, I promise. Cliff will get better soon, he's strong so don't worry. Everything will just work out fine." He reassured me. I merely nodded my head cried a bit more.
Mr. Carter nodded his head quietly and whispered, "Yes, Cliff is very brave and strong. I'm sure he can overcome any obstacles that come his way. May the Goddess bless him."
Suddenly, Doctor Trent came into the waiting room wearing a serious expression. He directed our attention to various chairs in the room. "Please sit down," he requested.
Dad, Mr. Carter, and I all sat down. I sat beside Claire. I just couldn't read her expression. She looked…sad…but there was something more than just that. Something…deeper, yet it feels like it should be so obvious, but it's not.
We all turned to the doctor. "I'm sure all of you are waiting for the answers on Cliff's condition. Well let me just say this frankly, Cliff is not going to survive the night. In fact he may not even make it to the afternoon; we'll just have to see how long his body can pull through."
I stared in disbelief. "Wha-what?" I choked out. "He's going to die!?! You're joking, right?!" The doctor avoided my gaze and said nothing.
"Ha-ha trying to trick me right!?! Good one, Doc!!" I laughed nervously.
He said nothing.
"…right?" I asked. I began to feel the truth and the reality of the situation emerging before me.
Once again, he said nothing.
I began to panic, "No! No! This can't happen! Not to him! Not to Cliff!" My father placed his arm around me as an attempt of comforting me, but sadly that didn't help much.
"Is there anything you can do? Aren't there any kind of surgeries you can do or any kind of medicine you can give him?!" Mr. Carter begged
Trent shook his head, "No, I'm afraid there is not any thing we can do. Had we know of his condition earlier, I'm sure we could've saved him but now it's far too late."
I ran up from my seat and stood right in front of the doctor screaming, "No! You can't say that! You have to save him! You just have to, it's your job! Go save him now!!" I wasn't crying anymore…I was just angry. I wanted to cry, but there weren't any tears left.
Just then, someone behind me yanked me backwards and yelled "Shut up!" It was Claire. I was a little taken back by the sudden surprise of her attempting to stop me, before she was so quiet, she didn't say a word…
"You shut up!" I growled back ferociously, "You know nothing of what I'm going through! So don't you dare tell me what to do!"
Instead of fighting back, she just lowered her gaze and whispered "If that's the case I guess your right, huh?" She looked at Trent and asked, "So when can we see Cliff?"
This kind of shocked me a bit. Normally, Claire would take the invitation of an argument, especially one like this. But…she didn't. It was really odd.
Dr. Trent dusted himself off and said "Yes, you may see him right now. Let's have Carter go first, alright?"
Claire and I were sitting outside in the waiting room. Mr. Carter already finished his visit with Cliff, so now Dad was visiting with him. I shifted anxiously in my seat. Everything was silent. Claire didn't look at me and I didn't look at her. None of us even moved. Eventually my father came out of the patient's room.
"Alright, well I'll come back and check on him later. Stay strong okay Ann? You too Claire." He said. I jumped up suddenly as he headed to the exit of the hospital.
"Wait Dad!" I yelled. "Aren't you going to stay?"
He faced me and replied "No, this is your time with Cliff." He opened the door and left the Clinic. I stood there in shock and confusion.
Claire tapped my shoulder behind me and said, "Come on, let's go see him." She walked towards the door when I jumped in surprise and asked, "But isn't this your time with him?!"
She turned around and said, "Yes but unlike most people I never was quite close friends with Cliff so this won't be long. Come on." She gestured me to the door and I followed.
We both walked inside and there was Cliff. He was lying on the hospital bed, still pale as ever. In fact, he looked…like a ghost. Claire walked over to him and sat down on a chair beside the bed.
"Hey there big guy, how've ya been?" she greeted. Cliff slowly opened his eyes and recognized Claire.
"….Not…so…good…" Cliff whispered. He looked exhausted and looked like he was on the verge to falling back to sleep any moment now.
"Well, guess what? This little monster here is due in spring," She then pointed to her stomach. "Isn't that exciting?"
"Yeah." He smiled. "So…what are you going to name it?"
Claire grinned widely and said "what do you think I should name it?!"
Cliff, who was taken by surprise answered, "What?! Oh I-I don't know!! Um…how about G-Gray…junior?"
Claire erupted in laughter, "Ha-ha! Gray junior?! The last thing this world needs is two Grays."
Cliff chuckled softly and said, "I guess you're right. But you know Claire; you shouldn't say stuff like that. He really does love you and he is constantly worrying about you. Can't you at least talk to him a little more?"
Claire turned her head side ways and huffed loudly, "I can say whatever I want! Plus, if Gray has any issues with me, he can just come up and talk to me personally!" she paused slightly. "Oh hey! Look what Gray gave me yesterday. Isn't it just gorgeous?!" She showed him her brooch and I saw his face lit up in surprise.
"Wow Claire, it's…beautiful." He said in amazement "I'm happy for both of you."
"Yep, so how did you're Starry Night Festival go? Did you have fun?" she questioned. Claire was very calm and almost…happy. I couldn't understand how she could've been like that, knowing Cliff's condition.
He paused for a moment, "Yes. I had a lot of fun." I could've sworn I saw him gaze onto my direction.
Claire sighed loudly, "Oh boy, you know Gray is going to seriously have a melt down once you leave. I mean, you were his roommate and all. He may not say it, but he considers you as a great friend."
Cliff, a little shocked by her choice of words, flashed a sad look and said, "I guess so."
Claire gave him a sympathetic look and gently patted his head. "It's alright, really. You gave it your all, and that's all that matters." She stood up from her chair, "I'll go and tell Gray what happened so he'll be coming to visit you, okay?"
"…Alright…" he stated. Claire turned around and walked towards the door. I suddenly jumped up and ran towards her.
"What are you doing!?!" I whispered harshly. "This is probably the last time you can talk to him! You shouldn't just waste it!"
She faced me and said, "Yeah, well I feel that this little time with him would mean more to you then me. Not saying that I wouldn't want to sped time with Cliff, it's just…he and I were never that close. Now go on!" she ordered me.
I gave her one last look of confusion but she just ignored me and left the room. I sighed heavily and looked over at Cliff. His eyes were purposely trying got avoid mine. I walked up and sat on a chair beside him.
I sat there nervously. It wasn't like me and Cliff hadn't ever met each other before, but it was just so…awkward. I saw him look out the window.
"The snow outside…is really beautiful." He murmured softly.
"Yeah…" I whispered. My mind began to wander as I gazed at the scenery outside. It was really pretty, you could see the light white snow fall slowly and gently from the sky. I could even see May and Stu playing off in the distance. It was kind of blurry, but I couldn't think of anyone else who could be playing in the snow.
"It looks good on you." Cliff said.
"Huh?!" I asked suddenly, while trying to force down a blush. I let myself drift off so long that I forgot that Cliff was here with me.
"The ring I gave you…it looks good on you." He answered sheepishly.
I glanced at the ring on my finger and quickly replied "Oh! Yes, I really like it! Claire was even impressed by it! It's absolutely gorgeous!" I smiled brightly.
"That's…good." He said. He heavily breathed in and out.
"Are you okay, Cliff?!" I questioned suddenly. I could feel the fear and anxiety in me growing in my chest.
Yes…I'm okay." He whispered softly. Despite his reassurance, I couldn't stop worrying about him. I began to panic.
"Are you sure? Let me go get something for you. What do you want?! A pillow? Some more blankets? Water? Do I need me to go run and get Elli?" I asked anxiously.
He shook his head in disagreement and hoarsely said, "No, really Ann I'm fine. Honest."
"Oh," I muttered, "I'll sit back down then." I sat down on the chair and stared at the floor. I didn't know what to do. Cliff's situation itself was stressful enough and I just had trouble knowing what to say. I just couldn't handle anything at that moment. Being in a room with Cliff alone took a lot of strength. Being with him, knowing that he is dieing was just unbearable.
His attention found itself to my legs, "What's that you have there…in your pocket?" he asked. I examined my overalls and realized he was pointing to my left pocket.
"Oh, this?" I said. I quickly dug out the beat up photograph that I had rescued earlier. "I found this when we found you in the Square. Is this yours?" I showed him the picture up more closely.
He gave a sad smile, "Yeah. Do you know who is in this picture? It's my mother and sister. A few years ago, I got fed up with the life with them so I ran away… Only a few months later did I have to return back home because I was broke and homeless. But by then my mother had died and my sister moved somewhere else. To this day I don't know where she is…boy was I ever a coward huh?"
I gritted my teeth and tightened my fists "No!" I harshly whispered. "You were really brave then! You were alone and yet you still kept on moving forward!"
Cliff shook his heads in disagreement, "Ann, I ran away from the good life I had. I was a spoiled coward. I only came back because I was broke. There's no bravery in that."
"People make mistakes, Cliff!!" I said loudly. My voice was starting to rise as our argument kept on going.
Cliff just sighed and gave up. He probably was so exhausted he didn't have enough energy to argue with me. I turned my attention to the window. Through it, I could see May and Stu still playing, only this time they were throwing snowballs at each other. It reminded me of the situation here.
"Hey you know," I started, "once you get better we can do all sorts of stuff. I'll cook you curry rice every day if you want me to. We can go visit and eat dinner with Mr. Carter too, ya know? Ha-ha!! See won't it be great?"
"Ann…" Cliff begged. His eyes were filled with sympathy and pity.
"And then we maybe could go to the Firework Festival in the summer. Hey you can even root for me in the cooking contest! Or maybe watch me perform for the Music Festival! Oh! And then there is the Full Moon Festival which I heard is really good. You know, next winter we could even get together for the Starry Night Festival!" I exclaimed while flashing a fake smile. I could feel my voice starting to shake.
I knew that all those things could never happen, but I just felt the need to give a fake yet happy and optimistic view on the situation. I couldn't handle the truth.
"Please Ann, don't do this to me." He begged. I held his hand and began to gently rub it soothingly as I felt the tears suddenly pouring like crazy down my face. Despite my efforts, I couldn't hide them from him.
"Hey, there…don't cry now." He laughed softly as his fingers brushed my tear-stained cheeks.
"I'm so sorry. I should have been there with you! Then none of this would ever happen!" I sobbed.
"No…it's not your fault…this…would've happened eventually." He argued.
I shook my head in disagreement, "B-But this would've never had happened if I were with you then! I could have gotten you here sooner! I could have saved you! Please get better Cliff! Just for me I beg you! You can do it! I know you can! Just keep fighting!" I begged.
He gave a deep sigh, "Ann…you don't understand. I have been fighting all along. I kept on fighting and living just for everyone I love. I should have died along time ago, but I made a promise to myself that I would keep fighting to the very end, to live a real life, to go through a life with both happy and sad times."
"B-But I want you to be here…with me. Here in Mineral Town. I know you can make it! I believe in you!!" I sobbed. I heard Cliff sigh deeply.
"Here Ann, look." Cliff said. He reached under the bed's covers and pulled out of a small black box. "Doug gave this to me and said I could do whatever I want with it. Well, I want to give it to you." He handed the box over to me. I sat in shock for a moment and stared at the object, slightly confused.
Cliff shifted uneasily, "Um…You can open it now…" he murmured.
I laughed nervously, "Oh yeah! Of course…my bad. Ha-ha..." I anxiously opened the box and inside there was a small blue feather.
I let out a loud gasp, "A blue feather?!" I yelped. "B-But why?!"
He flashed a small faint smile, "It's because I want you to make a promise with me, a promise that you will live your life to the fullest. That you won't give up, that you'll keep on living." He explained.
"No!!" I cried. "I can't live without you! You're going to be just fine! I just know it!"
Cliff raised his arm and patted my head gently, "Ann…I'm not going to make it. Even I know that. But I need you to promise me…" he reached for my hand and squeezed it tightly.
"N-No please don't leave me. I beg of you!" I cried. My tears had started streaming down my cheeks.
"Don't do this to me. I seriously need your promise, Ann." Cliff begged.
I held his hand close to my chest, "I promise, Cliff. I promise to live my life to the fullest, just like you asked me to do. I'll always keep this blue feather and your photograph as a reminder!"
"Good…that wasn't too hard was it?" he chuckled softly.
"Nope. It was very easy." I replied. I quickly wiped the tears away from my cheek with my open hand.
Cliff smiled serenely, "That's good. You know Ann, I lo--" he was suddenly stopped and began to cough violently. He placed his hands over his chest, gasping for air.
"Cliff!" I screamed. "Hold on, I'll go get Doctor and Elli!!" Just as I was about to go find help, I felt a tug on my jeans. It was Cliff.
"No…don't…go…I'll…be…fine." He coughed.
I shook my head and argued, "N-No Cliff, I have to get the doc--" Suddenly, some kind of red liquid came dripping out of Cliff's mouth. It was blood.
"Doctor Trent! Elli! There's b-blood!!" I screamed. Doctor Trent and Elli dashed into the room.
Doctor Trent's face darkened, "Oh boy, he's coughing up blood. Alright Elli lets go get some antibiotics for him. Shit, they're upstairs! Come on, let's go!" Elli urgently nodded in agreement and the two dashed upstairs.
"…Ann?" a voice spoke up hoarsely.
"Cliff! Are you okay?! Don't worry; Doctor Trent and Elli have gone up to get some medicine for you. You'll feel better in no time!" I assured him. I squeezed his hand tighter.
"Ann?" He asked again.
"Yes, Cliff?" I answered back. I could feel a knot of anxiety being formed in my stomach.
"…I love you. I love you very much Ann. But now it's my time to go. I'm sorry I can't stay here any longer, but I just can't fight anymore. I'm exhausted. But I love you Ann, as well as everyone else that have become my family. I'm sorry I'm so pathetic but this is the end for me. Remember what you promised me, okay?" He leaned over and gave a kiss on my forehead.
"No! Cliff you can't go! Please, no! Not yet! Let me spend a little more time with you! Don't go!" I cried. Right then, I was crying so much that my vision was all blurry. I felt is grip on my hand start to loosen.
"I'm sorry, Ann. Remember your promise…" he whispered. Slowly, his eyes lids closed shut and I felt his heart beat for the very last time.
"No!! Cliff!!" I screamed in horror. I shook his body in an attempt of trying to wake him up. I didn't want to believe he was dead.
Elli and Doctor Trent soon came running in the room. Trent analyzed the scene before him and deeply sighed.
Elli came over running to me and pulled me away from Cliff. I tried to get away from her grip, but for a small nurse like her, she was very strong. She dragged me outside and placed me on a chair.
Doctor Trent said, "Alright, I'm going to go inform the mayor and Carter about Cliff. You stay here and watch Ann, Elli."
Elli nodded her head firmly, "Got it." Doctor Trent rushed out of the Clinic in a great haste. It was just me and Elli here but I hardly noticed her, I was so focused on Cliff.
"Hey…the clock stopped." She pointed out. But I paid no attention. I was lost.
A couple days later, there was a funeral for Cliff at the church. Everyone thought it would be best to bury him in the cemetery here. They placed his grave right near the famous Cypress Tree located in the cemetery.
At the beginning the service, Karen sang a really beautiful song while Mary played the piano. I forgot what the song was called or how it went, but anything Karen sings is always beautiful.
Mr. Carter and Duke talked most of the service. They both talked about how they considered Cliff a son to them.
Honestly, I didn't pay attention to hardly anything that went on because I only wanted to be by myself. I didn't want anyone else.
Here Ann, I made some cheese fondue for you." Dad said one evening.
It was maybe a couple of days after Cliff's funeral. He and I haven't talked at all after Cliff's death, so the whole situation was very awkward…
"No thanks, Dad."
…and I wanted nothing to do with it.
"But Ann, you barely eaten anything after he…died. Still it's unhealthy, you don't want to starve yourself do you?!"
I gave him no answer. I even tried to avoid his gaze, but there are some things I just can't hide from my father…
"What?! Ann, you can't possibly mean that. I know you're sad and all but do you think Cliff would have wanted you to do that to yourself." My father explained.
I slammed my hands on the table, "What would you know of what he would've wanted?! Besides, why must I keep living if he isn't here with me?! I don't want to be lonely the rest of my life!! You don't understand anything that I am going through!" I cried.
I laid my head on the table and began to sob loudly. I wanted Cliff. I wanted Cliff to be here, to spend time with me. I wanted this all to be one big hell of a nightmare and I would eventually wake up and everything would be back to normal. Cliff would be alive and everyone would be happy. That is what things should've been like. I suddenly felt a large warm hand rubbing my back in comfort. I looked up and it was Dad.
"But Ann, that's where you're wrong. I do know what you're going through, I've experienced before and I often experience a little bit of the pain every year. You're mother, just like Cliff, also died suddenly.
"For a long time, I was very depressed and lost. I had just lost the love of my life and then there was you that I had to raise. All of it was extremely overwhelming. But you know I made a promise to myself; I promised that I would never focus on her death with the exception of on the day she died.
"I think she would've been happy on the promise I made, just like I think Cliff would be if you do the same. Well, maybe not the exact same, but something that is close to it. When I spoke to him in the Clinic, he told me he wanted you to live a happy life."
He turned to me and asked, "So why can't you do that for him? Why can't you fulfill his last wish and live the wonderful life he wants you to experience? Well, I shouldn't be saying this to you because you're a grown woman and you can make your own decisions."
He moved the bowel of cheese fondue towards me, "However, as your father I beg you to eat something, please?"
Once he figured that I had no intent of eating the dish, he gave up. It was then when I asked him, "Hey Dad?"
"Yes, Ann?" he answered eagerly.
"Can I…eat that cheese fondue in my room?" I asked while blushing.
My father gave a big smile, "Sure Ann. If you want anything else feel free to take it up there as well."
This kind of surprised me; normally my father would never let anyone, even me, take food up to their room. Is it because I haven't been eating anything in such a long time? Or…
My father chuckled a bit at my reaction, "Baby steps, Ann. They may be small, but they are valuable in the overall picture."
I shook my head as I walked up the stairs towards to my room. At that time I thought my father was crazy, it is only later do I fully understand what he meant.
One day, after shopping at the supermarket I saw Claire sitting on a bench. She had a lot of books in a bag beside her; she was probably at the library or something.
"Hey Ann, come on over here for a minute!!" Claire exclaimed. She beckoned me towards to her.
When I came up towards her she directed my attention towards her oversize stomach and said, "Feel it."
"What!?! No way Claire!!" I exclaimed, while blushing furiously.
I could tell I was aggravating her, "Oh come on, it's not that bad. Here." She then forcefully pulled my hand on her stomach. I stood there; completely nervous and embarrassed, waiting for what Claire wanted me to find out.
At first I felt nothing. Nothing at all, until I felt a sudden…
"It kicked!" I squealed. Yes, indeed Claire's baby had "kicked."
"I know isn't amazing!" Claire exclaimed happily. I sat down right beside her.
"Wait a minute," I said. "So does this mean that this is the first time your baby did this?! Aren't they suppose to kick earlier?!"
She nodded her head and replied, "Yes they are and that's what had been worrying me this whole time during pregnancy. I was totally worried that the baby was dead or something. And you know what I did? I spaced myself from everyone who cared about me, especially Gray.
"It was a terrible decision. I mean we are married, were suppose to be together in this. I was just so…scared. For some reason, I was so sure that Gray would leave me if the baby died. But now, he might just leave me for being a terrible wife, which I am." She murmured.
"You're not a terrible wife, Claire! In fact I think you're a great wife and I know you'll be a great mom too!" I cheered.
Claire looked at me as if I had three eyes, "A good wife!?! What are you talking about?! I ignored him for so long! I'm surprised he hadn't left me earlier!"
"Well not everyone is perfect. Plus, it's your first pregnancy so obviously it would be a big deal to you. Besides, I'm sure he could use some help recovering over Cliff's death. I think he would really be happy with the baby's kicks."
Claire smiled brightly and replied, "Yeah, I guess your right. I should go and help him out. In fact I'll go right now!"
She started packing up all of her books in a bag. I noticed that they were all baby and pregnancy books. I couldn't help but giggle; she is finally taking mothering seriously, just because of the baby kicking.
She gave me a stern look and said, "However, I must say this and that is I apologize for everything I said to you these past weeks. Don't get me wrong, I think you should take what I've said to heart and consideration.
"It's just that this whole time I've been such a damn hypocrite! Here I am nagging on you for separating yourself from others and all that stuff and here I am doing what I told you not to do! It is terrible!"
I shook my head in disagreement, "It's fine Claire, really. You've taught me a lot of things that really have helped me through all of this. For that, I sincerely admire you."
"Now," I declared. "I have to go drop off these ingredients at the Inn and you need to go talk to Gray. So let's get to it!" I cheered.
Claire grinned widely and stated, "Yeah! That's the Ann we all know and love! Great to see you back! Don't leave next time, alright!" she teased.
I placed the bouquet of red poppies on the grave. It was spring and it was the first day of the New Year. The cold white snow of winter had melted and now you could actually see life around you. I saw little buds of Moondrop flowers looking like they were soon to sprout.
"Hey there Cliff." I said. I was standing before Cliff's grave in the cemetery. Many people were already celebrating the New Year and getting ready for the festival today.
I smiled, "Things have been getting better…sort of. Guess what, Claire's baby kicked for the first time! It really made her happy too! I bet Gray's excited as well. You know how those two haven't really been talking to each other much? Well now I really think things are going to change. I have a feeling the baby will really bring them together again."
I pause for a moment and start up again, "You know Claire and I have really become friends lately. I mean it's kind of odd since before we hardly ever talked to each other, but now we've been hanging out more often. She really is a nice person, too. In fact, she gave me those red poppies." I point out.
I twisted the small ring on my finger and said, "I really miss you Cliff. But I've learned that life goes on. Hopefully one day, I'll meet you again, Cliff. But for now, I'm going to live my life to the fullest, just like you want me too. But not just for you, for everyone else who cares about me. However, I'm mostly doing it for myself. I want to be happy for the rest of my life so I'm going to live to the fullest."
I smiled brightly, "I'll be fine though, since I know you'll be watching me, kind of like a guardian angel." I chirped.
"Hey Ann, hurry up! It's almost time for the New Years Day Festival! You don't want Gourmet to eat all the rice cakes do ya?" I heard Claire holler off into the distance.
I giggled softly, "Well, looks like I got to go. So good bye Cliff, I can't wait to see you, once I lived my life of course." I ran up to the cemetery gate and looked back at Cliff's grave one last time.
Everything feels different now. I've lost a lot and yet I gained just as much as well. I think there is a possible chance that I could've done something to prevent everything that has happened, but now that doesn't matter. It's all about the present and the future.
I ran towards where Claire was. Only she, Popuri, Mary, and Karen were all waiting outside the Clinic.
"Hey, what are you guys doing?" I asked.
"We are waiting on Elli! I don't know what she is doing but she better hurry up!" Popuri pouted.
"Um…I think she is trying to fix the clock inside the Clinic. She said it was bugging her…" Mary contributed quietly.
"Well either way, she better hurry up because I'm getting hungry!" Popuri complained. I couldn't help but snicker at that comment. Suddenly, Elli came out the doors of the Clinic with a worried expression on.
"You alright, Elli?" Karen asked.
Elli nervously replied, "Oh yeah, I'm fine. It's just the clock suddenly started working again, only I didn't do anything! It's kind of freaking me out a bit…"
Claire patted her back and said, "Oh don't worry, Elli. It's just a silly old clock, nothing to worry about! It's not like there is a ghost or anything!"
"I guess you're right.' Elli murmured.
"Alright then, now that's solved lets go get some rice cakes, I'm starving!" Popuri exclaimed. All the rest of us started busting out laughing.
"Huh? What are you guys laughing at? I'm serious here!" Popuri demanded.
Yeah, everything's going to be okay now.
It was only after I wrote this, that I realized that the day Cliff died, which was the twenty-fifth of winter, is the Stocking Festival that happens to be the Harvest Moon version of Christmas…
…and that is just terrible. Poor Ann, to have her boyfriend die on a Christmas like festival. D:
Now know that I really took a risk writing this because this is my first Mineral Town fic and it's not betad.
Also, this is my first CliffxAnn story and honestly I never experienced a rival event for these two so if I got their personalities wrong, I'm sorry.
Either way I hope anyone reading this enjoyed the story! But I especially hope AsianFlipGurl enjoys it!
(If you don't like it AsianFlipGurl please tell me and I'll be happy to do another one for you)
Happy Holidays everyone~