Author's Note: This story was written for the sake of the Village Square Forum's contest under the theme 'Secrets.' Some reader discretion is advised.

Disclaimer: I have no rights to Harvest Moon or its characters.


In the Night

The darkness is like a shroud. It cloaks us, hiding us from view, and yet I can't keep myself from shaking. Even if I'm nervous, I know I still won't stop him. After all, I've wanted this too. For so long I've waited for this moment to come again, and now it is here at last.

My breathing is heavy. I can't think. Only his hot, sweet breath on my face assures me that he's actually there, not just some fantasy brought on by desire. Of course I can feel much more of him than that, but it's become more of a dull throb now as the pleasure takes me over. Time slows, and the warmth spreads through my entire body.

He all but collapses on top of me, yet his strong arms catch him as I knew they would. He says nothing, and I do the same. The only sound is the gentle lapping of the waves upon the sandy shore, and even that seems to fade into a vast emptiness. I'm more than willing to bask in the silence that falls between us if only because words have a habit of clutter things. Moments like this are better spent in silence and without thought. It brings the world into new life.

Feeling the wooden planks of the dock under me as he hovers above. The taste of his lips on mine as he steals a kiss. The smell of his sweat and mine. The sight of the stars that wink knowingly from the velvet sky... In the stillness of the summer air, my senses are heightened now. It's as if I'm experiencing them for the very first time.

"Do you really have to go back?"

With those words, the world is shattered, and I find myself lost again. The feelings of guilt return along with the loneliness which clouds my mind once more. I can't touch. I can't taste. I can't smell. I can still see and hear, but nothing is clear to me. It becomes a haze in front of my eyes as sound becomes muffled and meaningless.

I see the regret that shines in his warm brown eyes. It is not for what we have done, but for what we can't do. I can hear his heart beat as it dies away, and once again there is silence. Only this time it I don't welcome it. This time I find myself wishing there was something to fill the emptiness left behind.

"You know I do," I reply, bringing my hand to rest on the side of his gentle face. The man shifts his weight as he rests his hand on mine, and then, ever so softly, he brings my fingers to his lips and kisses them.

"Alright then," he agrees with a reluctant smile. "Let's get you home."

He draws himself away, and as soon as he does so, I shiver in his sudden absence. My body aches when I lift myself up off the dock, my dress pooling around my waist and leaving my chest bare to him. The passion is lost now, so he pays no attention to it. We are nothing but strangers without lust driving us on, or so it seems to me. Even I feel only an emptiness inside to see him pull the denim back over his narrow hips.

No longing, no interest... Nothing.

"You don't have to come with me," I sigh. "I know the way." He stays quiet, but I know he'll still come. He always does... even when he shouldn't.

Just as I ready myself to leave, I find I'm struggling to reach my zipper, but soon enough I feel his hands on my back. They run up along my spine, and yet he inevitably pulls away once his usefulness is outlived. Then, without a word, he slips beside me and takes my hand in his. Even though the gesture is a simple one, I can't help but squeeze back.

We make our way up the hill, first through heavy sand and then over cobble stones. The silence grows thicker with every step, but we both know there's no stopping. If we do, we'll go right back to the very place we left behind. It would be a must.

And so we continue on.

I can tell he wants to say something, try and convince me to stay with him. For just a little bit longer, of course. I know that I would want to tell him exactly what he wants to hear if only it were that simple.

It's not.

After taking no turns, making no stops, we find ourselves at my doorstep. We linger there for a moment longer as we continue to hold hands like the perfect pair we wish we could be. Maybe then we could chose again. For him to chose me and for me to chose him. The trouble is we've already made our choices, and there's no taking them back now. What's done is done, or so I have to tell myself in order to let myself watch him go.

Neither of us have moved. I don't think we can, not yet anyway. Just a little bit longer is what we pray together, but our time is up. The illusion is gone as is the fantasy we created not too long before.

The only thing left for us is reality.

He leans down ever so sightly to give me as kiss, but it's on the forehead, not my lips, as if I've become child, no longer a woman in his eyes. The gesture is meant to be sweet, and yet it leaves me feeling bitter. Then he kisses me again. This one is the one I wanted which is why I'm able to forgive him.

"Good night," the man whispers before retreating back into the darkness like a shadow. I wait at the door until I hear his footsteps on the gravel just off the property, and only then I step inside the little house.

In this place, the air is cold. The warmth has been drawn completely out, and as always, I shiver to find myself here. This is not where I want to be, but I have no choice. It is where I belong, where I should be. That does not mean I have to enjoy it. It's for the best that I don't.

Making my way ever so quietly to my bed, I keep a wary eye on the one that comes before it. Two separate beds for two separate people. One for the husband and one for the wife, and never shall they find themselves side by side now or ever again. They came together once, but that night has been long forgotten which saddens and elates me at the very same time.

Such a fickle thing... a woman's heart.

Blonde hair much like my own splays across the pillow as his chest rises and falls, but I feel nothing to see him sleeping so peacefully. I'm numb to the very fact that he still exists in this place. If I never saw his green eyes again, there would be no regret for not gazing into them the day before. I would only smile to know I had no reason to hide anything from him ever again. He would truly be oblivious then.

With these thoughts, I slip out of my dress once more. I hear the sand shower onto the wood floor, but I know the man sleeping here will never suspect such things as a part of an act against him. He'll only assume it's the dirt from his fields, and really, he has no reason not to believe something so simple.

I hesitate to dress myself in my nightgown as my hands pass over my vulnerable skin. There is still a dampness lingering there from the humidity of the ocean and my own sweat, and yet I feel nothing of disgust for myself or what I've done. It is nothing more than flesh that was brought against flesh. Guilt is meaningless to me.

Choosing to leave myself bare if only to make the feeling last, I slip between the sheets, and as I close my eyes, the scene plays out again.

The warmth of another man's body resting on my own. The sweet flavor of his kiss lingering on my lips. The smell of sea salt clinging to my skin. The sound of his breathing ringing in my thoughts. The sight of his eyes gazing into mine begging for me to stay...

He is mine, and I am his.


Author's Final Note: I have no idea why I tend to write in the present tense for these contests, but when I tried to write this in past tense, it just didn't read 'right' to me. For this one, I actually tried to write in a more minimalist style as well which is something I have absolutely no experience in. It was a struggle for me to cut down on the unnecessary details because that's what I love to both read and write.

My inspiration for writing this actually came about when I came across the children graphics for IoH. Anyone else find it rather suspicious that two blondes end up having a brunette child?